Drumbeat: April 30, 2009

A gust of progress: Creating windpower transmission in the Midwest

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT helped bring electricity beyond America’s cities to its most distant farms. Barack Obama hopes the countryside will return the favour. Much of this challenge rests in the gusty upper Midwest. In recent years Interstates 29 and 80, highways of America’s heartland, have teemed with lorries bringing wind blades to new plants. Efforts to build transmission have moved more slowly. There are 300,000 megawatts of proposed wind projects waiting to connect to the electricity grid, says the American Wind Energy Association. Of these, 70,000 megawatts are in the upper Midwest.

Now action is at last replacing talk. Firms are proposing ambitious transmission lines across the plains. The region’s governors and regulators are mulling ways to help them. The federal government is playing its part. In February the stimulus package allotted $11 billion to modernise the grid. Since then members of Congress have proposed an array of bills to develop transmission. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate energy committee, intends to start marking up transmission plans next week—though debate over other parts of the energy bill may delay progress.

Would BP Please Buy Chesapeake Energy?

Amid mounting furor from investors and analysts over Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon's $110 million pay package, Chesapeake Energy's shareholders need a savior.

A BP takeover has been rumored since last November, when Chesapeake Energy suffered a liquidity crunch that collapsed shares. The troubled deepened when McClendon was forced to sell 90% of his holdings to satisfy margin calls.

Oil price fall brings opportunity

The collapse in oil prices had opened a huge opportunity for foreign investment in Iraq, officials and private investors said on Thursday.

Until recently, with prices above $100 a barrel, the biggest hurdle to foreign investment had been resistance by Iraqi officials, who believed they could rely on their oil revenue to drive hard bargains. This, said investors was a far greater barrier than even security when it came to making decisions on putting money into the country.

But now with prices about $50 a barrel, Iraqi officials had become far more receptive to the efforts of the World Bank and national development agencies to drum up investment and diversify the country’s economy away from oil, one UK official said.

Iraq could need soft loans from oilfield bidders

LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - Iraq will require soft loans possibly totalling billions of dollars from any firm succesful in its second bidding round for developing new oilfields, unless the oil price recovers to $70, the Iraqi oil minister said on Thursday.

International oil companies have already been requested to pay $2.6 billion in the first bidding round to develop existing fields, which Hussain al-Shahrastani said were required to plug the holes in Iraq's budget created by the sharp drop in the price of crude to around $50.

"These are not signature bonuses but soft loans that we expect the international oil companies to provide, that will be repaid by the oil produced," Shahrastani said.

Repsol Says Refinery Strike in Spain to Curtail Production

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s biggest oil company, said a strike at its domestic refineries will curtail operations.

Is food the last thing to worry about?

Our food system is woefully dependent on petroleum, as writers such as Richard Heinberg and Michael Pollan have eloquently pointed out. Soaring food costs have brought on riots in some countries, and in unstable nations, famine continues to be a regular visitor. Fears of empty grocery shelves have made food security the centerpiece of many a post-Peak Oil plan, and among those watching energy descent, a common refrain is that the best way to guarantee your food supply is to buy a piece of land and grow your own.

Yet in the developed world, especially the breadbasket nations such as the US, Canada, and other food-exporting countries, the food network may be one of the last system to fail during energy descent. In developing a wise post-Peak strategy, assessing relative risks is critical. Devoting large amounts of time and resources to events that are less likely leaves us unprepared for more probable difficulties. I don’t want to discourage anyone from growing food — I’m a serious gardener myself and could list dozens of excellent reasons for doing it. But I think there are many reasons not to be focusing primarily on food as the system most likely to fail. This isn’t to say that industrial, oil-based agriculture is invulnerable, let alone sustainable. And we may see temporary shortages of specific foods. But there are many reasons why our fears of a food collapse—particularly when they lead us to a go-it-alone, grow-your-own response—may be distracting us from focusing on more immediate and likely risks.

Officials in Three States Pin Water Woes on Gas Drilling

Norma Fiorentino's drinking water well was a time bomb. For weeks, workers in her small northeastern Pennsylvania town had been plumbing natural gas deposits from a drilling rig a few hundred yards away. They cracked the earth and pumped in fluids to force the gas out. Somehow, stray gas worked into tiny crevasses in the rock, leaking upward into the aquifer and slipping quietly into Fiorentino's well. Then, according to the state's working theory, a motorized pump turned on in her well house, flicked a spark and caused a New Year's morning blast that tossed aside a concrete slab weighing several thousand pounds.

...Dimock, the poverty-stricken enclave where Fiorentino lives, is ground zero for drilling the Marcellus Shale, a prized deposit of natural gas that is increasingly touted as one of the country's most abundant and cleanest alternatives to oil. The drilling here -- as in other parts of the nation -- is supposed to be a boon, bringing much-needed jobs and millions of dollars in royalties to cash-strapped homeowners.

But a string of documented cases of gas escaping into drinking water -- not just in Pennsylvania but across North America -- is raising new concerns about the hidden costs of this economic tide and strengthening arguments across the country that drilling can put drinking water at risk.

Exxon Has Biggest Profit Drop in 5 Years as Oil Falls

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest company by market value, posted its lowest profit in more than five years after the global recession sapped energy demand, pulling down oil and gasoline prices.

Net income dropped 58 percent to $4.55 billion, or 92 cents a share, from $10.9 billion, or $2.02, a year earlier, Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil said today in a statement. Per-share profit was 3 cents lower than the average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The earnings decline was Exxon Mobil’s biggest since 2002.

Oil earnings resilient despite oil price collapse

LONDON (Reuters) - The oil and gas industry showed resilience to a collapse in crude prices, with most producers and service companies reporting better-than-expected profits on Thursday, leaving only Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) to disappoint.

