Drumbeat: March 18, 2009

Shell dumps wind, solar and hydro power in favour of biofuels

Shell will no longer invest in renewable technologies such as wind, solar and hydro power because they are not economic, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said today. It plans to invest more in biofuels which environmental groups blame for driving up food prices and deforestation.

Executives at its annual strategy presentation said Shell, already the world's largest buyer and blender of crop-based biofuels, would also invest an unspecified amount in developing a new generat ion of biofuels which do not use food-based crops and are less harmful to the environment.

Shell 'set to double debt load'

Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell is to scrap its share buyback programme and more than double its debt this year as it attempts to maintain its spending commitments in the face of a collapse in the price of crude, analysts have warned. . .

He predicted that Shell's net debt would rise from $8 billion in 2008 to as much as $23.9 billion this year - from a gearing level of about 6% of its equity to nearly 17%.

He projected that Shell's net debt could peak next year at more than $30 billion, depending on how long oil prices remained depressed. . .

Shell matched almost all its production with new finds in 2008, with a reserves replacement rate of 98% when measured according to Securities & Exchange Commission rules, the spokesman said.

Russians line up for western cash

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom , is sounding out banks over a $1 billion loan, while mid-sized oil company Tatneft wants up to $600 million, the sources told Reuters.

In addition, state-controlled oil company Rosneft is having preliminary talks with its lenders over refinancing a $1.35 billion, 15-month loan the company signed in January, the bankers said. . .

The companies join oil giant Lukoil, which has been in talks with banks for a loan worth $1 billion to $1.5 billion.

In addition, Russia's third largest oil producer TNK-BP is already in the loan market via arrangers Calyon and Deutsche Bank in order to increase a $150 million facility.

Rig Count Downturn Moves into Uncharted Water

We have taken the pattern of this extended 1980s rig downturn and applied it to the current rig decline to see where we might wind up if that earlier cycle were to be followed. It suggests that while we have already surpassed the bottom of the first phase of the 1980s' cycle downturn, from the 1,126 working rigs at March 13th we could see the industry needing to shut down another 211 rigs. Added to the current 905 rig decline, the domestic rig count would fall by 1,116 rigs or a 55% decline from the September peak of 2,031 working rigs.

The complete 1980s rig cycle spanned 246 weeks from peak to trough. At the average rate the rig count is dropping, we would reach the comparable 1980s correction low in another eight weeks, or by May 1st. If achieved, the low would have been reached in 40% of the time of the 1997-1999 cycle, five weeks short of the entire 2001-2002 cycle and in 13% of the time of the 1980s cycle. The speed of this cycle's decent, assuming that was the bottom, is astounding. It suggests that other factors are at work in the oil and gas business than merely commodity prices and the recessionary impact on oil and gas demand. We would suggest that the industry variable analysts and corporate executives have underestimated is the workings of the global credit crisis on business spending and confidence.

Crude Oil Falls on U.S. Inventory Gain, Japan’s Refining Cuts

Oil fell from a three-month high after U.S. inventories posted a larger-than-expected gain and Japanese refiners processed less crude.

U.S. oil stockpiles increased 4.66 million barrels to 349.9 million barrels last week, the most in almost two years, the Washington-based American Petroleum Institute said in a report after the close of trading yesterday. Japanese refiners operated plants at 78.4 percent of capacity last week, down 3.8 percentage points from the previous week, according to data released today by the Petroleum Association of Japan.

“Without a substantial recovery in the U.S. economy, crude prices won’t gain momentum to lift them to as high as $60 a barrel,” said Masahiko Sato, a senior analyst at OvalNext Corp. in Tokyo. “Clearly, languishing petroleum demand in Japan led refiners to cutting back on plant operations.”

Upset over oil leases, Utah senator seeks to block Interior nominee

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) will attempt to block the nomination of David Hayes as Interior deputy secretary, he announced yesterday. . .

The Utah senator said he has received inadequate responses to questions regarding Utah oil and gas leases the Obama administration canceled, which he submitted following Hayes' confirmation hearing last week. "I am incredibly disappointed in what appears to be political posturing by the Department of the Interior," Bennett said in a statement. "The department has not only failed to address my concerns, but also included information in their response that is simply not true."

In response to one of the questions, Hayes said he was told the Bureau of Land Management had not coordinated with the National Park Service on the Dec. 19 lease sale. But Bennett noted a Nov. 28, 2008, press release from Utah's BLM office citing "two days of extremely productive discussions" between agency officials. . .

Interior cannot do its job without senior leadership, Salazar said.

Low energy prices cut offshore bids sharply

NEW ORLEANS — With energy prices a fraction of those from last year, bids for Wednesday's federal sale of offshore tracts in the central Gulf of Mexico fell by more than half, the Minerals Management Service said Tuesday.

Fifty-six companies submitted 476 bids on 348 tracts in federal waters off the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — a key energy producing region for the United States. The bids will be opened in New Orleans.

Last year's sale in the central Gulf attracted 78 companies that put up 1,057 bids on 615 tracts. The sale tallied up a record $3.67 billion in winning bids. Then, oil prices were tapping $110 per barrel on the way to nearly $150 in July.

Energy Chief Says U.S. Is Open to Carbon Tariff

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday advocated adjusting trade duties as a "weapon" to protect U.S. manufacturing, just a day after one of China's top climate envoys warned of a trade war if developed countries impose tariffs on carbon-intensive imports.

Mr. Chu, speaking before a House science panel, said establishing a carbon tariff would help "level the playing field" if other countries haven't imposed greenhouse-gas-reduction mandates similar to the one President Barack Obama plans to implement over the next couple of years. It is the first time the Obama administration has made public its view on the issue.

A setback for wave power technology

Costing about €9 million, or $11.5 million, the three machines were the first phase of a plan intended ultimately to be expanded to 28 units, with a total generating capacity of 21 megawatts — enough to power more than 15,000 homes and save more than 60,000 tons a year of carbon dioxide from being spewed into the skies by conventional power plants.

In mid-November all three were disconnected and towed back to land, where they now lie in Leixões harbor, near the city of Porto, with no date set for their return to operation.

So what went wrong?

First, there was a buoyancy problem, said Max Carcas, a spokesman for Pelamis Wave Power, the British company that designed and built the units and retained a 23 percent stake in the project. According to a report on ocean energy systems published by the International Energy Agency, foam-filled buoyancy tanks for the mooring installation leaked and needed to be replaced, delaying startup.

The buoyancy problem was resolved, Mr. Carcas said during a telephone interview this month, but other technical issues emerged, as could be expected in a prototype project. "Like all things new, you have niggles to work through, and we continue to do that."

Then, the financial crisis kicked in.

Mickey Fulp: “Expect New Uranium Production out of Wyoming in Next Two Years”

Several juniors have projects in the permit stage right now. The ISR deposits are basically solution mining. They establish well fields, inject oxygen, baking soda, and club soda down the holes, dissolve the uranium and then recover it in small extraction plants. In some ways—in that you’re developing well fields—it’s analogous to coal-bed methane. It’s relatively cheap to do and environmentally benign. So yes, I’m bullish on uranium in the mid-term, for say, the next 10 years. I see a supply crunch in the uranium business.

South Africa: Uranium One Writes Down Billions, May Sell Mine

Johannesburg — URANIUM producer Uranium One, which is listed on the JSE and the Toronto Stock Exchange , wrote down its mineral properties and equipment by $2,4bn after tax offsets in the year to December, including a $1,8bn write-down on its Dominion mine in SA.

Uranium CEO Jean Nortier yesterday said Dominion could be sold. Potential buyers were looking at it and a due diligence investigation was under way.

The company said in October it would put the Klerksdorp mine on care and maintenance, retrenching more than 1000 workers, because of a drop in the uranium price, cost increases and a slower than expected ramp-up in production.

Royal Dutch Shell, Oil Prices Weigh On Energy Stocks

Shell (RDSA), in a strategy update, said it replaced 95% of its reserves in 2008 by its own methodology.

Even when including oil sands and year-end price effects, Shell's reserve replacement was 97%, falling below the 100% mark needed to maintain future production and a figure below that of rivals like Exxon Mobil (XOM) and BP (BP).

Still, Shell reiterated that it's aiming for 2% to 3% annual production growth through 2012. BP (BP), by contrast, has a 1% to 2% annual production growth target.

Royal Dutch Shell isn't looking to spend much on new investments for wind and solar energy because of the poor investment returns, according to Linda Cook, executive director for gas and power, Shell Trading, global solutions and technology. During a conference call with the media, she said Shell's alternative energy focus will be on biofuel.

3 Hurt as Explosion Launches Canister in Pasadena

Three workers were hurt when a compressed gas explosion ripped through a Pasadena business district Monday afternoon.

A linen truck, which ran on compressed natural gas, blew up near the intersection of Fair Oaks Avenue and California Boulevard. One worker was listed in critical, another in serious and a third suffered minor injuries in the blast.

A compressed gas canister rocketed at least 150 feet in the air and landed on the sidewalk along Fair Oaks Avenue. No Pedestrians were hurt.

Firefighters described the gas canister as a missile, since it launched into the air with such force.

Natural gas organizations band together against proposed taxes

The Obama administration’s tax proposal will radically shift investment incentives for developing American natural gas – in some cases changing policies that have been in place since 1913. If American natural gas production decreases, supply will shrink, putting upward pressure on the price of natural gas for the 171 million Americans who rely on it to fuel their homes and businesses. If these taxes are imposed on the industry, not only will prices rise for consumers, but tax and royalty revenues to the federal and state treasuries will diminish and well-paying American jobs will be eliminated.

These results run counter to the Obama administration's agenda of cleaner energy and less dependence on foreign energy resources. We urge you to reject these unjustified changes to energy tax policy. Congress must develop rational national energy strategies – strategies that rely on American energy first, including clean-burning, abundant American natural gas.

Cuba foresees increase in oil production

HAVANA -- -- The identification of new reserves of Heavy Crudes off the north Matanzas coast, is expected to bring an increase in oil production in Cuba, said Cuban expert at the opening of a national congress on oil being held in Havana. . .

During 2008, four million barrels of oil were produced, said Marrero.

Oil and gas industry has 'little obligation' to produce on leases, says Interior IG

Oil and gas companies that hold federal leases have "little obligation" to produce energy on those tracts, but "data integrity" issues within the Interior Department prevent evaluations of whether existing leases are underused, Interior's inspector general told a House panel today. . .

In written testimony submitted to the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, the IG said oil and gas companies with federal leases "have little obligation to actually produce" while Interior lacks a formal policy that compels companies to bring them into production.

The IG found that Interior's Minerals Management Service and Bureau of Land Management also don't inquire about companies' production strategies and don't enforce performance clauses in the leases.

Obama Tries to Draw Up an Inclusive Energy Plan

Now, as the Obama administration outlines its energy plans, it is caught between oil companies, who are reminding the president of his campaign pledge, and environmental groups, who are demanding a reinstatement of the drilling ban that Congress lifted in September.

The renewed fight over offshore drilling comes amid efforts by the White House to map out an ambitious new energy policy for the country. For the first time since the Carter administration, an American president is putting energy at the center of his domestic agenda.

EU excludes Nabucco gas pipeline project from priority list- report

The Nabucco gas pipeline project has been removed from a European Union list of priority projects, RIA Novosti reported citing a source in the EU Council of Ministers on Tuesday.

The 27-nation bloc had initially planned to allocate 250 million euros ($323 million) to finance the project, which aims to pump natural gas from Central Asia to Europe bypassing Russia, but later cut funds to 50 million euros ($64.5 million).

The $10 billion Nabucco pipeline, backed by the European Union and the United States, planned to carry 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Caspian or Middle Eastern gas annually to an Austrian hub via Turkey, is seen as one of Europe's best hopes for limiting its dependence on Russian gas.

Report: Global Solar Industry Raked In $37.1B in 2008

The solar energy industry generated $37.1 billion in revenues and installed 5.95 gigawatts worth of systems worldwide in 2008, said research firm Solarbuzz Monday.

Generous government subsidies in countries such as Germany and Spain have made installing and operating solar energy systems attractive businesses. In fact, the government program in Spain was so appealing that the country overtook Germany as the largest market in 2008, according to the new Solarbuzz report, which looks at companies that makes various materials and components for producing solar panels. . .

Europe remains the world's largest market, accounting for 82 percent of the demand, Solarbuzz said. The United States is the third largest market (360 megawatts), following Spain (2.46 gigawatts) and Germany (1.86 gigawatts). South Korea ranked No. 4 (280 megawatts), making it the largest market in Asia.

Applied Materials Delivers Major Advances to Lower Solar Cell Cost with New HCT MaxEdge Wire Saw

Applied Materials, Inc. today released its Applied HCT MaxEdge(TM: 62.4, 1.89, 3.12%) wire saw, a new platform for slicing ingots into ultra-thin wafers that can help customers drive down the cost of manufacturing photovoltaic (PV: undefined, undefined, undefined%) cells by up to $0.18 per watt.* Key technical advances, including an industry-first dual-wire management system, enable the MaxEdge system to deliver significantly higher throughput and load capacity than competitive systems, while requiring much less factory floor space and fewer operators for equivalent megawatt output.

By making thinner wafers, PV cell manufacturers can reduce the amount of silicon per wafer and lower the cost-per-watt of solar electricity. To produce thinner wafers, traditional wire saws must reduce the ingot length (load) and the cutting speed. The uniquely designed MaxEdge system delivers ultra-thin wafers without sacrificing throughput by enabling larger loads and using thinner wires at higher cutting speeds.

Surge of cheap gas may put coalmines out of action

Gas prices, already tumbling as a result of the recession, are suffering a triple whammy, according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Cera): from recession in the Far East; a long-awaited build-up in new supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG); and unexpected discoveries of new gas reserves in the United States.

The emerging gas glut could even displace coal in the supply of fuel to power stations in Europe, Michael Stoppard, managing director of Cera, said.

In the teeth of a recession, the LNG industry is about to take a big upward step, Mr Stoppard said. “Over the next 18 to 24 months, LNG capacity will increase by 30 per cent,” he said. “Where is the stuff going to go? The answer will be in the Atlantic basin.”

Spot prices for LNG – natural gas that has been super-chilled to -160C – have collapsed in the Far East, falling from $20 per million British thermal units (BTU) to only $6 per million BTU. Power stations in Japan and South Korea account for almost half the world’s LNG consumption, but last week Japan’s ten big utilities revealed that their electricity output had plunged by 15.8 per cent in February, compared with a year earlier.

First LNG tanker to dock at UK's South Hook Friday

LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - Qatar's Tembek liquefied natural gas tanker is expected to arrive at Britain's South Hook LNG terminal on Friday, according to the website of the Milford Haven Port Authority.

The Q-Flex tanker is due to deliver the first commissioning cargo of super-cooled gas to the terminal in Milford Haven, south Wales.

Indonesia Offers LNG to Other Countries

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro has asked the Agency for Upstream Gas & Oil Business Activities (BP Migas) to find buyers for its liquefied natural gas (LNG) other than Japan, Taiwan and Korea. These three countries are reducing imports from Indonesia as much as 600.000 metric tons. “I have asked BP Migas to expand its marketing activities,” he said yesterday.

Besides seeking potential buyers overseas, BP Migas is also offering it to local buyers. "The Iskandar Muda Fertilizer said they need gas,” Purnomo said. Japan, Taiwan, and Korea are reducing their LNG imports from Indonesia because of reduced domestic consumption due to the economic crisis.

U.S. LNG March Imports to Rise 35% on Weak Asia, Europe Demand

U.S. imports of liquefied natural gas may rise 35 percent in March as weaker Asian and European demand leads suppliers to send cargoes to U.S. terminals, Pan EurAsian Enterprises Inc. said.

Imports of the cleaner-burning fuel until March 16 were about 400,000 tons, including two cargoes due to arrive next week, Raleigh, North Carolina-based energy consultant Pan EurAsian said. U.S. imports were about 10 percent higher so far this year, it said.

Isn't this special? What could Alan Drake have done with hundreds of billions of dollars?

Hedge Funds May Get AIG Cash
Some Bailout Money Is Set Aside to Pay Firms That Bet Housing Market Would Crater

Some of the billions of dollars that the U.S. government paid to bail out American International Group Inc. stand to benefit hedge funds that bet on a falling housing market, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The documents show how Wall Street banks were middlemen in trades with hedge funds and AIG that left the giant insurer holding the bag on billions of dollars of assets tied to souring mortgages. AIG has put in escrow some money for at least one major bank, Deutsche Bank AG, whose hedge-fund clients made bets against the housing market, according to a person familiar with the matter. The money will be released to the bank if mortgage defaults rise above a certain level.

In essence, while the U.S. government is busy trying to prop up the housing market -- by trying to limit foreclosures, among other things -- it is simultaneously putting up cash that could be used to pay off investors who bet housing prices would tumble and many mortgage holders would default.

A comprehensive program to save the US economy (medium & long term), control/significantly reduce CO2, reduce oil consumption and create a viable Non-Oil Transportation alternative would cost less than "one AIG bailout/year"#

# Calculated before latest installment.

The T21 model # for 2030 (vs BAU) are

GDP +13%
CO2 -38%
Oil consumption -22%
Employment +5.4%

Better #s after 2030.

