Drumbeat: April 23, 2009

Lester R. Brown: Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?

One of the toughest things for people to do is to anticipate sudden change. Typically we project the future by extrapolating from trends in the past. Much of the time this approach works well. But sometimes it fails spectacularly, and people are simply blindsided by events such as today’s economic crisis.

For most of us, the idea that civilization itself could disintegrate probably seems preposterous. Who would not find it hard to think seriously about such a complete departure from what we expect of ordinary life? What evidence could make us heed a warning so dire—and how would we go about responding to it? We are so inured to a long list of highly unlikely catastrophes that we are virtually programmed to dismiss them all with a wave of the hand: Sure, our civilization might devolve into chaos—and Earth might collide with an asteroid, too!

John Michael Greer: A Struggle of Paradigms

Perhaps the most fascinating factor shaping today’s debates about the future of industrial society, and certainly among the most frustrating, is the rapidity with which any such debate plunges into territory outside the reach of rational argument. Watch a conversation about the subject, and nearly always one of two things will happen: either the participants will find they share basic assumptions in common, and will proceed to build a conversation on that firm ground, or their assumptions will differ and they’ll spend the rest of the conversation talking past one another.

Any number of examples could be cited, but the one that comes to mind just now is the way that communications break down over the subject of environmental limits. It’s no exaggeration to say that either you believe in limits or you don’t. If you do, it seems glaringly obvious that modern industrial civilization, which depends on ever-increasing exploitation of finite and nonrenewable resources, is in deep trouble, and the only viable options are those that jettison the fantasy of perpetual economic growth and aim at a controlled descent to a level of energy and resource use per capita that can be sustained over the long run.

If you don’t believe in limits, by contrast, such notions are the height of folly. Since, according to this way of thinking, progress can by definition overcome any limit nature might impose on human beings, it seems glaringly obvious that modern industrial civilization needs to push progress into overdrive so that it can find and deploy the innovations that will get us past today’s problems and launch our species onward toward its glorious future, whatever that happens to be.

Energy is everything

No living or manufactured thing exists on this planet without energy. It enables flowers and people to grow. We need energy to mine minerals, extract oil or cut wood and then to process these into finished goods. Without energy the goods would not exist so we can think of each product as containing “embodied energy”. So the most fundamental definition of money is that it is a mechanism to allow the exchange and allocation of different forms of energy. The economy is energy.

AutoNation CEO: Gas is too cheap

I think we need a revenue-neutral gas tax that puts a floor under the price of gasoline at around $3.50 to $4. The price of gas totally determines the types of vehicles that people buy and how they use them. The fact that America has ignored this reality is the reason why our energy policies have failed for 50 years. With gas now around $2 per gallon, it won't be possible to sell fuel-efficient vehicles. Already, another great migration away from them is underway. I've seen this movie three times in my career.

Saudi to keep oil output steady in May - sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia would pump about the same amount of crude in May as in April, industry sources said on Thursday.

"They are not cutting output overall," one senior oil executive said. "It is about the same."

Supply has been steady since February at just under 8 million barrels per day (bpd), sources said.

Who killed Chrysler?

A decade ago, the company was sitting on top of the automotive world. Then the Germans took over - but you can't blame them for everything.

World Bank offers Sh40m to boost food production

High fuel prices are said to have increased the cost of fertilisers by over 200 per cent between January and April 2008, forcing farmers to plant without them. This led to a drop in crop production fell by 25 per cent.

Energy Efficiency Is Back

H aving worked in economic and community development for many years, I have seen some trends come full circle and some that cycle on and cycle off intermittently. One of them is the notion that individuals and businesses should use energy more efficiently because it is good for the environment and will save them money.

When I say "energy efficiency," I am talking about using less energy to provide the same level of energy service. When politicians get involved in something, they tend to stretch its definition to meet their agenda or throw everything under one umbrella phrase like "green." Therefore, I want to be clear that I am not going to talk about solar and wind power, biomass, or other types of renewable energy, though it is also a big part of the stimulus strategy and part of "being green" (apologies to Kermit the Frog).

Rainforest clash in Panama signals larger debate

Rural workers are migrating toward cities in search of jobs, and forests are re-emerging where now abandoned farms and cattle ranches once flourished, according to a 2009 report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Kjell Aleklett: Energy alarm sounding for the EU

Last Monday (April 13) there were two articles in the Financial Times, either of which would be troubling by itself. However, if one analyses them together there is every reason to sound the alarm. On the first page there was an article on oil, ”Crisis hits N Sea oil search” and in the supplement that reports on investment funds there was an article on renewable energy, ”Inflows into clean energy drop by half”. In the article on future oil production in the North Sea it states that the oil industry has pulled on the emergency brake in terms of investing in the search for new oil fields. Investment has fallen by 78% compared to one year ago and in the article on renewable energy they state that investment has halved. The combined consequences can be devastating for our future.

America needs passenger rail

My grandpa likes to tell a story about rail travel a century ago. When his father, a farmer in rural Iowa, had a recurring minor health problem, he would visit a doctor in Chicago. Why go so far for a small problem? Because he could hop on a train to Chicago from his small town in Iowa and be there and back within a few hours.

The moral of the story, as my grandpa says, is that traveling by train then was easier than traveling by car now.

In China, G.M. Remains a Driving Force

SHANGHAI — Ford may be standing taller than General Motors in Detroit these days — flush with cash while its rival is forced to go repeatedly to Washington, hat in hand, seeking government bailouts. But in China the tables are turned.

G.M. is a powerful presence here with 8 to 10 percent of the market for cars, minivans and sport utility vehicles, making it the second-largest automaker in China for such vehicles, passed only by Volkswagen. One of G.M.’s local joint ventures, Wuling, dominates the sale of bare-bones pickups and vans, hugely popular in rural areas, with nearly half the market.

...Unlike the gas guzzlers churned out by G.M.’s North American operation, the company’s China division has emphasized fuel-sipping models in the last decade. Two weeks ago, G.M. set a target of roughly doubling sales in China within five years, to two million vehicles a year.

By contrast, Ford languishes in 10th place with 3 percent of the market.

NextGen Oil & Gas Summit

Although price have fallen in the past, there is a growing consensus among analysts that the current situation is not a transitory feature of the market. Instead, there is a fundamental and potentially worsening gap between our demand for oil and natural gas and our ability to supply it. Despite seemingly large resources, we are becoming increasingly dependent on imports (imports’ share of gas supply has tripled since 1985, and imports’ share of oil supply has jumped to almost 60% from 27% in 1985). More importantly, the domestic industry has been unable to increase production despite strong price incentives and increased drilling.

The root cause of this difficulty is the progressive change in the remaining resource base. The North American industry has picked much of the “low-hanging fruit,” and remaining resources are increasingly found both in deeper, more remote, more complex reservoirs (high cost and high risk), or in shallow, drilling-intensive, low-productivity reservoirs.

Backyard refineries blamed for fires, explosions

EDMONDS, Wash. – Trying to live green and beat high gasoline prices, some enterprising Americans are turning cooking oil into biodiesel in their garages. Problem is, some of these do-it-yourselfers are burning down the house.

Banker sees rocky future for oil

“Oil prices need to triple — then triple again,” Matthew Simmons, keynote speaker at the annual Texas Alliance of Energy Producers luncheon, said Wednesday.

“If we don’t have prices high enough, then we can’t sustain the (oil) industry,” Simmons said.

He said prices must rise and stabilize: “Volatility is killing us.”

Oil Prices Resist the World’s Recession Trend

In recent months, oil prices plunged as consumers curtailed fuel use around the world, with some analysts predicting that the dire economic situation would cause oil to fall to $20 a barrel or less.

But in a twist, oil prices have stabilized at close to $50 a barrel. While prices may have fallen by two-thirds since their peak last summer, oil remains expensive by historical standards.

The end is not near: Despite what you’ve heard, we’ve got along way to go before we hit bottom

It may take five years or longer for the economy to recover, and the Sacramento area will be profoundly transformed as a result. That’s going to be especially true as the economic effects of peak oil continue to sink in, driving up the relative cost of fuel and pulling the rug out from under the suburban lifestyle. California remains dangerously dependent on natural gas for producing electricity, and as gas becomes more scarce, economic survival for individuals might mean going without heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.

