Drumbeat: April 18, 2009

Oil baron warns of trouble in the North Sea

Oil industry bosses are urging Alistair Darling, the chancellor of the exchequer, to ease the tax burden on North Sea oil and gas companies or risk more than 50,000 job losses in the industry, centred on Aberdeen.

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of Wood Group, is calling for the UK government and the industry to work together to develop an emergency plan to minimise a serious loss of momentum. He is calling for specific measures to promote exploration and appraisal drilling, to encourage new small field developments through cuts in supplementary corporate tax, and the introduction of measures to boost the liquidity of the smaller industry players who are struggling under the weight of the credit crunch.

Oilpatch layoffs could trigger labour crunch

Today's labour surplus in Canada's energy sector could prove an even bigger problem down the road, when the current industry downturn fades and demand for workers begins its cyclical rebound.

At present, more layoffs are looming as companies keep multibillion-dollar oilsands projects on the shelf and hold off on natural gas drilling plans due to low prices.

Engineer seeks to prove more efficient oilsands extraction

CALGARY -- A mining engineer who has worked with Alberta's biggest oilsands operators says he has an idea that would allow producers to recover more bitumen, save energy and water, reduce capital and operating costs, and avoid creating big toxic tailings ponds.

China tops countries importing Oman oil

Muscat: China topped the countries importing oil from Oman, but statistics released by the National Economy Ministry shows a slight decline in Chinese oil imports in the first two months of 2009, compared to the corresponding period last year.

However, Oman's total crude oil exports rose 5.9 per cent to 38.22 million barrels in January and February 2009, against 36,108.1 million barrels during the corresponding period of 2008, according to the monthly statistical bulletin published by the National Economy Ministry.

Truth and Consequences

Now we can trace the real environmental impact of the stuff we buy. How to raise your own eco-IQ.

Saudi Khurais Field: Looks Like Easy Oil May Be Gone from Arabia, Too

Readers may recall Leslie Stahl’s trip-happy-trip to the magic Saudi Kingdom last December, on 60 Minutes. If you missed that bit of Willie Wonka Choclat-ism, you can review my post here: Open Secret: the 60 Minutes Report on Saudi Oil.

In addition, I just checked the CBS website and you can still watch the piece just as it aired on TV. My central observation about the 60 minutes coverage was as follows: given the massive size of this field’s infrastructure and the fact that millions of gallons of seawater will be needed to extract its oil, we can now conclude that even in Saudi Arabia, the easy oil is gone.

Norway Oil Industry Seen At Risk If New Areas Not Opened

Norway's oil and gas production and industry risk going into serious decline by the mid-2020s if a ban on exploration in unexplored offshore areas in the North isn't lifted quickly, oil chiefs say.

The Ethanol Bubble Pops in Iowa: More evidence the fuel makes little economic sense

In September, ethanol giant VeraSun Energy opened a refinery on the outskirts of this eastern Iowa community. Among the largest biofuels facilities in the country, the Dyersville plant could process 39 million bushels of corn and produce 110 million gallons of ethanol annually. VeraSun boasted the plant could run 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the demand for home-grown energy.

But the only thing happening 24-7 at the Dyersville plant these days is nothing at all. Its doors are shut and corn deliveries are turned away. Touring the facility recently, I saw dozens of rail cars sitting idle. They've been there through the long, bleak winter. Two months after Dyersville opened, VeraSun filed for bankruptcy, closing many of its 14 plants and laying off hundreds of employees. VeraSun lost $476 million in the third quarter last year.

Argentina: A tiff over time zones

An enthusiastic President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner brought the country an hour forward to daylight saving time last summer, in the wake of an energy crisis that put a big damper on Argentina’s resurgent industrial output and forced the normally energy-self-sufficient country to have to import power.

But more than half of the independent-minded provinces rebelled this year and refused to change their clocks. One cited the “lost sense of time-equilibrium.” Another pointed out that any energy saved was lost by businesses keeping later hours: Argentines wouldn’t think of going out to dine when it’s still light outside.

Gambian poor hit by soaring prices

Gambian low income families have condemned the recent price hikes on basic commodities in the West African state saying it weighs heavily on poor households, local media have reported.

The prices of rice - the country's main staple food - and fuel has escalated in recent months leaving thousand of Gambians struggling to make ends meet.

Wineries turn to low-cost, eco-friendly online tastings

BERKELEY, Calif. — As the recession continues to pinch budgets, some tech- (and cash) savvy wineries are rethinking the tradition of jetting their winemakers around the country for in-person tastings with top critics.

Instead, wineries such as California's Kendall-Jackson are embracing low-cost, eco-friendly virtual tastings via the Internet.

The "Peak Oil Disruptor": Bryn Davidson

First Rule: don't invest in something that could become a stranded asset

Bryn described a town in Maryland that invested $60 million in a new airport as an economic stimulus strategy only to see oil prices go up and the local carrier drop the town as a destination. Don't invest in "something that only makes sense in a future that looks like the past," he cautioned.

Our chance to spare mountains

Reintroduced this year, the bill serves as a wise reminder of the increasing precariousness of North Carolina's dependence on mountaintop-removal coal in a changing market and new presidential administration. As the recent Environmental Protection Agency rulings for greater scrutiny and restrictions of mountaintop removal operations demonstrate, a consensus is emerging to phase out mountaintop-removal coal.