Best Hopes,


Yep, this pumping of taxdollars into foreign & domestic banks, hedge funds,and AIG versus RR & TOD, housing insulation, and other conservation ideas is very frustrating.

Obama rode the train for his Inauguration, fer cryin' out loud! He & Congress have sure derailed common sense mitigation. ARRRRRGH!

Frustrating is not the right word. The right word is "deliberate" or some close synonym like "intentional". "Criminal" is not a good word either, because it doesn't capture the moral scale. Double-plus intentional perhaps? "Murder most foul" - that was Hamlet or maybe Macbeth - but it strikes me that doing in the King is nowhere near as upsetting to the natural moral order as the King and his henchmen doing in all the people. How would Shakespeare write this up I wonder? He never came up with a plot this foul. Argentina, Stalin, Rwanda, the killing fields - those were all local to one place and time. I can't think of anything in dystopian literature that measures up. It's as if the Captain and crew of the Titanic kicked holes in the lifeboats and robbed and raped the passengers on the way down.

cfm in Gray, ME

How would Shakespeare write this up I wonder?

I wondered the same thing and I investigated the plays he wrote.
I decided the play that fits best is "Romeo and Juliet". It begins like this:

Sampson: Gregory, o my word, we'll not carry coals.
Gregory: No, for then we should be colliers.

Coal was used back in Shakespeare's time for heating. London's air was thick with pollution. I think Shakespeare was well aware of the trade-offs associated with using FF energy. And "Romeo and Juliet" is his effort to make those trade-offs visible.

There is a kind of meaningless competition at the center of this play, a rivalry between the two feuding families, and note that it has no real raison d'etre. It is the competition we all engage in with each other to be "elite" or to earn more money that we do not really need or really want. We must earn it or someone else will and then we'll be screwed. We must choose to use the energy at hand or someone else will and then we'll lose. It's use it or lose it and end up in poverty. You can see this meaningless competition in people worrying about "good schools", brand name items, exclusive neighborhoods, etc. It's not that it matters so much. It's that if they don't someone else will and then their children will be the losers.

Shakespeare wants to make it clear that this is a problem bred into our bones, it's inescapable. I guess the modern term is Mutually Assured Destruction. That's why this tragedy has all the people feeling some misgiving, being sure something awful will happen. Romeo before he goes into the party where he meets Juliet, for example.

The best example is Mercutio's speech, after he's been wounded fatally, but before he dies: "I am sped" he says. A few lines later he says it again: "I am pepper'd, I warrant, for this world".

Chuckle, I did this play in summer stock, and I was Mercutio. Just a personal observation. We trained hard, fencing lessons, etc. Tybalt and I had a killer (chuckle) fight all worked out. In some ways there is nothing more profound than acting in a Shakespeare play.

Well Typalt, decided to be in the period our first night, and did not wear his glasses. The point we had planned where he slashes at my feet and I jump over the foil became a slash at the head and I jumped right into it. You all know how facial cuts are, boy did I bleed. I died well, the text became "it hurts" instead of " I am hurt ". And I was carried off the stage bleeding like a stuck pig. The revues were awesome. Got me three years of summer stock gigs with hot young ladies.

But Mercutio, did the Queen Mab speech, and it is some of the best writing for all the ages.

" For I see Queen Mab had been with you, for she comes in shape no bigger than an alderstone athwart men's noses as they ly asleep."

Thanks for the memory kick. I go back and do end up reading Shakespeare time and again.

Merchant of Venice comes to mind in these times.

Don in Maine

an after thought, how many TOD'ers know how to uses a sabre or a foil, might just come in handy, taught both my boys how to handle a foil. Sabre is a bit hadrer but thy can extrapolate.

I was lucky to be able to study Shakespeare in college and I've often looked into my old textbook (The Riverside Shakespeare) when I wanted help with a vexing problem. I would have loved to be able to act in a play, but just stayed in the library reading instead!

Romeo says to Mercutio (after Mercutio blames him for causing his wound by coming between him and Tybalt) "I thought all for the best". The people in the play all have the best intentions: to further their own aims and help "their" side. And governments and banks etc. today also may be saying the same thing, that they have good intentions, about all their actions including bailouts or the actions which resulted in the need for bailouts. But as has been noted "The road to hell is paved with good intentions".

Shakespeare did indeed think about the basic problem (how to cooperate when we are fundamentally competitive) and I think "Romeo and Juliet" frames his conclusions, at least at this point in his life.

A comprehensive program to save the US economy (medium & long term), control/significantly reduce CO2, reduce oil consumption and create a viable Non-Oil Transportation alternative would cost less than "one AIG bailout/year"

Apparently, AIG bonuses are more important.

For those who are unfamiliar w/ t-21 models:


I might add that there are many potential paths leading away from infinite growth paradigm with synergies among them if only mainstream would accept that there is a need. Most, I fear, remain oblivious.

From their site:

Broadly, T21 is an especially useful tool for preparing Poverty Reduction Strategies that emphasize the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), and for monitoring progress towards the MDGs or other national goals. More specifically, T21 supports stakeholder consultations, preparing strategy documents that address sectoral or industrial interests, preparing data and analyses for loan negotiations, and monitoring and evaluating national plans.

I don't think one can say BAU any more clearly than that. I see limited usefulness from this model unless Greenwashed BAU is what you prefer. However, since I haven't worked with it or seen any results from it, I may be misunderstanding the above description.

Alan, I'd appreciate a detailed breakdown on exactly what your work with T1 is moving toward, i.e., what the future vision is and/or a link to any report(s) that might have been developed? I think you have posted such before, but I don't have it, if so.


T21 is a tool.

Earlier, pro bono publico work combined with ASPO support, showed the USA heading towards 3rd World status (Argentina, not Haiti) while GHG go up. A number of policies have been tried, no one policy gives desirable results.

But a combination of two policies, a maximum push for renewable energy and a max push for Non-Oil Transportation, did give VERY positive results.

After ASPO funding ran out, Hans Herren decided to devote the resources to model my ideas. I brought in Ed Tennyson for support.

Google Hans and tell me if he is BAU. The other actors are Andrea Bassi, Ed T., Laurence Aurbach and myself.

The starting point is BAU, I concede, and we model evolving towards a better path.

We are looking for a high impact place to publish.

Anyone on TOD know anyone at Foreign Affairs magazine ?

Best Hopes for Long Shots,


At least for me, BAU is not just renewables vs. FFs, but is also growth vs. sustainability. The description I quoted specifies business interests pretty clearly, as it does gov't planning, none of which use steady state/sustainable as their basis, so far as I know.

My fear is that my sense is correct: you're underestimating the changes that need to be made.

So, where are those results available, and how close to CO2 @ 350ppm do they get us? What are the underlying assumptions? Are the runs modeling depression economics? Are they modeling 3 - 5C higher temps by 2100? Etc.


Whenever I think about how we'll ever be able to make the huge, significant and necessary changes to the extremely complex systems we Homo sapiens operate in I get overwhelmed. However the people and goals behind the MI and others are honorable. These goals are honorable even if they don't shout from the mountaintop "repent or die."

http://www.undp.org/mdg/basics.shtml - T21 related goals.

If I might mix metaphors, rather than thinking about how hard it is to "turn the Titanic" and how we're going about it all wrong, it might be time to kick the anthill a little harder, generate some action. I appreciate how some young people are stepping up.


I don't remember saying MI weren't honorable. Your last sentence was kind of patronizing, no?

As for your second comment, if we weren't already so far behind, I'd agree. But we are so far behind this is nothing more than spitting in the wind, so far as I can tell. Alan doesn't seem to want to answer any questions with any useful specifics, so we can only make a bunch of assumptions.

Here's where the problem is serious: Let's assume Alan's T21 gets going. So some decades are spent implementing this with the opportunity cost just as fully realized. Let's assume my characterization, as confirmed by Alan's response, is accurate. IF A, then B, and B here means we have just wasted whatever time and resources we have spent on Alan's T21.

Some months ago I tried to urge TOD toward a discussion that might lead to an aggregate scenario and solution set. The answer was essentially that there was no way to get the TOD staff all going in one direction, let alone the readership AND the staff. Almost certainly true. But what surprises me is the lack of willingness to try.

Alan alluded to what I want being hard to model. I have shared a (relatively) detailed idea for modeling our situation. From the initial sharing, it went nowhere. I also asked Alan to at least mention this idea to the people he was working with. I never got a response, so it either wasn't shared or wasn't responded to. Who knows? But, as Alan says, it's just too hard.

And the alternative to finding a solution is easier? Somehow I think a 3C to 6C degree, energy depleted, highly polluted, mass extinction-headed world is not going to be easier, and I jsut don't see half-measures as being enough this time around. I understand we've gotten very used to political middle grounding everything, but sometimes the answer lies outside the middle.

At this point I can only hope that I am wrong about what the future holds because so little is being done about it.

you're underestimating the changes that need to be made.

No doubt. But what you propose cannot be easily modeled and it is difficult enough to get people to sign onto what we propose.



I don't know anyone at Foreign Affairs, but I did come from that same academic field. I don't want to discourage you from trying to get published there, but I would encourage you not to get your hopes up.

Within their world the attribution of "stodgy" is considered a compliment.

You might try SCIENCE or NATURE.

SCIENCE published this paper by about CO2 stabilization wedges:

S. Pacala and R. Socolow, "Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies", Science 305, pp. 968 - 972, 13 August 2004:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1100103

Here's the first 2 of 7 "wedges":

    1. Efficient vehicles 	Increase fuel economy for       Car size,
                                2 billion cars from 30 to       power 
                                60 mpg
    2. Reduced use of vehicles 	Decrease car travel for 2       Urban design, 
                                billion 30-mpg cars from        mass transit,            
                                10,000 to 5000 miles per year   telecommuting

E. Swanson

You might try SCIENCE or NATURE

We discussed that. Hans is a member of both the US & Developing Nations Academy of Science, which helps getting published.

Second try. The political class does not read these periodicals AND takes too long to get into print in them.


Harpers or Atlantic?

Notwithstanding the destruction inflicted on the economy by Republican policies, the most devastating breakdown is in the intellectual foundation on which right wing economic ideology itself is premised. Free market doctrine, the secular religion of right-wing America, is in utter, irretrievable shambles.

One of the most lofty tenets on which free markets are premised is their claim for themselves that they are "efficient," that is, that market prices always reflect "fundamental values" of assets. But if that's true, how could the world's largest insurance company, AIG, have lost 99.5% of its market value in only 18 months? How could the world's largest bank, Citibank, have lost 98% of its value over the same period?

How could the world's largest brokerage company, Merrill Lynch, have gone bankrupt and need to be bought by Bank of America? How could the world's largest car company, General Motors, have lost 95% of its value and stand on the threshold of extinction? How could the world's largest industrial conglomerate, General Electric, have lost 85% of its value in only 18 months?

If the largest companies in the world, those at the very heart of the capitalist system itself, can lose virtually all of their value in only 18 months, what is the possible meaning of the phrases "efficient markets" and "fundamental value"?


How does Alcoa lose approx 20% while the DJIA gains
approx 10%?

Total manipulation.

"It appears to me that this is indeed the case. In this regard, the Madoff investigation is similar to the 9-11 investigation: evidence of a larger conspiracy is being avoided and ignored. After three months of investigation, it is outrageous that charges of conspiracy were not included in Madoff's plea. He must have had conspirators in his office, in his family, and at his banks. It is simply not possible that he carried out this huge fraud all by himself and managed to keep it concealed from his family and business partners for 20 years. That is not believable."


Maybe the Free Market is just telling you the truth - those banks have lost almost all their value because, along with good assets, they also have enormous liabilities in the form of derivatives contracts. So their net value is almost zero and would probably be zero if it were not for government guarantees.

Their net value is negative. They went to the racetrack, bet their money on a new set of horses (derivatives, mortgage backed securities, etc.) and lost everything, even above and beyond their original bet.

The question of their survival is whether or not the government can bail them out until their value becomes positive. If it can, they will survive; if not, they won't. Simple as that.

Oh boy, Let's see here. Darwinian is going nuts. Get ready for the same old tirade.

Best wishes to you.

Naw, I will just wait until Leanan gets back. She has been deleting Mac's stupid market manipulation posts. And I am sure she will again. So Mac, spout your idiocy while you still can. Keep dragging this list into the gutter with other conspiracy lists. Make us a laughing stock just like they are.

Ron P.

Bingo, rises to the bait every time

And this list can do without posts like yours WaveRider. This is a list concerned with peak oil and other energy resources. Posting stupid conspiracy theory post as well as cheering such stupid posts when they are posted drags the list into the dirt.

Let's discuss peak oil, the consequences of peak oil, oil production, alternative energy sources, electric transportation and everything else that deals with peak oil and energy resources. Stop posting stupid conspiracy theory posts and please WaveRider, stop cheering them when they are posted. By doing so you are just wallowing in the mud with him.

If Leanan was here she would delete his post and all the replies to it. Please Leanan come back quick so we can again rid ourselves of this idiocy.

Ron P.

Just so, Darwinian. Let's discuss peak oil. "And this list can do without posts like yours" Darwinian.

When I first started reading posts here, I admired you. But that has long since faded. Now when I see your name, I just scroll past it. If you would do all of us the same favor re ' conspiracy ' letters , we might be able to read about peak oil.

I'm sure that Mac is amusing and provocative to some of us, but your material is so predictably boring. Just because you post here more than anyone else, you aren't right about everything.

Let's discuss peak oil

Gee, and he is about the only person that I read consistently.

Rick D.



It would be a lot of work, but if you took the java classes for reading and parsing HTML and applied them to TOD, dumped the result to a database then extracted for Ron you should be able to find at least one thing where Ron claimed was 'a conspiracy theory' and nail it down with "facts" pointing to there being an actual conspiracy.

But really its whole lot of work - and Ron would just deny your evidence.

Whats wrong, Ron? You are not a geneticist today? Now you have become an economist, or is it a theologist?

Still railing against conspiracies? There are no conspiracys? You're a joke.

Leanan, Leanan, please come home! They're picking on me. Mommy, mommy help!

You're pitifull! Get some nads, grow up.

Did you read that before you posted it?

Put your inner monkey away please.

Given that Mr. Bollyn is a neo-Nazi and a fugitive from justice, he is in no position to take a look at the ongoing investigations of the Madoff fraud and see whether the Feds are sufficiently diligent about them.

SOP for these investigations is to say little until the indictments come down. That step was waived for Madoff himself, but for any of his suspected accomplices. So it will take more time.

As always, consider the source, McGowan.

One of the most lofty tenets on which free markets are premised is their claim for themselves that they are "efficient," that is, that market prices always reflect "fundamental values" of assets. But if that's true, how could the world's largest insurance company, AIG, have lost 99.5% of its market value in only 18 months? How could the world's largest bank, Citibank, have lost 98% of its value over the same period?

Because it isn't a free market. This whole mess was started by the government getting involved in the housing industry via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Out of work politicians would find jobs at these places, and elected politicians funneled them money. If these two pseudo-government organizations didn't write risky-enough home loans, they were labeled racist. To make more money to feather the nests of the politicians, they repackaged the loans and laundered them through the wall street banks.

What we are witnessing here isn't a failure of capitalism, it is a failure of socialism.

Keep spinning. Fewer and fewer people are buying into such claptrap.

If your beginning assumption is that gov is the source of all problems, you can always find some way of tying any complex problem back to gov. But that doesn't make it so. It just proves that you are willing to tell yourself bedtime stories that employ circular reasoning to comfort your ideology.

I suppose your prescription for our current situation is to drastically cut taxes on the wealthiest, too?

How can the problem NOT be gov't when the gov't specifically relaxed legislation to prevent investment abuses, specifically encouraged poor loan oversight, failed to regulate loan-bundling, CDOs, and derivatives despite clear responsibility to do so while simultaneously blowing asset bubbles, and then decided to shaft the taxpayers in a misguided attempt to resolve the mess?

I think you should not have private profits with collective losses, yet this is what our gov't has acceded to, and that includes both parties. Obama and Dodd are right up at the front of the AIG boondoggle, and Tim and Bernanke are right there too with Goldman Sachs and Fed playing third-fiddle.

It reminds me of the saying, "Government: if you think our problems are bad, just wait until you see our solutions".

I can't count how many times I heard of Congressional committees on baseball steroids, yet a trillion-dollar industry grew while pushing tentacles of influence into every oversight body.

What we need is lobbyists, congressmen, and executives sitting in front of grand juries and facing jail-time for fraud and gross negligence and deriliction of duty. Isn't there a mechanism for individuals to start that process?

Don't be daft. Who lobbied congress furiously and incessantly to relax regulation for decades?

Answer--industry and ideological fundamentalist conservatives.

This seems to be the story these days--conservatives had control over most of the government for most of the last thirty years and managed to make an enormous mess of it. Now they turn around, point at the mess they've made and say, "See, government can't work."