We’ll be shopping local out of necessity, not to prove a point. We’ll be growing local because shipping vegetables 1,500 miles via planes, trains and trucks will become prohibitively expensive. In short, we’ll become more sustainable because we’ll have no other choice.

This won’t be the happy, shiny sustainability currently being embraced by every major corporation on the planet. An increasing number of Americans are going to experience scarcity and hunger, many of them for the first time.

Oil stays below $50 as recovery hopes wane

VIENNA – Oil prices rose but stayed well below $50 a barrel Thursday as rising U.S. crude inventories and a stark demand forecast by the IMF doused investor optimism for a near-term recovery from the global recession.

Near 100 mln bbls oil stored at sea

Oil companies are storing close to 100 million barrels of crude oil at sea, the highest in recent times, Frontline , one of the world's biggest independent oil tanker owners said on Wednesday.

An oil market structure known as contango -- when oil for prompt delivery is cheaper than oil for later delivery -- has encouraged high levels of oil storage by trading firms for some months. Contango provides an incentive for traders to buy now and sell later.

ConocoPhillips Profit Tumbles 80% After Oil Plunges

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips, the third-biggest U.S. oil producer, said first-quarter profit fell 80 percent as the global recession dragged down energy prices. The company’s shares rose after earnings exceeded analyst estimates.

Occidental Petroleum profit falls 80 percent on plummeting oil and gas prices

HOUSTON (AP) — Occidental Petroleum said Thursday its first-quarter profit fell 80 percent from a year ago as results were crushed by lower oil and natural gas prices.

The company still beat Wall Street expectations and shares in premarket trading rose 2.7 percent, or $1.51, to $57.07.

Shell and BP profits to crash on cheaper oil

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell and BP are expected to report 70 percent profit declines in the coming week on lower oil prices, and some analysts expect even worse to come in future quarters.

Suncor Posts Second Straight Loss After Oil Plunges

(Bloomberg) -- Suncor Energy Inc., the oil-sands producer that agreed last month to buy Petro-Canada, posted a second straight quarterly loss after the global recession dragged down crude prices.

Exxon says drill rig at long-awaited Alaska field

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Production Co said Wednesday it has moved a drilling rig into place at the Point Thomson Project, responding to pressure from the state of Alaska to develop decades-old leases.

"We are moving forward with drilling and development activities at Point Thomson for the mutual benefit of Alaskans and the Point Thomson Unit working interest owners," said Craig Haymes, Exxon Mobil's Alaska production manager.

Gorgon Project May Get Environment Approval in Days, West Says

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp.’s Gorgon liquefied natural gas project may win environmental approval “within days” from Western Australia’s government, the West Australian reported, citing the state premier.

Petrobras begins talks on 'strategic oil supply' to Japan: CFO

Tokyo (Platts)- Brazil's Petrobras has begun talks with state-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation about "strategic oil supply" to Japan from sources including Brazil's offshore pre-salt reservoirs, a senior company executive told Platts Thursday.

The talks also include discussion of financial support from JBIC for Brazil's downstream sector throughout the supply chain.

Add Some Green to Your Portfolio

Green tech is the future. It certainly doesn't feel like the present. When oil barrels were heading toward $150 apiece, everyone flocked to greener alternatives as more of an economic than an environmental necessity. Now that oil has shed two-thirds of its value, it's easy to see why investors have backed away from green initiatives.

However, crude oil isn't a limitless resource, and recession-weighted prices won't stay down forever. Now is a great time to analyze the playing field before your fellow investors begin thinking ahead -- like you should be doing right now.

Cleantech Backers Thinking Smaller

Because of seismic economic and political shifts - or maybe due to the fact that venture investors have “the attention span of a ferret on crack,” as TPG Ventures Managing Director Steve Foster quipped - last fall’s Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations conference, which was filled with talk about peak oil and solar companies, had a far different feel than the one held this week, in which the Obama stimulus plan and the concurrent drop-off in VC funding for cleantech dominated discussions.

Sake Brewer Oenon to Make Biofuel From Imported Rice

(Bloomberg) -- Oenon Holdings Inc., a Japanese maker of sake and liquor, will start making ethanol at the nation’s largest biofuel plant this year using rice imported by the government.

Oenon plans to produce 5,000 kiloliters (1.32 million gallons) through December using 12,000 metric tons of foreign rice from government stockpiles, communications department manager Masumi Ushigome said in an interview. The Tokyo-based company plans to double output next year and reach the plant’s annual capacity of 15,000 kiloliters in 2011, he said.

New bottle deposit, bag tax bills touted for combating pollution

House Democrats introduced two bills yesterday aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and curbing toxic pollution by requiring a 5-cent deposit on beverage containers and imposing a 5-cent tax on single-use plastic bags from grocery stores and other retailers.

Couple are cream of the crop

Environment correspondent SCOTLAND'S top ten green champions are unveiled here today. Top of the list are Mike and Karen Small, whose tireless efforts have inspired hundreds of people in Scotland to eat more local produce. They developed a simple concept called the Fife Diet, and it started a revolution.

Monbiot - Budget 2009: Alistair Darling has just thrown away £300m

The car scrappage scheme will raise emissions, while the target for cutting carbon emissions of 34% by 2020 is still not enough.

Obama launches push for green revolution

NEWTON, Iowa (AFP) – President Barack Obama launched his push for a green energy revolution and to pass historic climate change legislation, making his pitch from a wind energy factory on Earth Day.

Conservative Christians launch green awakening

WAKE FOREST -- For years, some conservative Christians regarded environmentalists as little more than nature worshippers. But on Friday, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will host its first conference on what it calls "creation care," or honoring God's good Earth.

The one-day "Creation Care Symposium" is the seminary's first effort to go green, and, no surprise, it comes two days after Earth Day.

Ozone Hole Causes Antarctic Sea Ice to Expand, Slows Warming

(Bloomberg) -- The ozone hole over the South Pole is canceling out the effects of global warming and causing sea ice production to build up around Antarctica, researchers said.

The human-induced depletion of the protective ozone layer has altered wind patterns and caused temperatures in most of the southern continent to fall so that more cold air flows over the Southern Ocean, freezing the water, the scientists said today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Air pollution helps plants blunt climate change: study

PARIS (AFP) – Cleaning up skies choked with smog and soot would sharply curtail the capacity of plants to absorb carbon dioxide and blunt global warming, according to a study released on Wednesday.

U.K. Says No New Coal Plants Without Carbon Capture

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. will only allow new coal- fired power plants to be built if they capture carbon-dioxide emissions for underground sequestration, said Ed Miliband, the minister responsible for energy and climate change.

All new coal plants will need to demonstrate carbon capture and storage on at least 400 megawatts of their output, according to government proposals announced today. The state is planning funding so that as many as four new coal-fueled plants are built by 2020, Miliband told reporters in London.

“The era of unabated coal has come to an end,” he said. The measures are “the most ambitious of any country in the world.”

The US & China as Examples of High Consumption Driven Net Export Declines

We don't have detailed information for the US in the Thirties and early Forties, but the US went from finding its largest Lower 48 oil field in 1930 to being a net oil importer only 18 years later, in 1948.

Based on EIA data, China's net oil exports peaked at 620,000 bpd in 1985, and they became a net oil importer in 1993. Their annual rate of decline in net oil exports from 1985 to 1992 was -17%/year, with the 1992 annual net export decline rate accelerating to -57%/year.

In both cases, the US and China became net oil importers despite increasing production--because of rising consumption.

I think that the $64 Trillion question is what happens to consumption in exporting countries, as their production declines. The 2008 data were interesting regarding our three closest major sources of imported oil--Canada, Venezuela & Mexico (which based on EIA data all showed net export declines in 2008). Their combined consumption was basically flat at 5.2 mbpd in 2008, while US consumption fell at -6.3%/year.

This is a pattern that I expect to see continuing (especially in 2010 and later)--probably flat to overall increasing consumption in exporting countries with declining net oil exports auctioned off to the high bidders in importing countries.

Is this a tactful way of you hedging your bets about your Export Land Model? This seems like quite the departure from the 'relentless' increase in oil consumption from oil exporting countries that made up a large portion of your theory and subsequent posts.


Peak oil is less of a problem if it occurs AFTER peak consumption. Then its just a matter of matching your increased efficiencies and alternatives to the decrease in supply. Hard at first, but easier as time goes on due to smaller volumes that need to be replaced.

