Drumbeat: April 6, 2009

Oil-Contango Trade Resumes as Shipping Rates Tempt Shell, Vitol

(Bloomberg) -- Vitol Group, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Gunvor International BV booked supertankers to store oil at sea as plunging shipping rates made the trade potentially more profitable again after a three-month gap, a shipbroker said.

Vitol, a closely held oil trader, hired three tankers at $45,000 a day each, capable of carrying a combined 6 million barrels of oil, Athens-based Optima Shipbrokers said today. Gunvor, shipper of a third of Russia’s oil, booked a tanker at the same rate, while Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, hired an ultra large crude carrier at $64,000 a day, Optima said.

Total May Delay Canada Oil Sands Decision, Scrap Pilot Project

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, Europe’s third-largest oil company, may postpone an investment decision in the Joslyn permit of the Canadian oil sands due to costs and has suspended and may dismantle a pilot project in the area.

Qatar, Exxon Delay Natural-Gas Project

DOHA--Qatar has delayed the Barzan natural-gas-field project to be developed with Exxon Mobil Corp., and will wait for building costs to fall before starting construction.

Exxon Mobil chief says oil giant to invest $129 billion over 5 years, not adjusting staffing

RAS LAFFAN, Qatar (AP) — The head of Exxon Mobil Corp. said Monday the company is not planning to shrink its staff or cut back on investment because of the global economic downturn.

Chairman and Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said the world's largest publicly traded oil company expects to spend $129 billion on new projects over the next five years.

Caution is king in outbound India resources deals

HONG KONG/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian resources giants such as Oil and Natural Gas Corp are likely to hoard cash and shun big overseas deals despite market expectations they should seize distressed firms struggling in the financial crisis.

Financing difficulties and fears of making the wrong move in a dismal market with little pricing visibility are scaring Reliance Industries and other Indian firms away from large overseas targets, analysts say.

That's in stark contrast to rival China, whose state-backed firms are plowing billions into Australian resources this year, including aluminum giant Chinalco's $19.5 billion tie-up with Rio Tinto.

ENI to Sell $4.2 Billion Stake in OAO Gazprom Neft to Gazprom

Italian oil and gas company ENI SpA on Tuesday will sign a $4.2 billion deal to sell its stake in Russian oil producer OAO Gazprom Neft, according to people familiar with the matter.

Valero Expects Texas Hydrocracker to Be Out 7-10 Days

(Bloomberg) -- Valero Energy Corp. expects a 45,000-barrel-a-day hydrocracker at the Port Arthur, Texas, refinery to be down for seven to 10 days, a company spokesman said.

The hydrocracker was shut April 3 for unplanned work, Bill Day, the spokesman, said in a telephone interview. The unit was shut so workers could repair a leak in an air cooler, Day said.

Total becomes 2nd largest oil firm following takeover of Caltex in Uganda

KAMPALA (Xinhua) -- Total Uganda has become the second largest oil firm in the East African country after it took over Caltex from Chevron, local media reported on Monday.

With the takeover, Total Uganda now commands a 20 percent market share after Shell Uganda. But there is a 30 Ugandan shilling (about 0.015 U.S. dollars) difference between the two companies' pump prices.

Unexpected friends - The environmental risks and rewards of offshore oil

FATE has not been kind to the western grey whale. Its numbers have dwindled to 130 or so, leaving it “critically endangered” in the eyes of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the body that dispenses such labels. Fishing-nets, speeding ships, pollution and coastal development threaten the few that remain. Most recently, drilling for oil and gas in their main summer feeding grounds, near Sakhalin island off Russia’s Pacific coast, has brought fresh risks for the luckless creatures. Yet the rush to develop Sakhalin’s offshore fields may yet be the saviour of the species.

'Alternative energy is an answer to dwindling natural gas supplies'

The UAE should immediately and seriously put other forms of energy in its mix because there is not enough gas to feed the country's growing demand for power.

According to Khalid Al Awadi, a Dubai-based independent energy expert, the global financial crisis has very little impact on the electricity demand load and the increase in demand will continue to grow.

To address this, the emirate would have to secure more gas – a task, which is unlikely to bear fruit given the gas shortage throughout the Middle East (except Qatar and Iran).

The unbearable lightness of information

We mistake the lightness of electrons and the vaporous nature of the information that rides on them for the lightness of the entire economy behind them. Every person who works in the so-called information sector of the economy must be housed, clothed, schooled, provided transportation, provisioned with household goods, given opportunities for entertainment and recreation, supplied with a wide array of public services, and...well, you get the idea. And, much of the manufacturing economy which previously provided employment in the United States and other industrialized nations has simply shifted to China and other low-cost locales. As it turns out, one of the main tasks of the information economy is to direct and manage the resulting global logistical system, a system that continues to bear down with its ever increasing weight on the landscape and the environment.

The dam infrastructure problem

A new report says over 1,800 dams pose significant risk to human life. Fixing them will cost billions, but can we afford this in addition to roads, bridges and other projects?

Communities print own currencies to keep cash flowing

A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money.

Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses.

Oil As Money and the Decline of Energy Earnings

The Oil Drum posted a must read essay yesterday by Chris Cook, formerly of the International Petroleum Exchange. Cook suggests that the only real money is in fact energy. And, that the world should eventually migrate to a monetary system based on that reality.

Whether one agrees, disagrees, or simply needs more time to digest such an idea, let’s contemplate the 10 Year chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in terms of the price of Oil.

S.Africa to unveil energy crisis plan after vote

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's ANC party, expected to win elections this month, is promising a new energy strategy to tackle power shortages and cut greenhouse gases that account for more than two-fifths of the continent's emissions.

A key pillar of this plan is the likely split of the minerals and energy cabinet portfolio, to remove red tape that critics say is bogging down the ministry's performance.

Backlash over SeaDragon snub

Singaporean rig builder Sembcorp Marine is primed to complete a semi-submersible drilling unit for UK-based Sea Dragon causing a political backlash in the European country after work was pulled from a UK facility.

Pakistan and Iran closer to sign electricity deal

Pakistan and Iran are reportedly closer to an agreement over the much delayed electricity deal, envisaging export of 1000 MW electricity to Islamabad via Balochistan.

Russian oil pipeline to reach China within weeks: Putin

MOSCOW -- The Russian state oil pipeline Transneft will finish the laying of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline to the Chinese border within weeks, said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Monday when presenting to the State Duma, lower house of parliament, a government report.

Gunmen in Nigeria kill officer, kidnap worker

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria -- Police say gunmen killed a policeman as they kidnapped a foreign oil worker in restive southern Nigeria.

Bentley’s Biofuel Bargain

Leaving no doubt that the green car movement is reaching into the furthest recesses of the automobile industry, Bentley Motors — the British-based ultra-luxury brand — has adopted a pro-biofuels policy. The carmaker, owned by Volkswagen, produces some of the world’s most expensive automobiles, but that doesn’t exempt the company from moving in an eco-friendly direction.

Cab fleet wary of 2015 hybrid law

Boston's requirement for taxis to go green is rigid: All 1,825 licensed taxis must be powered by hybrid engines by 2015. But the city approach to its own fleet of 3,300 cars, buses, and trucks is more relaxed, with no timetable in place.

BP, Total Tell Suppliers to Cut Costs Up to 40% Amid $50 Oil

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are asking oilfield service companies to cut project costs by up to 40 percent as the industry battles its worst slump since the mid-1970s.

Executives at contractors including Technip SA, CGGVeritas and Saipem SpA said Europe’s biggest oil companies are pressing for discounts. In response, they say they reduced the number of drilling rigs in operation by more than 25 percent and next will take oilfield vessels out of service, threatening jobs.

Dallas-Fort Worth's 'modern survivalists' are ready for layoffs - or war

Jack Spirko owns a media company, is married to a nurse and has a son in college. He has two dogs and lives in a nice house with a pool in a diversified neighborhood in Arlington.

Spirko, 36, considers himself an average guy with a normal life.

But for the past few years, Spirko has been stockpiling food, water, gas, guns and ammunition. He also has a load of red wine, Starbucks coffee and deodorant stashed away.

Michael T Klare: Signs emerge of global crime wave

In all catastrophes, there are always winners among the host of losers and victims. Bad times, like good ones, generate profits for someone. In the case of the present global economic meltdown, with our world at the brink and up to 50 million people potentially losing their jobs by the end of this year, one winner is likely to be criminal activity and crime syndicates.

From Mexico to Africa, Russia to China, the pool of the desperate and the bribable is expanding exponentially, pointing to a sharp upturn in global crime. As illicit profits rise, so will violence in the turf wars among competing crime syndicates and in the desperate efforts by panicked governments to put a clamp on criminal activity.

Theory of oil-shock recession

Other economic models do not come up with such a powerful role for oil. But, given the central importance of events such as the steep fall in vehicle sales, the general slowdown in consumer spending and the plunge in consumer sentiment in the first half of 2008 - all of which are strongly influenced by petrol prices - it does not seem implausible to think that the cost of oil was a critical factor in the downturn.

Qatar Seeks to Save 30% on Costs by Delaying Al-Shaheen Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- Qatar seeks to save 30 percent on construction costs by delaying work on its new Al-Shaheen refinery, which was expected to be tendered this year, Oil Minister Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah said.

Another milestone in clean energy sector

DOHA: The opening of the Qatargas 2 project today represents yet another technological milestone that will make clean-burning natural gas available to significantly more people across the globe. Designed to produce 7.8 million tonnes per year (MTA), the Qatargas 2 Trains are about 50 percent larger than any global liquefaction facility currently operating.

Venezuela to Get $1.5 Billion in Japan Financing, Chavez Says

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela will sign agreements with Japanese companies to secure $1.5 billion in financing for a refining project and investment in the South American country’s Junin 11 oil block, President Hugo Chavez said.

Major bottlenecks in Iraq's oil refinery sector

Six years have passed since the occupation of Iraq and its oil industry still has not recovered to the level of the pre-invasion years. Billions have been sunk into the industry without an apparent result to be compared with the difficult years of the embargo that preceded the occupation.

Cuba Would Welcome U.S. Oil Companies If Embargo Ends

(Bloomberg) -- Cuba would welcome U.S. companies’ help developing its oil industry should the 47-year trade embargo on the communist island come to an end, said Manuel Marrero Faz, senior oil adviser at the Ministry of Basic Industries.

“We are open,” said Marrero Faz, noting that Chinese, Russian and Angolan companies are in talks to explore areas about 100 miles off the U.S. coast. “We’re very close to each other. We’re neighbors. Why not do business?”

China's CNPC eyeing Petro-Canada assets: report

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Top Chinese oil firm China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is eyeing $5 billion of assets in Syria and Libya held by Petro-Canada, a newspaper reported on Monday.

Japan's first Sakhalin II LNG arrives from Russia

SODEGAURA, Japan (Reuters) - Japan's first imported liquefied natural gas from Russia's Sakhalin II export project arrived at the Sodegaura terminal on Tokyo Bay on Monday, marking the start of Russia's entry into the world's LNG markets in Asia and North America.

Aramco, Conoco to seek Yanbu refinery bids soon

DUBAI (Reuters) - State oil giant Saudi Aramco and U.S. major ConocoPhillips plan to seek bids in mid-2009 to build their joint venture refinery in Saudi Arabia, sources familiar with the project said on Monday.

The two firms halted the bidding process in November due to uncertainty in financial markets and as the prices of raw materials plummeted.

Bad economy holds highway deaths to 1960s levels

WASHINGTON (AP) — Less money in the pockets of Americans means fewer highway deaths. As the economy slid deeper into recession and gas prices reached $4 a gallon last year, the number of people killed in auto accidents hit its lowest level in five decades.

The End of the Affair

A key to any comeback by Detroit is reconnecting with car fanatics. Want vs. need.

Australia May Boost Uranium, LNG Sales to Korea, Minister Says

(Bloomberg) -- Australia has scope to increase exports of uranium and liquefied natural gas to South Korea and gain from demand for cleaner energy, Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said.

Australia would be “delighted” to increase uranium supplies to South Korea, which, as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, meets its requirements for exports, Ferguson said today in Seoul, according to speech notes e-mailed to Bloomberg News. Expanded LNG supply could come from either the North West Shelf region, the Northern Territory or eastern Australia’s coal-seam gas-based industry, he said.

Upside to recession: Gas consumption still falling

SACRAMENTO -- An economic meltdown might not be the preferred way to scale back California's dependence on foreign oil, but it seems to be doing the trick.

Gas consumption in California continues to fall, even with prices far lower than the record highs set last summer, new figures from the California State Board of Equalization show. Some economists credit the poor economy for the trend.

Unemployed people don't drive to work. Car sales are down. And suburban growth is sputtering. All of which promotes lower fuel use.

China's coal-to-liquids projects buffeted by changing policy, economics

Coal accounts for more than 70 percent of the energy mix in China, which has abundant coal reserves but poor oil and natural gas resources.

Over the past five decades, China has tapped several large oilfields, such as Daqing and Shengli. But discoveries and production can't keep up with demand. With rapid economic growth, China became a net oil importer in 1992 and has increased oil imports every year since.

Rich China, poor China conundrum as clout grows

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Success in winning China's help with global tasks like reviving the world economy or fighting climate change can depend on which China you're talking to: the established economic powerhouse or the developing country.

China the new power holds $2 trillion in foreign reserves, including about $1 trillion in U.S. debt, and increasingly lectures rich nations on economic management. Developing China has tens of millions of rural poor among its 1.3 billion people and falls in the same World Bank per capita income rankings as Cameroon and Guatemala.

Saudis tapping reserves to boost economy

RIYADH (AFP) – OPEC powerhouse Saudi Arabia is pumping money from its huge 400-billion-dollar stockpile of reserves into the economy to keep up growth, economists and bankers in Riyadh said.

A decline in net reserves over the last three months suggests that the world's biggest oil exporter is using the money to keep up liquidity in the Saudi banks and possibly as well to shore up government investment spending, they said.

Homelessness up as families on the edge lose hold

Cities and counties are reporting a sharp increase in homeless families as the economic crisis leads to job loss and makes housing unaffordable.

In Seattle, 40% more people are living on suburban streets. In Miami, calls from people with eviction notices have quadrupled.

Students set sights on post-petroleum future

The goal of the club is simple: free the internal-combustion engine from its dependence on petroleum-based fuel by developing an energy-efficient method to break water, which covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, into its component parts, hydrogen and oxygen.

Slowdown's gift to Beijing: cleaner air

The global economic slowdown is helping to accomplish what some in China's leadership have striven to do for years: rein in the insatiable demand for coal-powered energy that has fed the country's breakneck growth but turned it into one of the world's most polluted nations.

EU Backs New Fuel Law Forcing Oil Industry to Reduce Emissions

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union approved stricter clean-air rules for oil companies such as Total SA and BP Plc to supplement new emission curbs on cars and a campaign to boost the use of biofuels.

The EU decided to force the petroleum industry to reduce by 6 percent, over the fuel lifecycle, emissions of gases blamed for global warming by the end of 2020 compared with 2010. The bloc also allowed a greater amount of environmentally friendly ethanol to be used in gasoline and tightened limits on fuel pollutants such as sulfur.

Microsoft: Digital Downloads Save Carbon and Costs

Downloading software can save nearly 90 percent of the carbon emissions associated with physical DVD distribution, the software maker claims.

Climate Change Ponzi Scheme

SEBASTOPOL, CALIF.--A Ponzi scheme is a simple fraud. Each generation of investors is paid out by the next generation of investors. Eventually this system collapses, because the new generation of investors can't cover the transaction of the previous generation. That sounds very much to me like the climate change situation we have right now.

Every generation so far has expected the next generation to absorb its carbon investment into the atmosphere. Speaking not just as a scientist but as a new father, I'd wager that the next generation--my son's generation--faces a Madoff-like moment when the system collapses, the environment collapses, and very likely we'll have a whole load of civil unrest and other nasty consequences.

Are you collapse aware?

We have all heard of the term peak oil aware but this morning I came across a term that I don't remember seeing before. That term is collapse aware, though I have been collapse aware for some time.

Collapse Psychosis: Navigating the Madness

It's happening daily now, almost hourly -- rampant eruptions of violence throughout the so-called developed world. As civilization unravels, the uncivilized behavior of humans is becoming viral, and the culture of empire is quite simply going mad as its values, assumptions, and reasons for existing are evaporating with dizzying speed. For those who are and have been collapse-aware for some time, it is important not only to make sense of the epidemic violence, but to incorporate skillful responses to it.

After re-reading the article, I am sorry I posted this. Her ideas are just too far off the wall. Civilization, in my opinion is not the same thing as "Empire". There have been civilizations for hundreds of years, and are today, that is not the same thing as an empire.

Ron P.


She just has a very different world view than you do.

Based on your screen name and past comments here, I am led to believe that you embrace a world view that is informed by the regnant interpretation of Darwin's writings.

She obviously has a very different concept of human nature than that, which informs a different world view.

