Drumbeat: April 7, 2009

Carpe Peak Oil

In this scenario, low oil prices will continue to take oil fields out of production and reduce exploration. Once prices recover, companies will have trouble gearing back up due to the credit crunch, resulting in production-increase delays.

This is on no one’s radar.

Peak oil doesn’t mean we’re in imminent danger of running out of oil; it’s the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction was reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. The aggregate production rate from an oil field over time usually grows exponentially until the rate peaks and then declines -- sometimes rapidly -- until the field is depleted.

The Efficacy Of Presidential Energy Policy

From FDR to Barack Obama, occupants of the White House have at least attempted to control how we use energy sources.

Keeping wheels rolling, jets flying, and factories and lights lit are great balancing acts of the modern world--balancing often incompatible and frequently subtle economic, environmental and strategic considerations.

OPEC president can live with $50-$60 oil

LUANDA - OPEC can live with oil prices of $50-$60 a barrel for the rest of 2009, a source close to the organisation’s Angolan presidency said on Tuesday.

The comments fit with an emerging consensus in OPEC that it will accept lower prices than it would like to help nurse the global economy back to health and mark a retreat from OPEC President Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos’ remarks in March that oil could reach $75 a barrel this year.

They also imply Angola is unlikely to argue for an output cut when the group next meets on May 28.

Russia steps up gas pressure on Ukraine

KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia threatened to fine Ukraine on Tuesday for failing to buy enough gas in the first quarter, increasing pressure on its neighbour at a time when the World Bank said Kiev's economy was contracting fast.

Alexei Miller, chief executive of Russia's state-run gas giant Gazprom, told Reuters the corporation was in talks with Ukrainian counterparts over possible sanctions over lower than agreed gas imports.

Exxon says Sable Island offshore natgas field shut

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) said Tuesday the production field at the Sable Offshore Energy Project in Nova Scotia was shut-in after an "operational incident," cutting off about 400 million cubic feet per day of gas production.

"The field is shut-in now. We were doing some maintenance and operating at less than normal in the last while. Work is underway to restore expected levels as soon as possible, but I can't speculate on when that will happen," said Exxon spokesman Merle MacIsaac.

Clean-Energy Industry in the Doldrums

Investment in renewable energy has hit a lull as private-sector money is drying up, but the bulk of government funding has yet to arrive.

Northeast Utilities plans charging stations

BOSTON—One of New England's largest utility systems has applied for a federal grant to help build 575 stations to charge electric vehicles in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The American Suburb Is Bouncing Back - Don't believe the urban-living fundamentalists

When the mortgage crisis first hit, some urbanists, not surprisingly, were quick to blame the suburbs--instead of Wall Street--for the financial meltdown. With energy prices on the rise, they persuaded themselves and the ever-gullible mainstream media that the long-awaited "back to the city" jubilee was imminent.

In contrast, the suburbs and exurbs, crowed Brookings' Chris Leinberger, were soon to become "the new slums." As the middle classes trudged their way back to Boston and other suitably dense big cities, James Howard Kunstler--the "shock jock" of the new urbanist movement and a leading apostle of the "peak oil" thesis--happily proclaimed, "Let the gloating begin."

Yet as George Guerrero could tell them, a dream is not a thing so easily destroyed. The American landscape continues to change, but perhaps not entirely in the ways so eagerly projected by urban boosters and their media claque.

Oil Has Peaked: Now Begins the Transition

We have officially entered the post-oil age in which the transition to lower energy lives is inevitable.

Kunstler: Strange Days

What they're missing is real simple: peak oil means no more ability to service debt at all levels, personal, corporate, and government. End of story. All the other exertions being performed in opposition to this basic fact-of-life amount to a spastic soft-shoe performed before a smokescreen concealing a world of hurt.

Oil's time draws to a close

We've had a good ride with oil. And it is cheap because all we have to do is pump it out of the ground and get it to where we want to use it. Amazing.

But we are running out of oil. Of course, there is disagreement about when it will run out, but few people doubt that at some point, the availability of oil will decline.

Dmitry Orlov: Burning our bridges to the XXI century

The future does not resemble the past – or does it? When the lights go out, people burn candles and oil lamps, just like they used to before the electric grid came into existence. No longer accustomed to working with open flame, they tend to set things on fire, and for a while, until they regain this experience or until natural selection whittles away the truly incompetent, the neighborhood is a constant blaze.

When we find out that the supermarket is out of food and that the cupboard is bare, we hunt, fish, forage, plant kitchen gardens, and start experimenting with raising poultry and rabbits. Those who are incapable of doing so, or who feel that such lowly pursuits are beneath their dignity, become dependent on the charity of those who are more adaptable, or starve.

Interview with Matt Simmons, Part 1

In the case of “Drowning with Oil,” I got a call in late February 1999 from their writer who introduced himself as being new at the energy desk but a long-timer at The Economist. He said, “I’ve been working on a major story for the better part of a month, and people I interviewed said I ought to interview you because you would have an opposing view.” He said, “the story is we’re going to have $5 oil for a decade or two because Saudi Arabia is sitting on a $100 billion war chest, and once and for all they’re going to lower the price of oil to $5 and keep it there long enough to knock out the Caspian and other stuff, including any form of alternate energy before it gets out of hand. “What do you think of that?” And I said “it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. The oil and gas industry is suffocating on a price as low as $10-$12. Saudi Arabia doesn’t have such a war chest. Mexico and Venezuela are hurting. If we keep oil prices this low for another year to 18 months, we’ll lose 4 million barrels a day of supply. Then we’ll have an oil shock.” And he said, “oh, you can’t be right. I’ve talked to Shell, Exxon, Amy Jaffe, Dan Yergin—everybody.”

Pickens takes energy plan to University of Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE - A former wildcatter who made his fortune finding oil presented his plan for eliminating the United States' dependence on foreign fuels to a crowd of more than 750 people Monday.

T. Boone Pickens conducted a town-hall meeting explaining his "Pickens Plan" for reducing imported oil in the Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development at the University of Arkansas.

Lif to the fullest - Indie rapper Mr. Lif wants hip-hop to get serious

Since breaking out on El-P's Definitive Jux label a decade ago, Jeffrey Haynes, aka Mr. Lif, has helped keep hip-hop honest. From conscientious early EPs like "Enters the Colossus" and "Emergency Rations" to plugged-in full-lengths like "I Phantom" and "Mo Mega," Lif has spoken truth to power in hard-hitting, body-rocking rhymes that moved brains as well as spines.

So when it came time for America to enter a new phase under the leadership of Barack Obama, Lif seized the day and tightened his focus, crafting his most ambitious effort, the new "I Heard It Today." It's a sprawling, sociopolitical exploration, touching variously on peak oil, police brutality and even our current econo-pocalypse, which Lif explains was created by the "taxpayer slayers" on Wall Street.

UK: Urgent memorandum for the next election - Michael Meacher identifies four global fronts on which Labour should go to the country in 2010

Nor is peak oil – the point at which the world achieves maximum annual production before it declines – ever discussed publicly by governments. Yet it is widely believed by oil industry experts that this will be reached within the next five years, if it hasn’t happened already. Since oil over the past 150 years has underpinned a six-fold increase in the population of the world and is mainly responsible for the enormous industrial and technological productivity of the modern age, its virtual disappearance within the next few decades is sure to mean a dramatic alteration of the parameters of the international economy and human civilisation itself.

A Critique of Eco Judaism

One of the latest trends in the Jewish world is Eco Judaism. Eco Judaism is an effort to connect environmentalism with Judaism. Aspects of the movement are disturbing. There is a bias against capitalism and development in their materials.

Oil: No Supply Side Answer to the Coming Crisis

One hangover from the neoliberal 1980s is the myth of 'supply side solutions'. For oil, the key target is to keep prices low as long as possible because "High oil prices hurt growth". In practice, giving this myth some substance needs a sharp fall in economic growth and energy demand destruction.

After this, the myth goes on, oil prices will recover slower than economic growth, allowing a window of opportunity for building another fragile asset bubble. The key element, therefore, is demand destruction because supply growth is slow, underlining that so-called 'supply side solutions' are in fact demand-linked and demand-constrained.

Global rig count takes a dip

Baker Hughes said the number of drilling rigs actively exploring for or developing oil or natural gas across the globe dropped by 440 to 2313 in March.

In February, 2753 rigs were at work.

Chavez Says Venezuela Wants to Diversify Oil Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said investment deals signed with Japan and China are helping his country diversify oil sales away from the U.S., the South America nation’s biggest overseas market.

Even oil-rich Alberta gets whacked by the recession

The surplus king of provinces has turtled into “have deficit” status. True blue Alberta’s budget will be underlined in red when it is released on Tuesday, just nine months after Canada’s energy capital was overflowing with proceeds from record oil prices.

Daqing to maintain crude output

China's largest oilfield Daqing aims to produce 400 million tons of crude in the next 10 years, according to officials with the oilfield.

"We will maintain our annual crude oil output at 40 million tons in the next 10 years," said Wang Yongchun, Party secretary of Daqing oilfield. "Sustainable production of Daqing is important to China's oil supply."

Main Mexico oil ports shut on bad weather

Mexico closed the Cayo Arcas and Coatzacoalcos oil ports this afternoon and the Dos Bocas terminal remained shut due to bad weather, the government said.

The Energy Boom Everyone Forgot About

Sure, government subsidies for solar and wind power will help get those sectors rolling again. And the potential for a “cap and trade” carbon tax system is turning eyes back to geothermal power. But there’s a bigger boom right under our noses. It’s one that doesn’t require any government support. This one is going to be big – real big.

Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) says it’s, “The next truly global energy business opportunity.”

Qatar launches 13.3 bln dlr gas-to-Britain project

DOHA (AFP) – Qatar on Monday inaugurated its 13.2 billion dollar Qatargas 2 project, with a production capacity of 15 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year, most of it destined for Britain.

The Qatargas 2 project in the Ras Laffan industrial zone in northern Qatar comprises two plants each with an annual capacity to produce 7.8 million tonnes of LNG.

BG says owns almost all of Pure Energy

The takeover marks a big step for BG's expansion in Australia which it sees as a strategic area for development, being rich in oil and gas resources and well placed to supply markets in Asia where demand for energy has risen sharply in recent years.

Italy Plans to Extend Russian Gas Pipeline to Turkey, RT Says

(Bloomberg) -- Italy plans to extend the Blue Steam pipeline that carries Russian natural gas under the Black Sea to Turkey, Italian Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said, according to Russia Today.

Ukraine's Naftogaz says pays Russian March gas bill

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine has paid its March gas bill to Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom, Ukraine's state energy company Naftogaz said on Tuesday.

"Naftogaz has transferred the money," Naftogaz spokesman Valentyn Zemlyansky told Reuters. Gazprom declined immediate comment.

Rig Analysis: North Sea Utilization

With the UK estimating recoverable reserves of 25 Bboe and Norway estimating 82 Bboe of remaining reserves, the North Sea remains a viable geographic locale for hydrocarbon exploration and production. In fact, approximately 300 - 400 MMboe were discovered in the UK North Sea in 2008, and 837 MMboe were discovered in the Norwegian North Sea.

Saudi sells 80,000 tonnes cracked fuel oil

Saudi Aramco has sold 80,000 tonnes of cracked 380-centistoke (cst) fuel oil for April 19-21 loading from its Rabigh refinery at a smaller discount than its previous deals, traders said on Tuesday.

Aramco sold the A962 cargo – its third such parcel in the past month, or around six parcels since February – to Japan's Itochu at a discount of around $6 (Dh22) per tonne to Singapore spot quotes, on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, traders said.