Energy world awash in change

Nansen Saleri isn’t worried about the world running out of oil. With more than 30 years of expertise in managing reservoirs — first for Chevron, then for Saudi Aramco — the CEO of Quantum Reservoir Impact in Houston is a vocal foil for peak oil advocates who insist that crude production has reached a plateau or will soon. The key, Saleri says, lies with technology to squeeze more oil from rock deep beneath the Earth’s surface as well as conservation. He says consumers have a powerful edge, as demonstrated by sharp pullbacks in use when gasoline hit $4 a gallon last summer.

In an interview, Saleri shared his views on the economy, lower oil prices and the consumer’s role.

Former Saudi Aramco CEO Warns of Oil Price Spikes

The U.S. and other economies may soon face vicious energy price spikes if governments pursue policy barriers to oil, coal and natural gas investment, the former chief executive of the world's largest oil company warned Thursday.

Policies such as increased taxes, dwindling resource access and penalties for emitting greenhouse gases - all actions President Barack Obama has prioritized - could spell a commodity market meltdown such as seen last year, cautioned Abdallah Jum'ah, who retired as CEO of Saudi Aramco late last year.

Investors see safety in oil, prices above $50 - Analyst: 'There’s still a lot of money out there that has to go somewhere'

NEW YORK - The best thing going for oil producers is that the world still needs millions of barrels of it everyday.

Even as factories shut down and consumption falters, investors continue to buy crude stocks on the expectation that the world’s petroleum appetite will eventually return.

Nigeria predicts oil price at $44-$52 this year

ABUJA (Reuters) - Global oil prices are likely to trade between $44 and $52 a barrel for the rest of the year due to a decline in production in North America and the North Sea, Nigeria's minister of state for finance said on Friday.

"While it is an oily business predicting the price of crude, our prognosis for the rest of the year hovers around $44 and $52 per barrel based on supply constraints," Remi Babalola said in prepared remarks at an economic event. Oil prices traded around $50 a barrel on Friday.

Kuwait sells naphta at lower premium to Japan firm

Premiums have been falling recently because of an influx of European and Middle Eastern supplies. KPC, which is not a usual exporter of spot naphtha, had been offering spot lots due to a delay in the startup of a new aromatics plant.

Iran to inaugurate world’s biggest oil recovery project

LONDON (IranMania) - The world’s largest enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project, costing $300 million, will soon come on stream at the Aghajari oilfield in southwestern Iran, the Aghajari Oil and Gas Company managing director said on Friday Fars News Agency reported.

Seyyed Abdollah Mousavi told IRIB that that the project will be implemented with the injection of 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day from the South Pars gas field to the Aghajari oilfield to produce 5,000 barrels of oil daily.

Oil export ban costs Iraq dearly, say Kurds

MASIF SALAHUDDIN: Iraq, hungry for investment after six long years of war, is losing millions of dollars a day due to Baghdad’s refusal to permit the Kurdish north to export oil, a top official in the largely autonomous region told Reuters.

“Iraq is losing millions and millions of dollars a day. We lost several billion dollars last year by not exporting from Kurdistan,” Ashti Hawrami, Iraqi Kurdistan’s natural resources minister, said in an interview.

PDVSA won't pay some bills

PDVSA, Venezuela’s state oil company, said its vendors overcharged the company last year, and it won’t pay overdue bills.

“There are many payments we don’t recognize,” Venezuelan Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Friday. “They were overbilled. To pay them would be illegal.”

The Three Trillion Dollar War, By Joseph Stiglitz & Linda Bilmes

From their uncompromising first sentence – "By now it is clear that the US invasion of Iraq was a terrible mistake" – the American authors unpick the cost of the war to the US: around $3billion in contracts and injuries.

Why Are We Cutting Public Transit Funding?

Amid a recession and with ridership growing, now is not the time to discourage commuters.

The Time is Right for Gas-guzzler to Dual-mode EV Conversions

The concept is simple – add electric power trains and battery packs to America's least fuel-efficient vehicles and give them 50 miles of plug-in EV range coupled with unlimited internal combustion range. The potential benefits to the economy are enormous because the U.S. could slash gasoline consumption by a billion gallons per year for every 1% of the gas-guzzler fleet that's converted to dual-mode. It's also a solution that could be immediately implemented using domestic products and create untold thousands of new cleantech jobs.

Andy Grove on battery power

To wean itself from imported oil, the U.S. must create a strong electric car industry. The answer may lie in Silicon Valley.

Downtown Atlanta recycles self into a Zero Waste Zone

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Last year, downtown Atlanta lost a convention to another Southern city because the visiting group perceived the other city as "greener" than Atlanta. The loss propelled Holly Elmore into action.

"Environmental practices are fast becoming a strong consideration in business decisions," explains the Green Foodservice Alliance founder. Elmore teamed up with Atlanta Recycles and Laura Turner Seydel -- eco-awareness consultant and an Atlanta native -- to create the South's first Zero Waste Zone.

Salazar reviews 'midnight' endangered species rule

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he will make a decision in the coming weeks on whether to overturn a controversial Bush administration regulation that limits the reach of the Endangered Species Act.