Iraq's navy step up to protect oil exports

US and UK forces today handed over to the Iraqi navy the responsibility for protecting one of the country's crucial floating oil export terminals.

UK sees new role in Iraq oil play

The UK wants to get involved in protecting oil supplies from Iraq after its combat role there comes to an end, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said today.

Oil and the lucky country

Australia has a reputation as being the “lucky country”. I am a firm believer that “luck” is simply where preparation meets opportunity. In other words, being lucky is no accident. If we are to remain the “lucky country” however, we need to adapt as circumstances change. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in adapting to Australia’s future oil supply.

Before we start considering this issue, it is vitally important to understand why energy is so important to our economy. Energy is important because it allows us to do work. Work is important because it is the basis of all economic activity. So the more energy we have, the more work that can be done and the greater the level of economic activity. If we continue to expand the amount of energy that is available then so too will the level of economic activity, resulting in what we call growth.

Of course, the opposite situation is also true. If the available energy declines, the amount of work that can be done declines as does economic activity. The result is economic contraction or what is commonly called a recession or depression.

Monbiot: The media laps up fake controversy over climate change

Proof of paid-for climate denial at the Global Climate Coalition comes as no surprise, but it is no less depressing for that.

Chrysler to file for bankruptcy

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Chrysler LLC is going to file for bankruptcy, an administration official confirmed to CNN Thursday.

The filing comes after some of the company's smaller lenders refused a Treasury Department demand to reduce the amount of money the troubled automaker owed them.

Chrysler officials had no comment on the bankruptcy report. The company faces a Thursday deadline from the Treasury Department to reach deals with creditors who had loaned the company about $7 billion.

But the filing will not mean the halt of operations or liquidation for the troubled 85-year old automaker. Instead, the administration expects to use the bankruptcy process to join Chrysler with Italian automaker Fiat.

U.S. auto sales may have hit bottom, some experts say

DETROIT — There are early signs auto sales may have hit bottom in the first quarter, industry leaders say, and even could recover in the second half if the government encourages car buying.

But experts such as Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally also warn that optimism could turn to panic if major auto suppliers collapse.

"Clearly, the health of the supply base is the most critical issue as the government helps GM and Chrysler restructure," Mulally said in a conference call last week on Ford's first-quarter earnings.

PEMEX implements emergency plan to avoid swine flu

CIUDAD DEL CARMEN, CAMPECHE: Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) said that there are no cases of workers infected with swine flu on its offshore platforms and facilities. However, PEMEX has initiated its Plan for Health Emergencies in Sonda de Campeche and is implementing all medical recommendations of Mexico's federal government to avoid an outbreak among PEMEX employees.

Nigeria: Fuel scarcity hits airlines, causes flight delays

Slight flight delays were experienced by some local airlines at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos on Wednesday, as the scarcity of JET A1, also known as aviation fuel, hits airiline operators.

Securing America’s Energy Independence Through Energy Diversification

This time a year ago, the United States and the world were reminded of the devastating costs of a global energy crisis. Consumers, businesses, and industry leaders alike watched helplessly as crude oil prices skyrocketed to $147 per barrel, and the domestic consequences were reminiscent of the energy crisis of the late 1970s. Consumers suffered, costs of living soared, the auto industry contracted, proponents of domestic drilling gained momentum, and global oil companies raked in record profits.

But unlike in the aftermath of the first two energy crises, innovation and efficiency—not just conservation—have now taken the spotlight as the solution. In the past, as oil prices fluctuated, so did our commitment to energy independence. Not so today. With advancements in technology, conflicts in the Middle East, and the clear threat of climate change, America’s energy interests are no longer based on swings in oil prices. Efforts to reduce oil consumption and to develop alternative energy continue to grow, and they must do so.

Weaving a new Silk Road

“Power is moving from West to East,” says a top Gulf investor as the Arab world, distrustful of the US, builds wide-ranging commercial links with Asia.

For more than 1,000 years, the Silk Road that ran for 11,000km from the Mediterranean across Asia to China brought east and west together and helped lay the foundations of the modern world. The fabled network circled the planet, until, in the 16th century, it faded into history as ships were able to transport goods cheaper and faster to far-off Cathay than over the hazardous land route that crossed some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain. Now, more than five centuries later, a new Silk Road is emerging, a commercial corridor that runs from the Middle East, with Dubai as its unofficial commercial capital, to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, Mumbai, Chennai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Tokyo. Trade between the Gulf and Asia is mushrooming with oil, gas, petrochemicals, water technology and banking moving east, while consumer products, - migrant labour, energy investment, and so on, is moving west. This is establishing a new strategic link that is reviving the historic commerce of the ancient caravan network across the mountains, deserts and steppes of Asia.

National Grid loses fine appeal

National Grid has lost an appeal against a record fine imposed by regulator Ofgem last year for hindering the roll-out of new "smart" meters.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal said National Grid abused its dominant position through contracts with energy suppliers which imposed penalties for replacing large numbers of its meters with cheaper or more advanced devices.

Sunset High senior may have solution to energy crisis

Ashutosh Patra is doing his part to find efficient ways to tackle our energy crisis.

At 17, the Sunset High School senior has designed a low-cost microbial fuel cell, which produces electricity and forms clean water while treating wastewater in the process.

The fuel for the entire process is bacteria found in wastewater.

A potential breakthrough in harnessing the sun's energy

New solar thermal technology overcomes a major challenge facing solar power – how to store the sun's heat for use at night or on a rainy day.

Scythe festival

I first bought a scythe after meeting a smallholder who told me he'd raced to neighbouring farmers to mow identical areas of grass. He used a scythe, they used strimmers - and he won.