DS, you are way off base here. The problem I had with the article was Carolyn Baker's equating "civilization" with "empire" and blaming the empire for our impending collapse. We had civilization a long time before empires existed and I hope some form of civilization emerges from the ashes of collapse; however I expect it to be a long time before empires rise again.

In fact I don't think any empire was the specific cause of the coming collapse. The problem is too many people consuming and destroying too much of our natural resources. We are destroying the world and the empire, as she calls it, or even civilization in general, is not to blame. Even our loss of spirituality has nothing to do with the impending collapse. How in the world could that cause it?

The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
- John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

I have no problem with Baker's spiritual references. I know many evolutionists who are quite spiritual as well. As I said above, you are way off base here. And by the way, I regard the term "Darwinian" as being synonymous with "evolutionist". I know of no evolutionist who is not a Darwinian. It is just science and nothing more.

As John Gray points out, it is our evolutionary success that is destroying the world. We are just too good at taking territory and resources from other species. But we are so myopic that we do not realize that by doing so we are destroying the very resource base that allowed our population to explode to such enormous proportions.

Ron P.

OK. And I am very familiar with Carloyn Baker
and her financial equivalent Catherine Austin Fitts and her
"Tapeworm Economy."

Name one Civilization that wasn't an Empire.

Name one Civilization that wasn't an Empire.

Are you serious? From dictionary.com;

em' pire 
–noun 1. a group of nations or peoples ruled over by an emperor, empress, or other powerful sovereign or government: usually a territory of greater extent than a kingdom, as the former British Empire, French Empire, Russian Empire, Byzantine Empire, or Roman Empire.

If empire meant the same thing as nation or tribe then we could use the words interchangeably. Obviously we cannot do that. There was never a Cherokee empire. They had many tribes and many chiefs. The same can be said about almost any other tribe. Name almost any nation, Ireland for instance, and it would be incorrect to call it an empire. However Carolyn Baker does not describe any nation or country as an empire, or as the empire. She describes civilization in general as empire. That is absurd. The words are not close to being synonymous.

But that is not the point! Carolyn Baker clearly blames "empire", (not the empire), for the impending collapse. Neither civilization nor empire is to blame. We are deep into overshoot and empire or civilization is not to blame. It is simply the nature of any species to multiply to the very limit of its existence. And due to our evolutionary success we are able to take territory and resources from other specie and multiply, for the moment, well above our long term carrying capacity.

Ron P.

Thank you.

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
—"Ozymandias," Percy Bysshe Shelley

I'll note that you did not give a definition for civilization.

And used the Cherokee as a substitute.

A tribe can be civilized, but a tribe does not make a civilization.

"But that is not the point! Carolyn Baker clearly blames "empire", (not the empire), for the impending collapse. Neither civilization nor empire is to blame."

"Or so the argument goes. It's an argument so ingrained both in our subconscious and in public discourse that it has assumed the status of objective reality. We think we are different. In fact, of course, all of those powerful societies of the past thought that they too were unique, right up to the moment of their collapse. It's sobering to consider the swift decline of the ancient Maya, who 1,200 years ago were themselves the most advanced society in the Western Hemisphere, and who, like us now, were then at the apex of their own power and numbers. Two excellent recent books, David Webster's The Fall of the Ancient Maya and Richardson Gill's The Great Maya Droughts, help bring the trajectory of Maya civilization back to life for us. Their studies illustrate how even sophisticated societies like that of the Maya (and ours) can be undermined by details of rainfall, farming methods, and motives of leaders."


The Last Americans
Environmental Collapse and the End of Civilization
JARED DIAMOND / Harper's Magazine Jun03

"First ask some ivory-tower academic ecologist who knows a lot about the environment but never reads a newspaper and has no interest in politics to list the overseas countries facing some of the worst problems of environmental stress, overpopulation, or both. The ecologist would answer, "That's a no-brainer, it's obvious. Your list of environmentally stressed or overpopulated countries should surely include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, and Somalia, plus others." Then ask a First World politician who knows nothing, and cares less, about the environment and population problems to list the world's worst trouble spots: countries where state government has already been overwhelmed and has collapsed, or is now at risk of collapsing, or has been wracked by recent civil wars; and countries that, as a result of their problems, are also creating problems for us rich First World countries, which may be deluged by illegal immigrants, or have to provide foreign aid to those countries, or may decide to provide them with military assistance to deal with rebellions and terrorists, or may even (God forbid) have to send in our own troops. The politician would answer, "That's a no-brainer, it's obvious. Your list of political trouble spots should surely include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, and Somalia, plus others."

The connection between the two lists is transparent."
-Jared Diamond

Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


"All these "emperors" were only people with great contributions or famous rulers of tribal unions. From the Bamboo Annals and Classic of History, their positions are known to have been attained by election by other chiefs in the tribal unions. When they die, their children may succeed the positions of the ruler of their own tribe, but not the position of the ruler of the tribal union. Their power is much less than the historical Chinese emperors, generally commencing with the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇), who coined a new term for "Emperor" (huangdi 皇帝) by combining the titles of "sovereign" (huang 皇) and "god-king" (di 帝) (which is homophonic with the name of the "Yellow Emperor", the first traditional emperor (黄 帝),) who had absolute power over the people."

First tribes, then agriculture, then civilization, then Empire.

That's my point. There have been approx 25 civilizations in
the Holocene. The 25 all became Empire. That's how they made the cut. you can correct me on this. ;}

Columbia Encyclopedia: civilization
Home > Library > Miscellaneous > Columbia Encyclopedia
civilization, culture with a relatively high degree of elaboration and technical development. The term civilization also designates that complex of cultural elements that first appeared in human history between 8,000 and 6,000 years ago. At that time, on the basis of agriculture, stock-raising, and metallurgy, intensive occupational specialization began to appear in the river valleys of SW Asia. Writing appeared, as well as urban centers that accommodated administrators, traders, and other specialists. The specific characteristics of civilization are: food production (plant and animal domestication), metallurgy, a high degree of occupational specialization, writing, and the growth of cities. Such characteristics originally emerged in several different parts of the prehistoric world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, the central Andes, and Mesoamerica. However, some civilizations did not have all of these characteristics (e.g., the Classic Maya had no metallurgy, and true writing apparently never emerged in central Mexico or the central Andes). Many anthropologists now focus on a political factor—the development of hierarchical administrative bureaucracies—as the critical characteristic of all civilizations.

Actually the Maya never did the empire thing. They got all beaurocratized and priestified, but as a collection of city states, not as an empire.

Also the Five Civilized Tribes, of which the Cherokee were one, never reached empires, although I suppose you could blame that on the Europeans cutting them off. However I've never heard of any of the previous North American civilizations -- Anasazi, Mound Builders, whoever getting past the city-state setup either.

"as a collection of city states, not as an empire."

Now that's a close call right there.

"By controlling their own food supply, agricultural societies are able to constantly increase the amount of food available to provide for the poor, the hungry, and the expansion of such a richly-fed society. This fuels a constant rise in population, which agricultural production rises to match, creating what Daniel Quinn called a “Food Race.”

Faced with the need to expand, agricultural societies have two options. Either the caloric output of their current fields can be increased, or new arable land can be procured."

"Now we have a workable definition of what civilization truly is. It has nothing to do with philosophy, art, music, religion, math, science, or technology–all of which are many times older than civilization. Rather, it is a complex of coercion, domination and terror that is the natural consequence of a marginal agricultural existence locked in an eternal “food race” against itself. Civilization is not about art; it is about control. It is not about philosophy; it is about obedience. It is not about science; it is about terror. It is not about technology; it is about coercion. It is inimical to human nature, and it is doomed from the start."


Great quote! I love this definition of equating civilizational dominance as winning the 'Food Race'. Afterall, job specialization [thus civilization] is only possible when a reliable food surplus can be procured from the land and/or sea.

Anthropik has some good information, it opened my eyes that civilization is a mixed bag rather then the best thing since sliced bread that school taught me. I do not though agree to all their views.

Just to put this somehwere what I have read about earlier disappeared civilizations before last big ice melts. For example in area south of India or what is now Indonesian archipelago there was a lot more land and reported high cultures who then fled to southern India and what is now China, Southeast Asia. So 30,000 years ago on land now underwater was the sea front with the best land and lots of cities and agriculture and trade. In more northern regions like China would have been like Siberia now and further north the huge ice caps. So we could pull our concept of civilizaio backwards a bit.

Of course once our civilization gets destroyed by current activities going back to primitive cave life (with 90-99% human depletion) seems somewhat likely until things stabilize. Then Siberia/Canada will be a likely retreat and the arctic coast.

The only limit on these theories is the proof which is of course underwater in Indian and other oceans and which lots of hobbyists and quacks alike make into a passion("Atlantis"). However if a global culture or at least regional cultures in isolation from one another, like Rome or China or Aztec/Maya existed 30,000 years ago then perhaps many things passed down to us from Hindu and Chinese and Babylonian cultures for example are much older than known and were the basis for a hi-tech other directed, harmony with energies/nature civilization. This is of course self serving new age BS but what the heck. I read enough of this stuff over the years and the "Empire meme" with the historical discussions of what is accepted as history and civilizational progress with invention of writing,etc. in Sumer linearly to our day gets to be a bore. Take a whole precessional cycle of 25000 years and conflate that with ice age cycles and evolution to get a constant astrological/ice age cycle with start to end of ice ages and various ages (pisces, aquarius, etc.) and rise and fall of empires and civilization over tens of thousands of years. This is just an attempt to stretch the whole thing out a bit more to include speculative unknown times in human prehistory, now seen as stone ages in colder European locales during possible higher civilizational times in what is now underwater. And perhaps that repeated itself with die offs and shifitng from north to south every ice age cycle. Only limit on that is how long people were people and in what form (evolution).


A recent show on pbs blamed the collapse of the maya to the development of total war between the city states instead of merely just occupying the looser.

Having no water is a good reason for war. But it seems doubtful it would take 150 years to decline in the presence of total war.

If anything, seems the use of total war was a symptom more than a cause.



Thank you for your response, and my apologies if I misinterpreted your comment.

And yes, I do read her comments as saying the U.S. is an empire, and American civilization is based on empire. But much more importantly she is saying that, as the American empire disintegrates, we have a choice. We can either embrace the Darwinian construct of human nature--that of "red in tooth and claw"--or we can use this as a time for a "kind of introspection in the face of collapse that is going to be crucial for all of us in order to navigate it emotionally and spiritually." She furthermore states that it is "equally vital and life-supporting is our involvement in community efforts such as Transition Town and relocalization groups which offer us the opportunity to take local action, develop deep connections, and delight in the healing energy of validation and support from our peers."

This is a very different path than that recommended by the survivalists and their every-man-for-himself attitude, or by those like Cheney and Bush whose only solution is the preservation the empire.

Well, that is not how I read the article. She never once mentions Darwin. And "Nature Red in Tooth and Claw" is definitely not a Darwinian construct, the term was coined by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ten years before Darwin published his Opus. But make no mistake, Darwinian principles will apply to the collapse. The fittest will survive. It could not possibly be otherwise.

I, long ago, advocated like groups forming communities for survival, with people of needed trades involved. That is like a blacksmith, a doctor, a cobbler and so on. But I also advocated that these groups be armed to the teeth. They will need to be or else they will not survive.

Oh, and she never mentions "The American Empire" or "The Empire, or any empire for that matter. She just uses the word "empire" instead of "civilization". Why? In my opinion, that is just silly.

Ron P.

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With raving, shriek'd against his creed

Again, my apologies if I misinterpreted your meaning. It's easy to get confused, because calling oneself "Darwinian" is about as definitive as calling oneself "Christian" or "Muslim." But I believe that there is a regnant or orthodox Darwinianism that exists in the U.S., and it is a belief system that forms part of the intellectual underpinning of empire (and of capitalism), and therefore is very much sheltered by the powers that be.

Here’s a panel discussion from a couple of years ago that helps explain the implications Darwin’s sexual selection theory has for society and politics, and also gives some insight into the bias and inquisitorial zeal the scientific community has exerted in defense of Darwinian orthodoxy. On the panel we have the biologist Joan Roughgarden, who is pitted against two leading lights of the atheist movement, Richard Hawkins and Sam Harris:

Excerpted comments by Roughgarden:

I think the status of Darwin in evolutionary biology at the moment is that of a prophet, and not of a hero. And I think that anyone who seriously finds fault with an element of Darwin’s writings that’s not some sort of trivial fact is inviting suicide that only tenure can protect you from.

One of the branches of Darwin’s writings, the branch that pertains to sex roles, called sexual selection theory I have concluded is entirely incorrect and on the wrong track. And so it provides us with, apart from the truth of that or not, it provides us with an interesting test case of the willingness of the scientific community to see someone challenged whom we hold at least in the status of a hero, and possibly in the status of a prophet.

The homogeneity of our peer group is definitely preventing us from laying on the table hypotheses about nature which have a good chance of being correct. Those hypotheses almost invariably involve cooperation rather than competition. They involve cooperation rather than selfishness. They emphasize the body rather than the gene, the body and teams rather than replicators. As we all know the sociology of science is not welcoming to hypotheses which really do differ from those that are taken as accepted. Basically the sociology and the peer review system and the grant awarding system rewards the generation of hypotheses that extend those held by the power centers.

If you do look at the science of gender and sexuality and biology it’s almost surely incorrect top to bottom... And the application to humans is of course particularly funny because the brain, the human brain is explained as the human equivalent of the peacock tail, which of course poses a problem for why women have brains because female peacocks don’t have a tail and so the existence of a male ornament in a female is problematic evolutionarily. So of course the answer is that females have brains to admire the brains of males...

Basically sexual selection theory is locker room bravado projected onto animals and then retreived from animals as though a fact of nature. So I invite you to see the extent to which there is bias and prejudice within science and that we as scientists as well as citizens have a lot to gain by fostering a dialogue between science and religion.

And then from the question and answer portion beginning at minute 52:05...

Question by Larry Hinman: It seems like one of the dangers in a discussion such as this, is that we compare the best of science with the worst of religion. And I’m concerned that some of that happened earlier today... I think some of the strongest force of Sam Haris’ comments this morning, at least to me, came about from his deep moral concern about the possible damage that this commitment to religion could have. But it seems as though science too, you’re pointing out in part the dark epistemic side perhaps, but it also has its own dark moral side. It would seem like any discussion of these would have to look at both dimensions in both religion and science.

Roughgarden: Well that’s actually the sense in which I’m concerned with the view of nature that’s implicit in the, or explicit in the sexual selection narative because it’s a view of social conflict as basic as human nature and as biological nature, and if that’s true, fine, so be it. But we haven’t had a class of hypotheses on the table to challenge that because to do so actually does unfortunately trace back to Darwin and it’s not I think socially acceptable to be skeptical of Darwin in that regard. But that’s what a lot of people are pointing out is that from this world view comes a sense of ethics, it informs ethics even if it’s not value in and of itself and I think we do have to worry about the moral implications of it, of scientific research.

Richard Dawkins: ...I don’t actually care wheter it fosters a locker-room mentality or whether it’s about conflict or cooperation. I care whether it’s true. And to take the particular example of the gene or the individual as the unit of selection, I don’t want to approach that question by saying what is best for human society, what gives the best moral lessons for humanity...

Roughgarden: ...The hypotheses that are generated have a history and a connection with power and so forth. So I agree with you that if nature is red tooth and claw, if that is the fact of the matter, fine. But has that actually been tested?


DS, thanks but no apologies needed. Perhaps it would have been better if I had called myself Evolutionist rather than Darwinian. Basically the two terms mean the same thing since there has been no other mode of evolution ever described rather than natural selection. It is just science and nothing else. Darwin's work is simply works of science. It is unfortunate that it opposes creationism but that is just the way it is.

One can rave against sexual selection but sexual selection determines who gets sex, and therefore who has the most offspring. Sexual selection is just natural selection, nothing more.

People misunderstand the terms "cooperation" and "competition" as far as natural selection goes. There is always cooperation within tribes, prides, packs, pods, or any other kind of gregarious animals. But there is likewise always competition among different tribes, packs or whatever one may call groups of gregarious animals. Of course within tribes or whatever, there is always pecking order competition. That is just the way it is and bitching about it will not change one damn thing. As Dawkins explained, none of this matters. All that matters is whether it is true or not.

Fifty five percent of Americans don't believe a damn word of it. Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution Europeans, on the other hand, are much more enlightened. So I understand where you are coming from DS. But it simply does not matter. As the Buddy Holly song goes "Rave On" but it will not change anything. Evolution is a fact and all the bitching in the world will not change that fact.

Ron Patterson

The Darwinists always trundle out the same old trusty weapon: label the enemy with the face of evil (by calling him or her a creationist) so that they don't have to counter the actual arguments of their opponent.

Well it looks as if Darwin’s adherents may have their hands full. A whole new front is being opened up by geneticists and biologists (the field from whence Roughgarden hails), as this just-published article in a leading scientific journal reports:

New work on lateral transfer shows that Darwin was wrong

A new study into the transfer of genetic material laterally, or across taxonomic divisions, has shown that evolution does not proceed as Darwin thought, and that in fact the present theory of evolution is entirely false...