The outgoing administration finalized a rule in December that allows federal agencies to issue permits for mining, logging and other activities without consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service about endangered wildlife and plants.

A Plan for U.S. Emissions to Be Buried Under Sea

In an ambitious proposal to counter global warming, an upstart power developer wants to build a coal-fired electric plant on the outskirts of New York City that would capture its emissions of carbon dioxide and pump the pollutant 70 miles offshore. The gas would be injected into sandstone a mile beneath the ocean floor in the hope that it would stay there for eons.

Revealed: Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking

ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.

The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.

Worst Environmental Problem? Overpopulation, Experts Say

ScienceDaily — Overpopulation is the world’s top environmental issue, followed closely by climate change and the need to develop renewable energy resources to replace fossil fuels, according to a survey of the faculty at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Friday night bank failures:

Show-me a bank failure: Missouri bank is no.24

American Sterling Bank of Sugar Creek, Missouri, and Great Basin Bank of Nevada in Elko, Nevada were shuttered Friday. The closures should cost the FDIC an estimated $84 million.

Put this one on the watch list for May 1, 2009 unless...

Florida's biggest bank could be taken over by regulators

Is it typical to announce stuff like this?


Edited to remove overlong quote.

Please do not post entire articles. That is a violation of copyright law and our guidelines.

It was such a short article, but you are correct - my apologies.


Thanks for understanding.

It's the percentage of the total that matters (among other things) when it comes to fair use. Four paragraphs from a long article might be fine. If four articles is the entire article, though, you're taking away any reason for people to visit the original link.

Back to the original question -- why do they post articles like this? Anyone who had money in that bank would probably want to pull it out now. Insiders probably already have. So who benefits from this story?

This is a big bank. That may be the reason they are trying to keep it open. I see from the article that the bank had total assets of $14 billion as of June 30 and more than 80 offices in Florida, including 16 in Palm Beach County and 23 in Broward County. If there are funds available, they will do whatever they can to keep the bank open. The only reason I can see to run the article is if the bank's problems were already known, and they wanted people to know that they were taking care of the issue.

Anybody know how much benefit that gas drillers get for the drilling equipment tax deduction? If possible in terms of $/tcf. It seems like a pretty absurd tax break, having the majority of your expenses as a tax deduction, but it seems like terrible timing when a lot of independents may go under. Anybody have any insight on this subject (this is TOD, I know somebody will, but I reserve the right to phrase it that way anyway)?

I don't really have good insight on this issue, other than with the lower price of gas, these producers are already under pressure, so even a small change could mean closing some wells. I wrote a post on the general subject back in February. The organization that has been most upset is the IPAA, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, which is the association of small producers. This is a link to one of its publications about the legislation.

the part of the drilling costs that are sometimes refered to as intangibles are also known as dry hole costs. driller's are allowed to expense dry hole costs on an actual dry hole. is there any reason why dhc shouldn't be expensed ? tangible costs, anything that has a salvage value, is depreciated over a period of yrs.

I listened mostly to hear what Ilargi was like vocally. Different than what I expected. Pretty decent interview. I hope this gets Stoneleigh and Ilargi many more sessions in broader news media in the future.

An older article, from February, but interesting: The vanishing middle ground

There’s never a good time to lose your job, but for those unlucky enough to fall from the comfort of the middle class, getting back in is now harder than ever. Troubling signs are beginning to emerge that there’s less mobility between the working poor and the middle class than there used to be, so once you’re out, it could be for life.

The middle class has lost ground over the last quarter-century, but it wasn't visible because of the increasing use of credit. Now it's all unraveling. And this is in Canada, so it can't be blamed on Reagan and Bush, at least not entirely.

IMF warns over parallels to Great Depression

The IMF said the US is at the epicentre of this crisis just as it was in the Depression, setting the two episodes apart from normal downturns. However, the risks are greater this time. "While the credit boom in the 1920s was largely spec­ific to the US, the boom during 2004-2007 was global, with increased leverage and risk-taking in advanced economies and many emerging economies. Levels of integration are now much higher than during the inter-war period, so US financial shocks have a larger impact," it said.

The IMF said the global financial system is still under acute stress, with output tumbling and inflation falling towards zero in key nations. "The risks of debt deflation have increased," it said.

Mish agrees: Deflation Has Gone Global

And this looks like it's going to get ugly: Obama Adviser Said to Be Tied to Pension Deal

It involves, among other things, Peggy Lipton, the star of that old '60s show, The Mod Squad.

Of course, Obama is standing by his man.

Leanan: The ironic thing is that when you actually examine pretty well all of Barack Obama's associates and mentors they all look like the same guy-an incredibly rich, powerful grifter. If one of these guys hasn't been associated with corruption I would be very surprised. Meanwhile,with the help of the MSM this guy still maintains the image of the friend of the American working man. I realize that the Rethugs would do the same to the middle class but I am not sure they would take it as far as this guy and his crew-they seem very ruthless. Here is another take on Rattner http://gangbox.wordpress.com/2009/04/18/rattnergate-president-obamas-aut...

