Drumbeat: March 30, 2009

ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Total taking no chances

While many experts have cloaked the international oil and gas industry in an aura of mystery suggesting that an era of peak oil production beckons and that OPEC, with some 30 million bbl/day of capacity is the master of the oil industry, the fact is that it is a simple business and OPEC, while large, is in fact only one of many producers. The science of geology has advanced today to the point where crude oil and gas deposits can be identified with great precision, even those at depths 20 thousand feet below sea level or in the Arctic regions or the vast deserts of Africa and Asia. Prospecting tools are so sophisticated today that the risk of drilling a dry hole is sharply reduced.

$100+ Oil, Not “If” But “When”?

While it seems like ages ago, it was a just a year or so ago when oil was rising sharply and experts were knocking one another over to be the first to scream for $100, $150 even $200 oil around the corner. The public outcry grew with each rise in gas prices. The crowd in Washington, who has been passing the buck for years rather than address the growing energy crisis, hauled the oil industry executives in front of Congress for the cameras in hopes of the public not realizing they had already kicked the can down the road versus having to actually do something about it.

The great debate a year ago was about Peak Oil. While agreeing with the Peak Oil Theory, yours truly kept saying it was one economic contraction away. Well, I assume you agree we have one heck of a contraction at the moment? If so, it would stand to reason I’m now prepared to fully join the “Peak Oil Believers.”

Petroflow Suspends Drilling Program, Citing Poor Economic Conditions

Petroflow Energy Ltd., Calgary, says it has suspended its drilling activities in light of the current economic downturn.

Avoid length in commodities, oil and resources this year

LONDON (Reuters) - Commodities and oil will offer huge returns when global inflation takes off, fund of funds Caliburn Capital says, but it advised investors to avoid length in them this year while deflationary pressures dominate. Caliburn Chief Investment Officer Chris Bouckley was pessimistic over the outlook for the world economy, seeing it contracting this year and not hitting bottom until mid-2010.

OPEC seaborne exports continue to fall, analyst says

LOS ANGELES -- Seaborne oil exports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, except Angola and Ecuador, will decline by 770,000 b/d in the 4 weeks to Apr. 11, according to shipping analyst Oil Movements (OM).

Exports will average 22.23 million b/d, down from 23.00 million b/d in the 4 weeks to Mar. 14, OM said in an estimate that is lower than last week's, which itself represented a 5 1/2-year low of 22.41 million b/d.

US Products Outlook-Gasoline weak on imports, refineries

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gasoline differentials are likely to stay weak in the near term along the U.S. East Coast with the return to service of a major gasoline-making refinery and unsold cargoes of European gasoline, traders said Monday.

ConocoPhillips has begun the restart process after 6 weeks of planned maintenance of the 145,000 barrel per day gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking unit at its 232,000 bpd Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey, with sources anticipating the process to take 3 to 4 days.

Kenya pipeline link to Uganda oil fields proposed

LOS ANGELES -- Kenya's Mombasa-to-Eldoret oil pipeline could eventually be extended to Uganda's Albertine rift basin—site of promising recent oil discoveries—once the line has been extended to Kampala, Uganda.

Seven Reasons Why Better Place Will Fail and Four Why It Won't

The well-funded Better Place hopes to revolutionize transportation by building a network of charging stations for electric cars. But does it really have the goods?

Nuclear power inches back into energy spotlight

The nation's nuclear power industry — stuck in a decades-long deep freeze — is thawing.

Utilities are poised to build a new generation of nuclear plants 30 years after the Three Mile Island accident, whose anniversary was Saturday, halted new reactor applications. The momentum is being driven by growing public acceptance of relatively clean nuclear energy to combat global warming.

Several companies have taken significant steps that will likely lead to completion of four reactors by 2015 to 2018 and up to eight by 2020. All would be built next to existing nuclear plants.

Poll shows growing support for nuclear power plants

A new Gallup poll found growing levels of support among Americans for nuclear energy.

While support for nuclear power in recent years has usally been in the mid-50 percent range, the latest poll found that 59 percent of the respondents favor its use. And the number of people who say they strongly favor nuclear - usually around 20 percent - was 27 percent in the poll.

Insurance rates for oil tankers up 30 pct despite global crisis

KUWAIT (KUNA) -- Insurance prices for oil tankers have increased between 20 and 30 percent in spite of the current financial crisis, Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of Kuwait Oil Tanker Company Nabil Burisli said here Monday. The rise is due to piracy in the Gulf of Aden, he told KUNA, adding that the downturn in the global economy and the subsequent decline in the prices of many goods and services "are supposed to reflect on the price of insurance," but only on a limited scale.

Europe's oil refining set to shrink

LONDON (Reuters) - Vanishing gasoline demand from the United States and a long-term fall in local oil use mean Europe's refiners are shutting down capacity -- for good.

Pipe glitch hits Norway offshore sector

Norway's oil and gas industry has been hit by a worldwide pipeline quality scare after Italian company Tecninox said hundreds of thousands of duplex pipe fittings were heated at the wrong temperature during production.

A spokesman for the Norwegian oil industry association, the OLF, told Dow Jones Newswires that 20,000 of the affected fittings have been purchased by petroleum companies operating on the Norwegian continental shelf and that replacing them might require production shutdowns "for a short period of time".

Petrobras, FUP Agree to Suspend Oil Workers' Strike

After three and a half days of negotiations, Petrobras and the National Oilworkers Federation (FUP) reached an agreement to suspend the labor strike, which was started on Monday (03/23).

'World still thirsts for gas'

Qatar sees high demand for gas despite a global downturn, with some Asian and European countries including India or China requesting new supplies, the Gulf Arab state's Oil Minister Abdullah Attiyah said.

"The world is facing a shortage of gas," Attiyah told Reuters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Kuwait.

"Still until today I receive a lot of requests from India, China, from Germany, from many parts of the world...Demand for gas is very high," he said, adding that no existing customer had asked to reduce supplies.

Bad weather closes two Mexico oil ports - govt

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Two of Mexico's three main oil exporting ports were closed on Sunday due to bad weather, the government said.

Dos Bocas port was closed for a second straight day and Cayo Arcas port was shuttered on Sunday morning, with both reporting high waves and strong winds.

Mexico's third main oil port, Coatzacoalcos, reopened after being closed on Saturday afternoon.

Indonesia May Send Tangguh LNG to China in June

Indonesia may carry out the first delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Tangguh project in Papua to China's Fujian province in June, Indonesia's oil watch dog BP Migas said Monday.

Indonesia is expected to deliver 2.6 million tons of LNG annually from the Tangguh project to China's Fujian province for 25 years starting this year, it said.

Ethiopia's dam project could kill Kenya's Lake Turkana

Ethiopia is midway through construction of a dam upstream on River Omo, which is Lake Turkana’s main tributary, giving it 80 per cent of its water. The other rivers, Turkwel and Kerio are seasonal and can barely sustain the lake’s water level.

Local and international impact reports have indicated the Turkana could start drying up once the huge dam, owned by Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO), cuts off the river to fill up a capacity of 11 billion cubic meters of water.

OPEC cuts put floor under oil price; prevented collapse: Muhanna

Dubai (Platts) - OPEC's decision to cut production by a combined 4.2 million b/d last year succeeded in putting a floor under oil prices, balanced the market and prevented an "unusual" build in consumer oil stocks, according to a senior Saudi oil adviser.

Ibrahim al-Muhanna, an adviser to Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi, said in a paper presented to a March 28 meeting of the Organization of the Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) that OPEC's decision to implement cuts had come under "harsh" attack from Western oil-consuming nations, including the US, the UK and consumer watchdog the IEA, which saw the move as "unreasonable."

"But time has proved OPEC's critics wrong and justified the group's realistic action," he wrote.

Collapse of crude prices heralds wave of oil industry consolidation

The oil industry is bracing itself for a wave of consolidation as cash-rich companies acquire more vulnerable rivals that are struggling after the collapse of the price of crude, analysts say.

Aramco to continue its long-term outlays

RIYADH: State oil company Saudi Aramco renewed its commitment to long-term investment plans in oil and gas during the global financial crisis, which has dampened demand for sources of energy.

Kuwait raises oil output capacity

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (AFP) – OPEC member Kuwait has boosted its oil production capacity to three million barrels per day and aims to raise it to four million by 2020, a top oil executive said on Monday.

Qatari minister sees more oil cooperation amid financial crisis

KUWAIT (KUNA) -- Qatari Minister of Energy Abdullah Al-Attiya said he Monday he believed the current global financial crisis could have favorable aspects, including possible closer cooperation and mutual benefit among national and international oil companies.

Israel's Oil Refineries posts Q4 loss as crude drops

JERUSALEM, March 30 (Reuters) - Israel's Oil Refineries (ORL.TA) said on Monday it moved to a net loss in the fourth quarter, as lower fuel prices weighed on its bottom line.

Oil Refineries, Israel's biggest refinery, posted a quarterly net loss of $182 million, compared with a profit of $18 million a year earlier.

Oil Refineries said that the steep fall in crude oil prices last year lowered the value of its unhedged inventory of crude oil.

Nigeria: Unpaid Taxes - AP, Shell, Oando, Others Face Senate

Abuja — Oil companies believed to be evading taxes in Nigeria are expected to face the Senate Committee on Public Accounts today to either offer explanations or prove the records wrong.

Russia economy to shrink 4.5 pct: World Bank

MOSCOW, (AFP) – Russia's economy will contract 4.5 percent in 2009 from the year earlier due to a worsening global financial outlook and low oil prices, the World Bank said on Monday.

"With a much worse global financial outlook and oil prices in the 45 dollars a barrel range, Russia's economy is likely to contract by 4.5 percent in 2009, with further downside risks," the Bank said in its latest economic report on Russia.

Drop in Nigerian Oil Revenues Foreshadows Economic Downturn

The head of Nigeria's state-owned National Petroleum Corporation says the country's economy is expected to decline in the wake of falling oil prices and declining crude production.

Nigeria had projected its 2009 budget based on a benchmark price of crude oil of $45 per barrel per day and oil output of 2.3-million barrels per day. What is striking is that oil prices collapsed from almost $150 last year to the current price of about $50.

South Korea's S-Oil gets BBB ratings from S&P; outlook stable

The ratings on South Korea's S-Oil reflect its sound profitability, which mainly stems from its solid operating efficiency, and strong shareholder base. The rating is constrained by the highly cyclical industry characteristics of the oil refining and marketing sector, the company's limited business integration, and capital expenditure increases made by the company during the current economic downturn, S&P said.

Ex-Vitol Trader to Start $100 Million Oil Hedge Fund

(Bloomberg) -- Andrew Serotta, the Vitol Group oil trader who left last year as the firm scaled back its derivatives business, said he plans to start a $100 million hedge fund called Logista Capital to trade in crude futures.

Raymond J. Learsy: The Oil Patch Vaudeville Act

There they go again. It was so nice and quiet on the oil front for a short while. Had the price of oil held at $147 we would have been regaled endlessly with all the good reasons why it should go ever higher. Procrastinations came from far and wide and were trumpeted loudly for all to hear. Next stop $200/bbl by Goldman Sachs, or to $250 by Alexei Miller CEO of Gazprom (on June 10, 2008) and $500 by the "Old Reliable" of oil price excess, James Simmons (not to speak of vertiginous price moments by T.Boone Pickens along the way). But then watching the price fall from the undreamed of heights of $147/bbl to the dowdy mid fifties and below seemed to have made the oil guys and gals tongue tied in disbelief. But not for long . This past week they came out with guns blazing.

Under a Flourescent Moon

What’s going on now is nature’s way of telling you that America’s standard of living has to be reduced by something between 20 and 50 percent. You can have it in the form of a compressive deflationary depression, including widespread bankruptcies… or you can have by way of inflation, in which money loses its value. But there’s one basic qualification to this: the way down is not symmetrical with the way up. That is, it’s really not just a matter of ratcheting down to a standard of living half of what it was, say, in 2006, because in the event all the various complex systems that support everyday life enter failure mode before our society re-sets at a theoretically lower level of equilibrium.

People Are Hoarding Nonperishable Survival Food in Anticipation of Widespread Shortages

Due to a dramatic increase in consumer demand, SurvivalOutpost.com, an Austin-based on-line retail store specializing in Emergency Preparedness Supplies & Nonperishable Survival Food for individuals, families and businesses, recently announced a new line of dehydrated food products to meet the ever-increasing desire for emergency food storage.

"The demand for nonperishable survival foods, such as MRE's and dehydrated meals - anything that has a long shelf-life - has increased dramatically over the past 6 months," notes SurvivalOutpost.com co-owner Brian French. To meet the ever-increasing demand for emergency food supplies, SurvivalOutpost.com recently established a supplier relationship with Honeyville Farms, a leading producer of nonperishable foods. "From the day we launched our new line of dehydrated foods, the demand has been amazing. People are clearly becoming increasingly nervous about basic provisions such as food and water, and they are buying these products in bulk," says French.

White House questions viability of GM, Chrysler

WASHINGTON – Neither General Motors nor Chrysler submitted acceptable plans to receive more federal bailout money, the Obama administration said as it set the stage for a crisis in Detroit that would dramatically reshape the nation's auto industry.

The White House pushed out GM's chairman and directed Chrysler to move quickly to forge a partnership with Fiat if it expects to receive additional government assistance.

President Barack Obama and his top advisers have determined that neither company is viable and that taxpayers will not spend untold billions more to keep the pair of automakers open forever.

Hummer's fate faces GM decision

DETROIT - By Tuesday, General Motors Corp. will have to decide whether its struggling Hummer brand will die a quiet death or live on with a new owner.

The wounded automaker has told the federal government that it will make the decision to jettison or sell Hummer by the end of the first quarter as part of a plan to justify the government loans on which it is living.

Are 2 billion cars a nightmare we can avoid? New book tackles the subject

Let's look at China for a moment. The People's Republic was founded in 1949, and it took nearly 50 years before Beijing had a million cars on its teeming streets. But in just the few years since, the capital city's fleet has more than doubled, to 2.6 million in 2005, when 1,000 vehicles a day were being added.

Today, China uses about a third as much oil as the United States, but it won't stay that way for long: By 2010, the country will have 36 times more cars than it had in 1990. By 2030, it could have more than the U.S., and who would be buying more oil then?

GE Invests In Tesla

It appears as though GE Capital (GE) has invested in Tesla Motors, according to a leaked Car and Driver interview with CEO, Elon Musk.

U.S. Nuclear Power Sector to Rebound; Will Create New Profit Plays for Energy Investors

It’s been 30 years since the accident at Three Mile Island effectively killed the commercial nuclear power industry in the United States. But strongly escalating concerns about global warming, growing worries about so-called “Peak Oil," and greatly improved nuclear-power technology are combining to make nuclear power an increasingly alluring option in the United States, Money Morning has been reporting.

Flatulent cows could be curtailed by fish oils

(CNN) -- The benefits to humans of omega 3 fatty acids in fish oils are well documented, but a new study has found that fish oils can have a wider benefit to the environment -- by reducing the amount of methane produced by cows.

Climate lobbying in D.C. attracts Texans

WASHINGTON — The nation’s economy is in the tank, and companies in Houston and elsewhere have been shedding jobs. But in Washington, there’s a growth industry that’s putting some Texans to work: climate change lobbying.

U.S. to push for U.N. climate deal but no "magic wand"

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama's administration promised to push for a new United Nations climate treaty on Sunday but said Washington had no magic wand and that all countries had to help.

China hails U.S. climate promises, says to act

Beijing welcomed U.S. promises of more action to slow global warming on Monday and said China would also do its share while ensuring that its people were not "left in the dark" without electricity.

'Eco-Friendly Growth Is a Must for Future'

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo Monday called on lawmakers to join the global campaign to stop climate change, saying that otherwise, ``there will be no future for us."

Since President Lee Myung-bak unveiled low-carbon, green growth as a major policy agenda last year, Han has spread the gospel of eco-friendly growth to political leaders and government officials whenever he has a chance to promote the drive.

Russia Central Dispatching Department

Russia’s oil production just took a huge hit, down 25.3 thousand tons per day since Friday. (all liquids) That translates into about 185 thousand barrels liquids or about 178 thousand barrels per day crude only. Their oil production had been up about 65 thousand barrels per day in March, over February.

But this drop puts them to a new low since their post breakup peak in 2007. My very rough calculations puts their production on March 29 at 9,230,000 barrels per day, crude only. The production drop was not equal among all companies but was isolated to three companies, Lukoil, TNK-BP and Surgutneftegas.

This may have been just a one day phenomena however, perhaps a correction of past reporting errors. We will have to wait until the next report to know that, hopefully tomorrow. They often skip a day, or several days, in reporting.

Ron P.

Ron, I think it is due to summer time (i.e. only 23 hour day yesterday).

Right, I never thought of that. It works out to about 1 hour's production for the three companies reporting drops. The other companies may correct their production later.