Climate crunch: A burden beyond bearing

In 2007, environmental writer Bill McKibben approached climate scientist James Hansen and asked him what atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide could be considered safe. Hansen's reaction: "I don't know, but I'll get back to you."

After he had mulled it over, Hansen started to suspect that he and many other scientists had underestimated the long-term effects of greenhouse warming.

To meet climate goal, cut fossil fuels use: study

PARIS (AFP) – Meeting a widely-supported goal to tackle global warming means that humanity will be able to burn less than a quarter of the proven reserves of fossil fuels by 2050, a study released on Wednesday said.

The paper, published by the British journal Nature, implies only a revolution in energy use can achieve the aim of limiting warming to less than two degrees Celsius (3.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

U.S. oil refineries a tough sell in a recession

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. oil companies may need to start pulling their unwanted refineries off the auction block if they want to avoid selling into the worst market for energy assets in more than six years.

The gloomy market is bad news for companies seeking to shrink their exposure to weak fuel demand in the recession-hit United States, but presents an opportunity for upstarts and national oil firms hoping to expand into a recovery.

"Clearly, the sellers are selling into what can only be called a distressed market," said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Power sector worries slash Gazprom 2008 profit

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom reported profits below expectations on Wednesday, reporting over $1 billion in writedowns as it braced for a slowdown in its key domestic power generation market.

"The negative macroeconomic background characterised by the slump in global oil prices in the second half of 2008 and an ongoing decrease in demand for fuel in export and domestic markets will have a significant impact on the group's financial results in 2009," Gazprom said in a statement.

Royal Dutch Shell's profits fall 58pc on oil price slide

Royal Dutch Shell's profits more than halved in the first quarter as oil prices tumbled, forcing the energy group to increase its debt to support both the dividend and its investment programme.

Despite the 58pc fall in profits to $3.3bn on a current cost of supplies basis, which takes into account changes in the value of oil and distillate inventories, Shell beat consensus forecasts of $2.6bn. The group's performance for the three months to March reflected the oil price, which averaged $43.20 over the period compared with $97.86 in the first quarter of 2008.

Indian producers miss output target

Indian upstream players missed the country's crude production target by almost 7% for the financial year ended 31 March, the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas said.

In a statement released today, the ministry said oil companies in the country produced 33.5 million tonnes of crude oil from April 2008 to March 2009, with an almost 14% dip in production for March this year.

Woodside’s Vincent Oil Field to Restart By End-June

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, expects to resume production at its fire-damaged Vincent oil project by the end of June, subject to regulatory approval.

Woodside will lose about 500,000 barrels of oil a month of output while the field off the northwest coast is shut down, the Perth-based company said today in a statement to the Australian stock exchange.

Shell CEO Expects to Cut Jobs This Year to Lower Costs, FT Says

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Officer Jeroen van der Veer expects to cut jobs this year as the company reduces costs in response to lower oil prices, the Financial Times reported.

Iran: We Can Cope with US Fuel Trade Sanctions

(IsraelNN.com) Iran would find gasoline supplies even if the United States imposes sanctions targeting companies that ship fuel to the Islamic Republic, a senior Iranian oil official said on Thursday.

Can China demand fuel energy majors' profits?

With oil prices having more than halved from a year ago, the key question for investors in China energy is whether a recovery in China's fuel demand can offset that decline in crude prices?

World Oil Snapshot: Big Picture and Investable Advice

As you can see from this chart, Saudi increase/decrease in oil production moves the total OPEC output almost barrel for barrel, moderating supply and demand fluctuations to accommodate buyers and to facilitate rolling supply agreements -- which explains why the US turns a blind eye to Saudi political repression and treats the Kingdom as a military ally. Here's a list of the weapons we sold and a recap of US strategic involvement.

Left to their own devices, the doofus Saudis would have collapsed Ghawar ten years ago. It's kept alive by Western engineers led by Dick Cheney's Halliburton (HAL). That's my first actionable stock pick at any price you like. I agree with Matthew Simmons that the Saudi reserves are in decline. All the more reason to buy and hold Halliburton.

Investors able to prop up $50 oil, for now

Dietz argues one of two things has to occur: either oil demand has to increase or the price of oil has to fall. Dietz has calculated that the price of oil will fall, and is short oil, with numerous monthly contracts. He expects oil to retest lows below $40 by mid-year. Or as he puts it, "Reality will reappear soon."

Veteran oil analyst Matt Simmons, founder of Simmons & Co., a Houston-based investment bank, holds a different view. Simmons argues oil's price decline from record-highs has taken many oil fields out of production. That deceased production, plus aging oil fields and the credit crunch's impact on oil exploration, are likely to lead to a spike in prices, after both the U.S. and global economies resume growing. With the above in mind, investors seeking to "get ahead of the pack" or anticipate the economic recovery, are positioning themselves in oil now, which is boosting its price above where it would be, given current, relatively light demand conditions.

Gazprom may pre-pay Ukraine for gas transit

MOSCOW, April 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia could pay Ukraine in advance for the transit of Russian gas to enable Ukraine's Naftogaz to pay for Russian gas supplies, a source in the Russian delegation said Wednesday.

Advance payments "will enable Naftogaz of Ukraine to pay for April gas supplies," the source said.

Hyundai Heavy 1st-quarter net profit gains

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's largest shipbuilder, reported a 12.7 percent rise in first quarter net profit on foreign exchange gains, but in a sign of tough times said it hasn't recieved a single new order in more than six months.

Petroleum Marketers Respond to Costco's Attempt To Settle 'Fair Fuel' Lawsuit

ARLINGTON, Va. – When Costco last week agreed to settle a lawsuit over the sale of "hot gasoline" by installing automatic temperature compensation (ATC) equipment at the pump, the Consumer Watchdog group applauded the move. Other players in the gasoline industry, however, made a few other gestures.