The "republicans" seem to want a police state -- an armed standoff between a blended civilian police and military force on the government side and assault-rifle armed public on the other. The "democrats" seem content to simply concentrate the entire wealth of the nation -- indeed, the whole world if they can get it -- into a few favored hands, using whatever means of coercion and deception they need to get the job done.

That these two groups see themselves as a bipartisan champions of "freedom" in the world is truly bizarre.

"Government of the people, by the people, and for the people" . . . just don't ask who these "people" actually are. It isn't you or I.

As nice as it is to have an articulate and charming president replace the buffoon who use to have the job, it is pretty obvious that we still live in a banking oligarchy.

Heck, they don't even flinch when a nobel prize winning economist calls them out:

Stiglitz said in an interview yesterday. The people who designed the plans are “either in the pocket of the banks or they’re incompetent.”


I posted this article at the top of yesterday's DB, and we discussed it extetensively.

If they were incompetent, it is unlikely that the banksters would have placed them there, for they would not be useful to the oligarchs. So Stiglitz is right: it is either/or, not both, not neither.

It is clearly obvious that government policy is being run in a way that benefits the oligarchs rather than the national interest/general welfare (take your pick of terminology). Thus, let's just get straight to the point: they ARE in the pocket of the banks, period.

These are what would be described as "opportunity", "prosperity" or "entrepreneurial" democrats. Ultimately, in a limited world, one person's profit is another persons loss. At least in the world of real resources. One might argue differently for knowledge based stuff - but the rules of intellectual property law make soft property just as negative-sum. The profit comes only by appropriating the commonwealth or taking from someone else.

A musical chair economy.

cfm in Gray, ME

Obama is talking as if he believes that economic growth can be restarted and perpetuated indefinitely.

They people Obama selected to actually run things for him are acting as if they believe that growth is over, it is now a zero-sum (or even negative-sum) game, that it is "get what you can while you can", and that they are making sure that it is their patrons (if that is not too gentele a term) that are the ones that end up with most of the getting.

You said it-on Puplava's show today he points out that only 7.6% of all this government money spent has actually been directed toward the overall economy-92.4% is being funnelled directly to the politically powerful financial sector. There is no way Obama is stupid enough to believe that this is how economic growth is restored-he is the salesman out front distracting the crowd (with the compliance of the MSM) while his controllers and cronies carry the loot out the back door.

On Puplava's show today, Gerald Celente (who has been a pretty good forecaster) predicts that these tax protests are the start of the literal disintegration of the USA politically and economically. He thinks that possibly a third political party could arise out of this but is unsure on this one.

More evidence of the "Cheap is the new chic" trend: "As long as we can keep decreasing our bills we can keep making less money."

Goodbye Bland Affluence
Get ready for authenticity chic.

A small sign of the times: USA Today this week ran an article about a Michigan family that, under financial pressure, decided to give up credit cards, satellite television, high-tech toys and restaurant dining, to live on a 40-acre farm and become more self-sufficient. The Wojtowicz family—36-year-old Patrick, his wife Melissa, 37, and their 15-year-old daughter Gabrielle—have become, in the words of reporter Judy Keen, "21st century homesteaders," raising pigs and chickens, planning a garden and installing a wood furnace.

Mr. Wojtowicz was a truck driver frustrated by long hauls that kept him away from his family, and worried about a shrinking salary. His wife was self-employed and worked at home. They worked hard and had things but, Mr. Wojtowicz said, there was a "void." "We started analyzing what it was that we were really missing. We were missing being around each other." So he gave up his job and now works the land his father left him near Alma, Mich. His economic plan was pretty simple: "As long as we can keep decreasing our bills we can keep making less money."

My advice (and lots of other people were saying the same thing) from two years ago:


In this article I will further expound on my reasoning behind the ELP plan, otherwise known as “Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy.”

I have been advising for anyone who would listen to voluntarily cut back on their consumption, based on the premise that we were probably headed, in a post-Peak Oil environment, for a prolonged period of deflation in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflation in food and energy prices.

It was just incredible the number of yard sales going on in my town this morning. I've never, ever seen so many at one time. Lots of people trying to de-clutter and bring in a few dollars, lots of people trying to snatch up a few bargains.

Are doomers smarter?

Psychologists have discovered that people performed better in memory tests when the weather was bad and they were feeling grumpy.

The research discovered that the worse the weather and the more depressed the individual, the sharper their brain.

That is not credible. Depression leads to demoralization, inaction and withdrawal. There is a condition called "pseudo-dementia" that is mostly depression -- but frequently masquerades as Alzheimer-type dementia.

Depression leads to demoralization, inaction and withdrawal.

But you can be smart and still be demoralized, inactive, and withdrawn, can you not?

I found this interesting because it ties in with some other research that has been done, that found depressed people are the most realistic. They expected to find that depressed people had unrealistically pessimistic views, while normal people were more realistic.

Instead, they found the opposite. Depressed people had realistic views, while normal people were overly optimistic. Leading some journalists to joke that maybe depressed people were depressed because they were surrounded by brainless Pollyannas.

Nobody wants to be depressed, of course, but if people already are, it might be worth listening to them. They may have a truer view of the situation than the rest of us.

Should you listen to them? Probably.
But just as a depressed person is, demoralized, inactive, and withdrawn, the "normal" people are pretty much also mentally unreachable.