Ron P.

And I see Gazprom natural gas production fell by another 74.5 mcm/day (2.6 Bcf/day). That's a 7% fall over the weekend.

Gazprom's latest daily production is now down over 500 mcm/day (18 Bcf/day) since last year. That's a 30% fall. This is just getting ridiculous.

However maybe things will pick up a bit later in the week although past precedent for this year suggests it probably won't.

[Edit: Notice the comment about the clocks going forward above. That would account for only 4% of the shortfall if it's the cause. Just checked and the Russians did change their clocks this weekend]

Russia Start: Last Sunday in March at 2 am local time



The total percentage drop for oil was 1.9%. The drop in gas production for Gazprom was 6.5%. Since all oil companies did not report a drop, at least a very big one, I suppose it was the clock thing. We will just have to wait and see if that was part of the problem for Gazprom.

Meanwhile the "games" continue.

Gazprom denies supporting either party in RosUkrEnergo vs. Naftogaz dispute

Gazprom has denied reports claiming that it has backed one of the parties in a court dispute over how much gas is stored in the Ukrainian underground gas storage facilities.

"Rumors got round at the end of the week claiming that Gazprom had allegedly backed one party in a court dispute over the amount of gas stored the Ukrainian underground gas storage facilities," Gazprom informed Interfax.

...The court combined several suits into one, seeking the recovery of Naftogaz's debt worth over $600 million for the gas Ukraine consumed in 2008, and compelling Naftogaz to raise up to 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas from underground gas storage facilities and transport them to the border with Poland.

Whatever the true situation is with Gazprom, the EU could certainly do with 11.5 bcm right now delivered to the Polish border.

Re: China hails U.S. climate promises, says to act
and 'Eco-Friendly Growth Is a Must for Future'

Given that China is rapidly installing solar hot water heaters and other solar equipment, they might be ready for Peak Oil long before the U.S. Thus, they might become the beneficiaries of global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

I've been looking at current solar collector systems and the Chinese evacuated tube hot water panels are likely to win out, especially as they can manufacturer them with low cost labor. In the U.S., we still have several companies using flat plate designs, which capture less energy than the evacuated tube designs, especially at low temperatures in winter, when hot water is highly desirable. The recent incentives in the Stimulus Package make it difficult for new players to enter the market, since there is a requirement that tax credits/grants will only go to systems which have passed the certification process of the SRCC, which can take up to 18 months. Anyone wishing to enter the market will find that 18 month to be difficult to overcome, IMHO.

E. Swanson

I get the feeling that China is well ahead on a lot of this stuff -they are manufacturing something like 50% of stuff and that includes evacuated tubes, solar and LEDs/GrowLeds.

Btw. here's what happens 2 you when you read TOD too long:

"Look at the pretty lights...!"


Yeah, my LCD tan isn't nearly as good as the one I got from the old green CRTs. After a day of looking at a green monitor, on first going outside I would see things with a pink tinge...

E. Swanson

Isn't there only one US maker of evacuated tubes in MA? And as I remember their tubes are FAR bigger in diameter than the imports.

Has anyone had any good luck with solar hot water heaters in northern climates? I live in Wisconsin (at 44 latitude) and read that the evacuated tube design might be the way to go in my situation.

Yes they are. Not a 100% solution, but you can position additional reflectors to help in the winter.

They can deliver warmed water in up to -40 deg weather.

btfsolar.com out of Michigan carries Chinese made product. I think they'll be the closest and the owner has offered to use his truck + the ferry to get 'em across the pond. 7 units is his truck capacity.

I have passive evecuated tubes at 51 degrees N, they work well but you need clear skies to get good results.

For best results the tubes need to be at 90 degrees to the sun (azimuth and elevation) - because of this, in my experience, you will only get good heat for two hours or so per day - you may need a lot of tubes if you need to heat a lot of water.

Out of curiosity, which manufacturer made your collectors and what model did you select? Some brands provide better performance as the incidence angle increases at times away from local noon (assuming the collector is oriented in fixed position facing toward local noon)...

E. Swanson

I live in the UK so they were made here ... by Thermomax, http://www.thermomax-group.com/ in Wales I think.

IMO pointing exactly towards South isn't usually necessary because of the relatively short part of daytime for usable heat - just assure that the tubes will be close to perpendicular to the sun's rays at the time of the year you want most heat - there is the same amoount of heat from the sun at dawn or midday, but a limiting problem with high lattitudes is short day length in the winter (and grey skies in the UK!)

My tubes are placed on a SW facing vertical wall, not a sloping roof, and the local Government gave me a large grant to fit them - they were so impressed they have used a picture of me and my tubes several times in publicity that they send out to the whole community.

The coating on the plates inside the tubes is the important bit - ordinary black paint won't do.

Thanks for the link. I see that the Thermomax design uses a heat pipe with a fin to collect the energy. That heat pipe and fin are then sealed within the evacuated tube. One big problem with this design is the seal between the metal tube and the glass. The two materials typically exhibit different coefficients of thermal expansion, which can lead to a seal failure. There are designs available from China that use two glass tubes with the vacuum between. That design has no metal to glass seal. There may be other advantages to the use of the dual tube design, depending on how it's done.

And yes, a selective surface makes for a large increase in collector efficiency compared to a flat black painted surface, which has been known for at least 30 years...

E. Swanson

Most evacuated tube designs have only one glass/metal seal. The other tube end is closed with the interior assembly floating within the tube.


Metal through glass works pretty good, it's very well understood tech ... thermionic vacuum tubes, incadescent light bulbs, cathode ray tubes etc. have all had it for decades. Thermomax has been going for 29 years and has made literally millions of evacuated tubes.

I suspect like sealed double glazing units they will eventually lose the vacuum but they will still be pretty efficient and won't need replacing as it won't be cost effective - I suspect by then we will be so short of cheap energy that such things won't just be replaced like now.

My Solar tubes are just normal flowing water as the heat pipes are not suitable for mounting on a vertical wall.

I have been in the solar business for years, so I hope I can contribute.

Evac Tubes are interesting, but you need to be careful when choosing your collectors. Do not fall for the "More Efficient!" mantra. There are at least two issues with tubes that I don't like (for solar domestic hot water):
First, The vacuum in tubes does not last forever. One manufacturer claims a MTBF of 15 years. So, factor in the probability of buying *two* sets of tubes over a typical 25-30 year system lifespan. (and will that company/tube design still be around in 15 years?)
Second, tubes are more expensive than flat plates.
Additionally, the tubes will take up more space (collector array is physically larger)for a given heat output, and tend to be more fragile. At your latitude, snow cover on the tubes can be a major issue. The tubes are so good at retaining heat that snow and ice are slow to melt off, whereas flat plates tend to self clear on a sunny day (even if it's cold out).

No matter what products you are looking at, a proper analysis of the BTUs involved and system cost needs to be done. You should look at the data (SRCC or equivalent), and calculate the dollars spent vs. BTUs delivered for different collector products. Even at your latitude, flat plate collectors tend to be a better deal, but not always. Do your homework!

Don't get me wrong, tubes are valuable in certain situations. If you were designing a solar space heating system (to be integrated into an existing hot water baseboard system), and you absolutely had to get the most heat possible from the winter sun, tubes would really be the wise choice.
But if you were doing the same thing and integrating into a radiant floor system (tubing in concrete) in a well insulated house, I would probably look at flat plates first. After doing the numbers and comparing flat plates with tubes, I would be able to make a final recommendation.
The ability to rotate the tubes, axially, to aim them at the sun also makes them useful when the mounting surface doesn't face exactly solar south.

Here is a link to a Wisconsin company doing solar hot water systems: http://www.arthaonline.com/index.html

This is a link to a good podcast with Bob Ramlow (founder of Artha Sustainable Living Center):

Bob is also the author of "Solar Water Heating, A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems"

I am just below 30 degrees (hazy skies often) and want a low profile (allowed in historic areas if cannot be seen from street) and lowest overall cost. Flat on roof (i.e. not ideal angle).

Used exclusively for domestic hot water.

Any suggestions ?



I bought a kit from kingsolar.com and installed it myself.
I'm happy with it. Cost about $3K total (vs. $6K from local
installers) and should have a reasonably fast payback since
my water heater is electric. I turn off the electricity to the
water heater at the breaker from April - October. The pump on
the solar system uses about 1/3 KWH per day, vs. about 12 KWH
per day to heat water electrically.

I reviewed the site and found lots of good stuff, especially the diagrams. But not what I need, a tankless gas hot water back-up to a solar water heating (domestic) system.



Flat on roof or vertical walls isn't a problem with evacuated tubes, each tube has a miniature flat plate and can be rotated to get the desired angle to the sun.

Actually, heat pipe based tubes can not be mounted horizontally on walls, only vertically, which means that rotating them will not point them at the sun. Heat pipe based tubes use thermosiphon principles to function. Those tubes need at least a 15 degree tilt to achieve a thermosiphon that works well enough, and a higher angle would be better.

There are some systems that are direct flow systems - the working fluid flows through each tube. Those can be mounted horizontally on a wall or flat roof, and the tubes rotated to an angle of about 30 degrees. The problem is there is a liquid connection at each tube that provides a possible leak point subject to constant thermal cycling. And with high sun altitudes, tubes on a wall start to self-shade each other. You could also put them on a flat roof, which works well.


If I were you, I would only look at flat plate collectors. A single 4'x 8' collector should provide about 40 gallons of hot water per day on average - enough for two people who don't conserve much.
At 30 deg. latitude, flat mounting on the roof would be just fine, unless you have a very steep roof.

Velux, the skylight people, are making a neat collector system that flashes into the roofing just like their skylights. It ends up looking like a skylight. http://www.velux.com/Better_living_environments/Solar_energy/

There are many other collectors out there that are pretty low profile. Look at Stiebel Eltron too: http://www.stiebel-eltron-usa.com/sol25.html
Their Sol25 is only 3.25" thick.

Also, for a tankless backup, Rinnai and Takagi make good units. Just make sure you get one with a modulating burner. Those can adjust the burner strength to match the incoming water temp. Downside - they require 120VAC to operate.

Good Luck!

Thanks !

Fortunately, although tankless gas water heaters need 120 V, they need very little. Battery backup works fine if that is a concern.

And I know how to do my own wiring, etc. :-)

Best Hopes,


Did you read the drumbeat post above about China's massive increases in autos? Unless these are electric, I hardly think they will be ready for peak oil. China is on a course to ruin both for themselves and the rest of the world.

Further, at what point will Americans decide to eschew globalization? Renewables were to be our salvation, our hope for the future for jobs in the manufacturing system. Not as long as we have to compete against the Chinese.

Our economy had regressed to reliance on three pillars -- finance,autos, and housing. So much for that strategy.

It's good to be old in times like these.

I'm 31. My kids are 4 and 6.

I'm SOOO not looking forward to the rest of this century...

"You're not looking forward the rest of this century?"
Hmmm -- what do you think your kids feel? (Wink).
My suggestion to have them join the Army as soon as they're eligible. Where else can you get the fire power to protect your food resource. Don't be a doctor or lawyer -- join the Arm Forces.

D**ned dyslexia, I read that as "have them join the Army as soon as they're edible". Too many hours looking at the pretty lights, I guess %).

Given that China is rapidly installing solar hot water heaters and other solar equipment, they might be ready for Peak Oil long before the U.S. Thus, they might become the beneficiaries of global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

You have to look at the numbers. I don't know if they have cut back now on building coalplants, but the last years they built about 100/yr. That is 100x 1000 MW = 100 GW/yr.
CO2 emissions are allready higher than in the U.S. and increasing and will not be much influenced by solar even if in 2020 they have 20% electricity/heat from that (and how much more electricity than now they than need ?). For mitigation the impacts of peak oil it wouldn't do much either, since that is mainly a liquid fuel problem. And their number of conventional cars is increasing rapidly.

75% of China's energy comes from coal--and they're building something like one new coal plant a week. However, China's strategy is to maintain its power supplies using coal while at the same time diversifying its energy sources, using solar, wind, and nuclear. A huge chunk of its current "stimulus" is being put into alternative energy companies and projects.

The same obtains for cars. For the present, buy and use gas cars; but build electric cars and gradually replace gas by other energy sources.

3 months ago I had a evacuated tube system installed in my home(Chinese made with Aust tank), it is very impressive, have only needed to boost once (7kWh) in that time. I understand that it is an Australian design from Syndey University (David Mills and co) but typically no local companies were interested and so the Chinese took it on, now they are the world leaders.
Where have I heard this before!

The benefits of a Command Economy, I guess.

The EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2009 should have come out last week but it didn't. Could someone from TOD with EIA contacts (I recall Gail has had contact in the past) perhaps find out what's up and when we might expect it?

There are no announcements regarding the delay on the EIA site.

I just looked on the EIA website at a list of names, and found one in the relevant area.

I am leaving for the airport shortly, so I am probably not the one to do it today.


Would probably call them myself if I was a US citizen but it might get more attention (and possibly a more thought through excuse...) if it came from someone at TOD

As the press release says: "For the first time in more than 20 years, the new AEO reference case projects virtually no growth in U.S. oil consumption" - well, if that's the reference case I'm quite interested in seeing what their worst case is.

Wonder if they're rewriting bits at the last minute?

Between the economic turmoil and the administration shift, I'm not too surprised it is running late -- but I am just a bit since government is nothing if not punctual.

Unless it is at the printers I'll guess there is no estimated release date. This transition period seems to be a bit harder than some... perhaps because there is such a large ideological shift to manage.

I'm not too surprised at a delay. It's the unannounced delay that I find peculiar. It still says "full report available March 27, 2009" on the EIA site.

The printers have been busy increasing the national debt and increasing the money supply. Sorry for the inconvenience.

A thot occurred to me this weekend, believe it or not. I was thinking about this online "peak oil" community and how it seems to be divided into these two groups: the powerdown contingent & the technocopians with their somewhat "greener" (they'd like everyone to believe) version of BAU. I had to wonder if this "PO awareness movement" isn't just a ploy on the part of advocates for big business to convince people that nuke tech, wind tech, river damning, or whatever their particular tech fetish or vested economic interest might be, really was the way to go in the face of fossil fuel depletion. If the real purpose of websites such as TOD isn't to market greenwashed tech fixes to a scared & gullible readership. In the first place, anyone with an IQ equal to or greater than George Bush's must realize that resources are limited on a finite planet, so the missionary aspect of PO websites doesn't really ring true. And given the ridicule technocopians attempt to heap on advocates of powerdown, it seems manifest that there's a hidden agenda at play here. So is this what's really going on? Are lobbyists or marketeers for centralized power generation or those with a product to sell out to convince people that new nuke plants or dams & hydroelectric facilities aren't all that bad an option, after all, when "machete moshpits" are the alternative? Could I be onto something with this?

I take it a thot is something short of a thought.
I say, green light all those nuke and dam projects- the starter gun has fired, now "GO!". I will be stupefied if they make it around the track once. The money, energy, materials, sites, expertise are lacking. Very little will get done, even with the best intentions and fullest of efforts.

"Could I be onto something with this?"


There is always the chance of a conspiracy, but then it would be better to present some real evidence. Just because there is an alignment of interests between peak oil theory and alternative energy does not mean that peak oil is being made up to push the alternatives. On the other hand, sure, if one believes in peak oil, then one is more likely to be seeking/pushing alternatives.

I take it that, from your perspective, we are screwed regardless of what we think or what we do. There is no way forward and no way out. That seems plausible but it still seems that it is worth trying some alternative to long term dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. Regardless, I concur that a lot of of power down will be required. This will probably not be voluntary for the most part.

I continue to hope that there is some alternative between BAU with a green veneer on the one hand and the machete moshpits on the other. Long-term economic decline, I believe, is pretty much inevitable - unless we can get those "Mr. Fusion" units under production and under every hood any day now. I very much doubt that is ever going to happen.

While I am very sceptical about any prospects for continuing BAU, one thing is bothering me, though. I am increasingly seeing posts here from people who are against even digging up and using the ever shrinking remaining reserves of FFs, because of AGW; they are also against nukes, because they are deadly forever; and they are against wind, because the WTs kill birds and bats; and they are against hydro, because the dams kill fish and river valleys; and they are against biofuels, because it diverts food supplies from people; and they are against wood, because there is not enough of it and it will decimate the forests; and they are against solar, because PVs are not "sustainable".

There might be some validity to each of these arguments, taken individually. Take them together, and it is pretty much an advocacy that humankind shivers in the dark and dies off of starvation in short order. I doubt that this is going to be seriously considered as a policy proposal.


A rational plan with plenty of compromise is needed, and that will include sacrificing much that is valuable in order to save additional people and to preserve resources of greater value.

Saying "it's all unacceptable" sacrifices any hope of long-term purposeful planning in favor of short-term ad-hoc decision-making, which leads to Easter Island and Haiti. And that's the path we're on right now.