It would be pretty silly to ignore the global economic contraction, but as I have pointed out several times, the UK--which showed almost no increase in consumption over their net export decline period--went from final production peak to zero net oil exports in only seven years. And if we go back to the original ELM, and if we assume no increase in consumption, Export Land goes to zero net oil exports in 14 years, instead of 9 years (at a +2.5%/year rate of increase in consumption), not exactly a big difference.

The point of my $64 Trillion question was that once production starts falling in a given exporting country, the only way for that exporting country to maintain a level net export rate is to aggressively and meaningfully cut consumption. For example, at their current production decline rate, if Mexico wanted to maintain their 2008 net export rate, they would have to cut their consumption in half by about 2012.

In any case, my bet is that the net oil exporters will, in aggregate, show flat to increasing consumption from 2010 onward. Time will tell, but our best case is that the top five will have shipped half of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports by the end of 2014.

BTW, the EIA shows that the top five's consumption increased from 6.9 mbpd in 2005 to 7.6 mbpd in 2008, a rate of increase of +3.2%/year. If this is cut in half, they would still increase their consumption by 1.32 mbpd over a 10 year period (and by 2.9 mbpd at the +3.2%/year rate).

As a consultant the term is somewhat overused but I do foresee a 'paradigm shift' in those exporting countries left once PO becomes globally acknowledged (i.e. post 2012-14). Suddenly they see themselves sitting on the proverbial Gold Mine with the curse of Cassandra lifted and the full horror of the future laid bare.

Any NET exporter of oil that did not seriously use every penny/cent/shekel of the inevitably massive income stream to transition ASAP as well as limit internal consumption would be commiting a serious crime against their own populations...

Regards, Nick.

"One of the toughest things for people to do is to anticipate sudden change. Typically we project the future by extrapolating from trends in the past. Much of the time this approach works well. But sometimes it fails spectacularly, and people are simply blindsided by events such as today’s economic crisis. "

When oil exports fall to near zero in a few short years, people will contiue to say "How did this happen?" And, most will be unprepared for such an event and the consequences of having half of today's supply of oil. People still expect that nothing will change and life will go on as usual.
Those of us who are prepared may get overwhelmed by those who are not. This is where the government comes into the picture. They must mandate preparation now, today, and this minute is not soon enough!

Exchange between Rep. Joe Barton and Stephen Chu:
This essentially describes the state of the knowledge of the american public concerning fossil fuels and how they got created.

One comment that sums it up:

I've worked on Alaskan tectonics, and, you know... there's no way I could have answered that question with a soundbite. (For one thing, there's genuine scientific debate about the way the section of the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska formed.)

But Barton's so far off that he's not even wrong. It's not just plate tectonics; it's the whole "the Earth was warmer in the past and that was natural; therefore all climate change is natural" fallacy. (And oil needs marine organisms plus the right temperatures after burial, but I can't think of any common rules of thumb about needing warm climates for oil to form.)

And... well, I have no idea where Rep. Barton got the idea that oil requires a warm climate to form. Does he have it mixed up with coal? Or does he have some kind of odd correlation = causation thing going on (Texas and Saudi Arabia are hot; Texas and Saudi Arabia have oil; therefore heat causes oil...?)?

Posted by: Kim Hannula | April 22, 2009 11:20 PM

Oddly enough, the CO2 oscillations during glacial periods "Ice Ages" cannot be explained by ocean temperature fluctuations alone (colder water dissolves more CO2). Instead, it long has been proposed that greater ocean productivity is responsible, perhaps driven by Fe or other nutrient-containing dust being blown into "high nutrient low chlorophyll" waters in the modern system. Thus, at least in our present climate regime, colder eras may result in more potential oil than warmer eras.

What's most frustrating about this is that Barton posts the clip on his YouTube site and boasts that he has somehow out-thunk the scientist. Of course, the video clip disables comments, so no one can correct his uneducated perspective. Can we rank the House Districts in terms of the idiocy of their elected Representative? I would put Barton up there with Michelle Bachmann.

The really sad thing Web: Chu could have explained it to Barton this way: Lizard-like dinosaurs (who like the heat) died in the Middle East and Texas and formed that oil there. But cold climate dinos, like wooly mammoths, died in Alaska and formed that oil there. Granted, the rest of the world would have come down on Chu but it sounds like Barton is dumb enough to buy it.

"wooly mammoth dinosaurs" Rockie I lurve it.
Hey, if we breed some wooly mammoth dinosaurs from the DNA remains in Siberia does that mean because they are cold blooded they can absorb some of the excess warming, make oil and/or big steaks??? Let's get Craig Venter on the job.

Rep. Joe Barton: Not Smarter Than A 6th Grader

And... well, I have no idea where Rep. Barton got the idea that oil requires a warm climate to form. Does he have it mixed up with coal? Or does he have some kind of odd correlation = causation thing going on (Texas and Saudi Arabia are hot; Texas and Saudi Arabia have oil; therefore heat causes oil...?)?

Wow, well said!! Unfortunately, this classic example of correlation-causation confusion baffles the public to end. There's no way you can have an intelligent argument with people that think at this level, so how can you ever hope to be able to explain complex subjects such as peak oil or climate change.

I have frequent conversations with my kids, aged 7 and 9, and repeatedly point out this sort of mistake in thinking. I do it by finding examples of correlation without causation that even a 7 year old would laugh at, and drawing the parallel from there.

I wouldn't take either correlation or causation too seriously. Read Nagarjuna's philosphical treatise "Mulamadhyamikakarika".

Causation simply cannot and does not exist in a rigid "A causes B" sense. This construction is a part of Western thinking and the scientific framework, and is generally useful. But it is only a human construction and not Truth. Reality transcends both causation and correlation. Reality usually looks a little like both.

Even so, the thread above strains credulity.

On the other hand, many arguments for and against Peak Oil, Athropogenic Climate Change, etc. stray dangerously close to arguments of pure causation or pure correlation. That is a quick way to plant yourself as far from reality as possible.

I wouldn't take either correlation or causation too seriously....

Very insightful comment. +10,000!

Ah, yes Voices From the Center---

Read Nagarjuna's philosphical treatise "Mulamadhyamikakarika".

Just read the Heart Sutra. It is succinct and to the point. It is not the point. It is neither the point nor not the point.

An interesting question.

IMVHO/speculation, vegetation is required for enough nutrients in the river deltas for MOST oil formations. And water temperatures conducive of algae, etc growth.

The periods when this was true of Antarctica are few and short, so I am pessimistic of MUCH oil there. Longer periods in the Arctic, but still for limited periods of time (crocodile teeth and temperate zone trees have been found in the High Arctic Canadian islands).

I would expect high latitudes to generally have less oil then mid and low latitudes. Basically a time average POV. No oil formed in the shallows of mile high glaciers because the sea would also be covered in ice. But oil could still form at that same time near a swampy river delta at the equator.

Best Hopes for wondering outside my area of knowledge,


Since most of the oil we have today formed millions or even hundred of millions of years ago, the locations of today's reservoirs are not neccessarily the same locations as where they were formed. You would have to figure out the movement of the relevant tectonic plates over the time period between organic matter burial and the present oil reservoirs.

"The periods when this was true of Antarctica are few and short, so I am pessimistic of MUCH oil there."

Late Paleozoic and most of the Mesozoic was fairly warm in Antarctica. (Well, somewhat warmer than it is now).

In 500 years, its EROEI might be quite nice.

I would expect high latitudes to generally have less oil then mid and low latitudes.

I read that this is exactly what most geologists expect: more oil in (sub)tropic regions.

We have a couple of expectation confounding things concerning oil deposits are present latitude. The first is continental drift. Current latitude and latitude a hundred or two hundred million years ago can be very different. Also during much of the planets history the planet has been ice free -even at the poles, so even at high latitudes conditions for oil bearing strata to be laid down could have occurred.

But, of course, if you believe the earth is only six thousand years old, then all bets are off!

But, of course, if you believe the earth is only six thousand years old, then all bets are off!