12 slain in shooting at Azerbaijan oil academy

BAKU, Azerbaijan – A gunman opened fire at Azerbaijan's prestigious oil industry academy on Thursday, killing 12 people and wounding 13 before turning the gun on himself, the government said.

Time to face the energy reality

Imagine a world in which oil production is declining, and prices are rising with no end in sight. Sooner or later, that world will be a reality. Peak oil is the point at which 50 percent of the world's oil - the easiest 50 percent to get to - has been extracted. From that point onward, production will decline while prices rise. Almost no one disputes that peak oil is coming (if we haven't reached it yet). The only questions are how soon it will hit, and how painful it will be for society.

BLM, Forest Service sued over air pollution in NM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Environmentalists claim in a lawsuit that federal agencies violated the law by approving plans that would expand oil and gas development in New Mexico's San Juan Basin — one of the nation's largest natural gas fields.

EPA raids Ill. city accused of using tainted water

CRESTWOOD, Ill. – Federal agents raided a Chicago suburb's government offices Wednesday to look for evidence of any crimes related to allegations the village knowingly drew drinking water from a tainted well for decades.

Energy Sec. announces $193M for energy research

GOLDEN, Colo. – The primary U.S. lab for renewable energy will receive $110 million in federal stimulus funds and another $83 million will go toward wind energy and other alternative power and efficiency projects, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday.

"Wind energy will be one of the most important contributors to meeting President Obama's target of generating 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2012," Chu said.

Also on the administration's priorty list is making buildings more energy efficient.

French nuclear power plant evacuated in bomb alert

PARIS (Reuters) – A nuclear power station at Chinon in central France was evacuated on Thursday after a phone call warning of a bomb, power supplier EDF said.

EDF said the anonymous phone call was made at 0355 GMT and that, while searches continued, the core areas of the plant had been secured.

The nuclear plant was still functioning, EDF added.

Tokyo Electric Loss Exceeds Estimates on Cost of Reactor Repair

(Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co., Asia’s biggest utility, posted double the loss analysts had expected after it took a charge for repairing the world’s biggest nuclear plant that was shut after an earthquake in July 2007.

Three nuclear power sites bought

Three nuclear power sites have been bought by European energy firms, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has said.

Brazil slave labor complaints rise

RIO DE JANEIRO – Reports of debt slavery reached record numbers in Brazil last year, and most of the cases were connected to the nation's booming sugarcane ethanol sector, according to a report released Wednesday by a watchdog group.

The report from the Catholic Land Pastoral, indicated there were 280 cases debt slavery reported in 2008, a 6 percent increase over 2007.

The report — relying on government data — also showed that 36 percent of those cases were linked to sugarcane production, which drives Brazil's much-lauded production of ethanol.

Debt slavery is common in Brazil's Amazon, where poor laborers are lured to remote spots where they rack up debts to plantation owners who charge exorbitant prices for everything from food to transportation and force the workers to sleep in cramped quarters.

Warming up to Sunshine

It's a sign of the times. Once considered a niche technology embraced by the most eco-conscious consumers, solar thermal hot-water systems are now seen as an economical way to reduce the use of natural gas and electricity by extracting clean energy from the sun.

The systems, which range in price from $6,000 to $9,000 installed, don't produce electricity like their photovoltaic cousins. Instead, they use sunlight to preheat cold water before it enters the hot-water tank in your basement. The more heated water you get from the sun, the less natural gas or electricity you consume.

What does living 'green' look like?

By this point, we all know we need to do something about climate change, but will switching lightbulbs or hauling groceries in a hemp sack really stop the Arctic meltdown? Sure, the Prius is kind of sexy, at least when Cameron Diaz drives it, but hey, the family SUV is paid off, and that big gas-guzzler feels safe. Lowering the thermostat makes sense — you cut heating bills and trim your carbon footprint. But just one long plane trip more than cancels out the carbon savings you achieved by freezing all winter.

Report: Shoreline at risk of global warming flood

A new report by the state agency responsible for protecting the San Francisco Bay shows thousands of acres of shoreline may be in danger of flooding in coming decades if some climate change predictions prove correct.

The April 7 draft report of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission includes maps of the Bay shoreline showing broad swaths of low-lying areas likely to be flooded by mid-century, and even greater areas by 2100, by rising sea levels due to global warming.

From Smokestacks to Your Tank

IF the government regulates carbon dioxide emissions, power plants and other factories will probably start removing CO2 from their smokestacks and will have to pay to get rid of it. The conventional wisdom is that it will be sequestered underground.

But one audacious concept is to recycle the carbon by turning it into liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

Canada Plans Clampdown on Coal-Powered Plants, Globe Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Canada plans to phase out traditional coal power for its electrical-generation industry as it seeks to lower greenhouse-gas emissions, the Globe and Mail reported.

Any new coal-powered plants would have to include technology to capture the emissions and inject them underground for permanent storage, the newspaper said today, citing an interview with Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

Soot new culprit in Arctic's rapid melt

Greenhouse gases may not be the only reason the Arctic is thawing so rapidly.

A report released yesterday at an international meeting in Norway says scientists have discovered a new factor behind the surprisingly rapid meltdown – so-called "black carbon," otherwise known as soot.

Timeline: Earth's Precarious Future

Humans will face widespread water shortages. Famine and disease will increase. Earth’s landscape will transform radically, with a quarter of plants and animals at risk of extinction.

While putting specific dates on these traumatic potential events is challenging, this timeline paints the big picture and details Earth's future based on several recent studies and the longer scientific version of the IPCC report. This timeline is an updated version of one first published by LiveScience in 2007.