Lukoil Has First Quarterly Loss Since at Least 2001 on Oil Drop

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Lukoil, Russia’s largest non- state oil producer, posted its first loss since at least 2001 as currency fluctuations and writedowns compounded a collapse in crude prices.

Lukoil had a net loss of $1.62 billion in the fourth quarter, according to Bloomberg calculations from the company’s full-year earnings report released today. That compared with net income of $3.21 billion a year earlier. Analysts had estimated a loss of $1.07 billion, based on the median of 12 responses in a Bloomberg News survey.

Total, Chevron Preparing Joint Bid for Iraq Oil Field Rights

(Bloomberg) --Total SA and Chevron Corp. will bid together for oil development rights in Iraq as firms search for new crude supplies and the Middle Eastern country looks for investors to pump cash into its economy.

Iraq, holder of the world’s third-largest oil reserves, is running two bidding rounds to attract investors after six years of conflict and prior sanctions destroyed infrastructure. Last year it pre-qualified 35 international companies to take part in the sales and added nine more to the list this month.

Oil on the agenda as Chávez visits China

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was set to arrive in China on Tuesday on a visit likely to deepen already strong ties that focus on oil but branch into areas stretching from the military to the media.

GM Bankruptcy Plan Said to Speed Up as Board Seeks Savings Goal

(Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp. is speeding up preparations for a possible bankruptcy filing even as directors scout for deeper savings this week to avoid that outcome, people familiar with the plans said.

GM tests a sporty new, 200-mpg 2-seater

General Motors is teaming with Segway, the scooter company, to develop a battery-powered vehicle to cut urban congestion and pollution.

The companies plan to announce the partnership Tuesday in New York, where they are testing a prototype of the partially enclosed, two-seat, two-wheel scooter. The venture is called Project PUMA, for Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility.

Britain’s green companies having a hard time

According to a survey by the Renewable Energy Association (REA), 32 out of 39 green energy companies in Britain have admitted to a shortage of cashflow and are finding it hard to obtain loans from banks. With other countries investing highly in renewable energies, the United Kingdom may be at a huge disadvantage.

US Sec. Salazar: US Can't Close Door on Oil and Gas

The U.S. has not ruled out opening new offshore territory to oil and gas exploration, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a roomful of lawmakers, environmental activists and ordinary citizens Monday.

Salazar: Eastern wind could equal coal for power

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – If wind power were fully developed off the East Coast, windmills could generate enough electricity to replace most, if not all, the coal-fired power plants in the United States, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday.

But those numbers were challenged as "overly optimistic" by a coal industry group, which noted that half the nation's electricity currently comes from coal-fired power plants.

It’s not easy being green in an economic crisis

NEW YORK - When it comes to going green, Kristen Chase does what she can: recycling, using her own grocery bags, buying organic produce and conserving energy and water.

But the 32-year-old mom of three doesn't drive a hybrid, have solar panels on the house or furniture made from recyclable materials. Not in this economy.

More states want solar power to be option on new homes

A growing number of states are moving to require home builders to offer solar electricity and hot-water systems in new homes, right alongside more traditional options such as fancy kitchen countertops and special window treatments.

"It's just like the granite countertop upgrade or the two-car garage or the larger closet — these are options the homeowner can choose to purchase," said Jeff Lyng, the renewable energy program manager for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's Energy Office.

Empire State Building: New energy role model

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Empire State Building kicked off a major energy-saving retrofit Monday, and promoters hope one of the world's most iconic skyscrapers can become an efficiency model for buildings worldwide.

From the cloud-shrouded observation deck on the building's 80th floor, former President Bill Clinton, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others detailed $20 million in cutting-edge conservation measures they hope will cut energy use by 38% for the 1930's-era behemoth.

Fighting the recession, armed with seeds - Home gardening experiences a boom as families seek to cut food costs

Hoe in hand, Kate Kinne works her field on a cold March day.

“I do seven kinds of berries,” Kinne said. “I have an apple tree, [a] fig tree, all vegetables, eggs.”

All that production notwithstanding, Kinne’s farm doesn’t stretch over acres of rolling land. In fact, it isn’t a farm at all. It’s the small backyard of her house in Portland, Ore. Story continues below ↓advertisement | your ad here

Kinne is part of a growing movement of Americans who are turning to their own resources to fight the economic recession, now in its 16th month. As paychecks and job opportunities shrink in tandem with rising prices at the store, more and more households are growing their own food in their backyards, in shared community-run gardens and even on their windowsills.

Declaration: ‘Biochar’, a new big threat to people, land, and ecosystems

Adding charcoal (‘biochar’) to the soil has been proposed as a ‘climate change mitigation’ strategy and as a means of regenerating degraded land. Some even claim that this could sequester so much carbon that the Earth could return to pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels, i.e. that all the global warming caused by fossil fuel burning and ecosystem destruction could be reversed. Such large-scale production of charcoal would require many hundreds of millions of hectares of land for biomass production (primarily tree plantations). This is an attempt to manipulate the biosphere and land use on a vast scale in order to alter the global climate, which makes it a form of ‘geo-engineering’.

Can Carbon Capture and Storage Save Coal?

Capturing carbon dioxide may be the only hope to avoid a climate change catastrophe from burning fossil fuels.

OPEC Members Split With Developing Nations on UN Carbon Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have split with developing nations over more stringent cuts in the burning of fossil fuels, fearing their economies will suffer from shrinking demand for oil.

UN climate talks stall over emissions cuts by rich

AMSTERDAM – Negotiators at U.N. climate talks, buoyed by U.S. promises to lead the fight against global warming, are demanding that industrial countries pledge deeper cuts in greenhouse gases over the next decade.

Artic ice thinner than ever: scientists

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Arctic ice cap is thinner than ever, satellite observations revealed Monday, while also indicating that the sea ice cover continues to shrink due to global warming.

This winter saw the fifth lowest maximum ice extent on record since monitoring by satellite began in 1979, said the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

A Sudden Chill

An ice bridge in Antarctica has disappeared from the map. This is a defining moment that means the world must move much faster against climate change

Kotkin grabs a quote " a dream is not a thing so easily destroyed". Apt in the sense that these dream chasers are sleepwalking into oblivion. Oh, stated preferences suggest that people want cheap, nice homes on large lots, in quiet neighborhoods with excellent schools? Great. Do they also want hot tubs, swimming pools, Porsches, a keg cooler in the man cave, antique furniture, self washing toilets, perfect children, lawns that never need mowing, a housemaid, a 60 inch plasma flat screen, maybe some art on the walls? Of course they do! What does it matter, it's all a dream, right?

We err when we bend public policy in an attempt to turn a dream into reality (or perhaps to trick people into thinking that it's all within their grasp, "just sign this note"). We f-up when we do so at the expense of the planet's ability to sustain life. Let's leave dreams in bed and work in the real world. Sorry Joel, lame article.

Re: Kothin's article in Forbes ("The American Suburb is Bouncing Back"), linked uptop

Surveys consistently show that between 10% and 20% of people want to live in dense cities. In a country that will gain 100 million people over the next four decades, that's 20 million, not exactly what you'd call chopped liver. But the bulk of growth will continue to be in the 'burbs. . .

The unspoken underlying assumption is that only nutcases and space alien cultists, like yours truly, believe that we will have a problem maintaining an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base.

Khebab has crunched the actual numbers on projected cumulative net oil exports by the top five. The 2006 to 2008 data inclusive are falling between our middle and high cases, which in turn suggests that within three to six years the top five will have shipped about half of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports. In other words, the post-2005 net export fuel gauge for the top five was at 100% at the end of 2005, and we project that it will be showing half empty only seven to ten years after 2005.

Meanwhile the Forbes article is another in a long line of similar missives promulgated by the "Iron Triangle." To paraphrase the old joke about the wife who walks in and finds her husband in bed with another woman, the Iron Triangle types are in effect saying "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Net Oil Exports and the "Iron Triangle"
July 13, 2007

To some extent, what we are seeing across the board, from large sectors of the energy industry to the auto/housing/finance industry, media and beyond, is the "Enron Effect," i.e., many people know that we have huge problems ahead, but their paychecks are dependent on the status quo. The suburbanites are caught in the middle of this, although they have a strong inclination to believe the prevailing message from the "Iron Triangle." As in the movie "The Sixth Sense," for most of us the automobile based suburban lifestyle is dead, but we just don't know it yet, and we see only what we want to see.

However, it is increasingly difficult for many suburbanites to ignore reality as it slowly dawns on them that Jim Kunstler was right when he said, “Suburbs represent the biggest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.” We shall probably soon see that hell hath no fury like a Formerly Well Off suburbanite who just had his SUV repossessed and his McMansion foreclosed. At least those of us trying to warn of what is coming can try to be ready with a credible plan to try to make things "Not as bad as they would otherwise be,” when it becomes apparent to a majority of Americans that we cannot have an infinite rate of increase in the consumption of a finite energy resource base. How's that for a campaign slogan?

Why will the US gain 100M people in the next 40 years? Even that supposition implies a large growth in available energy.

With Boomers aging, and a depression underway, I would expect the population to flatten for a while. 100M immigrants is possible, but that will drastically shift the politics and ethnicity of the country if so.

Or maybe those numbers are simply wrong?

The UN predicted that, based on current trends. It is largely due to immigration, which not only increases the number of people, it increases the fertility rate, since immigrants tend to have larger families for the first two or three generations they are here.

Of course the current trends could and likely will change. The UN also produced studies that found there wouldn't be enough food and water for that kind of population increase.

Whether we're looking at the world or just the US, powering down without addressing population is a short-sighted and ill-fated gambit.

10 billion people scrabbling for bare sustenance will leave the world as bad off, or worse, as 6B people blowing through fossil fuels.

I don't know how we can possibly control population on a worldwide basis except through war, disease, and starvation. I don't know how we'll even do it within the US. People will move toward jobs and food, and that probably means the US will be quietly overrun by economic refugees.

If I were amoral, I could come up with solutions that favored the US. Biofuels would go near the top of the list, right below warfare.

I can't come up with any morally acceptable solutions to the worldwide population crisis. How do you get the entire world to stop having children?


Good film.
A glimpse of the future? (Hope not)

Generally, larger urban areas have a decreased birth rate. If we increase commute costs via taxes, energy prices, maybe this will slow down the birth rate as more move into urban settings.

I can't come up with any morally acceptable solutions to the worldwide population crisis. How do you get the entire world to stop having children?

I think part of the solution can come from our reconnecting to the soil via dense small towns close to agriculture which are locally and regionally self-sufficient in basics. In a situation like this, the communities themselves take responsibility for resource management, including human reproduction rates.

There also has to be some global and regional coordination, but it could be a lot less coercive once people are directly and deeply involved in immediate resource management.

But I can see that there might be a few bumps on the way to getting to that position. :)

On the question of having more "children"...

Has anybody thought of letting the old die? It sounds cruel but the effort of prolonging 90s & 100s year old ended up costing us more than bringing up a new person who soon will take care of the earth. If we plan to have human remain on earth in the next 1000s years, having no babies is out of the question. So the answer comes down to having fewer babies.

Now, if we think the world population is unsustainable right now and this requires fewer and fewer babies -- these kids will have to take care of us in old age by paying taxes toward social services and health care. For them, this burden is also unsustainable as the whole infrastructure of energy and society collapse -- what will they do?

Whether we realized it or not -- this past few generations had pretty much destroyed the earth through its selfishness of consumerism. Most are still in denial about the consequences.

