Drumbeat: April 5, 2009

Students Give Up Wheels for Their Own Two Feet

LECCO, Italy — Each morning, about 450 students travel along 17 school bus routes to 10 elementary schools in this lakeside city at the southern tip of Lake Como. There are zero school buses.

In 2003, to confront the triple threats of childhood obesity, local traffic jams and — most important — a rise in global greenhouse gases abetted by car emissions, an environmental group here proposed a retro-radical concept: children should walk to school.

Saudi Arabia Cuts Oil Prices for U.S., Europe for May

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state-owned oil company, cut its official selling prices for all grades for customers in the U.S., Northwestern and Mediterranean Europe.

Saudi Arabia slashed the U.S. price of its Arab Heavy Crude the most, cutting it by $5.50 a barrel to $4.85 below the price of the West Texas Intermediate grade made in the U.S., the state oil company said in a faxed statement today. That wiped out its April price premium of 65 cents more than WTI, the first time Saudi heavy oil traded for more than the U.S. benchmark in at least 10 years.

Oil industry spared as New Mexico legislative session ends

New Mexico's legislators wrapped up their regular session late last month and Ben Shepperd, executive vice president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, said local operators with oil operations in the state could heave a sigh of relief.

For the first time in several years, Shepperd said, the legislative session came to an end without any bills harmful to the industry being passed.

Consortium Drops Its Plan to Build New Power Lines

A consortium of private investors that sought to build high-voltage electricity transmission lines to carry power from renewable sources upstate to New York City said on Friday that it was suspending its efforts.

Gas company sues 17 more landowners

EAST CALN -- Another 17 property owners are facing a lawsuit to have a portion of their property condemned by Williams, the natural gas company that filed eminent domain proceedings against them Wednesday in federal court.

Gazprom Calls Ukraine-EU Accord a ‘Political Mistake’

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said a declaration signed by Ukraine and the European Union on improving the Ukrainian pipeline network was a “political mistake.”

The document “poured oil onto the fire” of a January conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Miller told the heads of Eni SpA, E.ON AG and GDF Suez SA at a meeting in Moscow, the state-run company said in an e-mailed statement today.

The Great Biodiesel Shutdown

Several large biodiesel makers have stopped producing any of the fuel.

Producers look to next generation of biofuels

The federal government wants to expand biofuel production by nearly two-thirds in the next five years, with specific quotas for advanced biofuels made from such ingredients as grass, algae, enzymes or yeast.

But older biofuel companies are facing financial ruin, hammered by low fuel prices.

Study: Low-Carbon Fuel Standards Are Unlikely to Reduce Warming

A low-carbon fuels standard is likely to do little to reduce global warming emissions and can even be counterproductive, according to a paper published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

The study, by three academics, found that the policy reduces consumption of high-carbon fuels like oil, but “increases low carbon fuel production, possibly increasing net carbon emissions.”

The Nuclear Goliath: Confronting Industrial Energy

Lately, many may have heard the affable radio jingles for nuclear energy as a clean and reliable candidate to supplant the U.S.'s reliance on foreign fossil fuels. This is sheer, malignant propaganda. Nuclear energy, along with its requisite mining, is not only unsustainable to a high degree, but is, in all aspects, violently rapacious as it dissolves the planet's fecundity and ultimately encumbers the creation of life for generations to come. It is imperative that nuclear is removed from the lexicon of domestic energy policy and that we, as a people, consider alternative energy options while significantly reducing our consumption levels.

U.N. Sees Falling Middle East Fertility Rates

Eight of the 15 countries that experienced the biggest drop in population growth since 1980 are in the Middle East, led by Iran, United Nations population experts say.

Hania Zlotnik, director of the population division at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the shift suggests that education and access to family planning can play a far greater role than expected in reducing population growth, even in conservative Muslim states.

Study: Cool Spells Normal in Warming World

Scientists show why cool spells do not, on their own, undercut warming projections.

In America, Labor Has an Unusually Long Fuse

The workers and other protesters who gathered en masse at the Group of 20 summit meeting last week in London were continuing a time-honored European tradition of taking their grievances into the streets.

Two weeks earlier, more than a million workers in France demonstrated against layoffs and the government’s handling of the economic crisis, and in the last month alone, French workers took their bosses hostage four times in various labor disputes. When General Motors recently announced huge job cuts worldwide, 15,000 workers demonstrated at the company’s German headquarters.

But in the United States, where G.M. plans its biggest layoffs, union members have seemed passive in comparison. They may yell at the television news, but that’s about all. Unlike their European counterparts, American workers have largely stayed off the streets, even as unemployment soars and companies cut wages and benefits.

Newt Gingrich: Our Tanks Are On Full - The energy crisis is an artificial one, created by bad policies

Let's be clear: our energy crisis is not due to a lack of American energy resources. We have more coal than any other country in the world. There are 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lying undeveloped offshore. Shale-oil reservoirs in parts of Colorado and Utah could hold upwards of 1 trillion barrels of oil—more than three times the proven reserves in Saudi Arabia. Nuclear power is a clean source of energy that produces zero carbon emissions. It generates 20 percent of America's electric power today, and with the right investment could generate far more.

Instead, America is suffering from an artificial energy crisis, one that is the product of our government's policies, not despite them. For example, until September 2008, Congress had made it illegal to drill for oil and natural gas in most areas off our coasts. Congress still forbids the development of the vast shale-oil reserves in the Rocky Mountains even though there are promising technologies that could make extracting oil from shale economically competitive. In addition, laws passed in the 1970s banning the recycling of spent nuclear fuel forced nuclear-power plants to invest in techniques to dispose of the fuel; the long-running feud over where to store the spent fuel has helped prevent the construction of more plants.

Products for the other 3 billion

A new breed of idealistic technologist is building ultracheap baby incubators, medicine dispensers, and solar-powered lamps. Welcome to entrepreneurship circa 2009.

Chinese Hunger for Sons Fuels Boys’ Abductions

The centuries-old tradition of cherishing boys — and a custom that dictates that a married woman moves in with her husband’s family — is reinforced by a modern reality: Without a real social safety net in China, many parents fear they will be left to fend for themselves in old age.

The extent of the problem is a matter of dispute. The Chinese government insists there are fewer than 2,500 cases of human trafficking each year, a figure that includes both women and children. But advocates for abducted children say there may be hundreds of thousands.

Shrinking airlines park more planes in the desert

MARANA, Ariz. – Old jets come here, empty engine pods shrink-wrapped in white, tall red tails fading to pink in the desert sun. More will come soon. Some will never fly again.

Airlines have announced plans over the past year to take 1,700 planes out of service as fewer people fly. United Airlines is retiring all 94 of its Boeing 737s by the end of this year, and Northwest Airlines has cut its old DC-9 fleet by about a third.

The number of planes in storage has jumped 29 percent in the past year to 2,302, according to aerospace data firm Ascend Worldwide. That includes 930 parked by U.S. operators alone.

Eventually, some will be sold, some scrapped, some will sit at desert facilities in southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. But at the moment, their number is growing faster than expected. The banking crisis has made it very difficult to get loans to buy aircraft, and the drop in commodity prices has gutted their scrap value.

How many cars will we need?

While vehicle sales have geared down, experts say the industry will rebound. But how much and when?

Gas guzzlers lead a used car revival as petrol prices fall and buyers rush to pick up bargains

For years, used car prices have seen a fall of about four per cent in April. But this year average prices across all 05 to 08 number plates have risen by an average of five per cent, with sales of the much-criticised 'Chelsea tractor' 4x4s leading the way in the South-East.

Bargain-hunters are shunning the environmentalists' message and flocking to showrooms and auction houses to snap up cut-price fourwheel drive vehicles.

Jump-start for the green car future

One drawback of the electric car is the time it takes to recharge but now a company is planning a network of stations that will do the work in minutes rather than hours.

If not oil, what is driving gas prices?

I am really confused. (Hey, I heard that. Yes, I am confused about many things, but I only have enough space to address one issue today.) We have watched the price of gasoline pingpong from about $1.81 to $2.09 for some time now. Not bad, compared to $3 a gallon, but confusing, nonetheless. For a long time, the price of a barrel of oil was as low as it had been in years, but the price of gas did not go down.