Publishing in the Journal of Evolutionary Diversions, the major journal in the field, Professor Augustus P. Rillful and his colleagues of the paragenetics laboratory at the University of Münchhausen in Germany have shown experimentally that the ability of DNA to cross species boundaries at any distance makes the origin of species a solved problem, only it is solved in a way that Darwin never envisaged. This new theory, called Empedoclean Evolution, explains why novel traits can be found in many different taxonomic groups independently.


As I indicated above, probably of infinitely more polictical and social significance, however, are the implications the new findings have for Darwins’ theory of sexual selection. Biology has now apparently accomplished what mere appeals to morality could never achieve. This is definitely not a good day for the New Atheists, and Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman must be turning over in their graves:

The Empedoclean theory also removes the need for sexual selection as an explanation of such traits as the peacock's tail - these are unwanted side-effects of genes hopping across the boundaries of species, and even phyla or kingdoms, in which rather than being nonviable as most chance combinations are, some combinations can form species with a burden of less-than-optimal traits.


The cover story of this month’s issue of New Scientist helps fit all this into a larger framework, showing that by the early 1990s biologists and geneticists had already began to uncover evidence casting doubt on some of Darwin’s theories:

Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life

[A]s techniques became available to read DNA sequences and those of other biomolecules such as RNA and proteins, its pioneers came to believe that it would provide proof positive of Darwin's tree of life...

It started well. The first molecules to be sequenced were RNAs found in ribosomes, the cell's protein-making machines. In the 1970s, by comparing RNA sequences from various plants, animals and microorganisms, molecular biologists began to sketch the outlines of a tree...

By the mid-1980s there was great optimism that molecular techniques would finally reveal the universal tree of life in all its glory. Ironically, the opposite happened.

The problems began in the early 1990s when it became possible to sequence actual bacterial and archaeal genes rather than just RNA. Everybody expected these DNA sequences to confirm the RNA tree, and sometimes they did but, crucially, sometimes they did not. RNA, for example, might suggest that species A was more closely related to species B than species C, but a tree made from DNA would suggest the reverse.


Darwin's schema was incomplete. Genes hadn't been discovered yet, for cryin' out loud.

None of the emendations to Darwin's original theory in any way run counter to evolution - the new observations appreciate the complexity and subtlety of the situation.

The New Scientist headline was simply an attention-grabbing device. In any case, the modern synthesis that is the Theory of Evolution is NOT synonymous with "Darwinism", whatever Darwinian might say. A lot has been learned in 150 years.

In fact, when people refer to evolutionary biologists as "Darwinians", it is a clear sign that they are Creationists. And conflating Darwin, Ayn Rand, and Milton Friedman is a clear sign that someone doesn't know what they're talking about.

Atheists have no need to worry :-)

"In any case, the modern synthesis that is the Theory of Evolution is NOT synonymous with "Darwinism""

Then either Darwin was wrong, or the "modern synthesis" or both. I think I'll wait a bit before I will consider any of this theorizing to be Truth. After all, how can the play of random atoms together in one's brain have a claim to any Truth over other random plays of atoms in the Universe?

atoms? brains? Universe?

That's a crowded ontos for someone rejecting any absolute truth!

No, Darwin was incomplete. Shall I assume by your Manichean black and white thinking that you are a religious person?

It's not a random play of atoms in your brain. It is the result of evolution - it gets tested against the Real World.

You simply do not understand evolution if you think it's just "random play of atoms".

Ah, Manichean. I like that. Finally back to the Good and Evil question. And, yes, I am religious.

So, why would the play of the atoms in your brain (or mine, if you can still consider that possibility) have stood the test of the Real World? Or are you supposing that the Real World represents some Reason and Truth? But why could you even suppose that? If the Real World comes to you thru and is analyzed by the atoms in your brain, how can you know whether the Real World is the real thing or that the atoms in your brain are functioning correctly so that what the Real World appears to you is in fact so?

Now as to the remark that the atoms in my brain are not playing randomly, because as you say "they are the result of evolution", I would leave that pompous conclusion till I am convinced that the atoms in your brain have a better understanding, of the Real World, than in mine....

I ...AM...A...STRANGE...LOOP...

You win. Nobody knows anything. Everyone's conclusions and analyses are just as valid, useful, and congruent with reality as anyone else's.

I'd love to continue this conversation, but I have to head out now.

I don't think that "everyone' conclusions and analyses" are valid. Call it black and white thinking or whatever, but two opposite conclusions cannot be both true at the same time.

They are not opposite conclusions. One is a superset of the other.

I call it black and white thinking, simplistic logic chopping, or whatever.

Cogito ergo sum

Your argument is meaningless.

Theory of Evolution is NOT synonymous with "Darwinism", whatever Darwinian might say. A lot has been learned in 150 years.

Not so. Simply because a lot has been learned since Darwin does not mean that Darwin was wrong. Darwin got it exactly right. True a lot has been learned in the last 150 years, and this science is called neo-Darwinism. Darwinism has simply been explained on the molecular level. Of course Darwin never knew of DNA. He had no idea how variation, observed in the offspring of all animals, was transferred to the offspring of those possessing that variation. He guessed but could not possibly guess right as he had no knowledge of DNA.

To be a Darwinian is simply to accept the concept of evolution via natural selection and that gradual changes can lead to, after many generations, great changes in species.

Richard Dawkins calls himself a Darwinian. Watch this and find out why: Richard Dawkins: The Genius of Charles Darwin Dawkins explains that Darwin's idea was one of the simplest ideas that man ever had. Evolution via natural selection is stunningly simple. It all revolves around variation. Darwin did not know what caused variation but he sure knew what variation caused. Nature selects the variants that are helpful and rejects the variants that are harmful. That is Darwinism in a nutshell, basically it is nothing more.

Ron P.

"Darwin got it exactly right. --/-- He could not possibly guess right as he had no knowledge."

This is contradictory. Either he got it right or he didn't. If he was guessing (and in his books he says so over and over again) MY guess is that he would be the first to acknowledge that he had been wrong. But of course, we don't see many admitting that they had been wrong in the past, whether they be scientists of politicians, so it's hard to say what Darwin would have done.

"gradual changes can lead to, after many generations, great changes in species". I think nobody doubts that statement. The questions is for instance whether it did happen so that humans "after a great many changes" did come out of amoebes or whatever primitive creature. As that cannot be proven, we call it still "theory".

"Nature selects the variants that are helpful and rejects the variants that are harmful. That is Darwinism in a nutshell, basically it is nothing more."
Unless, Nature has some Supernatural selection powers, which I doubt you mean by "Nature selects" and, your definitions of "helpful" and "harmful" are just your projections of value on the matter and explain nothing because they explain everything. And it would presume that all "automatically" will get better. In other words Evolutionists believe that: Paradise lies before us, rather than behind us...

He got natural selection exactly right. He could not possibly know about DNA and he never wrote about DNA so he could not get that wrong. True he speculated on how heritable characteristics were passed on but he never took any firm position so he did not get it wrong. He simply admitted he did not know and that his speculations were exactly that.

Unless, Nature has some Supernatural selection powers, which I doubt you mean by "Nature selects" and, your definitions of "helpful" and "harmful" are just your projections of value on the matter and explain nothing because they explain everything. And it would presume that all "automatically" will get better. In other words Evolutionists believe that: Paradise lies before us, rather than behind us...

Nature selects is just another way of saying natural selection. Helpful and harmful should be self explanatory, however I will attempt to explain anyway. If an animal browsed on tree branches, then an animal born with a one inch longer neck than its parents would have a slight advantage, where an animal born with a one inch shorter neck would be at a disadvantage. The former is helpful and the latter is harmful. The longer necked animal will have a much better chance of survival. I could give thousands of other examples but that should be enough.

Evolutionists do not believe that things will automatically get better. They do believe that, in the long run, only the fittest survive. It is a struggle to survive and like the Red Queen, evolution must happen as fast as possible just to stay in the same place. Animals are no better than they were a million years ago, it is just that the species that survived became better at survival.

Matt Ridley wrote a great book on evolution, about having to run as fast as one can just to stay in the same place. The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature He clearly explains that nothing gets better, we stay in the same place.

I agree with Robert Wright however, and disagree with the late Stephen Jay Gould, in that I believe evolution is a non-zero proposition. At first there were only bacteria, then..... And if you believe the situation has improved since then, then things did get better. But it took many millions of years. But there was never anything automatic about it. With every species there were thousands of years, sometimes millions of years, when there were little if any changes at all.

Ron P.

At first there were only bacteria

If you believe that life started with bacteria then wouldn't you also believe that life was designed -- bacteria is an extremely complex life-form to have just appeared through a random terrestrial event -- quite impossible IMO.

He was just taking a multi-million(?) year shortcut as to where to begin.. bacteria are several steps into the process as well..

Of course, if some divine, complex, superintelligent entity did create all of this stuff, think about how long THAT GUY had to evolve to be ready to build something so intricate!


How long? Does time with a beginning or end even exist for that being? I would think not. It's ALL speculation.

All Speculation..You mean just like the Oil Price runup last summer!?

'It's ALL speculation' is a spectacular copout, and even then, not all speculation is created equal.

Some comes from careful observation of the world, evidence, debate and calculation. While some comes from intuition, fear, hope, cantankerousness.. and clubhouse bylaws.

No, I mean we don't have any evidence on how life began on this planet -- we have some WAGs and that is all. I don't disagree with the theory of evolution -- I just think it is possible (maybe even likely) that these natural selections fit a certain algorithm that has a math(rand) function built-in. DNA is just advanced computer code.

That would be the most logical guess.

An equally logical guess might be that some space aliens stopped on Earth a few billion years back, finding a big dead rock with some liquid water, took a big sh*t and left. The pile of sh*t contained some DNA and single celled bacteria, so now we see lots of bigger piles of sh*t called MAN. No need to include illogical guess work with invisible agents bending the laws of Nature on a regular basis, is there?

E. Swanson

As long as your theory includes whose sh*t the space aliens evolved from.

I agree with the space alien possibility. Why not? Because you haven't seen an alien in your "long" life.

What laws? The only laws I learn are man-made laws. We do not even understand the fabric of the Universe at this point. I find Einstein's theories to be illogical but yet firmly believe that if I moved at the speed of light, I would not age. So the current Theory of Everything uses 11 dimensions as opposed to just the Einsteinian four I cannot visualize already. And people think they have it all figured out when they understand nothing?

Perhaps we say things are random because we do not understand the pattern?

Of course we say things are random because of our ignorance-it pumps up the ego. Anything we don't comprehend is random. We say the toss of the dice is random and we don't even understand how to determine if the dice are loaded-we don't have the tools and don't know how to make them, so if someone mentions this we get very upset-in the old days we used to get upset with idiots that didn't accept that the world was flat.

"They do believe that, in the long run, only the fittest survive." I would think that to be better things: "fittest" is better than "fit" or "fitter" and "survive" is not a bad thing either. I am sometimes not sure however whether evolutionists realize how many individual would have to be sacrificed before the entire species comes up with specimens that are able to make the species survive.

Natural selection is circular reasoning in that it tries to answer the question "why do some survive" with "because they are the fittest", whereas the question "why they are they the fittest" is answered with "because they survive". That's why this theory doesn't explain anything, because it explains everything.

Whence came the designer?

Natural selection is circular reasoning in that it tries to answer the question "why do some survive" with "because they are the fittest"

Error 1: Should read "Because they are fit"

, whereas the question "why they are they the fittest" is answered with "because they survive".

Error 2: Should read "How do we know they were fit", "Because they survived to breed"

That's why this theory doesn't explain anything, because it explains everything.

And this bit is just crowing about how you have formed such a fine piece of illogic that nobody can possibly refute it. I'll admit, it is some kind of work.

See, you ask the wrong questions.
The religious never get past the toddler "why" stage of questioning. With them everything is "Why? Why? Why? Why?" and as any parent knows, eventually you reach a point where the answer to "Why?" is "Because that's the way it is."

You want answers to "Why?" out of evolution, and you aren't going to get them. Because the only answer is "Because that's the way things are." If you start asking "What?", "How?", and "Where?", then science can hold some mighty fine answers for you.

Natural selection is circular reasoning in that it tries to answer the question "why do some survive" with "because they are the fittest", whereas the question "why they are they the fittest" is answered with "because they survive". That's why this theory doesn't explain anything, because it explains everything.

That's not what fitness is, survival in itself isn't sufficient, an organism has to leave progeny, and they have to survive to leave progeny. With respect to propagating an organism's genes "fit" is "has lots of grandchildren". Fit or unfit is all about differential reproductive success, a mule is an excellent survivor, but unfit because it rarely leaves progeny. Then there's the local fitness landscape to consider, what has many grandchildren in one environment may have few, one or none in another.

You are flailing away at a position no one I know of holds, a strawman. If anyone holds that position today its a fringe position.

As that cannot be proven, we call it still "theory".


Regarding your statement above about evolution, some clarifications and some explanations are in order:

A scientific theory is the best explanation of all of the facts as we (scientists) know and understand them at the present time. As such, not every scientific theory can be "proven" mathematically, and some will never be proven mathematically. This may be especially true for theories in geology and astronomy, as those fields deal with great time spans, and great distances. Unless we build a time machine, we'll never see the Devonian Period as it happened, and until we build space machines far faster than what we currently have, we'll never get to visit other galaxies. So with geology, we use the fossil record and the principles of stratigraphy to "see" the Devonian Period, and with astronomy we use the Hubble Telescope and other devices to peer at far distant celestial objects.

Science and the scientific method doesn't proceed cafeteria style; you can't decide to have Einstein's Theory of Relativity and the Second Law of Thermodynamics (I'll have the soup and salad today), but to leave Darwin's Theory of Evolution behind (no dessert for me today, thank you).

Do you think that science and scientists got it right when it came to the basics of physics and chemistry, but not when it came to certain areas of biology and geology? That chemists and chemistry correctly explain how the gasoline in your car provides energy when combusted in the presence of oxygen, and that modern cellular biology correctly explains how the lipids that occur in most organisms are produced by metabolic processes while the organisms are alive, but that petroleum geology and paleobiology incorrectly explain how the lipids from many organisms that lived hundreds of millions of years ago became the petroleum from which that gasoline was refined? One reason that the oil industry hires so many geologists and paleontologists is that the theory of evolution and the older principles of stratigraphy, including the principle of faunal succession, have EXCELLENT predictive value in the ongoing search for oil and gas. One of the hallmarks of a scientific theory is that it does indeed have predictive value; I am quite confident that if the ideas of creationism and intelligent design were shown to be successful at finding oil and gas, you can bet that Exxon, BP, Shell, et al. would have a lot of creationists on their payroll, working diligently in the upstream end of the business, in the exploration and production groups. You can bet on that.

Evolution is a theory, not a hypothesis, and there is a big difference between those two terms. A hypothesis is merely an unproven idea or several ideas about some naturally occurring phenomenon (what it is, how it works, how it came to be, etc.), but a theory is - as stated above - the best explanation of the facts as we know them. Evolution by natural selection was an idea that Darwin and Alfred Wallace came up with based on decades of observation of living and fosill organism. Others have already pointed out in this thread today that Darwin (and Wallace) had no knowledge of genes and genetics. Not a problem, because even though Fact # 1 below is EXPLAINED today by our knowledge of genetics, it was still an observable fact to Darwin in his time.

Although I know less about Wallace's writings that I should, it is widely recognized that Darwin's idea as to how life forms evolved over time, and how new species form, was based on three facts know to him and to us, and two inferences based on those facts:

Fact # 1: All living things vary, and there is variability among all living organisms (even between identical twins)

Fact # 2: Populations of many living organisms tend to increase exponentially (dandelions in a field, locust swarms, etc., but not every organism, notably those with 1-2 offspring and long gestational periods, like elephants)

Fact # 3: In spite of Fact # 2, the populations of living organisms tend to remain constant over time (the population of Homo sapiens being a major exception in the past 300 years, but we are into overshoot and our population will come back to the norm eventually)

Inference # 1: Because Fact # 3 is true, there must be a struggle for existence among and between individuals and populations, and between living organisms and the abiotic environment, so that over time many individual organisms die, thus keeping populations in check (this struggle is evident when a plant dies in a drought, or when it gets outcompeted for sunlight and water and soil nutrients by a faster growing neighboring plant)

Inference # 2: In this struggle for existence, it is the fittest that will survive ("fittest" means whatever it has to mean, depending on the environmental circumstances; it might mean the biggest and strongest, or the smallest and fastest, or the best camouflaged)

We now recognize that rapid evolutionary advances occur after there is fairly rapid environmental change: a major rise or fall in sealevel, an Ice Age, an asteroid impact, an oxygenated atmosphere, for example. Many extinctions occur when the change occurs, and those extinctions open up much new and vacant habitat on land, in the air, and in the oceans, and then over time, the surviving life forms slowly move into those vacant habitats, and as populations become isolated from each other, random genetic mutations express themselves, and the descendents of the initial pioneers slowly change over time.