Next you are going to say that the botched response to Katrina is proof that gov can't work, even though it was specifically Bush and co., who ran on exact platform and proceeded to self-fulfill that prophecy, that botched it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have great trust in gov, but I trust greedy banksters and their ilk even less. And when you get the latter controlling the former, you get the disastrous sh*tstorm we are in today.

"What we need is lobbyists, congressmen, and executives sitting in front of grand juries and facing jail-time for fraud and gross negligence and deriliction of duty. Isn't there a mechanism for individuals to start that process?"

This, at least, we can certainly agree on, though I would prefer to have them in front of firing squads, or perhaps cleaning the toilets and changing the diapers of the kids of all the people that their financial shenanigans put out of work.

Good points, OTOH Barack Obama didn't campaign as a "fundamentalist conservative" and wasn't elected to become one. So he is elected and the first thing he does is load the upper echelons of government with Wall Street insiders and puppets. IMHO the USA has both Republican and Democrat politicians of reasonable integrity, and none of these can get anywhere near the top where the power lies (specifically because of their integrity). The country needs a third party pronto.

You're making the common mistake of lumping Republicans and conservatives together. It's a tenuous overlap at best.

On the one hand, I'll grant you that some idealogical conservatives would have approved of a hands-off policy, but they would also have been hands-off to Fannie and Freddie. However, they would have also continued Glass-Steagal and would have left the banks and their derivative bets to fail. It would have been horrendous, popular uproar would have been huge, and gov't would have stepped in after the fact.........and it would have cost less money to the working stiff at least.

The last 30 years had many, many years of split Repub/Demo congress and White House, and Dems were right in there pushing along FM and FM and extolling the virtues of perpetual house value growth as well.

I said BEFORE Katrina hit that the levees were poorly maintained, the city was in danger, and nobody should count on anybody but themselves to make preparations. I'd say the same now. It's not that gov't can't work in reasonable circumstances, but that a long-standing back-water bureaucracy (like FEMA before 9/11) grows increasingly inefficient and entangled in it's own policies.

I agree with you on the Banksters -- and the whole kaboodle of lobbyists -- but at least I know where they're heading. Politicians are the best at saying one thing, meaning another, and doing a third.

I certainly wouldn't trust any of the above with my kids. I've seen what they call education, and I'd hate to see what they consider personal hygiene!

I said BEFORE Katrina hit that the levees were poorly maintained...

The problem isn't that the levees were poorly maintained, the problem is that the levees exist in the first place. Great rivers inundate and meander across their floodplains. Fluvial processes renew soil fertility and provide the basis for sustainable agriculture. Floodplains should be farmed, not developed and settled. By channelizing the Mississippi and confining it behind levees, not only do you (imperfectly) prevent the inundation of the floodplain but you end up destroying the delta by funneling Midwestern topsoil to the deep waters of the Gulf. Extensive deltaic salt marsh once formed a buffer zone between inland communities and Atlantic hurricanes. A century of watershed mismanagement primarily by the Corp of Engineers has sent these marshes into precipitous decline, exposing communities to the direct onslaught of the storm surge. Maintaining, reinforcing, raising the levees is absolutely the wrong approach. They should be removed completely. Low lying development that would be threatened by levee removal shouldn't be there in the first place. Restoring the natural hydrodynamics of the Mississippi is much more important than is protecting misplaced development.

Katrina... There's one thing that I noticed about the folks who stayed in NO and who were victims...

They were mostly black.

Did anyone else notice this?

How is it that 40 years after the Civil Rights movement that we have an underclass of Americans- STILL- that is along racial lines...?

And the next disaster... Who do you think will suffer- The white/European/Caucasian guy or the poor African farmer or Bangledeshi farmer?

Food for thought.

Although no group is monolithic in opinion or emotion, many blacks are outraged that so many of their own were left behind in New Orleans with no evacuation plan and no urgent effort to rescue them.

There you go -- well indoctrinated welfare-state denizens. Blacks are sheeple too.

So... there's nothing wrong with a society in which 60% or more of adult black males are in prison? (Time magazine statistic.)

I admire and agree with a lot of what you have said (I even printed out one of your comments and stuck it on the wall behind my desk for a while), but I think there must be systemic reasons for the ongoing plight of black people in the USA. This response is merely blaming the victim. I'm disappointed.

There have been natural disasters that hit mostly white people too. And there will be again. Wait till Global Warming gives us Lake Effect off the Arctic, followed by super Chinooks on the upper Missouri, Powder, and Red rivers. Kiss the High Plains goodbye.

60% or more of adult black males are in prison

In my first college class the teacher said "if you only learn one thing, never trust Time Magazine".

2,293,157 US prisoners
40,000,000 African Americans

They were mostly black.

They were also mostly poor. So is "the problem" the skin color or their position on the socioeconomic ladder?

(if you think race is a hot button - try selling that the US of A is a class based society and that needs a-fix'n)

Right on,DD.The less interference with watercourse flows,the better.Our Australian Murray-Darling system is a good example.

How can the problem NOT be gov't when the gov't specifically relaxed legislation to prevent investment abuses, specifically encouraged poor loan oversight, failed to regulate loan-bundling, CDOs, and derivatives despite clear responsibility to do so while simultaneously blowing asset bubbles, and then decided to shaft the taxpayers in a misguided attempt to resolve the mess?

Wait, wut?

Government got out of the way of private interests at private interests' behest, and is following the directives of those same private interests as to what the best method to fix the problem is, and somehow the problem is too much government?

Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

Probably we should clearly separate "gov't bureaucracy and power" from regulation". It's not too much or too little gov't power, but simply bad, irresponsible, corrupt, and negligent gov't. More regulation would have helped, but more bureaucrats would not.

Can somebody tell me what would have happened if all these finance players had simply been allowed to implode? What would have been worse than what we have now, related to taxpayer impact and expense?

Edit: Perhaps a more succinct statement would be that Congress has committees specifically charged with oversight of financial markets. They had the power and the responsibility, and yet they chose to deregulate to the detriment of the taxpayer. All the rest of the players had roles in the fiasco, but they all answer to others. Congress is where this particular buck stops, and the presidents who turned a blind-eye as well.

They would not have gotten your money, which would have been worse for them-they don't pay these puppets just to smile and wave.

Fair enough. The problem here is that our government has failed in it's namesake role: governance.

Responsible government is a necessary precondition to a solution here. I note that despite the current chin-deep involvement in getting a lot of the current mess made to begin with, there are an increasing number of politicians who are at least making the right noises.

Not much to go on, and very late in the game, but maybe there's some retroactive fixes that can be pulled on the leeches.

Politics: from poly, indicating a multitude, and tick, a species of blood sucking insect.

Government got out of the way of private interests at private interests' behest

Yes. Except it shouldn't have with respect to Collateralized Debt Obligations as these are essentially insurance policies: one party agrees to compensate a second party for a fee if a third party defaults on a debt. The only problem is, 2nd party companies were making promises to pay first parties without actually having the assets to back up the promise. Worse, it was possible for a fourth party to bet on the third party's failure so that if there was a default, rather than paying only X, the second party would have to pay many times X to those parties to which it sold CDOs.

Compare to traditional insurance. An insurance company insures against some kind of loss but is actually required to have reserves of a large enough magnitude to pay the losses. Congress was looking into regulating CDOs, but decided not to bother.

And now, after the second parties basically committed fraud, i.e. accepted payments for promises they knew they couldn't meet, Congress spends our money on them. So we have TOO LITTLE government when it could have made a difference, and TOO MUCH government when the losses are high from its first failure.

That line above, "Govenment: if you think the problems are bad, wait till you see the solutions" is totally brilliant.

"What we need is lobbyists, congressmen, and executives sitting in front of grand juries and facing jail-time for fraud and gross negligence and deriliction of duty. Isn't there a mechanism for individuals to start that process?"

Sadly, the process will only start to reap rewards when they are at the end of a gun barrel. This failure of your leadership will continue, until they are removed by force of arms.

Perhaps it is time the gloves came off and have a revolution. A lot of what we see today is reminiscent of pre-revolution France. A financial and political bourgeois taking what they want from the public purse to uphold an elite minority based on (perceived)privilege. 'Off with their heads' (and away with their purses) I say!

It reminds me of the saying, "Government: if you think our problems are bad, just wait until you see our solutions".

So old, yet so true.

What we are witnessing here isn't a failure of capitalism, it is a failure of socialism.

So, since most of what you describe happened under the Bush administration's watch, by implication you are saying that they are rabid socialists? They did what? Over regulate the free market capitalist system? Dick Cheney is a socialist? I think you owe me a brand new irony meter, because mine just shattered!

Who decided to hand out money to every taxpayer in the USA last year? Karl Marx?

Who decided to require lenders to lend to people who could not afford to borrow, in order to increase home ownership rates? J. Stalin?

Who vetoed the sale of a port to Ports of Dubai?

Who provided massive subsidies for corn ethanol, while ignoring other forms of alternative energy?


Dick and co. may not have regulated the markets, but they certainly interfered with their operation. Very ham-fistedly.

Because it isn't a free market.

Took ya long enough to come to that conclusion.

What we are witnessing here isn't a failure of capitalism

No, fairly certain it is.

Ya see, Man can't make a damn thing that WON'T fail. Eventually. So the trick is - what's the failure mode? A weak fed, strong state model allows for one state to fail, but the others in the union can help out. But some felt ideas of many small organizations is not worth a continental so instead big firms were allowed to 'take advantage of synergies' or 'make things cheaper because of their ability to mass produce' or whatever clap-trap is spouted in the B schools without asking the question:

What is the failure mode

If an actual engineer was in charge (say Jimmy Carter) I'd expect that question to get asked. Instead Law grads are in charge - and their answers will be what they know - more laws. Whooop. More laws of man for man to follow. I'm sure it'll work out THIS time.

But hey - I'll issue the same challenge I issue every time someone whips out the rhetorical saw 'that's not capitalism' - Show a functioning system that is actual capitalism.

What is the failure mode

Worse, we have the problem of the Common Mode failure. That phrase strikes fear into the hearts of every design and manufacturing engineer.


I think I can almost agree with you on everything but the capitalism part. I think it's a failure of centralization and corporate globalization. Small-time capitalism is not the issue, but a new "corporatism" outside the control scope of any single countries and at a scale that no country can back-stop financially and with influence that few countries will politically withstand that is a new phenomenon.

capitalism...centralization...corporate globalization...Small-time capitalism..."corporatism"

You have a lot of loaded words here that I've seen used in different ways to different people.

I've asked for an actual capitalist system that is in operation to be shown.

So come on, show that capitalism as a system can work and is just not a claim.

Total manipulation.

9-11 was (by now obviously) an inside job. But one cannot explain the collapse in in valuations of the major corporations simply as a conspiracy, although there have undoubtedly been a multitude of conspiracies and maneuverings within the context of that collapse as the major players try to rescue or even enrich themselves at public expense. Capitalism has been going through crises for a few hundred years now, of ever greater irregularity and intensity. Credit plays a even great role in the upcycles.

In the Depression, the last comparable crisis, the was still a resource base for recovery, and the massive expenditures of WW2 (or preparing for it in Germany's case) dragged the major economies out of it. This time massive debt-financed (public debt) won't work because the resource base is impoverished and shrinking. Nor does there remain a world to conquer. We are already at war and losing. The debt that is piling up can never be paid, and ultimately will be inflated away. That's what the Europeans are accusing the US of preparing to do -- and they are right. And that's must be what Wen Ji Bao means when he says is nervous about his US investments.

Not everything is a conspiracy. There is also systemic collapse. We are going to have to move beyond allowing profit to decide everything. It will never be possible to repay all the debts accumulated. As investors and pensioners and members of the middle class we are totally screwed. That's why we need to redirect our efforts towards retrenchment and survival for everyone, at a materially much lower level, but not necessarily worse way of life. There's no other good way out.

Conspiracy is a loaded word, but what you have right now is a lot of companies, especially in the financial area, not being run like businesses at all. Theoretically, the US government or politicians shouldn't have to yell at AIG or any other company because they are pissing away their owners' (shareholders) capital-now the taxpayers' capital. Supposedly management and the board are supposed to manage the company like a business. Unfortunately, there is often more money to be made by looting the company and the law is impotent in this regard. These companies needed to be bailed out because they have been looted in broad daylight and continue to be looted.

But the shareholders should complain about mismanagement, and the taxpayer is now the shareholder. The only responsible action at this point is to fire the executives who created the CDO/derivative gambit, pay/bonus system, and multi-national agreements, and put tight-fisted turnaround agents in charge. If those new people can't paint a picture of success in 3 months, then liquidation is in order.

There is no reason the gov't shouldn't unwind the swaps and trades where possible, and leave each institution holding holding its own remaining liabilities. When you do unregulated deals, you suffer unregulated consequences.

And of course Congress should be spending their time closing the regulatory loopholes and skewering the fraudulent rather than arguing over bail-out nuances and misdirection attention at the .1% bonuses versus the 99.9% derivative payouts. The bonuses are probably just a smoke-and-mirrors distraction from where the real money is going right now.

Shareholders sell their shares, which happened with these firms. Complaints go nowhere-Kerkorian couldn't even get a spot on the board of GM when he was the biggest shareholder. How are taxpayer complaints working in terms of stopping the looting? I thought the Change Agent was supposed to fix this stuff.

Conspiracy is a loaded word, but what you have right now is a lot of companies, especially in the financial area, not being run like businesses at all.

I would argue that you have a gov't being run like those companies that aren't companies. It is part of the swindle, bailing these companies out by printing money, which will result in runaway inflation at some point.

You make a distinction between real and not real companies. But in the larger picture I think that's hard to uphold. The expansion of our economy, the consumption far in excess of production, has been financed by debt. All major businesses have participated in that debt-based expansion, some profiting by more or less conventional means, others not, as you point out, but all dependent on the debt explosion. But taken as a whole it was and is totally unsustainable. Everyone should have see that when their houses tripled or quadrupled in a few short years.

But the gov't now wants to continue that, to resume growth, resume unsustainable expansion, and do it by the same means that got us into mess. None of this is new in itself -- but its size and global scope are new, and even more new is that it is taking place in the context of global resource depletion and constraints -- which blocks the usual way out -- further growth, thereby blocking pay down of debt other than thru inflation, an inflation that will finish off the middle class. That's what I foresee.

9-11 was (by now obviously) an inside job.

Leanan, please come back before the wingnuts completely take over this list.

Yeah, heaven forbid Osama comes to the states...

7-11 employee or 9-11 mastermind?

have you considered she needed time off because of the deterioration in energy discussion and whacko/vitriolic comments? She is human you do realize? Put yourself in her shoes. she is trying to share information she feels is important for the broader polity to know/understand and her/our efforts are continually being undermined by the fact that the internet is free, and not a democracy.

Please folks, keep the non energy, non-sustainability related opinions/conspiracies/etc. off the site, if you value the content you find here and want it to continue. Seriously.

I remember Leanan herself, here, complaining a few weeks ago about Denninger, who insta-bans anyone who mentions limits to growth in his forum.

This must be frustrating to people for whom the limits to growth are obvious.

The Oil Drum is different. Here, peak oil is not a wingnut conspiracy theory. Here, 9/11 is the unmentionable subject.

Here, 9/11 is the unmentionable subject.

No, that is not correct! 9/11 happened and as far as it is related to energy, or the war, it should be mentioned. It is those stupid conspiracy theories that should be barred, like claiming it was an inside job. Yeay, Cheney was in charge, controlling everything..... Just how damn stupid can some people get?

You may not realize that peak oil, limits to growth, etc. sound just as stupid to most people. You don't need to agree with every wingnut's theory, but don't forget that you and I are wingnuts, too. As far as most people are concerned.

Claiming that oil is a fossil fuel and therefore has geological limits, and will one day peak, is not in the same league with conspiracy theories claiming that the Bush White House was completely in charge of 9/11.

The point is bmcnett, that all wingnuts are not on the same level. Even the IEA now acknowledges that oil will peak. In fact, just about everyone does except those abiogenic wingnuts. So peak oil is no longer a wingnut theory but regarded by almost everyone as a fact. The only dispute is about when oil will peak, or did peak.

Sorry, I just have no patience with those wingnuts who claim 9/11 was an inside job. They are far out wingnuts, not mainstream wingnuts like you and I. ;-)

You're comparing a general, moderate stance on oil depletion with a specific, extreme nutty stance on 9/11.

Almost everyone knows that oil production will peak and decline to zero, but almost nobody believes that there will be any consequences.


Just as fast as oil declines, new awesome energy sources like hydrogen, conservation, and hybrid cars improve even better to give us a higher, greener standard of living, because we always have more innovation from technology and increasing population.

It's unfair to say that one must believe either this, or in a Mad Max collapse. There are lots of facts and opinions between these extremes, as you must know.

It's unfair to paint the other wingnuts of the world with the craziest possible interpretation you can think of their beliefs.

Is it considered Wing-nut to be of the belief that the Feds allowed the attacks to proceed, given the political power/clout they would obtain in return? The pretense to start a war, and gain massive profits for those who make the weapons? That's not too far of a stretch, as it has happened previously in history. So, to say that 9/11 was an "inside job" to me doesn't necessarily mean that the US Gov orchestrated the attacks, but merely allowed them to happen.