South Africa: We need green power now

The central driver for this transition lies in the choices over our future energy path. Presently Eskom wants to lock us into an unsustainable energy future, where its R1.3-trillion build programme will be almost exclusively focused on new coal-fired and nuclear power stations.

The ID believes that we can, and must, adopt a completely different approach to our energy future. Firstly, we need to immediately implement a comprehensive energy-efficiency strategy which will save our economy money and reduce our energy demand. Solar water heaters need to be rolled out on a massive scale which could save in excess of 3500 megawatts of energy, the equivalent of one coal-fired power station.

It is revealing that the absolute cost of such a programme would be half of what is required to build a new coal-fired power station and will create tens of thousands of jobs at a skills level where the majority of our population can benefit.

Bolivia Will Up Natural Gas Exports to Argentina in Winter Months

BUENOS AIRES – Bolivia has agreed to sell up to 6.5 million cubic meters (229 million cubic feet) per day of natural gas to Argentina during the upcoming Southern Hemisphere winter, Argentine state-run media reported.

Europeans Offer Few New Troops for Afghanistan

STRASBOURG, France — With protesters raging outside, NATO leaders on Saturday gave a tepid troop commitment to President Obama’s escalating campaign in Afghanistan, mostly committing soldiers only to a temporary security duty.

Pakistan: Industrialists demand uninterrupted power supply

KARACHI: Industrialists and small businessmen have urged the government to immediately install rental power plants in order to properly cope up with the power crisis, which is halting industrial production in the country.

Can Pakistan Be Governed?

Terrorists. Secessionists. Angry neighbors. Smoldering generals. And Asif Ali Zardari, with the job of keeping his country from becoming the most dangerous failed state in the world.

Two oil projects in Saudi Arabia face delays

Two projects designed to help raise Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity beyond 12.5 million barrels daily face delays, suggesting the world’s top oil exporter is in no hurry to add more spare capacity as demand slumps.

Saudi Arabia has cut output by nearly 2 million barrels per day (bpd) to less than 8 million bpd over the past six months in line with agreements in OPEC to rebalance world oil markets, creating a huge overhang of spare capacity.

...SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian engineering firm, has almost completed a contract to boost output from the Shaybah oilfield by 50 per cent to 750,000 bpd, but a further 250,000 bpd expansion has been delayed, according to Al Watan, a Saudi newspaper, reportedly until the global economy improves.

On Friday, Saipem, the Italian oilfield services group, said it expected Aramco to agree to an amended contract to develop the Manifa oilfield.

But even if that happened, the project was likely to be delayed by 12 to 18 months, Pietro Tali, the chief executive of the firm, told Reuters on the sidelines of an oil conference in Paris.

Gulf giants keep UK's gas flowing

A new type of supertanker can supply the whole of Britain for eight hours.

Asian firms on Iraq shortlist for oil deals

Asian companies are among nine firms shortlisted by the Iraqi oil ministry for contracts in 11 oil and gas fields, according to a document obtained by AFP on Saturday.

PDVSA Signs Agreement to Participate in Iranian Oil Fields

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, signed a memorandum of understanding to participate in 17 oil fields in Iran, according to an e- mailed statement from Venezuela’s Information and Communications Ministry.

China, Ecuador move toward energy deal

China is close to inking a one-billion-dollar deal to receive Ecuadorian oil, President Rafael Correa said on Saturday.

"China has offered us initial capital worth one billion dollars for infrastructure projects, we are going to pay little by little with our oil," Correa said during a weekly television address.

Nagging doubts over North Sea workhorse

At 1.57pm on Wednesday, around 50 minutes after the Super Puma AS 332L2 helicopter left the rig, Aberdeen Coastguard received a desperate message from Paul Burnham, the 31-year-old pilot. “Mayday, mayday — oh f***!” were his final words before his radio went silent.

Dead Media Beat: The Chaos Scenario, Among the Ruins of Mass Media

One has to wonder how a magazine that sells news about advertising stays alive to publish this article, when news is dying from lack of advertising revenue.

I'm believing this "chaos scenario," but I'm also wondering if "chaos" is the front porch of a "long emergency" and "new dark age." Of course -- if you were entering a "long emergency," and there was nobody left to tell you about that reality except for James Howard Kunstler and his noncommercial folksinger guitar, would that *be* an emergency at all? Maybe you'd just be functionally illiterate and dwelling in your favela, like the usual condition of most human beings outside hyperactive market capitalism.

Crippled by credit in Russia rust belt

KARABASH, Russia (Reuters) - Each weekend, copper worker Sergei Begutov cuts stones from this toxic, frozen hillside and sells them for five roubles ($0.15) apiece to help fund car loan repayments that now exceed his wages.

Like workers across Russia, he has been thrust into poverty by the economic crisis as plunging wages render unaffordable repayments on loans that had offered a taste of a better life.

Hyundai to go ahead with eco cars

GOYANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Group, the world's No. 5 automaker, will go ahead with plans to develop environment-friendly cars despite the segment's low profitability and an industry downturn, a senior executive said on Thursday.

Panel Discussion

Most of the time, a single customer has relatively little in the way of bargaining power with a larger business entity. A pack of customers introduces a different dynamic. That’s why, for instance, your company or trade group can get you a better deal on health insurance than you might get on your own. Collective buying power has been harnessed in various ways in the past, but generally speaking the strategy has been marginal among contemporary American consumers, maybe because it doesn’t mesh well with the rugged individualist’s self-image.

Then again, in a cultural moment when many individuals aren’t feeling all that rugged, perhaps it makes sense that a company called 1BOG has put collective buying at the center of its business model. The name is derived from the phrase “one block off the grid,” a reference to the goal of rounding up groups of homeowners willing to install solar-power systems on their houses — removing the rough equivalent of one block from a city’s electrical grid.

G-Oil, Made From Animal Fat, Becomes Official Oil for Le Mans Series

Unlike traditional petrochemical-based motor oils from leading manufacturers, Green Earth Technologies’ G-OIL is made with American-grown renewable animal fats. These saturated fats, whose molecular single-bond carbon chains are similar to common petroleum oils, have no harsh effects on the environment, and drastically cut our dependence on foreign oil.

Area GM research into fuel cell development moving forward

You are probably asking what is next. Well, we need to continue to work all of the remaining issues to get us to the durability and cost that you as customers expect for a mainstream vehicle. Our country needs to step up to develop a strategic energy policy that comprehends the needs for energy security, energy independence and future American competitiveness. It is a bit scary to see what is being done in Europe and Japan around the development of hydrogen infrastructure, while in this country, we still debate whether global warming is real or that we may have hit peak oil.

Will dams on Amazon tributary wreak global havoc?

VOLTA GRANDE, Brazil — The Xingu River, the largest tributary of the Amazon, runs wide and swift this time of year. Its turquoise waters are home to some 600 species of fish, including several not found anywhere else on the planet. A thick emerald canopy of trees hugs its banks, except in places where man has carved out pastures for cattle.

Now man, in the form of the Brazilian state power company, wants to harness a section of the Xingu by building the world's third-biggest dam.

Called the Belo Monte, the dam would drown 200 square miles of tropical rainforest — an area equivalent to the sprawling city of Tucson, Ariz. — and would flood the homes of 19,000 people. It would be only one of more than a dozen dams that the Brazilian government is planning to construct on tributaries of the Amazon, the world's mightiest river.

NJ sets ambitious goals for wind and solar power production

"Right now, one of every two households in New Jersey gets its electricity from nuclear energy. If you take nuclear energy off line, where will the energy come from?" said David Benson, a spokesman for Oyster Creek.

Gov. Jon Corzine has vowed to have 30 percent of the state's electricity produced through wind and solar power by 2020 -- an initiative that even his supporters call ambitious.

Reaching Congress on Climate Change Issues: Interview with Alyssa Burgin

We are projecting five million new jobs nationally, and again, the disproportionate number could land in Texas, due to our ability to host wind and solar farms. People who have farmed their land for generations, and have met frustration and despair due to lack of rainfall could see a new and profitable use for their property. Men and women who are tired of low-wage jobs could train for these very lucrative positions, and find a new life. Peak oil is in our past--we have to move forward into a new future, and our bill is perfect for Texas.