Climate scenarios 'being realised'

The worst-case scenarios on climate change envisaged by the UN two years ago are already being realised, say scientists at an international meeting.

In a statement in Copenhagen on their six key messages to political leaders, they say there is a increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climate shifts.

Hit the brakes hard

There is a climate splash in Nature this week, including a cover showing a tera-tonne weight, presumably meant to be made of carbon (could it be graphite?), dangling by a thread over the planet, and containing two new articles (Allen et al and Meinshausen et al), a "News & Views" piece written by two of us, and a couple commentaries urging us to “prepare to adapt to at least 4° C” and to think about what the worst case scenario (at 1000 ppm CO2) might look like.

At the heart of it are the two papers which calculate the odds of exceeding a predefined threshold of 2°C as a function of CO2 emissions. Both find that the most directly relevant quantity is the total amount of CO2 ultimately released, rather than a target atmospheric CO2 concentration or emission rate. This is an extremely useful result, giving us a clear statement of how our policy goals should be framed. We have a total emission quota; if we keep going now, we will have to cut back more quickly later.

'Safe' climate means 'no to coal'

About three-quarters of the world's fossil fuel reserves must be left unused if society is to avoid dangerous climate change, scientists warn.

Climate countdown: Half a trillion tonnes of carbon left to burn

The world has already burned half the fossil fuels necessary to bring about a catastrophic 2C rise in average global temperature, scientists revealed today.

The experts say about half a trillion tonnes of carbon have been consumed since the industrial revolution. To prevent a 2C rise, they say, the total burnt must be kept to below a trillion tonnes. On current rates, that figure will be reached in 40 years.

Catastrophic Climate Future: Are We That Stupid?

Until the economic downturn late last year, actual emissions have been higher than those in the IPCC scenario. So without any mitigation, "that's the track we're on now," Schneider told LiveScience.

Schneider doesn't think emissions will continue on this path, however: "I don't think the world is going to be that stupid for most of the century," he said.

Eventually, as we see more of the effects of warming, Schneider thinks that people will be galvanized into action and begin implementing cleaner technologies and cutting emissions.

How did all the oil and gas get to Alaska and under the Arctic Ocean? That was the question Rep. Barton asked Energy Secretary Steve Chu and says he "stumped him". You be the judge. Lots of comments on the exchange that make interesting reading also.

Rep. Joe Barton: I 'Stumped' Nobel Prize Winning Scientist (Video)

Ron P.

It is hard to get over how ignorant and/or treacherous some of these people are...

Yeah, thank god they aren't in positions of responsibility or power, and can't make decisions about the future of society in general...

Er, wait a sec...

Barton has nothing to offer, so has to find some means to justify his existence and ideology. Posing meaningless questions like this to someone who is trying to fix the mess that Barton et al left (and then bragging about it) shows the combination of the desperation and stupidity that Barton will stoop to.

Because they didn't used to be where they are now. Continents move - get the drift?

Actually, the answer to that question has a lot of relevance to the current climate crisis situation. It is thought that the oil derived from a massive bloom of the fern Azolla in the mid Eocoene when Earth temperatures were much higher (~6 C) and plate tectonics had isolated the Arctic ocean such that a freshwater layer could cover it. The bloom called the Azolla event http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azolla_event began about 49 million years ago and lasted for maybe 800,000 years. It sequestered sufficient carbon to counter the run-away greenhouse event known as the PETM http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleocene-Eocene_Thermal_Maximum that closed the Paleocene permitting the ice-house Earth we enjoy today.

The Arctic ocean was even then at the north pole. Higher temperatures were more responsible than tectonics for the event and, in that sense, Barton did stump Chu. It is ironic that Barton promotes releasing the very carbon whose sequestration rescued Earth from its last green-house crisis.

I think it was all the Jewish dinosaurs who didn't like living next to the Arab dinosaurs in Saudi Arabia, so they moved to Alaska.

Re: Hit the Brakes Hard

Realclimate.org provides the following to clarify the situation for those who might think a 2 degree rise "acceptable:"

[Response: The climate of the last glacial maximum was six degrees colder than today. That doesn’t sound like much, either. David]

Just for the sake of argument, pretend that human civilization is very pastoral with minimal ecological impact - the sort of responsible society imagined in some Ursula LeGuin novels. Now imagine that our scientists discover that another ice age is impending and global temperatures are expected to plummet by six degrees over the next 150 years.

What questions would you have? What responses would or would not be reasonable?

Now let's modify the situation - human civilization is an aggressive tree-planting society and has been sequestering atmospheric carbon for decades. How do your questions and responses change? Do they change entirely or only partially?

I cannot accept admonition to "hit the brakes hard" when the climate model windshield is covered with mud, I'm not sure that I'm the only driver, and evasive action might be more practical.

In reality, you are not driving - none of us are. Enjoy the ride.

The climate change die is already cast, and it matters not what any of us think about what is coming - it will come anyway.

If, as you claim, "the windshield is covered with mud", then the only possible choice is to stop moving.

Any "motion" (remember, we are moving a little further each day) could lead to disaster, even your proposed evasive action. If the mud is so thick, your "evasive action" could just as well throw you into the ditch as over a cliff. As for your implied suggestion that increasing CO2 might be a way of thwarting the return of another Ice Age, consider that the CO2 we add to the atmosphere won't remain there very long in terms of geological changes. If you are going to claim that the windshield is so muddy that the modeling efforts which have been used to predict the impacts of added CO2 are wrong, then there's still the possibility that warmer conditions might trigger an Ice Age.

Please tell us, just what will be the results of a complete loss of sea-ice over the Arctic, a process which we KNOW TO BE HAPPENING?