I was having a discussions with my "older" friends about the status of our (US) debt and liabilities. I, playing the devil advocate, am putting a lot of responsibilities on the baby boomer generation for that. With +50Trillions total, it's just hard enough to see if the future generations can get us out of this mess -- now added to that with fewer people (decrease growth: economic also), this becomes a huge huge mess. Sooner or later, a lot of people holding the US debt will realize that the greatest Ponzi schemer is the US government.

Has anybody thought of letting the old die? It sounds cruel but the effort of prolonging 90s & 100s year old ended up costing us more than bringing up a new person who soon will take care of the earth.

I'm 68. I don't want extraordinary and expensive efforts made to keep me alive even now should something happen, much less when and if I make it to 80 or 90.

Another way of dealing with the elderly is to have the younger elderly help in caring for the older elderly. There are a multitude of ways to reduce the resource consumption of the elderly (along with everyone else!), but they are almost all in conflict with the profit system.

Letting the old die is not a good way to put it however. Not going to extreme and expensive measures is a better way. Where and when resources become scarce, choices may have to be made, and it a lot of the interventions performed now, even in the case of the middle-aged sometimes, will make no sense in the near future.

Still, in Cuba, with the teeniest fraction of the resources they have a longevity matching ours and they take pride in it. I doubt this is because of interventions, but probably more because of basic health care, more exercise, and a healthier although much more frugal diet.

Of course -- I meant it as a provocation into the "don't have kids" ideal. It sounds good but ...

The point is "we are running into the wall hard." There have to be sacrifice in our way of life -- both young and old. We shouldn't think of piling debts onto our younger and expect them to pay b/c they won't and can't b/c it's not sustainable. Living w/in our mean implies we have to pay enough taxes to fund our budgets -- which we haven't done for a long long time. Government shouldn't raid Social Security & should think about an extra tax to save & pay for medicare and medicaid. Those are the moral concepts that I wish people stand up and demand from our government.

I've no doubt the old will die, and that some of the high-tech methods we use to prolong life will fall by the wayside.

However, letting the old die really isn't the answer to the population problem. It's females that determine fertility, and elderly females do not have children (aside from a handful who are able and willing to use high-tech methods like in vitro). It's those of breeding age or younger that matter when it comes to population growth. They are the "exponential function" part of the equation.

I also think the elderly might have knowledge that will be extremely useful in the post-carbon age. My grandparents made most of their possessions. They did buy their car, but they built their house, their boat, their fishing gear, much of their furniture, their greenhouse and planting pots, sewed their own clothes, etc. If things get really bad, those skills will doubtless be more valuable than my skills with computers, Nintendo, and programming the VCR.

"letting the old die" doesn't distinguish between various categories of old people. There are many old (and not so old) people who are kept alive against their will. They suffer, sometimes incredible agony. They are kept alive because the living do not want to accept that we humans are mortal. For them, the end of endless treatments will be a blessing. I was a hospice volunteer for many years and visited nursing homes from my teenage years. I know that what I am saying is quite true.

Unfortunately in this country the number of elderly that have knowledge that will be useful to us and that still have their full minds is decreasing but not gone. One hopes that people will make good use of the knowledge they have.

I volunteered in Haiti about 20 years ago at one of Mother Theresa's children's homes. I came away with very mixed feelings. While it felt good to help save these lives, the environmental disaster was there right in your face at all times. Saving lives meant more overpopulation, more environmental degradation and more children to be born to suffer in the future. No doubt some of the kids I helped save are now eating mud cakes to try survive and feeding them to their kids.


My question when I left Haiti is "is good always good" - my answer is "NO". Nothing is simple and doing good can have bad consequences and vice versa - Eastern Philosophy has a better handle on this than Western Philosophy does. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang

I am afraid that oil has subsidized not only our lifestyle but also our moral sense allowing us to indulge in sentimental feelings that we will no longer be able to afford. We will have to make much more difficult moral decisions in the future.

I recommend the movie "The Grey Zone" for anyone wishing to explore some of these moral questions. It asks such questions in the context of a Nazi prison camp - this is a hard movie, but well worth watching.


Life is a terminal condition. We are ALL going to die, every person now alive is going to die. Every baby born has a (usually) delayed death sentence as soon as they take their first breath. We are mortal. What will change in the future is not whether or not we die, but when it is likely we will die, how we will die, whether or not we pass on our genes, how many other people will be alive at the same time we are alive and how desirable being alive will be.

Getting food and water for 100 million more Americans can be done. Just stop raising hogs. Currently about 113 million are slaughtered each year:


Those who refuse to admit that hogs are a waste of resources can not be serious about dealing with the human population problem. Trying to reduce human population while a competitive animal's production runs amok is stupid IMO.

I concur.

Eating animals uses more food to feed the animals than we will be able to afford, soon. From memory, I believe the hierarchy is something like this:

  • cattle -- eleven times more energy in than out
  • hogs -- six times more energy in than out
  • chickens -- three times more energy in than out

That's why as developing countries move up the meat ladder they start with chickens.

I think you forgot the worst energy ratio of large animals.

human beans are undoubtedly the worst.

I really thought when I first saw getting rid of the "hog" mentioned, I thought you were talking about all the fat people around. If we could get rid of those hogs, it would certainly help.

Also I think free range chickens for eggs and meat are getting a bad rap above.

I agree, get rid of the "Land Whales" first, and don't feel guilty about free range chickens. Sometimes I feel like I'm an another planet- who are theses beings?

human beans are undoubtedly the worst.

Especially if they're soybeanslentgreen ;-)

it's not all about EROEI, especially when you're talking about food. by that logic of yours, we should stick with oil because it has (had?!) the highest eroei

the problem is you need a balanced diet with a small volumetric intake. and unless you want your stomach digesting apples and potatoes all day long, you need some meat

also, if you got more corn or wheat than you can possibly eat, it would be logical to transform some of it into chicken :P

BS Warning here.

A human can quite easily, survive and thrive, on a meatless diet. Anyone that says otherwise is talking out their a$$.

No more excuses people.

unless you want your stomach digesting apples and potatoes all day long, you need some meat

BS !

Tell that to vegetarians.

Soybean oil and other vegetable oils are extremely calorie dense, much better than meat.

Best Hopes after a lunch of squash sauteed in olive oil,


The plants one needs to eat to subside on a vegetarian diet do not all grow in the same climate zone if you do not want to have vitamin/protein deficiency. Even then our body's digestive tract compared to other other pure herbivores cannot effectively extract all the nutrients in a plant we eat, it is similar to omnivore that has started to adapt to eating meat.

Believe what you want the science states we are meat eaters and we can get some very good nutrition from meat. What we don't need is forcing people to eat plants just so we can squeeze more people on the planet. We need less people.

What we don't need is forcing people to eat plants just so we can squeeze more people on the planet. We need less people.


the science states we are meat eaters

Hold on there, buddy, reel in your hyperbole. Human beings are omnivores, always have been.

The beans and rice w/ tomato, onion, garlic, green pepper and mushrooms was excellent. So was the apple!

Beer is vegetarian, too!

Beer is not vegetarian. Its fermented grains which means your drinking yeast piss. There is a net energy loss from that too.

Cheese, tofu, etc are not vegetarian either.

Less meat is the answer but animal flesh provides us with a very balanced mix of proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. Are bodies are adapted with the necessary enzymes to break it down. Perhaps some genotypes may be more adapted for a vegetarian diet but I know that mine feels much better when I have some flesh in my meals. Balance and moderation are key. Not abstinence.

may be more adapted for a vegetarian diet but I know that mine feels much better when I have some flesh in my meals.

I am certainly not officially a vegetarian, but I have surprised myself with the question "When did I last eat meat ?" Often a week or more ago. Some dairy though (few eggs).

I was refuting the claim that meat is somehow more energy dense and that veggies took forever to digest.


Cheese, tofu, etc are not vegetarian either.

Makes me wonder what you think is required to make something vegetarian?

You're right that it's not all about EROEI. Cows, chickens, sheep, and goats do not produce only meat. They produce milk, eggs, and wool, and traditionally were eaten only when their productive lives were over. Pigs, OTOH, produce only meat (though they do that very effectively). That is why pork is forbidden in Jewish and Muslim tradition. Raising pigs is wasteful, since they eat food people eat and don't produce anything besides meat. But because they turn plant food into meat so well, it's very tempting to raise them.

I think your last point is very good, too. Freezing, canning, etc., are very energy-intensive. Traditionally, animals have been a way to store food for the winter/dry season. In that case, EROEI matters less than the fact that they let you store food in a time of plenty and save it for when times are leaner.

Of course this has little to do with our current factory-farm system, but sustainable doesn't necessarily mean vegan.

Pig meat is also tasty! I imagine that long pork is too.

"Island of the Sequined Love Nun"! Yumm.

Pigs provide for other things too. Pork rinds are yummy... But really there skin is quite thick and is used to make robust leather. Also their digestive enzymes can be used. Also insulin. Pigs/hogs have been traditionally used to make sausage which is not so energy-intensive. They also have keen smell which can be used for tracking. Good point on how live stock is an effective way of storing food.

Yes, pig leather is useful. But the point was that you can't harvest it without killing the pig. That's not the case with wool, milk, and eggs. You can harvest those multiple times, then eat the animal when its productive days are over.

Maybe I'll make my millions by breeding dairy pigs.

thanks for the calm tone, and seeing farther than the rest of the bunch.

cows and chickens provide some neat fertilizer for that veggie garden of yours, guys. try giving olive oil to a baby, see where that gets you.
also, animals can take care of themselves pretty well. the best part imho is that they provide an "insurance" to that late spring freeze or arid summer or caterpillar invasion or whatever. there's a reason why they go way back with agriculture. think about it


“Americans have no idea how wasteful these large mammals are,” Gracer says. “If you want to feed a lot of people, insects are the best choice in terms of getting the biggest bang for your buck.” Insects, he claims, are nutritious. Although they typically contain less protein by weight than beef or chicken—100 grams of giant water bugs or small grasshoppers, for example, have about 20 grams of protein, compared with 27 grams in the same amount of lean ground beef—they do have other benefits. For instance, grasshoppers contain just one-third of the fat found in beef, and water bugs offer almost four times as much iron. A 100-gram portion of the cooked caterpillar Usata terpsichore has about 28 grams of protein. In their dried form, as they are commonly sold in Africa, insects such as grasshoppers may contain up to 60 percent protein.

Raising insects has a low impact on the environment. They require little water, perhaps because they obtain much of their moisture from their food. It takes 869 gallons of water to produce a third of a pound of beef, about enough for a large hamburger. By contrast, to supply water to a quarter pound of crickets, Gracer simply places­ a moist paper towel at the bottom of their tank and refreshes it weekly.

Overheard in the "Bike Through Lane" of the local fast food joint (circa 2015)... "I'd like to super size that cricket burger with the hydroponic veggies and I'll have a side order of the solar dried grubs to go please. Oh and could you refill my water pack, thanks!"

Why douse fields with pesticides if the bugs we kill are more nutritious than the crops they eat?

Some cultures do eat insects. (They really are kind of like land shrimp.)

I think the issue is EROEI - not of raising them, but of gathering and preparing them. That's why we have a bias toward larger prey.

I did a little bit of research on insect eating a while ago. Don't remember the links but there is a few sites. EROEI is higher than mammals for raising and as far as preparing them you only have to cook them or eat em raw. Grubs and meal worms for example can be added to whatever grain is abundant for an increase in fat and protein. Every insect is different and little modern research has been done on the nutritional or cultivation. However in many "third world" countries it is normal to catch any insect or small mammal (rodents) to supplement dinner. This IMHO deserves more research. This summer I'm going to intentionally try eating some insects. Mmmhh.

Another interesting food class is bacteria, algae, and lichen. Also if you are ever starving and have some leather boots around...you can boil em.