The vehement opposition to the idea by many people is similar to the response one would receive when you might inform someone that the US Gov was involved in sterilization of those with Downs Syndrome, or that the US set up internment camps for Japanese citizens during World War II. They will often look at you like you're crazy, like you made it up, when it's all thoroughly documented, and not anywhere in Wing-nut land in the eyes of a historian.

My grandmother is still convinced that Pearl Harbor was allowed to occur, being that superiors were aware of the impending attack, but purposefully failed to notify Pear Harbor.

IAfter all, as far as I'm concerned, those people who have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" are a bunch of whacko's, but they seem to be in the majority in the US, but woe to the person who criticizes them, for they are of the popular opinion....

Realistically, unless you were involved directly in the 9/11 deal no one actually knows how it went down. We can come up with our best guesses based on the info or we can just subcontract the thinking out to the MSM but either way lots of unknowns remain.

Durandal and BrianT:

Shhhs. Be quiet. You are both being reasonable and such a position doesn't allow the giant circle jerk of 9/11 was not a conspiracy/yes it was to continue. And you BrianT - how dare you state the obvious - no one posting here on TOD would have been directly involved and therefore has no 'provable authority' as a 1st hand witness.

If the circle jerk is allowed to happen, then energy can be wasted on that VS the circle jerk'n of "That's organic/no its not" or "Abiotic oil is real" or "you TOD posters are all the pawns of big oil/monsanto/stock market firms" or ......

Your positions allow all sides to walk away with an 'agree to disagree' - esp when the road has been walked before and the "there are no conspiracies" dud won't back down, and neither will the "yes, there are" side.

IAfter all, as far as I'm concerned, those people who have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" are a bunch of whacko's, but they seem to be in the majority in the US, but woe to the person who criticizes them, for they are of the popular opinion....

Free speech is sacred

So at a time when we need more not fewer rational thinking people, we get the UN wanting to criminalize blasphemy against Islam. You think they'd have real issues to worry about.

All relationships with supernatural entities fall under the category of irrational delusion and those that engage in them tend to be deluded about the realities of the physical world as well, making them all the more dangerous. When it comes to solving the problems that face our global community these are the last people that I want around.

Imagine there's no Heaven. John Lennon

It is a fact that the Gulf of Tonkin 'attack' on a US destroyer never happened but that did not prevent LBJ from using the contrived incident to widen the Viet Nam War.

When will average citizens realize that individuals who reach the pinnacle of power in any government will do whatever is necessary to remain there? Whatever is necessary! This is not conspiracy, but fact!

Ron lives in an ivory tower eighth grade civics class. He probably puts his fingers in ears and goes lalalalalalala when anything that he doesn't want to hear, read, or see appears in any form of media. That is what he does here!

I tend to go for the simplest explanation - Occam's Razor and all that.

The simplest explanation for US Government negligence in the run-up to 9/11 is just that - negligence, along with incompetence and mere stupidity. We are talking about George W. Bush and crew, after all. I find the above explanation to be thoroughly credible based upon observations of GWB's behavior over the past 8 years.

The simplest explanation for US Government negligence in the run-up to 9/11 is just that - negligence

That may very well be. But if it was negligence - why were the people who didn't do their job fired?

Written by Darwinian:
Even the IEA now acknowledges that oil will peak. In fact, just about everyone does except those abiogenic wingnuts. So peak oil is no longer a wingnut theory but regarded by almost everyone as a fact. The only dispute is about when oil will peak, or did peak.

There are only a small fraction of Americans who think oil production will peak. The amount of denial, misunderstanding and illogical reasoning exuding from the average American is overwhelming. This is obvious in discussions on economics, climate change and oil prices on the various forums in which I participate. There is even one person, a retired petroleum geologist, who understands peak oil but denies anthropic climate change and advocates coal to synfuel and algal biodiesel as the solution. There is a wide held belief that the run up in the price of crude oil to ~$147 / barrel in July 2008 was caused by speculators in NYMEX. They believe the January 11, 2009 report by Steve Kroft of CBS News 60 Minutes, The Price of Oil. No amount of facts or rational argument is able to change their beliefs. There is a belief in techno fixes. People think oil shale and tar sands are oil, the same thing as light sweet crude oil. They think the U.S. contains more oil than all the stated global reserves, but the greedy oil companies and evil environmentalists will never allow it to be developed. They revel in the low price of crude oil and cheer now that those dastardly OPEC countries are suffering for running the price of oil sky high. I am attacked by poster after poster when I suggest the current price is too low because oil projects are being canceled. The Libertarian belief that government should stay out of everything pervades the economic forum. It interferes with any proposal to deal with peak oil which requires coordinated, centralized control. Even in the gloomy economics forum half of the people tune out (go into denial mode) if they begin to comprehend the looming disaster related to peak oil. They understand the Fed buying $300 billion in U.S. Treasuries will likely spark inflation of consumer prices forcing those with savings to pay for the debt and destroying the American middle class, but resource constraints are not on their radar.

From all of this I conclude peak oil is very much viewed as a fringe theory by the majority. The only things that will make Americans switch away from crude oil are high prices or shortages.

'There is a wide held belief that the run up in the price of crude oil to ~$147 / barrel in July 2008 was caused by speculators in NYMEX.'

It was caused by speculators flooding into commodities markets of all stripes. Not only via NYMEX. The same game is playing out in the silver market right now but with ETFs so huge that they are warping the market. No conspiracy about it, it's happening.

The problem with peak oilers is that run ups in prices are always due to product shortage and then when the price crashes??? Gee, why did oil go down, it's still in short supply? Ron is especially guilty of this silly business. http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/cftc-probes-big-oil-etf/story.aspx...

There was no shortage during the run up in prices. People on this board were attempting to point out that the Persian Gulf was full of tankers loaded with crude and no market to deliver to. Why would no one on this board listen to a contrarian view then? Because everyone on this board that was playing in commodities was LONG OIL. They got burned eventually, as I predicted they would. I didn't, I was short oil. http://www.counterpunch.org/martens06212008.html

9/11 happened and as far as it is related to energy, or the war, it should be mentioned. It is those stupid conspiracy theories that should be barred, like claiming it was an inside job

And you know what happened on 9/11? Are you claiming that the investigation as published was true and accurate?

Yeay, Cheney was in charge

Yes he was. So sayith Norm Mineta.

Mineta is on video testifying before the 9/11 Commission, though it was omitted in their final report. He told Lee Hamilton:

“During the time that the airplane was coming into the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say to the Vice President…the plane is 50 miles out…the plane is 30 miles out….and when it got down to the plane is 10 miles out, the young man also said to the vice president “do the orders still stand?” And the Vice President turned and whipped his neck around and said “Of course the orders still stand, have you heard anything to the contrary!?

Just how damn stupid can some people get?

Do you have evidence that Mr. Meneta's statements above are wrong?

Nate, I was being sarcastic. I know Leanan needs a vacation and we all deeply appreciate the job she is doing. I also know she would have nuked those stupid conspiracy theory post as quick as they appeared.

She has not allowed Mac to post his stupid "The Presidents Men are manipulating the stock market" posts either. She kept things on a higher level. We miss her but know full well she, like everyone else, needs a little time off.


his stupid "The Presidents Men are manipulating the stock market" posts either.

And what exact level of evidence would be needed for your closed mind to be changed on that topic?

SUCK UP SUCK UP SUCK UP. 'If only Leanan were here she would make everything hunky dory.'

Ron, you are beyond belief. You're not a man, you're a sucker fish that attaches yourself to anything that can protect your dumb azz.

Well, even kindergarten teachers get a break, and this seems more like pre-school some days.

I'll commit to working harder to stick to energy and sustainability and less on politics and finance....they overlap, but they sure do cause commotion, and I know I'm in the minority of political views here.

Props to Leanan for all she does -- and how superbly she does it.

I second Darwinian's proposal. Conspiracy theorists drag every discussion down to the lowest conceivable intellectual level -- even replying to them can cause brain damage.

Either the wingnuts are barred, or the non-wingnuts will eventually migrate elsewhere.

>Either the wingnuts are barred, or the non-wingnuts
>will eventually migrate elsewhere.

To 99.9999% of the world, peak oil etc. are wingnut conspiracy theories.

The Oil Drum has no obligation to indulge every wingnut in their favorite theory, but perhaps we can see a little mutual goodwill among wingnut factions?

This is a Peak Oil site, for crying out loud!

Just because some (even perhaps large) majority of people do not "believe" in PO, doesn't mean that anything that people don't believe in is true, or needs to be trotted out on TOD.

Besides, you have it all wrong. It's the Pink Unicorns, I tell you. They're behind it all...

My daughter caught a glimpse of your(?) pink Unicorn of the apocalyps picture, and insisted I print up a copy for her.

PS, Thanks, Nate for the call to sanity. I'm keeping clear.


The Pink Unicorns are everywhere, working their evil mischief! People may laugh, but that's just what They want!

People laughed at Einstein. Of course, they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.


Hello TODers,

As most already know, I am always trying to figure out better postPeak methods for bicycles, wheelbarrows, SpiderWebRiding, movement of fluids,etc. Recall that the Chinese invented the wheelbarrow and rickshaw a very, very, long time ago. Please take a look at this photo:

On land, the wheelbarrow (dulunche 独轮车) was the most important means of transport in pre-modern China. This track leads to a ferry crossing the Yangtze river at Zhenjiang.
I would imagine this track might go for miles, and the other streets in this ancient looking town might have them too. Thus, you would have a networked web that all funnels down to the nexus of the ferry crossing/river port, then a similar network on the other side of the ferry crossing of the Yangtze river.

Pretty clever, but can it be further improved for a modest investment? I don't see any plumbing or electrical on these buildings, which would makes sense if these buildings are already very old. So, instead of hauling drinking water up or down these hills: they should fasten down a pipe on one side of this wheelbarrow track, and the other side might have a similar size pipe to carry even more water [if required], or electricity, or broadband cable.

Thus, not only would many have improved living convenience, but the safety of the wheelbarrow workers would be enhanced. Currently, if a wheelbarrow person starts avidly watching an attractive female on the stairs: he runs the risk of going off-track, then tripping/spilling his load. The addition of the surface-mounted pipes would tend to keep him on-track at all times if he is using a single-wheel-barrow.

Even better, once you have the two pipes laid down: you can next fasten/weld a thin strip of metal on top of each pipe. Then the wheelbarrows can go to two wheels on a smooth track. This then eliminates the need for the constant side-to-side balancing required of a conventional single wheelbarrow--again improving worker safety and productivity, plus much reduced rolling friction.

If you are trying to get fresh, fragile eggs to market--it is far better to use a smooth track than head-balancing eggs while using stairs.

As mentioned in earlier SpiderWebRiding posts: having these pipes on the surface makes installation and maintenance much less costly. In the photo above, for example: I would hate to have to remove all those stones, dig a trench, lay the pipes, refill/tamp the dirt, then relplace the stones. It would also make any repairs in the future that much harder vs. just keeping the pipes above ground.

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

I like hybrid systems, Bob, and the idea that one piece of equipment serves multiple purposes, giving that much more return on the investment.

One of the mods to your idea that I think is essential is that the carts I'm using are two-wheeled, all-but eliminating the balancing problem. I carried a hundred pounds of lighting/camera plus cart downtown last week on two wheels, going over snowbanks and ice, off curbs, etc.. and it was balanced over the two wheels so that I did this with one hand free for my coffee, and the working hand was basically relaxed. A lot of work accomplished basically for only the effort of pushing a bit on the uphills, and looking both ways at the corners. I did work up a very small sweat, but it was surprising how little effort was needed. (Ball Bearings, a smooth path and Rubber Tires help enormously, of course).. and the wheels were from a discarded kids bike rusting on the streets a couple years back. Almost all curbside leftovers to make this thing.

One-wheel rigs can be better in their way, too, for maneuverability and access on foottrails, etc.. but I would design a system to have enough space for two.

Still, I'm glad you're chewing hard on this stuff too. It's hard sometimes to feel significant by thinking about 'small' solutions, and yet that is one of the biggest ways we can attack our overscaled problems.

'It'll take all of us, and it'll take forever.. but that's the point' W. McDonough, 'From Cradle to Cradle'


Hello Jokuhl,

Thxs for the reply. One good thing about one or two wheel carts is that I don't think these Chinese townspeople had much NIMBYism against this track going down their local stairs. In fact, it probably made things much quieter as their wheelbarrows had wooden wheels for centuries. Clunk, clunk, clunk over every crack or drop.

Now picture the USA: the average 'Murkan bitches and moans if their grocery cart squeaks or has a wobbly set of wheels! I can just hear it now: "You are not going to put a bicycle or wheelbarrow path in my neighborhood."

Hi Totoneila,

It's not all that bad. In addition to us having the # 1 all around seed in the NCAA (Kiss of death most likely but, hey) some stimulus money is going to get spent on bike paths and walking paths.


I'd prefer to see the 5.5 million for road repair spent on resurrecting old trolly lines but maybe later.

Another couple of Gazprom stories.

Gazprom's gas exports drop almost 50% since start of year - paper

MOSCOW, March 18 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom's natural gas exports to countries other than former Soviet republics declined by 16 billion cubic meters to 24 billion cubic meters from January 1 to March 15, a business paper reported on Wednesday.

Vedomosti also reported, citing data of the central dispatch office in the fuel and energy complex that Gazprom's natural gas production was continuing to decline in March.

Gazprom's natural gas output fell 21% from March 1 to March 16 as compared with the same period last year and 9% in February 2009, Vedomosti reported

Gazprom turns down invitation to join Nabucco project

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom has received an invitation to join the Nabucco pipeline project to pump gas from Central Asia to Europe, but will not take up the offer, a deputy head of Russia’s energy giant said.

In an interview with Vesti TV on Monday, Alexander Medvedev said Gazprom would stick with its South Stream project and stay out of Nabucco.

“Unlike in the case of Nabucco, we have everything we need for this project [South Stream] to materialize,” he said. “We have gas, the market, experience in implementing complex projects, and corporate management.”

The executive said Gazprom was not prepared to split its operations between two projects simultaneously.

“You chase two rabbits, you catch neither. We have a rabbit we know, and we will chase it,” he said.


It is beginning to sound more and more like Nabucco will never be constructed. EU is no longer putting money in it; Gazprom not interested; Iran not invited to contribute gas.

The decline in Russian exports is truly amazing. With the big declines in gas in storage in the Europe, one wonders what is really going on.

One possibility. EU gas importers see flood of new LNG for cheap. Now is maximum time till next maximum demand period (aka winter). Reduced industrial demand will likely cut annual demand till next winter, so time to stockpile this summer.

Oil revenues are down for Russia, so lets cut their gas revenues for a few months. And then make a long term deal.

In other words, importers may be leveraging Russia when the balance is in their favor.


In other words, importers may be leveraging Russia when the balance is in their favor.

That's the official story anyway. Given that the Russians could cut off the gas at any time as the dispute with Ukraine hasn't been fully resolved and a payment must be met by bankrupt Ukraine every month or else the taps are closed, it would seem to be a very dangerous game to play. There's one hell of a lot of gas going to be needed now to refill European storage in time for next winter and no guarantee it will be there.

The Beginning of the End

Chevron invested $833 million in green energy in 2008 and plans to invest $2.5 billion between 2007 and 2009. Conoco Phillips invested $33 million in green energy in 2008 while Exxon Mobil invested $4 million in 2008.

Exxon Mobil thinks the world has a long way to go before it runs out of crude. Most of the world disagrees.

Also: Exxon vs. Obama

The biggest oil company in the world is also the most resistant to the shift to green energy. The White House seems determined to make Exxon Mobil’s life miserable.

Ron P.

As Pogo said, "We (the energy industry in this case) have met the enemy and he is us."

I think that Obama apparently believes ExxonMobil, OPEC, CERA, et al's hallucinations that the worst case is a "Bumpy Plateau" of crude production many decades from now.

Obama, in turn, has his own hallucinations that we can maintain our auto centric suburban way of life--we will just power it will with cool new sources of green energy, as we gradually transition away from abundant fossil fuel resources.

Kind of makes you want to engage in your own drug fueled hallucinations.

Obama, in turn, has his own hallucinations that we can maintain our auto centric suburban way of life--we will just power it will with cool new sources of green energy...

I've been a lifelong Democrat. I didn't support Obama in the primaries because I felt that he lacked experience for the job. But when he won the nomination I felt that he would do alright and threw my support behind him. I voted for him and was glad he won. Then even before the inauguration, when he was announcing early cabinet picks, I began to feel that his election had been a mistake. His utterly BAU cabinet, his parroting of Cheney about the "American way of life," his profligacy with the taxpayers' money, his apparent ignorance of important issues - as you state above - all have added up to my considering his election to have been a complete disaster. Even the senile old Repub & his bimbo couldn't be doing a worse job of running the country, unless the objective is to run it into the ground, in which case I give Obama high marks. I've been a lifelong Democrat but I don't know what I am anymore. An anarchist perhaps.