Well, if we could just get eminent scientists like Ken Hovind and Ken Ham to reveal the secrets of how so much oil was formed in such a short period, we could apply those methods and get out of this mess. That is, apart from the pesky CO2 problem.

organic material is not hard to find burried at any "current" latitude, time and temperature are required to convert organic material into anything heavier than biogenic gas.

by the majic of plate techtonics, wyoming was on the equator during the permian period (ca 200 x 10^6 yrs ago). and that is the rub with shale oil, shell, etal want to speed the process up by a few million yrs to save our fossil fuel consuming butts.

This seems like a good time to put forth my theory about the formation of oil, and let you guys tear it to shreds. Currently when living matter dies it is usually quickly decayed by bacteria. When life first formed on earth there would be no bacteria yet to decay it. If it took many millions of years for decaying bacteria to evolve, wouldn’t that be enough time for huge quantities of organic material to accumulate? Much of it being flushed to sea & buried in silt where it would be out of reach of the future bacteria? Then through heat & pressure be converted to oil & coal?

According to Wikpedia

The ancestors of modern bacteria were single-celled microorganisms that were the first forms of life to develop on earth, about 4 billion years ago. For about 3 billion years, all organisms were microscopic, and bacteria and archaea were the dominant forms of life.

I other words, bacteria has been around long before the burial of organic-material-to-become oil started.

Microscopic organisms have always been the dominant form of life, in terms of total body weight.

If there is another measure of dominance to consider, it should be made explicit.

Wikipedia is a collection of opinions, and not always factual.
IMO the earth has only been here for about 10,000 years.
Carbon dating is not accurate due to changes in cosmic matter and speed of light.
Oil could have been formed in a short period of time in numerous ways.
When we figure out how to make the oil we use in a day in a 2nd day, we will solve this issue.
But, until that happens, we are dependent on other sources of energy.

OF course, almost all earth scientists disagree with your stated age of the Earth. And, they are the guys that have been finding the oil for your car. Better start listening to them.

E. Swanson

What have you based your '10,000 year' opinion on? Do you have a basis, or does this just seem like a reasonable number to you?

I have a recorded lineage of my family's bloodline that goes back a thousand years.. There are TREES that are over a thousand years old. Ten thousand is pretty short, just even suggesting that we've had written recordkeeping for Half of that time is outlandish to me.

I think someone has given you some bum info.


Carbon dating is not accurate due to changes in cosmic matter and speed of light.

Perhaps you could expand on this since you state it with such confidence?

For the speed of light effect, the first hit I found for this was a "biblical chronology" website that referred to research indicating possible variability in the speed of light. It is indeed possible that this value varies, but precise astronomical measurements have placed very strict limits on the amount of this variability. Since you are talking about carbon dating, we are talking about timescales of a few tens of thousands of years. Over that timescale the maximum possible change in the speed of light is really insignificant, hence any resulting errors in carbon dating will be similarly insignificant.

Ok, that's one down without too much difficulty, now what is this handwavy "changes in cosmic matter" of which you speak? That's hard to debunk without a bit more precision in your definition.


IMO the earth has only been here for about 10,000 years.

IMO you are profoundly ignorant. Get yourself some knowledge.

"bacteria has been around long before the burial of organic-material-to-become oil started."

or⋅gan⋅ic   /ɔrˈgænɪk/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [awr-gan-ik] Show IPA
–adjective 1. noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.

what is your opinion as to when "organic-material-to-become oil started." ?

Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home

HAMAMATSU, Japan — Rita Yamaoka, a mother of three who immigrated from Brazil, recently lost her factory job here. Now, Japan has made her an offer she might not be able to refuse.

The government will pay thousands of dollars to fly Mrs. Yamaoka; her husband, who is a Brazilian citizen of Japanese descent; and their family back to Brazil. But in exchange, Mrs. Yamaoka and her husband must agree never to seek to work in Japan again.

Japan and Britain, as relatively isolated islands, seem to be nice representative microcosms for us to observe. Resource and work shortages seem to become quickly obvious there.

I wonder how long before the same trends start digging in here, and we take population control seriously?

I've seen arguments that immigrants in this country enable low food prices, inexpensive yard workers, childcare workers and housecleaners, to name only those most visible to the average person. I know that in Greece, another country I am familiar with, foreign workers also have enabled middle class folks to hire more household help. In Canada, where I grew up, and where illegal immigration was not an issue at the time, we did not have Mexicans mowing everyone's lawn and watching people's kids while both parents went to work.

I'm wondering then how this turns around, whether it be on an island like Britain or Japan, or in a big country like the US. I guess when people lose the disposable income to hire someone to clean their home, and enough jobs are lost so both parents cannot work, then immigrant workers become displaced?

"...Britain, as relatively isolated islands" ROTFLOL, yes fog in English Channel cuts off Europe.

And those pesky french fishermen keep getting their boats jammed in that Eurotunnel thingy.

Initial jobless claims rise; continuing claims hit new record

The Labor Department reported Thursday that first-time claims for state unemployment benefits rose in the most recent week, as ongoing claims reached yet another record high.

For the week ended April 11, the number of people collecting state unemployment benefits reached yet another new record, rising 93,000 to 6.14 million -- more than double the level in the prior year. Continuing claims have reached new weekly records since late January, signaling that workers are having a tough time finding jobs. The four-week average of continuing claims rose 142,500 to a record 5.94 million.

The insured unemployment rate -- the proportion of covered workers who are receiving benefits -- rose to 4.6% from 4.5%, reaching the highest level since January 1983.

"Give me a job, give me security,
Give me a chance to survive.
I'm just a poor soul in the unemployment line-
My god, I'm hardly alive!
My mother and father, my wife and my friends-
I see them laugh in my face.
But I've got the power, and I've got the will.
I'm not a charity case..." ('Blue Collar Man', Styx)

I don't drive a lot. Yes, every once in awhile I take a road trip and drive halfway across the country, but in my day to day life, I don't do a lot of the things my peers do. I don't go to shopping malls, I don't watch movies, I don't go out clubbing, and I rarely eat in restaurants. I do go to nearby parks, and occasionally drive to local state parks to hike and take photos, but I don't see the commercial areas on those jaunts. So my friends are always amused when they take me someplace, and I'm shocked at how built up things have gotten. "When did they build that parking garage?" "I didn't know there was a mall here now!"

I had the opposite shock yesterday, when I missed a turn and went through the commercial district, rather than the backroads I usually travel. All those new strip malls...empty. Some of them had only one or two tenants among a dozen vacant storefronts. I was tempted to take some pictures, but it was late, and I was in a rush to get home.

This is not an area that was particularly hard-hit by the downturn. People were hurt more by high gas prices than by the mortgage crisis. So I wasn't expecting this. Holy crap.

CNBC is getting all excited about the end of the recession today. EBay and Apple both did better than expected. The consumer is coming back.

I wouldn't bet on it.

In Texas in the Eighties, the empty buildings were referred to as "See Through Buildings."

The worst may be yet to come

...So yes, all in all the economy isn't shrinking as rapidly as it was. But so what? It's still shrinking. On that yardstick, therefore, the worst isn't yet over.

Now look at another measure of "worst": unemployment. Even when growth does return, recovery is likely to be anemic. It will take time to absorb the excesses built up during the credit boom, from houses in the U.S. to too many Chinese factories making cheap goods.

What's more, it's not as if all that private-sector debt has gone away. The rise in savings rates in the U.S. and elsewhere isn't going to be a one-quarter wonder. This means that the peak in unemployment could easily be two years away.

And will that then be the end of the pain? Probably not. The crisis will leave government balance sheets shot to pieces. The best case scenario is that the authorities manage to suck all their fiscal and monetary stimulus out of the economy safely once economic growth has bottomed out. Then all that the world will suffer is high taxes and slow growth.

But there is a risk that this outcome proves too unpopular and that the authorities instead take the current fad for "quantitative easing" to the extreme - and just print money to finance their deficits. The outcome would then be inflation.

An inflationary outburst might even lead to another sort of financial crisis - a loss of confidence in key currencies. That could be worse than anything seen up to now.

All this talk about the second derivatives, acceleration versus rates, is just smoke IMHO.

Does it matter if you hit the wall at 100 m/h and 0 m/h^2 or 120 m/h and 10 m/h^2 a few more months down the road?

No - I did not actually do the math.

Seems to me if you graph rate or accelleration you could make a good case for a stair step - or slinky - type of decline.

But I could be wrong...