EROEI is higher than mammals for raising

I wonder if that holds true for mass production, though. If you have to raise a million pounds of meat, instead of a few pounds.

Marvin Harris did some study of this, though it was back in the '70s. He thought that eating algae (the Aztecs did) was a sign of nutritional stress. Not because he was grossed out by algae, but because it was barely worth the trouble of gathering it. His line of attack was to study the EROEI of harvesting various foods. IIRC, he found that larger animals had better returns than smaller ones, with some exceptions, and that this was reflected in the preferences of the people involved. Though he was studying foraging more than animal husbandry.

Those are feedlot/grain fed numbers. My chickens feed themselves during the growing season. And, after eating all the eggs we want, we sell enough to buy the winter feed. That's a flock of 20 hens and two roosters. I cheerfully admit it wouldn't work if we bought them grain all year round.

The 'pigs only eat what people could too' meme is a half truth. Acorns, earthworms, and a serious helping of random leaves are only technically human edible. There may be more truth to it in the Middle East, but in Europe, NA and China a rural family can buy a piglet in the spring, let it forage, supplemented with stuff otherwise headed for the compost, and butcher it in the fall without taking crops out of anyone's mouth.

That's eggs every day and meat twice a week. And then there's the 'brush goats'...


Stupid quote A:

Those who refuse to admit that hogs are a waste of resources can not be serious about dealing with the human population problem. Trying to reduce human population while a competitive animal's production runs amok is stupid IMO.

Stupid quote B:

I concur. Eating animals uses more food to feed the animals than we will be able to afford, soon.

We have two hogs out in the barn right now, fat and ready to go. We call the butcher shop today for their trip to the Elysian Fields. In addition to grain, these pigs get the bushels of apples from the orchard that we can't use, all the kitchen scraps we can muster, plus all the extra milk from our cows.

Yes, cows. Entirely grass-fed American milking Devons, plus a neighbors' Shorthorn. Daily milking, daily yogurt, butter, ice cream, cheese.

Plus a huge poop pile. It all goes back into the fields--cow, horse, pig and chicken shit.

Speaking of "energy"--how much COAL is pissed away by vegetarians babbling away on websites about their moral superiority?

I invite you out to the farm to pry the fork from our cold, dead hands if you wish.


P.S. The population problem is caused by unprotected heterosexual intercourse, not animal farming.

"I invite you out to the farm to pry the fork from our cold, dead hands if you wish."


The Zombie Horde will come visiting soon....HAHAHAHAHHAHAH!


Thanks for putting some balance into this thread.

American contributors mostly seem to think that all meat production is done in feedlots, using valuable "Human food" as the sole input. In many countries grazing on pasture, or browsing on scrubland or forest, is the primary way of raising meat animals.

Large areas of New Zealand hill country are used for grazing sheep and cattle on land that is not suited for any other food production purpose. Many other nations also have regions where the raising of grazing/browsing animals for meat is the only practical productive land use.

Even flat land is often not suitable for agricultural cropping, and can easily turn to dustbowl or salt-flat conditions if used for cropping. Grazing of animals on such land is the best use.

Pigs (hogs) are a marvelous animal for converting food scraps, damaged crops, wasteland fodder, etc into excellent meat and manure. Some varieties such as the Gloucester Old Spot were raised as "Orchard Pigs", and many British folk would keep one in the orchard to keep the grass tidy and cleanup all the windfall and wormy fruit. The NZ Kunekune pig can be raised on grazing alone, although they will grow faster with extra foods.

Eliminating meat from the human diet, so that greater numbers of vegetarians can more rapidly exploit the remaining resources, is a singularly stupid approach to planet management. There are too many people, not too many food animals.

American contributors mostly seem to think that all meat production is done in feedlots, using valuable "Human food" as the sole input. In many countries grazing on pasture, or browsing on scrubland or forest, is the primary way of raising meat animals.

Not often that its that way with hogs in the US. Most of the pork production went to megafarms starting in the 1990's.

But improving the efficiency of humans is just the same as for other applications -- higher efficiency leads to more complete exhaustion of the resource -- and there will be nothing to stop rampant growth after that 100M growth either, so in 40 years we'll be having the same discussion only without bacon.

The hog problem can be cured readily in one year -- stop breeding them and eat them! While the same solution COULD work for humans, it seems highly unlikely to be the selected path.

Wouldn't it make more sense to NOT raise the population by 100M, cut back on meat consumption, grow less food, and start planning for a less populated future?

It may be that the optimum model for earth's survivability is to run headlong into the wall, with massive starvation and war to reduce the numbers. Perhaps there is no "soft landing" mechanism for uncontrolled population?

"The hog problem....."

but isn't the hog problem really the industrialized hog production problem ?

Could be, but even that's too narrow, in my view. It's just one facet of the "humans are consuming the earth" problem.

“God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West…If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts."
— Gandhi, 1928

Poor man. All the principles he stood for - non-violence, tolerance, truth, etc are being consigned to the rubbish bin here in India along with him.

And now we have 2.5 billion Chinese and Indians trying to go the way of America. If 300 million could strip the earth bare just imagine what this lot can do.


Yeah, kinda explains why they all want nukes as well...though a sudden variant of the bird flu virus or some such, might just make the whole issue moot.

"but isn't the hog problem really the industrialized hog production problem ?"

I think the hog problem is how much hog each person wants to eat. 4oz of bacon crubled on top of a bowl of roasted veggies for four people is different from two 5oz pork chops for each person.

Sorry Paleocon, but:

The hog problem can be cured

is just plain funny! Cured hog...imagine.

the hog problem can be cured

Hmmmmm ..... HAM ..

Triff ..

The solution for people is similar - Stop feeding them and they'll eat each other.

Cows first, then pigs.

'Severely limiting corn feed to cattle would do even more good. This would leave more land for soybeans, *FAR* less nitrogen fertilizer and a smaller dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Best Hopes for Grass finished beef, and less corn grown (lower demand > lower prices > less corn :-)


OK, I'll say it...soy gives me big-time gas, no kidding.

Y'all can keep your Soylent Yellow and Soylent Red.

Soylent Green tastes like chicken, though...

The Nazis hated pigs, funnily enough because Schweinen are the base of German food, Schwein u. Kartoffeln -pork and potatoes. They had the same (mad) statistics of how many people could be fed with barley and rye and potatoes, whatever, instead of feeding it to hogs then feeding the hog and wurst to people.
That way madness lies. By all means control human population but do not transform humans into grass eaters.

Hitler was vegetarian...and St. Francis wasn't. Curious, no?

The best reason for being vegetarian has little to do with being nice. I choose to be (mostly) vegetarian because I do not want to deal with the "meat" that comes out of our factory "farms."

I would gladly eat meat from Mike B's farm, just as I will occasionally eat free range turkey and chicken, wild caught fish and a burger from a range fed cow.

You need to visit the Population Clock at the Census Bureau. Even an overshoot denier would be shocked.

IMO the guy misread Kunstler-Jim is very negative on large USA cities going forward.

Bageant linked on TAE yesterday:

"The bad news is that we nevertheless remain one of the most controlled peoples on the planet, especially regarding control of our consciousness, public and private. And the control is tightening.

I know it doesn't feel like that to most Americans. But therein rests the proof. Everything feels normal; everybody else around us is doing the same things, so it must be OK."


Nate would be interested, if he hasn't read it already.

Yet, even if we think in that sort of outdated terminology, First, Second and Third World, and most Americans do, then America is a Second World nation. We have no universal free health care (don't kid yourself about the plan under way), no guarantee of anything really, except competitive struggle with one another for work and money and career status -- if you are one of those conditioned to think of your job and feudal debt enslavement as a "career" -- high infant-mortality rates, abysmal educational scores, poor diet, no national public transportation system, crumbling infrastructure, a collapsed economy. Even by our own definition we are a Second World nation.

is gm developing a two seat segway just so they can say "we can't make a profit because people won't buy it"

gm should $hit or get off the pot, make an ev already!!!!!

After all, we simply cannot ride a bike. Anything but muscle power for Americans - that would be worse than death!

I wonder if this was in the plan they presented to save GM?

I guess I looked at it as an alternative when mass transit isn't available, and a person is physically unable to ride a bike. It has a small roof and can carry groceries. A tie-down flap over both doors + a small heater might make it suitable for cold climates.

A cheap scooter would do just as well--or if you wanted, you could add a third wheel and outrider. This little gadget is just one more unneeded and expensive toy for the fat and rich.

is gm developing a two seat segway just so they can say "we can't make a profit because people won't buy it"

You wouldn't catch me in one of those. Hit a speedbump with that sucker, and fancy computer controlled on not, you're gonna land on your nose. The sucker is supposed to go 35mph. The only reasonable way to make a two wheeled vehicle is the configuration used by bicycles, and motorcycles.

If you've ever traveled to VietNam -- you will see how versatile the motorcycle is. It can carry a refrigerator, a family of 5 (3 kids), or a few hogs -- I don't think that 2 wheel crap GM is thinking can address that.

Vietnam cities always make me think of some kind of science-fiction future. The way so many people can move around so fast across the cities is really amazing. Most streets are really narrow, but because bikes don't take much room to park, most of the street is used to travel (as opposed to car-based cities where there is a lane of parked cars on each side).
Driving a bike there is also much more 'natural', as a bike is not very wide, so traffic flows much better (think fish in a shoal). Traffic is also much less stressful, as no one really worries about who has the right of way: if someone cuts you, you just slow down a little or move to the side a bit, no need to argue.

However, it's a bit noisy and the air isn't that clean. A fleet of small electric bikes would be wonderful.

Sadly, as compared to a few years ago, there are much more cars on the streets (mostly brand new SUVs, status symbols, new rich and all that), and therefore traffic is much much worse (think American style gridlock in a city with narrow streets).

The only reasonable way to make a two wheeled vehicle is the configuration used by bicycles, and motorcycles.

Reasonable--and economical. This is just an expensive toy.

Title this one "The Insidiousness of an Oil-based Economy."

Even those of us that are aware of the problems that are going to arise on the down slope of the oil-based economy have a hard time imagining all of the repercussions. Take Mr. Orlov's article in the Energy Bulletin (Dmitry Orlov: Burning our bridges to the XXI century).

His observation that "when the lights go out, people burn candles and oil lamps...," draws attention to the average person's inexperience with open flames. What he misses though, is that for millions, perhaps billions, there will be no flames. Ignoring the infrastructure issue with getting oil lamps into peoples hands - consider the ingredients that go into candles and oil for oil lamps.

What was the last time you saw a candle that wasn't made from parrafin wax? Sure, in high end specialty stores you can find beeswax candles or even soy wax, but these are already high-prices specialty items. Will we return to tallow-based candle wax? Know where to buy non-kerosene based oil for an oil lamp? Maybe we'll return to whale oil? The source will ultimately be vegetable or animal oils, but it's difficult to imagine how we get from the specialty business to providing lamp-oil for billions while agriculture is also making the transition off of oil.

This is going to be so much fun!

Lifting the ban on windbreak-grade hemp would help. All should be decriminalized as far as I'm concerned, but I find it incredibly rediculous that hemp which requires 5 acres in one spliff to get you high is outlawed.

It will take a large number of "adjustments" - like the re-establishment of hemp as a commercial crop - to make any sort of transition to a sustainable post-oil life. The biggest adjustments, though, will need to be in the area of values.

The case of hemp is an excellent example. Millions of people believe hemp to be dangerous because it is a "drug." They've been sold a bill of goods about what this "drug" does to you. But these lies about the dangers of hemp were really just a cover, for the real reason that hemp was outlawed had more to do with our friends at Dupont, Monsanto and the like.