It's so last year: Vanity Fair abandons the 'green issue'

Spring has sprung, and everything is going green. Everything, that is, except Vanity Fair, which has decided to ditch its annual "green issue". For the past three years, the monthly glossy has made much of dedicating its May issue to the environment: from Leonardo DiCaprio posing on an iceberg to last year's open letter from Robert Kennedy Jnr to the next president calling for action on global warming. This year, the incipient tradition has been quietly dropped.

30 million Bangladeshis affected by climate change: Rights group

DHAKA: A Bangladeshi rights group yesterday called for recognising environmental refugees with free economic migration rights under UN covenants as it estimated some 30 million people of the South Asian country are already exposed to climate change.

Obama pledges US to lead on fighting climate change

(PRAGUE) - The United States is now ready to lead the drive to tackle climate change, President Barack Obama said on Sunday, as EU leaders pushed him to follow their ambitious targets to cut global warming.

Czech dinner snub

President Obama has declined the invatation of dinner with President Klaus in Prague Castle. ...The First Lady and her husband will be eating modern Czech cuisine in a romantic top restaurant. I don't know what the Czech head of state will be doing but it's clear his lack of belief in climate change, and support for President Bush doesn't go down well at the new White House.

US hosts Arctic-Antarctic summit as melting speeds up

Washington - The United States will bring together the world's government's for a summit on the state of the North and South Poles on Monday, in what environmentalists have billed as a chance to draw attention to some of the most visible effects of global warming. The nearly two-week gathering, which will be kicked off in Washington by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, includes government representatives and scientists from 47 countries.

Ice Bridge Holding Antarctic Shelf in Place Shatters

OSLO (Reuters) - An ice bridge which had held a vast Antarctic ice shelf in place for hundreds of years at least shattered on Saturday and may herald a wider collapse linked to global warming, a leading scientist said.

"It's amazing how the ice has ruptured. Two days ago it was intact," David Vaughan, a glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey, told Reuters of a satellite image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf. "We've waited a long time to see this."

The satellite picture, by the European Space Agency (ESA), showed that a 40-km (25 mile) long strip of ice believed to pin the Wilkins Ice Shelf in place had snapped at its narrowest point of about 500 meters wide off the Antarctic Peninsula.

The break left a jumble of huge flat-topped icebergs in the sea. The loss of the ice bridge, which was almost 100 km wide in 1950 and had been in place for hundreds of years at least, could allow ocean currents to wash away more of the Wilkins.

"G-OIL is made with American-grown renewable animal fats. These saturated fats, whose molecular single-bond carbon chains are similar to common petroleum oils, have no harsh effects on the environment, and drastically cut our dependence on foreign oil."

Drastically? Being a farm boy, I'm wondering where all this animal fat will come from. My father had strictly rangeland cattle (200 head of Charolais plus a couple dozen Herefords), and I doubt their fat would have been enough for our farm machinery, nevermind a surplus for the city slickers.

Yes, that article is unreal. No harsh effects on the environment? That fat is probably from grain-finished animals. I bet there's a lot of environmental impact.

harsh effects on the invironment, but really harsh effects on the bovine.

I've had the pleasure to watch G-oil grow over this past year and have really been quite impressed by both their product and progress. G-Oil is a animal fat derived oil which uses no petroleum what-so-ever in its production process.

errrr... so what are they saying here .. no plastics, no metal, no transport for workers or equipment, no petroleum used to raise the animals supplying the raw material and move it to the plant.

It's this kind of reporting that gives everyone the warm fuzzies yet get's us no closer to addressing the core issues.

Aiyee! To power race cars??? It's all patently delusional. No wonder there are so many "doomers."

Aiyee! To power race cars??? It's all patently delusional. No wonder there are so many "doomers."

Greenwashing for a destructive and pointless activity. That explains a lot. And I was going to say, they were/are probably capturing an underutilized agricultural waste stream. If true that would be an incremental improvement in our overall energy efficiency.

It may be wise to use some of the money we are printing anyway to stimulate the economy for scientific research, as well as 'shovel-ready' road widening and other such short-term, knee-jerk, BAU endeavors.

Perhaps a longer-term commitment to science research would help us better understand our world and the consequences of our actions within it.

The following article is someone's theory, and may not prove to be applicable, but this is an example of science research that could be useful.


In other news, TPTB in Brazil wish to dam the Amazon's largest tributary to feed the gods of growth and 'progress':


Is unemployment as bad as during the Great Depression?

Says unemployment bad as depression

Today's economic reports tell us about 10 percent of the U.S. population are unemployed. A fair estimate of the census for 2010 will be about 310 million people so 10 percent is 31 million people unemployed.
It is reported this is nowhere near the 25 percent unemployment rate during the Great Depression. The population in 1930 was about 124 million, so 25 percent unemployed in 1930 would be 31 million also. There are as many unemployed people in the U.S. today as there were then.

So 31 million unemployed then and also 31 million unemployed now. But our population is more than three times what it was then. So really things are not nearly as bad as they were during the Great Depression.

Today’s recession not as bad as Great Depression

Unemployment rose to 25 percent.
Forty percent of banks in the United States closed between 1929 and 1933.
Bread lines and soup lines wrapped around city street corners.

We have a long ways to go before things get that bad but.... We are only a few months into this crash and things are clearly on a trajectory to reach into the depth of another Great Depression. That’s about two years away, give or take. Of course things could turn around but what would have to would cause that to happen? Unemployment would have to stop growing and people go have to go back to work. Doing what? I just don't see it.

The government is trying to offer us a Roosevelt type New Deal. We are borrowing from the future in an effort to buy our way back to full employment. They are giving a lot of it to banks in an effort to save them and at the same time encourage them to start lending again. But who are they going to lend it to? Things are collapsing largely because businesses do not have enough customers. People who are unemployed have no money and the employed are scared to death and saving their money.

Full employment is the key to any recovery. Full employment would bring back higher demand for oil and consequently higher prices. And the elephant in the room is peak oil. We will never, in my opinion, produce the amount of oil we produced during the 2005-2008 plateau. Our economy depends on growth. Growth requires energy, more energy than we produced during the plateau. Therefore growth, for any length of time anyway, will never return.

The only conclusion is that the world economy will decline until it does reach the depths of the Great Depression. And...the sad part is, it will not stop there.

Ron P.

At the spin doctors are fighting like crazy to only view to good things or try to create things they can hang their hats on to say, "look we have hit bottom and the good times are right around the corner." The government and MSM are riding this pony all the way, but when I look at what real businesses are doing, the cuts they are making, that Walmart, McDonalds, and Dollar General are the only retailers doing well, those commercial For Sale and For Lease signs...do I trust my eyes or what is portrayed in the alternate reality of the MSM?

Do not take the bait and think that all is well...of course, here, I'm preaching to the already converted.

The news is more optimistic these days. The stock market is up. Cramer declared the depression over. Cali real estate is picking up.

But I think Stoneleigh is right. This is a sucker's rally. It will be just enough to convince everyone that Obama's plan is working, then we'll crash to new lows. Even aside from peak oil, it's going to take years to recover from that monstrously inflated debt bubble.

As for what to do about it...if I were king, I think I'd mandate a shorter work week. Full employment is impossible, so spread around what employment there is. They tried to do this during the Great Depression, but FDR vetoed it on the grounds that it was socialism.

It would likely mean the end of globalization, since a shorter work week could not compete with the 6-day work weeks in other countries. But I'm expecting peak oil to kill globalization anyway. It would mean doing something about healthcare, since that's a major reason employers and employees dislike job-sharing. But the government ends up paying for healthcare anyway, for people without insurance. It would mean less consumption, which is something we're going to have to do anyway. It would mean more free time, to devote to the "household economy" (gardening, cooking, etc.). It would encourage people to transition to whatever comes after peak oil.

"Even aside from peak oil, it's going to take years to recover from that monstrously inflated debt bubble."

"Take Years" Recover? Really? How many years?