We really do need a genuine, viable alternative to the two-sides-of-the-same-coin that we have now. Forget about ideology, unless you count plain old "good government" and "competence" as ideological.

IMO Barack Obama is working overtime to improve the viability of a third political party in the USA-if the senile old guy and the bimbo had won the public would have still held out hope-Obama would be all over the media saying what "he would have done". Now that the facade is being removed IMO a third party might arise, unlike the two political parties owned by Wall Street insiders and led by puppets.

I agree, now that the savior figure is in place, if he doesn't provide a miracle, possibly it will provide the slap in the face the US needs in terms of reshaping the political structure. Both parties are corrupt and need to be thrown away. (Actually, I'd be happy if we could simultaneously eliminate all politicians from the system every 50 years or so, requiring all new greenhorn candidates who haven't been in the system forever and as a result become corrupted by it..)

Unfortunately, when a "savior figure" is defrocked the faithful do not go to those without faith for solutions, they simply find a new savior. I doubt we will like the next winner as much as the last couple. And that's saying a lot.

(Actually, I'd be happy if we could simultaneously eliminate all politicians from the system every 50 years or so, requiring all new greenhorn candidates who haven't been in the system forever and as a result become corrupted by it..)

I believe it is called 'Term Limits' on all elected officials at the local, state and national levels.

The problem is, once a politician hits the term limit for a representative, he then goes on to be a senator, or a judge, or a whatever... They're still in the system, and they're still corrupt. When they're finally done, then they work as a lobbyist...

We need term limits for parties. 25 years and then the party is disbanded, all members of the party hierarchy to be banned from any public "service" for 10 years and they're banned from being part of the new parties' hierarchy. Term limits fail because it's the parties that run 90% of the show -- the candidates are fungible.

Maybe a third party should emerge but I give Obama lots of credit on a number of fronts. Acknowledging there just might be a climate issue for one, stem cells, human rights, gay rights. I think it's unfortunate that Larry (no limits to growth) Summers and Steven (tecnology will save us) Chu et al are advising him but he is godalmighty so much better than what we had and if we got old guy and the bimbo, we'd still have the economic crisis and be deeper in the nut basket than ever.

He wants to boost alt energy, he knows there are serious problems and he's juggling plates on a stick but do you really expect he'll come out and announce to the world that peak oil occurred yesterday and that we need to relocalize our economy?

Let's try to keep perspective.

That's 2 posts today where you are talking sense today. Damn, you are on a roll.

Rather than a 3rd party - how about instant run off voting or some other 'non party' system? Is not the 'party system' part of the problem?

how about instant run off voting or some other 'non party' system?

My experience of direct democracy (well semi direct at least), is not a good one. The California perennial budget mess is a result of the proposition system, whereas thinly worded proposals are directly voted on by citizens. We've seen that there is a strong bias towards earmarking spending towards things that sound good in a single paragraph writeup. Then when the bills become due, there is no revenue to support them. The reason representative democracy was invented, was so that professionals who could afford to research/analyze the probable consequences of legislation, rather than just the immediate emotional connotation of such would make the decisions.

My experience of direct democracy (well semi direct at least), is not a good one.

I'm not seeing instant run off voting as 'direct democracy' - but do who how that would be the case.

The President may believe in the 'Automated-America' mentality.. or just knows that there's no way to say otherwise for some time yet. You know almost nobody is ready to hear it.. Carbon tariffs and challenging the big energy co's to the extent he has is certainly a start to this fade-in.

'This thing don't turn on a dime.' - Hunt for Red October

Oil advocates like XOM have to know they are being disingenuous. We can all stipulate that there is sufficient oil in the ground, but the 'scalable oil' is past peak. The oil that is left is accessible at high cost and decreasing rates of flow. It is really the same argument that is sometimes used against solar and wind. The energy from these sources is nominally sufficient, but the rate at which we can access it is very limited. In many ways, these resources (oil and renewables) are on an equal footing in terms of cost to exploit. The embedded infrastructure may make oil cheaper today, but last year was a sign that this won't last. Oil supply is diminishing, and Simmons has estimated that 75% of the delivery infrastructure needs replacing.

The investment to sustain oil seems not much different from that needed to build up clean energy. Going forward then, which energy should we try to access: the depleting, polluting sort, or the stable, cleaner sort?

"Going forward then, which energy should we try to access: the depleting, polluting sort, or the stable, cleaner sort?"

we'll access the oil in the countries with the smallest
defense and fewest nukes.

Moving up the chain as needed.

See PNAC 2000 for details.

World War I was a once-in-a-millennium upset in the architecture of global power. In four years, it shifted the center of that power from Europe to the United States. But failure now by the U.S. will shift that center once again, from the United States to China, out of the western world where it has resided for the past 500 years. The psychic shock to the billion-odd people living in western civilization, with its liberal democracies, capitalist economies, and Enlightenment ideals, will be incalculable, irretrievable.

This shift may be inevitable and only a matter of time. It is quite possible that the damage inflicted on the western world's economy by rapacious Republicans is already beyond repair. But it will be tragedy beyond measure if such a shift is consummated by the very wrecking crew that took us down the road to ruin, all the while so unctuously proclaiming "patriotism" as its crowning ideal. They are not patriots and their goal is not the revival of American power. It is the revival of their own power, even at the expense of America's. They represent a very dangerous threat to the nation's future.


we'll access the oil in the countries with the smallest
defense and fewest nukes.

Moving up the chain as needed.

Point taken, but aren't we trying this already? It seems like it has proven to be costly as well.

But failure now by the U.S. will shift that center once again, from the United States to China, out of the western world where it has resided for the past 500 years.

The center is shifting. IMO, China's problem is that in chasing Western-style prosperity it is gearing up to win the last 'war', instead of the next one.

China is the last great industrial power, and will suffocate in its own wastes.
My Brother was just in Shanghai, and the sky was green during his stay.

Add a report that all those new buildings
are "see throughs."

Which is why I think Russia has the advantage,
they've already collapsed.

I think you are correct. The pollution has to be having health impacts on the people already. Also, trying to do exponential growth, from this as a base, is a real problem.

I heard that the water situation is even worse.

Breaking Bloomberg:

Dr K and James Baker visit Moscow.

They're not there as tourists.

Note the "incident" in the S China Sea. What was not
broadcast as widely, happening simutaneously:

News results for philippines claims spratly islands
Malacañang may seek support to resolve Spratly Islands dispute ... - Mar 16, 2009
Teodoro said the Philippine baselines law is necessary to establish the Philippines’ claims over the Spratly Islands, as provided by UNCLOS. ...
Manila Bulletin

The problem is that both political parties believe ExxonMobil

The Republicans, largely discounting GW, say "Drill Baby Drill."

The Democrats, focused on GW, say we need to gradually transition away from abundant fossil fuels to cool new alternative sources of energy.

I say that the problem is a long term accelerating decline rate in net oil exports. Furthermore, the net export volumes are very much front end loaded, with the bulk of the exports occurring around the peak, e.g, Indonesia, which took eight years to become a net oil importer, shipped 44% of their post-1996 cumulative net oil exports in only two years. Our middle case is that the top five will have shipped about half of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports by the end of 2012, when our #3 source of imported oil, Mexico, will probably be knocking on the net import door. Our middle case is that the remaining net exports from the top five will be shipped from 2013 to 2031. Meanwhile, the current EIA data show that the US--the "Saudi Arabia of coal"--is very close to net coal importer status, on a BTU basis.

We need to vastly reduce all forms of energy consumption. I would tax all forms of energy consumption, at the retail level, abolish the Payroll Tax, and use the energy tax to fund Social Security + Medicare + Alan Drakes' plans.

I concur with much of what you express here. I'm not sure if a 'ditto post' adds much, but for me it comes down to how to articulate the task confronting us.

I say that the problem is a long term accelerating decline rate in net oil exports.

Agreed. Your ELM work indicates that as the country most reliant on large quantities of imports, USA is uniquely vulnerable to this phenomenon. Oil available for export will decline faster than production. We are shorter of time than our gov't minders realize.

Meanwhile, the current EIA data show that the US--the "Saudi Arabia of coal"--is very close to net coal importer status, on a BTU basis.

The KSA of Coal notion is similar to XOM's contention regarding TBBls of oil in the ground. The cheap coal has been got, so we now entertain 'mountaintop removal' to access coal. Wyoming/Montana coal is plentiful, but poor enough in quality that it really can't travel enough to substitute for the cheap coal that is gone.

We need to vastly reduce all forms of energy consumption. I would tax all forms of energy consumption, at the retail level, abolish the Payroll Tax, and use the energy tax to fund Social Security + Medicare + Alan Drakes' plans.

All useful points. No matter what fossil fuel we look at, we are practically starting over. The massive cost of starting over has to be frightening to the mainstream. Makes it harder to break through.

We need to vastly reduce all forms of energy consumption. I would tax all forms of energy consumption, at the retail level, abolish the Payroll Tax, and use the energy tax to fund Social Security + Medicare + Alan Drakes' plans.

IMHO in the same way that diversity in investments is a good practice diversity in taxation is a good thing also. That way when a major tax source fails other tax sources may not be impacted. In essence many sources for tax revenue are better than a few big ones. We may need more or less tax revenue but we always need good diversity in tax revenue.

I'm the opposite. I think all taxes should be sales/usage taxes so they're big, obvious, and straightforward to avoid.

Nickel and dime-ing is a great strategy when maximizing taxation is the goal. Writing big checks is the need when small, responsive gov't is the goal. If we have an income tax it should need to be paid at tax-time personally, without a payroll deductions, so it's obvious and it hurts excruciatingly. Sales taxes are OK because it incents people not to spend, to barter, and if the tax becomes egregious to smuggle.

With diversity in taxes, the gov't will always "need" more revenue.

small, responsive gov't

IMO, two contradictory goals. A starving agency, cut to the bone, cannot respond.

I wish I had more time today to debate this in more detail, but alas.


Yeah, me too. Work is necessary and desirable, but time consuming!

I think a small gov't with fewer missions WILL respond, while a bloated bureaucracy will not, and perhaps by base nature cannot.

Perhaps the root of the problem is having the same people controlling taxation, spending, and debt is the problem. If we had separately elected officials overseeing each aspect, with some direct voting on taxes and debt (say, once a year), perhaps we'd have some real oversight.

A starving agency, cut to the bone, cannot respond.

It could if it supplemented its income on the side. Ever tried to bribe your way out of a traffic ticket in the US? What about Mexico? That's the difference between well-paid government officials and underpaid ones. Now extrapolate that to all your other interactions with government. I, for one, don't mind well-paid bureaucrats and government agents because the alternative is much worse.

I wish I had more time today to debate this in more detail

Even if you posted well researched volumes, with footnotes, would you change the minds of the person you are debating here on TOD?

You might be able to sway the undecided reader - but how often does someone come here with one strongly held opinion and walk away with another due to the rhetorical skills of any poster here?

Actually Alan is one of the most level-headed people I enjoy debating here, even though I'm diametrically opposed to him on many political postions. I was always anti-truck, but Alan has me convinced on electric rail, and I'm at least willing to consider streetcars or trolleys in dense urban areas. I'm still not convinced that I'd like living there, or doing the walk-around shopping gambit, but I've come around to conceding there are likely cost advantages as well as serious energy advantages energy-wise.

Because of Alan and a few others I went to being a peak-oiler (from a they-say-there-is-plenty-but-something-doesn't-smell-right neophyte), and I've internalized the notion of credits as a solution to "tragedy of the commons" problems, and even stepped left two notches from the libertarian edge.

I still don't think living below sea level is a good plan though. :)

People, including myself, VERY rarely reverse a long held and well considered position in a sudden "AH HA" moment in a debate, due to a sudden insight from another debater, or a well thought out. compelling argument by another.

More commonly, people have not considered an issue fully and a good debate helps develop more complex, reasoned and nuanced positions.

And then there is "changing my mind". This usually takes an extended period of time, time to process and ask "but what about this" follow-up questions (ask of yourself or others). And the result is usually a synthesis of the old position and the reconsidered new position.

But there are those rare moments of complete reversal. GWB seemed to specialize in creating those.

I was already HIGHLY doubtful of my Republican registration since age 19 after Iraq (where are those WMDs ? *WHY* did we go to war and kill those tens of thousands of civilians (later 100,000s) and those men just defending their country ? And finance both Iraq & Afghanistan with tax cuts ?

And then the Wednesday after Katrina. The USS Bataan had 600 hospital beds & supplies (I knew two MDs on duty at New Orleans hospitals during Katrina and I was very worried about their patients and them), two dozen helicopters, many tons of MREs and the ability to distill 100,000 liters of water/day. She had been following Katrina just 100 miles behind the eyewall. and was going to provide relief to the lower River parishes and then New Orleans, I was speculating whether she would dock at the US Navy base in the Upper 9th Ward or behind the Convention Center (cruise ship dock there). Then she was ordered to the Mississippi Gulf Coast where her commander said she was "under utilized".

Meanwhile, it was a dry (not even a puddle) drive from the Convention Center to the rest of the world by Monday afternoon. A bus evacuation point was set up in Metairie, with port-a lets & ice, for those that got some rainwater in their homes, no power, etc. But nothing but suffering and death for New Orleans till Friday (after all the white Republicans were picked up and there was no line there).

Those New Orleanians that tried to walk to the white Republican bus evacuation point were chased back by gunfire.

Mississippi's Governor was the former head of the Republican National Committee, they had two senior R senators (one was Trent Lott) and "Brownie" later said he had orders to make D elected officials look bad.

I saw my friend's and neighbors suffering and dying just because they voted the wrong way, and too many were the wrong color (pre-K New Orleans was 67% black, about 62% today). The scales fell from my eyes.

Best Hopes for Reasoned Positions,


PS: My street is about 8" above sea level and my front door perhaps 1'9" above.

I am with you on the "more complex, reasoned, and nuanced" side of things. Debate helps sharpen your support for things you still believe, while better understanding contrary positions. For many issues, there is no clear right or wrong -- different approaches benefit different people or address differing situations in different ways.

Often I catch myself thinking "I wish we could try several approaches", yet when waiting on the gov't often none will be tried, or the one that benefits the bureaucrats or BAU is supported at the expense of others. This failure of centralized power is a key reason I'm for state's rights, local taxation, and smaller companies and corporations -- an individual can affect his locale but he'll be chewed up and swallowed by an international hegemonic entity.

In my younger years I though "I'm a conservative, therefore I'm a Republican". Now I have a far more nuanced view of myself. Now I think "I'm a strong fiscal conservative with a desire for strong but simple regulatory frameworks to limit the power of corporations and the sharing of resources, and with a complex view of social supports, lifestyle incentives, and personal freedoms". I'm certainly no Republican today, and no Democrat either.

One thing that TOD has taught me is that on the Internet it is very easy to take polarized positions while in everyday life compromise has more value. While there are some issues for which compromise is impossible, there are few circumstances where intelligent and reasonable people cannot find common ground and acceptable paths forward. A disturbing quality of modern politics seems to be to incite argument and anger over trivial issues while refusing to entertain the serious matters. I used to occasionally wonder if there was a grand nefarious plan, but I think it's just the side-effects of the system creaking and cracking as it strains against its boundaries and begins to collapse.

I agree completely. Payroll deductions help people "forget" about taxes.. If they exist, everyone should have to pay their taxes quarterly, so they can cut that big check to the feds, reminding them of how much they pay for how little they receive. However, I think that the best taxation method is sales, which would hopefully only generate tax revenue when a person purchases from a corporation. Bartering and privates sales would be exempt..

Great idea!
Most folks I know blow every penny that comes their way so at tax time the govt. would collect what it truly deserves, a big fat zero.

We need to vastly reduce all forms of energy consumption. I would tax all forms of energy consumption, at the retail level, abolish the Payroll Tax, and use the energy tax to fund Social Security + Medicare + Alan Drakes' plans.

I certainly agree that "We need to vastly reduce all forms of energy consumption." What I disagree with is tax funding for Alan's plans. There is nothing wrong with electrified rail, per se; where the problem arises is with the sources he advocates for generating the electricity for running the trains: life inimical radiation from nuclear fission, bird & bat killing wind turbines, and lotic ecosystems destroying, CH4 belching reservoirs providing hydropower. The transportation of goods is an important consideration but is far less important than the maintenance of ecosystem and preservation of biodiversity. Alan has some good ideas but from his posts he apparently knows little ecology or basic biology and his paradigm is strongly anthropocentric as opposed to being ecocentric or even biocentric. He believes that humans can "create" ecosystems to replace those we destroy. His technocopian idealism is a liability going forward, not an asset.

"bird & bat killing wind turbines"

I hope you are kidding about this. If not, it leads me to suspect that you are hopelessly uninformed/out of date, or intentionally misleading the unwary.

There are problems with modern wind turbines, but bird and bat death is not one of them (any more than for any other tall structure, at least).

It sounds like we can all agree that we need to vastly reduce all forms of energy consumption, at least. Maybe we should focus on how this can be brought about.