So to wrap this up: Whether organized religions, or any organized or unorganized groups or individuals accept the science of evolution or not JUST DOESN'T MATTER, as Darwinian has said in many posts this year. This is the way that scientists see the living world around us today, and how we see the changes in life through time via study of the fossil record, be it an evolutionary biologist studying how life in a river changes over time today, or a paleontologist studying how ammonites changed over time, or a microbiologist working in a lab today to find an antibiotic that can be successfully used to treat occurrences among human populations of drug-resistant strains of staph, TB, and the like.

Get an Ecology textbook and read it. Get a Stratigraphy textbook and read it. Get a Paleontology textbook and read it. Then think about all the accumulated knowledge and information in those books. Reflect on with an open mind. Get out and observe and ponder the world around you. Think very hard about why you have no problem with science when it (and its partner, technology) makes your life better (gas for your car), but why you don't like it when science comes to a conclusion that is counter to a strongly held belief system that you favor (humans were divinely created, as one possible example).

Interesting essay-you appear to be well read in this area. However, it is not evident from your summary whether or not you feel that evolutionary change is directed or random. It does appear that you took great pains to avoid this topic-you are probably aware that for the religous minded (not myself) this is of utmost importance. I am sure you are aware that nothing you wrote contradicts purposeful evolution.

That is because nothing can.

Sorry, you put quite a bit of work into your post. Nevertheless it's boring. Because you do recognize that "theory" is speculation and some might never be proven, whereas on the other hand you try to wrap it everything up under the name "science" and then together with the proven stuff such as "my car runs on gas" I have to swallow it all and accept it. Hey, that was easy, wasn't it? (And to talk about "WE" and "THE" scientists doesn't make it any better.)

Of course I fear with you that, whether some believe the allegations of science (including your non-proven theories) yes or not, will not change that kind of science you speak of. The problem is that you posit that Science is right, and therefore we have to bow before her. And that sounds (to me) like the religion you tend to ridicule.

Nobody is making you bow, Willem. Science may have it's blindspots, but it also has mechanisms for correcting errors, as does evolution. Ideas have to prove their fitness, just as organisms do.

I'm not anti religious, but I am well aware of the slippery way that dogmatic and obstinate arguments can willfully ignore the work that responsible scientists and people of faith have done to build and check their knowledge.

Nice Detour, today.

Ah, the meme theory right? Somehow random stuff (whether ideas or genes) gets all straigthened out: the bad (or "harmful") stuff gets discarded and the better stuff survives.

But sorry, that "somehow" sounds like a myth to me. Not only that, that same "somehow" seems not to be able to clear the minds of gloom and impending doom for many here on TOD.

Why would doomers' minds be cleared of negative prognoses? ..just because you see their views as 'bad'? or that they see a 'bad' moon rising? That doesn't apply to the theory, even within my loose metaphor of the scientific selecting out of unsupportable ideas. Frankly, the process RELIES on the regular reintroduction of a spectrum of hypotheses, some inevitably faulty, and these are then subjected to challenges in order to see if they can survive. While of course, TOD conversation is not built within the Science Community's crucible of Peer Review, so that particular systemic correction doesn't apply here. But doomers seem to be quite fit in this context, and they might have survival advantages, too. Time will tell.

The only 'bad' in a Darwinian fitness scenario is something which compromises their chance to survive and reproduce. Even then, there are still going to be less-fit individuals around, just as there are less-fit ideas that will clearly try to persist and flourish, since it is quite possible to evade the Reaper of Peer-review for a great, long time.

You decide it can be boiled down to 'Somehow'.. which suggests that your own vagueness about the process also holds the science to that level of understanding.. but of course it doesn't.

Why don't you understand? I said that the bad (or harmful) stuff doesn't make it. So, somehow the "better" stuff does. Better in this case (and I said so) is not absolute in Darwinian terms: it is only that which survives better. (hence the circular reasoning of the darwinians and which you exhibit here as well, that what survives better, survives because it is better at surviving).

But what eluded you is that "gloom and doom" is just that because it implies the end of survival. And since that sentiment so prevalent here on TOD is not compatible with "the better survive, because they are better at surviving theory", I was just wondering whether there might not be something wrong with the "somehow". But of course this must sound to you as well below a "peer argument". For you, your peers are probably on a much more lofty level.

The reasoning only seems circular to you because your questioning is circular.

If you insist that every step in the process must have a purpose and that that purpose must be described for the theory to be complete, then you are doomed to disappointment.

Personally, I believe humanity is fit enough to survive oil depletion. I do not believe that it is the "deal breaker" that the doomer crowd believes it to be, but then again I live in a country that grew to it's current extent on sail, trail, and rail. Cars, trucks, and roads are latecomers to the game.

"The reasoning only seems circular to you because your questioning is circular.

If you insist that every step in the process must have a purpose and that that purpose must be described for the theory to be complete, then you are doomed to disappointment."

Survival is the purpose. It's built in the darwinian argument "in every step in the process".

By the way, the "survival of the fittest" meme, is also misleading in that the more primitive organisms from which the higher ones evolved did indeed very much survive for the most part. If survival-of-the-fittest would be the mecanism by which higher life forms came to be, then the question is why there isn't an abundance of all the other intermediary steps (forms). And if we don't have the "originals" anymore (perhaps having evolved in other directions) what is then the basis of speaking of "common ancestry" and what not. For example, it is being said that humans descend from apes. But no specific ape species in particular can be pointed to, but some imaginary one that of course conveniently no longer exists nor has been found as remains. Because if say we did descend from the Gorillas then why did the one intermediate species that "survived" the Gorillas no longer survive? So, it seems when we come to hard facts they are not there.

If my reasoning is circular, I would like you to tell me why exactly.

Survival is the purpose of life. Evolution happens because of that. We are the end result of countless billions of life forms ahead of us clawing, scraping, fighting, loving, and doing their best to survive and breed. My belief is that the creationist creed of a grand designer disrespects that towering achievement of all our forebears in that struggle.

You say that humans descended from apes, yet no evolutionary scientist I have read makes that claim. Apes are our evolutionary cousins, not forebears. The best evidence points to a division between humans and apes millions of years ago. Fossil evidence shows many species that lived and died to make humans, gorillas, and chimpanzees what we are today.

You are arguing from ignorance, and that can only persuade those who are also ignorant.

"no evolutionary scientist I have read makes that claim". Well then you should read Darwin's Descent of Man where he writes:

"If the anthropomorphous apes be admitted to form a natural sub-group, then as man agrees with them, not only in all those characters which he possesses in common with the whole Catarhine group, but in other peculiar characters, such as the absence of a tail and of callosities and in general appearance, we may infer that some ancient member of the anthropomorphous sub-group gave birth to man."

Thus, I can only conclude that you are the ignorant one in this respect.

Reading comprehension fail, Mr. Verkerk.

He specifically states in the quoted paragraph that we are descended from a distant common ancester. Humanity is no more descended from any living group of apes than you are descended from Gordon Brown.

"we may infer that some ancient member of the anthropomorphous sub-group gave birth to man"
Common descent, not direct descent.

I am absolutely appalled that you would read so poorly:

"If the anthropomorphous apes be admitted to form a natural sub-group, then as man agrees with them, not only in all those characters which he possesses in common with the whole Catarhine group, but in other peculiar characters, such as the absence of a tail and of callosities and in general appearance, we may infer that some ancient member of the anthropomorphous sub-group gave birth to man."

Could your poor reading skills be the reason for your ignorance?

Keyword: ancient.
Not current.

Gorillas and chimpanzees are current members of the anthropomorphous ape sub-group, as highly evolved in their own ways as humans are in ours (tip: don't try to arm-wrestle a chimp half your size, if you are lucky they might give you your arm back afterwards).

You assert we are descended from gorillas.
I stated that that concept is as ridiculous as you being descended from PM Gordon Brown.
You say that a paragraph referring to ancient common ancestry proves your point.
I claim shenanigans.

"You assert we are descended from gorillas." My goodness: read. Take your time. Because I never said or asserted anything like that.

And "the anthromorphous apes" include the Gorillas as you say yourself. They already did so too in Darwin's time....

That, in that group there was some mysterious ancient member that gave birth to man, doesn't matter one bit: the entire group were apes. Why would it make you uncomfortable that humans descended from the apes?

But if you are still doubting the fact that at least some evolutionists claim that man descended from the apes, here is some more stuff. But promise that you try to read well....

LAMARCK was the first to formulate the scientific theory of the natural origin of all organisms, including man, and at the same time to draw the two ultimate inferences from this theory firstly, the doctrine of the origin of the most ancient organisms through spontaneous generation; and secondly, the descent of man from the mammal most closely resembling man - the ape.
-- ERNST HAECKEL, Evolution Of Man, Vol. I, p 85.

ACCORDING to his whole organization man is undoubtedly primarily, a member of but a single tribe, that of Vertebrates; second, he is a member of but a single class, that, of mammals; and, thirdly, a member of but a single order, that of the apes.
--ERNST HAECKEL, Evolution Of Man, Vol. II, p. 440.

A CENTURY of anatomical research brings us back to [Linnaeus'] conclusion, that man is a member of the same order ... as the apes and the lemurs.
--THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY Man's Place in Nature, P. 145.

THERE can, consequently, hardly be a doubt that man is, an off-shoot of the Old World simian stem ... the Simiadae then branched off into two great stems, the New World and Old World monkeys and from the latter, at a remote period, Man, the wonder and glory of the universe, proceeded.
-- CHARLES DARWIN, Descent of Man, ChapterVI, p. 181.

IT is pretty well agreed that the anthropoid apes and man come from a common ancestor, and he in turn from some primitive, broad-nosed ape.
--H. B. Ferris, Anatomical Laboratory, Sterling School of Medicine, Yale University, (in a letter to the author).

WE have in this not only a proof of the literal blood-relationship between man and apes, but the degree of relationship with the different main groups of apes can be determined beyond possibility of mistake.
-- GUSTAVE SCHWALBE, Darwinism and Modern Science, (Quoted by Arthur Thomson, in What is Man? p. 10).

ALL the evidence now at our disposal supports the conclusion that man has arisen, as Lamarck and Darwin suspected, from an anthropoid ape not higher in the zoological scale than a chimpanzee.
--SIR ARTHUR KEITH, Presidential address, British Association, Leeds, 1927.

THAT man is merely a modified monkey has come to be fully recognized not only by anatomists and physiologists, but also by psychologists and lately even by some sociologists ...The average layman of today possesses hardly more interest in or knowledge of his simian cousins than did Gilbert and Sullivan, who stated some time ago: "Man, however well behaved, at best is but a monkey shaved".
-- ADOLPH H. SCHULTZ, The Scientific Monthly, May, 1943.

ACCORDING to the viewpoint held by Wilder, Schwalbe, Keith, Elliot Smith, Sonntag, Tilney and many other recent investigators, including, the present writer, the existing anthropoids and man are merely divergent branches of a primitive anthropoid stock, exactly as held by Darwin. To deny at this date or to seek to minimize the importance of man's close relationship with the chimpanzee-gorilla stock, is to shut one's eyes to a vast accumulation of well tested facts.
--WILLIAM R, GREGORY, Did Man Originate in Central Asia?

IN spite of not infrequent attempts to disprove man's kinship with the apes, recent research in anatomy, embryology and comparative pathology, as well as the conclusive tests of blood relationship, has definitely established the fact of man's close kinship with the anthropoid apes, and especially with the gorilla.
G. ELLIOT SMITH, Article "Anthropology," Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 30, p. 143.

I STILL believe that man's stock separated from the large anthropoid ape trunk in the Miocene.
--EARNEST A. HOOTON, Apes, Men, and Morons, p 50.

WERE a hypothetical "man from Mars"to visit the earth and write a natural history of the animals of this planet, he would undoubtedly lump man with the higher apes and distinguish him from his simian relatives by a lesser degree of stupidity and the habit of walking erect on the hind legs.
--ALFRED S. ROMER, Professor of Zoology, Harvard University.

Wow. That is the most impressive appeal to authority I've seen in a while.

I did misread the post where I thought you asserted that man was descended from gorillas.

It's a back-and-up to the common ancestor, traced by the fossil record and genetic analysis.

Thank you for backing up my case so well.

Thanks. Glad that I could clear up some of your ignorance. Now, in the future: read well.

Back to this question then: why are the ones we (or any species) we came from, never there? (only in the mysterious world of imagination). Like the mysterious ancestor of humans being an anthropomorphous ape? This anthropomorphous ape must have successfully survived at some point but then mysteriously didn't make it somehow and it's remains are sorely missing (that's why nobody never knows who it was) while other anthropomorphous apes are still with us today.

Time passes.

My great-grandfathers aren't around for comment, neither are the species that humanity itself evolved from. We find their bones from time to time, and the science of genetics has made great leaps in tracking the changes in genomes over time. We have a pretty good map of what our ancestry looks like over millions of years.

I fail to see what is so "mysterious" about any of that apart from your assertion that it is.

Why are you so uncomfortable sharing an ancestor with the mighty orangutan?

"neither are the species that humanity itself evolved from. We find their bones from time to time"

Where are those bones of THE direct ancestors of the humans?

"We have a pretty good map of what our ancestry looks like over millions of years."

You have "a pretty good map" or what you think is a pretty good map of human ancestry? Why do you think it is "pretty good" or how where you able to compare it to the real situation?

How good is good enough?

For people whose religious beliefs demand that man not be an animal, that we be a "special case" in creation, there is no map that is good enough. If I could enumerate my ancestry, human and bestial, by name back to the Jurassic with notarized documentation and photographs it would not be sufficient.

For me? I don't use it in my job, the people who do find it useful. That's good enough for me.

I see. Just aping the others, I guess.


Where are those bones of THE direct ancestors of the humans?

Probably similar to these. You really can't tell the difference between ancestors and close cousins of ancestors.


Thanks for confirming my point. What makes you think they're close cousins? I'm afraid you have no evidence for that. Only speculation.

I never said I thought they were close cousins. So which are plausible human ancestors and which are not?

I think you have answered your own question: you can't tell who was the human ancestor. "Plausible" means that you don't know really. And on an on the story goes....

I think you have answered your own question:

Not quite. We don't have to know everything to know something. If they are not plausible ancestors surely you can give some reasoning as to why they are not. Simply claiming that we can't know and refusing to confront the evidence is epistemological nihilism. Speciman M for instance, is there some reason that will withstand some scrutiny it cannot be a human ancestor? You stated elsewhere in this DrumBeat that you disagree that empirical evidence contradicts your belief so surely you can give us a reason other than "we can't know" as to why these cannot be human ancestors. If not, it would be more correct to say empirical evidence just isn't considered in your belief rather than it doesn't contradict it.

Can you say that Speciman M is THE human ancestor? As long as you say "plausible" there is no "evidence". That is not epistemological nihilism at all. Epistemology tells me that there are humans and that there is the picture of skulls. It does not tell me that one of these skulls is the ancestor of the humans.

Evolution theory posits that the humans came from an ancestor, that was therefore not a human (yet). But nobody can prove ("show the evidence") that a certain animal was THE ancestor of the humans. Therefore it is still theory. And the transition case of the humans is just one case of innumerable other ones that have the same problem. Why still believe the theory then?

You're perfectly entitled to believe that a certain skull was the ancestor of the humans. But that is "belief" and you cannot prove it is.

Silly creationist, arguing that nothing can be known with absolute certainty therefore evolution can not be true.

You realize that the exact same argument shows your position to be even less likely?

I would suggest to you that you read. Because apparently you don't.

You misrepresent evolutionary theory, whether due to ignorance or malice is a matter for interpretation.

That there be "an" ancestor of humanity is but one of the misrepresentations you make. Evolution happens to populations, not individuals. If an Individual should happen to find themselves a member of a new species all at once by virtue of a dramatic mutation, the lifespan of the new species is limited to the lifespan of the individual.

Evolution theory posits that the humans came from an ancestor, that was therefore not a human (yet). But nobody can prove ("show the evidence") that a certain animal was THE ancestor of the humans.

There are people who have an evolutionary theory that states this. It is not a mainstream theory and has such obvious flaws even you can see them.

Even in Genesis God has to make a second human, because one human does not humanity make.

Frankly, I have taken to a more careful reading of your "arguments" since I decided to keep following this thread, but I cannot say I have gained anything by it but a deeper appreciation for the language of obfuscation and distortion.

"You misrepresent evolutionary theory". Ah, we have now come to the interpretations haven't we? Of course you may belong to one of the denominations of your belief system, and may therefore not agree with all the others evolutionaries. I understand.... Or, please tell me what "evolutionary theory" is according to you?

"Evolution happens to populations, not individuals"
Well, if it happens to populations, it for sure happens to individuals.... Think a little.