Until we have jettisoned the presumption that corporate solutions are the best means to advance our well-being, we will not be able to address a future that will be sustainable and meaningful.

It will take a large number of "adjustments" - like the re-establishment of hemp as a commercial crop

In CA it already is. Richard Lee, an advocate who has been working to end cannabis prohibition for 17 years, in 2006 opened the Oaksterdam University in Oakland CA and has since expanded to LA and currently the classes are full of stoner entrepreneurs who are opening up hundreds of "weed outlets" throughout CA.

The only snag has been the Feds refusal to acknowledge state rights to legalize "medicinal marijuana use" and running raids on weed outlets. However now with the Bush Administration out and Obama in:

US Attorney General Eric Holder: Ending Medical Marijuana Raids now US Policy


Currently with the CA budget crises this is a small area that could spur a reliable stream of income into state coffers:

A neglected revenue source for California - marijuana


PPFFFTT! Yeah man...from my point of view peak oil and climate change can't be that bad.


Marijuana is *NOT* the same thing as industrial hemp.

"Hemp (from Old English hænep, see cannabis (etymology)) is the common name for plants of the entire genus Cannabis, although the term is often used to refer only to Cannabis strains cultivated for industrial (non-drug) use.

Industrial hemp has many uses, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food, and fuel.[1] It is one of the fastest growing biomasses known,[2] and one of the earliest domesticated plants known.[3] It also runs parallel with the "Green Future" objectives that are becoming increasingly popular. Hemp requires little to no pesticides,[4] no herbicides,[5] controls erosion of the topsoil, and produces oxygen. Furthermore, hemp can be used to replace many potentially harmful products, such as tree paper (the processing of which uses chlorine bleach, which results in the waste product polychlorinated dibensodioxins, popularly known as dioxins, which are carcinogenic, and contribute to deforestation), cosmetics, and plastics, most of which are petroleum-based and do not decompose easily. The strongest chemical needed to whiten the already light hemp paper is non-toxic hydrogen peroxide. [6]"

"Strains of Cannabis approved for industrial hemp production produce only minute amounts of this psychoactive drug, not enough for any physical or psychological effects. Typically, Hemp contains below 0.3% THC, while Cannabis grown for marijuana can contain anywhere from 6 or 7 % to 20% or even more."


Egon - Thanks for the information and it is all accurate but I think you need to recognize a pattern called: tongue in cheek


Perhaps, Joe, but could you point out where in your post I might have inferred that you were writing 'tongue in cheek'? I don't mean to sound antagonistic, I am just curious if I missed something in your writing that I should not have. I suppose I could have assumed you were writing 'tongue in cheek', but you know the old saying about assuming... ;>)


Chlorene bleaching is no longer used in modern pulp plants.It is a solved problem if you use appropriate technology.

Hydorgen peroxide and oxygen delignification are alternate bleaching methods that do not produce toxic chlorine compounds.

What we need is a genetically engineered plant species that is really hemp under another name.

Medical marijuana is really a different animal than hemp production. Egon does a somewhat passionate discussion of the difference above. But the critical social difference to understand is that medical marijuana is aimed at human consumption, the "world-saving" potential for hemp is in it's qualities as source of biomass and incredibly useful fibers.

The original decisions made in the 1930s that made hemp illegal in the US were economic oriented. There were well connected corporate types who convinced the Congress that there was more benefit to the US in the development of oil-based chemical replacements for hemp than in allowing Kansas farmers to continue growing the plant source.

That said, there is something to the argument that states are missing out on a revenue stream. I lived in Hawai'i during the eighties when the state government decided it needed fed money for two new highways and the only way to get that money was to enforce drug laws. From about 86 through 89 the state stepped up enforcement, using Reagan era property seizure laws, to crush the marijuana industry. By almost all accounts, including the state's, that crop accounted for the single largest inflow of money into the state, bigger than tourism or the military. Indeed, the crop accounted for a 1/4 or more of the entire economy. And yet, the state crushed the "industry" with predictable outcomes - the number of people on various assistance programs on the Big Island went from almost nil to nearly half the population. The Big Island entered recession almost two years before the rest of the state did when the Japanese asset bubble burst.

Hemp is a miracle fiber for making high strength paper. Fiber length is a factor in paper strength, and hemp fibers are orders of magnitude longer than commercial wood species. Hemp pulp would be ideal for making corrugated shipping containers, carrying cartons and any other application where strength and crush resistance is important. Tea bags contain hemp.

Think of all the jet fuel we could save if we used hemp for boxes that are shipped air freight.

Hemp seed also provides one of the best dietary oils.

and apparently build your house out of hemp, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/somerset/7989924.stm

Until we have jettisoned the presumption that corporate solutions are the best means to advance our well-being, we will not be able to address a future that will be sustainable and meaningful.

This has got to be the best statement of our situation and the way out that I have seen in some time. You could have added: the military-corporate solution...

Anyway, yes, absolutely right. Consider health care. Everyone is crying for it, but what do people expect--and want? They want to be treated like machines, like bits of matter, and they want heroic and extremely expensive measures to be taken to "save" their lives from illnesses and accidents of all kinds, no matter the cost. Everyone wants to live as long as possible, no matter how meaningless the life, and want someone, anyone, to pay. While I am sympathetic to the plight of the millions without health care--I was once one of them as I refused it, though now I pay for medicare, which I never intend to use except in some emergency, like a ruptured appendix or extreme pain, I rather think that people are lucky not to have medical insurance.

When you have insurance, the doctor doesn't give a rat's paw for you, but sees money; same for the pharmaceuticals. Go to a doctor for one thing and you get a battery of unneeded tests and a host of unneeded pills, and every conceivable treatment.

Health insurance that covers common illnesses, accidents, and pain is OK. But what our corporate masters want is heroic medicine--and profitable medicine. Someone who walks out of a doctor's office or hospital without a prescription, or treatment, or regimen of some kind is a waste of time (for the profit system).

Candles and oil lamps aren't really hard to make. All you need is a wick, a jar and some fatty material. For example, you can make butter candles. Olive oil candles...

Really any oil/fat will work. And a little bit of oil/fat really goes a very long way.

This is truly as "low tech" as it gets.

Not to be picky, but all you're going to get if you combine a wick, a jar and some fatty material is a mess.

If you want to get from the oil to a candle you're going to need a thickener. I believe rosin and stearin are the "traditional" additives.

While true that this is "low tech," it will never be a substitute for electric lights. And that was the point.

A mess? Not at all, the only "tricky" part of an oil candle is how to keep the wick from drowning. One way is to make it float on the surface of the oil. This requires some kind of flotation device that keeps the bottom of the wick in the oil and the top above it. The benefit of this design is the wick "follows" the oil as it burns down.

Another way is to provide some kind standing, solid support for the wick.

There's no need for the candle to be solid (after all to actually burn it it has to melt it first so the molten liquid can be sucked up by the wick). The solid candles merely make it easier to support the wick.

I've made a primitive oil candle out of the following:

- 1 tiny piece of paper towel less than 1 sqaure cm, rolled up, (the wick)
- 1 paperclip bent into a shape to keep the wick standing up
- 1 coverplate of a jelly jar

Set the wick upright in the upside down jar's coverplate.
Add one tablespoon of olive oil (or canola oil, peanut oil, or whatever)

Light it.

Very low tech...

It burns clean and provides candle light for several hours.

If I can do it (not really a handy man), anybody can, and it works with pretty much any kind of fat. Some fat is less desirable than others mostly because it burns less clean and smells as it burns (try making a candle out of waste cooking oil... you'll know what I mean :-).

But yeah, candles and oil lamps of any kind aren't as good as electric lights, in terms of light intensity, light quality and convenience. But they do provide some light when there is no other way.

And you definitely don't need parrafin to make em.

Here's an image of a "Yak butter candle" as the Tibetans use them. It's just a jar/dish, yak butter and some wicks, nothing more to it. (Ido admit it looks kind of messy :-)


- 1 tiny piece of paper towel less than 1 sqaure cm, rolled up, (the wick)
- 1 paperclip bent into a shape to keep the wick standing up
- 1 coverplate of a jelly jar
Set the wick upright in the upside down jar's coverplate.
Add one tablespoon of olive oil (or canola oil, peanut oil, or whatever)

Light it.

Very low tech...

It burns clean and provides candle light for several hours.

What would the EROEI be on such a device?
Paper towels are the main culprits responsible for N.A. deforestation and the bleaching process that assures the racially insensitive "whiteness" of said towels causes dioxins by the ton to be dumped in pristine wilderness rivers.
Plus everybody knows paper clips are only manufactured in the Xinhuan Provence of China, so where ya gonna get 'em post-peak?
Olive, canola and peanut oils all have massive FF inputs.
Thats not "thinking outside the box" rather "dead out of the box"

sarconol off/ sorry, couldn't resist!

Took me a minute, but that's the best laugh I've had all week :)

I sense that you are jesting :-)

The point is you can use whatever you have at hand. Porc fat, yak butter, waste product from rich people's liposuctions... you name it.

For wick you can use almost anything that absorbs fluid and burns, a piece of dry moss would work.

And I already stocked up on paper towels, paper clips and liposuction waste (before anyone realizes else how valuable and rare these will soon become :-)


My point really was that post peak, making candles will be the least of our problems.

Of course, back in the pre-electric light days, most homes were pretty dark in the evening, with very few candles or lamps for lighting (except in the homes of the very well off). Much of the light would come from logs or coal burning in a fireplace or stove. People would tend to go to bed earlier, too. Most of us could actually use more sleep, research has shown.

I think you are right on target. I know that I could use some extra sleep (though my 4 year old son seems to think otherwise). These are precisely the sort of "repercussions" that often get missed.

Some things that might be worth considering;
- what will be the impact of people learning to make candles, soaps, etc.
- what will be the impact of people adjusting to less light after dark
- what will be the impact of people sleeping more

I've read speculative accounts that suggest that "early humans" didn't necessarily sleep the night through as we do now, but instead would sleep a couple hours then go through an hour or so of restful wakefulness, repeating until morning. hmmm

Anthropologist's best guess is that the period of "somnambulent wakefulness" is when everyone who was too tired to "do it" after a day of working the fields, "did it". More darkness will probably lead to more babies.

Staying up late at night and sleeping in the mornings is a very rich-country thing. In most rural and poorer countries, even the ones where most homes haves access to electricity, people wake up at dawn and go to sleep at night.
Of course, if you're working in the fields, you want to maximise the light you can get, so a rural society will keep track of the sun more.

One of the great inventions of the industrial age was efficient lighting, which allowed people to work in factories and mines for much longer hours than on fields. Which led to a huge increase in work hours, farmers in the middle ages worked slightly less than the average today (much less in the winter, more in the summer), while during the 19th century, people worked twice as many hours as today.

Not to mention that it is cooler in the morning, so you want to get the hard outdoor work done ASAP - then take that mid-day siesta when it is warmest.

One curious thing...lighting at night has been tied to myopia.

Hi, all.

The Preparing for a Post Peak Life video (version 1.0) is now ready for public viewing. I have new respect for the work Chris put into The Crash Course and mine is a much shorter video with less animation and narration.

Comments and feedback welcome.

First impressions: Excellent, sober but not doomster. Presents the issues clearly. I give a similar talk to various groups and wish I had your clarity of expression.
I like how to emphasize that the viewer has to find out for themselves; to do the research and the reading. I am less certain just how well the presentation will actually motivate people to do something, just like it is very hard to motivate oneself to be more active, or to lose weight, or some other lifestyle 'bad habit'. This is not a criticism, but a concern that I think applies to almost all talks along these lines.