When the world population is somewhere near sustainable at ~10 percent of present and humans are sitting around a campfire discussing the price of clams and someone says, "I'll have to owe you for those clams" and the owner of the clams says, "No way". Then and only then will the debt bubble be really finished.

Yep, I'm a Doomer and I have seen nothing as yet to change my mind.


A true Doomer would realise that the oceans will be too acidic and polluted for clams to exist.

Changing "mark-to-market" into "mark-to-lie" will by itself be enough to guarantee a decade or more of 1990s Japan-style stagnation in the US economy - and that is before even considering everything else going against us.

There is absolutely nothing to support an upward trend in the US economy except wishful thinking and outright delusion.

I believe 31 million is a little off the wall. There are 85 million in college or under the age of 19 another 51 million on SS. 310-135=175 31/175 is about 18% of those able to work. Not there yet.

As a college-level educator, I've always thought this to be a very interesting point. College removes vast numbers from the work force. More than ever, in fact.

To compare and see if this is worse then the great depression right now you need to look at the % of workers unemployed to the % of workers unemployed right now. This will negate the larger population now as compared to back then.

edit: bread and soup lines were there because there was no social safety net, they will not return until that net collapses which it has not yet. Also it was allot easier to start a bank back then as compared to now, less regulation and all that. So neither can be used as a measure as to how bad it is.

isn't the percent on the dole, 1) retired 2) covered by uic and 3) employed by the govt, a greater percent of the depression era workforce ? then for better or worser, income would be more stable.

What about all the people on welfare? Or does the government list them as "employed"?

welfare is temporary. on the other hand corporate welfare seems to be permanent. so yes, i suppose some are both on welfare and employed.

I agree.

I met a guy yesterday and him and I are in the same boat. We are both at the same job, only we work 40% less in my case and 50% less in his. I believe that it is happening a lot more than it was during the Great Depression era. I think this is happening more because everybody KNOWS this is going to turn around soon, and they have lines of credit and/or money saved for downturns.

My gut says if this stretches much further that my boss, and his, and the many others that are attempting to 'hold out until it gets better' will start seeing that isn't going to happen and the layoffs will actually increase.

I think you are correct. That "point" where many companies will make this decision is the end of the 2nd quarter. If they see some recovery then, companies will keep employees. If not, it will be another brutal end of the year and there will be many more joining the ranks of the unemployed.

Hello Dragonfly41,

I second your reply. Somebody please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the ordering timeslot for most Xmas products gets underway in the 2nd quarter, too. Therefore, if unemployment and financial collapse is still gaining steam by the the end of the second quarter: I would expect the coming Xmas product flowrate to be pretty dismal, too, IF the cascading blowbacks continue unabated. From feeble memory: 60% of all US retail sales are 4th quarter related to purchases for Xmas, Kwanzaa, Jewish holidays, etc.

Considering that many year-end gift exchanges are mostly discretionary or unnecessary junk: this may be a good trend. Imagine kids being truly grateful unwrapping gifts of dental floss, toilet paper, new socks & underwear, a prized pair of high quality boots, replacement tubes & tires for their bicycles, home-baked cookies, etc.

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

Xmas planned orders happen April/May...1st delivery in early July to kick off the season. 60% of sales in the 4th QTR is roughly correct for some businesses. If the US retail sees another 4th QTR this year like last, it will be quite ugly. I do see the trend of giving practical and self-made holiday gifts last year. I am sure it will continue. This is bad for US retail businesses and good for individual growth and independence.

Do you think the financial/gov elite know the same as me? Sure they do and they know that if they can't sell it to the public and get them to believe it until there is time to orchestrate more to fix the system, then mass psychology will take over.

Several huge questions loom:

- Which retailers amongst those that have held out up to now will be able to hold out through next December? An awful lot will depend upon their ability to get the credit to sustain their operations and finance their inventory build-up over the next 7-8 months. Credit is still being tightened; some of the retailers that have been hanging on by their fingernails up to now will probably get turned down when they request financing of their inventory build-up, and that will be the end for them.

-Same thing holds for manufacturers. Those still in operation have been holding on up to now, counting on those holiday season orders to come rolling in any day now. If the orders don't come in, then we see another huge wave of layoffs, and quite a few bankruptcies. The manufacturers need credit too in order to pay for their inputs and keep their plants running until their goods are delivered and payment received. No credit, and they shut down right now.

-Same thing holds for the transport industry. No goods being ordered, made, and shipped, and their business dries up as well. Again, they need some credit too, and I wonder if they'll be getting it.

If you look up in the sky, what you are seeing falling your way is not the sky, but a number of different shoes.

Which retailers amongst those that have held out up to now will be able to hold out through next December?

...Walmart, Walgren's, McD's, Dollar General, Dollar Store...all of those retailers that get by with the lowest prices...style and chic will no longer sell much.

Same with autos...Kia, Hyundai (btw...3 Saturn dealerships are closing shop in KC).

Grocery stores...the store-named brands are making a killing off the majors.

See a trend here?

With all of this talk about electric cars, I thought the fuel cell car idea was gone, but not so:

Hydrogen Cars Closer To Reality With New Storage System

To be honest, I think electric cars will win out for a variety of reasons, but it is impressive that the engineers seem to be on the verge of solving the hydrogen storage issue. This was always considered the last major technical hurdle.

I doubt that engineers are on the verge of solving the storage issue. Hydrides have been studied long and hard and all compositions have well established cost and chemical limitations. Have these folks discovered a new periodic table? No. Their materials are sensitive to air an moisture. Same old, same old.

The link up top :Newt Gingrich: Our Tanks Are On Full - The energy crisis is an artificial one, created by bad policies, is a must read. But even more important is the video available at that link is a must watch. According to Gingrich we are awash in oil and natural gas. He said, posting from my memory of what he said in the video:

Most of the oil we discover is not pumped because the pressure in the field drops too dramatically. We have 100 billion barrels that could be recovered.

We have 1200 years supply of natural gas. In shale oil we have three times the Saudi reserves.

Of course he hasn't a clue as what he is talking about concerning oil not being pumped because the pressure drops too low. Pressure in virtually all lower 48 fields has been zero for decades but we still pump using donkey head pumps. And in horizontal wells, down hole electrical pumps can be used. And of course there is always water or nitrogen injection. Low pressure is not a reason why the oil is not pumped.

As to the other things he stated, like 1200 years supply of natural gas and three times Saudi reserves in shale oil, well hell, what can one say?

Ron P.

He is basically just stating the conventional wisdom point of view, which to some degree I think that both political parties accept.

The Democrats, generally more concerned about GW, want to gradually transition away from "abundant fossil fuels" to alternative energy sources, while the Republicans, generally less concerned about GW, want to implement "Drill Baby Drill."

I keep informal track of such things and find startling differences between the right and the left. I listen to political talk radio as a background drone, and the righty/lefty distinction is huge. Of all the nationally syndicated left-wing talk show hosts, I can't think of one that doesn't acknowledge peak oil. And some of these hosts are experts to some degree, such as Thom Hartmann and RFK,Jr.

On the right, the only one I can think of that is not a pure cornucopian is Glenn Beck (or Glenn Yech). Newt Gingrich just follows what the leader Rush Limbaugh says. A very horrible new righty talker on the national scene, Jason Lewis, is becoming a chearleader on a cornucopian outlook.

The whole distinction is extreme across the pundit political divide, and that filters down. If it comes down to that fundamental xtian righties don't believe in dinosaurs, we have a hopeless situation on our hands.

Raymond Learsy and Greg Palast are two examples liberal anti-Peak Oilers that come to mind (I assume that Learsy leans to the liberal point of view since he is on the Huffington Post. His stuff is so painful to read that I quit trying to read it).

But in any case, the Democrats & Republicans, by and large, appear to agree that the auto-centric suburban way of life is a swell idea. The Democrats want to power it with near-infinite alternative energy, while the Republicans want to power it with near-infinite petroleum.

Those are not radio pundits. Learsy is not liberal, he is more of a middle-of-the--road populist.