E. Swanson

Please tell us, just what will be the results of a complete loss of sea-ice over the Arctic, a process which we KNOW TO BE HAPPENING?

INTERVIEW-"Plenty of opportunities" from Arctic thaw-Norway

A thaw of Arctic ice will open "plenty of opportunities" in oil and gas exploration and shipping even though the overall impact of global warming will be damaging for the region, Norway's Foreign Minister said...

"The resources, the new sailing lanes, these are all opportunities," he said in an interview with Reuters. The Arctic Council talks will be preceded on Tuesday by a meeting about melting ice, including a speech by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore....

Among new opportunities, an official U.S. study last year estimated the Arctic had 90 billion barrels of untapped oil, enough to meet current world demand for three years.

And in 2007, the Northwest Passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans opened for a first time in memory. Mining firms could also find new deposits.

So, trashing out the environment has an upside for at least somebody...

an official U.S. study last year estimated the Arctic had 90 billion barrels of untapped oil,

Ooooo an official U.S. Study!!!

Just like the Hirsch report I'll bet. Anyone familiar with this? Was the author Barton? Or one of the Palin kids?

My estimate is 190 billion barrels of 10W-30 lying just below the pack ice.

Found the Official study on the Official web site:


It is an Official four page PDF.

Key take aways:

No economic considerations are included in these initial estimates; results are presented without reference to costs of exploration and development,


Because of the sparse seismic and drilling data in much of the
Arctic, the usual tools and techniques used in USGS resource assessments, such as discovery
process modeling, prospect delineation, and deposit simulation, were not generally applicable.

So, no economic considerations and no prospect delineation, just not much more than a WAG. Under identical conditions I up my own estimate to 260 billion barrels of 5W-30. Let the drilling begin!!

And the flow rates for 5W-30 will be much higher than 10W under arctic conditions. Bonus!

It is an Official four page PDF.

I think the best part of the report is the inviting pretty picture they used...

(Caption from USGS:)Overturned sedimentary rocks of the Lisburne Group under a midnight rainbow near Galbraith Lake, Alaska, summer 2001. (Credit: USGS photo by David Houseknecht)

(Caption translated:)Drill here. It's all good...

You'll have to fool the leprechauns first.


It seems that there is a race of Arctic Leprechaun that has pots of black gold under their rainbows,
now we have proof:

Image from jennifermarohasy.com

There was one well drilled in ANWR in the mid 80's - KIC1. It was a tight hole and the results have not been published . There has been some speculation that it was a dry hole on the questionable basis that it would be easier to keep a dry hole secret.

From the USGS, in fact...

90 Billion Barrels of Oil and 1,670 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas Assessed in the Arctic...

But occasionally they are wrong...

But occasionally they are wrong...

I find that hard to believe. This is the same government that predicted that the people of Iraq would welcome them with open arms.

Well, if you swap "open" with "loaded" I guess you could claim that they got it 98.99% right.

At that point, you have to give some sense of how your 'Evasive Action' is different from 'Hitting the Brakes'.

The implication that I keep hearing from people who challenge Climate Change scenarios is that the only requirement is to 'Drive Responsibly', but for God's sake, slowing down is bad.. it would create a chilling effect on the economy, and on our very sense of ourselves as robust, modern high-speed kind of people.

We're going FAST (in a 'producing CO2' sense), and while it's dark and rainy and the headlights are out, some people (some 90% anyway) of the passengers in the car with various maps are saying there is probably a cliff up ahead.

To swerve dangerously with this metaphor.. even an evasive maneuver (off the paved road?) should probably be done at a lower speed, where we have more managable options.


Why do we talk about climate change? Because it might foul our own bed. A select few of us feel a greater sense of morality and stewardship, but rarely are societal decisions made on this basis. I take the objective of climate debate to be a discussion of limiting consequences to humanity. And an enlighted debator will recognize that human welfare is not other than ecological welfare.

Yes, it makes sense to slow down and I have never advocated differently. MORE IMPORTANTLY, I DON'T TRUST THAT OUR MODELS RELIABLY UNDERSTAND THE EXISTENCE AND/OR LOCATION OF THE CLIFF. (I understand that this is a minority view on TOD.) Accordingly, it makes sense to "invest in a solution", to spend energy investing in a controlled crash in the ditch, rather than focusing entirely on braking.

Wind energy is one such example that is "assumption robust". You are better off pretty much no matter what the Truth turns out to be. It's like quitting smoking. You don't even need to debate whether smoking causes cancer. You are absolutely better off if you quit.

Spartan energy consumption reductions are not "assumption robust". It may be unnecessary with adverse consequences for humanity. Or it may not be enough and distract from more meaningful actions. Or it may be just what the doctor ordered. This "solution" requires a much greater standard of evidence.

Geo-engineering, deliberate manipulation of a poorly understood system, is least assumption robust and requires the greatest standard of evidence.

Calling Energy Reduction plans 'Spartan' is a characterization that plays to peoples fear of being deprived and some kind of Starvation Diet.. when in fact, what is being asked is that we, as 'fat energy consumers' are being told we need to go on a diet. The fact that it will be difficult and uncomfortable is naturally going to kick up all kinds of excuses.. even if we know, deep down that we can do it, and that many things will be able to be better and come back towards a decent balance if we do.

I feel that the above reaction is one of addicts who are about to lose their fix.

Q 'How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?'
A 'Are you sure we've got to change it?'

Clearly, you don't trust the people with the maps.. but from what I hear, most of the proposals DO amount to 'controlling the crash' with alternatives and CO2 reductions.. while only a few outliers are the ones who might fit your language of 'GeoEngineering' and Intentional Manipulation.

What is Spartan living, anyhow?