"the lifespan of the new species is limited to the lifespan of the individual." There you go: if the fittest doesn't survive, he wasn't the fittest in the first place. Or if you will: if the fittest didn't survive, they were not the fittest in the first place.

As far as "obfuscation" goes. Have you never wondered why the "common ancestors" conveniently ("push back those dates a little further") never can be found?

Believe what you want.

You are right, evolution as you apparently understand it is impossible. Ludicrous even.

And yet, I and many other people accept evolution as a proven fact and seem immune to any attempts you may make to convince us to the contrary.

Perhaps you aren't addressing the evidence and logic that convinced us in the first place?

"Perhaps you aren't addressing the evidence and logic that convinced us in the first place?"

What evidence? What logic? Please do tell what convinces you of anything, perhaps apart from being anti-religious.

Evolutionary change has been observed in living populations, up to species differentiation.

Genetic and morphological observation of living and extinct populations indicates particular patterns of relationship and rates of mutation that can, and do, result in traceable and thereby knowable evolutionary patterns.

Humans are animals, gifted animals but animals nonetheless.

Therefore, evolution observed in animals must also apply to humans.

Any anti-religious sentiment follows from people representing their religious beliefs getting their panties in a bunch when confronted by this. As if God could not possibly be subtle enough to come up with such an elegant mechanism.

"Evolutionary change has been observed in living populations, up to species differentiation."

This is statement. Not evidence per se. But a start. "Evolutionary change" What do you mean by that? No one doubts that there are changes: cows giving more milk, insects resistant to chemicals, etc, etc... So, you can say that they became different: different cows, different insects. But that doesn't explain nor has it been observed (I think) that cows came from another ancestor that was not a bovine, or that flies came from another ancestor that was not a diptere. So, how do you "observe" that kind of change?

"Genetic and morphological observation of living and extinct populations indicates particular patterns of relationship and rates of mutation that can, and do, result in traceable and thereby knowable evolutionary patterns."

What do you mean by "evolutionary patterns"? (see above question). What do you mean by "relationship"? How does having the morphological trait of having a tail or not establish relationship? Or how does the presence of a (or if not one, what is the required number) particular gene establish relationship? What do you mean by "traceable"? Give me evidence of the trace of the humans, back to wherever.

Apparently you're citing this stuff from some textbook or what not. I doubt whether you can formulate the evidence I am looking for.

And to say: "humans are animals, therefore evolution observed in animals must apply to humans", is not very scientific, and not logical at all. You postulate that humans are animals. Prove it. You postulate that evolution is being observed: prove it. In addition for your "therefore" to work, you must prove that it applies to all animals. You've got a long ways to go.....

I thought you were done with me days ago?

The fact is, you know (because I told you) that I am not a professional evolutionary biologist.

At some point I have to agree to take the word of the people who are actually doing the work in the field that this is what they are seeing, so you are correct in that it is book learning.

You might try starting with the articles on evolution, biology, and ecology on www.sciam.com as they are written at a level that is accessible to the educated layman.

But you won't. You are demonstrating with the rhetorical treatment above (questioning every word) that you are not interested in enlightenment. You are displaying a legalistic dissection of a straightforward argument with the obvious intent of distraction.

If I had actually used the word, I would not have been surprised to see you questioning what the meaning of "is" is.

You mention just one fact?

By the way, that website still lists the old story (makes you wonder why they always come up with that one) of the peppered moth as evidence for evolution. It is not. Even if you breed out certain traits, it doesn't make a new species, let alone a new genus, a new family, new order, etc...
And the white moths did return.... mysteriously, not really:

"In recent years, the burning of cleaner fuels and the advent of Clean Air laws has changed the countryside even in industrial areas, and the sootiness that prevailed during the 19th century is all but gone from urban England. Coincidentally, the prevalance of the carbonaria form has declined dramatically. In fact, some biologists suggest that the dark forms will be all but extinct within a few decades."

Adaptation, as in Darwin's finches, does not make a new species, etc... A dog is still a dog, whether a Lab or Chihuahua. Negros and Whites are still humans. (I hope you don't think otherwise).

You have not researched the evidence for evolution, yet, you tell others to do it. I have not found that any evidence exists for the evolution of unicellulars all the way to humans. My assumption is that I will die without ever seeing that evidence. It is quite funny for someone who believes in evolution that you accuse me of "not being interested in enlightenment" when I press you for precise evidence. And thus you become quite dogmatic about it, or you don't know what argumentation is.

You would be amusing if you weren't so obviously serious.

I could point you directly and explicitly to every article on evolution, biology, and ecology that I have read over the past decades and you would make the same objections.

The case of the English moths is quite an interesting one, in that it is an early study looking for current environmental effects. Species differentiation did not happen in that case, for whatever reason, but it informed techniques to be used in later studies.

Try this handy reference for some examples of more recent research (though not the latest word):


And of course I addressed only one fact. I mean, you even asked me to prove that humans are animals. I've seen the inside of an animal, I've seen the inside of a human, they are the same.

Edit: Of course Scientific American still lists the old article on the moths. There's lots of scientific studies that have been discredited by one means or another over the years. They still need to remain a matter of record so that people can see them and avoid the same mistakes.

"you would make the same objections". Probably, yes. Because I have never seen the evidence of an animal becoming human....

The english moths didn't prove anything that we didn't already know as far as adaptation goes.

And these examples are instances of or induced, (not naturally occurring) or mutants (within a superspecies (polyploid forms)) or pure hypotheses where the original species that didn't change still keeps on living happily ever after: they are perfectly fit to survive.
By the way, the whole "speciation" debate is a specious one where the boundaries are being reviewed on a continuous basis (see how the definitions changed to accomodate the theory!). It's like playing a game and changing the rules at each turn. Look, (re. the genetic argument) nowadays we can find genes (a certain group of molecules strung together in a particular sequence) that are the same in different species and orders. We can even implant from one into the other! How would you argue which came from what? That similar things (the morphological argument) occur in different species (or families or orders) doesn't establish that one came from the other. Look at things like eyes and tongues and legs, etc... you can find them in a wide variety of animals, but it doesn't mean they are related or have to share a common ancestor. That you can imagine something like that could come from a same ancestor, doesn't prove at all that it is so.

You must have noticed that we still don't have any evidence of so-called missing intermediary links where one species gradually evolved into a complete different species. I am sure they're still looking frantically, same as they are listening in the universe for other life forms. What a waste of resources.

Seeing the inside of an animal and seeing the inside of human makes them the same?!? Maybe you didn't look close enough?

And the one fact I referred to, was that you were no biologist. Read!

You are obviously no biologist either, but I at least have taken an interest in biological research that has occurred since 1900.

Frankly if you will not even accept the fundament of modern medicine, that man is indeed an animal, then you are hardly qualified to be making any assertions regarding the veracity of evolutionary theory which has advanced considerably over the past century.

Simply shouting "You are wrong" and "prove it" repeatedly does not an argument make, and I have treated this discussion with far more seriousness than it deserves.


"the fundament of modern medicine, that man is indeed an animal"

Wow, you come up with the momentous statements! What makes you say this? Why do we still have Doctors AND Veterinarians? Or maybe you see a vet when you're sick?

The veracity of the evolution theory is indeed at stake, because it fails on quite a number or points: internal contradictions, fallible logic, faulty premises, non-reproducibility, presuppostions and on and on and on. Now, some of the stuff they claim, could be true. You believe it or you don't. As a general concept, I don't.

After 200 years, it is still very much an hypothesis. And I predict, but that's just me, that in the next 10 or 20 years increased insights in the internal mechanisms of cells (fortunately some pure science is still being done), will make it look even more unlikely that humans ever descended from apes, let alone from some slippery mollusque. All the crowing of chimps having 98% of the DNA of humans is muted more and more as to what that really means. Otherwise prove it to yourself and buy that DNA kit....

Of course any alternative might be hard to believe as well. But that depends on your internal motivation: whether you want to or not....

Ok, I am done once again here. You probably won't hear from me for a while as I need to do some traveling.

Ok, I am done once again here. You probably won't hear from me for a while as I need to do some traveling.

Wonderful! Hopefully when you return you will be a little (how can I put this?) happier.

May your travels be trouble free.

Perhaps we shall meet again on a more suitable forum and be able to honestly discuss the more fundamental disagreement we share. Evolution is naught but a filter for that one.

After 200 years, it is still very much an hypothesis. And I predict, but that's just me, that in the next 10 or 20 years increased insights in the internal mechanisms of cells (fortunately some pure science is still being done), will make it look even more unlikely that humans ever descended from apes, let alone from some slippery mollusque.

A common prediction.


Your patience and stamina for this is amazing.

Speciman M for instance, is there some reason that will withstand some scrutiny it cannot be a human ancestor?

Can you say that Speciman M is THE human ancestor? As long as you say "plausible" there is no "evidence".

Specimen M is human, H. sapiens, but you don't seem to have recognized that.

We don't have to be able to identify ancestors to get some information from the dataset. If evolution has not occurred, then none of the specimens would be transitional. Thus it should be trivial to identify each of them as non-human or human. You seem confident that evolution has not occurred, can you classify them? If empirical data supports your belief it should be no problem.

Therefore it is still theory. And the transition case of the humans is just one case of innumerable other ones that have the same problem. Why still believe the theory then?

So is atomic theory, quantum theory, and the germ theory of disease. Much (possible most) of science is theory. A theory in science is not the same usage of the word in layman's language that roughly equates to guess. Evolutionary theory explains faunal and floral succession in the the fossil record, it explains why life forms a natural nested hierarchy, why some marsupials are born with an egg tooth, why different species have shared errors and genetic intrusions, why humans have an muscle for flexing opposable toes, why we get goose bumps even though they are useless, why if gibbons and humans have a broken vitamin C gene that you would expect a gorilla and chimp to have the same broken gene. Naysayers haven't come close to explaining datapoints like the above, and when confronted with them really don't seem to have a clue what it is they should be explaining.

Signed, dated, notarized documentation with photographs of me standing next to them as a kid wouldn't be enough for you.

You have clearly demonstrated that to believe that they could be would break your brain.

How many times do you have to be proven wrong before you give it up?

From your own BOLDING: "Some ancient member".

Only one time....

Arguing with staunch Creationists like Willem Verkerk is an exercise in futility. He has already come to his religious dogma-dictated conclusions, and is in no way interested in an actual dialog (exchange of information).

It's a one-way street: your scientific theories and empirical evidence contradict my faith-based mythology, therefore, your scientific theories and empirical evidence are wrong. In fact, they are Heresy, and you and your ilk must be beaten into submission with religious orthodoxy. Since I cannot do this by force (thanks to that annoying First Amendment), I will try to accomplish it through logic chopping, straw man arguments, selective interpretation of quotes, and substituting my own flawed assumptions for facts.

"empirical evidence contradict my faith-based mythology". In my case: I disagree.

You might want to remember that what Darwin called inferences are not facts. At least that guy was pretty clear on that it seems.

Yeah, "that guy" was pretty clear, and that guy was me.

I've followed this thread off and on through last night and today, Willem, and it is obvious that no attempts at a rational explanation, from me or other TODers, will sway you from your beliefs about how living organisms change through time. I go to church from time to time, I enjoy the stories I hear there, I think about what is said, and wonder what if there might be some truth to these beliefs, but as a scientist I know that there is no way of proving or disproving those beliefs. You ought to do the same with areas of science that cause you the most discomfort.

I noted that your list of quotes about human having evolved from apes is weighted heavily toward articles or books that were published decades ago, and I have no idea of the dates of those letters you cited such as the one from the Yalie Med School professor. So I'll say once more: why don't you spend some time catching up on your reading and buy a 21st Century evolutionary biology textbook. Science texts, unlike Latin texts, change greatly over time. What might have been the prevailing idea 50 years ago regarding Darwinian evolution might no longer be such, because of advances in evolutionary biology and other sciences. Science changes as new evidence comes to light, and the lag time for textbooks to incorporate new theories - note that I didn't say new hypotheses - is generally only a couple of years. Some quotes from the 1940s might still be vailid according to prevailing scientific paradigms, and some will not.

But the changes and advances in evolutionary biology in particular seem to be of little concern to you and other Creationists. Instead, you steadfastly quote lines from the publications of eminent scientists who did their best work before DNA was identified, before plate tectonics was a theory, and before widespread recognition of how rapidly - and WHY - insects become resistant to insecticides, and pathogenic microbes become resistant to antibiotics.

Science is not limited to a body of mathematically provable facts, but many of us have already spent a lot of time in the past 30 hours or so on this thread attempting to educate you as to what science is, yet you are having none of it, so in a moment I'll be moving on to another thread, and then to looking at a few more thin sections of Pennsylvanian core from the subsurface of New Mexico (the search for oil and gas goes on in spite of all these interesting diversions).

Oh and by the way, those two inferences that Darwin made just happen to also be inferences that many open-minded, rationally thinking human beings have made since that time. And because you are fond of citing eminent scientists from past decades and centuries, here's a comment, by none other than Thomas Huxley, which was directed toward those two inferences:

his reaction to reading the Origin of Species was "How stupid of me not to have thought of that."


Have a great day in your world, where I hope the sky is blue. In my world, porosity is blue.

Your first sentence implies that you are the spirit of Darwin (“that guy”)???

Yes, “church stuff” i.e. faith goes beyond the natural sphere and can therefore not be the object of science. Therefore, indeed, science cannot as you say “prove of disprove” those beliefs that involve things that are beyond the natural. These metaphysical things although not the object of science, can be highly interesting and meaningful. They are real, not in the empirical sense, but as feelings, reason, beliefs, etc..

Karl Popper said: “The choice for rationality can not be based on rationality” (otherwise you have a circular reasoning). Everybody has a certain irrational baggage that he brings with him when he studies phenomena. Thomas Kuhn said that the choice for scientific theories is determined by culture, faith, politics, economy, etc… In other words, there is always an irrational element that influences one’s rational observation. Kuhn also said that Normal science (science according to the Norm) functions within an accepted paradigm that reigns for the time being and that paradigm confers stability and harmony within the scientific community until a scientific revolution comes about and a new paradigm is accepted. (ex. Einstein vs Newton). Thus it is clear that a paradigm does not provide absolute Truth, but provides a meaningful and collective vision of Reality for the time being, until a crisis comes about and a paradigm shift takes place. However, many scientists do consider that their paradigm is the Truth and thus they are very dogmatic about it. Feierabend said: “science is the most recent, most aggressive, most dogmatic religious institution.”
It is therefore widely accepted among science philosophers that science is not a neutral objective activity, but a subjective one. An important proof of this human element in the paradigm framework is that the scientific community is a fairly close-knit club. In order to become a member of it, one has to finish certain studies where the student is brain-washed: it’s like catechism. Then in the end he has to pass a certain exam: it’s like a confession of faith. No research shall be accepted if it does not fall within the ruling paradigm. No research paper shall make into the scientific journals if it doesn’t fit the paradigm. No researcher shall get a job, unless he is a member of the paradigm denomination. It is very much like any church: this is the true faith.

Science is not even possible without a presupposition or a certain belief. Science presupposes that there is some order in the Cosmos. And that’s why Science is continually looking to find out results of that order. Because there is a certain order, we can talk rationally about it. Things make sense because they correspond to order and Reason. But you cannot start by proving the existence of that order empirically. You have to presuppose it is there. Each attempt to prove anything rationally, must accept that there is logic. But without order there is no logic, no natural law. The scientist researches the results and things using logic, thereby believing that logic can say something useful about Reality. But then he believes that Reality itself must have some logic to it. He believes, he presupposes that rationality makes sense, and that said Popper is in itself irrational to do so.
If you do not suppose there to be order, and that all is accidental chaos, like for instance that the solar system came out of a purely accidental collision, and the appearance of organic life was purely an accident and thus the evolution of Man was a pure accident, then all our thoughts (atoms in our brain working together) must be also the by-product of accidents. If that is so, then why should we believe someone’s thoughts to be true over anyone else’s?

You need to first understand where you come from (irony: remember "The Origin"). And dont' think for a minute that DNA and "new evidence comes to light" (how often have we not heard that argument) would make the fundamentals of science philosophy go away: you cannot do science without believing.

That's an awful lot of words for avoiding that the fundamental reason for most things is "Because that's how it is".

Even in religion you get down to that reason eventually, there's just a couple extra steps before you get there.

The Truth is that many people turn to religion because they can't handle the truth that the universe is a huge, uncaring, unfair place, and we are only as much a special part of it as we make ourselves.

Live, love, and enjoy.

But it isn't.

Prove it.

Dumb. How can you prove something that isn't? By the way, I am done with you, because I have better things to do. Have a nice day.

I dunno, theologians seem to have no trouble proving things that aren't.

But of course, you aren't a theologian, you'd be more eloquent and less verbose if you were.

How can you prove something that isn't?

By proving the converse is true?

E. Swanson

But no specific ape species in particular can be pointed to, but some imaginary one that of course conveniently no longer exists nor has been found as remains.