Greg Palast is an investigative journalist and bomb-thrower. He says this stuff to force the maggots to crawl out. He had also written as a companion piece, this article, "Why Palast is wrong : And why the oil companies don't want you to know it", as an excerpt from his book "The Armed Madhouse". So all his talk of a Hubbert Peak scam in the previous article turned into a clever strawman and devil's advocacy for the payoff article. Read what he wrote:

A closing note of caution: I fear that some may take my noting the super-abundance of oil remaining on the planet as approval for our using it. Far from it-getting off the oil habit is an urgent working- class issue. First, because cheap, good air and water are in limited supply. We can't keep pooping combustion contaminants into the sky unless expect we expect our children to grow gills that will metabolize sulfur. There's lots of arsenic on the planet. Don't eat it. There's lots of oil. Don't burn it.

Second, massive oil use is like any other addiction-it sickens the user and only enriches the pusher; in the case of oil, that would be ExxonMobil, OPEC and Vladimir Putin. Get the petroleum needle out of our veins and we get the extra bonus of watching Citibank go through agonizing petro-dollar withdrawal.

So I am still waiting for a progressive cornucopian.

When I was employed, I listened to Jason Lewis every night on the ride home. He is a true cornucopian and AGW denier.

He is a true cornucopian and AGW denier.

Yup, these two properties often go hand in hand I have come to learn. Folks with a brain wired like that call themselves "Optimists",mostly b/c they don't like the idea of being a pessimist. The word realist is a seldom used word in their camp, I'd guess.

Jason Lewis is wired to not be able to function unless he is deemed "right", either in his own head, or by his libertarian followers.

As best as I can understand them, I think that people like Newt want to believe that fossil fuels can just continue to be extracted in ever-increasing amounts until the last drop is exhausted. In other words, a triangle instead of a bell curve. They also want to believe that creative, free minds will inevitably have come up with a replacement to kick in before we hit that cliff.

Totally wrong, of course. Some people belive in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, too. No intelligent, informed people, though.

As to the other things he stated, like 1200 years supply of natural gas and three times Saudi reserves in shale oil, well hell, what can one say?

No please ... feel free to say. I will probably find a link to this article in my inbox tomorrow morning from a friend that does not believe resource limitations should concern us. He believes shale, Alaska, and the gulf (drill baby drill) are there for the taking and the savior of the US and our future. It would be nice to provide him a link to this thread as a rebuttal.

On a similar note, is there a debunking "peak-oil debunkers" site somewhere? Ran a quick google search, and couldn't find anything. For us non-engineer types, it would be nice to have the technical arguments available in a bulleted fashion when receiving links to peak-oil debunking sites.

I envision something like this, but with accredited(legitimate) petro/geo engineers as debaters:


Here is the best site I could find on oil shale or "organic marlstone". Oil Shale Problems Mean It Will Not Save the US from Oil Shortages

In 2005, after oil prices doubled to $60 per barrel, the US Department of Energy published a new report on oil shale's promise. Sections of the report seem delirious, as if the authors were determined to illustrate that anything is possible on paper. In particular, the study claimed that we could wring "200,000 barrels a day from oil shale by 2011, 2 million barrels a day by 2020, and ultimately 10 million barrels a day." These predictions—both the production targets and their timing—are preposterous, as some industry experts admit.

Hyping oil shale is nothing new. As geologist Walter Youngquist once wrote, "Bankers won't invest a dime in 'organic marlstone,' the shale's proper name, but 'oil shale' is another matter."

Oil shale's history is one of delusions leading to disappointments. Sometimes the delusions have been motivated by a stock scam, but mostly they seem to have been driven by a belief that wishing can make it so. Peter Pan would have loved the oil shale industry.

There is, at this link, a very good article on Shell's current "in situ" program to extract oil from the marlstone. Far too long to quote here but it is one of the best I have read.

Marlstone is a form of dirty limestone, or limestone that formed in shallow inland lakes or seas. It is in no sense actual shale.) From Wikipedia: Marl or Marlstone is a calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud or mudstone which contains variable amounts of clays and aragonite.

Ron P.

Great. Thanks. Reading through the article now.

I clicked the ASPO link and that graph on the home page (graph) is close to what I was looking for a few days back. But I have to ask ... what constitutes a "discovery"? Are these "finds" that must also be producing some baseline number of barrels per day? If this is the case, then is it safe for me to assume that the discoveries shown on the graph do not account for oil shale since CO/UT shale production only accounts for 0.01% of world energy (from your link).

I can see how a cornucopian could dismiss a graph of this sort since it ignores the "trillion tons of oil shale" (again from your link) in CO/UT.

Discovery is oil, not kerogen. Kerogen is dead algae that sank to the oxygen free bottom of a lake or sea millions of years ago and became embedded in the marl. But it never sank deeper in order to be cooked into oil. So called shale oil is not counted as discovery of oil nor is it counted as proven reserves.

That's a very good graph showing timeline of both discoveries and production.
Too bad it's so small and no legend telling what the production is. Anybody have a link to a better version?

I suppose that oil shale might be "economic" to develop if oil were, say, a few thousand dollars per barrel. The question is, what economy would still be able to come up with the type of money needed to do this, or indeed even still be able to function, if oil costed a few thousand dollars per barrel?

As I understand the problem it is not the price of oil that is the limiting factor, it is EROEI. It presently takes more than a barrel of oil equivalent in BTUs to extract a barrel of shale oil. It is not economical at any price.

singlecarrier, whenever anyone brings up the oodles of oil--heavy, shale, or otherwise--sitting in the earth's crust, I always say: At what RATE? At what COST?

Hi Mike,
Yea I mention that quite frequently. Another I like to use is (paraphrasing WT), "Can we expect to continue an infinite increased rate of consumption of a finite resource base?" The response to this is usually that there is no need for an infinite increased rate of consumption (of oil that is) but I don't think these people have gotten the memo - economies/nations want to grow and growth is only possible with increased rates of discoveries/production/consumption of energy. The argument then devolves into alternative fuels (e.g. hydrogen, etc...) replacing oil.

These are smart people so I can only conclude that it is an outward denial and unwillingness to dig deeper to get a better understanding. Fear perhaps.

I am always labeled the pessimist/doomer. I believe there is a fine line between pessimist/doomer and realist.

Rather shocking Ron. Not that I've agreed with all of Newt's positions but he's usually stikes me a fairly rationalindividual. Until now, of course. Either he's off his meds and gone total insane or he's knowingly lying his butt off. So I guess the question is: who is he trying to snow with this utter BS. I know some of the most optimistic blow hards in the oil patch and they doen't throw out such unsupported fairy tales.

Rockman, don't you think it's just possible that Newt really believes that stuff? Those unsupported fairy tales are out there, parrotied by all the right wing republicans as fact.

Where do people get off by saying that the right wing are lying about this stuff? No, they actually believe this crap! They are not lying, they think there is enough shale oil and shale natural gas to last for hundreds of years.

God man, why does everyone think they are lying? No, they are just stupid. There is a difference you know.

Ron P.

Newt has been very successful and has a long track record of being a very cunning and unscrupulous person. If you are going to state that he is stupid, you need to show evidence of his alleged stupidity. The guy didn't just blurt this out-he decided it would be useful to say it so he said it-the vast majority of listeners or readers enjoying his statement won't even remember what he said about the subject next week, but they will be left with a warm fuzzy feeling about Newt and vague anger toward the Dems, which is all a cunning liar needs.

'Tis the strange potion of the Oil of Newt.

i think the deciples of newt believe that just the right technology will show up just in time, like the calvary of the old west.


Ron -- Let's say, for sake of argument, that Newt knows nothing about resources at all. But to say we have enough X to supply us for the next 1200 years implies, at a minimum, we know how much X we'll be consuming between 2500 BC and 3200 BC. That part of the statement is bizar beyond explanation IMO.

No Rockman, there are plenty of explanations for such a statement. Here is only one of them:

The total shale oil resources is quite numbing. It is estimated that globally there is about 242 times more shale oil than the conventional petroleum resources. There is more than eight times more energy in shale oil than in all other energy resources combined - oil, gas, coal, peat and tar sands. This stunning amount of energy is the equivalent of our present total energy consumption for more then 5,000 years.