In physics, the third derivative is called "jerk." Which is what these talking heads will feel like if this turns out to be a flat spot on the stairstep down. ;-)

Leanan, you are giving the talking heads far too much credit if you think they will feel like jerks. They will just say, well nobody saw that coming (again:-) and the lower prices are an even better buying opportunity.

The emptying malls will soon cause problems for the owners who have leveraged up to expand and now can't pay the interest, see GPP filed for chapter 11 recently. This will drag down the general value of malls and I would guess make some breach their banking covenants. Will the banks be keen to roll-over the loans or force a liquidation - which will hurt them??

UK: Manufacturing falls at fastest pace in 30 years

The gloom surrounding the UK manufacturing sector deepened today after new figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed that demand slumped at its fastest rate in 30 years over the past three months.

Cheap boom-era manufacturing may turn into a boon for the economy, to the annoyance of many households: Lots of cheap appliances have fairly short lifespans. Repair, replace, or do without? There's a lot of stuff folks would buckle down and choose 'repair or replace' on. And while older sturdy stuff can be repaired, often the modern cheap stuff is harder or impossible to repair. So, I see two industries getting set to rise, in this order: First repair and refurb, not as 'antiques', but as a practical matter. Home appliances, shoes, etc. Second, building new longer-lasting products that match the new mindset. For small items, environmentalism may be on the first wave of this. For larger stuff, I'd bet on the hobbyists.

I just bought this "solar clothes dryer". New start-up, aiming for quality. Not delivered yet.


Best Hopes for Durability and Efficiency,


The problem is that stuff is made to be obsolete or break fairly quickly so that it has to be replaced and not repaired. We don't really have durables any more but replaceables.

You can look at the story of stuff if you like videos. Why do you think we are called the consumer society??

The reason for that is because repair shops can't compete against mass production and $.30/hr Chinese factory workers. Back when a TV cost $900, it was worth repairing. When that same size TV costs $200 brand new, it doesn't make sense even if it could be repaired.

Another example, my family had a broken DVD player that cost maybe $35. When I opened it, the capacitors on the power supply were leaking and exploded. I could have repaired it, but when I added up the parts prices plus shipping it would've been 15 bucks.

In my mind, the economic state is predicated on employment. Doomers and the other end talk two different realities, but it's unemployment that will decide the tale.

Well known to readers here, we have no reliable stat for employment. Not for the present, or real ideas of the past, esp considering in the pre-depression era, most were almost self sufficient compared to today's household bills, medical and insurance "needs", and reliance on outside income.

Thus far, I don't really see abnormally high unemployment, not locally. It's harder to find a job, but then, it's never been easy. Contractors are still getting jobs and acting/bidding like they are swamped. If you're good, they hire you. Some new businesses have started just this year, and retail in the wrong spot always goes under. What is the real effect of box stores and internet shopping on Main Street, vs the recession?

I can see it go either way.

"Oil prices need to triple — then triple again," Matthew Simmons, keynote speaker at the annual Texas Alliance of Energy Producers luncheon, said Wednesday.

Not long ago I watched Mr. Simmons' ASPO USA 2006 presentation where he recalled the path he took on his way to become a "peak oil believer".

He was an industry insider, his finger on the ebb and flow of front end investment, yet it took some years of personal research to personally prove up the 'peak'. Clearly, if you had asked him about peak oil at the beginning of his journey the answer would have been very different from the answer he gives today.

When Mr. Simmons talks about the need for oil to be at 3x today's price (~$150) I believe him.

My discomfort with the those prices is that while it's all well and good to say that's the price it will take, it's not at all clear that the world economy can ever adjust. I have no proof, no background in macro economics, all I have is a "very bad feeling about this".

My question for Mr. Simmons is when makes these industry support price predictions, are they informed by a Twilight In The Desert level of understanding of macro economics, or is that a journey that's just beginning?

I think you have it exactly right. The economy cannot support those price predictions. And I think that is why we will see a world wide peak in oil production.

Dr. Hall has a paper based on a US economy simulation that shows what happens to the economy as the price of oil rises (EROI of oil drops).

Here are two key plots. You can see the discretionary economy collapse and the devotion of resources to energy production dominate the economy.

Here is the article

Hall, C.A.S., R. Powers and W. Schoenberg. (2008). Peak oil, EROI, investments and the economy in an uncertain future. Pp. 113-136 in Pimentel, David. (ed). Renewable Energy Systems: Environmental and Energetic Issues. Elsevier London

And we can see this happen naturally. Not only is Simmon's calling for more investment so is Alekett

The global halving of investments in renewable energy is so serious that the world’s governments - and not least the governments within the EU - should gather immediately to decide on measures to combat it. In reality, there is no alternative to doing this. There is no price too high to pay to reinstate the previous investment levels. Future crisis packages should be completely focused on the energy sector.

I think that people are beginning to realize that demand for oil is far more elastic than anyone used to suppose. As it (or the things made from it) get too expensive, people figure out ways to make do with less. This is why oil prices won't rocket into the stratosphere. Lest one views that as good news, though, remember that the reason why the price isn't going to rocket upwards is because lots of people are going to have to do a lot of things they don't want to do (like carpool, for example), and stop doing a lot of things they want to do (like drive long distances to vacation destinations).

As I've been saying, the 21st century is going to be one long exercise in giving up things.

As I've been saying, the 21st century is going to be one long exercise in giving up things.

Very true, but as you touched on, what we don't seem to have a handle on is the size of various portions of the economy with the most elasticity. As people make do without, the discretionary portions will collapse, reducing demand. It's a classic non-linear differential equation.

Consider a stack of springs with varying stiffness. As weight (price) is increased, a ballpoint pen spring will compress almost immediately, but a larger spring below, say a truck coil spring, won't budge.

At some point, the smaller springs will be fully compressed and the oil price must rise. In the process, there will be a great deal of triage but inexorable oil depletion tells me it has to happen. Once the largest springs start to compress, demand will appear as a "brick wall", resulting in much higher prices.

During the process, reactive reduction must, by definition, be preceded by a price spike. The spike will last for as long as it takes people to adapt. Those who reduce their dependency prior to successive crunches will suffer the least, if at all, until the prices affects essential services.

Depending on how big this "essential" portion of the economy is, it could result in complete collapse and the whole scenario would get re-written, perhaps a la Kunstler.

The only thing that will mitigate or eliminate price shocks is proactive changes and I see little evidence of that.

I agree, the structure of buying future production out of current revenue stream is unworkable. It is designed to push prices downward, even though that design is now shopworn. Current prices are too low to support production - even to support maintainence.

Current low prices encourage excess consumption. Prices are too high to allow economic expansion. We are in the worst of all possible pricing regimes. If prices increase, demand drops and the cycle repeats; too low(er) to support more production and higher still to weigh further on economies.

An energy bank would be one way to deal with this. It could fund the $100's of billions needed for production and ... recieve the same kind of government backing as Fannie Mae! It would probably cost less money in the long run since product prices would rise and can also be augmented with a carbon tax. A US duty on imported fuel would also add funds for new sources of energy.

Anything other than the current cash flow model ...

With regard to the story

U.K. Says No New Coal Plants Without Carbon Capture

It looks like the coal the UK will be burning wil be increasingly imported.

UK Coal

As will the oil

UK Oil

and the natural gas

UK Gas

In fact, it looks as though, within a decade or so, the UK won't be burning very much of its indigenous fossil fuels.

Renewable Ali.

Given our balance of payments deficit, the government £175B spending deficit, and the people's £1T personal debt to pay off, the UK won't be burning very much of anything ten years from now.

Except worthless £20 notes.

The situation is worse than you state. Remember we need extra coal to make up for the energy loss due to carbon capture. From TOD EUROPE:

The energy costs of carbon capture
Creating a nearly pure carbon dioxide stream at a power plant is unfortunately quite energy intensive. The energy costs result from several processes. Firstly the added heat needed to create temperatures of 100 to 140 degrees celsius to regenerate the solvent that captures the CO2 out of the flue gas/CO2 stream. Secondly the energy to create steam that acts as a stripping gas to remove the CO2 from the solvent. Thirdly the electricity to operate the flue gas fan and pump the CO2 to its destination were it can be compressed. Fourthly the energy costs of compression of the CO2 to make it transportable towards it’s final destination were it can be stored.