It's true. A few months ago Smithsonian Magazine went into details. The pressure change as the airfoil rotates is enough to rupture the lungs of bats; previously it was thought that the bats collided with the blades.

poorly sited turbines kill some bats and birds.

The people who actually care about and research the subject already know this - and there have been numerous responses with links to Darwindog's nonsensical bat/bird-brained posts but he just ignores them.

The numbers killed by turbines are an insignificant fraction of those killed by windows, cars, buildings, cell phone towers, cats and Darwin's Dogs... etc, etc. And again, the siting of the turbines is the key.

(Iggy, The Smithsonian article showed one mechanism by which bats might be killed by wind turbines.)

The numbers killed by turbines are an insignificant fraction of those killed by windows, cars, buildings, cell phone towers, cats and Darwin's Dogs... etc, etc.

Once again, the perpetual illogic that because other sources of mortality are worse, an additional source is justified. How can you successfully make your way thru life thinking this way? Since Stalin killed millions it's alright for you to kill a few? Apparently this is the way you think.

"bird & bat killing wind turbines" I hope you are kidding about this

Welcome to TOD. And welcome to a post by Darwinsdog. He makes it a habit to post about how wind machines are deadly to birds/bats - yet never posts the research that gets him to think that they alone as a threat should be dealt with. You can argue with him all you want, but the fall back is 'birds/bats are under such a threat that any effort to stop any threat from man is a good start.'

not to mention those pesky space shuttles. First they spew out all that smoke, now they kill bats.


The White House seems determined to make Exxon Mobil’s life miserable.

Not seeing a problem here. :D

Energy Chief Says U.S. Is Open to Carbon Tariff

I'm glad that the US government is finally waking up to one of the best leverage points for involving other countries in international GHG agreements. Trade globalization is so over-hyped, but that ideology seems to be thankfully a passing fad.

Note that the numbers being tossed around for carbon credit "income" comes suspiciously close to matching Obama's deficit projections. I strongly suspect the tax advantage is the greatest motivation.

Though I tend to be as much libertarian as conservative, I could actually deal with a carbon credit system, IF all the credit cash collected was immediately sent back monthly to every documented US citizen via equal shares.

After all, natural resources should be shared, and this is one way of sharing the wealth generated while simultaneously encouraging responsible use of the resource.

But of course it won't happen that way, and soon enough we'll all be sitting together in the dark with a hefty bureaucracy still saying, "but nobody could have foreseen..."

IF all the credit cash collected, after balancing the budget, was immediately sent back monthly to every documented US citizen resident via equal shares

GWB and the GOP financed two wars with tax cuts. Now the bailout due to lack of regulation under same.

Eight years ago we were talking about paying off the national debt, the budget was in surplus. Then new carbon taxes could have been rebated 100%. But that was before GOP control.

You cannot reverse the fiscal damage of the last 8 years without new taxes. Carbon taxes are the best option for new taxes.

Best Hopes for Conservatives, that balance budgets, (like, say, Clinton and hopefully Obama >)


I'm all for balancing the budget with drastic program cuts, and dissolution of all the "too big to fail" bailout targets. Anti-trust laws should be employed to break up those that are too big now, and any that come close should have hefty new regulations to prevent such companies from becoming insolvent -- there is no excuse for the largest companies taking the most risks; if risk-taking foster extreme growth, then growth should force them to stop taking risks before they collapse equally spectacularly.

I see no indication that any new money will be used to balance the budget, or any serious commitment to doing so, or that Obama's team believes it is even necessary in a near time-frame. New money will be spent immediately for new health-care programs and gov't growth, IMHO.

When the Chinese stop buying T-bills and inflation kicks in from the Fed buying them with cash, and the gov't and populace realize growth is over, then there will be discussion about balancing the budget for real.

The carbon tax won't happen though, at least not soon. It will be viewed as regressive and shot down by both parties. We'll be far beyond this cycle of the collapse before climate change or oil depletion become politically viable.

I'm all for balancing the budget with drastic program cuts

We could just about do it if we restricted the cuts to the Dept. of Defense, which should be the primary target of any cutbacks.

A few others are worth cutting (farming welfare can be reduced, a bit from NASA perhaps) but not many.

However, to balance the budget, do something serious about energy and national health care will require new taxes, even if we gut & filet DoD. See carbon taxes.

Best Hopes for redirecting defense spending,


You're welcome to your opinion, but restructuring medicaid and social security, revising the (soon to be growing) Fed pension programs, gutting the existing healthcare establishment, deconstrucing the federally mandated and controlled education system from K-PHD, and drastically cutting gov't pork projects, highway projects, and most federal bureaucracies would be needed as well. It appears to me that we get very poor return on investment on almost everything we collectively spend money on -- especially healthcare, eldercare, defense, energy, and education. Domiciles, trasportation, agriculture, banking and investment are right up there as well. It almost seems like the more we spend on a program and the more important it is the worse it works.

I'm one of those who thinks that programs should grow more efficient year-over-year, and that there should be no expectation of ever-increasing taxes to fund ever-growing bureaucracies.

I hope we can agree that the right approach is to figure out how much money we have to spend, prioritize the expenditures, and fund only those we have money for. Then we can argue constructively about how to raise/cut taxes and revise spending priorities without digging ever-larger holes for ourselves. My wife and I do this at home, my company does this at work, and I don't see why the state and fed gov'ts can't do it as well.

Somehow every other industrialized country has figured out how to guarantee its citizens (and even visitors) the basic right of access to adequate health care. The main impediments to such a mind-numbingly obvious approach are the bloated and corrupt "health" industry and ideologically blinkered conservatives--paleo-, neo, or othero-.

If that's how we want to spend our taxes, then let's agree (majority vote) that's the priority and spend less somewhere else.

The problem really isn't the expense -- we spend plenty already to fund care for EVERYBODY. It's how it's getting spent, and where those dollars are going today. Investors, bureaucrats, clerical assistance, and nurse/doctor/patient time spent on insurance fights do nothing to improve care yet they cost a lot.

With a truly conservative approach, everybody would have the care they can pay for, and at least nobody else would be sucking their money out and controlling the mechanisms by which it is spent. With a more liberal approach there might be a more egalitarian yet still quite efficient mechanism for simply prioritizing and funding universal health care. What we have now is perhaps the worst of all possible worlds -- separation of expense, care, control, and benefits thereby putting the patient at odds with the other players. Today we largely have employer and taxpayer funding with insurance company and gov't control for the apparent benefit of industry investors and bureaucrats at the expense of the poor, ill, and infirm.

Regardless of mechanism, though, we need a better joint understanding of what reasonable standards of care should be. What is a life worth? How much is reasonable to spend on any particular person in any specific situation? Are you going to preclude the wealthy from spending their personal money on better care? The powerful? How will you keep the rich and powerful from modifying the process to serve their needs? How much are we willing to spend to save an 80-year old after a heart attack versus a 21-year old crash victim? Would it differ if the 80-year old were in prison for murder or the 21-year-old were driving drunk? It really is a thorny issue in my view, and it'll never be "fair".

Cost-shifting is an eternally slippery slope, and diligence on the part of the taxpayer will forever be required. Centralized power is just as bad. The best point about first-person paying and second-person service delivery and control is that it is decentralized and relatively robust. It just penalizes being poor (which seems to universally be a bad position to occupy).

Most states do balance their budgets. CA is having a heck of a time with that.
On the Federal side, there is an extensive history of budged deficits, and there are several economists that favor a snmallish sized deficit.

Economists have no authority or culpability, so to me their opinions count for little. :) Zero is smallish......

Thanks for the thoughtful response, paleo. It is a complex problem, but one that somehow every other industrialized country, and many not-so-industrialized ones, have solved in much more satisfying ways than we in the US have.

I think we're just kind a retarded.

Somehow every other industrialized country has figured out how to guarantee its citizens (and even visitors) the basic right of access to adequate health care.

My wife is Japanese -- she was complaining to me the other day about how the US wants Japan to borrow money so it can lend money to the US. Apparently, Japan has a massive debt problem of its own.

My wife and I do this at home, my company does this at work, and I don't see why the state and fed gov'ts can't do it as well.

The State of Minnesota is required by its constitution to have a balanced budget over every 2 year (I think) time frame.
The State is currently forecasting a $6.3 billion short fall over the next 2 year period and the politicians are gyrating like a bunch of tent worms that have been sprayed with alcohol. Trying to raise taxes in this economy is political suicide and cutting spending isn't much better. Almost fun to watch them.

Paleocon -

As one who has recently been intimately involved with the US health care system, I am of the opinion is that one of the reasons that costs are out of control is the fundamental decoupling of the patient from the entity paying the medical bills.

While the patient with health care insurance is paying the medical bills indirectly through insurance premiums, there is a tendency to accept all sorts of frivolous and padded charges plus charges for marginally necessary activities on the rationale that 'my insurance covers that'. The mentality of a lot of people is that Santa Claus is paying it so why should I worry if procedure X is really needed or whether charge Y is really legitimate. If one had to pay for such directly out of ones own pocket, there would be howls of protest. (And as more and more people can only afford insurance with very high deductibles, those howls are getting louder.)

True, health care providers and insurance companies are engaged in a perpetual battle, but it is more of a phony war. The provide submits highly inflated charges, knowing that the insurance company will knock them back to a much lower level, the health care provider pretends to complain, but in the end everybody knows that thing have turned out as they were expected to.

Plus, the health care providers mercilessly charge for everything under the sun. If one has a hospital stay, every doctor who walks past the patient's bed and glances at his chart charges a minimum nominal amount. Every procedure or test that is even marginally relevant is heaped on. As a result, even a short hospital stay generates a patient file the thickness of the Manhattan phone book.

Then, we have the issue of defensive medicine, wherein whole batteries of tests are repeatedly performed not so much for the patient's benefit but rather for the hospital to cover its arse should something go amiss.

It is a rigged system, and a perfect example of what happens when a once noble profession degenerates in a money-grubbing, bottom line-oriented business.

I don't know what the answer is, but it is certain that our current health care system is unsustainable.

Moreover, here in the US we spend, per capita, more government money * on "health care" than almost all other countries spend, per capita, in total. Thus universal health care does not necessarily mean higher taxes. It might mean fewer workers in the "insurance" industry, lower paid doctors (in Japan they are paid half as much), pills that cost something related to their cost of manufacturing, fewer malpractice lawyers (via a cap on "punitive damages"), etc.

*) inlcuding Medicaid, Medicare, military and VA hospitals, and the tax deductibility of employer-paid insurance premiums.

Interesting that no-one has mentioned the role of the legal industry in running up the high costs of medical treatment. Astronomical insurance premiums paid by doctors is a big problem as are the astronomical court awards for even minor mistakes (a large part of which goes back to previously mentioned lawyers).

And of course those same lawyer groups are well represented in Congress...all part of the dysfunctional game.

Jury awards go right alongside of the "level of care" questions -- how much is a limb or a life really worth?

Interesting that no-one has mentioned the role of the legal industry in running up the high costs of medical treatment.

That would be the legal industry of Congress which does not allow the publication of the names of the doctors with the most malpractice claims VS them right?

Because if the consumers had knowledge of the track record of the health professionals, then the 'guiding hand of capitalism' could work and put the bad docs outta business - right?

The amount of money that is actually awarded for malpractice is trivial compared to total medical costs. It's like earmarks in the budget, or Welfare as a percentage of total government spending. Talking scalefree like that is just a way of showing how little you know.

We could just about do it if we restricted the cuts to the Dept. of Defense, which should be the primary target of any cutbacks.

The candidates who had that as a plank for their election platform got trounced. Its not gonna happen.

The presidential candidate that had that as a plank in his election platform won, in case you didn't notice. The Democrats won the last election and got dozens of House and Senate seats added to their totals. It happened just the same with Bill Clinton. He won reelection, too.

(cutting defense spending)

The presidential candidate that had that as a plank in his election platform won, in case you didn't notice. The Democrats won the last election and got dozens of House and Senate seats added to their totals. It happened just the same with Bill Clinton. He won reelection, too.

I'm afraid not. Both Obama, and Hillary made a big deal out of sounding meaner and tougher to our alleged enemies than each other. Sure under the Democrats military spending might be a couple of percent slower growing than under the Republicans, but neither dare to propose real (say 50% to 75%) cutbacks. Only marginal candidates, like Kucinich, or Ron Paul could dare to propose any sort of drastic retrenchment. None of these candidates won any delegates (or am I wrong, and maybe they got a couple).

Ron Paul won in my local precinct caucus -- and I was there to help. But ultimately, yeah, nothing really came of it.

Don't worry, our coming expenses will cut the military (and everything else) for us. 30 seconds from IOUSA:

Then watch the "whole" thing (30 minute version): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_TjBNjc9Bo

As for the citizen/resident part of the discussion, I assume you're with Pelosi on this subject? That alone would be enough to cause me to re-evaluate my presumptions.

We all know resources are drawing down and that the world can't support its population. Why should we encourage, by any means, domestic population growth? High-breeder/immigration societies and high-consumption societies will both have serious problems -- why should we endeavor to add to our woes?

Why should non-resident US citizens get a rebate check ? They will pay no additional taxes.

You did stipulate documented to which I appended residents. Legal emigrants, that pay taxes, etc. should get a tax rebate as well IMO.


Agreed -- resident citizens, not undocumented residents. Legal immigrants are fine -- rule of law is a wonderful thing!

Why are arbitrary borders and paperwork so important? We're all citizens of the same planet and we're all (even aboriginal Americans) immigrants or the descendants of immigrants to the Americas. For the most part, so-called "illegal" Hispanic immigrants are honest hard-working people - far harder working, in fact, than most US citizens. I live in a border state and have no problem with people coming here looking for work. As a matter of fact, I much prefer Mexican & Central Americans coming here, legally or not, than having Californians or Texans importing their profligate lifestyles into the state.

Because it's the law. If open immigration is the goal then let's change the laws. Rule of law is a wonderful thing.

When there is no work, who will feed and care for your new neighbors?

Because it's the law.

So what? Laws are arbitrary human constructs, subject to being violated, modified & repealed. The imposition of law by force is a form of violence. What's so "wonderful" about that? I feel that it's almost a civic duty to break the law, so long as doing so doesn't hurt anybody.

When there is no work, who will feed and care for your new neighbors?

I have the feeling that it will be my "new neighbors," inured as many of them are to manual agricultural labor, who will be feeding the rest of us.

What if somebody else decides to ignore laws that hurt you? It's all relative, once you start ignoring laws. I'm all for changing laws and I'll concede that sometimes civil disobedience can have a role in that, but in this case the gov't itself is doing the "ignoring", and I don't much like that.

Nope, unless immigrants outnumber the citizens, it'll just get really ugly and immigrants will lose. Unfortunately at that point legal immigrants and other minorities will suffer as well.

All I'm asking is to "say what we'll do and do what we say" with regards to immigration, welfare, healthcare, education, banking, and defense. To make one set of laws yet follow another set of unwritten policies while spinning it a third direction is nonsensical. I'm a simple man, and I like clarity, responsibility, and culpability.

What if somebody else decides to ignore laws that hurt you?

Then I retaliate. I did say "so long as doing so doesn't hurt anybody," when it comes to breaking the law. In fact, the only "law" I have much respect for is:

"As ye harm none, do what ye will." -Wiccan rede

"Do what you will shall be the whole of the law." -Aleister Crowley

"Do what you want, do what you will, just don't mess up your neighbors' thrill." -Frank Zappa

To make one set of laws yet follow another set of unwritten policies while spinning it a third direction is nonsensical. I'm a simple man, and I like clarity, responsibility, and culpability.

I agree with you completely. But when has it ever been the case that the law has been applied to all uniformly, that justice has been blind? One law applies to the rich, another to the poor. Cops & politicians often feel that they are above the law and operate accordingly. This situation may well be nonsensical, as you claim, but it's the reality and always has been. Were the system fair, I'd have higher regard for it. As the legal/justice system now stands and is inequitably applied it constitutes more of a liability to liberty than a protection thereof. As such, it deserves subversion not respect.

*chuckles* To think I would see Crowley quoted on TOD. That made my day. :)

Frank Zappa made me smile even more.

when has it ever been the case that the law has been applied to all uniformly, that justice has been blind? One law applies to the rich, another to the poor. Cops & politicians often feel that they are above the law and operate accordingly. This situation may well be nonsensical, as you claim, but it's the reality and always has been. Were the system fair, I'd have higher regard for it.

Bravo, darwinsdog!! For this and all your comments in this thread...


But breaking the current laws does hurt people: it allows employers to pay less than minimum wage, by hiring illegal workers. So why pass immigration and minimum-wage laws and then not enforce them? The answer is, obviously, because some profit from all this madness. I'd say crack down on the employers (not the hard-working immigrants).

rule of law is a wonderful thing!

And if you know of someplace that actually is under a rule of law where one class is not treated differently than another - do let us know m'kay?

Eight years ago we were talking about paying off the national debt, the budget was in surplus.

Sort of in surplus -- we were spending the SS surplus on other things. Strange how when Madoff takes people's retirement and spends it on limmos, he gets to go to jail, but when they do a similar thing in DC, they get reelected.