Well, there's hope... I used to be staunchly anti-nuke, but now I can see it is by far the lesser of two evils (the other being billions starving in the heat). If one fool can change his mind, another can.

ABC. Anything But Coal.

Excellent analysis of the situation.

We will shiver in the dark, one must conclude. Even if we eventually act, today's delays will be crippling. I disagree about solar (I know it's not necessarily your opinion), although if we are all going it alone, batteries are a problem. As far as grid-tie solar - no problemo. There is a lot of ignorance out there - I was at a meeting yesterday and folks had no idea how solar works these days. Democracy is messy but there are a lot of well-intentioned people out there. I don't think we'll get organized and act meaningfully in time, and that's why I think we're doomed (collectively, not me specifically).

Battery tech is not needed if you give up on 100% power availability.

Use power from the sun when the sun is shining, use power from wind when the wind is blowing, have a high-efficiency solid-state combustibles stove and camp in the kitchen if the wind and the sun are unavailable at the same time on a cold winter's night. That is a vision from a long way down the power curve, yet there are folks living in poor areas of the US today for whom that is current reality. I know, I've been there, if I ever have to head back down the power curve there's a lot of things that I'll take with me on the way down to make it more comfortable.

Giving up on BAU doesn't mean machete moshpits are an inevitability, it just means learning to be more comfortable with yourself, your family, and your neighbors.

From "people"? Hmm.

...one thing is bothering me, though. I am increasingly seeing posts here from people who are against even digging up and using the ever shrinking remaining reserves of FFs, because of AGW; they are also against nukes, because they are deadly forever; and they are against wind, because the WTs kill birds and bats; and they are against hydro, because the dams kill fish and river valleys; and they are against biofuels, because it diverts food supplies from people; and they are against wood, because there is not enough of it and it will decimate the forests; and they are against solar, because PVs are not "sustainable".

Why are you bothered by this? If supporting 6.7+ billion people sans fossil fuel energy input is impossible, what good is frenetic activity that ultimately only makes matters worse? In the face of the inevitable why is attempting the impossible a better alternative to just letting nature take its course? Do you want to hasten the extinction of species, including our own, by means of activities that won't contribute positively to any outcome? Do you think that it's better to "do something" rather than "just stand there," even if whatever you do is at best ineffective and at worse only hastens ecosystem collapse and mass extinction?

I think we can and must decline to a much lower level. I would just prefer that we try to shoot for a level above the paleolithic. We might not make it, but I think it is worth the try.

To do nothing is to really screw the planet. Maybe 6.7 billion is too many for any possible effort to save them all. Those 6.7 billion won't stand to attention like the Birkenhead crew while they die, they will burn,eat and foul the planet. The only way is to do a controlled powerdown that minimises the destruction. Better one bird species goes extinct today generating wind turbine power than 100 go extinct from burning the forest to generate the same power tomorrow.

shivers in the dark and dies off of starvation in short order

Since every technology you noted is a product of the most recent few centuries (with the exception of the use of coal, which is only a couple more centuries old), one wonders how it is that humankind survived the previous 100,000 years, give or take, without shivering and dieing off due to starvation.

There were a lot fewer of us. And there was a lot of shivering and dieoff anyway.

True, many fewer of us. But I suspect from a sheer volume perspective, there is a lot more shivering and dieoff in the modern world. We can expect that this year more than 35 million people will die of starvation, 1.5 billion or more will not have enough to eat.

As a percentage of the entire population, do we do better now than we did, say, 10000 years ago? Since 1970 we've managed to reduce the number of people facing starvation from 1 in 3 to 1 in 5. But we've been losing ground since 2005, and with the current "financial trouble" we will lose even more ground.

Eighty years was not a short span as far as the expectation of human life went in those days (16th-17th centuries). This was about thirty to thirty-two years in most European countries...

--C.R. Boxer, The Dutch Seaborne Empire: 1600-1800

The reason the expected lifespan was so short was high infant mortality. If you actually lived to adulthood, you had a pretty good chance of living to be old. (Though death in childbirth was a threat to women.)

I think this might be the biggest shock, if our standard of living drops that far. We do not expect our children to die before they reach kindergarten. I remember reading an article about how high infant mortality affected a society in...Brazil, I think it was. They were Catholic, but parents would routinely have the priest give last rights to their babies, with the knowledge on both sides that that meant the child would be allowed to die. They didn't actively kill the baby, but they wouldn't bother to care for it or feed it. The reason being that it was seen as a waste, when the baby was likely to die anyway and there wasn't enough to go around. Babies who were strong and fought to live would be cared for; those who seemed less vigorous would not be. Mothers were careful not too care too much for their children until they were past the toddler stage and considered likely to survive. Women who loved their babies too much, then had to bury them, were seen as foolish.

It makes all the wrangling over abortion rather mute, no?

My dad predicted this. He's a rather odd duck. A Fox News-watching, GOP-voting, rightwing nutter...who is also an atheist, who believes that Malthus was wrong only in his timing. He's against abortion; he believes it's murder. But he also thinks there's no point in trying to oppose it; in the face of Malthusian Doom, life will inevitably become cheaper.

..who believes that Malthus was wrong only in his timing.

Yes, timing is the only serious mistake Malthus ever made.

...in the face of Malthusian Doom, life will inevitably become cheaper.


Ah but haven't you heard? We've genetically out-evolved Malthusian man and therefore these constraints don't apply any more. That's the view seriously put forward by Gregory Clark, chair of the Department of Economics at the University of California, Davis in the video discused in another thread

Moot, not mute, Big difference

Currently the USA ranks 29th, more than triple the death rate of Singapore.

The reason the expected lifespan was so short was high infant mortality.

Last week in a thread I started by advocating active effort towards fostering one's own Darwinian fitness, I was pretty much thrashed by the readership. Apparently, what's considered the noble gesture by the "PO aware" community is to forgo reproduction for the good of the group/race/species/planet. As infant mortality goes back up to pre-mod med levels, such group selectionist nonsense becomes just that much stupider. Have as many kids as possible, I say. One may need to sire/bear many babies just to ensure that some survive. I contend that it will be groups of related individuals: bands of brothers, fathers & sons, uncles & nephews, groups of first cousins.. who control resources & provide for the common defense/offense, in the post-PO near future. If you don't care about having your genes survive the death of your phenotype, please don't have kids. My descendants will benefit from the lack of competition.

If you don't care about having your genes survive the death of your phenotype, please don't have kids.

That is my plan.

My descendants will benefit from the lack of competition.

Exactly. I'm always surprised at the hostility the voluntarily child-free encounter, even from peak oilers. They should be happy. It means more resources for their kids.

Thank you. :)

In return, I'll pitch in to help you personally survive. Fair's fair.

Homo contracipiens versus homo progenitivus (for the umpteenth time).

Here's the must-read essay by Charles Galton Darwin ('Can Man Control His Numbers?'):


Homo progenitivus always wins.

The hostility tends to be directed towards the ones who say "and so should you!" with a fair amount of vehemence.

Too many of the "voluntary extinction" folks come across as depressed, bitter and anxious to share these qualities with everyone else.

That has not been my experience. Rather, the argument trotted out is the "Marching Morons" one. If you're smart enough to know overpopulation is a problem, you owe it to the planet to make sure your genes are propagated.

I've seen that one a lot, but I never viewed it as hostile.

I suppose digging into somebody's cherished beliefs with a biological imperative is pretty cruel, though.

It's an accusation that you're being selfish, which is hostile in my book. Similar to the whole "full quiver" thing. The implication that you're spending your money on designer clothes and fancy vacations, rather than doing your duty by producing the next generation.

In my opinion those who feel strongly enough about overpopulation to voluntarily not have children despite the biological temptation to do so aren't selfish, but the chain of logic that leads to that conclusion is totally alien to me. Total non-comprehension of how a healthy, intelligent person could reach that conclusion willingly just from the presented arguments.

Of course, healthy, intelligent people have been joining religious orders that have explicit proscriptions on reproduction for centuries so I suppose you are in good company.

I don't think the biological imperative is as biological as you think it is. People generally like children, and they like sex, but they don't necessarily feel like the latter must lead to the former.

If it's such a biological imperative, how do you explain the societies that achieve zero or negative population growth voluntarily? Nobody is forcing a one-child policy on the people in Italy or Japan, yet their populations are shrinking. To the distress of their governments. The US probably be would be in the same situation, were it not for immigration.

Having children is important to some people, not so important to others. Some people don't want the responsibility of children, others are happy to adopt rather than having their own. Children aren't that important to me, so I see no reason to have any. Let those who really want biological children have them.

I don't think the biological imperative is as biological as you think it is. People generally like children, and they like sex..

Liking children and liking sex is the biological imperative. Selection programmed organisms to attempt to foster their own fitness not by inculcating concern over fitness per se, but by inculcating liking for children and for sex. This happened long before the evolution of neural structures competent of processing the concept of fitness directly.

Deciding not to have children isn't selfish. If anything it's the converse of selfishness. But what's wrong with selfishness? All organisms are selfish. I see selfish behavior in everything from people to pets to livestock to critters in the wild. Altruistic behavior is rare and it is always motivated ulteriorly. Robert Trivers worked out the biology of reciprocal altruism and his collected papers are published in his "Natural Selection and Social Theory" (2002). I highly recommend this book to those familiar with William Hamilton's work on kin selection.

Liking children and liking sex is the biological imperative. Selection programmed organisms to attempt to foster their own fitness not by inculcating concern over fitness per se, but by inculcating liking for children and for sex. This happened long before the evolution of neural structures competent of processing the concept of fitness directly.

Exactly. So it's possible to get around the supposed biological imperative. We can have sex without having children be the inevitable result.

I suspect most people have children not because of a biological imperative, but because having children solves one or more social problems.

I'm struggling with the decision now. Is there any good reference of the pros and cons? I'm about 85% pro-reproduction, but I have concerns.

The easy compromise is to have one. 50% reduction, still get the joys of having a kid.

Come on in, the water's fine.


Apparently, what's considered the noble gesture by the "PO aware" community is to forgo reproduction for the good of the group/race/species/planet.

I think people should refrain from reproducing for their own children's welfare. Would you want to be born into this world right now?

Would you want to be born into this world right now?

I don't remember being asked if I wanted to be born into this world back in the middle of the last century.

Actually, if I had to be born, I'm certainly glad that it happened during the peak of the petroleum era, after the discovery of antibiotics & before the widespread evolution of resistance to them by pathogenic bacteria. We have lived during the Golden Age. Alas that all good things must come to an end. Every generation has its own issues to deal with. Let our children & grandchildren deal with theirs as best they can, as we have dealt with ours. Is it better to have lived & suffered than to never have lived at all? I don't know. Such a question is outside my frame of reference.

Real life, my "smart" children have decided not to reproduce. Really smart, full ride at Colby all paid for. Wonderful writing. Gibson picked him out during the cyberpunk age. Youngest step daughter is a baby factory, she had some trouble at birth, with the chord wrapped, but she is an adult now. She pumps the babies out as she can get more state money if she does. She's grossly over weight, when she sleeps here it's like a beached whale, and the boys just keep coming. Bad pun sorry.

Nothing I can do to stop it. She is considered an adult. It does not speak well to me of the future.

All I can do is be a grampa, that takes the kids to the woods, and be hopeful.

Don in Maine

Perhaps Don its your sons who should be creating a few babies since they appear to be more intelligent and worthy of creating offspring and your step-daughter should not be procreating.

I have the same problem. My son is very sucessful and is not married. Maybe never will.

My daughter is a welfare queen and uses my granddaughter as the means of doing such. Got divorced so she could claim "ohhh I am a poor single mom"....she has cost me plenty in angst and funds. My son is just the opposite.

Who will inherit this planet then? The smart or the ignorant?

Or no one?

Rain and more rain with one clear day in between. My soil temp is at 58 F but the ground never gets dry enough for me to continue with my plantings, such as more potatoes and such.

All fruit trees in full bloom. If we get a killing frost like we did a few years ago then no fruit again.


A little bit off topic here, but on an artistic note there exists a tradition in Mexico of photographing dead babies and children:

As of the late 19th century, an important part of the ritual surrounding the death of a child has included the custom of taking a photograph. This tradition in painting had existed as early as the 18th century. The rise of photography allowed more modest classes to also conserve the child's image and memory until the time came for the final reunion in the life beyond...

Although death is unavoidable, there are different ways of dying that will depend on social status and culture. For example the burden of the sickness-poverty binomial falls on the most vulnerable group: children. The lower the social status, the fewer resources parents have to ensure survival of their descendants and the greater their consternation at their own impotence to avoid the deaths of those descendants...

It is within this context, and bearing in mind the high infant mortaility rate, that we must understand the demand for this kind of photograph that portrays the dead child with a series of collective symbols. For the period which spans the end of the last century to 1930, when these photographs were taken, the statistics reported an average of 300 infant deaths for every 1000 births.

--Gutierre Aceves, "Images of an Eternal Innocence," Artes de Mexico: El Arte Ritual de la Muerte Niña

An example of an 18th-century paiting from the collection of the San Antonio Museum of Art can be found here (scroll down to 13th foto from top):


Examples of 19th-century photograps can be found here:


Not just in Mexico. A similar 19th century phenomenon is found throughout the Anglo-Saxon world.

For several years, in my younger adult days, I worked at the Nova Scotia Public Archives in Halifax on various collections. Combing through the photographic collections of the Victorian era, one is struck by the number of photos of babies asleep in their baptismal gowns. Until you realize that they are all dead.

Generally, infants were photographed when they died.

Visit any archives that houses 19th century photographs and check out the baby pictures. The results are quite macabre.

Says a lot about how our great-grandparents' generation viewed death and infant mortality. Says even more about how far removed and estranged we are from that world.

You're right. Thanks for the info. I didn't realize that it was a tradition north of the Rio Grande too. I did a search and came up with these examples:


DownSouth, you're welcome.

BTW, when you stroll down the Elopositor page you come across the prayer that almost every child of previous generations said before bedtime:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die, before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

As pointed out in a post above, before the twentieth century, if you made it to 21 years, chances were that you would live long and prosper. Meanwhile, a high percentage of people simply never reached the age of five, never mind twenty, carried off by disease and other health complications.

The mass production of acetylsalicylic acid (a.k.a. Aspirin, to keep down fever) and penicillin (and other later antibiotics) achieved a revolution in family life.

In a post peak world, with the medical system and other mega systems susceptible to collapse, I suspect that families, particularly those in rural areas, will get bigger, not smaller. One reality that many contemporary people in the modern West don't seem to understand is that people struggling with subsistence living have large families. Why? to ensure enough will survive to do the labour and to care for the elderly.

In a post peak world, infant mortality will likely self-regulate population overshoot.

I was taught a similar prayer in Finnish as a child, and that was only 30 years ago! Makes you think...

Yep that would be an example of natural selection. Oilrig you listening? This was quite common in the past in most societies.

In many cultures, children would only be given a name when they reached a year old. In a lot of Asian countries, even today, the first birthday of a child is an important event, even more than birth: a big party is thrown for the first birthday, but not for the birth.

Even in Europe, Romans and Greeks would abandon children if the fathers didn't recognize them, and it wasn't seen as being cruel or inhuman.

However, I do not think that we are going to go back to these times, because even though we'll have less fossils fuels, we won't forget about basic sanitation, which was only discovered in the 18/19th century.

In Hawaii, it is traditional to have a big party when a child turns one year old, though few people remember the reason any more.

We may not forget about sanitation immediately, but whether we'll be able to maintain our infrastructure is a whole 'nother question. Look at all those homeless camps springing up in cities like Fresno and San Francisco. We may know about sanitation, but if you don't have plumbing, what are you going to do?

one wonders how it is that humankind survived the previous 100,000 years, give or take, without shivering and dieing off due to starvation.

Smaller population.

Can anyone guess what the carrying capacity of Earth is without FF's?

Can anyone guess what the carrying capacity of Earth is without FF's?

For humans the carrying capacity of the biosphere was in the vicinity of 200 million - half a billion tops - towards the end of the Pleistocene. It is considerably less than that today. When populations exceed carrying capacity they crash, and carrying capacity is degraded in the process.

When it comes to sustaining a paleolithic hunter/gatherer culture, I agree than even 200M is probably well above what a degraded global carrying capacity would be at this point. Maybe even 100M is too high.

On the other hand, as "Farmers of Forty Centuries" made clear, the East Asian cultures had developed methods to sustain relatively high densities of population over the course of 4000 years. I don't know if that would be "sustainable" for 400 thousand or 400 million years; right now, 4000 years looks a lot better than 40.

If we were universally adopt an intensively recycling, organic agriculture/permaculture, I suspect that the earth could still carry much more than 100-200M people. Probably not 6B+; we will have to see that population come down, one way or another, over the next century or so.