I go from a typical coal powered all electric household to one that survives off 75 watts of solar and 400 watts of wind power for electricity, and propane for cooking (and sometimes for heat, using a tiny catalytic heater to heat whatever room I'm in.) My consumption of fossil fuels has dropped significantly just from my move. Currently I still wash my clothes in-town, but that will change once I add my additional 320 watts of solar panels and my 5.5kw sine wave inverter. What is my carbon footprint? I don't know. All I know/care about is I have no electric bill and my propane consumption is about a 30 pound tank every 1.5 months. That propane usage will be reduced once my home is completed as my new stove won't have a pilot light.

I've made the change, then again, I'm "crazy" in the minds of most Americans in my willingness to adapt to how things will be for everyone before they happen to everyone.

Way to go, and compared to 90% of humanity you still live like a king!

Sprinkle in some friends,community, family, maybe a dog... good food and wine, access to education, health care (not the idiotic system we have now), free time to enjoy music, art, and you are at a quality of life that only the emperors of past eras could equal. "OH NO WE CAN'T LIVE IN SUCH HORRIBLE PRIMITIVE CONDITIONS!"

Hey we could develop Still Suits (reference to DUNE) and wear rechargeable solar powered lights on our heads...

Can you use a catalytic heater to heat inside a closed room? Is that safe? What about carbon monoxide? Always interested in heating backups in Saskatchewan.

You can pretend the scientific evidence isn't astoundingly overwhelming, but you are only kidding yourself and lying to everyone else.

I will ask again: where is the peer-reviewed scientific inquiry supporting your conclusions?

1. It starts with observations, which are massive and undeniable already.

2. It continues with research to confirm or inform or to alter what was thought to be happening.

3. It is topped off with modeling to confirm what we believe to be the case is, in fact, the case. Or not.

4. Those models, if confirmed to recreate past conditions, are used to help guesstimate what might come in the future.

You, and so many others with you, choose to lie and either explicitly or implicitly state that it all starts with models; that climate science rests on the backs of GCMs.

In fact, GCMs rest upon the backs of the many, many, many scientific inquiries making up climate science.

Here is just the latest smack down of denialists' favorite "position":

"Natural causes" not responsible for global warming

The other most favored, "We just don't know!!!" is... well, dumb.

Outstanding article!!! Best of the year!!!

"Farewell, the American Century"
By Andrew J Bacevich


Goes further in explaining why we can not/ will not act to change things than anything I have read.

"To solve our problems requires that we see ourselves as we really are. And that requires shedding, once and for all, the illusions embodied in the American Century."

Bacevich is a true American Hero.

Terry Gross (NPR-FreshAir) did an interview with him on Sept 08...

Is This The 'End Of American Exceptionalism'?

Good interview.

The "idolization of an ephemeral self" is the primary trigger for the collapse of civilizations according to Arnold Toynbee.


I have followed Mr. Bacevich since he appeared on Bill Moyer's Journal. His Aug. 16 interview dovetailed nicely with an article I wrote and I actually had an email exchange with him. Nice guy and keenly aware.

[edit] There are many links to the interview. Here is one I found quickly http://tpzoo.wordpress.com/2008/08/16/andrew-bacevich-on-bill-moyers-jou...

I have posted before about Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer. The book was summarized in three parts on CBC's Ideas. Considering the confluence of Bacevich and the recent spate of ACC articles, and many comments above, I recommend a (re)listen.


He states, and backs up, something I have felt for years; "We might be able to fix _______, but we won't." The US may be blind elephant in the room, but it is a global human problem.

If this isn't a wake-up call that only personal, local effort will save your derriere, then I don't know what would be.

IMO, peak stupidity is still some years off.


Best (and scariest) informational interview on H1N1-A.

"Highly decorated science journalist Laurie Garrett joins the 7.30 Report from New York to discuss the emergence of swine flu and its potential repercussions."


(video to the right, transcript below)

"LAURIE GARRETT: I would simply remind you, and I say this with all due respect, I do not want to see people freak out hearing this; but let's remember that in 1918, the first round of circulation around the world was judged by the medical officers of the British military hunkered down in World War I as a trivial event, not life threatening to British troops that were entrenched on the German front."

Biden opens his mouth again and the truth comes out. Ouch.

Likely Pandemic

In an interview with NBC's Today show, Biden also seemed to recommend against using mass transit, answering a question about whether he would advise his own family against flying to Mexico by saying: "I would tell members of my family -- and I have -- that I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. It's not just going into Mexico. If you're any place in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft."

As a strong advocate of mass transit, I would agree with his statement, though the journalist took liberties with an extrapolation. A 5 hour plane ride to Mexico City means one is stuck in a plane for that length of time. On a subway, if one is uncomfortable with the perceived health of someone on board, they can move to a different car or step off at the next stop and catch another train. Plus, the trips on subways are far shorter.

Still, during a pandemic, it would be wise to limit one's contact with large groups of people, so telecommuting would be the preferred arrangement, or carpooling/vanpooling.

I - or rather my wife - is in kind of a pickle, but possibly the whole fan damily I suppose.

She is supposed to fly to Minneapolis Sunday afternoon for a week-long Educational conference. People comng from "all over" - maybe - into the requisite confined spaces - not to mention that long aluminum tube.

As of last night the conference was still on and no offers of "no penalty" refunds on airfare, hotel, or conference.


Some time ago I was motorcycling back home from some distance away and wanting to stop at a fast food franchise.

I forget the name but one either Wendys,McDonalds,or BurgerKing.

As I stood in line I noticed this elderly woman wiping down tables.
She was using what appeared to be a rag or dishcloth. She was just wiping each table and using no disinfectant spray.