Just look at the economic new lately. The reality of the numbers say we are still screwed, but consumer sentiment and the stock market is up.

The normal people literally don't want to know about the resource depletion, or the true state of the economy. They can't handle the truth.

So who are the crazy ones now?

Wisdom is a curse when it brings no profit to the wise.

Rather, profit is a curse since it brings no wisdom.

"Life is a comedy for those who think... and a tragedy for those who feel." Horace Walpole.

I know many highly intelligent people who are at one end of the scale or the other.. while most, of course are up in the boring fat middle of the bell-curve somewhere. If the news was good today, I'll hear from a doomer that they weren't wrong.. we just have to wait. It's coming! It is!

We've got so many polarized viewpoints out there vying for validation now. It's like someone debating whether it's more correct to breathe in or breathe out.

COME slowly, Eden!
Lips unused to thee,
Bashful, sip thy jasmines,
As the fainting bee,

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums,
Counts his nectars--enters,
And is lost in balms!

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) http://www.poetry-archive.com/d/come_slowly_eden.html

Have a Happy Earth Day, if you dare. Say a prayer for the Birds and the Bees!
I biked my little girl to her dance class this morning, and there's no finer sight than a flock of little girls spinning, running and laughing. When we walk together, she holds my hand and makes me skip. The bike trail through South Portland was full of people with garbage bags, picking up trash and being outside together. I refuse to be glum right now, even though I'm scared.


Thanks for the Emily Dickenson! She puts such passion into such tender words.

But this can only partially explain Dickinson’s state of mind. It does not address her special capacity to capture what has been called by Dickinson critics the "depressive experience" and transform it into metaphor, a phenomenon over which they have puzzled for decades.

Laugh often, love much.

Depression is no picnic -- not even if you are smart. And by the way, you don't have to be smart to be depressed. I still think that research is a crock, though admittedly, I haven't read it, and a newspaper story isn't designed to be peer-review. Possibly, the source of the disagreement is the definition of "depression".

Well there is certainly many types of depression so just saying "depression makes you more realistic" doesn't say much. Another way to put it would be that contentment or elation causes one to be less realistic. Perhaps its because "depressed" individuals see more of the problems whereas elated individuals are simply satisfied with their conditions.

On a side note, studies have shown that the more intelligent a person is, the more likely they will suffer from depression. Also, people that have bi-polar disorder have a higher average intelligence and creative thinking than average. Same with those with ADHD. Presumably most of you on the TOD have experienced at least some depression as a consequence of becoming PO aware. Depression causes people to think rather than just react to stimulus. Controlling it though is one of the most difficult tasks, and I certainly feel for those here that are plagued by it.

Speaking of Dickinson, maybe an even more relevant comment on the topic:

MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

Yeah, That sure fits..


Leanan -

It seems that the modern American therapeutic mindset does not allow for the possibility that being depressed is a perfectly appropriate and rational response to a truly depressing situation.

Ditto for what passes for 'positive thinking'. Some of the worst follies and atrocities visited upon mankind were the result of positive-thinking leaders with 'vision'.

Negative thinking can have definite survival benefits. Picture if you will an imaginary conversation in Nazi Germany circa 1935 between two Jews, one with a negative attitude and the other with a positive attitude.

Negative-thinking Jew: This Hilter's a madman with crazy racist followers. Some day they're going to round us all up and exterminate us. Take your wife and family and flee Germany before it's too late!

Positive-thinking Jew: Don't be such an alarmist! This schmuck Hitler will be out of office and back to hanging wallpaper before you know it. Everything will turn out fine. You'll see.

A little parable illustrating why am a firm believer in the power of negative thinking.

Depression is by definition not an appropriate and rational response. The problem with depression is that it causes inaction. The ability to realistically assess a negative situation may be more pronounced in the depressed, but the irony is that if one succumbs to depression, one will not be able to act on that assessment.

And the optimist who thinks everything will get better on its own is superior to this state in what way?

Clinical depression, situational depression, and simply not being happy right now because it isn't warranted are completely separate things that can all be billed under the "depressed" label by laymen or reporters.

That's not the Positive Thinking Jew, though. Just equating positive-mindedness with rank denialism isn't exactly Positive Thinking, or any kind of productive Negative Thinking on your part, either.

Here's a Positive-thinking Jew for you.



The goal of liberals and progressives should not only be equality of material circumstances, but the creation of a global society in which love and generosity, ecological sensitivity, and awe and wonder at the universe permeate all human relations and determine our social priorities. It is this-not how many computers, cell phones, or other new technologies get produced-that is what we mean by progress. Saving the environment globally requires a shift to this concept of well-being and progress. This is what our schools must teach and what our corporations and legal system must embody. Only an economy organized around those principles will be practical in terms of global survival.