Not sure about that "relavetive high density" comment. Sure, it's higher than Australia. But today Japan with 100 Million in that small island, what would happen w/out FF?
Whatever "high density" before 1800s, it's no comparable to current level. When TSHTF, countries like Japan will be hell on earth.
I think Canada is where everyone should be -- global warming will easy the Canadian winter, low population density will make it manageable within the resource constraint.

You'd better hope that everyone doesn't relocate to Canada. The weather might be warmer, but the sunlight will be exactly the same, and there isn't very much of it for very long up north. Furthermore, I don't care how warm it gets, you are not going to be able to grow very much of everything on the very thin/non-existent topsoils of the Canadian Shield.

Japan was pretty crowded in 1800, but you are right, nothing even close to what they have today. On the other hand, their population is dropping pretty fast now, so they just might have a chance at winning "the race" if the right breaks go their way.

John Jeavons author of the Grow Biointensive method says his techniques could potentially support billions. However he expects a massive die-off. Populations are concentrated in unsustainable cities, very few are trained in or interested in heavy manual labor farming, people are overweight/unhealthy and so on.

I think bio-intensive has its merits, but am leaning much more to the P/NF methods now due to one primary factor: time. What many worry about in a post-carbon world is working 18 hours a day just to grow your food. P/NF methods help avoid that and give us the potential for leisure time, acquiring new skills and/or education and continued existence of specialists - all of which means it might be possible to keep a technically advanced society together (keeping in mind all the other constraints besides food and scaling down accordingly.)

To respond more directly:

World Total Land: 148.94 million sq km
World Arable land: 10.57% - 15,472,958 sq km
World Arable Acres: 3,823,451,189

So, at one acre per person, that's an absolute limit of just under 4B. If our farming can actually produce enough for 3 - 10 per acre, then the absolute limits imposed by arable land are between @12B and 38B.

All of this needs to be looked at in terms of other limits such as water, climate changes, crop losses due to extreme weather, pests, social conflict, etc., etc., etc.

Just thought some maximum parameters might help.


Rather Doomerish Site gives World Arable Acres as 7.68 Billion.

Figuring that, on average, you can probably get 2,100 lbs of wheat/acre it seems far-fetched that the "carrying capacity" of the earth is much less that seven or eight billion. (I'm betting it's actually a bit more.)

Meadows et al says we exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth back in the early eighties.


Now in a new study, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, the authors
have produced a comprehensive update to the original Limits, in which
they conclude that humanity is dangerously in a state of overshoot.
While the past 30 years has shown some progress, including new
technologies, new institutions, and a new awareness of environmental
problems, the authors are far more pessimistic than they were in 1972.
Humanity has squandered the opportunity to correct our current
course over the last 30 years, they conclude, and much must change
if the world is to avoid the serious consequences of overshoot in the
21st century.

I feel confident we can sustainably grow enough food, but I'm undecided as to being in overshoot in absolute terms. (Setting aside climate issues for the moment.) That is, were a massive transformation to occur where we just stopped consuming stuff, only made what we could from renewable and recycled materials, and spent time doing things together in community, we could reduce our footprint on the planet by quite a bit. I don't think this is a likely scenario, though it is theoretically possible.

The seas, given assumptions of under-fishing for a period of time and stabilization of ph, etc., should recover, and sometimes do exceedingly quickly. I think they are far more able to rebound than land-based ecosystems. Sheer numbers and speed of growth make it so.

What I don't know, nor does anybody else, is what absolute limits exist that we just haven't figured out yet in terms of the sheer numbers of people and making stuff we need for basic survival? That is, we can grow the food, but can we make the clothes? Etc.? Have we already passed some of those? Seems fairly likely.

Then there is climate change and that minimum 2C we face which almost certainly degrades things across the board.



We can grow enough food? Maybe.

Limits to Growth:The 30 Year Update goes on to say that humans have destroyed an area of arable land equal to that which remains, and that the rate of destruction is accelerating.

Furthermore the "peak oil" mechanism is in play -- the land used (used up) first was the most easily farmed and most fertile land. What's left unused so far will not support the same yields, even with more intensive cultivation. The low-hanging fruit went with the Garden of Eden ;-)

Re the bounty of the seas: Fish are sensitive to small changes in dissolved oxygen and pH - both of which we are messing with, very strenuously. Maybe the damage will stop before fish populations decline to zero. Maybe not.

Finally: numbers required depends on level of technology. IIRC, it's been estimated (lost the URL, sorry) that our level of technology needs about 200 million people to operate it. Mediaeval-era technology, probably about one million. Neolithic, maybe 250,000. Paleolithic, ten or so populations of 5,000 each (5000 for genetic reasons and ten populations for local-disaster reasons).

If you ignore the new technologies of natural farming, permaculture, etc., then yes, I agree Big Ag is killing the ability of the soil to grow food.

Any time you see me comment on food production you should assume I am talking about smaller-scale farming using sustainable methods as noted above. These methods not only can grow enough food, they can be used to reclaim unproductive land.

Maybe L to G needs an update that incorporates P/NF food production and the lifestyle changes that come with it. Or can.


Mmm... I know a few permaculturists and I was into it myself for a while. While it definitely will provide "permanent agriculture" I'm not sure about it allowing very great population densities. Remember, it was originally developed by Mollison after observing Australian aborigines, who probably had a peak population around two million, compared to today's 21 million in Australia.

John Jeavons, Masubo (?sp) Fukuoka, ... intensive techniques -- maybe. IF there's enough water. (And yes, I know Jeavons has done lots of dryland farm work.)

One of LTG's main points (and one of the main points of the System Dynamics analysis method in general) is the sheer amount of time that change takes. If all governments started promoting natural, soil-building farming and so on tomorrow, and penalising synthetic-chemical soil-eroding methods, it would still take at least a generation (25 years) before the "new" methods produced the majority of traded food - in the most optimistic case. Steering social change makes oil supertankers look as manoeuverable as unicycles.

Another thing about LTG - it only presents scenarios. The authors repeatedly point out many changes that are eminently possible, and would help the situation a lot. In fact their more optimistic scenarios explicitly assume soil-building farming methods are adopted, and assume a greater proportion of the population is involved in farming.

I think they also assume a shift to a vegetarian diet over time - this is implicit in the "number of vegetable Calories per person per day" falling from 8,000 to 4,000 or fewer at various points in most scenarios.)

I don't think LTG is optimistic enough about the potential of soil-building farming to actually increase the area of cultivable land from the current figure in any scenario, though. Optimistic scenarios just slow the rate of loss.

And on the other hand no scenario makes allowance for war, epidemic disease, large-scale sudden environmental disasters, chronic finance system collapses... all those little things that distract politicians.

I'll try to remember you are hoping for mass outbreaks of common sense, though. :-)

From what I understand, permaculture and natural farming are experiencing a fusion, which makes perfect sense to me. The two ways have a lot of overlap to begin with wrt no-till and the like, so it's hardly a stretch.

For myself, I think permaculture more in terms of the Food Forest idea and what you might do with perennials, and natural/intensive methods more for veggies and grains. I'm an eclectic in most things. Absolutes rarely apply. So it is with planning my homestead. I'd have no problem with greenhouses, aquaculture and hydroponics, for example. However, the best choices are those that are most easily reproducible and transferable. That brings us back to natural/permaculture/bio-intensive...

I'd really like to hear some specifics about your permaculture experiences. It would make a great Campfire piece... as long as it wasn't too down on the concept!



A Campfire piece? Hmm... I'll think about it. Thanks.

It largely depends on agriculture vs hunter/gather/nomadic. Is agriculture sustainable? So the estimates are from 0.2 - 2 billion.

Why wouldn't it be?


Well obviously it would depend on the type of agriculture and location. The nile river area comes to mind. Salt water poisoning the land. The massive deforestation and loss of ecological diversity throughout europe is another. If you regard trees as agriculture then civ obviously hasn't harvested it sustainably. Modern agr is using the top soil in the US at an unprecedented rate. So how do you quantify the CC based on sustainable agriculture? Regardless of FF there must be a calculable CC.

Regardless of FF there must be a calculable CC.

I suppose. I just wonder since we have examples of agriculture going on in the same locations for hundreds and thousands of years, whether this is as big a deal as you make out.

Fukuoka contends less than 3% of plant growth comes directly from the soil. That hardly seems insurmountable to replace each growing season. A simple observation also suffices: if you can not only grow food on poor soil, but actually build the soil health over time without outside inputs beyond rotating crops and using fixing plantings, can the cycle be that big a problem given the right techniques?


Can anyone guess what the carrying capacity of Earth is without FF's?

Close to 250 million? ... in 'as designed' hunter gather mode

Shivering, siiting in the dark and dieoff, for humans, has been the norm until very recently.

We are clearly designed/adapted to live in hot places close to lots of water (which our sweating bodies need for cooling our large energy consuming brains.)

IMO one of the reasons the population has recently exploded is the introduction of plastic jerrycans (made from oil!) so people in developing countries can live incresingly longer distances from potable water sources.

Shivering, siiting in the dark and dieoff, for humans, has been the norm until very recently.

Evidence, please?

I know that this has been the assumption in western civilization ever since Hobbes. But Hobbes didn't know what he was talking about. His model for the "state of nature" was a Europe constantly at war and an England struggling with civil war. His knowledge of primal peoples was limited to hearsay, mostly returnees from the new world where the pacifist Europeans were constantly attacked by the godless Iroquois nation (from whom the colonists would later borrow extensively in designing their new system of governance).

Other civilizations have held to an exact opposite belief, that in the distant past was the golden age and ever since things have gotten progressively worse.

Both are myths, one of progress, one regress.

Evidence, please?

Despite having lived at high lattitude all my life I have only ever shivered a very few times (mostly in upstate New York, mid-winter) - the shivering reflex is due to Darwinian selection - it saved my ancestors lives, which is why I am here!

Look at the graph of population above - except for very recent times the world population was essentially flat, despite having no contaception - exponential growth of any population is not the norm, too many offspring and dieoff is the norm across all of nature - humans are no exception.

Adequate lighting of any sort is still missing across large parts of the world - even in my lifetime in the UK people still used candles for essential lighting and because of their expense would often sit in the dark.

An assertion that something is "Darwinian selection" is not evidence (you might as well argue that god made it that way). It is only backing up the question one step. But even if that were the case, it still does not provide evidence that this was "the norm."

The population graph above is a marketing tool (albeit one whose basic premise I agree with). It sets an artificial upper limit for the graph based on where population is now. Change that limit (say to 1 trillion) and the "hockey stick" effect disappears. Reduce that limit and the hockey stick start decades, if not centuries earlier. Unfortunately, belief in the "hockey stick" and our position in time shared with 7 billion others leads us to see all previous populations level as "flat." In reality, human population levels moved rather dramatically up and down, at least, if you think the difference between a few hundred and a few hundred million is significant. The real issue has nothing to do with absolute numbers, it has to do with carrying capacity and today's DrumBeat has a thread on that that demonstrates just how hard that is to pin down.

Your assertion that humans before us had no contraception is simply misinformation. Not only have their been many different contraceptives, both "herbal" and "behavioral," population was frequently checked by the, in modern terms, reprehensible practice of infanticide. We may not think these approaches are modern, scientific, or even moral, but many human societies have indeed intentionally controlled their numbers.

I am not questioning the notion that dieoff will occur. Indeed, anyone who has been here awhile knows that I not only expect, but welcome it as a necessary prerequisite to what we must accomplish next. What I was objecting to from the original post was the notion that loosing all of our nice tech ways of producing heat and electricity meant that humankind would die off. Many individual humans will die, but any extinction event isn't going to come from us no longer being comfortable. Indeed, I would expect that starvation will prove to be only one way that the die off will occur. No doubt disease and war/violence will claim their share, as will suicide. My biggest fear is that death will become institutionalized and made into policy. I think I would prefer total social breakdown to that.

There are many examples of populations fluctuating up and down over periods of many centuries. Roman Egypt supported 8 million and was known as the granary of the empire (big exporter). Still a big population a 1000 years later (Alexandria was the worlds biggest city). By 1800 only 2 million people (and Alex was a couple of fishing villages). Today over 80 million and increasing (expecting 120 million within 20 years), biggest government expense there is government food and fuel subsidies and makes the deficit likely to be unsustainable within the next few years. Once TSHTF then the loss of ration cards and cheap food/fuel will cause the place to really blow up.
I'm sure other TODers can think of countries they have lived in that will be in the same situation (or worse, Pakistans similar to Egypt but with the bomb and a bigger neighbour with the bomb).

Actually the more you adapt to cold weather the less teeth chattering shivering you do. Your body increases your metabolism so that while your muscles may flex sporadically its not the shivering that those in warm climates know. Exposure is the key though and warm clothes are everything. Insulated cartharts! If your working hard -10 f actually feels good. :-)

Here's a lecture from the newly appointed chair of the economics department at UC Davis, and he manages to explain the entire phenomenon without ever mentioning fossil fuels:


Ours is without a doubt a dissident viewpoint.

He gives a lot of great data on what life was like in 1800.


You should really like this lecture because it gives considerable data that substantiates your 1:13 p.m. comment.

Thanks DS.

Wow -- and he is the dean of economics at one of the better university. Not sure what else to say after that video but I have bad feeling about what is going to happen.

Brief summary of video: About 200 years ago white men genetically evolved to become capitalists. Capitalists do things much better than genetically inferior non-capitalists. Everything is explained by that.

Capitalists do things much better than genetically inferior non-capitalists.


They invented debt instruments with total outstanding values 20 times world GDP.

The Yananamo never did that!! Dumb Yananamo.

An Economist.

An economist... talking about evolution.

And people take him seriously?

I wonder if any scientists have heard of this bonehead.

From his Wikipedia entry

Critics also disagree that changes in human behavior are an appropriate model for understanding economic history, as opposed to changes in institutions. Scholars who have reviewed Clark's work also disagree as to what extent of the changes Clark chronicles may have been genetic in nature.

What really sickens me is to see this garbage reviewed in the NYT... and the only "reviewers" they site are "historians" and economists.

Only one has a brain (and agrees with Wiki):

The natural-selection part of Dr. Clark’s argument “is significantly weaker, and maybe just not necessary, if you can trace the changes in the institutions,” said Kenneth L. Pomeranz, a historian at the University of California, Irvine...


In the NYT puff piece, "Dr." Clark from UC DAVIS says:

“The actual data underlying this stuff is hard to dispute,” Dr. Clark said. “When people see the logic, they say ‘I don’t necessarily believe it, but it’s hard to dismiss.’ ”

It's hard to dispute only when you do not get peer review by COMPETENT peers.

(edit - I wonder how many minds he polluted with this stupidity... no wonder our financial system is melting down. )

Did anyone else feel like slapping that smile off his face?

AND... What was Michael Shermer doing there in the audience??

I recently stumbled across a great documentary series that goes into great depth asking how and why the industrial revolution started in England.

It's called "The Day the World Took Off". It can be found via Google Video or MP4's can be downloaded via the University of Cambridge site here http://www.dspace.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/270

It's a great doc in it's own right, but with a peak oil mindset I was struck by how none of this could have happened without vast amounts of energy.

In my own mind, it also gave me glimpses of perhaps what we might be returning to.

I highly recommend it.


There was a study back in the '90s that claimed the natural nitrogen cycle would support about 2 billion people.

Can anyone guess what the carrying capacity of Earth is without FF's?

Here's one (colorful) take on that question:

Population and Fossil Fuels

That "biomass" population: Are they utilizing "gassification?" "Fractionation?" "Genetic Modification?"

Not unless they were doing so in the 18th century (according to that figure).

That flat "Biomass Population" is misleading. Human population has never been stable, and has doubled at shorter and shorter intervals since the beginning of history.
Local population have fluctuated widely, but overall, the total population has been increasing at an increasing pace.

Each time a biological limit was reached, either new technologies (agriculture, domestication of animals, fossil fuels,...) or new resources (new lands) were found.
Europe was in a very bad position in the 16th century, as they had cut down most of their forests, but they "discovered" the new world just in time. If emigration to the new world hadn't been possible, European population would probably have crashed in the 16-17th centuries.

..one wonders how it is that humankind survived the previous 100,000 years, give or take, without shivering and dieing off due to starvation.

Many did shiver and many did die of starvation, but.. Population pressure was orders of magnitude lower than it is today. We have degraded ecosystems to the point that the carrying capacity is greatly depressed over what it was in the past. The biosphere can not support even end-Pleistocene human population levels today, sans fossil fuels. Also, essential skills have been lost. Modern people are helpless when forced by necessity to fall back upon subsistence agriculture or scavenging/gathering lifestyles. Famine of unprecedented proportion is at hand, as human population collapses. No amount of technofix will avert this; in fact, it will only hasten collapse and drive population down that much closer to extinction by damaging ecosystems further.