We have remains of Australopithicus, H. habilis, H. georgicus, H. ergaster, H. erectus, H heidelbergensis, and H sapiens idaltu. If they are not transitional, what would you expect to see in a transitional?

In fact, when people refer to evolutionary biologists as "Darwinians", it is a clear sign that they are Creationists.

Actually, their favorite term is to call us Darwinists. (We all know -ISMs are bad, evil things, right?) DownSouth was even kind enough to demonstrate its usage elsewhere in this very thread :)

In the "ism" department the term "evolutionism" seems to be gaining ground against "darwinism". I think it is funnier. Someone on another forum I frequent once made the claim that if it ends with an "ism" its a religion. Botulism anyone?

Err, your first link New work on lateral transfer shows that Darwin was wrong is an April Fool joke

Rillful says that humans appear to be the first organisms to develop intelligence, quite by accident, and that he expects other species will start to become intelligent over the next few thousand years, as the gene for this is spread by infection to other species.

...A summary of this work will soon be found in the cover story of the April 1 issue of New Scientist.

Other clues: Prof. Augustus P. Rillful, University of Münchhausen

Haha. Very funny stuff indeed. The picture in that article is from Peter Gruenberg, Nobel Prize 2007, physics.

Well he certainly succeeded in making a fool out of me. Or did he only succeed in making a fool of himself? After all, this sort of behavior does reek of the type of locker-room bravado that Roughgarden speaks of.

And what does it say about the actual biologists and scientists covered in the New Scientist article? Are they to be held in such derision and disdain because they are doing work that threatens Darwin's theories?

One of the speakers in the lecture series cited this quote:

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets could only proceed from the course and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”

--Isaac Newton, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

The speaker goes on to say that much of Newton's work has proven to be incomple, inadequate or wrong. But do we try to defend everything that Newton wrote? Of course not.

And yet the defenders of Darwin, as Roughgarden points out, insist on not giving a single inch of ground. Why is that so? And what separates them from the biblical literalists who insist on taking evey word of the bible as sacrosanct?

And yet the defenders of Darwin, as Roughgarden points out, insist on not giving a single inch of ground. Why is that so?

Ummmm...it isn't so. If Roughgarden thinks it is, then he's out of touch with reality.

Perhaps he means "not giving a single inch of ground to God or Intelligent Design", in which case he would be right. It would be helpful if DS would post the inch he wishes the defenders of Darwin to give.

OK Darwinian,

Here's an example written by the very same John S. Wilkins. In this post he cites this passage from Darwin's The Descent of Man:

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. [p201]


Now that statement seems pretty unequivocal to me. It pretty much places Darwin squarely in the racist camp. But I'm willing to let it pass. Darwin, after all, was a man of his times. And, if Richard Dawkins is to be believed, it matters not a dither whether Darwin was a racist or a child rapist or a mass murderer, the only thing that matters is whether his theories are true.

But even though morality is to be purged from all things scientific, Wilkins doesn't leave it there. For he then proceeds to go through some pretty amazing mental contortions to show that Darwin wansn't a racist, finally concluding the following:

So Darwin appears vague because, I think, he is confused. He lacks the distinctions necessary to make sense of the anthropological literature, itself imbued with racism from the common European heritage of the day. He concedes to the racism of his peers, but its a cultural racism, not a biological one, I think. Darwin is not so much a racist as he is a Eurocentrist.

So we have this Herculean effort to whitewash Darwin, to cleanse him of his racism, or at leat to recast it in a more benign form, even though it supposedly doesn't matter whether he's racist or not.

Finally, I'd like to leave you with this quote:

The need for absolute goodies and absolute baddies runs deep in us, but it drags history into propaganda and denies the humanity of the dead: their sins, their virtues, their efforts, their failures. To preserve complexity, and not flatten it under the weight of anachronistic moralizing, is part of the historian's task. One could do worse than remember the advice of the Brazilian novelist Jorge Amado, reflecting on the 500th anniversary of Columbus and the conquest of the New World: for some, he wrote it means

the epic of discovery, the meeting of two worlds; for others, the infamy of the conquista and of genocide... One must set up and compare appearances and differences, because only in this way, by understanding what was great and will be an eternal glory, by disclosing what was wretched and will be a perpetual shame, only thus, in reflection and understanding, can we both celebrate the eopic and condemn the massacre, neither of which expunges the other. We are the product of both--the mixed peoples of America.

--Robert Hughes, Culture of Complaint: A Passionate Look into the Ailing Heart of America

DS, this was the common belief during the Victorian age, and it was simply wrong. Darwin was wrong. Not about natural selection, he got that exactly right, but wrong in accepting the Victorian concepts about race. So if any Darwinian defends this position he is wrong also. There are literally millions Darwinians on this planet so some of them are also bound to be wrong.

And it is just as wrong to say that "Defenders of Darwin will not give an inch." As I said there are millions of Darwinians on the planet and you quote one and assume all Darwinians take a similar position. That is utterly foolish.

Ron P.

Point conceded. My bad.

As I said back up stream, calling oneself a Darwinian is about as definitive as calling oneself a Christian or a Muslim. Roughgarden is a Darwinian, and a defender of Darwin. And I'd be willing to bet that just about all the scientists cited in the New Scientist article would also call themselves Darwinians. Citing from the New Scientist article:

Thus began the final battle over the tree. Many researchers stuck resolutely to their guns, creating ever more sophisticated computer programs to cut through the noise and recover the One True Tree. Others argued just as forcefully that the quest was quixotic and should be abandoned.

So as the article indicates, there are Darwinians who are true believers, clinging to their "One True Tree," and then there are Darwinians who believe that some of his writings can be discarded if new evidence proves them wrong.

But then how is the John Wilkins piece to be interpreted? Does it not mock the New Science piece, or the scientists cited in that article?

Does it not constitute prima facie evidence of the very sort of behavior that Roughgarden describes?

No. It's just a joke. I don't think you can point to it as evidence of anything.

DS, the New Scientist article is about bacteria. Darwin did not know bacteria so he could have had no idea how bacteria multiplied. True bacteria have lateral transfer of DNA but no animal that uses sex for proceration does. The Darwinian tree holds true for all higher plants and animals, higher than bacteria I mean. No Darwinian would question that. It is grossly unfair to say Darwin got it wrong about bacteria when Darwin never wrote a word about bacteria.

Ron P.

What? The New Scientist article is about bacteria?

Quoting from the article:

More fundamentally, recent research suggests that the evolution of animals and plants isn't exactly tree-like either. "There are problems even in that little corner," says Dupré. Having uprooted the tree of unicellular life, biologists are now taking their axes to the remaining branches.

For example, hybridisation clearly plays an important role in the evolution of plants. According to Loren Rieseberg, a botanist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, around 14 per cent of living plant species are the product of the fusion of two separate lineages.

Hybrid humans

Some researchers are also convinced that hybridisation has been a major driving force in animal evolution (see "Natural born chimeras", and "Two into one"), and that the process is ongoing. "It is really common," says James Mallet, an evolutionary biologist at University College London. "Ten per cent of all animals regularly hybridise with other species." This is especially true in rapidly evolving lineages with lots of recently diverged species - including our own. There is evidence that early modern humans hybridised with our extinct relatives, such as Homo erectus and the Neanderthals (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, vol 363, p 2813).

Hybridisation isn't the only force undermining the multicellular tree: it is becoming increasingly apparent that HGT plays an unexpectedly big role in animals too. As ever more multicellular genomes are sequenced, ever more incongruous bits of DNA are turning up. Last year, for example, a team at the University of Texas at Arlington found a peculiar chunk of DNA in the genomes of eight animals - the mouse, rat, bushbaby, little brown bat, tenrec, opossum, anole lizard and African clawed frog - but not in 25 others, including humans, elephants, chickens and fish. This patchy distribution suggests that the sequence must have entered each genome independently by horizontal transfer (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 105, p 17023).

Other cases of HGT in multicellular organisms are coming in thick and fast. HGT has been documented in insects, fish and plants, and a few years ago a piece of snake DNA was found in cows. The most likely agents of this genetic shuffling are viruses, which constantly cut and paste DNA from one genome into another, often across great taxonomic distances. In fact, by some reckonings, 40 to 50 per cent of the human genome consists of DNA imported horizontally by viruses, some of which has taken on vital biological functions (New Scientist, 27 August 2008, p 38). The same is probably true of the genomes of other big animals. "The number of horizontal transfers in animals is not as high as in microbes, but it can be evolutionarily significant," says Bapteste.


Okay, the first two and one half pages were about bacteria and other microbes. The last page and one half is about hybrid humans and such, as if there were any such thing. Humans are all the same species. Cross breeding, which is the subject from there on is not an example of lateral transfer. Even cross breeding uses sex and sex is sex.

More fundamentally, recent research suggests that the evolution of animals and plants isn't exactly tree-like either. "There are problems even in that little corner," says Dupré. Having uprooted the tree of unicellular life, biologists are now taking their axes to the remaining branches.

All they have so far is that unicellular life is not always tree like. Now they suggest that this may also be the case for some higher animals. They have their axes out. Get back to me when they have some firm results. But so far the Darwinian tree and its branches still stands.

Ron P.

Again, a careful reading of the article is necessary:

The most likely agents of this genetic shuffling are viruses, which constantly cut and paste DNA from one genome into another, often across great taxonomic distances. In fact, by some reckonings, 40 to 50 per cent of the human genome consists of DNA imported horizontally by viruses, some of which has taken on vital biological functions (New Scientist, 27 August 2008, p 38).

As is explained earlier in the article, "vertical" entails "organisms passing traits down to their offspring", which entails sex. Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) doesn't require sex. In this case it is postulated that the genetic material is transported by viruses.

This is rarely a direct source of genetic novelty once you get away from single celled life where horizontal trasfer is rampant. A counter example that I can think off the top of my head is ERVWE1. The "great taxonomic distance" in the article can confuse, single celled life where most of the horizontal transfers are happening is much more diverse than say vertebrates. Humans can and do get retroviral insertions, it an artefact of how they replicate (the viruses), they depend on the replication machinary of the host cell to replicate. Sometimes they are damaged, and sometimes they get stuck in non-coding DNA. If they somehow end up in a germline cell and unable to replicate, they become a molecular fossil in that line of descent. It does nothing to destroy the tree, in fact it can provide another means to reconstruct it, an example of which is shown here. Reconstructing the nested hierarchy in this way is problematic if you try to reconstruct too big a portion of the tree of life, random mutations destroy the phylogenetic signal after a while (you wouldn't be able to figure out the taxonomic distance between chickens, turtles and dogs, but could for deer, antelope and cows).

So, because Darwin didn't enumerate every mechanism for mutation, he was wrong?

I call shenanigans.

And yet the defenders of Darwin, as Roughgarden points out, insist on not giving a single inch of ground. Why is that so?

Because it isn't so. Not that trying to understand how the world works is a negotiation among human hopes and dreams. Inch of ground? What is that supposed to mean in this context?

And what separates them from the biblical literalists who insist on taking evey word of the bible as sacrosanct?

Because it isn't so. This isn't the time or place to teach the rudiments of the practice of science... but, you see, science builds models, and when information comes along that the models can't accommodate, Science changes to accommodate the facts. Not vice-versa.

That's the difference between science and "revealed" religion in a nutshell.

Agreed. Honestly, there's no reason for anyone to pore over Darwin's writings the way some do the Bible...because Darwin simply isn't accepted as the source of "revealed" information as the Bible is by many. So what if you found "proof" of something in Darwin's writings? It wouldn't convince anyone, because Darwin, while brilliant, is not seen as infallible.

You know Leanan, I can't figure how we got this far off subject. My original post, up top, was about collapse and had not one thing to do with Darwinism or evolution. It was not my intention to bring the subject up at all.

What happened?

Ron P.

Simple--> Man argues, Nature acts! :)

DownSouth happened.

While I usually enjoy his contributions here, this is just silly. Enough with the "Darwinists are the same as religious zealots" thing. It's tangentially related to peak oil at best, and we're past the point where any useful discussion is occurring.

What a waste of electrons:

1) If co-operation makes a group of co-operators more effective than "Tooth and claw competition", then the co-operators are the fittest, and they will survive. It's all part of natural selection.

2) If refusing to accept the obvious facts of Darwin's science makes a group fitter to survive, then they will succeed beyond the scientific groups. It is all according to Darwin's writings.

"If refusing to accept the obvious facts of Darwin's science makes a group fitter to survive, then they will succeed beyond the scientific groups. It is all according to Darwin's writings."

So, you're saying that those who do not accept Darwin's science are not scientific? It looks more like that if you don't kneel at "Darwins tree" you cannot be saved. Where have I heard something similar?

No.. He's saying that EVEN IF their disbelief in Darwin's ideas somehow made them more likely to survive..(perhaps when those who DO believe Darwin are being executed for being 'unbelievers') That their very success and future fruitfulness only continues to prove Darwin's point. It doesn't defeat Darwin's observations, just his admirers.

The truth is out there..

.. obey your thirst!

Apparently you don't understand. He contrasted a group that refused Darwin's stuff with another scientific group, thereby implying that refusing Darwin's stuff is not scientific. The intolerance is yours.

No, Willem. Len Gould said if the refusers were better equipped to survive than the Darwinians, they would just continue to Prove the Selection theory by their very survival, even if their brains were heedless of the fact.

Intolerant? You've enjoyed an unimaginable degree of tolerance today, considering the argument you've put forth.

Apparently you don't read very well. It is the label "scientific" that was put forward as a qualifier. And your last sentence proves exactly what I said earlier. But that was to be expected I guess.

I don't know what the adjective "scientific" means when applied to a person, but I would say people who don't accept the theory of Evolution are unable to follow a correct chain of reasoning, starting from universally accepted observations, to its conclusion. Pick your own adjective for that.

What lengould was actually saying is that if one group within a population has a characteristic that another group does not (or has it in greater degree), and if that characteristic is passed on to their offsprings' descendants, and if having the characteristic (in greater degree) means that more offspring grow up to have their own offspring, then, over the generations, the proportion of individuals in the population having (a greater degree of) the characteristic will increase, and the proportion of indivduals without it will decrease.

That is the expansion of the shorthand jargon phrase "survival of the fittest". Not much religion in there; in fact it seems self-evidently true -- now that Darwin has explained it to us.

More like "D'oh!" than "Hallelujah!"

Lengould's sentence: "If refusing to accept the obvious facts of Darwin's science makes a group fitter to survive, then they will succeed beyond the scientific groups."

If language still means anything then in the above sentence "a group" is contrasted with "the scientific groups". Now, if you cannot understand simple language, I wonder how you can even "follow a correct chain of reasoning".

Well it looks as if Darwin’s adherents may have their hands full. A whole new front is being opened up by geneticists and biologists (the field from whence Roughgarden hails), as this just-published article in a leading scientific journal reports:

New work on lateral transfer shows that Darwin was wrong

A new study into the transfer of genetic material laterally, or across taxonomic divisions, has shown that evolution does not proceed as Darwin thought, and that in fact the present theory of evolution is entirely false...

Publishing in the Journal of Evolutionary Diversions, the major journal in the field, Professor Augustus P. Rillful and his colleagues of the paragenetics laboratory at the University of Münchhausen in Germany have shown experimentally that the ability of DNA to cross species boundaries at any distance makes the origin of species a solved problem, only it is solved in a way that Darwin never envisaged. This new theory, called Empedoclean Evolution, explains why novel traits can be found in many different taxonomic groups independently.


That is April Fool's gag by John Wilkins. I've met Dr. Wilkins, he is much funnier than I. Keep reading his stuff though, it is interesting, especially for those with an interest in philosophy.

It is at least inteesting to see that viruses function as viral replicators cross species to pass on common traits. Perhaps this is why at various points in time on the earth particular types were dominat, i.e. dinosaur era, mammal era, etc. So lnear evoltuion is wrong and biblical concept of "each according to its kind" is similar to evolutionary concept. Everything is supposed to be rather distinct and separate. This is rather like religon and science similarly seeing everything as an external objective power. So we borrow from past concepts to build the new without realizing it, thinking we are being revolutionary, but acutally just being evolutionary(pun intended).

So if I believe in the Great Spirit and that my relative is a Bear or an eagle and its spirit is part of me then perhaps this is more true than we care to believe in our judaeochristian-scientific linear world concept. We are directly related to any animal alive and more with those we are more similar to. Due to similar body temperature, chemistry we take on more viral infects of similar animals so we get their genes passed on to us and become more similar over time to the greater gene pool of say mammals or unfortunately, chickens and rats. This probably makes us more healthy and speeds up adaptive change("evolution" is soooo loaded a term). So to make an immediate moral lesson to this lecture to avoid wastage, due to rapid human habitat destruction and consequent extinctions we are not just killing useless species but our broader gene pool, and not just to experiment in laboratories to mix and match but our concrete future. The viruses do the experimenting, pretty much at random. Perhaps we are something like a greek mythological creature. An ape strated living near the shallow sea and ran in to it to escape the big cats. The ape hunted the seals and caught their illnesses. They passed on genes for hairlessness and thick layer of body fat. Eventually also mutations occurred and also practic whereby standing upright in deeper water allowed survival and more offspring. So man was a mixture of chimps and seals with some own mutations, thanks to viral infects at a lakeside millions of years ago.