30 seconds from IOUSA:

I highly recommend the 30 minute version available online if you want to feel totally hopeless about the future:

Energy Chief Says U.S. Is Open to Carbon Tariff

This is something those of us who support Carbon taxes/Cap-and-Trade have been suggesting for years. Add or remove Carbon taxes as products are sourced from/sent to countries who don't have'have compatible CO2e targets. This makes locally-made, CO2e-taxed products competitive on the world stage with products made from countries who don't give a damn.

Any funds raised by CO2 taxes should be funelled directly into mitigation programs, such as electrifying railways, 'alternative' electricity generation, BioChar, etc.


The linked article above appears to be from 2005.

For some reason, it appeared on my Google front page (because I have "peak oil" as a search term") as a new Peak Oil item. I will take it out. It is pretty much things we have all heard before.

The Day Russia again became the enemy of the West:

The tycoon and the president - The Khodorkovsky case.(Mikhail Khodorkovsky's downfall, Vladimir Putin)

Article from:
The Economist (US)
Article date:
May 21, 2005 | Copyright informationCOPYRIGHT 2005 Economist Newspaper Ltd. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. (Hide copyright information)

"Putin may have unleashed forces he can't control ..."


I put these things in to make you appreciate Leanan more.

Clearly I was tired last night when I looked for articles and didn't read them closely.

You're fine!

And thanks for your excellent work; filling in for Leanan is a challenge at which you succeed admirably. I sincerely doubt any of your critics could do half as well.

You're great, Gail. Don't change! (Proofread maybe, but otherwise, don't change!)


TOD has greatly improved in your time here Gail.
Many thanks.

What has become of Professor Goose?

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 19.1 million
barrels per day, down by 3.2 percent compared to the similar period last year.
Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline demand has averaged 9.0 million barrels
per day, up by 1.1 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel
demand has averaged 3.8 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down
by 9.3 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel demand is 6.4 percent
lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.


It really puzzles me that we are continuing to see significant builds in inventories given the on going depletion and OPEC cuts. Given the "supply buys" supposedly by the Chinese, the speculators, and the Oil companies thru storage WTF is the current real demand? Yesterday Euan talked about the huge mega project supply coming on in 2008-2009. Countering that with the impotent anemic demand seems like we have not made a real dent in the supply overhang. Is the economy of the U.S. that much better that we can still suck so much of the surplus here? Or is the rest of the world excluding China running on fumes?

The only part of the US that is doing well is gasoline use. The part used for industry is doing badly too. Use is clearly doing badly around the world, as the credit unwind continues, and industrial demand disappears.

I cut out some of the tables, because I like numbers (and graphs) better than their text.


The 19.1 million barrels per day of product supplied is looking like it is in the ballpark of what we might expect (instead of weekly numbers always being high). It may be that even with these numbers, the non-gasoline part of this will be revised downward, when monthly data comes available. The gasoline numbers seem to hold up reasonably well (weekly->monthly), because exports aren't as much of an issue.

Agree the tables tell a better U.S.story. Interesting that one of the CNBC perma bears said the last time our inventories were this high was June of 2007. Not exactly a period where we were rolling in oil. My quandry continues to be where are we in process of bringing the supply and demand back in balance. The Exxons continue to sound the gong for no problems in supplying the world oil for the next century and the public is of the opinion that Peak Oil is a minor issue. Meanwhile the industry is laying off, mothballing rigs, and reducing capex. OPEC has supposedly cut 4 MBD of production while the IEA and EIA say demand is flat to down a million or two barrels a day. Somehow the numbers don't add up to the glut of oil that we seem to have. Now I realize that the economy has been and continues to be soft but supposedly we should have adjusted production to the supply glut back in November yet we still see very little downward pressure on inventory levels. My conclusions are that Worldwide demand is much lower than estimated by either the EIA or the IEA and/or supply has not been cut anywhere near what is being reported by the producers/media. Where are the holes in my logic?

I think the problems are probably on the demand side. With the credit unwind, factories are shutting down around the world, and goods don't need to be shipped. The number of new houses and cars being built is way down.

As I keep saying, the credit unwind is indirectly the result of peak oil--we need growth of cheap energy to keep the economy growing fast enough to support all of the debt. So it all comes back to peak oil. It is just that the downside of the slope is determined by economics, rather than by what we think of as the geological limits.

You probably saw my forecast for future oil production based on financial, rather than geological limits, from this post:

Thanks Gail -- somehow I missed out on your posting of 4 March.

A must-read for all TOD commenters. Here's the link again:


You are using cheap oil and cheap energy to mean the same thing.First Solar just broke the $1/watt mark for solar panels. That seems incredibly cheap and getting cheaper. Oil is a large part of our energy mix but it is not the whole picture.
I do not understand how people come to this conclusion about cheap energy and debt. It seems prevalent everywhere yet I have yet to see a corelation drawn up. I did not see any corelation between debt expansion when oil went up from $1.00 a barrel to $40.00 a barrel in the 60's and 70's.

It would help ever so much if I could actually buy those vaunted $1 per watt panels. Why can't I get them a Home Depot? Now that would be a change I can believe in.

Instead I can get 30% off a much more expensive system....which of course must include inverters and such as well. Is there a system for consumer use that even breaks $3 per watt yet?

$1/watt is production cost, I do believe. No, you can't go get them at Harbor Freight. But if you want to buy panels at a retail outlet, you could go to Harbor Freight, although their panels are not the best in the world. Whether or not you need an inverter is a matter of what you're wanting to run. I don't have an inverter on my current system, although the one I will have on my house will have a 5.5kw sustained inverter. Personally, I prefer DC systems, but the hardware is harder to come by.

Given that Home Depot carries things that the average home remodeler would use, I wouldn't expect them to have more niche products like solar panels for some time...

Actually, Home Depot does sell solar panels. Here's a link to the Home Depot site. They list a Sharp 123 watt panel for $870, which is a bit steep.

Northern Tool also sells some of them. They list a Sharp 170 watt panel for "Only $1049.99"...

E. Swanson

Northern Arizona Wind and Sun lists a Sharp Solar NT-175U1 175 W Solar Panel for $767.50.

I'm in

Where can I buy $1 a watt panels, I'm in the market for some.

You have a link?


$1/watt is the production cost.
Although currently bot sold to the public at that price it does show that that price is achievable. That is extremely cheap and I dare say it will probably be half that 5 years.
First Solar is unique but costs for other manufacturers are also coming down rapidly.
People may gripe and say that the public is not getting the benefit of low prices...but the biggest argument against us having "cheap energy" is that break even costs of energy extraction will keep going up.

$1/watt is the production cost.

Now, that is for thinfilm, which unfortunately has material supply scaleup problems. Of course you need site preparation, mounting, wiring, inverters etc. All this other stuff is referred to as Balance Of System. I see many make the mistake of assuming, that since for a system with roughly $5 per watt panels, BOS is roughly half of total system cost, that this ratio will hold as panels get cheaper. By panels are high tech, and have a much better learning curve, than stuff like mounting, and wiring -which are pretty mature technologies. Inverters are probably somewhere in between. In any case, the cost per KW-peak for BOS, probably scales better with increasing system size, than the actual panel cost. If this is true, it mans that utility scale systems will be increasingly favored as time goes by. The only advantages of home systems are (1) competing against retail power cost, and (2) unused roof space.

(3) no new transmission needed.

And again, I don't think oil prices are that low, considering prices in recent years and the decline in demand. OIl prices are basically back to the average price that we saw in May, 2005, $50, and we are more than three times higher than the average price we saw in 1998. And I think that it will be very interesting to see what the average 2009 price turns out to be versus the average 2008 price of $100.

And the price of oil looks very interesting compared to stocks like Citigroup and GM. Oil prices and Citigroup stock were both about $55 in January, 2007.

I suspect that we are just in a temporary pause, before the long term decline in net oil exports once again outpaces the decline in demand, forcing prices back up--but demand does of course remain the wild card.

Thanks Gail and WT appreciate the comments and am most aware of your works. Gail your chart on production motivates me to keep the preps underway. WT by the way thanks for the recco on The Worst Hard Times. I feel a bit morose in saying I enjoyed the read I guess it was due to the parallel in many ways to today with the environmental and financial collapses. The poor bastards it was depressing and compelling I was unable to put it down. The Last Mans Club should it be resurrected?

You do have to wonder about the people that chose to stay, or were unable to leave, that Dust Bowl hellhole. The scene that I kept remembering was that all of the cars dragged chains to discharge the buildup in static electricity.

In any case, my current recommendation is "We had everything but money." There is a chapter on the Dust Bowl, but by and large it is actually kind of optimistic. If Bart, from the EB, is around, he can add his 2¢ worth about the book. I gave my daughter a copy, and I told her that it is a good guidebook for the next few years (and perhaps the rest of her life). Matter of fact, it might be a great gift for graduating high school students. You might have to scramble to get a copy; I think that it is out of print.

Some good news. Apparently "We had everything but money" is back in print at The Country Store for $20, plus shipping:


The lowest price from Amazon's partners was $50.

I guess the fact that they had nothing to go to plus the reports that it was terrible everywhere kept them there. I had totally missed the relationship of the last great land rush and the contributory influences of the gubmint and the shysters on the migration and rape of the land.
THe static electricity generated by the weather/great storms blew me away I had no idea the power it had. Remembering the days as a child where I would deliberately scoot my feet on the carpet to shock a brother or sister versus knocking someone down or halfway across a room. Incredible. I'll give the other book a look... Amazon?

The Country Store apparently has it back in print for $20 (it was $50 to over $100 at Amazon, for used books from resellers).

I enjoyed reading "Worst Hard Times" but found "Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s" (1979) by Donald Worster, to be even better. The wind hasn't picked up here yet but if this April is anything like last year's, the Dust Bowl is back along with the Great(er) Depression.

Thanks for the recco DD I'll look for it. Got this Progressive Farmer outlook yesterday for the Southern Plains. Not real encouraging for you

Plains. The southern Plains is one of the primary grain-producing areas of the United States that has been left out of the moisture trail. Growers face a dry spring because the prevailing storm track gives no support to the region, and the tendency toward La Niña usually produces dry weather. The only feature noted in the southern Plains is wind—and lots of it. I don't expect much improvement in the spring.

I seem to remember you are in CO. whereabouts? Certainly not Baca county?

Hi KC. I'm in northwestern NM, on the Colorado Plateau west of the continental divide, not on the Great Plains at all. It's dry here but no or not much drier than usual. The wind does blow here however, especially in April. Last year the dust storms were brutal but I remember them being even worse in the late '80s. Then Vulcan Pinatubo, in the Philippines, punched thru the tropospause and we had a few mild years after that. All ag here is irrigated.

The Southern Plains ecosystem was a blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) & buffalo grass (Buchloe) co-dominated prairie, adapted to being grazed by Bison. This association supported diverse cultures, especially after reintroduction of the horse. It never should have been disturbed by cultivation. Interestingly, black grama (B. eriopoda) ecosystems to the west, which didn't co-evolve with Bison and therefore tolerates grazing poorly, collapsed into desertscrub upon the introduction of cattle. These two great prairie ecosystems have been virtually destroyed in little over a century. But even this destruction pales in comparison with the totality of demise of tall grass prairie in my native Illinois. One may find vestiges of this once extensive & diverse ecosystem along abandoned railway right-of-ways and in 19th century cemeteries, perhaps, but nowhere is undisturbed virgin tall grass prairie to be found anymore. The ecosystem is extinct.

DD, The shortgrass prairie as they call it here starts just about 50-100 miles west of where I am. My interface with it has been primarily pheasant hunting out around Liberal or Plains Ks. or visiting some of the big feedlots and kill plants around Garden City and Dodge. Not many dry land farmers out there either. Most are tapping the Ogallala Acquifer if they are raising grain or alfalfa but most is CRP or grazing land.
I'm in what used to be the tall grass prairie and there are still some decent examples left. Pretty awesome to see and they still burn off large segments of it each spring about now. Makes for some interesting trips up the turnpike thru the Flint Hills. Have made the drive to Taos and Sante Fe a few times for vacations. You even further north than that? Dry country but the mountains are nice even climbed Mt.Wheeler a few years ago. Couldn't believe all the antelopes we see down there. Know what you mean about Illinois I spent 9 years in Chicago and don't remember much of the state outside of the northwest or southern part that hadn't been plowed up.

Yeah, the prairie ecosystem of the Flint Hills region is considered a subset of the tall grass biome but it differs considerably in species composition from that which once covered much of Iowa thru central Illinois and small portions of northern Missouri & western Indiana, that I was referring to. John Muir once walked with a young companion from Decatur, Illinois, to Madison, Wisconsin, thru mostly undisturbed tall grass prairie of this sere. His description of the grasses & wildflowers seems fantastical today. It is all gone now.

Irrigation here in the Four Corners region, west and north of Taos & Santa Fe and across the continental divide, comes from snowmelt in the southern Rockies via the Rio de San Juan & its tribs, not from groundwater. I was up Wheeler Peak myself, many years ago. There aren't any pronghorns around here, altho they're abundant elsewhere in NM, as you say. I'm not sure why they don't occur around here. The Navajo Rez east of the Chuskas could be the North American Serengeti, if the Dine' would get rid of all their damn sheep & wormy, sway-backed horses, and allow pronghorns, elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, et al., to roam free. Fat chance of that ever happening..

Hi KC. I'm in northwestern NM, on the Colorado Plateau west of the continental divide,

I lived four years with a woman who was living in Bloomfield when I met her. When I met her I was living in Los Alamos, but we didn't live together till I moved to Wisconsin.

Sounds like Farmington or maybe Aztec. I grew up there. Many fond memories.

I suspect that we are just in a temporary pause, before the long term decline in net oil exports once again outpaces the decline in demand, forcing prices back up--but demand does of course remain the wild card.

I see it as a small hurricane has half passed over us and we are now in the eye of the now rapidly growing hurricane and as we move to the future we will move out of the eye of the hurricane into the accelerating maelstrom and be appropriately shredded?
We should all be rapidly metaphorically pouring reinforced concrete walls around ourselves, our families and our local communities. Depending upon the government for protection from the coming storm is like building tissue paper walls instead of concrete.

The latest installment from the TTAC series on The Truth About Fuel:

Parts 1 and 2 in yesterday's drumbeat.

Science magazine, America's candidate for world's top Science journal, has a "News Focus" item on "How Much Coal Remains?" by Richard Kerr. Unfortunately behind a paywall, however the Podcast Interview is available. Links in the TOC.

Summary: The planet's vast store of coal could fuel the world economy for centuries--and fiercely stoke global warming--but a few analysts are raising the prospect of an imminent shortfall.

Actually the podcast interviewer makes a good point: Hasn't the decline in coal production in many places (e.g. UK) been caused by the fact that oil is cheaper and more convenient? Won't coal production come back as oil becomes relatively more expensive? I.e. arguing that Hubbert's arguments only apply in a simple way to the top energy source, currently oil.

There is also a "Policy Forum" item extolling the virtues of using wood for energy. Also behind a paywall, but the supporting calculations are available in a separate (PDF) of "Supporting Online Material".

Summary: Sustainable wood energy offers recurring economic, social, and environmental benefits.

The decline in coal production has been driven be a lot of things, other than lack of supply. In the US, industrial production has moved off-shore. The coal it would have used has moved off-shore as well. In the US, electrical capacity has remained flat for years. It is hard to sell more coal, when other alternatives are viewed as better in some way.

If we suddenly found ourselves without the better alternatives, I think there would likely be a big push for coal (except perhaps because of climate legislation.) I don't think lack of supply will be the issue that some think it will be.

It is hard to sell more coal...

LOL You should see all the pickup trucks parked along the highways on the outskirts of town, selling Black Mesa coal by the bag. It's a thriving business around here. I'd buy some myself, to augment the Siberian elm & Russian olive, 'cept that I'm afraid it'd get too hot & warp the steel plates of my fireplace insert.

While living in the Eastern Sierra in the 70's, I used to add coal on a long winter night--

I think climate legislation would fold up like an umbrella as soon as any sort of shortage appeared. Too many voters are skeptics, and the damages from actions today will always be after the next election cycle.

Paleocon, you write:

I think climate legislation would fold up like an umbrella as soon as any sort of shortage appeared.

Spot on -- though I would say that in practice climate legislation has already folded -- it was never little more than cosmeticism and greenwashing anyhow, the luxury of an age of abundance. Now it's history, at least as long as the current crisis lasts. Which might be for all eternity. :-)

Yes, the Repugs and the professional denialist have done a great job spreading disinformation. The average person doesn't understand the science and the proliferation of anti-science has become so pervasive that few can find the meat amongst the trash. But, as the saying goes, Nature bats last...

E. Swanson

Summary: Sustainable wood energy offers recurring economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Nate Hagens did a study in which he rather convincingly shows that if all Americans heated their homes & cooked their food with wood, the United States would become deforested in a matter of just a few years. I heat with wood myself and am a supporter of wood fuel where appropriate and sustainable, but it is certainly no panacea for the world's energy demand.