Modern people are helpless when forced by necessity to fall back upon subsistence agriculture or scavenging/gathering lifestyles.

Could I introduce you to Euell Gibbons?

He has been dead for quite a while.
The conversation is likely to be quite one sided.

How did they not shiver and die off? They did use wood, and wind (Don Quixote-style windmills, that is), and water (water mills, not hydroelectric), and biofuels (mostly in the form of feed fed to draft animals or slaves). Fewer people, yes, but still using multiple energy sources - pretty much whatever was available given extant technologies. Nevertheless, a fair number did shiver and die off from time to time.

We can't sustain BAU. I suspect that future generations would appreciate it if we could bequeath them something a little better than a paleolithic way of life.

You're still looking at the last few centuries (except for the use of fire). And yes, some people have always shivered and died of starvation, but in what percentage is the key. We in our comfy western homes forget about the 20% of the planet that lives on the edge of starvation and the 50% that gets less than what they should.

As for a paleolithic way of life, I would consider that a grand improvement over the modern world. I do not think it was all that bad. Of course, with our modern sensibilities, it might seem difficult. (But likely no more difficult than our way would appear to the paleolithic person.)

According to a lot of studies, human life expectancy was higher in the paleolithic (30+) than during the whole of the Holocene (until the 20th century), were it was around 25.

The reasons could be due to diet (gatherers-hunters have a more diverse diet than farmers), less crowded groups: isolated bands of 50 people are less vulnerable to epidemics than towns and villages, and maybe better birth control (through different means).

Even today, the bushmen in Southern Africa lead better lives than the people living in villages (well, until the local governments force them to settle).

Furthermore, a hunting and gathering lifestyle is a better investment than a farming one (in terms of work vs food acquired). Which is why agriculture only started in marginal land with high population pressures.

Of course, back in the days, there was lots of food and animals everywhere, which is not really the case now. Most "wild" land today is in very marginal areas since the best land have been taken for centuries: most natural parks are either mountains or arid land, so it gives wrong image of the paleolithic landscapes.

Which is why agriculture only started in marginal land with high population pressures.

As a follow on to your remark - We think of "Progress" as a series of "advances," that we are much more sophisticated than pre-modern humans.

You can rewrite history as a form of continual collapse:

1) Loss of natural environment forced populations to grow their own food (creation of agriculture) and create the associated control structures (early civilization).

2) Loss of natural environment in 16th century Europe forced expansion, subjugation and exploitation of other lands and lead to the development of new control structures (empire, joint stock company).

3) Loss of forest resources forced adaption of fossil fuels (coal) and this forced associated innovations (canals, railway, iron smelting, kiln fired pottery and industrial brick).

You can rewrite history as a form of continual collapse: ...

Like, one step back and two steps forward.

Until we step over the edge of the cliff... ahhhhhhhhhhh

Take them together, and it is pretty much an advocacy that humankind shivers in the dark and dies off of starvation in short order.

Free cyanide capsule handouts?

It's the big picture that matters and most people have a hard time imagining more than a few things at once. Maybe its because everyone is a "specialist". Maybe that is why its so difficult to break thru the barriers of the GW crowd.

Personally I'm not for big hydro because there is few places left to build them and for example here in AK it would kill the fish. Also I would never knowingly live next to a nuke plant if I thought collapse was inevitable. I simply don't trust companies to shut down the reactors properly and bury the waste. But a revived nuclear program could be beneficial to create a critical mass initiating electrical generation programs that could result in more E-vehicles to offset the FF decline. It might also accelerate the RE programs.

how it seems to be divided into these two groups: the powerdown contingent & the technocopians with their somewhat "greener" (they'd like everyone to believe) version of BAU.

I'd rather not see it as a binary choice. One can powerdown with technology... For instance, I'm putting in double-paned argon filled windows on my house to cut down on heating and cooling. Am I powering down? Yeah. Am I using a tech fix? Sure.

I am also investigating a solar water heater for my house as well. Powering down? Yep. Tech fix? Yep.

I'd love to put a geothermal heat-exchange unit on my house (if my lot is big enough and I can afford it). That will allow me to heat/cool my home with even less energy. Powering down and tech fix...

I have made personal choices as well- my home is small and is located just off a bus route, and I could (do!) walk to the corner mart, drugstore, and bank (which are alll within 2 blocks of my house. That's also powering down. Having two kids, followed by a vasectomy? Powering down via smaller generational footprint.

I own a Prius. That is a tech fix, I suppose...

I am amazed at the posts from Here In Halifax about all of the changes and updates he does for his clients. If I had more experience, I'd run the same business from this neck of the woods. I agree with you, DD, that when FF production declines there will be a lower standard of life. However, in the medium-long term (a decade or two) much of that can be mitigated through lifestyle choices, conservation, and tech-fixes. I would bet that a properly designed city can be made carbon neutral, through planning, public transportation (electrified rail), good building codes geared toward conservation, use of apartments/condos to reduce heating/cooling losses, etc. The problem is that it would need to be built from scratch. We'll have this or nothing- in the long term, we really don't have a choice...

Kunstler seems to make the same observation in his Cluster___k post today.

The Saturday center-ring panel on peak oil, for instance, was shockingly weak, led by the flack from the Shell corporation, a charming lady, highly-skilled at blowing green smoke up the public’s ass. Even more shocking is the consensus among the presenters and attendees – including the hotshots of climate and energy science and the elder statespersons of environmentalism – that the energy problem merely amounts to finding other means for running all our cars. The assumption that we must remain car-dependent remains absolutely entrenched among these people who ought to know better.

Kunstler says. Yeah, I think there's been plenty of "green" smoke blowing going on here, on the part of technocopians who exploit legitimate concern over resource depletion & environmental degradation issues to try and sell whatever technofix they may personally profit from the gullible buying into. As for Kunstler, "the elder statespersons of environmentalism" don't fly to Aspen to listen to or spew nonsense. Such people are too busy clearing irrigation ditches to participate in any such jive-assed conference.

Could I be onto something with this?

No more than you are 'onto something' when you claim wind machines should be banned because of bird deaths.

That's unfair. He hasn't mentioned that in days.

Edit: Well, maybe it was fair, see downthread.

The way I see it, we read here on TOD because we have come to the conclusion that something BIG is up, and we are wondering what "adaptations" will be required of us, and bargaining for a possible educated guess as to how soon. Some of us are holding on for dear life to the hope (belief system?) that technology will allow us to continue to use hot water, refrigerate our food, and avoid freezing in the dark. Some of us are trying to get a sense for what others are doing to avoid personal catastrophe. I don't see a "conspiracy" here, just a human tendency to stay cushy as long as possible.

I do see most technofixes as greenwashing. This is inescapable, in a world with worsening resource availability and EROI. The hard questions would be "how many birds can I justify killing so I can operate a washing machine?" Do I want this here forest, or do I value hot showers, and a home temperature above pipe freezing minimum? Do I refuse this hydroelectric dam, or nuke, and give up the (electric) car and the purified running water? Not to mention the computer, TV, the lights, the lawn, burgers, fish-fed or not, wild-caught fish, tropical food, long-distance food, unrecognizable food, electric toys and tools, etc... And when I've given up all that, I'm thinking the economy will be so out of kilter I'll have lost my job too. Oops dead end. Back to technofix we go.

It doesn't matter in a way exactly how many birds and fish are killed, or precisely how dangerous nukes will prove to be so let's stop beating up on darwinsdog. I'd say about black dog's comment - yes there are tradeoffs to Olduvai, to fossil fuels, to solar, hydro, nuke, wood and biofuels. Isn't that exactly what needs to be discussed at this time? Can we agree on a methodology for assessing the effect of biofuels on world hunger? Can we honestly say we would give up the car so more people can have a meal, if it comes to that? That won't permanently solve our problems, anyway.

The article on Lake Turkana clearly shows the lack of "democracy" in discussing tradeoffs. Who does the Kenyan leader want the electricity for exactly? Certainly not for the Kenyans living around Lake Turkana. Nairobi looks a lot like an American city (well, my experience of it dates back 25 years), but much of the rest of Kenya is (was, back then anyway) mud huts, thatch roofs and barefoot kids.

Good post Para. As an aside, since you mentioned Lake Turkana: All the large Rift Lakes save Turkana historically supported amazingly diverse species flocks of cichlid fishes. These species are largely extinct today, due to the misguided attempt to establish fisheries in the lakes by introducing Lates nilotica, the Nile perch, to them. Lake Turkana had an endemic Lates species, which is probably why a large species flock of cichlids never evolved. (I think there may have been about four endemic Cichlidae species in Turkana, in contrast with the thousands of species in Lakes Tanganyika, Victoria, Malawi..) A fishery did indeed become established in these formerly biodiverse lakes, for a few years. Now the trawlers rust at dockside. Once Lates had consumed the cichlids, driving them to extinction, its own population collapsed. I offer this tale as a prime example of the unintended ecological consequences of well intentioned but ill considered human tampering with ecosystem integrity. Wind energy currently may be a relatively trivial source of avian & chiropteran mortality yet bird & bat populations are already stressed & in decline. They do not need an additional stressor. Advocating for more turbines may be just like the seemingly good idea at the time, of introducing Lates into the Rift lakes. Try practicing subsistence ag without insectivory & pollination services provided by birds & bats. Maybe we'll all get the chance to do just that!

As Nates survey pointed out, TOD is inhabited by engineers. They love to build machines and move dirt, and figure out things from that perspective.
Conservation is not sexy, and evolutionary biology and population dynamics are not part of the process, and often the enemy.
When one has spent his or her life solving problems from an engineering perspective, the though that this is not a viable option is generally met with opposition.

Good insight hightrekker, and I agree with you. I never did see the results of that survey, except on Sharon Astyk's website, where she described TOD posters as being overwhelmingly male. I may see things differently than most here do, because I'm a biologist not an engineer. Gadgetry can be cool, and all that, but I tend to think that humans can't usually improve on the outcome of 4 bys of natural selection. Observation has led me to the conclusion that rather than improving on nature humans tend to fuck it up. When human activity has made such a mess of things I have difficulty following the logic that more of the same can make things better.

Perhaps ecosystem destruction could be framed in a manner that engineers might better relate. Aldo Leopold went in this direction in some of his essays, if I recall. Maybe not with the conscious intention to inform engineers, however, but some of his analogies have involved machines. Borrowing from Leopold:

Say, for example, a spacecraft ended up in the hands of a classified, compartmentalized group in the military (how this came about is irrelevant to this example). Before capture, the vehicle was observed performing amazing maneuvers, with accelerations and speeds that indicated a substantial supply of concentrated power must have been used to operate the craft. Perhaps the energy source contained within could solve the world's energy crisis. Indeed, it might even be a Mr. Fusion. ;o)

A team of engineers is assembled to learn how to replicate the machine, or at least its power source. So, what does this team do? Multiple "guess":

A) In a frenzied attempt to find the power source, the team jumps in and tears the spacecraft apart willy-nilly, throwing away tiny pieces that seem inconsequential with hardly a pause to consider their possible function.

B) Carefully explore the craft, and document each and every piece, because no one knows which elements may be critical to the functioning of the vehicle and its amazing power source.

What is being done to ecosystems around the globe is essentially "A". Ecosystems are being unraveled before a careful and detailed understanding about them can be established. In other words, there is a common assumption that ecosystems are relatively unimportant, and even more so that pieces that seem small and inconsequential (e.g. certain species, ecosystem types) require little consideration at all.

Given the importance of ecosystems to human survival, what should be done is "B".

Of course, there may be many problems with going the route of "B" for economic systems that require exponential growth to be "healthy". This is a consideration beyond the scope of what is being discussed in this post.

Darwinsdog, I am in the forest sciences (non-engineer), and I do tend to find your posts quite thought-provoking. I am glad that there is a strong voice on TOD that takes more of an ecosystem perspective. It is an essential addition to the mix of perspectives.



Good post Wolf. Thanks.

I am in the forest sciences (non-engineer),

You may enjoy reading "Forestry in a Treeless Land" written by a friend of mine (Asst Directer of the Icelandic Forest Service and head of their National Forests).

pdf warning

Iceland inherited a devastated ecosystem. The last ice age or two reduced the native trees to basically (very few exceptions) one tree (Icelandic birch) and one large bush (Icelandic willow). Then the sheep of te Vikings reduced forest cover by 95% and created deserts.

In a multi-century process that is evolving, step by step, they are building an ecosystem almost from scratch. They have found that lupines fix nitrogen well, that bristlecone pine will grow where nothing else will, that forests can be a good source of mushrooms after about 40 years, that Swiss & Siberian stone pines produce edible nuts about 50 years after planting, that Alaskan willow naturalizes along stream banks (where Icelandic willow rarely survives), they are selectively breeding Douglas fir for an Icelandic variety, Siberian larch grows well in parts of Iceland (W & N mainly), lodgepole pine in droughty areas, Sitka spruce in the east, etc. etc. The native birch forests are being expanded, but experiments show that their winter hardening is confused by elevated CO2 levels.

It is a slow, step by step, observation driven development.

Best hopes for a viable Icelandic forest ecology,


BTW: DarwinsDog please do not read the link or comment

After reading your previous posts, I wondered whether the Icelanders had tried Fraser Fir, aka, Christmas Trees?




E. Swanson

Christmas trees are probably imported. They better start planting them now before the shipments stop.

The Icelanders sent dozens of expeditions to collect trees around the world. Nothing from the Southern Hemisphere thrived, and province is extremely important (Alaskan willow from one side of the Kenai peninsula is better than the other side, and all Kenai peninsula Alaskan willow is better than that from any other location. Lodgepole pine from one island in the Alaska panhandle is best, etc.

I am sure that Fraser pine has been tried, and it may be grown in small quantity (Iceland is self sufficient in Christmas trees).

Today, they are exploring Central Asia, the various micro-climates of Nepal are a rich source of potential material, Tajikistan, etc. I have introduced sugar pine from the high altitude Sierras. It was discovered that the seedlings need snow cover most of the winter to survive, so natural propagation will be a 1 in X year success (at best).

Repeated glaciation, without a place to retreat to, has deprived Iceland of species diversity (a half million years ago they had quite a few species, wind or bird introduced from both North America & Europe). Now man, rather than birds, are introducing species from several continents, seeking a viable balance while the climate changes. It will last till the next severe glaciation.

Eastern US forests are also in massive flux. 10,000 years ago, Eastern Hemlock was a near monoculture in many areas. today it is rare, 110 years ago, the American Chestnut was a near monoculture on Appalachian mountain tops, gone today. Ash, butternut, and others are under severe stress. Iceland may end up with a more diverse and stable forest than Pennsylvania in 500 years.

Best Hopes for finding and developing a diverse balance,


Read, printed out, and perhaps laminated. :)

Alan, thank you for this interesting summary about the ecosystem developments in Iceland. I tend to find the idea of forest expansion an uplifting topic, and enjoyed Iceland's story. But, I do have some reservations that keep me from being optimistic.

The coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) zone in southeast Vancouver Island has an amazing resiliency in response to large-scale disturbance. In this biogeoclimatic zone, the typical ecological turnover is due to fire, with high-wind storms being a close second. Clearcuts are perhaps the closest human-caused match to this kind of disturbance. I have visited locations that are just a few years post-clearcut and have seen an abundance of native tree and shrub species growing vigorously in the opened environment. Some ecosystems have a surprising ability to return.

But there are many caveats.

Location, location, location. Just because a CDF forest outside of the Victoria Airport can repeatedly renew from intense disturbance pressure does not mean that, say, an interior Douglas-fir forest will be able to do the same. Different ecosystems, be they measured by biogeoclimatic zones or some other method, are the product their own unique set of circumstances. Broad-brush generalizations do not apply. Also, there is some correlation between ecosystem complexity and latitude, with the areas poleward often being more simple (relatively speaking, and it depends). What is possible for a region far in the northern hemisphere may not be possible say, in Haiti.

Time-scale. If it takes a century of work just to get Iceland's forest to their present state, this suggests that ecosystem restoration may require more time than is available to make much of a difference for Homo sapiens given the present circumstances. Of course, as in point one, it all depends: Maybe some ecosystems can be repatriated rather quickly. Others may not be recoverable at all. Ecosystem science has progressed far, but knowledge is also far from complete. So caution is advised. IOW--what appears to be a possible success in one location does not mean that ecosystems in other locations should be torn apart under the assumption that everything can be put back together again (option "A" in my previous post). The knowledge to make that decision simply may not exist.

Disturbance comes in many forms, and at different frequencies. Volcanic eruptions, fires (small and large), windstorms of varying magnitude, diseases, clearcuts (small and large). Ecosystem recovery times appear to vary, and some of this variance is probably due to the magnitude of the disturbance. If the disturbance is big enough, or lasts long enough, there simply may not be a recovery. In other words, some disturbances have the possibility of being one-way, especially if they are big or long-lasting disturbances (e.g. asteroid impact, widespread land conversion, fragmentation due to enduring and expanding roads). If a disturbance is causing extinctions, then there certainly is cause for worry. Also, the frequency of disturbance is important: If the recurrence interval is high enough, then an ecosystem can become highly strained, or simply disappear--typically replaced with something else, and that "something else" may not be conducive to human well-being.