I wonder if anyone has done a study of the relationship between unemployment and web postings. The less people have to do, the more lengthy the posting. people have to think about something.

Tolstoy had a great description of elderly people who would create an argument out of nothing, just so they could get their juices flowing, to help their digestion, so they could sleep.
So maybe TOD is fulfilling many unknown purposes

I disagree Ron, I am glad you posted it.
I think she is quite accurate and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her viewpoint.

Civilization, in my opinion is not the same thing as "Empire". There have been civilizations for hundreds of years, and are today, that is not the same thing as an empire.

H.G. Wells in his World History book notes that China had had a highly civilized society for thousands of years (thousands, not hundreds) at a time when Europeans were still living in caves and eating each other.

Your implicit idea that civilization is only a few hundred years old is outrageous (and false), seemingly implying that civilization and America are coextensive and coeval. (And don't forget, too, that when asked what he thought of Western civilization, Gandhi replied that he thought it was a good idea, implying that there is no Western civilization.)

But you are right about Empire and Civilization having no relationship to each other. Perhaps, however, the lady in question was wondering if, indeed, there is enough "civilization" in America so that it would continue even of the empire collapses (as seems more and more apparent every day)? And that's a good question, what with all the gun nuts, drug addicts, and little narcissists running around this country.

Her ideas are just too far off the wall.

We're in the midst of a global crime wave. John Robb has been on top of that for a while. The loss of legitimacy of our institutions - Robb again, Moyers, Bageant. I can go through that article and pull out common threads. Kunstler on "infantilism". Even yesterday on DemocracyNow! a University of Florida prof describes Florida economy as ponzi scheme. Not far from that to describing our entire economy as a ponzi scheme - and from there our entire civilization as the article in toplinks today does.

Red toothed conflict or communities in cooperation - that really is what it comes down to. Here we are in the lifeboat. Do we rip out the nails and deck planks to make weapons so we can eat each other or do we cooperate? The prisoner's dilemma. The conflict between authoritarianism and nurturing. Proles in service to empire and the ruling elite - where even our way of thinking makes us suspect as homegrown terrorists.

Does a civilization have to be an empire? Probably. That seems like self-organized hierarchy. In the human world the organized group will always dominate the weaker unorganized group - though it may not be "worthwhile" [Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan]

And when trust is gone, there is always force - the path the Obama administration chooses - the lawless path.
The US becomes an authoritarian police state where the likes of Geither need pay no taxes but hospice patients get kicked out on the street [Maine]. How long can that last? Not through another couple of New Orleans style events. Except they won't get TV coverage.

Seems to me we are at a darwinian moment - though not as individuals, but as a species. Things are not looking good.

No, not quite true; the parsnips are wicked good.

cfm in Gray, ME

The trendline is that the USA circa 2039 will resemble Mexico circa 2009-life goes on.

More on world wide shipping.

This seems to fit my casual observation that traffic through the Panama Canal seems to be carrying less than full loads.

Finance firms pull the plug on credit lines to shippers | Manila Bulletin

April 3, 2009, 2:58pm

Credit lines to shipping lines have collapsed, according to a survey by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Lloyd's List said risk averse finance houses are pulling the plug on credit lines to shippers, putting more downward pressure on world trade. Despite the low risk record of trade finance, fear is causing banks and other institutions to pull out of the sector, the ICC found in its report “Rethinking Trade Finance 2009.” “World trade depends heavily on trade credit, which has all but collapsed during the current financial crisis, effectively throttling the flow of goods,” the ICC said after surveying 122 banks in 59 countries.

Asia is suffering more than most, the ICC found: “Trade finance to and from emerging markets in Asia appear to have been particularly hard hit.” In all 47% of banks reported a decrease in export letter of credit volume. Forty-three percent reported a decrease in the value. These drops came despite a move away from open account sales towards letters of credit. About 48% of respondents indicated they had experienced an increase in demand for issuance of bank undertakings between the last quarter of 2007 and the last quarter of 2008, recognizing the increased security sought by exporters for their shipments,” the survey found.
Banks are also scrutinizing documents more closely and rejecting credit applications on “spurious” grounds – almost half of those surveyed confirmed this trend.

Anybody here with a Lloyd's List or Oil Movements subscription? Peakoil.com member Dantespeak used to post excerpts from OM bulletins, but he vanished after the fall NYC Financial District implosion and has been MIA since.

Hello The Dude,

Thxs for the info. It is a sad state of affairs when bankers cannot trust each other enough in a cooperative fashion for Letters of Credit to still effectively facilitate trade. After all, this is just a low-risk, short-term, finance function.

I say Govts should hire their local Mafias or military to encourage more banker cooperation. IMO, a few kneecapping or water-boarding extravaganzas should make the bankers eager to start cooperatively guaranteeing Letters of Credit again.

If the banker doesn't want to risk his cash hoard, then have him put his family and relatives on the boat to guarantee later payment. This way they get to see the world by sea for free as long as Dad antes up the cash when required. A deal gone bad just means the family walks the plank as in the pirate days of yore.

Italian earthquake Cassandra:

Expert's warnings were dismissed as scaremongering

An Italian scientist, Gioacchino Giuliani, predicted the earthquake which has killed at least 50 people in the Abruzzo region but he was reported to the police for scaremongering, it has emerged.

Given the nature of Italian jurisprudence, I fully expect that he will be convicted and forced to do hard time for his impudence.

Obviously he's just one of them "doomer" folk.

Who was the idiot who reported him?

As always, it's more complex:

According to Reuters, Mr. Giuliani “was reported to authorities for spreading panic among the population” because “vans with loudspeakers had driven around the town a month ago telling locals to evacuate their houses” after he first warned that a major earthquake would strike L’Aquila soon. Reuters explains that the Italian authorities dismissed the warning...

What is the appropriate timing between a disaster and alerting people to a disaster? Surely it would be related to length of time needed to escape death, as well as the investment required to fortify and mitigate against the effects. What would you do if you lived in this town and you truly believed the guy's predictions a month ago? (c.f. the weekend's campfire posts) And how would you feel today if you had followed your plan and so many did not? Smug? Sad? Guilty?

Actually he didn't predict it for a month ago. He predicted the most likely dates as last Sunday or Monday - so he was only out by a week.

Even if the government dismissed his "timing" -- they had enough evidence of the increases of activity nearby. With the correlation of radon, I think the appropriate action would be asking everyone to make sure they are "ready".

We here in California are waiting for a "big one" to strike and it's overdue -- who know when it'll strike but for sure, enforcing new building code, having an emergency plan, having an earthquake prepareness plan do help when the time come.

Now back to Peak Oil, anyone want to take a van around town to warn people of the doom? I just hope the government doesn't start locking all of us up for spreading panic.

low salinity waterflooding:


fresh water for ghawar may be more expensive than oil.

this is not new technology, having been studied by the u wyoming in '93.

Latest daily update on Gazprom/Russian production shows Gazprom now down about 550 mcm/day (19 Bcf/day) - that's down approximately a mind-blowing 33% on last year. Total Russian production now down around 530 mcm/day compared to last year.

On an annualised basis, daily Gazprom apparent production is currently down around 200 bcm (7 Tcf).

I say apparent production because Gazprom may be under reporting production and refilling storage (which they claim is full) with the difference. If so this should allow them to surge apparent production later in the year when Europe might be desperate. A trick they may have learned from OPEC.

Daniel Yergin was on CNBC this morning. He was predicting alternatives coming on line by 2020.

Oil Headed to $40? "Video"

Investors should brace themselves for the long aftershock of oil trending towards $40 a barrel, says Daniel Yergin, Cambridge Energy Research Associates chairman.

Ron P.

Well, it's good to finally get some price guidance again from Daniel Yergin. So, we should expect to see $80 or higher within one to two years.

When Yergin predicted, in the summer of 2007, that oil prices should be around $60 in 2008, I noted at the time that the "Yergin Indicator" suggested a price of $120 or higher within one to two years.

Wasn't oil going for 60$ in end 2008? Seems he was right.
Of course since oil varied between 30 and 150$ in 2008, most predictions turned out to be right at one point of the year...

Nice. Only 11 years. Whew. I am sure glad that nothing is likely to happen between now and then. Honey, where are my Hummer keys? It's time to drive to the dog park.

For Totoneila

Also abandoned rail tracks are sometimes unofficially used by local population to travel noticeable distances. They use pionerka (Russian: пионе́рка) devices (this word also means woman person who is "pioneer" on Russian). Pionerka devices are sort of self-made railroad draisine which is powered by motorcycle engine and allows to travel noticeable distance almost for free (except price of fuel of course).

from a good Wiki article on what serves as "rail buses", EMUs (electric multiple units) in Russia and other former Soviet Union nations.


Another quote:

Technically, it is a diesel railcar, or multiple unit train of 2 to 4 cars, or a single passenger car hauled by a small diesel locomotive. Such trains are less widespread, however, due to the fact that the majority of track on Soviet railroads has been electrified

Best Hopes for Railroads under a wide variety of scenarios,


Another quote:

Technically, it is a diesel railcar, or multiple unit train of 2 to 4 cars, or a single passenger car hauled by a small diesel locomotive. Such trains are less widespread, however, due to the fact that the majority of track on Soviet railroads has been electrified

Best Hopes for Railroads under a wide variety of scenarios,


Exactly. We'll go with rail or nothing. I look forward to
the Rock Island being rebuilt between Memphis and Little Rock.

Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

I agree with your RR & TOD proposals as the better path for Optimal Overshoot Decline. Then, when resources become even more scarce: I expect lots of self-made railroad draisines to take advantage of the already laid tracks--so the more trackmiles we can get put down now the better it will be for future generations [both standard gauge plus narrow gauge for SpiderwebRiding].

Speaking of passenger RR-cars that need to be built: I wonder if any rail-mfgs are looking to cheaply buying all the seats from the airplanes parked in the Southwest's deserts. Must be by now potentially 200,000 airplane seats that could be quickly unbolted, then quickly rebolted inside RR & TOD transit vehicles at a tremendous cost savings. Hopefully, with lots more legroom/passenger.

EDIT: for spelling error

They better get to them quick, before they become protected Black Widow habitats.

Unused rail cars create blight

A 3-mile stretch of track from Monrovia to Irwindale is lined up with rail cars owned by BNSF Railway. Declining shipping volumes have rendered the cars unusable until business picks up, BNSF officials said.

"It's really based on the economy," spokeswoman Lena Kent said. "We're utilizing any and all available rail space that we have."

Best hopes for accessible lines...

More on the revolving door between one of Obama’s leading economic advisors and the finance industry:

Mr. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president who is now the chief economic adviser to President Obama, earned nearly $5.2 million in just the last of his two years at one of the world’s largest funds, according to financial records released Friday by the White House.

Impressive as that might sound, it is all the more considering that Mr. Summers worked there just one day a week.


I’m sure all that money had nothing to do with his political connections, but was paid soley in return for his stellar intellectual achievements.

Probably for advising them that women just don't have the math smarts to cut it in the finance world. The same briliant insight that resulted in such a stellar performance during his stint at Harvard.

What WOULD we do without geniuses like this in the top slots?


IMO guys like Summers and Gingrich (who was discussed yesterday) are very smart. They are focused and they know that connections are everything. The misconception is that they are working for others or the public-basically they are self-employed and always have been. Summers runs Summers Inc. and has run it extremely well-he doesn't work for the US guv or Harvard or any fund-he works for Larry.

Like Denninger says ... its all a sham.

The bank stress tests currently underway are “a complete sham,” says William Black, a former senior bank regulator and S&L prosecutor

"as much as 80% of the fraud during the boom was "induced by the lenders," who either encouraged people to lie on loan applications or actively altered documents to make them more likely to be approved, says Black.


“It’s a Potemkin model. Built to fool people.”


Larry Summers is a bad choice for an economic advisor as he advocated deregulation of derivatives. The fact that he made a huge sum of money from a hedge fund strangely does not surprise me at all.

He is also quite possibly the worst public speaker I have ever seen. Every time I see him speaking he pauses to say "um" about 6-8 times a minute. With his speaking skills I am surprised that he would be the president of Harvard. As he would clearly fail freshman public speaking at Kansas State. That being said I don't feel so bad about not having been able to afford Harvard tuition.

More importantly, when he speaks, to me his message gets lost in the presentation. He comes across in a fashion that does not inspire a lot of trust in his message. In a time of economic struggle, I would think Obama would want an advisor that is a clear and articulate speaker to inspire trust in his economic policies. Obama is an excellent orator; it’s shocking to me that someone with such bad speaking skills like Larry Summers is his front man for economic policy.

Larry Summers comes across to me as the Homer Simpson of Macroeconomics. “Non-backed credit default swap derivatives a key player in a global economic crisis, Doh”. “Wait a minute, didn’t I advocate the deregulation that allowed this to occur, Doh“

On the other hand I have no doubt that somewhere there are undergraduate economics students watching C-Span playing some sort of Larry Summers drinking game, take a drink every time he says "um". It's probably a short game.

Larry is getting the money-he can hire these undergraduates to wash his cars.

Time has an interesting story on the fate of the dollar:

Is the Dollar Doomed?

Whatever world leaders decide, some economists believe that the dollar cannot avoid some deterioration. As other nations and regions gain in wealth and economic influence, the U.S. economy will slowly lose its preeminence and the dollar its stature as the undisputed world currency. Harvard's Frankel foresees that the supremacy of the dollar will erode over the next 15 years or so, with other currencies, like the euro, making inroads and forming a system where multiple currencies share the world stage.


Along this line of thought...

The Financial New World Order: Towards a Global Currency and World Government


Ultimately, what this implies is that the future of the global political economy is one of increasing moves toward a global system of governance, or a world government, with a world central bank and global currency; and that, concurrently, these developments are likely to materialize in the face of and as a result of a decline in democracy around the world, and thus, a rise in authoritarianism. What we are witnessing is the creation of a New World Order, composed of a totalitarian global government structure.

In fact, the very concept of a global currency and global central bank is authoritarian in its very nature, as it removes any vestiges of oversight and accountability away from the people of the world, and toward a small, increasingly interconnected group of international elites.

Quick, some call Michelle Bachmann! Sound the alarms at the Rapture Index!
Time to arm up and revolt! Dump the modern equivalent of tea in the water (cola?) Or ascend into heaven! Or, or...what were talking about again?

Rapture Watch radio pieces, if you're up for a good laugh. These are parodies, I should say. The real thing would be funny as well, I imagine.

Michelle Bachmann radio over the weekend, the real deal I'm afraid:
There's another reference to getting "armed and dangerous with the facts" about Global Warming. Apparently she just learned the word "transnational".

In this piece, she bravely portrays Americorps as the first step to reeducation camps in America (Wolverines!). I grew up in Bachmann's district and it freaks me out that she was reelected last year. Maybe in 2010 the Dems will run someone with a more appealing name; hard to get folks riled up for Elwyn Tinklenberg.

Yea, this is really going to help bolster confidence in the banks' balance sheets.

I'll swear, you couldn't make this stuff up.

I just think you're looking at this the wrong way. It's actually a boon to all of us. You can now go to the bank and ask to borrow money using your personally assessed assets. Those six bags of oak tree clippings I put together this weekend are worth at least $100K. That should allow me to borrow enough to get that new photovoltaic setup. /sarc off

Better yet, get a bag full of acorns, the potential value of the lumber could be worth millions!

The old accounting rule was called "mark to market", the new one I'm calling "mark to lie". This will be a great way to assure that the US economy is every bit as stagnant for the next decade as the Japanese economy was in the 1990s. Keep those failed businesses on life support, can't have any of the cronys at the top missing their bonuses.

Bill Moyer's interview with William K. Black the other night summed it up nicely:


My apologies if this is a re-posting. I've been out of the loop for a couple of days.

I am cutting the umbilical cord.
We are all domesticated and infantile.
Maslow's heirarchy of needs.

Good morning Arthur:

At what level do you feel is right to cut the cord? I would think at 'Esteem' one could do that but the lower levels would have to be absolutely assured.


The problem we have is we are older and health is an increasing concern and security is an unknown as to how much dangerous chaos is created as TSHTF.

Good luck with it.

OPEC powerhouse Saudi Arabia is pumping money from its huge 400-billion-dollar stockpile of reserves into the economy to keep up growth

This means KSA is selling dollars. Since the US dollar is the world reserve currency it is over-represented in the reserves of all nations. Since many nations will seek to liquidate their dollar investments to prop up the local economy there will be a surplus of dollars coming to market. This will occur at the same time the Fed is engaged in "quantitative easing" ie: increasing the number of dollars in circulation.

Three questions:

1) What impact will the liquidation of foreign US dollar reserves have on the value of the dollar?