- Bjorn Lomborg: The Skeptical Environmentalist page 128

So you see all Newt has to do is read this, the Bible for cornucopians, and then repeat it. People read this crap and really believe it. I know because I talk to them every day. They really believe this crap. People who repeat what they have read are not lying, they are just ignorant of the facts.

Ron P.

As I continue to say, it really doesn't matter how much of any FF is in the ground. What matters is the money that we are able to spend to get it out of the ground. The cheap and easy stuff is gone, whatever is left is all much harder and increasingly expensive to get. I would venture to guess that for each arithmetic increment in additional unit of capacity brought on line, at this point there is probably a geometric (exponential) increase in cost to bring that unit on line. I would love to be proven wrong about this, but have yet to see any convincing evidence to the contrary.

Because the cost of adding capacity (and remember, a rapidly increasing amount of that added capacity is needed just to offset exponential rates of depletion) is rapidly increasing, this means that the percentage of GDP that must be allocated to FF E&P must also be growing faster than the GDP is or can grow (and the last I checked, GDP was actually shrinking). More money for E&P means less for everything else; not to mention that if we DON'T keep up with depletion + growth, price goes up, meaning another increasing slice of the GDP pie taken away from all other things.

At a certain point our society reaches the limits of its ability to divert a greater and greater proportion of its GDP for FF energy. Thus, at a certain point, in the race against depletion it is depletion that wins, and the trip down the long descent pathway begins in earnest - no matter how much stuff might still be underground.

At a certain point our society reaches the limits of its ability to divert a greater and greater proportion of its GDP for FF energy.

This is exactly what the economist Paul Hawken describes in his book: "from mass economy to information economy" written in the '80's after rising oilprices injured the economy. Very clarifying book. Also about the effects of rising cost of capital and diesel, fertilizers, etc. on farmers.

Re: Newt Gingrich: Our Tanks Are Full. Up top.

As the lost in the wilderness Republicans dump their leaders one by one, Gingrich has inherited the crown. Palin, Limbaugh, Steele, Sanford and others have come to look so lost as to be rediculous.

Too bad his piece in Newsweek shows him to be just as lost with no sense of direction. The main problem which he shares with many posters on TOD is an inability to separate the abstract from the concrete. Coupled with the time honored comparison of things that are different. It is discouraging to know that the guy is a college professor besides. No wonder there is a crisis in education and the country can't get its act together.

First off, he says there is no energy crisis. Clearly he is not peak oil aware. Then he is trapped into the same pit so many fall into and that is treating all energy as the same and interchangeable. This is treating energy as a concrete thing that has universal characteristics. All we have to do is use our coal energy resource as liquid fuel. Just wave the magic wand. Same for natural gas or whatever.

Part of the blame for this rhetoric goes to the Peak Oil aware who seem to be unable to refrain from bulking up the Peak Oil argument by extrapolating it to all energy forms. A lot of sloppy thinkers like Gingrich can not handle specifics and detail. Problems can not be solved by abstractions and falacious comparisons.

Problems are solved, if they can be, by detail and careful logic. And not all problems have solutions. This means energy must be broken down as far a possible into its component forms. Then each form, which obviously is different from all the others, must be evaluated on its characteristics such as renewability, utility, availability and cost. Where one form can be converted to a form with higher value characteristics it is a partial solution of the energy dilemma. Generalizing the problem adds nothing to insight as to solutions IMO. And comparing oil to coal as Gingrich does is befuddlement and obfuscation.

Obama has nothing to fear from the new/old crown prince of the Republican party. Dispite converting from being a Baptist to a Catholic, he still can't figure out the Peak Oil problem.


Why would you think you have any idea what Newt Gingrich thinks about this subject? That guy would tell you the Moon was made of blue cheese if it suited his purpose. He doesn't exactly have a track record of intellectual honesty.

Brian, none of has the ability to read minds. If a person says "I think this" or "I believe that" we have to take them at their word. You may take the position that everyone, or most everyone, is lying when they tell us what they think but that is a cynical world I do not wish to live in.

Ron P.

Try reading before you start typing. Newt Gingrich isn't the average person-no one should have to tell you this-you have been around long enough.

He is pretty much your average former politician and now your average talking head on TV. When a politician talks about his personal life like "I did not solicit sex in that bathroom" or "Of course I believe Jesus is my savior", then he has a motive to lie. However a former politician who has been consistent in his beliefs, or what he says he believes, for thirty years then you can pretty much take him at his word. Besides he has no real motive to lie here.

As a Yellow Dog Democrat myself, I am no Gingrich fan but I believe the man honest. An honest nut to be sure but honest nevertheless. It is being unduly cynical to say the man is lying here when is simply giving the same message he has preached since being elected to the house in 1978.

Ron P.

Perhaps Republicans may not care one way or another. If oil is cheap, they can get rich. If oil is scarce and expensive, they can get rich. As long as there is a feudalistic oligarchy heading up the nation, with monopolies controlling the oil supplies, they are happy. They bring along all the misguided fundies and racists as a side-effect.

Gingrich divorces several wives (one cancer stricken) and then within the last week converts over to Catholicism. He has not a shred of honesty.

Are Rednecks and NASCAR addicts likely to be republican or democratic? If the answer turns out to be democratic then the case of republican excessive stupidity is answered.

"Obama has nothing to fear from the new/old crown prince of the Republican party."

True ... But the Obama administration, like Gingrich, needs a big reality check too. We will create all this national debt (trillions, man) so that we can return to business as usual and everyone can max out their credit cards again and we will all live happily ever after ... but it will take some time.

No my friend, politics don't have a lot to do with reality. And conversly, reality doesn't have much to do with politics.

Palin, Limbaugh, Steele, Sanford and others have come to look so lost as to be ridiculous.

Among the 'others' surely is the once wunderkind Bobby Jindal...Mr. 'We don't need no stink'n waste-o-almighty taxpayer money volcano monitoring systems'. He clearly thinks that that pittance of money would be better added to the mountain of money spent o the military-industrial-political complex and tax giveaways for rich individuals and corporations. I bet he would scream bloody murder if the funding was zeroed out for the ocean weather/sea-state monitoring buoys, the weather satellites, and the C-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft providing early warning to the folks in LA. After his little Republican 'rebuttal' speech a while ago his champions have dropped him like a hot potato. And then there are the rumors of the exorcism he performed and/or helped perform on his girlfriend back in his younger daze. Yea, put him and Palin on the ticket, with Limbaugh as Secretary of Commerce, Michael Savage as Secretary of Defense, and Michelle Bachman as Secretary of State. There's a real 'Team America' for ya...

Yesterday there was a discussion about the impact of the oil price spike last year on the recession. My opinion is that it definitely impacted the recession, and was one of many things that pushed the economy past the tipping point, but the impact IMO is atypical of other impacts. It seems to me that gasoline prices, being something that the consumer purchases on a regular basis, consists of a large portion of people's "discretionary" income, and is a price that is widely followed by the public (i.e toilet paper goes up $.20 per roll, people might not notice, gas goes up $.20, people will notice), it has an inordinate effect on people's perceived wealth. Hence, you see the relationship between gas prices and discretionary non-gasoline spending (and the savings rate, for that matter). Thus, the impact of the high gasoline prices on consumer spending both because of the effect on discretionary spending (which went away once the prices came back down) and the impact on consumer psychology (which has stuck around) was definitely a major contributer to the recession.

It wasn't just gas that the price of gas was affecting however. And for people that have very long commutes, it was adding about 10 dollars or more a day to their commute. The rising costs of transportation were putting pressure on everything. If a sizable part of our economy is discretionary, what happens when the discretionary gets crushed?


When I'm talking about discretionary spending, I mean spending on things other than the mortgage/rent, food (to a degree), clothing (again to a degree), car payments, etc. Besides the macro effects of increasing the trade deficit and inflation, on the micro level, had huge and visible impact on discretionary spending money, and the effect of high gas prices has a larger impact on consumer psychology based on how its purchased. That's why the effect on spending that initially started with the increase in gas prices has stuck around, despite the drop in gas prices.

My argument is that gas prices reduced consumer spending through its effects on available discretionary spending as well as the consumer psychological effects. This drop off in consumer spending is a huge part of the recession we're facing now.