Finally, the Iceland story is double-edged: The island's ecosystem was severely knocked back by climate shift, with little opportunity for recovery (as measured by diversity) until an entirely new phenomenon arrived on the globe: technophilic and fire-using Homo sapiens. Ecosystem destruction can be very serious and can last a long, long time. Though human intervention may offer some hope for some locations, it may not be enough nor may it work everywhere. It is possible that a certain set of management techniques aimed at trying to improve the health of an ecosystem may make things worse. I still favor selection "B".

Thanks for the paper. I will certainly look deeper into this subject.



fish oils can have a wider benefit to the environment -- by reducing the amount of methane produced by cows.

Fish oils have a wider benefit to the environment when they remain inside living ocean fish:

Give up seafood, save the planet?

Yeah, that's what struck me about that article, too. Technocopia run amok. It's bad enough that people are sucking down fish oil because it's supposed to be good for you. Now we want to feed it to cows, too?

Yeah, that's what struck me about that article, too. Technocopia run amok. It's bad enough that people are sucking down fish oil because it's supposed to be good for you.

When I was sucking down Omega 3's, I was getting it from Flax seed oil. Just because the best known source is fish, doesn't mean that is the only feasible source.

Cows that eat grass is an even better source than flax seeds...

Agreed - the idea of depleting the already desperately overfished oceans so we can give cows fish oil is beyond horrific.


I wonder if the profit margin for a Big Mac is larger than a Filet-O-Fish. I mean, seriously, where does all that beef go anyway? How much is used in fast food? Are we seriously considering harvesting the oceans so we can supersize our lunch...?

Go Large... For only 50 cents more!

Man, that picture is disgusting?!

Hahaha -- welcome to the new world responsibility. Parents now these days are too lazy to cook their children a decent and healthy meal. What'll happen to all the McBabies, McMommy and McDaddy when TSHTF ... Where are they going to get their fix?

They aren't too lazy. They're too busy. Americans are working longer hours than ever, and most families can't afford a full time homemaker any more.

The Greater Depression may be a blessing in disguise. While most businesses are hurting, sales of cookbooks, beginning cookware, gardening tools, seeds, etc., are booming. It's seen as a way to save money, and people who have lost their jobs now have the time to grow a garden and cook from scratch.

Welcome back! And thanks again for your daily, ungrateful review..

And let's not forget the all-consuming 24/7/365 state-spanning kids' sports. Some are putting nearly as many hours into all the driving and spectating as into a full-time job. But hey, the kids "like it" and wouldn't otherwise do much of anything but play video games, or so I'm told.

Peak oil will probably put an end to that. High energy prices and the financial crisis are already having serious effects on school sports.

It really does make you take a sharp intake of breath when you see something like that. I quite like the odd McD every now and again but this kid looks like he lives in the place and he aint eatin' the salads.

Remember the MATRIX?

Corporates have turned us into fat batteries!


How much Soylent green could we get from that??

I bet in the in the future it will be soylent sushi instead.

Where are they going to get their fix?

Apparently they may get quite violent if they don't get it...

Not 'lovin' it,' he shoots Mickey D's drive-through

Gist of the article: car pulls into drive-thru at 2:00AM, woman driver orders lunch/dinner items, is told only breakfast being served, car pulls forward to window, two men get out and one opens fire on restaurant with shotgun...

The two guys should have shot the woman driver for getting them there a bit too late for that dinner roll. Where is justice when you need them.

Fishmeal and oil are made from smaller species like mackerel and herring. It's fed to things like farmed salmon, which are naturally carnivorous, and cattle, which are not. Filet o' Fish are mostly made from Pollack which is wild caught and not used for fishmeal.

We're harvesting the ocean not even to feed ourselves. Still, eating meat fed with fish oil would be eating at the same level of the food-chain as salmon.

Fish oil harvesting - Another Bush Family business.

The company traces its origins to Zapata Oil, founded in 1953 by future-U.S. President George H. W. Bush, along with his business partners John Overbey, Hugh Liedtke, Bill Liedtke, and Thomas J. Devine. Bush and Thomas J. Devine were oil-wildcatting associates.[1] Their joint activities culminated in the establishment of Zapata Oil.[1] The initial $1 million investment for Zapata was provided by the Liedtke brothers and their circle of investors, by Bush's father and maternal grandfather—Prescott Bush and George Herbert Walker, and his family circle of friends.

In the 1970s, under chairman and CEO William Flynn, Zapata expanded its business to include subsidiaries in dredging, construction, coal mining, copper mining and fishing.

They didn't call their product L'il Lisa's Patented Animal Slurry, did they?

Made from 100% recycled animals!

Right, these animals are vegetarian. It's wrong to feed them ground up sheep, it is also wrong to feed them fish.

Actually they are rumenoids which means they eat bacteria that digests their vegetation. Fruit eating mammals are real vegetarians and of course that would make them fruitarians. I guess rodents eat grain but they are omnivores. Maybe there is an exception I'm not aware of?

Fish are already a major source of protein for livestock. I say feed the livestock to the fish, not the other way around.

Give up livestock. Save the planet.

Giving cows omega-3's via fish oils? Jesus F*cking Christ. Just let them eat grass! Where do they think omega-3s come from? Grass-fed cows are nearly as good as fish in terms of omega-3 content.

Just let them eat grass! Where do they think omega-3s come from? Grass-fed cows are nearly as good as fish in terms of omega-3 content.

Exactly. Not to mention, much of the flatulence is due to the cows being fed corn instead of grass.


According to Mother Earth News article on Grass-Fed Meat and rotational grazing (April/May 2009 p.55):

There are studies to suggest grain produces less methane, but those studies, by and large, compare conventional pastures with feedlots. However, conventional pastures contain high-fiber, low-quality forage, which produces more methane. On the other hand, studies of rotational grazing have shown decreases of as much as 45 percent in methane production, when compared with conventional pastures.

No fish oil required. Support rotationally grazed animals, or just eat less beef.

OPEC cuts put floor under oil price; prevented collapse: Muhanna

So like any Plunge Protection, it only works to delay
the inevitable.

033009, nice numbers. easily remembered.

OPEC cuts put floor under oil price; prevented collapse: Muhanna

"But there’s one basic qualification to this: the way down is not symmetrical with the way up. That is, it’s really not just a matter of ratcheting down to a standard of living half of what it was, say, in 2006, because in the event all the various complex systems that support everyday life enter failure mode before our society re-sets at a theoretically lower level of equilibrium."

Kunstler's Way of saying at asymptote the entire structure
wobbles, we're in the Fat Tail, non-linear
is now happening.

I see that California is going back to Daily Electricity auctions, April 1. How will this affect wind? Other things?

California Restarts Daily Electricity Auction

Nine years after its state-sanctioned energy auction went bust in the western energy crisis, California is preparing to launch another daily electricity auction on Tuesday that it hopes will be more successful.

The new "day ahead" energy market will line up electricity resources for delivery the next day. The market will have a price cap of $2,500 a megawatt hour, about 50 times the going price of electricity in California today. Even a high price is unlikely to wreck the market this time because the state is being divided into more than 3,000 separate pricing points called "nodes." So high prices in one place won't necessarily spill over into another.

State officials are nervous, nevertheless, because California's past experience with a "day ahead" market was a disaster and this latest effort reflects a long effort and $200 million investment. The 2000-01 western energy crisis pushed California's biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., into bankruptcy protection and resulted in tens of billions of dollars of debts that utility customers still are repaying.

They had to work to keep ENRON and FRAUD out of that

And this is where Special Investment Vehicles came from.

And the first of Offshore Tax Havens. none of wich has been
cleaned up.

So you can expect more fraud, and note the last phrase,
"debts that utility customers still are repaying".

Their desperation shows.

Just what until the Chosen One gets his Cap and Defraud scam up and running-the last bits of juice will be squeezed out of Joe Public.

2. Tons and tons of stuff from The Enron era, where Moody's didnt seem to understand what they were being paid to do:

Before discussing Enron and related issues in more detail, it is important for me to note that Moodys did not have any knowledge, prior to Enron's bankruptcy, of the existence of Enrons prepaid forward and related swap transactions. Even today, our understanding of the specifics of these transactions is restricted to what we have gleaned from press accounts and the conversations we have had with the Subcommittee staff at their request. Based on our limited knowledge, these transactions appear to have been a form of borrowing. If such transactions had been accounted for as a loan, Enrons operating cash flow would have been reduced and its debt would have been greater. The disclosure of these transactions as loans would have exerted downward pressure on Enrons credit rating.

Alot of JPM and Citi fraud that was never uncovered here
that has led directly to where we are today.

Starting with Nixon reneging on the Gold Peg, you
can see every cover up on a US debt chart.

1971, 74, 79, 82, 85, 90, 94, 99, 2000, 01, 03, 05, 07, 09.

It's a buyer's market for electricity now in the US:

U.S. power use tumbling with recession
Electricity sales to industrial customers are expected to shrink 6.4 percent this year, leading to an expected 1.7 percent drop in overall power consumption in 2009, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its most recent outlook.

EIA, which provides data and analysis for the U.S. Department of Energy, said in another report industrial consumers bought 11.4 percent less power in January 2009 compared with the same time last year.


I had thought that industrial demand had already shriveled away, given how much of US manufacturing that's been offshored. What's left to turn off? Power for the grills at Applebee's?

Simple cause and effect off the mark, or the hazards of linear thinking. Reduced electrical demand does not always correlate into reduced margins. A reduction of industrial/commercial load could result in the reduction in the purchase of expensive peaking capacity, which gets retailed at a loss. Someone is losing out in some revenue, but it may be the opportunists; hence, you can hearing me playing the world's smallest violin at the moment.

The only place where I can think where electrical generators will lose money is hydro-electric. If the reservoirs have to spill water due to spring levels rather than generate, then that is money over the wall. The other forms will reduce their primary fuel source and keep the variable costs to revenue in line. Overhead, or fixed costs will have some impact but won't cause alarm or panic.


A mysterious disease is rampant in Germany’s cattle barns. The afflicted two-to-three-week-old calves begin bleeding massively and are often dead within hours. More than 100 cases have been documented throughout Germany, most of them in Bavaria, but the number of unreported deaths is believed to be much higher. Cases have also been reported in Belgium, but experts are still puzzled over what causes the condition.

“This disease is still very mysterious, and clarification is urgently needed,” says Wolfgang Klee of the Clinic for Ruminants at the University of Munich in Oberschlessheim on the city’s outskirts. Ottmar Distl of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover describes the bleeding calf phenomenon as “terrifying.” “We rarely see diseases that are fatal in so many affected animals,” he adds.

Guess the humans are lucky it's not human transmissible or in pigs (just yet) And if its Ebola - there might be a cure/vaccine http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/8426978

Considering high tightly they pack them in warehouse sized buildings and how much antibiotics they pump into them as a result does this actually surprise anyone?
I will state here it's going to be a matter of when, not if, we will see a human come down with it.

Just thought I should mention "Death of Grass" (aka "No Blade of Grass" in the US) has been reprinted in the UK by Penguin and may well now be available in the US also.


Its not been available for many years (at a sensible price) and if you are of a doomer persuasion its likely to give you cold shivers.

What scares me is this is very possible. As i type this many start ups in both the united states and other country's are trying to make a Bactria that will directly convert cellulose to alcohol/ethanol instead of cellulose to sugar with one Bactria and then sugar to alcohol/ethanol with another in labs that are not level 4/5(i forget if it goes up to 5) bio-containment lab. Once a bug like that gets out it can't be stopped.

Come to think of it though it would be very ironic for our species to go out like that. Kind of like the old 'for want of a horse' saying.

Beware the ability to turn water into wine... Also reminds me of the legend of King Midas:

The most famous myth about King Midas is when he received the golden touch from Dionysus, god of the life force. Dionysus was associated with intoxication and was followed by a group of satyrs -- half human, half goat individuals with a lust for wine and sexual pleasures. The leader of the satyrs, entrusted with Dionysus' education, was Silenus. One day, completely in character for a satyr, Silenus became intoxicated and passed out in Midas' rose garden. The peasants found him and brought him before their king. Luckily, Midas recognized Silenus and treated him well for five days and nights. During this time, Silenus entertained Midas and his court with fantastic tales.

Dionysus came to Midas and was glad to be reunited with Silenus his surrogate father. He decided to reward Midas for his hospitality and granted him one wish. Midas wished that everything he touched be turned to gold. Dionysus warned him about the dangers of such a wish, but Midas was too distracted with the prospect of being surrounded by gold to listen. Dionysus gave him the gift. Initially, King Midas was thrilled with his new gift and turned everything he could to gold, including his beloved roses. His attitude changed, however, when he was unable to eat or drink since his food and wine were also changed to unappetizing gold. He even accidentally killed his daughter when he touched her, and this truly made him realize the depth of his mistake.

This very thing kept me awake when I first read about it. Are we collectively that ?greedy, ?shortsighted.

Sad times


Since we're recommending post-apocalyptic fiction (A.K.A."doomer porn"), I would like to recommend a new book by my friend Dr. Wm Forstchen: One Second After.

The premise for this book is a surpise EMP attack on the US (and on Japan and E Europe) by terrorists. This instantly shuts down all electronics, all communications, all transport, and all supply chains across the US. While this is not an energy-related scenario, in effect it is an instant doomer fast crash. While it is a work of fiction, it is set in a real place: Black Mountain, NC, my home town. He goes through the course of a year, showing the impact of a sudden technological, economic, and societal collapse on a small town.

In a number of ways, I think that Forstchen's book may be much more realistic than Kunstler's "A world Made By Hand". Kunstler has various evil low lifes taking up residence at inconvenient locations, forcing a couple of brief, low-level conflicts with the townspeople. Kunstler does not envision (or at least does not talk about it) the small towns overrun with urban refugees or the landscape ravaged by savage bands of the most nightmarish sort. Forstchen does, and that might be a much more realistic vision, if worst comes to worst. As a military historian, Forstchen writes a very realistic, credible, and horrific tale of how a small town might have to literally fight for its life in such a future.

While Kunstler posits a previous die-off due to a pandemic, Forstchen walks us through a die-off due to general starvation and multiple epidemics as it happens. I personally found it very hard to take seriously Kunstler's depiction of a town full of people mostly drifting along dazed, depressed, and doped up, but somehow still adequately fed; Forstchen's depiction of a town full of people dropping like flies as they starved to death, fell to formerly-treatable medical conditions like diabetes or infection, or killed in battles with invaders, strikes me as a much harder and clear-eyed view of what things might actually be like.

In spite of it all, I actually view Forstchen's book as being an optimistic one. He does, after all, end up having our town actually survive, albeit without many of our people. He shows our population pulling together in more-or-less the right ways at the right times. The "everyone pretty much fending for themselves" approach I have a much harder time taking as being a credible survival strategy.

He shows our population pulling together in more-or-less the right ways at the right times. The "everyone pretty much fending for themselves" approach I have a much harder time taking as being a credible survival strategy.

I often see people advocating for a sense of neighborhood community in this forum and my response to this has been to think, "Fat chance of that ever happening where I live." But it seems that something has changed recently. I live within city limits but on an isolated dead-end street with large wooded lots (my property is five acres). There were nine families living in this neighborhood when I moved here and 11 families living here now. In the past I didn't even know most of my neighbors and had active conflicts with a few over dogs, fences & irrigation water. All the properties in this semi-rural neighborhood share senior water rights from an acequia or irrigation ditch established in the 1890s. For years no one seemed to care about the ditch and neighbors often neglected to even pay the minimal fee for routine ditch maintenance. Consequently, the ditch has been badly neglected; it was overgrown with Russian olive & cattails and leaked in several places. This year, for the first time, the neighbors have come together and decided that the ditch is worth keeping and that it needs fixed. Everyone agreed to pay for the rent of a trackhoe to clear the ditch, and to hire a ditch rider to keep it clear of cattails. Problem is that the berm is so overgrown with Russian olives that the hoe can't even operate along it. My son & I agreed to cut the Russian olives in exchange for keeping some of it for firewood. Now we're the heros of the neighborhood and the ditch rider has been coming in where we've cut & clearing out the cattails (a person couldn't even have crawled thru there before we cut). No one has offered to help, excuses ranging from being too busy or too old, to having gout in the feet. But all are cheering us on in the effort. The water comes on this Wednesday, April first. We won't have completed the job but we have cleared most of it & fixed the leaks with pick & shovel labor. I present this anecdote as the first sign I've seen of neighborhood cooperation & sense of community since I've lived here. I'm not sure what's brought on this new found concern over keeping the water flowing but I suspect that it's due to anxiety over the economy.