You can review coal production and consumption trends in the Energy Export Databrowser.

You can choose "Coal" and then compare with "Oil" and "Gas" to see if one resource is replacing another.

Poland's famous coal mines have seen a drop in production that is due in large part to replacement by oil and gas:

Pakistan's coal production is pretty level even though their use of coal (and oil and gas) is skyrocketing:

Romania has a fascinating coal production plot that shows how Ceauşescu sponsored an all out binge on developing coal fueled power plants for political/economic reasons more than geological ones. The 'exponentially' increasing coal consumption in Romania in the 1980's crashed in 1990 when Ceauşescu fell from power. This contrasts with the decline in Romanian gas production and consumption which looks much more like a Hubbert curve.

See for yourself.

-- Jon

I guess I should elaborate a little further.

For the time being, fossil fuels are widely available on global markets. Oil and LNG are largely fungible, coal somewhat less so with non-liquified natural gas movements dependent upon pipelines.

The assumption that fossil fuels will always be openly traded on world markets is, I believe, a dangerous one. (We have had experience with oil embargoes in the past.) Thus it is important to understand a little of the politics and history of each nation or group of nations along with their production/consumption profiles.

The Energy Export Databrowser attempts to make it easy to peruse production/consumption, import/export data for individual nations and various pertinent groupings. These plots are most useful when interpreted with a little historical context. That's when the stories in the data really come out. Sometimes it is a story about geology (North Sea Oil) as is talked about so much here on TOD. But other times there are stories about economics (Russia in the 90's) or politics (UK 1984-85 miners' strike) or natural disasters (Ecuador 1987 earthquake) or war (various Iraq wars). What will happen in the future will be a combination of all these stories.

So I would probably agree that there is lots of coal in the ground that could be brought to market. But the reasons why this will or will not happen are very dependent on the geology, economy and politics of each individual nation. It is inappropriate to give a blanket answer about future availability of coal or any other fossil fuel to the open markets.

-- Jon

.. and in the meantime, there is 'some' wood out there just waiting to be plucked up..

"I have about 1 maybe 2 cord of pine logs none longer than truck length. All must go ASAP. I know some one has a use for this stuff. Id really like it if some one would come and grab this all in one whack. But all the pine is free for the taking. I dont want it. I hate the stuff. Please I beg you come ASAP to get this stuff. Some one will be here just let us know you are interested in the pine.-Contact Information-Dixfield, ME "

I just had to share that one.. from a local bulletin board.

lng dropped from $ 20/mmbtu to $6/mmbtu.

is ng going to increase to $6/mmbtu or is lng going to drop to <$4/mmbtu, or somewhere between ?

No link, but I recall a factoid from a couple of years ago that the processing/shipping cost from out of pipe in Qatar to into pipe in Delaware was about $3.50/mmbtu.

Doesn't leave a lot of margin with a $4.00 US price.

Congrats to all USA taxpayers-Big Ben has decided to buy some bonds (starting with about 300 billion) on your behalf-should be a good investment.

You mean then gold should be a good investment?

Up like $50-60 bucks off its low today.

Gold at <$1000 is still a good buy in my book. I have my own 80/20 rule for gold:

  • 80% chance it goes to $2000
  • 20% chance it goes to $800 (before hitting $2000 a little while later)

But timing is everything and the process could take anywhere from 6 months to 6 years.

CNBC is quoting the number as $1.1 trillion, to be used to buy all sorts of stuff apparently. What's the next increment after trillion, quadrillion?

"A quadrillion here, a quadrillion there, soon we are talking about real money."

I think Gazillion is on the way.

From an old site:

Three-hundred-fifteen billion dollars ...

This is the amount of money the US has allocated for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be spent by September 30, 2006, the end of the fiscal year. And the Senate is working on a spending bill that will add another $50 billion more in spending for 2007.

This pile is 125 feet wide, 200 feet deep, and 450 feet tall.

450 feet is the height of a 38-story building. It's the hieght of the Millenium Wheel in London. It is also the height of the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas and the Louisiana State Capitol Building.

If you were to stack the money in a single stack, your stack would be 19,887 miles tall, enough to wrap the Moon at its equator almost 3 times.

And this is only ~1/3 a trillion...

The Delirium of Milliards

The majority of statesmen and financiers think in terms of paper ... They sit in their offices and look at papers which are lying in front of them, and on those pages are written figures which again represent papers ... They write down noughts, and nine noughts mean a milliard. A milliard comes easily and trippingly to the tongue, but no one can imagine a milliard.

What is a milliard? Does a wood contain a milliard leaves? Are there a million blades of grass in a meadow? Who knows? If the Tiergarten were to be cleared and wheat sown upon its surface, how many stalks would grow? Two milliards!

-- Walther Rathenau, Berliner Tageblatt, 9 February 1921.

I came across this citation in Adam Fergusson's marvellous history of the German hyperinflationary crisis of 1923, entitled ''When Money Dies – The Nightmare of the Weimar Collapse". And Rathenau's article could have been written today, 88 years on.

Just replace 'milliards' by 'quadrillions', as Westexas suggests.

He reminds me of Scrooge McDuck swooping and diving through his big money bin. Only the money bin is ours and not his - And he is helping the Beagle Boys (aka Banksters) loot the money bin.

CNBC is quoting the number as $1.1 trillion, to be used to buy all sorts of stuff apparently

Its not the $300B that worries, me. That is government bonds -presumably bought of private holders. We (taxpayers) won't lose anything on that. It is the rest, some Fanny & Freddy debt, some even worse mortgage related stuff, that worries me, as that stuff is not likely a good investment for the taxpayer.

Also known as "monetizing the debt". This is about as surprising as a correct prediction that the sun will rise the next day.

I'm sure the Chinese will be delighted. . .

What is funny is that everyone focuses on the Chinese when the discussion of a devalued dollar arises-yes, China loses on their big stash but everybody holding dollars or being paid in US dollars takes the same hit.

...and since the dollar in your pocket is now worth less you will have to pay more bucks for anything you import -like oil...

Oil is up, Gold is up, deflation is defeated...!

Mmmm, oil is down now -profit taking?


As far as I'm aware the conversion of coal seam gas to LNG has only been done at lab scale so far. However the problems appear to be minor and large plant is on the drawing boards for Queensland Australia. Both NG and CSG are mainly methane which produces perhaps half the CO2 of coal for the same heating value. Maybe CERA are not so crazy in suggesting LNG will displace a lot of coal if carbon caps prevail.

Notice that a change from coal C to methane CH4 is a kind of back door version of the hydrogen economy. However coal carbon is from underground and should stay there. Even better is methanated syngas where the carbon is from biomass which is recycled via burning as a fuel then reabsorbed by plants.

Crude truth behind numbers that govern our lives

Nymex WTI is the most widely traded oil futures contract. Every 24 hours, the volume in barrels traded exceeds by three times the 85 million barrels of crude consumed daily round the world

Energy minister to urge Opec to invest for recovery

In order to prevent another oil-price spike, Mr O'Brien is expected to argue that Opec should exploit the competitive advantage caused by its low cost of production and meet an increasing proportion of global oil demand. Currently Opec supplies around 40pc of the world's oil.

Nymex WTI is the most widely traded oil futures contract. Every 24 hours, the volume in barrels traded exceeds by three times the 85 million barrels of crude consumed daily round the world

Not really relevant, I don't think, since almost all of these trades cancel out, and most of the worlds Oil isn't traded on exchanges anyway.

Yes, it's like saying the volume of food traded is much higher than the volume of food produced.
Unless consumers buy the food they eat straight from the producers, there's always lots of middle-men.

Hello TODers,

US births break record; 40 pct out-of-wedlock
IMO, this is not a good trend. Once the downslope kicks in: I bet it will be increasingly difficult for the mothers to get the out-of-the -picture fathers [hah, not fathers at all,they were just sperm donors!] to ante up for their fair share of child support expenses, and the govt will be too busy with other things to be enforcing deadbeat dads to pay up.

These unwed women w/children, at a minimum, should be proactively doubling up now with the grandparents/siblings, or other unwed mothers, so that they can cut expenses and save for the tough times ahead.

Conversely, Peak Aware men that don't want to have genetic offspring, but wish to have the 'fathering experience', can find a widow/child combo if they don't want to worry about the birth father interference problem. IMO, this is the best and easiest kind of altruism or charity for the childless male for the postpeak era.

Getting with a woman/child who has an living sperm donor, but is not paying his postPeak child support can be done too [and is also laudable], but generally, this will be emotionally difficult for all concerned parties seeking to provide the best possible environment for the child or children. It will take extraordinary commitment for all concerned to make this work to the child's best benefit.

Also, this tends to get much worse emotionally when a woman has had multiple children by different fathers. Let's hope this trend does not accelerate, too.

I wish the best of luck to all young Peak Aware men who will seek to live their lives as good, non-procreative father examples for these children whose birth parents acted foolish in an age of Overshoot.

Another sign of falling education, and social inequality.

"Are we smarter than yeast?"

Behind the number is both good and bad news. While it shows the U.S. population is more than replacing itself, a healthy trend, the teen birth rate was up for a second year in a row.

(Emphasis mine)

Countries with much lower rates — such as Japan and Italy — face future labor shortages and eroding tax bases as they fail to reproduce enough to take care of their aging elders.

Well then, we should give a medal to the octo-mum. We should all have 16 babies, the more the merrier and all that. And they can have lots of babies too, since Growth will solve all our problems.

Ironic that on one side, people are willing to do anything for "jobs, jobs, more jobs" (Some states are thinking of removing environmental safeguards, building roads to nowhere,....), and at the same time, they worry that there will be labour shortages in the future.

At G20, Kremlin to Pitch New Currency

The Kremlin published its priorities Monday for an upcoming meeting of the G20, calling for the creation of a supranational reserve currency to be issued by international institutions as part of a reform of the global financial system.

The International Monetary Fund should investigate the possible creation of a new reserve currency, widening the list of reserve currencies or using its already existing Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, as a "superreserve currency accepted by the whole of the international community," the Kremlin said in a statement issued on its web site.

The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries.

Still the way to go: biofuels

The role that current generation biofuels can play is limited. Other options, including second generation biofuels produced from waste cellulosic materials and from microalgae, will be needed. Those technologies are a number of years away from being commercial but once available it will be important to be able to shift to those fuels as quickly as possible.

This is rather like the recent report on the BBC news site portraying PSA testing for prostate cancer as successful because 1 in 1400 is saved, though 1 in 30 is harmed by extra tests, sometimes invasive operations, unjustified fear and expense!

"Shell will no longer invest in renewable technologies such as wind, solar and hydro power because they are not economic, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said today".

Here is a metaphorical tip of the iceberg closing in on us. It is both a compelling and shocking statement that, despite the fatal rupture in our economic system, and facing an overpopulated, resource depleted/damaged planet, Shell declares it is business as usual under the guise of a green tinge.

As jolting as the Shell statement may seem, there is a method in their madness. Whichever way I look for a high tech solution to our population overshoot/resource depletion predicament, it always leads into an energy box canyon. So, with the absence of a technological fix, it seems to me that there are two roads to our ruin here. The world economic system could be redefined, and an attempt is made to soften the landing of most of humanity (the party is called time, ladies and gentlemen scenario). Not likely, but possible if we are given no other choice. Or, the more resourced and militarily enabled nations, nation blocs, and corporations, grab what is left (like China has been doing recently)for a post peak oil touch down on the corpses of the disenfranchised majority (let the party wail on and bop til we drop scenario).

This decision by Shell has far greater implications than just defining their future energy paradigm. It sends a message to other energy industry players, governments, and those of us who understand our death by consumption paradigm, that they have no interest in redefining the current unlimited growth economic paradigm.

Shell seems determined to keep the party rocking until the band falls off the stage drunk on genetically modified biofuel.

There's another way to look at it Thai. Shell may be doing us a favor by sending a very clear signal to the political base that the free market cannot respond to the long term needs of society. I'm sure TPTB at Shell are as aware of PO as any here. But a public company cannot justify investments which do not provide a satisfactory rate of return to the shareholders. In fact, it's a violation of SEC rules for them to intentionally invest in projects which will certainly loose money. This has been the problem facing all energy companies: while there is an obvious need for long term strategies to deal with PO, Wall Street is only focused on the short term. Have management go against Wall Street and the investors will replace them.

What is needed is a system change that allows companies to make such long term investments. Perhaps changing tax laws might be an approach. Others have offered ideas regarding some form of gov't mandate but it's difficult to imagine such a process delivering the desired results.

I don't know why Shell made such a clear statement. They were under no obligation to do so. Thus I suspect a motive is hidden in their words. Perhaps is no more complicated then sending a message to the public: do not believe the politicians who offer industry solutions to our future problems. Current economic analysis methods will not provide the long term solution.

We wouldn't be the first life form to wipe itself out. But what would be unique about us is that we did it knowingly. What does that say about us?
The question I've been asking is: why didn't we save ourselves when we had the chance? Is the answer because on some level we weren't sure if we were worth saving?

Wasn't it Einstein that said that Intelligence hadn't been proven to be an evolutionary advantage? Although he meant it more in a "we will destroy ourselves with our weapons" way than "stupid people have more children" kind of way.

There's always a conflict between immediate and long-term rewards. It seems that we don't value our future-selves very much.
If our descendants are able to build a time-machine they would come back and judge us very harshly. (But they haven't...)

Hello TODers,

Foreign Policy In Focus:
The Second Shockwave by Michael Klare | March 18, 2009

While the economic contraction is apparently slowing in the advanced industrial countries and may reach bottom in the not-too-distant future, it's only beginning to gain momentum in the developing world, which was spared the earliest effects of the global meltdown. Because the crisis was largely precipitated by a collapse of the housing market in the United States and the resulting disintegration of financial products derived from the "securitization" of questionable mortgages, most developing nations were unaffected by the early stages of the meltdown, for the simple reason that they possessed few such assets.

But now, as the wealthier nations cease investing in the developing world or acquiring its exports, the crisis is hitting them with a vengeance. On top of this, conditions are deteriorating at a time when severe drought is affecting many key food-producing regions and poor farmers lack the wherewithal to buy seeds, fertilizers, and fuel.

The likely result: A looming food crisis in many areas hit hardest by the global economic meltdown...

How Will Agriculture Adapt To Climatic Change?

..Climatic change is rapidly emerging as one of the most serious threats that humanity may ever face. Because it is linked so closely to natural resources and climatic conditions, agriculture will keenly feel the effect of climatic change through changes in both the temperature and precipitation and thus the availability of water for growing food.

It is predicted that the interiors of major continents will warm more quickly than the oceans. In addition current weather extremes are likely to be exacerbated. It is likely that wet areas of the world will get even wetter and dry areas will get drier. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water globally and as climatic change alters the quantity and reliability of water supplies, it could threaten the welfare of millions of poor farmers...
Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

Bob I know you think that golf courses guzzle too much water and NPK. Somehow I don't think they are worried since in Melbourne Australia they will pay Tiger Woods a $A3m appearance fee.
That's the area where 210 people died in recent bush fires and their ultra-dirty lignite stations (1.25kg CO2/kwe) got exemption from cap and trade.

The $3m would be more than enough to convert the golf course into a community garden.

Somebody should have to Prove how paying Tiger will generate $19 million locally, and then how that supposed economic injection of money is a benefit to the city. If it generates $19 million in just waste as opposed to building a better ecosystem or greater social resiliency--> then the area is just goosed towards faster decline,IMO.

At the risk of sounding redundant (small risk, since I readily stipulate the fact) the problem with the world economy, 'free market capitalism' (Hah!), the so-called 'bail outs' (Hah!), AIG bonuses, Wall Street chicanery and a host of other financial debacles is so utterly intrinsic to our human nature that a massive extinction event is probably the only thing that will cure it.

(That light we see in the tunnel is not on oncoming train, it is Darwinian enlightenment.)

The tragically false belief is that there is anything, in this mercilessly physical universe, even remotely akin to "profit" (used in the sense of gaining more from an investment than was put into it by all involved parties in the first place.)

Certainly there is successful theft (which can be made to look like profit, especially if you own a few newspapers and TV studios.)

Just as certainly there can be delusion based on promises of 'profit' (just ask Mr. Ponzi.)

There can even be hope of profit, as attested by widespread faith in the magical "Unseen Hand" of the marketplace.

But, alas, there is no such thing as financial profit.

I refer all you engineer types to the physical law known as Conservation of Energy, and its firstborn son, the First Law of Thermodynamics.

To know that those principles are true in the realm of physics (and petroleum extraction) and nevertheless hold simultaneously to the belief that they do not apply to money... well, it's just sad.

Think of commerce as a cup, and all human activity as a quantity placed in the cup for later use. One can get from that cup exactly as much as was put into it, minus some evaporation, a little spoilage and a few minor spills "Twixt cup and lip."

That's it, and that's all.

The rest is flim flam designed to separate victims from what they have labored to put into their own cups. But a piece of advice to novice Capitalists: don't call it flim flam and theft. That just alerts the marks and makes 'em cautious. Call it Economics and Profit.