I looked at it differently. It was the high price of oil that tempered the economic crisis. The economic crisis was built on virtual money -- debts. As the level of debts get out of control; the "power that be" decided a safer place to put their money is in commodity -- oil, metals, food crops, etc... As the money flowed to these "REAL" substances, the obvious Ponzi scheme of the past decades showed up clearer and clearer. Until everyone got so nervous that caused a lot of things to crash down last October-November. Whether we are actually at the bottom is yet to be seen. I think during the Great Depression, there were a lot of up and down before WW II really killed the Depression. Nobody wants to say it -- but WWII brought us out of the Great Depression.

Now, the situation we have currently is a lot more different. During the Great Depression and WW II, the US is rich in natural resource. We produced the tanks, the planes, etc... that really gave the advantage to the Allied. We entered into the current Depression with two wars on our hands and we barely have the resource to cope. The picture is pretty ugly and depressing.

Another thing to keep in mind is that right after the summer price spike, we had a couple of weeks of severe motor fuel supply disruptions in the SE US, and then that was immediately followed by Lehman Bros, AIG, etc. This was all during new model year roll out for the auto makers. Undoubtedly, this was when an awful lot of people decided to keep the old car and not buy a new one this year. The summer price spike by itself might not have done all that much, but being followed by those other two things certainly did have an impact.

All the articles seemed, same ol', same ol', until I got to the one about Saudi Arabia "Cutting" Prices. Will this cause a huge sell-off, tomorrow?

Wonder why they are cutting the price? Any idea? I couldn't discern from the article.

Will this cause a huge sell-off, tomorrow?

Not likely as oil is a little higher at the opeaning of electronic trading this evening. As I write this at 6:20 Central Daylight Time, crude oil is up 37 cents.

Energy Prices

Yeah, I'm glad I never got the idea I'd be hotshot energy trader.

Did you miss out on the "new stuff" on yesterdays DB, Kdolliso ?

WASHINGTON - Oil refiners want the government's biofuels mandates suspended, citing the limits on how much ethanol can be blended into gasoline.


All of our problems cannot be solved, certainly most of them can't be solved within months, but we still need to try.

On problem that Obama is moving out on is the need to reduce the absurd number of special weapons held by the top two special weapons powers.



George Shultz, Sam Nunn, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, et al, including other generals, admirals, statesman across the world involved in similar efforts (including 4-star General Lee Butler,the last Commander of Strategic Air Command) are not exactly long-haired hippie freak pinko commie fags like Archie Bunker used to say on the TV...and like so many hicks still say to this day, including apocalyptic end-timer hicks in military uniforms right now.

These devices and their attendant weapons delivery systems buy us little security. Zero is a long ways off, but each side (and all sides)could credibly deter state and non-state actors from employing a device of their own by maintaining as few as 500 weapons, mated with appropriate delivery systems.

The fewer devices that exists, given a strict monitoring regime, the safer the World will be from self-destruction...including the fact that the remaining devices will be easier to keep track of and much harder for bad people to get a hold of.

The excess materials will be blended down and used in civilian reactors...another plus.

We can't scold other countries for developing these capabilities as long as we maintain huge stockpiles ourselves...the hypocrisy is blatant and stinks like dead fish.

Obama will do some things right, and we should all hope that this is one of them.

Here's one he may do spectacularly wrongly:


Gee, you folks who thought Obama was the be-all and end-all to "solve" violations of The Constitution under President Bush:

A pair of bills introduced in the U.S. Senate would grant the White House sweeping new powers to access private online data, regulate the cybersecurity industry and even shut down Internet traffic during a declared "cyber emergency."

Senate bills No. 773 and 778, introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., are both part of what's being called the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, which would create a new Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor, reportable directly to the president and charged with defending the country from cyber attack.



Any of the Nuclear Proponents want to jump in here? I don't know what other systems are maintaining the cooling storage pools, but this is one of the bottlenecks that worries me the most about Fission. A pronounced Diesel supply pinch, and are the backups to this system also affected? What ongoing operational needs are currently built on the Petroleum Paradigm, and haven't really been set up with the kind of resilience that they would need IF we were to see something happen to Oil Supply 'all of the sudden..' ? Do the backup parts to the backup gennies have to be brought on diesel trucks? Are they on backorder this month, while we find a new supplier?


Powered by diesel generators, the pools are continually cooled while pumps circulate the water from the spent fuel pools to heat exchangers back to the spent fuel pools, and round and round. There is also the monitoring of the air and water in order to prevent radiolysis (the dissociation of molecules) so that hydrogen gas will not escape, threatening explosion. Without cooling, the pool water will heat up and boil. If that water boils away, the spent fuel assemblies will overheat, melt, or catch fire. If this is all maintained by diesel generators, then peak-oil presents a more precarious than anticipated situation for us all.

What could possibly go wrong? (ie, think through failure modes VERY carefully)

Electric motors for one. (I STRONGLY suspect that is the primary drive already).

The general design of these allows for months/years before "all the water evaporates'. And the older fuel in storage is pretty much a non-issue, the "hot out of the reactor" fuel is an issue though. I find it hard to imagine a collapse that could not provide minimal cooling & water resupply until the newest & hottest fuel began to cool down.

And worst case, bring water up by hand and pour in.


The standard design for water circulating pumps in *every* application I've seen or heard of for the past 40 years has the pumps driven by electric motors. Direct diesel or steam driven pumps are a 19th century design, and not likely to be seen on any system designed since WW II, and I worked on a WW II vintage ship for 2 years, so I have seen what was considered efficient design for the time. Hint: that ship had electric pumps in the initial design.

"Without cooling, the pool water will heat up and boil. If that water boils away, the spent fuel assemblies will overheat, melt, or catch fire."

I know little about the nuclear power industry so perhaps someone can advise. If these wastes will boil water, why aren't they being used for steam-generated electricity? It seems to me a closed-cycle steam generator would kill two birds with one stone by turning the wastes back into fuel and generating extra electricity.

That would be a nuclear power plant. By definition the radionucleides in the "worn out" fuel rods are too diffuse to do so effectively. Additionally, I would be surprised if the cooling water didn't have an inert neutron absorber dissolved in solution to keep the rods from decomposing any faster than their natural reaction rate.

The amount of power from spent fuel is less than 1% that of an active reactor. It costs money to build turbines, and it usually isn't worth the effort. Poor return on investment.

I'd feel a lot better about it if the water supply was gravity fed from an uphill reservoir, instead of being pumped. Unforunately, most nukes are sited on relatively flat land.

Even having a WT on site dedicated to provide backup power for the pumps would be better than nothing.

Since the power requirements are not large and can be sporadic, PV solar and a couple of small wind turbines would be a very useful back-up power source.

Best Hopes for solar powered nukes ?


This Associated Press story was in my newspaper today, but as the article was not online I found it elsewhere. Thought it might be of interest to some. Sorry if it has been covered before.


Associated Press
Antibiotics pose concern for MN ethanol producers
By MARK STEIL , 04.04.09, 02:35 PM EDT

Ethanol's main by-product, which is sold as livestock feed, has raised potential food safety concerns.

Several studies have linked the byproduct, known as distillers grain, to elevated rates of E. coli in cattle. And now, distillers grain is facing further scrutiny because the Food and Drug Administration has found that it often contains antibiotics left over from making ethanol.

As they need the money from the sale of the distillers dried grains to make money is this another big problem for the ethanol industry?

It could, potentially, be the DEATH of the ethanol industry. A Total EXTINCTION Event.

Having said that, it's a low probability occurrence. There have been small amounts of E Coli found in the manure of some cows fed distillers grains, but there has yet to be any evidence of "harm" to ANY consumers (no e coli found in the, actual, meat.) As for the antibiotics: I guess most all cattle feed contains antibiotics.

This has been studied for at least two, or three years. I would imagine the most that will transpire will be some "tweaking" of the use/types of antibiotics used.

There have been small amounts of E Coli found in the manure of some cows fed distillers grains...