Peripheral question: the Russian olive that I'm familiar with here in the upper midwest is a mid-sized shrub; the largest specimen I've come across was perhaps 8' high, with a trunk diameter of around 2 inches at the base. Not much for firewood there (I was cutting it with the goal of eradication). Does it get bigger in the southwest?

Yes. None are as big as the cottonwoods but some get several feet in diameter. There are several species in the genus Elaeagnus. These are Elaeagnus angustifolia. You may have a different species, E. umbellata perhaps.

You don't need an EMP pulse, all that nice cheap Chinese telecoms equipment can be turned off. It's not only the public Internet that will rind to a halt.

It takes something less expensive and complicated than an EMP attack to affect the same result. I figured this out a couple of years ago and it caused many a sleepless night. I was also dismayed with the apparent nonchalant attitude of NERC security knowledge and policy on the matter - all it they proved to me was the general ineptitude of large governmental bureaucracies to deal with any kind of real and immediate threat.

However, I stopped forecasting the repercussions after about one to two weeks because who would pretend to know the chaos and reorganization that would ensue. I should read the book so I can see what the author has to say about the sudden end of our technological civilization base.

Due to a dramatic increase in consumer demand, SurvivalOutpost.com, [snip] recently announced a new line of dehydrated food products to meet the ever-increasing desire for emergency food storage.

Of course the text was part of a news release type of report, attempting to drum up business for their new produce. However, it does make me wonder how many people here on TOD have dehydrated foods with long shelf lives at their disposal, and how much? I know we've talked about this in DBs months ago, but has this changed at all?

Do you have a "stockpile" of food, including non-perishable food? If so, how long would it last you?

For myself, I guesstimate mine would last me 6 months. I would like to have more on hand, but I've been spending my money on building my house. :)
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

This company in the article is in Texas. Their increase in sales may be due to the recent HURRICANE, rather than an increase in survivalists. Though Texas has probably more than their share of survivalists.

Honeyville Farms is where I bought oxygen absorbers. Plenty of inexpensive conventional foods can be stored indefinitely, given the right bagging technique. Here's the link to that LDS preparedness document again: (Hint - print it out)

monster .pdf warning

"Monster .pdf warning" - Oh come on, it is only 1.2 MB. We have had Drumbeats bigger than that. The document is over 200 pages, so that is only about 6 Kb per page.

In wet weather, when my dial-up modem gets bogged down in the mud, this could take an hour or so to download. And that's assuming there are no fatal errors along the way that cause cancellation.

Even in supposedly "advanced" nations, not everyone has access to, nor can afford' high speed internet connection.

I keep raiding mine when I get the munchies.

It's probably down to two weeks or so. But I do have access to hunting and gathering sources. Part of my ELP'ing was to live where food (and waves) are easily accessible. I suppose it's time for another big shop. We don't have much water, I should get more of that. But we have a good water filter if need be. My friends laughed at me when they heard I had a food stash. But when the end comes I'll get to eat Trader Joe's canned chili; I'm excited, I hear it's pretty good.

When is "The Road" getting released anyways?

My friends laughed at me when they heard I had a food stash.

Dumb to have told them about it. Now you must be prepared to defend it.

Oh Please!

I said 'friends'. These are the people I'll band with for offensive and defensive actions. If we have to defend ourselves from our friends, we really have no hope. Now some 'friends' I would not tell. But these are not them - and it was my wife who brought it up, not me. So I get your point, but you're wrong this time. I generally agree with you.

Okay, gotcha. But friends may turn on you when they're starving. Just sayin'...

Bulk ingredients won't succumb to urges for instant food gratification, and they're a good bit cheaper than canned or MRE. Rice, flour and beans pack a lot of calories. You'll still need spices and vegetables for flavor and nutrition.

One years food, six months water. Meds and assorted toiletries, one year. Household consumables, one year. Cash, one year. Silver coin, ammo, 12 ga/22 mag to last a lifetime of hunting. Fishing supplies that would make Roland Martin wet his pants.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Let God sort out the rest.

I would guess we only have one month of stash.

I am planting fruit trees left and right. This will be my third summer of vegetable garden practice. I figure that when the sh** hits the fan, I won't have time to figure this farming thing out. Side note: My grandfather was a farmer, but I never had time to listen to him. I guess the joke is on me.

Some of these guys make my preps so far seem pretty weak. I'm cycling through, adding money, food, and guns/ammo every month. So far, maybe 2 months food, 2 months cash (for all expenses - easily a year for food alone), and at least 500 to 1000 rounds for each firearm.

Goal is a paid-off house, 12 months cash and then some, 12 months food, fruit trees and a garden, and 3 more firearms and 3000 more rounds of ammo.

Already have enough tools for almost any car repair, plus a reasonable number of other hand and power tools.

Once I get through the "emergency supplies" above, then geothermal heat pump and PV solar come next.

Slow going though...need to put my kids on a stricter money-diet!

Why not post your address while you're at it?
The one stat I'm willing to reveal here is this: >60k rounds of 22LR. Y'all can extrapolate from there.

There is a great 'song' (I loosely call it that) by a band called Godspeed You! Black Emperor that I'm sure folks here would appreciate. It's a vox pop piece (i.e. interview with a guy on the street). The more I listen to it, the more I really think it's the way things are headed...

well...d'you have any weapons?

yes, i do. i own a high-powered assault rifle, i own a 12-gauge double barrel shotgun, i own a regular shotgun, i own a regular hunting rifle, i own a 9 milimetre, a 357, a 45 handgun, a 38 special, and, erm...i own an m-16 fully automatic ground assault rifle...

d'you think things are gonna get better before they get worse?

no way. things are just gonna get worse and keep on getting worse. like i said, america's a third world country as it is and...and we're just basically in a hopeless situation as it stands...

are you ready for what's coming?

ready as i'll ever be.

('BBF3', Godspeed You! Black Emperor)

I love that song =)

Almost as much as Jesus Blood (http://www.gavinbryars.com/Pages/jesus_blood_never_failed_m.html) The CD has Tom Waits singing for part of it too.

Ain't skeered. I worry about theft a little, but not a lot -- never been robbed or burgled. Everything important is insured but maybe the cash, and that's easy to replace right now. Everything is under watch 24/7 literally. I know the neighbors and some of the cops, and they respond quickly for any call here.

If somebody chooses to be desperate enough to give it a try already, I guess I'm up for the practice round. Why would they test me indoors for $10K instead of taking the car in the driveway worth twice that?

I figure if I read this list and feel tardy and under-prepared, maybe there will be a few hundred others who will read mine and feel the same. If 10 people go out and start saving food and making plans, that's worth my risk, IMHO.

/halo polish off

>60k rounds of 22LR

60,000 rounds? You getting ready to fight a war? What are you going to do with all the dead bodies?

Perhaps he will open a Delicatessen.

If there's anyone reading TOD who has not yet read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, I recommend powering down your PC, picking up the book, and enjoying it for what it is worth. Then ask yourself what you are "preparing" for and how, in the end, it will be worth it.

Great Squirrel War II, maybe.

You'd be in a hard way if you had to face down MZB's with a .22.
The point is this:

Rimfire isn't reloadable!
All we'll ever have is what will come out of the factories, so stock up now while Wally World is still open. Do it for your unborn grandchildren's sake!

Rimfire isn't reloadable!

Primers aren't exactly a renewable resource either.

Logical progression ensues: Homemade gunpowder from your urine and other easy-to-obtain additives for powering flintlock weapons. Then onward to the dancing in machete' moshpits with the jagged weapon-edges ritualistically pre-dipped in fecal-soup to imbue your weapon with extra killing power.

High power gunpowder is factory made from far away. Lead wheel weights will go for a while but not forever. Do you have a bullet mold? Ah yes, and let us not forget a solar lead-melting furnace.

Anyone into black powder and flintlock lately? Is there a distribution system for black powder and flints?

Many questions for the long-term well-armed survivor.

Yes, there are folks that are back-to-musket level survivalist. Sort of like the re-enactors who get together to play pretend battle. A friend of mine has several flintlocks hanging on the wall. That's in the good old U.S.A., you understand, where guns are part of that Amerikan mountain man thing...


E. Swanson

... >60k rounds ... Y'all can extrapolate ...

¿¿¿ WTF ???

Not a chance - my extrapolator is toast, you've burnt it out. When the Mad Max Horde comes to root you out, do you really expect they'll be such fantastically lousy shots that you'll go through even 5% of that before you shuffle off this mortal coil? Or are you planning to entertain them with a gargantuan post-mortem fireworks show? Or have you got an obedient army at your disposal and enough fuel, food and water to carry them for a couple of years? Or if that ammo dump is meant for trading, do you expect they won't simply take it? Flabbergasted inquirin' minds are just a-wonderin'...

Add me to the list of flabbergasteds.

story in great dep.
fella took his wife to local diner sun. meal. agreed weekly cost was 1 .22 cartridge.

Impressive, but difficult to source.

For a non-connected run-of-the-mill anarchist a Mossberg 930 SPX is much more available.

The sexy specialized rounds may work in the Mossberg as well, but if you can find them, then you can probably find the AA-12.

All that technoporn aside, I doubt it will come to that for some time, apart from some minor, but very well publicized events. I don't rule out firearms for myself but the "rush to resources" will apply to many different forms of technology (in relative terms) so defense is only one part of the puzzle.

While there is fuel, generators will become more popular,and valuable. Then things which we took for granted, or even considered archaic, will become very valuable. For example, how many people have ever used, let alone owned, a scythe? Making something so simple is non-trivial without significant resources.

It all comes down to the rate of descent. I have my own views, but anyone's prediction has a bad track record.

To me, the best adaptation is to go with your best guess, but to maintain a continuing mindset of adaptability, rather than to latch onto a specific path. That applies to gardeners and militiamen alike, because we just don't know. Will you shoot to defend your carrots or will you shoot to eat someone else's carrots or will you be willing to plant, or hoe, or trade in return for food?

IOW, It's all a crap shoot, so spread your bets.

That's my approach, but I could be, and probably will be, wrong but I will also be right occasionally.

OMG, that sounds like the stock market. Are we fooling ourselves wrt to self determination?

Paul, Paul, Paul...
Did you even glance at the words "unborn grandchildren" before posting? Do you understand that the weapons and ammo will last for centuries, if kept dry?
Or maybe your only concern is your own mortal coil.

Maybe he has them for his .22 vulcan gun? Obviously they are for trade or to make sure his grandkids can keep an iron fist on his territory.

There are plenty of security measures beyond guns and ammo. A couple dozen bear traps sprinkled around your terroritory or spike/barriers. Decoys are important too especially if your undermanned. Even something as simple as a scarecrow could save your butt.

Could China become a global leader in solar PV installations soon?

They weren't in the top 10 in 2008, but may start to rise this year after a new Finance Ministry incentive...



What do y'all think?


Peak phosphorosus discussed and peak oil mentioned as something that everyone knows about (audio but no transcript yet): Stromatolites and phosphorus.

And from the people paid to think about Energy Security who have never heard of geology: Oil, Gas and International Insecurity: Tackling a Self-fuelling Fire.

Hello Robert.Smart,

Thxs for the audio link. Yep, I agree that many people have no idea how limiting the postPeak mining of Element P will be, plus the need for S to beneficiate it into a finished form for ease of application and transport. It is not the point when we actually RUN out of mined P when we start to have big problems, but the decreasing energy to sustain this flowrate of mined-P to the final global topsoil square foot as the pop. continues to increase and becomes increasingly hungry.

As detailed in earlier posts: let's hope we have the wisdom to ramp full-on O-NPK recycling before I-NPK becomes unaffordable Unobtainium for most.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Totoneila has got to love this...

Can 'biochar' save the planet?

"This machine right here is our baby," said UGA research engineer Brian Bibens, who is one of a handful of researchers around the world working on alternative ways to recycle carbon.

Biben's specialty is "Biochar," a highly porous charcoal made from organic waste. The raw material can be any forest, agricultural or animal waste. Some examples are woodchips, corn husks, peanut shells, even chicken manure.

Biben feeds the waste -- called "biomass" -- into an octagonally shaped metal barrel where it is cooked under intense heat, sometimes above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the organic matter is cooked through a thermochemical process called "pyrolysis".

In a few hours, organic trash is transformed into charcoal-like pellets farmers can turn into fertilizer. Gasses given off during the process can be harnesed to fuel vehicles of power electric generators....

The process of making biochar can also lead to other valuable products.

Some of the gases given off during the process can be converted to electricity, others can be condensed and converted to gasoline, and there are also some pharmaceutical applications for the by-products, said Danny Day President and CEO of Eprida, a private firm in Athens, Georgia currently exploring industry applications for the biochar process...

Industries can now begin to look at farmers around the world and pay them for their agricultural wastes, said Day. "They can become the new affluent."

This is like burning our own O-NPK. Literally.

The P and K (phosphorus and potassium) remain in the biochar - the biochar is a slow-release fertilizer. The N (nitrogen) may be lost to the air though, depending on how the process is run. Nitrogen can be replenished in the soil by growing legumes (Fabaceae, e.g. peas, soybeans, beans)

Hmmmm....cooked for a few hours at around 1000F, and where does the energy come from to cook this stuff up? or are we to belive the waste gases and condensate given of are enough to run the preocess?

in my retort I use 2/3 biomass in the in the chamber and the remainder to fire it up. and yes, after it's up and running the waste gas finishes the job.

Go to Alerna Energy


Now here's the n'terestin' bit, the process is self-sustaining once the target temperature of 300 C is reached. We attended a presentation/lecture on Friday. All you have to do is keep pushing the biomass through the carbonizing "oven" and enough energy is released to maintain itself.

We are working on another bio-mass pyrolysis project that will also produce bio-char, bio-oil and bio-gas. There is a WHOLE LOT of waste wood up here Pa!

You know, I was just thinking the same thing... Isn't there a law of thermodynamics here that we should be bothered about?

Actually, I believe the energy comes from the process itself.

[quote]or are we to belive the waste gases and condensate given of are enough to run the preocess?[/quote]

The answer is YES!

I'm not really an expert, just writing from memory from something I read about this stuff a while ago. Google around a bit, there's lots to find.

Basically, the way I understand it is that turning stuff into charcoal is a chemical process that is somewhat like burning (doesn't require a big leap of faith, charcoal is essentially partially burned wood after all). So this is a type of reaction that releases energy. Thus, it can produce its own heat, just like a burning wood fire once started produces enough heat to keep the fire going.

The pyrolisys requires some initial energy imput to get it started (just like a wood fire needs to get started), but when it is going it produces enough gas to be able fuel its own "cooking fire" and still have gas left over at the end for other uses.

What I read about it, it actually seemed like a good idea. Though I did see some sceptical people/posts on TOD. I understood (guessed?) that those people seemed more concerned with the too grand claims that some of these bio char folk make about "saving the planet" and objected that it could never be deployed on large enough scale, lest we burn everything in sight and turn the whole planet into charcoal.

The proponents claim the process produces:
- energy (in the form of a combustible gas that can be stored / transported)
- "bio char": which can be added to soil as a slow release fertilizer and to improve soil structure.

They also claim that the putting the char into the soil is a way of sequestring carbon. Taking into account that growing the biomass took CO2 out of the atmosphere, but biocharring it and burning all the gas it produces only releases a portion the carbon back into the atmosphere. So, the process is "carbon negative" because some portion of the carbon taken out of the atmosphere is sequestered into the charcoal put into soil, where it supposedly would stay for a long time.

From what little I know (which is very little admittedly) this seems like a sound idea to me. We could turn a lot of waste agriculture products into a resource. Though I'm also sure, that like with anything else, there must be limits to how much of this you can do in an "eco friendly way" (i.e. it seems like a good idea to biocharify "waste" products, but a bad idea to cut down forests to make bio char).

I don't get the name "bio char". I think it's just char coal really. Regardless of that hyped up name, it seems like a good idea to me. I certainly like to hear more expert people's opinion on the matter however.

Sorry, I should have read your post first, but see mine above. Yes, is does work as you described and there are working pilot plants in Northern BC and South Africa.

Some char biomass & bury it while others dig coal out of the ground & burn it. Reminds me of being in the army, where we often undid today what we'd done yesterday. Or undo what a different company did while a third company undoes what we do. So long as people stay busy, right?

This is like burning our own O-NPK.

And for some items this is a fine idea. Pine needles would be an example I can think of. Certain kinds of dead plant to keep the viral transfer low. (Tomatos. Potatos (now with blight action) The issue with this idea is:

Industries can now begin to look at farmers around the world and pay them for their agricultural wastes

Errr the 'waste' already has value. On the farm. Where the transport costs are "low". If the Eprida system can be cost-recovered in 5 years and run on a 40 acre farm, that will fit into the known 40 acre model.