Overall such processes raise the energy costs to produce the same amount of electricity in a cleaner way with 24-40% for new (supercritical) conventional coal plants using post combustion and 14% to 25% for coal based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) systems using pre combustion. These systems are already initially different, conventional coal plants being more efficient then IGCC systems, which explains some of the difference.

Hi Ali, they are some scary looking graphs. It might be even more scary, but do you think you could add some projection lines?

From Centrica (pdf warning)

The move to a heavy reliance on imports has also coincided with a paradigm shift in oil prices - recently at record highs of around 140 US$/bbl. At this level wholesale gas prices in
the UK could fluctuate between approximately 70 ppth in summer and 110 ppth in winter.
This is in stark contrast to recent years when prices have been in the 30-50ppth range. With
full pass through to retail markets this increase in wholesale prices would in turn lead to an
increase in domestic prices from around 90 ppth at present to about 140 ppth. This would
raise annual gas bills for a typical domestic customer from around £600 to over £1000 per

From BERR (pdf again)

Table 4 – Changes in gas prices between 2003 and 2010, and 2005 and 2010

Change between 2003 and 2010 Change between 2005 and 2010
Low case -4% -14%
Base case +2% -10%
High case +12% -4%

Our projections for the beach price of gas are by 2010
we expect it to lie in the range 17.5-25p per therm, a reduction from 2003
levels. This is in line with projections by the International Energy Agency

It seems a bit strange but based on the feed from the grid and the current low price of gas (~1p/kWh ~29p / therm) it seems like CCGT's are generating at a lower cost than the coal plants and pricing them out of the market, I highly doubt that will be the case in the winter.

Fortune says that if the price of oil was based on fundamental data, it would be much lower.

The current price of a barrel oil has nothing to do with the amount of oil that will be used in the global economy. It's currently being used as an investment vehicle to hedge against the weakening dollar, and rising inflation, The New York Times writes.

This was sent to me by a buddy of mine here at work. It really lays out the prevailing sentiment of your average Joe towards the oil environment, I'm finding...

Not much meat to that article John but I suspect the answer depends on how you define "fundamentals". Perhaps they are referring to the amount of oil/NG available to produce vs. demand. The basic supply/demand relationship. But you can modify that thought by focusing on the amount WILLING to be supplied vs. demand. A simple example: some domestic NG producers say they are currently cutting NG production due to low prices. If this occurs on a large scale there will be a growing disconnect between potential supply and actual supply. Eventually the same situation could arise with oil should OPEC finally become an effective cartel and collectively reduce the available supply. Add increased internal consumption by the exporters with the cartel power and we have a newly defined set of fundamentals IMO.

Here is the link to the NY Times article
Oil Prices Resist the World’s Recession Trend

Serious questions loom over the global economy that would suggest lower, not higher, prices. Unemployment is rising sharply in the United States, the Chinese economy is sputtering and its exports are falling, Europe is stagnant and Japan is contracting. The World Bank forecasts that the global economy will shrink by 1.3 percent this year, the first decline in global output since World War II.

“At some point, you’d think that reality has to set in,” said Tom Bentz, a senior energy analyst at BNP Paribas in New York. “All the news is pretty negative, and certainly demand continues to take a hit. And yet prices are still hanging on.”
Oil demand is expected to tumble this year. In its latest forecast, the International Energy Agency, an adviser to industrialized nations, expects oil consumption to fall 2.4 million barrels a day this year, or 2.8 percent, to 83.4 million barrels a day, the steepest decline since the early 1980s.

Prices could yet fall if the economy weakens further or if the stimulus measures adopted by the United States and other nations fail to take hold.

Of course, there was little discussion of peak oil and collapse of exploration and development of the energy sector.

I agree with a large portion of this article. Oil inventories in the US are at a two decade high. Similar numbers are probably being seen in most OECD countries. Supply is easily in excess of demand, and the supply cushion is probably at a 7 year high. There is no fundamental reason for oil prices to remain this high in this kind of environment unless it is largely being driven by speculators in the form of hedge funds or simple investments in a tumultuous time.


While the cost of extracting oil from various sources is quite high - as the correlation was mentioned here numerous times in the form of the receding tide - all tides must work in reverse. Lower oil prices in the long term will mean that there is an over supply in the ability to extract it, leading to decreases in daily rig rentals, personal costs, equipment costs etc.

What goes up MUST come down. (This goes for the economy as well - I just hope we don't see it happen until the sun goes out with a whimper :P)

And you though nothing good could come from coal mining...

World's largest abandoned man-made mine becomes a park

The world's largest abandoned manmade mine in Fuxin City of China's northeast Liaoning Province has been converted to a park and will be ready to receive tourists in May.


The park, with an altitude of minus 175 meters, is 20 meters lower than the lowest land point of China, Aydingkol lake in the Turfan Basin in China's west Xinjiang Province.

"Tourists could have a journey to the center of the earth here," said Li.

Stepping down the stone stairs, people can see coal mine veins formed in the Cretaceous period, animal and plant fossils, and agates in their original forms.

Li said that in the future, tourists could even have a taste of the miners' lives, trying an electric picker, riding a mining train, and even drilling and blasting coal walls with safety explosives.

What fun!

Fuxin Coal Mine Park

Click image to view in Google Maps. It's about a mile across and two miles long.

I'll wait for the elevator tours of Ghawar.

"tourists could even have a taste of the miners' lives" why didn't i think of that, make people pay to work rather than just being slaves:-)

For a true taste, they could kill 5% or so of the tourists at random.

I CANNOT resist the all-to-obvious play on your name:

A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

Pre-apologies ;-)


RE: up top: Ozone Hole Causes Antarctic Sea Ice to Expand, Slows Warming

Expect to see more exercises in tortured logic to try explain away the recent cooling trends. Here's another:


As the endless stream of reports of anomolously cold weather continue to pour in around the world we should expect to see more AGW-denier slapdown articles to silence the poeple who dare question that it doesn't seem to be warming any more!

The propaganda behind the AGW movement is absolutely astounding. The scientists seem to be issueing ever more alamring reports in the face of recovering ice caps:


deep solar minima heading for dalton minimum status (remember those cold early 1800's):


negative trended PDO:


Not to mention 5 years of falling global temperatures. Yeah I know weather isn't climate etc...etc..

So, now people and all those strongly in favour of AGW: Before you all start frothing at the mounth (not naming any names here) None of the above disproves AGW. But the point I would like to make is that we really could be in for a colder spell lasting a number of years. Lets look at two scenarios that to me are equally plausible:

1) AGW is strong and current cooling only just offsets the AGW component.

2) AGW is not strong or prevailant and climate osccilates back below long term average.

Under condition 1) Scientists start to worry that people and governments get sceptical and up the ante in terms of AGW news - which is exactly what I think is happening now.

Under condition 2) no problem: BAU sort of. LOL. we are screwed for energy resource anyway!

All above is my opinion of the current situation.


Expect to see more exercises in tortured logic to try explain away the recent cooling trends.

Those damned scientists sitting around rolling pretzels all day. The nerve!

Sea ice may begin to wane in the south as the ozone layer recovers because of the ban on CFCs, Turner said.

CFCs “are very long-lived in the atmosphere so it’ll take 50 to 100 years for the ozone hole to heal,” he said. “Over that time, greenhouse gases we expect will ramp up, and if that happens, over the next decade we’ll see sea ice extent plateau and then rapidly decrease, and then by the end of the century we expect there to be a third less ice around the Antarctic.”

The researchers’ findings will take a key argument away from skeptics of global warming who say Antarctica is evidence that humans aren’t causing temperatures to rise, Turner said.

“They were saying this shows that global warming is not real, this is an anomaly, but now we know it’s another anthropogenic factor, which is the ozone hole,” he said. “We’ve really managed to solve another piece of the puzzle of what’s happening in the Antarctic.”

I teach reading comprehension, if you need assistance.

The propaganda behind the AGW movement is absolutely astounding.

I don't teach ethics, however.

I just don't buy their argument CCPO. I think it's a weak case. If the antarctic cooled/gained weight in the face of (up till recently) rising global temps then I think there could be a more plausible explanation than this. The wind pattern changes they cite could easily be a rusult of ENSO/PDO/NAO/SOI oscillation. Take a look at this article (same Geophysical research source):

The pacemaker of major climate shifts

This new model/evidence is not as far as I know incorporated into and current CGM's. I'll try and find a whole copy of the paper.