Thanks for getting this out.


One thing to add. You really don't discuss much about the pervasiveness of oil in many of the products we use: clothing, computers, plastics, drugs, etc. Main emphasis was on economics and transport and food: all VERY important, but I think that many people don't grasp that oil touches almost everything somehow.


Hi, Don. Thanks for the feedback.

I do have a slide with the pervasiveness of oil, but it's a time thing: the video is already almost a half-hour and I'm trying to be ruthless in what gets in.

I agree about the motivation part. I haven't really worked hard on that area...I think I might refer them to The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. Hmmm....maybe I can include a clip from that movie....thanks for sparking the idea.

Even a year down the PO track, I'm still firmly entrenched in MS (the move away from family and friends really isn't an option). So, looking through their eyes, I can't help but feel the "uh-oh moment" will be non-existant. Indeed, the books AA presents - even the photo of a fairly large backyard converted to a vegi-patch - might instead invoke a, "What the hell are you on about?" moment.

I truly hope simpler days of songs-around-the-camp-fire lie ahead (I just bought my 12yo son his first accoustic strummer only yesterday!), however, as "our leaders" continue on their merry way, I can't help but feel leathers and a motorbike may be the greater possibility.

Again, I hope not.

Regards, Matt B
I had dinner with the folks a few nights back. They'd also invited some friends we hadn't met before, one of whom is the Editor-in-chief of our city's major rag. Mum gave me a firm warning beforehand: "Don't you say anything about you know what!"

To be honest, it was refreshing not to.

Happy Easter, everyone.

I thought it was good. The animated step-down model is important for people to grasp. One critique: it seems at one point you conflate Mexico production with Cantarell, I think it was in the discussion/presentation of decline rates. If TOD has taught me anything, it's to try and be as clear as possible about what numbers you are discussing (c.f. all the discussions of "all liquids" versus other categories of oil production).

Hi, Wisco. Yes, I think in version 2.0 I'll clean up that discussion on Mexico...thanks for pointing that out.

Great video Aangel, lots of very good advice. Your last line stated: If you start preparing today, we honestly believe it is possible to thrive and enjoy life in a post peak world. Well, I suppose it is possible to thrive but I don't know how enjoyable life will be if things get as bad as I expect them to get. I mean, how can one enjoy life with everyone around them, or those who did not prepare, either starving in total misery?

But I don't mean to throw cold water on your great work. Of course you could not be as doomerish as I am. That would simply make people go into denial and not prepare at all.

Again, coagulations on a great work.

Ron P.

Misery seems to be a relativity-calibrated item in the human psyche, and there is certainly a broad individual self-scaling for misery-quotient. Those with plenty still have plenty to bitch and moan about, and those with little still find stuff to be happy about.

When my daughter went to Honduras she not only took a lot of supplies (for dental missions workers) but came back without much of her own stuff. She said the kids there had so little, and were happy to get her second-hand stuff, that she couldn't see how to keep it. She made an entire village of kids happy for days by giving away one soccer ball.

I asked her to summarize the experience in one sentence. After thinking for a while, she said, "The kids there had absolutely nothing, not even much food, but they were still happy."

I have little doubt that most people will find joy and happiness in small things in between hardships. I also have no doubt that some will be miserable if Starbucks is the only thing they must do without. Such is the variance of the human psyche.

@Darwinian: I agree...some people are going to have wretched lives, especially if they are living at subsistence level and are dealing with a major medical problem.

But I also agree with Paleocon that we've connected things with happiness and disconnecting those is not just possible it's desirable.

However, I've learned that it's tough just to tell people that happiness doesn't depend on things, it seems to be something each person has to learn for themselves. Unfortunately, they often have to learn that by experiencing nothing and then having a moment of happiness: voila, they see that the connection is not an immutable law.

Thank you both for the comments.

Aangel, one cannot be constantly hungry and happy at the same time. Happiness is often as simple as a full stomach. If kids are laughing and playing they are not starving.

Agreed...having enough food to eat and some adequate shelter seems to be the base level, after that I think it's much easier to disconnect things with happiness.

That is a good simple presentation - however, if you want a kaisan, then IMO in order to convince people that peak oil is a problem that they need to consider now (and a detailed study of the data over several years convinces me!) then the cause of world peaking should be described more succinctly.

Most people in OECD countries can't survive peak oil without a massive change of lifestyle, it is very difficult to convince people of something if their livelyhood depends on that something not occuring, IMO you must completely overcome that denial before moving on to tell people how to cope.

The reality is that oil is NOT running out for the world, yet! ... most people in OECD countries can still afford to buy as much gasoline as they need on a daily basis ... the data shows they cut back on other things first and for them there are no ongoing shortages. So, IMO you need to be very careful in explaining peaking, to change perceptions ... this is the critical first step.

The peaking phenomenon is not only found in oil but anything that is 'mined' from multiple sources ... eg: sea fish, iron ore, gold, firewood, phosphorus etc. The cause is the need for producers to continue to make profits from resources that get ever more expensive to produce (since the low hanging fruit is always picked first) and importantly at the same time consumers being able to somehow afford to pay the rising price.

The decision of how fast to extract oil from the world is completely in mankind's hands, ie: it has an economic cause, not geology per se, and for this reason the historical curve for total crude production is not a simple gaussian type curve - I defy you to get your computer to draw a smoothed curve that looks anything like the first half of a normal distribution from historical world crude consumption data - IMO to do so is being economical with the truth (at the least!). The world production data actually shows discontinuities in the slope of the curve where alternates for oil were found when it became unaffordable (as predicted by economic theory!)... today we are left with the difficult to fix problems, like transport, where only oil will do.

Hi, Xeroid.

I don't quite know what to do with your comment...what I can say is that if I say less than what's in the video (about twenty minutes of explanation), there is *always* an escape hatch for people. In twenty minutes I try to "box them in" so that all the normal escapes are closed off:
* technology will solve this --> not with the scale of the problem and the fact that the economy slows technology adoption
* the tar sands or shale have lots of oil --> can't be scaled in time
* just ramp up windmills, nuclear, etc. --> they provide electricity, not liquid fuel; this is a liquid fuel problem
* the economy is much more efficient with oil than before --> yes, but the Deutche Bank graphs shows that we are still dependent on it

The only thing I don't handle is the savior complex that people seem to have about Obama ;-).

If you have a briefer way to block off all those escape routes, I'm very interested in hearing it.

It's not the escape routes that are the problem, you block them well ... above all else the viewer MUST understand that we are peaking NOW. Then, just maybe, you can persuade them to act in a timely manner to help themselves.

The real world data shows that for the average 'Joe' in OECD countries there isn't a problem obtaining oil on a daily basis in as large an amount as he wants, he doesn't see peaking so you probably don't pass 'Go' with him ... he is immediately able to dismiss your thesis, no escape routes required! ... failure! ... blocking the escape routes is now a waste of time.

Apart from the design of the human brain, what is the cause of the failure to communicate the reality of peak oil? IMO this is what can be improved in your presentation, fix this and you are on to a winner. The same problem exists with climate change, there is no general perception of the problem on a day to day basis, so it is easy to dismiss the thesis.

The explanation of the peaking process is different for an individual oil well to collections of wells such as a field or the world.

People have to realise that $140 oil is an expected symptom of world peak oil ... as is world economic decline/instability ... and wildly unstable world oil prices.

Like Chris Martenson you have a one page description of world peak oil which IMO doesn't explain to a novice the crucial point that the oil fields being developed get more expensive the more you go to the right of the x axis.

The world peaking curve isn't caused by a lack of profitable production (all the little peaks running along the x axis are profitable or the companies wouldn't do it) it is caused by 'Joe' not being able to afford to buy as much gasoline (and oil containing products) as he used to. Once 'Joe' understands this then he can start to consider how it might affect his life, especially when you explain that there are no adequate alternatives.

Sadly, at the moment, most of the 'Joes' who can't afford the direct purchase of gasoline are not in the OECD but are in the other, much larger, group of people ... who consume very little of it.

Concur completely.

After stumbling across "A Crude Awakening", I was still in denial for a year or so. Then someone here directed me to an old Al Bartlett lecture (I still think there should be a "New Comers Start Here" link to it on TOD's homepage).

Finite Planet. Compounding Growth. The math doesn't work! If my fellow Joes and Janes can get a handle on this, we may stand a better chance.

Regards, Matt B

I totally agree about simplifying the peak oil message for newcomers to TOD - most people making comments on TOD understand 'peaking', but the vast majority of the population have no concept of it at all.

The peaking phenomenon applies to most of the things we extract from our environment - it isn't just an oil problem - and oil peaking isn't due entirely to geology and has nothing to do with world ultimate recoverable reserves - we are not running out of oil, we are running out of affordable oil, not the same thing!

In my experience giving this presentation, different things click for different people. You may think, "THIS one thing is THE THING that will have people understand" but it just doesn't work that way (again, in my experience).

And even after watching the most well-organized, most simple presentation ever given, some people will still have their barriers up and refuse to believe it. See the wikipedia entry on denial, which my friend who is a psychiatrist assures me is a well-established human defense mechanism:

The first time I heard the story of peak oil, it did not click for me at all. I left the presentation (in 2005) thinking, "That's was a nice presentation" and promptly forgot about it until two years later when I had a reason to investigate it (i.e. to understand how much carbon there really was to put into the atmosphere).

As for the point about affordable oil, I agree that I could put that in there but doesn't the Deutche Bank graph basically establish the connection between oil production and the economy with more credibility?

At this point I think it would be better if you showed me what you are pointing to because I really am not seeing how to simplify the story even further. Could you storyboard how you would do it?

I totally agree that the peaking phenomenon isn't easy to explain, especially as the human brain mostly is not rational at all. I regularly hear so called experts presenting to UK House of Commons Peak Oil committees that clearly do not understand oil peaking at all.

But IMO people need to understand that there really is a problem before they will even consider changing their lifestyle - so, IMO much more effort needs to go into explaining peaking in general - definitely more than one quick chart - and don't feed people spurious or irrelevent facts, there are many of these and they confuse the situation, even on TOD.

IMO use real world data and show that the real, and urgent, problem is peaking and rapid decline of world net exports!

Peaking can be viewed either from the supply point of view or the demand point of view, both are equally valid - most of the people seeing your presentation will be consumers, so IMO explain it from their point of view not the point of view of oil companies. There is still plenty of oil in the world and oil companies will profitably produce as much as consumers can afford to pay for - sadly, consumers don't appear to be able to afford oil at $140 a barrel so, sensibly, the oilcos don't bother to even try and supply it.

I have been trying to clarify (not simplify) a peak oil explanation so that it won't be immediately rejected by almost everybody - not an easy task, maybe it's something that TOD readers can brainstorm? If I can clarify some of your graphics I will let you know.

Version 2.0 will definitely include the export problem, that may drive the matter home for the remaining holdouts.

I've also given a presentation to a private equity fund that showed the money flows that come with even the price projections of the EIA. That woke them up.

Of course, when backed into a logical corner, people often still say, "Well, we'll think of something" (I've actually heard that many times now after walking someone through the corner we've painted ourselves into).

Using this same logic it might be possible to construct future scenarios for what the world looks like given notional $100 oil, $200 oil, $400, $1000 oil, etc. Having said that its becoming clearer to me given the events of the last year that we may NOT see very high oil prices (something I always assumed) -i.e. runaway exponential oil price. But we are quite likely to see 'higher highs and higher lows' going forward.

This is simply because -as oil is fundamentally bound up in many things that make modern civilisation tick- at some point the price of the 'marginal' usage, which IMO is probably inneficient transport, becomes too great as a % of expenditure and demand destruction kicks in resetting prices to the higher low...