ELP in Iraq:

Iraqis Snap Up Hummers as Icons of Power


Kuwait raises oil output capacity

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (AFP) – OPEC member Kuwait has boosted its oil production capacity to three million barrels per day and aims to raise it to four million by 2020, a top oil executive said on Monday.

What is this ?
Ah yes, wait, soon we'll see that all the OPEC members can raise their capacity in 2020 with at least 25%. In the '80's they did that trick with their reported reserves. We can read TOD and enjoy the internet for many decades to come.

HEre is a funny quote:
"The Hillis said they had sold more than 20 H3s, about one every 10 days, even in the midst of plummeting oil prices and economic turmoil. Their biggest customers tend to be government officials. That is not necessarily a sign of corruption, since the new government has voted itself enormous pay raises."

Yeah right!!! Most are corruption/stolen money!!!

A new (Old) wrinkle in foreclosures: Walk Aways... by the BANKS!

Banks Starting to Walk Away

Mercy James thought she had lost her rental property here to foreclosure. A date for a sheriff’s sale had been set, and notices about the foreclosure process were piling up in her mailbox.

After Ms. James had her tenants move out, vandals hit the home. It is set for demolition, but the title is still in her name.
Readers' Comments

Ms. James had the tenants move out, and soon her white house at the corner of Thomas and Maple Streets fell into the hands of looters and vandals, and then, into disrepair. Dejected and broke, Ms. James said she salvaged but a lesson from her loss.

So imagine her surprise when the City of South Bend contacted her recently, demanding that she resume maintenance on the property. The sheriff’s sale had been canceled at the last minute, leaving the property title — and a world of trouble — in her name.

“I thought, ‘What kind of game is this?’ ” Ms. James, 41, said while picking at trash at the house, now so worthless the city plans to demolish it — another bill for which she will be liable.

What a surprise: More socialized losses by banks.


Hello Ccpo,

Thxs for the link. Sad to see it, but I expect this to expand greatly going forward as banksters could care less about the average guy/gal, or the local govts in these hard hit areas, if there is no 'something for nothing' profit to be easily had.

Recall my earlier posting about a bankrupt, recently built, high dollar McMansion golf community: big homes that the owners can't sell plus vacant foreclosures rising, high and increasing HOA fees to keep up the maintenance on the clubhouse, pools, tennis courts, golf course, etc.

The kaput real estate developer/bank/mortgage holder is willing to offload all the common grounds back to the remaining homeowners if they ante' up the cash to pay all the unpaid back taxes.

I bet the bank is lobbying the local mayor/city council to force these people to come up with the cash to bailout the bank.

IMO, this is exactly the same as in earlier times: when the Romans forced the farmers, by threat of death, to keep farming even though their harvest was carted away.

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

Too bad the Roman Legions showed up with swords & spears at these farms, instead of chariots full of well-composted O-NPK and jars of dehydrated urine. Then the Circle of Life would have been somewhat closed--a 'something for something' exchange versus a 'something for nothing' exchange.

My speculative 'Federal Reserves of I-NPK' would allow I-NPK bankers to trade this 'something for something' to help avoid Liebig Minimums and hopefully harvest a possible agro-ERoEI 20:1 Liebscher's Optimum.

But since most bankers would rather get 'something for nothing' for as long as possible: it is hard for me to foresee a rapid adoption of this proposal. I think it is telling that Pakistan & Indonesia, two poor, mostly agriculturally dominated societies, are now trying their best to build strategic reserves of urea--at least, it is a feeble start IMO towards Optimal Overshoot Decline.

This sounds like what's been happening in Dayton, OH. I was speaking with a city housing inspector who has been tracking foreclosures. He said the trend was increasing foreclosures for a while. Then in 2008 it switched to Dismissed Foreclosures. That is, the banks were realizing that they couldn't sell the foreclosed properties for as much as it cost them to foreclose (legal fees) that they started asking the courts to dismiss the actions.

So the owners think they're being put out anf the banks walk away - no one thinks they own it.

So when they report on CNBC that foreclosures are down that's not necessarily good news.

Just a note.

Russia will not be ignored:

Mitrova noted that EUUkraine discussions were not about assets or ownership, but operation of Ukraine’s gas transport system.

“For Russia, operation — who is in charge of operation of Ukrainian gas transportation system — is vital question because it affects directly its gas transit, so in this case at least they had to consult with Russia,” Mitrova told New Europe, adding that Russian gas monopoly Gazprom incurred huge losses during the January gas crisis.
“It’s really a very important question for us,” she said. A key part of the EU-Ukraine declaration signed last week will be separating Ukraine’s Naftogaz from subsidiary Ukrtransgaz, which operates the pipelines, something the EU hopes will lead to further unbundling. A leading foreign businessman told New Europe that although he understands why Ukrtransgaz as the pipeline and storage operator would be the legal entity in which funds could be deposited to modernise Ukraine’s system, however, Ukrtransgaz relies on revenues and gas supplies from Russia. He said investors would only lend money to an organisation if they can see where the income streams and business is mainly focused - and this is Russia.


The Russian ambassador to Ukraine described the agreement between Ukraine and the EU as like a deal between "a deaf man and a blind man."

Search Results 1. News results for Geithner Russia Gold Standard A world currency moves nearer after Tim Geithner's slip - Mar 25, 2009 China's suggestion – backed by Russia, Brazil, and India, ... This was anchored on 30 commodities, giving it a broader base than the Gold Standard. ... Telegraph.co.uk
Russia, Turkmenistan plan new gas deals

we're in the Fat Tail. I can feel it.


Not Unrelated:

No Estimate? No Problem

Know why he did not mention a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessing the likely effects of this slow surge in troops and trainers? Because there is none. Guess why. The reason is the same one accounting for the lack of a completed NIE before the "surge" in troop strength in early 2007.

Apparently, Obama’s advisers did not wish to take the risk that honest analysts – ones who had been around a while, and maybe even knew something of Vietnam and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan – might also be immune to "cognitive dissonance" and ask hard questions regarding the basis of the new strategy.



Uncle Sam wants to warranty your car

I don't see this uptop, maybe it ran yesterday.

What a perfect plan.

There's an additional part to the deal just announced according to Bloomberg tv. If you buy a new GM car and then lose your job you can return the car to GM for a full government-backed refund!!

The idea is that you shouldn't put off buying a new GM car if you're worried about job security.

Although Hyundai's return offer isn't backed by the US government as far as I know.

True, Hyundai is in better financial shape.

I guarantee you Hyundai *is* backed by the Korean gov't, though. Thus has it always been, thus shall it always be until one or the other simply isn't.


Undertow -

Both these two recent schemes, the government guaranteeing GM's warranty and providing a refund should you lose your job, perfectly illustrates how incredibly desperate the situation has become. Both are also fraught with problems.

Regarding the warranty situation, should GM go belly-up many of its parts supplier are likely to follow. Plus, GM will no longer have a dealer network to provide maintenance and repair for GM cars. While other suppliers may eventually fill the parts gap, and while private mechanics could be contracted to do GM warranty work, from a practical standpoint I can easily envision many problems in trying to get warranty work done in a timely and competent manner.

As to the refunds if you lose your job, it is not too hard to picture this provision resulting in massive abuse and fraud. (For example: arranging to have the person you work for 'fire' you on paper and then rehire you with back pay shortly after you return the car and get your refund.) And who is going to police it?

No, neither of these two provisions exactly make me want to run out and buy a brand-new GM car.

IMHO if you're worried about losing your job the last thing you should do is go out and buy a new car or any other non essential goods.

So now GM is free to REALLY start making crap.


Obama Issues Ultimatum to Carmakers

WASHINGTON — President Obama announced what amounts to a do-or-die ultimatum for the struggling automobile industry on Monday, laying out strict standards that the carmakers must meet to get more government aid....

Now if he could only use the same logic when it comes to rescuing the struggling banks.

I don't know if this was covered in the last day or two that I missed and don't have time to catchup with:
Re Wagoner being "forced out" by the Gov.
If Wagoner knows (like most of us) that GM was going to go into bankruptcy, he would also know that he could lose his large Golden Parachute and perks in a bankruptcy. If he quit GM on his own, he would also lose the Golden Parachute and perks. But if he gets "forced out" he can collect his massive Golden Parachute (aka loot GM on the way out) and perks.
So, did the Federal Government "force him out" because they wanted him out or because he made a deal with the Government to say he was "forced out" in order to collect his Golden Parachute and perks?
Time to think outside the box?

Jon Kutz -

Very astute! You very well might have something there.

It's not hard to picture that if GM is going to fold, its upper management is going to try to run off with everything of value that's not nailed down (and maybe a lot of things that are).

Then again, this looming bankruptcy may be little more than a vehicle for GM to cheat its retired workers out of their pension and health care benefits, not to mention allowing it to start over with a high fraction of newly hired workers making but a fraction of the ones displaced. This sort of thing won't end until the entire world has a uniform (and uniformly low) blue-collar wage structure, thus creating a global proletariat class, with all the very negative connotations inherent in that term.

an electro magnetic pulse can come from a coronal mass ejection.
terrorists not needed. JHK sure is getting hammered at his website.
lots of folks calling him out on his FF travelings. me? i burn wood and have solar PV panels. they are grid tied. grid off line, no juice from panels. my mcmansion ranch is 30x70. but i can live comfortable until the outside temps dip to 20's. teens or single digits are brutal. and argon filled windows are dam-ded expensive. my mcmansion is paid off. now it is a race to see what will happen next. will local gov-ment collapse before i get evicted for not having money to pay property taxes? when the collapse comes what good is money? or being out of debt?
most practical in a doommer porn fallout is to have lots of ammo and guns to shoot (all hail ZARDOZ!).
i send $25 per month to the christian children's fund for an orphan named brenda. she lives in kenya. why? because i can. should i notify
CCF that i got all doommer and aint sending the money anymore? i can buy lots of canned good with that. death! bring death to you all!

..argon filled windows are dam-ded expensive

They're worth the expense tho. When I bought my house I had all the windows, a sliding glass door & the front storm door replaced w/ double pane Ar filled windows. Doing so cost $7K. Since we heat primarily with wood (almost exclusively so these days) it's hard to say if we've "saved" an equivalent amount on heating costs. But it's saved a "dam-ed" lot of gas, mix & bar oil on the chainsaw, along with a lot of labor, having those high R value windows.

most practical in a doommer porn fallout is to have lots of ammo and guns to shoot

You can only shoot one gun at a time. For versatility I recommend an older model 24 Savage .22/20 gauge over/under. In certain situations one may need more firepower or a heavier hitter but in probably 90% of situations this weapon would be perfectly satisfactory. I can imagine a time in the not too distant future when I'll never have this weapon out of reach. The model 24 was also made in .223/12 gauge. I wish I owned one. Another thing that might come in handy is a smooth bore .22 for shooting small game at close distances with .22 #10 ratshot & low report. I was going to purchase one this past weekend but I just did my taxes & I owe $$. Maybe next month..

You do realize that encouragig more people to get guns will make the world less safe for you, especially should the shit really hit the fan.

You are that much more likely to be facing hungry mobs of gun-toting desperate people trying to loot your stash.

Here you go,


I remember watching the output of a high power FM transmitter swing all over the place as this was happening. Readings that meant no sense at all. Voltage, current, and power it was almost as if ohms law was revoked. Sitting on a mountain top saying WTF.

The sky though, was beautiful beyond belief. I would have loved to seen the solar storm of 1859.

Archive of space storms.


You might just want to think about what these massive blasts of radiation have done over the centuries and eons, to the human and other genomes. You may also want to consider how much more dependent we are on our electrical devices.

I get a real chuckle out of the fact the next solar max is predicted for 2012. Truth is stranger than fiction.

And so it goes

Don in Maine

More from the NY Times today about Mexico's drug war:


To fill in with a little more detail, and give an idea as to the vast economic resources the Mexican government is up against, drug trafficking is estimated to gross the cartels somewhere between $10 and $35 billion dollars annually, with most sources pegging the figure at $25 billion. The Merida Initiative provides $0.3 billion dollars each year in aid from the U.S. to the Mexican government to fight the cartels. The Mexican government itself is spending a little more than $6.7 billion dollars. ("Calderon: EU debe poner mucho mas," Milenio, March 28, 2009, p. 4)

Meanwhile,it seems like the drumbeat to leagalize drugs is gaining intensity. There was an article in an important magazine yesterday, Dia Siete, explicity calling for the decriminalization of drugs in Mexico:

The Mexican congress should take very seriously the debate about the alternatives to confront, at its roots, this grave problem. It has to recognize that it is time to legalize drugs.

--Enrique Berruga Filloy, "El paraiso artificial," Dia Siete, March 29, 2009, pp. 37-41

I was in Mexico a lot of last years traveling by bus. I can tell you there were a lot of checkpoints set up by the military to control this drug trade. At first, the idea sounds good -- until the cartels bought out the military. Now what?

A lot of those in the government like cops are preying on the weaks. I was on primary bus (high class ones) many times and never once did the buses got pull over. But on the 2nd class one, got pull over 3 times in just one trip.

Mexico is slowly falling into a failed state. Police everywhere you go -- not just police but also SWAT team with full gear -- semiautomatic, tear gas, etc... People do go out but when you pass lines of SWAT team in a city square you wonder "hey, when TSHTF..."

At the Cumbre de Lideres Progresistas in Buenos Aires, Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva demanded that the developed countries take greater responsibilty for the financial crisis in the rest of the planet because it was they who "turned the economy into a casino."

He said that those "responsible for the economic crisis were blond men with blue eyes."


North Carolina: Bills Filed (HB847 and S1085) to Form Gas Shortage Legislative Study Commission

To find out how the shortage occurred it will be necessary to know:

* How do refineries shut down and come back on line in conjunction with hurricanes?
* Where are the terminals that supply North Carolina and how were their supplies impacted by the hurricane?
* What type of petroleum dealers are there and how do their contracts affect pricing and gas availability?
* What is a gas allocation and what is its practical application to supplying gas to petroleum marketers?
* Did the switch from the summer blend of fuel on September 15 have an impact on the shortage?
* Why did some areas of the state have a normal gas supply and others did not?
* Did the shortages in surrounding states impact North Carolina’s supply?

To find out what the obstacles were that slowed gas supply recovery one will need to know:

* Did petroleum companies limit information on fuel transit, fuel levels and fuel flow?
* Did the appropriate federal government agencies grant waivers in a timely fashion?
* Did the media sensationalizing the shortage cause increased panic among motorists that promoted toping off which hurt the recovery effort?
* Did the Attorney General’s office threat of “price gouging” cause convenience store operators to reduce gas levels offered for sale?

Anything similar going on in the rest of the region served by the Colonial Pipeline?

Hooray! Someone in Raleigh actually pulled their head out of their rear end for a few minutes - what a change!

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

I couldn't resist.

Stealth! Stealth and overwhelming force!

What's the other one?

NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

¡Qué gracioso! We finished with that peculiar institution in 1834. The last victim was a teacher, serves him right for trying to teach the Spaniards to change our evil ways :-)
In any case I am against Judge Garzón trying to prosecute anyone in the Bush administration, I don't care whatever Bush people did or not, as long as no Spaniard was involved it is no water down our gullets, so to say.
Garzón is hyperactive. What with being in charge of the fight against ETA, against Islamic terrorists, against the drug trade, corruption in the political parties, corruption in the local administrations, Russian, Italian and British Mafia in the Mediterranean shores, Colombian Mafia delivering cocaine in the North, prosecuting Latinoamerican torturers, Law lectures in the USA and assorted odds and ends I don't know where Garzón finds time to shoot deer by the dozen, his preferred sport.
I reckon he shoots deer because the law doesn't let him hang people anymore.

Spain along with the united states signed a international torture agreement and both ratified it. the agreement gives the signatory's the right to prosecute citizens of other signatory's if they authorize torture or commit torture. Also if you read the article it states some of the people tortured were Spanish citizens.

Top Article: ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Total taking no chances.

Today, while OPEC is important, it is no more important than the super giants like ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total. Nor are the super giants more important that the hundreds of smaller companies that, over the years, found a great deal of the world’s oil and gas. With these forces at work, the world will have fossils fuels enough to meet the commercial opportunities that will appear far out into the indefinite future.

I am happy to discover that we apparently no longer need to be concerned with the peaking of world oil production. I was concerned there for a while.

Something I want to see more of is rebuttal to arguments of the more prominent peak oil critics. Michael Lynch argues that because we have better technology at finding oil deposits, there is no problem with oil peaking for many years to come. Obviously there are logical problems. Just because you are better at finding oil, doesn't mean there is enough to find period, much less enough to find that is economical to produce. It seems that the most quoted anti-peak oil theorists aren't able to come up with good evidence or arguments against peak oil. I definitely want to hear good arguments against peak oil for the sake of good hypothesis testing and the sake of our civilization. I would love for peak oil advocates to be off by several decades.