I'm serious about the propogande thing. AGW really does feel like it's being 'drummed into us' by a constant stream of media bombardment AKA propoganda. I am now regularly speaking to people who are wholely fed up with the constant stream of "sky is falling" news about AGW. The explosion of contrary blogs is unmissable. People are looking for any excuse to disbelieve now.

However these don't change the facts as they are and I personally conceed that AGW has a change of being correct. It's such a cliche: time will tell. Problem is it will be too late by then to do anything about it! Dammit, i'm already doing plenty but thats becasue i'm clued up on energy depletion which I feel is a far more imminent problem.


Marco-- This is about Fat Al making a bunch more money on selling books. It is also a liberal plot to deny my divine right to prosperity. Those scientists are commie sympathizers.
Besides, if it gets to warm, Jesus will come and save the faithful.
No worries-- everything will be alright, this is just the government trying to control us more.

Thank Godness the Church doesn't try to control us.
Now pass the basket on and shut up.

I just don't buy their argument CCPO. I think it's a weak case.

So? By what lights? What qualifications? You want some non-slap-upside-the-head attention, bring me science, not your personal (hypocritical) propaganda. You don't buy it... Jiminy...

You don't buy it because it doesn't fit your agenda, pure and simple.

Your link doesn't work. Who would expect direct effects from (what I assume is a reference to) the North Atlantic Oscillation in Antarctica? The whole point about circumpolar winds is that they isolate the continent, isn't it? But the ozone hole, which is right there over the Antarctic, is a reach? But, hey, **you** know better.

I'm serious about the propogande thing.

Funny, you don't have a similar problem with the known-to-be-bought-and-paid-for anti-AGW crap. How does that work, exactly?

AGW really does feel like it's being 'drummed into us' by a constant stream of media bombardment AKA propoganda.

Feels like, drummed... it's about science, not your mood ring!

I am now regularly speaking to people who are wholely fed up with the constant stream of "sky is falling" news about AGW.

Yeah? Great! Where is their science?

The explosion of contrary blogs is unmissable.

OH - MY - GOD! That seals it for me! I'm sold! Where's my one-way ticket to Heartland?!

Meanwhile, the explosion of contrary science is completely missable. Invisible, even.

I am SO confused!

ccpo I must say I admire your vigilance on this blog regarding climate science. I don't myself know much about climate science but from what I read and from what I can tell, things are changing rapidly,in my little part of the world the rains don't come here as they used to and the past few summers have been unusually hot compared to ones I grew up as a child.

Kudos to you for your hard work and for being so vigilant.

I appreciate his vigilance as well..

..but CCPO, your sarcasm and your insults simply weaken your case. I know you're fed up with what seems like pure Obstinate Objectionism by this handful of regular opposers.. but you take the bait in this furious way that makes YOU come off as unscientific, out of control, self-righteous. That doesn't leave text on a page that I can put much confidence in. I certainly can't pass it along to anyone if I'm trying to support an argument.

Please try to access your inner R Rapier, or whomever you might admire for an exceedingly mighty resistance to engaging in these flame-fests. (I think it doesn't help the way a TOD comments page looks, either)

You're fighting fire with fire. I don't think it's working.


but CCPO, your sarcasm and your insults simply weaken your case.

Bob, please stop repeating this canard. It is simply false logic. How can sarcasm weaken the facts? It can't. What is weak is your willingness to deal with them. If it ain't pretty, it ain't acceptable? This I understand and see your point in terms of the overall effectiveness of my approach, but, Bob, you are not my audience, denialists are.

The benefit of not being overly kind to them is they hang themselves by their own petard in short order. If you engage them like gentlemen/women, they just prattle on then go brag somewhere about how they bested you.

Fact: you can't fight irrationality with facts. More facts have been thrown at Marco, et al., than any reasonable person could possibly withstand and hold to just plain silly notions, if not outright lies (those they've bought, rather than created themselves), yet, here he is telling us science "feels like" propaganda - which is propaganda itself.

You can't make this stuff up. At least with sarcasm, which is a common tool around here, you get a bit of humor.

Were this a face-to-face round table, things might be different, but it's not. It's the internet where people can say anything they want, but also where nobody has time to check out every claim.

Most importantly, with polls showing nearly 50% of Americans still doubting that either ACC is legit or doubting its significance, there is real danger in not challenging this crap. You say my sarcasm is ineefective, yet your suggested approach has led us here: disaster. By the media allowing a false sense of equality to fester, the public has been misled. Don't you think, at this late date, a stronger challenge is not only suggested, but necessary?

Time truly is short.

Sometimes a little sarcastic humor provides a short cut. And, the real value of sarcasm is its effectiveness in pointing out the absurd. Since I have been upbraided about saying that lies are lies and liars are liars, even when they are, I must make do with the tools at hand. You are well aware I will fight scientific claims with explanations and opposing data, but there was none here. The mood ring comment perfectly captures Marco's comments, I think.

A little sarcasm and humor seems a rather good compromise, no? It's not meant for you, so there's no need for you to read it, eh? It's easy enough to pass by when you see where a given post is going.


No. If your approach really amounted to 'A little sarcasm and humor', I would have left it alone. I don't think sarcasm is a problem on its own, and well used. You've been ranting. Being Nasty and Snotty does not strengthen your case. ("But, hey, **you** know better." That's just snotty.. it's meant to make it into a fight.) It doesn't make it more hard-hitting, it makes it an adolescent chest-thumping contest. More internet drivel which I come to this site to get away from. It doesn't help address the urgency of what we face.

You seem to think that this 'tough' approach is going to get through to someone who opposes you? It just rattles their cage and invites more insults in return. It doesn't 'weaken the facts', but it weakens the Argument by upstaging the facts with the tantrum.

"yet your suggested approach has led us here: disaster." I haven't suggested that we have to create a false dichotomy or the pleasant illusion of a comeradely two-sided debate. All I've said to you, a number of times, is that the tone you choose to write in makes me write you off. I know you're clear on the science you are presenting, but you think slamming them with extra snipes is winning you more points.

Best of luck,

"But, hey, **you** know better." That's just snotty.. it's meant to make it into a fight.

Well, thanks for the mind reading, Bob. No, it's intended to show how ridiculous his supposition of superiority to experts is. He didn't ever bother to cite evidence.

it makes it an adolescent chest-thumping contest.

Such chest thumping is rarely of any use, and my ego is not involved here, so you are way off. My "style" has resulted in the exposure of a string of denialists playing at being "undecided", Marco among them, if you recall. There is a method to the madness, and it has, whether you care to admit it or not, been effective.

it weakens the Argument by upstaging the facts with the tantrum

Your assumptions about my state of mind and/or emotions are neither relevant nor accurate.

"yet your suggested approach has led us here: disaster." I haven't suggested that we have to create a false dichotomy or the pleasant illusion of a comeradely two-sided debate.

I have pointed out repeatedly the error of this logic. If you say treat them nicely and with respect, you are enabling. Look at the polls. (I already made this point, and clearly.)

the tone you choose to write in makes me write you off.

And I have told you: irrelevant. You are not my audience.

but you think slamming them with extra snipes is winning you more points.

Again, incorrect. My ego has nothing to do with this. See my previous post and take it at face value.

Final add: The power of the denialist agenda, dating back to its beginnings with the Marshall Institute, is the fog of confusion. By discussing rationally with irrational and/or lying people you give them the veneer of authenticity. Be polite all you like, but unless you are willing to call a spade a spade, you are only enabling the fog of confusion.

I'm going to repeat this because it is vital: If you are not willing to call lies lies, liars liars and bad science bad science, you **are** enabling just as surely as you are enabling an addict by not confronting them to get help.

The pretense of "fair and balanced" is the recent hallmark of these people and cannot be broken down without challenging it. If you don't get this at this point, if you truly don't understand the history and the methods of the denialist machine, there is no way I can help you to.

The Politically Correct mode of the last twenty or thirty years has been a disaster. Keep at it if you wish, but get off my back for not kissing arse as you would have me do.


He didn't ever bother to cite evidence

About the Planet cooling bit or the new study on Antartic cooling?
I hadn't realised the link was broken. Heres it is with the conclusion


Understanding variability of our extremely complex climate system is far from complete as new and often contradicting views are proposed. In this realm we hope that our results will provide some direction and focus to this perpetual quest for understanding climate variability.