Rabbi Michael Lerner - "I have cancer"

Hmm.. reading on, I see that Lerner's item "D" actually addressed your Hitler point.. (basically)

D. We build for these goals in ways that avoid demeaning those with whom we disagree, but instead recognize that they too are created in the image of God. But we do not let our insistence that they are created in the image of God impede us from throwing our full energy into removing them from positions of power, overturning their economic system, or putting them in prison when they have violated basic human rights. (We could start there with the enablers of torture in the Bush administration.) Respect for the other is consistent with nonviolently resisting negative policies with all our strength, thereby rejecting the kind of nonjudgmental, nonconfrontational, "who am I to judge others or call others' policies evil?" kind of moral relativism that sometimes permeates New Age spirituality. We need a spiritual politics in which we encourage forgiveness and compassion, but not moral relativism or the inability to struggle to replace systems of domination. And simultaneously, our task is to speak to the part of every human being that really does want a new kind of world. We need to help each other overcome the fear that our desires are unrealistic or utopian, when in fact what is utopian is imagining that the planet is going to survive without a drastic and fundamental new orientation toward activities considered "efficient and productive."

- MY emphasis..

optimism does not have to mean 'blind optimism' ..
any more than 'brutal honesty' can be conflated with mere brutality.

This is exactly how I feel:

Depressed people had realistic views, while normal people were overly optimistic. Leading some journalists to joke that maybe depressed people were depressed because they were surrounded by brainless Pollyannas.

Like Gerald Celente, I do my best to try and see things as they are, rather than how I wish them to be or, if I were the ideological type, how my ideology tells me to perceive reality.

I really have to grit my teeth at work when people tell me the best thing I could do with my money is run out, buy a house in the exurbs, and dump as much money as possible into stocks because, "It'll come back, the market always comes back!"

I really think that a generally mild, sunny spring is a major factor buoying sentiment in many places. If we have a rainy, grey fall, I think we can expect a precipitous drop in the stock markets and commodities indices.

Depression leads to demoralization, inaction and withdrawal.

Of course, if one only thinks happy and hopeful thoughts, everything will work out fine. Seriously, it strikes me that one would be sick if one were not depressed by what is going on. Still, one does not require hope to keep plodding.

Marvin is apparently afflicted with severe depression and boredom, in part because he has a "brain the size of a planet" which he is seldom able to use.

Depressed people had realistic views, while normal people were overly optimistic. Leading some journalists to joke that maybe depressed people were depressed because they were surrounded by brainless Pollyannas.

I spent most of yesterday in Augusta testifying on a number of bills - biotech wanted open-field pharma cropping, big ag wanted organic farmers to be responsible for keeping their crops organic, FPL would build fish ladders when fish started queuing up below the dams. Yeah, that was depressing. That is NOT a joke; hanging out with that crowd is truly depressing and disturbing.

cfm in Gray, ME

I think it rings true. I've been truly depressed at several points in my life, and it has always been a force that drove me to make needed changes. Those changes were attended by a lot of thinking and searching.

While I recognize that there are those who have problems, I regard depression as a healthy mental state. It is your subconscious mind telling you that you've got serious problems you need to address, regardless of how much your conscious mind might wish to ignore them. The idea that we should do something to mask the symptom only makes the underlying problems worse.

That makes a lot of sense. I thought the Prozac & Effexor were making me stupider =)

But happy people make other people feel less panic in general. Most of the time, bad news & the truth are as welcome as loud flatulence at a formal dinner...

It's always interesting what can be shown through research!

Having suffered depression myself, I can attest that a depressed person's short term memory is much worse than normal. If you are like me and suffer from chronic depression (I manage it fine these days), depressive episodes cause distraction and constant worry of negative thoughts. Therefore, new information coming in, is thrown out and reshaped into this negative mindset. You also lose sleep, which also certainly does not lead to a sharper brain.

Now, perhaps someone that is not diagnosed as "depressive" and is just somewhat "blue" from the weather may react differently.

Maybe this was discussed at the time and I missed it.

Sometime in the last year Colin Campbell has moved the date for Peak Oil + Peak Natural Gas to in the past.

The latest chart shows a plateau starting around 2007 and ending about 2008. Since the start of 2006, Peak Oil + Peak Gas has moved forward from approximately 2013 to about a year ago. Peak Nat Gas itself seems to have moved a decade or two closer. At this rate of change Colin Campbell will have Peak Nat Gas itself in the past within a few more years.

If you download the ASPO March PDF you can zoom in on the chart to see the peak more clearly.

In the March 2008 ASPO newsletter (PDF) the combined peak was shown as 2010

If a person looks back through old newsletters, one finds that the last time the date 2010 was used for the oil peak was in the April 2008 Newsletter. The May 2008 newsletter shows a peak year of 2007. In June 2008 and subsequent months, the peak date is shown as 2008. If I remember correctly, this was discussed somewhat back at the time.

In each newsletter, a chart such as this one is shown.

At the bottom of the chart, the peak year (now 2008) is shown.

The forecasts seem to omit biofuels, since 81 million barrels a day is too low for 2008, if it is truly an all-liquids forecast.

Yes, I seem to recall noticing that Peak Oil was now in the past according to Campbell but I hadn't noticed that he also massively altered his gas forcasts as he doesn't provide the figures for that in the table. He does show NGLs though and the Peak NGL date has moved from 2035 to 2020 since last year. Looks like he moved Peak Nat Gas forward to about 2020 as well - that's a huge change.

I wasn't really focusing on the gas part. It would be helpful if he gave the numbers to go with it as well, and perhaps some reasoning behind the amounts.