2) If foreign holders of US dollars are liquidating their US dollar holdings (dis-investing) then who will be purchasing the billions of T bills required to finance the US deficit?

3) What are the likely impacts of the above on the US economy and the price of oil?

They are not "disinvesting," they are spending it. This does not weaken the dollar, but strengthens it. Yes, it may add to the potential for inflation, but so much cash has already "disappeared" from the world's balance sheets over the 18 months that the short term danger to the dollar from this sort of activity is relatively small.

Long term... well, collapse is all for the best, anyway.

The thing is, the US dollar is very strong right now-for the average American this is as good as it gets. Short term you are correct, long term it doesn't look too good. The problem is long term is maybe a couple years away-nobody is interested in financing Obama's plans.

It hasn't looked good for the long term since at least 1973. I have found it frustrating and an endless source of dismay as well as a recognition of my own forecasting failures that the long term has not yet arrived.

You may be right that it is just a "couple years away." I stopped betting on it about the the time that the 90s boom started. The resiliency of the growth based economy has surprised me over and over again. I know, logically, that it can't continue. But I wouldn't put it past the managers of the global economy to put together one more "recovery." I hope they are not capable of doing so, but I would not be surprised if the collapse is postponed another 6 years or more. I doubt will see another period of "expansion" like we've seen after the last three recessions. But something less than (or more, depending on your perspective)continued recession into depression is certainly possible.

This does not weaken the dollar, but strengthens it.

Do not follow your logic here.

Dollars may be created from thin air and dropped from helicopters. They are used to buy real world goods (oil, food) that cannot be created from thin air but need to be extracted and produced. The real world imposes a variety of constraints.

If everybody is spending dollars then the immediate supply of dollars will increase and the value of each dollar will decline. Sensing this the sellers of real goods will likely raise their prices to compensate for the anticipated decline in the value of the specie. I do not see how this may be construed to strengthen the dollar.

They aren't simply dumping dollars. They are spending dollars. And that is the difference maker.

Spending of dollars does not increase the the supply of dollars. Spending dollars is simply using the dollars already extent. It may increase the velocity of dollars, which is (from the growth economy perspective) a good thing.

Quite the opposite of what you suggest - the spending of dollars should increase the demand for dollars, thereby strengthening its value. Just as if everyone starts using, say, gold for jewelry (instead of silver, platinum, plastic, etc) the value of gold can be expected to go up.

Or think of it this way. Right now, those dollars are sitting in a vault. If they spend them, they move them out of the vault an into someone else's cash register. This doesn't change the number of dollars, just who is holding them.

Rather little cash has "disappeared" by any mechanism, as borrowed and spent dollars are only removed from circulation by the payment of the debt. Debtor default or bankruptcy effects the asset balance sheet of the creditor, but the dollars have already escaped.

If enough dollars are spent purchasing units of other currencies, it will look to most observers as though the dollars are losing value.

You are correct. I was speaking too loosely. What has disappeared is really only asset values. The problem comes when those asset values are the basis of new debt. This is precisely the conundrum we find ourselves in. The value of assets has dropped so precipitously that it has become extremely difficult to lend any new money into existence.

So strictly speaking, it's not that money has disappeared, it's the ability to create new money that has (all but) disappeared.

Interesting comment linked above from the UAE on natural gas shortage.

"With the way things are going right now – Qatar's moratorium and Iran's stubborn stance – I doubt that the UAE will be able to secure more gas. There is no third supplier,"

..."Gas is not a solution because there will not be enough gas. We should divert into nuclear or coal or solar," he said.

I am becoming more convinced that politicians and the heads of European energy companies are doing exactly the same thing senior bankers did when they began to suspect things were going disastrously wrong - shut their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears, chant "Nah Nah Nah, I can't hear you", and hope it all goes away.

The British press is warming up... see this recent story.

French fatcat blamed for soaring British gas prices offered £7m 'thank you'

A chief executive whose company has been responsible for driving up energy prices by exporting British electricity abroad is to receive a £7million bonus.

...The pair’s extraordinary announcement came after hundreds of workers at a GDF Suez gas terminal near Marseille went on strike to protest against award of the stock options.

...The firm has been accused of keeping prices artificially high by exporting gas from Britain to mainland Europe during one of the coldest winters in years.

A pipeline under the English Channel is being used to pump 30.5million cubic metres of gas to the Continent every day - with each day's exports equivalent to 7.5 per cent of the UK's daily requirements.

The move kept wholesale prices in Britain artificially high, maintaining punishing bills for families and businesses.

What the article doesn't say is that had Britain not exported that gas then France would have probably run out by now.

Italy's Berlusconi leads the way with the "Beggar thy neighbour" approach but then Italy is almost out of natural gas in storage so he's probably justified in rebelling against an EU insanity approach of just running everyone completely out while pretending (or perhaps believing if they really are that thick) nothing is wrong.

Italy Cannot Make Concessions On Gas Pipeline Security - PM

"We have replied (to the European Commission) in a very polite way that there are needs far superior that those of tenders, these are national security," said Premier Berlusconi at a press conference in Brussels, referring to a dispute between the executive arm of the E.U and Eni SpA (E).

Thursday, the European Commission charged Eni with unfairly restricting deliveries of gas to Europe via pipelines it owned or controlled.

Anyone else going to the EIA Conference in Washington DC on Tuesday and Wednesday? Robert Rapier and I will be there.

Out of luck: Recession nibbles away at everyday convenience shoppers got accustomed to

CHICAGO (AP) — First came the housing bust, followed by eroding job security and dwindling retirement accounts.

Now, the worst downturn in decades is nibbling away at something so entrenched that people took it for granted: simple, everyday convenience.

It can be as little as driving a few extra miles to buy sheets at Bed Bath & Beyond instead of the now-defunct Linens 'N Things. It's the grumbling that comes with the trash being picked up once a week instead of twice. Or finding there's a long wait to use a computer at the public library.

Regardless of the cause, navigating the altered landscape can leave people scrambling.

I read this yesterday here:


and thought, "Welcome to the post peak world America". People from lesser developed countries such as myself have never had the luxury of some of these "everyday conveniences". Lest anyone think I'm gloating at the distress of Americans, trust me, I'm well aware that the consequences for me and those living in countries like mine may be far more severe than the mere loss of "everyday conveniences". Try difficulty in accessing basic goods and services. Hasn't happened yet but there's a saying here that "when you spit, we wretch." (not in those words, of course!)

Alan from the islands

This is a really important point, I think. Things still get done, people still get by, but everything is a little less convenient and a little less certain. It might be on the shelves. The store might be open. The product might still exist. Look for single points of failure - things where just one item not being there at one time might make something fail. They will fail. Fix them, route around them, and you can bet the workarounds will take more time and more energy, but what doesn't reroute, fails. Until potentially the convolutions take on their base form: Relations from person to person rather than person to corporation. That, would constitute collapse.

I didn't see this posted.

Interesting part about the 4 million gallons per day just to keep the Tiger Woods gold course green.


Leanan: sorry my internet posting skills are lacking.

Could the anchored link html be promoted to the comment creation/edit page? I just copy and paste that code and replace the link & headline. It's easy, but not intuitive.

Hello Degar7,

Thxs for the Dubai info. 4 million gallons/day of desalinated seawater is pretty damn expensive to keep a golf course green. Probably cheaper in the long run to pay hired labor to just pave the golf course green with USA's greenbacks. Then, if a golfer takes out a divot: he just has to plant a fresh $20 bill to restore the surface back to a pristine 'economic pasture'. :(

I thought of you right away when I read that part. I was thinking of just spray painting it...might be just a little cheaper. But you raise a good point - got to do something with all the greenbacks "being printed".

So much for your dream of Tiger Woods ploughing golf courses for food.

Dubai spends more money watering the grass on roundabouts and between highway lanes than on paying the people (mostly south-Asians) who build and run the city, just to show they know where their priorities are.

Group sues Obama administration over weak MPG standards

When the next step in the road to 35 mpg by 2020 CAFE standards was announced recently, those in the know made clear that the Obama administration upcoming goal of 27.3 mpg by 2011 would not be hard for automakers to meet. In fact, the 2007 average was already 31.3, so the 2011 goal would not require any change in product lineup.

Looking at the graph and bearing in mind that a significant number of EU cars are manufactured by GM and Ford, I think the US administration should carry a copy of the graph in their pocket to all negotiations with the US auto industry. Then every time they protest about fuel economy standards, just pop it out, show it to them and say "You cannot be serious?"

Alan from the islands

Ford already builds a wonderfull car, the Ford Fiesta ecoNETIC. Which gets 65 mpg! such a shame it won't go on sale in the US:


That's a diesel and cannot be directly compared to gasoline MPG ratings.

So when you're considering the relative merits of diesel and non-diesel cars (like your friend's VW and your regular alternative), UCS suggests knocking the mpg estimates for the diesel car down by 20 percent to account for those impacts. Since a diesel vehicle will also cost you more, you'll get more bang for your buck from an efficient gasoline car if you're concerned about fending off global warming, UCS says.


When the pundits around here get finished discussing the various ways Darwin changed his theories and his original lack understanding/awareness of Mendelian inheritance, not to mention chromosomes, maybe we could get back to some discussion of current science. This group is supposed to be concerned with energy not biology, remember?

Arctic sea ice thinnest ever going into spring

E. Swanson

More detailed analysis here http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

Figure 5. These images show declining sea ice age, which indicates a thinning Arctic sea ice cover more vulnerable to melting in summer. Ice older than two years now accounts for less than 10% of the ice cover.

Thanks for the graphic.

Remember that the multi-year sea-ice is actually MOVING south along the east coast of Greenland. It's almost as if there's a drain there and the old ice in the Arctic basin is just being flushed. Not to worry, it's just an optical illusion. Besides, I'm seeing snow falling outside my window...

E. Swanson

Forget 2012~ for no sea ice in the arctic, might even be next year..

Normally all one year ice melts in the Summer, which is scary. However last year it didn't.

Well not quite true and the difference is important. Sometimes large patches of one year ice make it to be two year old ice and by the same token large patches of two year old ice melt the next year.

There is a core older ice pack of what they generally label multi-year ice I'd say 5 year plus that slowly flushed out by variation in the winds currents. So overall its a very dynamic system.

We had a lot of one year old ice replace what was very old ice pack that melted some did not melt last year but we still lost a lot of older ice and worse the overall icepack continued to this.

Eventually it looks like your simpler version will come closer and closer to reality with all the ice pack melting every year. I'd suggest that because of the extreme melts we have had with the thinning although uncertain increasing every year that its going to depend on how the currents set up through the summer.

The system is changing.

However good chance that what we will see for a long time is a small persistent block around Greenland and this is really a result of currents keeping certain regions from breaking up.

Or not :)

The point is I think its reached the point that the summer currents and wind will determine how much ice lasts year after year. I think absolutely ice free and strong warming as water is covered by thin first year ice is still a bit further out say 2015.

On the same hand I think we are close to the point that one really warm year with the right wind and current conditions is sufficient to completely flip the system over to one that show thinner ice each year and shrinking ice cover in winter i.e lower winter maximums.

Hello TODers,

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Moroccan Phosphate exports drop 59% in February

..The drop in exports was led by phosphates which tumbled 60 percent as world prices of phosphate-based fertilizers tumbled and the state-owned industry slashed export volumes.
It is the end-user, pull-chain, un-affordability problem again as sulfur is already way down from earlier record prices, and oil & natgas pricing is reduced compared to July '08. I-NPK mfgs should be able to make decent profits on the same flowrate, but because marginal demand has evaporated: the entire global supply chain is being stressed. The producers have no choice but to throttle the flowrate downward to try and remain financially viable. Of course, this increasing un-affordability is not good for the subsistence farmer trying to increase his harvest yield.

First World farmers that can get topsoil sample testing have probably decided that that residual P & K levels will allow them to fore go major purchases this planting season--these relatively 'wealthy farmers' are the major drivers for cratering marginal I-NPK demand.

Subsistence and/or 'less wealthy' farmers around the planet have never been able to afford sufficient I-NPK to come even close to approaching modern farming yields, and now the problem seems even worse. I strongly doubt that any recent localized O-NPK recycling has globally ramped up their flowrate 60% to offset the 60% decline in I-NPK flowrate. Thus overall IMO, this is not good news for the increasing global numbers of the malnourished and/or starving.

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

Boston Globe 'to close in 30 days without cutbacks'

Leading US newspaper the Boston Globe faces closure in 30 days unless unions associated with it agree to cuts and savings worth $20m (£13m) demanded by owner the New York Times Company, according to a report in the Globe.

Union leaders said NYTCo is seeking a series of concessions to keep the paper afloat, including pay cuts, the end of pension contributions by the company, and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees enjoyed by some veteran employees.

This chart from Oil As Money and the Decline of Energy Earnings -- Seeking Alpha is fascinating, the DJIA's buying power in terms of barrels of crude:

The author briefly covers global EROEI. This certainly gives the impression the secular trend is towards 1:1.

"secular trend is towards 1:1

The same trend applies to the dow:gold ratio.

Around 1000, you mean?

Thanks Dude. That has to be one of the most enlightening plots I've seen in ages. A little upkick currently but won't take much of a run up in oil prices to put us back on trend.

Gail is definately one TOD author I revere and take notice when she posts. However, I am not sure the peak oil scenario on healthcare is exactly right. I am in the Healthcare IT profession and there is much movement afoot to bring healthcare to the home. To make it easier for diagnose and treatment at the home...just like the old country docs did...but with much more quality. Computer technology could advance us to a new level of quality care...a white swan? This is what I am seeing....and of course...we are a long ways from being there at the pace we are going. Maybe that will change.

France still has house calls. But they probably have the best health care in the world (Germany may argue with this)

Hello TODers,

Weekly Fertilizer Forecast

..Prices for natural gas, the feedstock for nitrogen based fertilizers, suggest prices should be even lower. Futures on gas made new lows this week on due to weak industrial demand, but appear to be trying to forge a long-term bottom.

That has some producers wondering if they can hedge fertilizer needs in the natural gas market. This type of hedge used to work fairly well, but became less effective when high domestic gas prices lead U.S. companies to import most of their nitrogen. Long-term, U.S. gas prices follow the international market, but can stay disconnected from fertilizer prices for quite some time.

The other problem with the hedge is the size of gas futures: the 10,000 million btu contracts cover the gas needed to produce 265 tons of ammonia, or enough to only cover 3,300 acres at 160 lb/ac. Margins can be steep and margin calls even steeper.
I posted this info to help show why there is no I-NPK futures market as the result would be that most participants would have their financially chewed ass handed back to them in record time from the extreme volativity.

Bob - I here employ a well-intended pun - when are you going to shape all this crap into a keypost(s)? I swear you could plug every toilet in Grand Central Station with printouts of all the updates on essential elements you've made over the last few years. Let's have you squeeze out this bit of blocked up specialization, give it a good clench for the sake of the uninformed and spread your brain's manure on the plot that is a wide gap in the garden of TOD knowledge!

Love your writing style too - tautology becomes fairly hypnotizing after a while. Have no doubts others would lend you a hand in your effort. Given the metaphor employed above, this would be...the internet equivalent of bringing you a magazine to read?

Quote of the day?

The most chilling accomplishment of American capitalist culture is that we have commodified our own consciousness.
--Joe Bageant

i just dont understand you doomers. i live in new jersey. no one speaks about WTSHTF. never! dentists dont, mechanics dont, head hunters dont, clerks in banks dont, friends dont, family dont, folks who are from other countries (lots of them) dont, teachers dont, elected officials dont. i never over hear peak oil mentioned at the supermarket or the liquor store or at a dance club.
in fact, i was at a local night club to see a rock and roll show on thursday last week. i was amazed at the overwhelming majority of over weight people. i mean grossly overweight. men, women, young old. all
chubbed out. and it is everywhere in the NY/NJ metro area. are people
subliminally bulking up for the famine? HOT DAM! WTSHTF it's really gonna clobber everyone even the "enlightened" at TOD. dead frogs all over hell i suspect. but i like my doomer porn, got steven king beat.
wedenseday is soylent green day. PRAISE BE TO ZARDOZ! as an aside, it looks like JHK is going to be one of the first to get a free trip to a government internment facility. he is really talking up armed revolution. when JHK cant make any more road trips, then i will know

IMO the armed revolution isn't the American Way-more likely increased sales of Prozac and Zoloft. Gun sales will be brisk, and regularly some guy who snaps with the combo will take out the entire family, including the dog, lastly himself. That is the modern American Way, not armed revolution.

what if you got a few disgruntled unemployed ex securtiy/police /military to snap and take out a whole small town or a mall or something with a 1000 people commando style? Maybe that will get common like mass murders now. Then next step up is 10-20 guys or a neighbourhood or factory taking over city hall and staging a revolt. The situation just has to get progressivley worse for next level violence to increase. Probably more black market and crime syncdicates would be result, as such larger and larger revolts are pretty linear and therefore unlikely.