This is really the cornerstone of my argument. We simply don't knowenough yet and what we do think we know is correct has a strong chance of being either incomplete or just plain incorrect.

The Antarctic. What you posted, after dismissing the new study on the ozone without merit, was an unrelated study that you, without any rationale or evidence, deem to be a better explanation. Why? One is man-made the other is a natural oscillation.

That is bias.

the complexity argument is illogical and, frankly, immature. It is one denialists apply to no other area of inquiry. If they did, the world would grind to a halt. We would not, for example, be discussing Hubbert's Curve because it has uncertainty. We would not have sent men to the moon because there was uncertainty.

By contrast, ACC has been the subject of what is likely the single largest, most extensive scientific inquiry in the history of humankind.

But, THAT is too uncertain.

It's crap, Marco.

What is your personal opinion on global temperatures ~10 years out? (Remeber the global cooling bet on RC?)

Do you think based on some of the links in my opening post we could see a stall/decline in global temps? (superimposed on top of an AGW influence)

Or do you believe this dip very temporary - 'weather' based blip and GW resumes within a year/few years.

I'm curious to know what you think as I know you have done a lot more reading on GW than I have. GCM's predict temporary drops but I don't think this is such and it will be more sustained. THE GCM's do not give enough weight to Solar/PDO IMHO.


I usually never get involved in the constant debates on the oil drum regarding climate change however I thought for once I would interject with my two cents mainly because I haven’t seen this particular point being made before. Whilst I'm not particularly sceptical about the science mainly because my understanding is that the majority of scientists in the global community are pretty united in their support of the general theory (whilst bickering over the details). I really just question its relevance. Surely peak oil means a least a massive decrease in industrial production over time (albeit with an initial increase in coal use) & also a massive decrease in population. So whether you are survival through localization believer or a complete doomer expecting a fast crash & massive die off is it really worth arguing about? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Nature seems to be about to take things in to hand and make our efforts to minimize CO2 almost completely irrelevant.

So whether you are survival through localization believer or a complete doomer expecting a fast crash & massive die off is it really worth arguing about?

One obvious answer is those are not the only two possibilities. That alone makes it an issue worth our time, attention and effort.

Another is working towards solutions offers some chance of finding solutions, while giving up doesn't. Your question implies there's no point to anything, so why wouldn't we all just go jump off the nearest bride?


I think there are solutions and I think a very good life is one possibility for my grand children, though probably coming too late for my son.

Reason enough for me.


Marco, Marco, Marco...

You have give me nothing to respond to. The flaw is obvious. Embrace the Socratic method and tell me what it is.




"they hang themselves by their own petard"

Definitely a touch of humour here. A "petard" is "a small explosion". Colloquially, it describes a fart. The expression "The engineer hoist with his own petard", means that the person generating the internal gas, is the one who will be lifted up by the explosive emission. Hoist in this context does mean elevated, but not by a rope.

Thoroughly agree with your comments on Marco. Tedious.


Ah, not quite. A petard was also a late-medieval and early renaissance analog to modern shaped-charge
explosives: a bell or dome shaped container made of some heavy material (brass, bronze, iron or even very massive pottery) filled with gunpowder, placed directly against its target so as to direct as much of
the blast on a certain spot as possible. They were used in siege warfare to open doors or destroy critical structural elements of foritifcations. Evolution in fortifications and other weapons made them more or less obsolete by the 1600s.
Anyway, the typical use was to raise the petard into position in a framework which held it against
its target, and then set it off. To be hoist with your own petard was to be defeated by the very
instrument by which you intended to vanquish.. The saying is a combination of irony, murphy's law, and
an admonishment to those who were too proud to think that their ingenious devices could ever backfire or not go quite as planned.

Yeah. Should have used "hoisted."

Great posts.


I was gonna suggest he take a "chill pill" but he'd probably just post a link from real climate denying there's such a thing.

What Bob said.

Thanks. Hopefully, you represent the silent majority, but I fear Bob does.


I think the majority might actually be in your corner, ccpo. :-) Cheers to the humor and sarcasm, it was generous of you!

Best, Suessigkeit


Do I hear three?!

Two going once, going twice...




The various indices you mention in the GRL paper by Kile, Swanson and Tsonis' paper are indicators of circulation within the atmosphere or the oceans. They claim these indices are related, but the casual links are not proven. For example, the NAO is related to the average surface pressure difference between Iceland and the Azores. That's the result of storm tracks over Iceland, which change year to year because of prevailing winds. The NAO doesn't cause the tstorms and the resulting lower or higher than average pressure difference. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere results in a direct forcing on the Earth's climate, which is likely to produce changes in all the indices. Whether or not they are causally connected won't offset the overall impact of AGW. That said, none of the indices mentioned explicitly include the possible changes to the THC, which appears to also exhibit variations due to natural oscillations.

Looking at the NSIDC plot, please take note that the extent of sea-ice is still running below the long term average for 1979-2000. The important variable to my mind is the minimum extent, which we won't know until later in September or October. Last year's minimum was slightly greater than the minimum for 2007, which was stunningly low. Don't count your chickens until they hatch...

E. Swanson

I'm serious about the propoganda thing. AGW really does feel like it's being 'drummed into us' by a constant stream of media bombardment AKA propoganda.

Hey Marco, if you really want some doom drummed into you, please visit my blog.

That is one dark site...both the content and the web page theme!

Nice! Put's a smile on one's face!

Its beginning to seem like there are more posts about climate change on TOD than anything else.

Dude, Peak oil is so yesterday! LOL.

Summer is coming. So are the droughts and heat waves.

The droughts and mega-fires have already happened this year in Australia...

... already happened in Australia...

Well yeah, you're in that "other" hemisphere.
We're "special". It won't happen here.

I t already did.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, today.
And it's only April.

Rest of story here.

Iowa City troubled by surge in downtown beatings

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Gangs of men punching people on the street at random. Street fights where bystanders sometimes cheer, and where those who try to intervene sometimes get beaten themselves.

Police in this quintessential college town say there's been a dramatic rise in unprovoked beatings in the downtown area next to the University of Iowa over the last several months. Though the mix of young people and alcohol often leads to fighting, police say the intense violence and random nature of the attacks have them worried.

Danged Ethanol.

It ain't just ethanol. Keep adding unemployment and economic malaise to the equation and we will easily end up with greater social upheaval.
All driven by the lack of cheap energy. Like Montbiot says, " we'll go back to fighting like cats in a sack"

IMO, just more evidence of the genetic assertion of Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome [GAS].

For some reason I find this funny. John McCain twitter entries:

SenJohnMcCain We need a select committee to find out what caused the economic crisis and how to prevent a reoccurrence.

SenJohnMcCain Last night the Senate passed the Dorgan/McCain amendment to establish a Senate select committee to investigate the economic crisis.

Holy crap...we're paying these guys!

Second twitter:

WE need a second committee to study how the first committee can efficiently go about doing the first study.

Third twitter:

WE need to get ourselves and our friends on all these committees to study how we can make gobs and gobs of money by sitting in committee rooms and tweeting all day.

I think Byron Dorgan is smarter than the average Congresscritter, esp. McCain...at least with regards to how Dorgan predicted this economic mess several years ago.

And...three cheers to ccpo for debunking the AGW debunker...I think you showed great restraint by even addressing his absurd posts

Hello TODers,

Will recession spark global food crisis?

..Potash chief executive officer Bill Doyle said farmers are playing a "dangerous game" that will have consequences.

"This level of reduction has never been seen before," he told analysts on a conference call. "No one can state precisely what the impact will be on the world's food supply, immediately or over the longer term. But we know with scientific certainty that nutrient underapplication damages both crop yields and quality."

Mr. Doyle said farmers in Brazil and Argentina are already witnessing the fallout. They used far less fertilizer on their crops and are now seeing production yields fall by as much as 20 per cent.

China markets rally on metals, cement and agriculture

..According to local press China is to build fertilizer reserves...
Unfortunately, no more details offered. But, as detailed in earlier postings: I think it would be wise for any country to build a multi-year strategic fertilizer reserve to enhance their national security and internal resiliency. Especially now when most countries are in recession and [energy & I-NPK prices] are down from their earlier peaks.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?