I believe that the next decades will somewhat painfully begin to erradicate these marginal inneficient usages and it is this transition that will shape society going forward.

So one future scenario might have flights from a much reduced global fleet only happening on crammed 800 seat airbus between major hubs at current business prices per seat.

This alone would have a major impacts on many things like:

a) Global tourism -currently the worlds #1 industry.
b) Globalisation in general -is it possible to run global companies when global transport costs are so high?
c) Telecommunication/Conferencing would benefit greatly


'I try to "box them in" '

didn't you leave the conservation door wide open ? it all depends on the timing and the decline rate.

Yes, I think I did, even though the Deutche Bank graph attempts to close that door.

Two things that are going into version 2.0 are a brief discussion of conservation and the export land model. I needed to get version 1.0 out the door so that I can get back to work on The UnCrash Course.

Well done André,

I like the low key approach, much like Crash Course.

I did notice a statement @ 8:33 into the video that is wrong and understates the problem, if I'm hearing right.

You say:

"The amount of oil in reserves and what we can expect to discover anytime soon is just under 2 trillion barrels."

As I understand it, and by the numbers on the graph, our total reserves when we started were 2 TB and our present reserves are ~1 TB.

Cheers, and good luck with the project.

Hi, Pragma. Yes, good catch! What I meant to say is "The total amount of economically recoverable conventional oil, including what we can expect to discover anytime soon, is just under 2 trillion barrels."

I'll change that in the script.


"The total amount of economically recoverable conventional oil, including what we can expect to discover anytime soon, is just under 2 trillion barrels."

Maybe I'm being picky, but IMO the statement is still vague about whether this figure is present tense, or past tense. For clarity I would go for something like:

"When we first started extracting oil, the total amount of economically recoverable conventional oil reserves, including what we can expect to discover anytime soon, was just under 2 trillion barrels. We now have less than 1 trillion remaining."

Just my $2.0e-14 Trillion

BTW, what did you use to produce this?


Pragma, I think that's great...clears up the tense nicely. I put it in the script exactly as you wrote it. Thank you. :-)

The video was made with Keynote '09, Final Cut Express and a Shure condenser mic. I'm not happy with the sound yet so I'm going to ask a friend who works on sound for LucasFilm to teach me how to improve it.

My pleasure.

I didn't find anything really wrong with the sound. It might be a bit "live" but a lot of that can be depends on the polar pattern of the mike. You didn't specify the Shure Mod. # so I can't say. A pop screen and a wind guard are cheap and easy things to try as well. If you're really anal, you can experiment with blankets or quilts on the walls, but tweaking the content is probably a better investment of your time.

If you have access to a LucasFilm geek, then my ramblings are are likely of minimal value.

Now, if you could get Tom Holman's ear, that would be impressive, too bad he went to USC.

Good luck!

I think that the video was quite good as something to show someone who has little or no knowledge of PO. A concise overall informative presentation can be an eye opener.

Education of as many people as possible, as quickly as possible is important, individuals are going to have to stop buying I pods and blackberry devices and start buying gardening tools and seed, and perhaps a few chickens, thanks for getting the message out. Time is running out sad to say, time to tell it like it is, 3rd world USA is coming and soon.

On the "Crash Course" --- on the debt part (chapter 12), I wonder if the author can put in the "project" debt level of the Obama budget as reported by PBS's FRONTLINE (10 Trillion dollar debt)...

With the projected doubling of the Federal debt and I guess also of other debts (state, city, etc...), i think we probably will look at a 500-1000% debt level compared to GDP. Just sux to think, a baby born will be indentured to a debt of a few hundred of thousand. Where is the conscience of our government?

I agree, version 2.0 will definitely use an updated debt graph. Thanks for the feedback.

Great video. I thought you could have done a little more explaining at the beginning about Hubbert's theory, when he made it, when it was proven for the US, etc.

Can't beat the classics:


More problems for the UK's nuclear industry.

A £1bn nuclear white elephant

A controversial nuclear recycling plant, approved by the Government despite warnings over its economic viability and reliance on unproven technology, has racked up costs of more than £1bn and is still not working properly.

Backers of the plant at Sellafield, which promised to turn toxic waste into a useable fuel that could be sold worldwide, had claimed the plant would make a profit of more than £200m in its lifetime, producing 120 tonnes of recycled fuel a year. But after an investigation by The Independent, the Government admitted technical problems and a dearth in orders has meant it has produced just 6.3 tonnes of fuel since opening in 2001.

With construction and commissioning costs of more than £600m, the facility, known as the Mox plant because of the mixed oxides (Mox) fuel it is designed to produce, has cost more than £1.2bn, confirming its status as the nuclear industry's most embarrassing white elephant and one of the greatest failures in British industrial history, losing the taxpayer £90m a year.

More good news on the public transit front:

  • http://www.11alive.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=128771&catid=40
  • Just kidding, in reality Marta will cut back one weekday from its service, to make ends meet.

    What kind of stupid is this, in the most congested city in the nation?

    Mortgage delinquencies soar

    More U.S. consumers are falling behind on their mortgages, an indication that the housing market has yet to hit bottom

    Edible Communities, a network of local food publications.


    there may be one in your area ...... here is ours


    Thought this article about what Obama's staffers drive was interesting. In short, the Big 3 are screwed. I do wonder about the accuracy of some of the info, as I can't imagine high-ranking staffers driving old cars. Or maybe they all have limo services and the cars are really for their teenagers or in-laws?

  • http://www.twincities.com/politics/ci_12036259?nclick_check=1
  • Larry Summers owns a 1995 Mazda Protege and previously owned a 1996 Ford Taurus GL.

    Huh. Runs a bit counter to the recent accounts of his lucrative consulting deals. I guess he takes a limo?

    As the middle classes trudged their way back to Boston and other suitably dense big cities, James Howard Kunstler--the "shock jock" of the new urbanist movement and a leading apostle of the "peak oil" thesis--happily proclaimed, "Let the gloating begin."

    I said no such thing at last week's meeting of the Congress for the New Urbanism, New England Chapter (in Portsmouth, NH).
    Someone please smack this idiot in the head.

    --Jim Kunstler

    Turning an ocean liner or oil tanker around must be a piece of cake compared to rearranging the built environment of an entire society. It is going to take a lot of time - a lot more time than we have, unfortunately. A lot of the change will consist of people first having to give up being exurban homeowners and becoming exurban renters (happening right now), then later finding places to rent closer in, as the people still holding on to their homes start taking in lodgers or converting garages into accessory apartments. I am sure there will be lots of tony condos in TOD new urbanist neighborhoods, and that these will become increasingly popular among the fortunate elites that still work for governments or corporations. For the average working stiff, though, the future is either renting or having renters live with them, adapting in place whatever housing stock can still be made habitable in spite of declining energy supplies and a declining economy.

    I agree with you as far as it goes, but as example in the old urban areas the pre war street car suburbs were built with street cars that fed the down town cores, fifty yards from me is where the street car used to run but that is long gone, and the jobs themselves are no longer in the center city, and the down town core that is a few miles from my house consists of a few really ugly office towers and a lot of vacant lots and parking garages. The commerce in those towers consists of a lot of over educated clerks i.e. lawyers and accountants. The manufacturing is either gone to the burbs or off shored, what are the folks who have moved back to the inner streetcar suburbs going to do?

    The suburban office parks may empty out and the remaining office workers might once again work in the down towns filling up emptied space in the office towers but this would only mean that some economic viability would remain in the traditional city center but there is still a net loss of employment.

    In an economic collapse, one where the importation of goods is also constricted because of PO some trades might come back, say a tailor or a seamstress, to make up for the loss of clerical jobs but that will take a good while, to bring back manufacturing as it was in the early post war era, I just don't see it because there will be no money or materials to build up the infrastructure, an infrastructure that was built up over 100 years from the early industrial age to WWII, the technical skills.

    The point is, in the event of a major collapse, why move from the exburbs to a city neighborhood, to what end, there will be no jobs or effective social services either place. Once the TS really hits the fan foreclosures will end because the government puts a moratorium on them to quell social unrest or they are just pointless, or both, exurbia might be a better place to be if not just to have land for a garden. After collapses cities empty out, Rome, Petra, Machu Picu et. not vis a versa.

    Yeah I never understood this idea of people like James Kunstler that everyone is going to move into the cities as petro-collapse commences. My guess is that he is doing what most doomers do and projecting his personal hopes onto the post-peak oil world, not historical reality. As you point out, historically cities empty out when civilizatons collapse, but not before they are the scenes of great violence and destruction (see http://thedoomerreport.blogspot.com/2009/03/lessons-of-bronze-age-collap... for a a discussion of how bad this was during the Bronze Age collapse of 1200 B.C.E.).

    A more realistic scenario for a rapid descent is a lot of horrific urban violence and a depopulation back to the food-producing rural regions. Look at any American riot or disaster of the last 45 years and imagine that going on all over the country for years on end and you're starting to the get the picture. American cities are the last place you want to be when things start to collapse--these new urbanists are out of their minds!

    Cities may have emptied out after civilizations collapsed, but people move to the city in the decades before collapse. Judging from history, it takes decades - generations - for the collapse to unfold. As Tainter points out, people tend to move to the cities as the end nears. The Maya did, because villages and isolated farms were vulnerable to raids. The Romans did, because extreme taxation made it easier to get food in the city than on the farms that grew it.

    I am not sure we can entirely judge what will happen this round by history. Has it ever been the case in the past that cities had at most 1 week of food on hand? Never before has a civilization been as dependent on a form of energy as we are with electricity. What if the grid collapses as Richard Duncan hypothesizes. The cities are pure toast in that case and collapse would be very fast. Reliance on electricity and "just in time" inventory, and off shoring make the US in particular extremely vulnerable to quick collapse and make cities death traps.

    I find it dependency on electricity to be much better then dependency on imported fossil fuel, especially when the elctricity industry is healthy and already are investing in making fossil fuel free electricity into a major export goods.

    Well said. All cities have a reason for being and the key to their future is identifying that underlying reason. If the financial/climate/energy collapse destroys the fundamental reason for a particular city's being, then that city will fail as you suggest.

    Industrial cities are obviously at risk (Detroit, Liverpool, etc.) and are already suffering, financial cities too (Dubai). Agricultural and resource based cities are at serious risk too. Cities based on centres of power and trade are probably the least affected initially and usually last to the bitter end (London, Paris, etc.). Mogadishu in Somalia, for example, is still an inhabited city.

    Whichever city people end up in, they are going to pay a heavy price for survival, in terms of personal freedom. They will have to subjugate themselves to whatever regime feeds them, whether it be the State, Organised Crime, Corporations, etc. (people will see little difference between them). Cities which cannot subjugate their immediate territories or mount a successful trade interrelationships for their needs and resources will be toast.

    I am sure JHK can defend himself but I thought it was obvious that he felt that large USA urban areas were in trouble down the road. He is talking about smaller cities (on the scale of the past).

    It wasn't a critique of JHK, I agree with much of what he say's. I just think that there is a general belief that if some general changes are made to existing cities (transport, etc.) people can then just stay put. Which just isn't the case. Without a "raison d'etre" cities will go into terminal decline, no matter what is done and no matter their size. Liverpool in the UK is probably a good example.

    Just like people seem to assume that some adjustment to the technology they use will be sufficient to get them through the collapse (electric cars, PV panels, different light bulbs, etc). If people are in the wrong place, no amount of technical adjustment will save them.

    There just seems to be a great deal of cognitive dissonance in peoples thinking. Particularly when it comes to cities.