In the current chart you posted the peak NGL flow rate is given as 5.9 mb/day in 2020. Last year he was forecasting 10mb/day in 2030. I may try scaling the info off the charts for Nat Gas itself.

I looked back at Natural Gas Liquids, since it seems like they would peak about the same time natural gas will (perhaps somewhat before, if non-associated natural gas is "dryer" than other gas).

Campbell shows a peak year for Natural Gas Liquids of 2035 through the May 2008 newsletter. Between June and September 2008, he shows 2027 as the peak year. Starting in October 2008, he shows 2020 as the peak year.

More recently, the amount of gas liquids have dropped, even though the 2020 peak date remains. Back in October 2008, actual production of gas liquids was shown to be 7.9 for 2007. The forecast for 2030 was 8.0. The March 2007 year (excerpted above) shows 5.1 for 2008 and 5.6 for 2030. I wonder if some change of definitions took place as to what was included.

Curious. According to the EIA, NGL production in 2008 was 7.94 mb/day (down from 7.96 in 2007). Maybe worth an email to Campbell asking what changed and where he's now getting his 5.1 for 2008 from?

Edit: Looks like he was converting NGLs to BOE at 1:1 previously. That would be incorrect as NGLs have less energy content per barrel - not that that stops EIA/IEA etc just adding them together. Maybe he's just corrected that.

Also from reading the chart more closely he appears to have conventional gas peaking about 2020 but unconventional production allows us to stay on a plateau until 2030 after which production starts to nosedive. His Peak Nat Gas production seems to be not that much more than 10% above current marked production.

NOW (PBS) had/has a good overview on climate change - glaciers - and how it is and will affect food supply. I saw it last night. but can be seen here ......


Hooray for SUNY-ESF, Charlie Hall and colleagues:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090418075752.htm (above)

Population IS the #1 problem.

I am so looking forward to sabbatical with these folks. Economy willing!

Question Everything


Hello George.Mobus,

Thxs for the info on Pop-problems. Yep, I was disappointed by the protesters in the recent National Teabag Day. Recall my earlier posting on "Asymmetric Protest Strategies". If Peak Outreach had fully permeated our society by now: the male protesters would be annually lining up at vasectomy clinics to get their 'teabags' clipped. IMO, this would be much more effective than throwing a few teabags into seawater.

I see the various news organizations have reports out saying Kohn Says Emergency Loans Unlikely to Harm Taxpayers (Update1)

Apparently Paul Volker asked some pointed questions at the conference where Kohn was making his remarks. According to the WSJ blog account:

Former Fed Chairman Volcker, who along with Kohn was at a conference honoring former Fed governor Dewey Daane, questioned how the Fed can talk about both 2% inflation and price stability.

“I don’t get it,” Volcker said, leading to a lively back and forth between the two central-bank heavyweights.

By setting 2% as an inflation objective, the Fed is “telling people in a generation they’re going to be losing half their purchasing power,” Volcker said. And if 2% is the best inflation rate, and the economic recovery lags, does that mean that 3% becomes the ideal rate, he asked.

Interesting read by a reporter for the Atlantic. Kind of a play by play of a sheeple slowly waking up. Kind of fascinating watching his realization grow.

The little light bulb in his head finally flickered on, and he used his position as a reporter to wander the country, asking all the famous financial people why his portfolio is now worthless.

"Why I Fired My Broker"


Short answer: He was conned out his money by Merrill Lynch. But he shouldn't feel special, that is what brokers do.

"If you need a friend, get a dog."

- Gordon Gekko, Wall Street

A huge part of our current problems stem from the seemingly pathological belief, held by many Americans, that people and institutions in places of power care, really CARE, about their fortunes personally.

George Carlin also had some excellent commentary about this in one of his routines.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."
— Mark Twain

And if food ever becomes sparse - you can still eat em. :-d

Actually they make really good alarm systems. And they are typically warmer than a woman. More loyal too.

That's Groucho Marx not Twain.

Maybe. My source was a mouse pad that Amazon.com sent me for Christmas the first year they were in business.

What they all say when they talk: "Stocks always go up over the long term and outperform other investments, yada, yada, yada".

What is actually ALWAYS written in EVERY prospectus: "Past performance is no guarantee of future results".

Oh, and by the way: If all the baby boomers were planning to cash out their investments when they hit retirement age, how was this supposed to be bullish for stocks in the long term? How was it supposed to be even possible for all of them (us) to get their (our) money out of the market when we needed it?

For the record, I pulled most of my money out of equities when that damn fool "Dow 36,000" article came out, and pulled out the tiny bit we had left last year. I do not intend to place my precious money in the stock market again, any more than I intend to place it on the horses or the lottery - even though those might very well offer better odds.

Strangely enough, 1945+65 => 2010

I pulled mostly out of stocks a couple years ago. Seemed prudent by that math alone.

Market downturn affects investment in new energy technology:

TVenture Capital Investments Plunge 61% Amid Frozen IPO Market

Bloomberg: Funding of clean technology -- coming off a surge of investments in 2007 and 2008 -- plunged 87 percent, the National Venture Capital Association said today. Total venture investments dropped 47 percent from the previous three months.