There is always E Coli in all manure, large amounts of it. However I am sure you meant one of the dangerous kinds of E Coli.
Wikipedia: Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli (commonly E. coli; , is a Gram negative bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded animals. Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some, such as serotype O157:H7, can cause serious food poisoning in humans, and are occasionally responsible for costly product recalls. The harmless strains are part of the normal flora of the gut, and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K2, or by preventing the establishment of pathogenic bacteria within the intestine.

Ron P.

If I understand it correctly, most E. coli is destroyed in the human intestinal tract. The super-strain, 0157:H7, evolved in the highly-acidic environments of rumens in cows fed exclusively corn diets. Therefore, they're more dangerous for humans to ingest because they can survive the acid environments of the gut. Evolution is the "enemy."

You understand it almost correctly. Most foreign E. Coli is destroyed in the human intestinal tract. Humans, like all warm blooded animals, depend on their own E. Coli to aid in digestion. And as the Wikipedia article states it also prevents the establishment of pathogenic bacteria within the intestine.

In other words, bad foreign E. Coli is destroyed by your own good E. Coli. Well, that's one way of looking at it. ;-)

Ron P.

Michael Pollan for one, has stated the link between O157 evolution and the acidic rumen of grain fed cattle. However, others have refuted this (too lazy to seek a link for you). Many forms of wildlife also are carriers. The origin of the strain is uncertain. Cattle are the major livestock carrier, and I read somewhere that most cattle, regardless of diet, carry the strain at one time or another during their lives.

As for the antibiotics: I guess most all cattle feed contains antibiotics.

Which is why more and more people are looking to buy grass fed meat to get away from getting all the antibiotics in "factory farmed" meat.
It will be the levels of antibiotics that wind up in the meat that will hurt the distillers dried grain market, not e-coli.

Chicontepec a(CB) and Ku-Maloob-Zaap (KMZ) are Mexico's great hope to replace Cantarell as its main oil producing fields now and in the future. Let's take a look at the facts. Cantarell peaked in 2005 at 2.1m/b/d. It is declining at an alarming rate of 38% (Feb 08 to Feb 09). Cantarell production was 772,000 b/d in Feb 09. KMZ is an adjacent area in the Gulf of Campeche. It has increased production 138,000 b/d to near 800,000 b/d in Feb. 09. Both fields are nitrogen injected. In Cantarell this injection has led to the dramatic decline we are now witnessing. As the KMZ field is much smaller, it is expected to peak soon and I will speculate that, based on the results in Cantarell, it too will fall precipitously after its peak of around 800,000 b/d. Pemex spends additional billions to get oil from these fields every year.
Unfortunately,KMZ's oil is not able to replace the quality of Cantarell's lost oil production. Most of KMZ's production is heavier than Cantarell's already heavy oil. Jude Clemente in Pipeline and Gas Journal Aug 08 states "Pemex documents have shown that oil quality... at KMZ is falling, as water and salt seep into the reservoirs. These quality issues make optimistic projections of future oil production at KMZ highly questionable."
CB has never produced much oil to date, but Pemex has announced a plan to invest $37 billion to develop the 20,000 wells over 20 years to reach 1m/b/d production. But the region's geology has led George Baker publisher of Mexico Energy Intelligence to conclude the prospects for the area is suspect. Baker argues the potential of the CB is " a highly speculative investment given the adverse geological parameters of the field, the rapid annual decline rate of 50% and the low rate of initial production, typically below 150 b/d". Also the area covers 2400 square miles, heavy infrastructure expense, low recovery rates of 10%, a lot of heavy oil, and expense in general, has lead Colin Campbell in his 2005 book "The Coming Oil Crisis" to claim that Mexico systematically exaggerates the recoverable oil in CB.
A cynic might conclude that the CB story is a kin of "gold salting" to support the myth of future oil production in Mexico, Pemex's bonds, Mexico's future or some combination of all three, but who is a cynic?

Hello Newman1979,

Thxs for the info. Do you know if most of the 20,000 wells planned [fantasy-dreamed?] for Chicontepec are old-style vertical well bobbing horseheads or 20,000 Multiple Reservoir Contact[MRC] horizontal wells with electric pumps far below?

I would love to read how a profit could be made off a MRC horizontal generating <150 b/d [sarcasm]. I would think tropical forest covering this 2400 square miles with new tree saplings and hand pollinated vanilla plants for the later hand-chopping of firewood and hand-collection of vanilla would offer a higher ERoEI and profit potential.

toto -- I researched Chicontepec and couldn't find the details you request. But it is described as "small reservoirs difficult to define". No idea what "small" means in absolute terms but it doesn't sound like a good place for horizontals. But I beleive Schlumberger won the bid for the first 500 wells (pretty slow start for a 20,000 well project)by underbidding the number 2 offer by 50%. Add that to the fact that they hadn't drilled in the play since 1976 and it's my WAG that we can beleive very little of the reserve numbers thrown out. It may be a simplistic view, but if there were that much oil which is that easy to get out why didn't they start talking it up several years ago when oil prices reached where they are today? Maybe because they did not need the hype as badly as they do today.

Thxs for the reply, Rockman.

i cant figure out you doomers. none seem to live in large urban areas. must have bailed out long ago. i live in new jersey. i was in a local ethnic diner friday. they were doing a bang up business. mostly an older crowd. i guess the soc sec checks came out for the first of the month. i have recently accepted a position as a machinist. have been unem for 3 months. no jobs in newspapers classifieds and even online sites are sparse. i just keep sending out resumes to the same head hunters. as to machinist jobs. 80% required MANDATORY overtime. can you say indetured servant? being a machinist is a nasty job. standing long hours, doing non machinist work, poor work conditions viz-a-viz health and safety, no prestige or respect. well! i suspect there are no young machinists in training to replace us old timers. add that to your doomer scenario. loss of specialized labor to accelerate the collapse. it is indicated that extended unem benefits are going to end in the next 3 months for millions of citizens. expect bread lines during "the long hot summer". "New Jersey’s beleaguered pension fund would buy troubled loans and securities – so-called “toxic assets” – as part of a Wall Street recovery plan discussed Friday with the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Fund.ex gold man sacks alumni Governor Corzine believes the program could provide a lucrative opportunity for New Jersey’s pension fund, which has been battered in recent months by the general problems in the financial markets."
I AM A DOOMER! WHAT ELSE CAN I BE! there is no limit to human greed and folly. the man enslaved to wealth can never be honest.

Gee, for most of my life I've had the impression that machinists were considered at least a cut above your usual assembly line worker. Quite a bit of training and skill required for the job, along with a bit of brain power. Not so anymore? Pity if that's the case.

Manual labor of all types gets short shrift these days.
I tried to get a job as a machinist after my dotcom employer went down, and I basically got a "you're too highly trained for this job". Used to be that somebody with a bit of real math training would be more than welcome in a real machine shop...

2 hours of car porn just set a box office record.

`Fast & Furious' accelerates to $72.5M opening

LOS ANGELES - "Fast & Furious" has left its competition in the dust with a $72.5 million opening weekend.

That is the best opening weekend so far this year, topping last weekend's $59.3 million debut for "Monsters vs. Aliens."

"Fast & Furious" also has raced to a record for April debuts, easily passing the previous best of $42.2 million set by " Anger Management " in 2003.

We are freaking doomed people.

OTOH it is the only viable industry the USA still has (even though it seems like half the movies are filmed in TO)-at least somebody is rolling in dough they didn't steal from the Treasury-good for Vin Diesel.

I will be attending the EIA conference In Washington DC on Tuesday and Wednesday. I know Robert Rapier will be there as well--he is speaking. If there are Oil Drum readers at the conference, we may run into a few of you.

Who will be there? (Probably not a great time to ask)

Sorry, Jim Cramer, the Great Unwind is NOT over

From 60 Minutes tonight the "downstream" effects would seem to be just starting...

The Recession's Impact: Closing The Clinic

(CBS) In the economic crisis, public hospitals are needed now more than ever. If you're down on your luck without insurance, the county hospital can be your last resort.

Recently thousands of letters went out across Las Vegas telling cancer patients that the only public hospital in the state was closing its outpatient clinic for chemotherapy.

It's the next thing in the recession - communities cutting back on services like schools or cops or public hospitals because tax revenues have fallen with the economy.