    True-IMO the permanent and gigantic negative economic effects to the USA resulting from the now approx 13 trillion dollar fleecing is flying under the radar. The guesstimate is this totals about 8 years of total personal income tax revenue given away-there will not be any capital available to help the USA economy weather oil depletion as it is being drained away. This is a 3rd world economic model any way you slice it.

    Forgetabout it Jim

    Its Forbes

    In agreement with Darwinian I found this archived article from Joe Bageant.


    Nine Billion Little Feet

    Population growth is the rhino in the playpen, the root cause of our approaching eco-disaster that that no one honestly talks about. On the left we get an onslaught of information about what we must and must not do to prevent climate change. Good Democrats get Al Gore's advice, which somehow never mentions the corporations doing the damage. And all of America gets feel-good electric car ads -- buy your way out of the problem, or at least your guilt if you happen to have any. But nowhere do we get an honest discussion about population growth. If you care to, argue that climate change may or may not destroy us. But uncontrolled population growth is guaranteed to do the job. As an old Idaho rancher told me, "You can't run a hundred head of cattle on half an acre."


    Thought-provoking stuff. Thanks for the link.

    Excellent link. Thanks. Would stay to comment, but must go make some plans for how to survive the coming hydra-headed catastrophe. Then there's the taking of action--aye, there's the rub. Many who are aware and adaptable might find it difficult to disentangle themselves from current unreal life for a plethora of reasons. So there's a bit of the old "Titanic" feeling.

    april 7th finds a cold wind blowing through new jersey. temps not getting above 40. so i have to start the wood burning stove. i live out in the country, 40 miles northwest of NYC. i was unemployed for 3 months and spent most of it under a self imposed house arrest. this allowed me to tend the stove. practically, i could only burn wood 12 hours per day.
    had to empty the ash pan. i use the intrepid II catalytic stove. i burned 3 huge oak trees i had chopped down the season before. this keep my living room heated. usually i close that room off and stay out until spring. a rule of thumb, it takes a volume of wood equal to the volume of living space you wish to heat. look how big your house is, that is the size of wood pile you need. that is heating 24 hours per day through the winter. i didnt do that. my wood burning was to reduce my electric heat. i say most houses can use two stoves.
    i have two. one in the basement also. once that chimney has liner in it, one stove will be cleaned out while the other is going.
    my arms ache from cutting and splitting and hauling. and wood is dirty, makes dust and ash. plus a wood burner needs kindling of dry leaves and small branches, bushels in fact. i started my fires with charcoal briquettes. and the fire must be tended constantly, especially so while starting. this life doomers dream of when civilization collapses is going to suck big time. now i plan to start a garden, but i have to go back to work. so that looks iffy.
    i expect the collapse to be sudden and violent. right now everyone is going to mcdonald's and buying big screen tv's. i think there are 4
    houses in my town with solar panels, but i still see lots of big shiny pick up trucks in driveways. $25K for 3KW PV or $25k for the big 4x4? oh, and let us not forget property taxes, every year they go up 5%. the bank has 6 month CD's yielding 2.2%. every one is buying into the paradigm. i never read about what veggies JHK is growing this year or his hints on canning, just his road trips and globe trotting. seems i get to reduce my life style but him and al gore
    are happy motoring about. if that is powering down, i want some.

    Good comparison with the Pickup Truck. I wonder how many people ask those guys how fast their payback is going to be on one of them? That question ONLY seems to matter when it's a purchase that actually CAN pay for itself. Never gets mentioned when we reshingle our roofs or build an extension on the house.. but put up 5 watts of Solar and the calculators come whipping out.. "You selling that power at a profit?"

    As far as the wood-fuel rule of thumb, though, you can knock that pile WAY down if you have heavy insulation, insulated shutters and a masonry stove. With only a portion of that, we were heating a house in Maine's White Mts with just a 2 hour burn every other day, or daily during the deepest cold spells. (Far less dust and ash, too)


    To save the planet, you have to be willing for other people to suffer.

    I'm sorry to hear that it was such hard work and used so much wood. Was the wood dry enough? Most species of oak have quite good heat content, but if the wood has not had a chance to dry, most of the heat goes to evaporating water.

    I had a look at the Intrepid II "catalytic". Seems to be a product of the Italian school of industrial design (make it look good, never mind how well it works -- or for how long). I had one similar, once. I guess you'll know what to look for in your next wood-burner. ;-)

    At least you've got lots of potash (the K in N-P-K) for your garden, if you compost the ash. If you don't have time this growing season, save the ash for next year.


    There is a non-monetary version of the "peak credit" story: The energy alternatives that have good ERoEI, like wind and nuclear, have large up-front energy costs, then cheap operation after that. This is bad enough, but you clearly are thinking about something wider and more general.

    I'd like to suggest for your consideration the possibility that investors might accept a negative rate of return in a declining economy. To simplify the picture let's assume: (1) OPEC and OECD get together and work out how to manage the downslope at a steady 3% and everyone agrees that the world economy will also decline at 3% in real terms until it can decouple; (2) Governments discover the magic trick of controlling the amount and velocity of money well enough to control the inflation rate and they decide to set the inflation rate at the decline rate + 2% (i.e. at 5% on the previous assumption).

    I would argue that in this situation investors will make investments returning less than the inflation rate if that is the best on offer, and this will include the creation of credit. What are their alternatives? Gold enthusiasts assume that it will keep its value, but how can it? There will be the same amount of gold chasing an ever decreasing amount of goods and services. This goes for everything else: land, commodities. In a declining economy it is better to buy stuff you'll need now rather than later, so more effort will go into building stockpiles relative to building productive infrastructure, but that process has to to reach a point of diminishing returns.

    I think this will work even without the optimistic assumptions. Quite recently there was a flight to Treasuries when they were explicitly paying a negative return. I remember having bank accounts returning less than inflation during the stagflation period: indeed banks in Australia then were lending money for homes at less than the inflation rate that was current then.

    To put it differently: If the economy is growing away steadily in nominal terms, then all the standard economic mechanisms can still function, independently of the decline in real terms.

    Clearly deflation creates a terrible problem with people gaining by keeping their money in the bank or under the bed. I now see that printing money ("quantitative easing") is impossible to get right: up to a point it disappears, then eventually (if you do enough) there's a panic and you have hyperinflation. This might not be such a problem if banks advertise their money printing activities and strongly express their determination to cause inflation. Hard for conservative bankers to do. Governments could gain more control of the money supply by issuing paper money with use-by dates, forcing people to keep most money in banks, and having the ability to lock down a percentage of bank account holdings when inflation starts to get out of control.

    The energy alternatives that have good ERoEI, like wind and nuclear, have large up-front energy costs, then cheap operation after that

    Should wind and nuclear be conflated like this?


    The initial 200MW phase of the project will cost approximately $450 million to $475 million, excluding allowance for funds used during construction.

    Is there a list of under $500 million nuclear plants I can compare with these wind projects? How long do they take to build? Also, how does long term maintenance cost compare wind versus nuclear?

    Bullocks! Arnie tried to balance CA's budget with an across the board cut. Guess what happened?

    We could also reduce the population, one arm at a time. Try again.

    Cold Camel

    One really doesn't know what the usable life of all this new equipment is. I would argue it is likely fairly short--much shorter than the timeframe the equipment is built for, because of its tie in with the rest of the economy. This makes the return much lower than what people would expect.

    Also, I think one must look at the "cash flow" effect of the new equipment to society. I expect that the cash-flow will be a net outflow for many years, because it costs so much more energy to build the equipment than they actually use. About the time the net outflow stops, much of the equipment will stop working. Someone needs to at least look at this effect. This is just my impression--not a hard calculation.

    The "going concern" option in the CPA's opinion.

    Quite frankly, I do not think it matters. If our society is not a "going concern", wasting energy building wind turbines is a *FAR* better option than the alternative uses of our energy, such as expanding Suburbia & Exurbia and widening roads (the worst possible use of today's energy since it destroys farmland), or plasma TVs (terrible use since we burn more carbon to make them and then power them till the lights go out)

    Wind turbines will reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere, CO2 that will be there (or not) for 500 to 1,000 years.

    Option A - Build wind turbines that will operate for the next 16 years till TSHTF and all current technological social structure dissolves. They then spend several decades rusting till someone tears them down for scrap.

    In those 16 years, they prevented coal and natural gas from being burned and extended the time to collapse by a few days (coal requires constant & substantial energy/oil input to keep going day to day, wind does not, so wind delays the collapse "a bit"). The coal that was not burned will reduce Global CO2 by 0.000001% for 500 years or so.

    So the survivors will have very slightly less Climate Change to deal with.

    Option B - Support and extend Suburbia - More farmland destroyed for millennium, more CO2 emitted. Both bad news for the few survivors.

    More later.


    Slave workers trapped as Dubai economy collapses

    ...The ubiquitous cranes have paused on the skyline, as if stuck in time. There are countless buildings half-finished, seemingly abandoned. In the swankiest new constructions – like the vast Atlantis hotel, a giant pink castle built in 1,000 days for $1.5bn on its own artificial island – where rainwater is leaking from the ceilings and the tiles are falling off the roof. This Neverland was built on the Never-Never – and now the cracks are beginning to show. Suddenly it looks less like Manhattan in the sun than Iceland in the desert.

    Once the manic burst of building has stopped and the whirlwind has slowed, the secrets of Dubai are slowly seeping out. This is a city built from nothing in just a few wild decades on credit and ecocide, suppression and slavery. Dubai is a living metal metaphor for the neo-liberal globalised world that may be crashing – at last – into history. …

    Since the recession hit, they say, the electricity has been cut off in dozens of the camps, and the men have not been paid for months. Their companies have disappeared with their passports and their pay. "We have been robbed of everything. Even if somehow we get back to Bangladesh, the loan sharks will demand we repay our loans immediately, and when we can't, we'll be sent to prison." ...

    Hello TODers,

    A little more on Human Powered Vehicles [HPVs] & rail bikes, what I call SpiderWebRiding:

    Currently, the speed record for a fully faired bicycle is 82 mph:

    8 second video of Sam Whittingham blazing along!
    They may be near the speed limit for this tech because of the pumping losses, rubber-to-road friction, plus the extra weight of the structural carbon fiber required to protect the rider if he crashes at this high rate of speed.

    Alternatively, progress may come by moving to a specially designed aero-rail-bike, although much more sophisticated than this narrow gauge example in the photo linked below:

    Please notice bike and miniature track!

    Notice how this railbike probably weighs much less than your standard factory production recumbent and/or upright bicycle. It appears to be a little bigger than a skateboard: no storage bike rack and heavy lock required--just carry or two-wheel it ahead of you like a handcart when off-track.

    If kids pedaled these to school: they could store them inside their school locker. Compare to the weight of a typical yellow school bus; 40 of these bikes, plus a couple miles of track would probably still weigh less than the single bus!

    There is a golfing community near me that could very cheaply install this setup on its course. The kids could then pedal to the area schools very close to the golf course. This would be much, much cheaper and much cleaner than running yellow buses around the neighborhood. More fun,too!.

    Back to rail speed records:

    From the book [linked below], "Bicycling Science"
    By David Gordon Wilson, Jim Papadopoulos, Frank Rowland Whitt

    [Page 409] There is little doubt that streamlined [faired] rail cycles should be the fastest HPVs. However, to reach top speed they would probably need to have a special narrow-gauge track..
    For some reason, this link doesn't allow a 'cut & paste' function, so please read the next couple of pages and see the included illustrations. My guess is that an advanced aero-design rail bike on a special narrow gauge track will be the only way to break the 100 mph barrier.

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

    Posted something about the segway..but see it is old news already.