The freeze in initial public offerings kept startups from getting funding because investors weren’t sure how they would earn a return, said John Taylor, vice president of research at the Arlington, Virginia-based association. Venture capitalists are devoting more attention to companies they already own.

“We are in a very difficult, stressed time,” Taylor said on a conference call. “Everyone is trying to figure out what is going on.”

More of the (finance) tail wagging the (production) dog. VC over- relies on the process of bringing companies to the stock market while ignoring alternate avenues of business development. Start-up coops and VC partmerships are a thought, since it will be a long time before the IPO market is working again ... if ever.

Ef ever ...

Hello TODers,

G8, G5 farm ministers meet on food crisis

..Recession has cooled soaring prices which triggered food riots in some poorer nations last year, but officials say it is just a temporary situation. The food crisis could worsen in developing countries during the current economic downturn due to less investment in agriculture.

According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), there are nearly one billion people who are underfed around the world.
No mention of jumpstarting O-NPK recycling programs.

Brazil breadbasket teeters with economic meltdown

.."This year is just a total loss, and the only thing we can say about the future is that it's uncertain," said Gallego, 43, son of the first settlers to farm this little-developed corner of Brazil a few decades ago. "I can't increase acreage because there's no credit. But if I decrease, I can't pay the bills."

..After the financial crisis hit last fall, the area suffered its worst drought in more than 20 years, affecting three of Brazil's five top grain-producing states and large swaths of grain-producing land in Argentina and Paraguay. There was no rain for two months.

Some families who have farmed fields for 30 years fear they will lose their land. Tight credit is making it harder for most to buy seeds, fertilizer and machinery.
Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Ukraine is capable of harvesting about 40 million tonnes of grain this year against 53.3 million in 2008, agriculture analysts say.

..The analysts say that the harvest will decline this year mainly due to a decrease in the crop yield because farmers lack mineral fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
Recall that Ukraine is very close to the P & K mines and beneficiation factories in Russia & Belarus & elsewhere, recovered [S]ulfur from FF-sources, plus the natgas to make ammonia & urea [N-products]. I-NPK transport costs should be minimal compared to moving I-NPK to the far-inland slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, or high in the Sierra Nevada, etc.

IMO, due to the ongoing credit-unwinding process, this is not a good sign of possibly where the global I-NPK supply chain may be headed. Now add in the water supply problem to your mental equation. Thus, growing sufficient food for Nine billion hungry mouths in 2050 seems unlikely.

Drought in West Africa repeats and may get worse
I would expect the same trend to occur in most areas. Consider the present drought problems in OZ, China, US, Brazil, and other areas.

We are evolved to walk everywhere, then sit in the darkness, but we just cannot do starvation & dehydration.

Loaf of bread I always buy has the same price tag but it's been shrunk by 1/3!

Salary (per hour of teaching) down this year.

Possibly 2 of my classes will be cut if more students don't show up next week...

Violin lessons for one child are no longer financially possible (just as well since she never wanted to practice anyway!)

Peak oil is really making itself manifestly clear in our lives!

Yet I'm quite happy about this. Did anyone really enjoy the way things were before when there was always enough?

Scarcity is so much better for people. Finally, a reason to have a brain: to figure out how you're going to manage this. Before, where was the challenge? What was the point? Just to compete or be left in the dust, be relegated to the margins....

Now finally sewing one's own clothes is worth the time spent, picking plums from the ground and pickling them is worth the time spent, feeding rabbits with grass one has gathered is worth it and so is growing one's own potatoes. My teaching job (where I get my salary) is really not very interesting anyway in the scheme of things and I think I will find lots of better things to do after it goes, quite looking forward to it actually. I looked deeply into the yellow eyes of a goat (not mine unfortunately) the other day and I couldn't have been more startled than had I encountered an alien from another planet....how could we have replaced rich and satisfying interactions with live creatures, cloth, seeds, earth, water, fire, wood, the wind, the sun, the rain, creeks, waves, clouds, the sky.....with inane desk jobs and paper.....what were we thinking?

Marvelous post, pi - thank-you for that. lilith

The Scottish Clearances


and earlier enclosures in England, etc.

It was not a choice for many.


But in the larger context, expanding energy availability made the Highland Clearances a choice the rich (in competition with other rich) people couldn't afford not to make. The clearances were an attempt to impose "economic rationality" on the landscape. Why were sheep suddenly so much more economical than crofters (farmers who lived and farmed small bits of land)......I'll argue that it was because of coal. The sheep provided a steady income for the rich landowners, who needed money so they could get coal and indulge in competitive and luxurious consumption of imported products: sugar, tea, silk, coffee, fine furniture, etc. The crofters provided very little to their landlords since they needed to eat (and needed more space) more than the sheep did.

This is the Maximum Power Principle in action! Energy becomes available and then more is demanded from the source and then the demand increases again and again........until now.

The rich landowners were just caught in the same competition that all species are caught in. They didn't really have a choice about the enclosures either.

But as we are saying on TOD finally this phenomenon of ever increasing energy availability may be over. And so the crofters may be going back to their highlands one day. Check out that article upthread about the trucker who is going into small-scale farming: until now it would have been a losing proposition. He could make more money as a trucker. He could always buy food more cheaply than he could grow it. But now things are changing.