In effect she was picking up germs from each table where folks had been eating and transferring all those microbes and whatever to all the other tables. Each table inputted all its load of bacteria,germs,whatevetr to her cloth and was being liberally spread to where new diners were to sit.

Then to top it all off she walked behind the counter and with her bare hands reached into a basket of fries hanging over the cooker and started eating them.

I left in disgust and called Corporate Customer Service. They listened and took down the location. They reacted with the usual verbiage one would expect.

I never eat at any fast food places after that. I always watch what they are doing to the tables if possible. I also found that many who are the fry grills and making burgers do NOT use plastic gloves.

The incident recently at Dominos is a good case in point of the utter depravity of those who flip burgers at these places. I imagine its worse than many expect.

Its also dangerous to your health.

I used to travel on business using the airlines. After retiring I never flew again. I suspect that airports are a very dangerous place to be with a pandemic on the loose.

What do I do? Take a couple cans of Vienna Sausage and some crackers in my saddle bags.


What do the inspectors at county health departments really do all day long? Aren't they supposed to go out and eat on official work time?

In reality, the surface tension effects of drying tear apart bacteria and even viruses and are far more important than any chemical in disinfecting. A damp cloth is, in fact, very good, better even than a dry cloth.


I bet you don't keep a dirty dishrag in your sink and use it to dry your dishes do you? Or clean your tabletop? Or leave around your foodstuffs?

The damp cloth is a perfect breeding area for all sorts of microbes.

I don't think I will buy your statement and I do not use any cloth.
I air dry. And not a dishwasher either.



I wash dishes with either a washcloth or sponge, and frequently zap them both in the microwave for a few seconds.... enough to kill any bacteria/viruses lurking about. Picked this tip up on a household cleaning site.

2 minutes above 165F is the rule of thumb I've been taught for sanitation.

For sponges: thoroughly soak, do not wring, place on a plate and microwave for 4 minutes. If they have a built-in scrubber pad that side goes down.

For washcloths: Just run them through the laundry on a regular basis on Hot wash/Cold rinse.

If plastic gloves are so important to you then what are you going to do in the after-oil era when plastic would be a scarcity?

Why not you people realize that finger pointing at those waitresses is putting your blame on wrong people and processes. We in Pakistan live in such condition, 70% of population live in villages where there are no toilets and they go to farms with a bucket of water to get empty, people swim and bath without soap in small pools of tube wells etc. Still we have good health conditions. The stories of health problems you people would quickly find on internet would both be statistically irrelevant and linked to modern life style of fertilizers and pesticides sprays etc.

The real problem is modern industralization. It pollute too much. Far more than the natural environment can absorb. When animals are confined in very small places where they all can't even sit at the same time, are always soaked in manure and sweat, are drowned in antibiotics and when there is no proper usage of their manure diseases are easy to spread and hard to control. The unnatural easyness and rapidness of travelling due to industralization and use of fossil fuels help in spreading of disease all over the world in a matter of weeks. Back in the good days of 13th and 14th century it took like 70 to 80 years for something as huge as plague to spread from where it appeared first and where it spread quick (europe) due to animal like living conditions of people there.

The decrease in diversity of food items that our grandfathers used to eat before 1950 further reduce our natural resistance towards diseases and make us far more vulnerable.


What I do at home is one thing.
What is done at public restuarants is a different thing.

First at home we don't have the chance to spread a virus we don't have as yet. But in a public restaurant many people can walk in with any kind of disease or illness.

It is the responsbility of the owners and employees to use sanitary methods to prevent infections.

This place was defying the sanitation codes that were printed on the walls. They failed the test.

When I reported them I had hopes that they would be more cognizant of what they were doing.

Pakistan is not America. Not trying to impugn you but we live in far different cultures.

What your body is resistant to is likely far different than what mine is.

But thanks for your comment and for you it works. Much of what you say does apply to what we may become...a powered down country.

Its like drinking your own cistern water way back and becoming immune to certain organisms. But when you visited a neighbor and drank from his cistern then you got a case of the 'trots'.Same deal.

And yes we had cisterns then and in fact many people still do. For instance in the central region of Kentucky. Many do for well drilling is not appropiate for that area and many are not on city water. So cisterns with catchments and filters and water haulers.

Airdale-seems everytime I used to take a road trip and eat 'road' food I always paid for it with a lot of intestinal distress

Give it up Wisdom. You're not going to change the minds of Americans (and Westerners in general) who, despite weekly headline-grabbing outbreaks of salmonella, e-coli, etc., etc., in their food supply, continue to hold tightly to their conviction that America is CLEAN and the rest of the world is DIRTY. They'll never see how the rest of the world handles fresh poultry, fish and other meat and DOESN'T consider it basically to be a poison and anything that came into contact with it must be DISINFECTED - you won't find 'anti-bacterial' cutting boards and cleaners and such because the food is FRESH. What a concept.

There are very simple, centuries-old ways of handling food and obviously there are do's and don'ts that everyone should follow. But the way we create, distribute and purchase food in America is what is really DIRTY.

First I don't read newspapers nor do I have a TV and haven't for 5 years.

Second I use a wooden cutting board.

Third I have lots of meat that comes from other than a supermarket.

And I doubt they eat pork in Pakistan such as I do and I can attest that raw pork can become very bad in just one hot day..>Thats why we 'cure' it you see?

Then I can keep the cured pork out in the open but just covered. No refrigeration required.

So your not impressing me with your diatribe against Amurkhans to which I will agree as to the vast majority who do as you say.

But I do not.

And further since I have zero control over what they do in a public restaurant then I will demand they follow sanitation guidelines.

Watch the frigging Dominos Pizza youtube of them smearing nose matter on sandwiches. Watch it. Please. And if you think that is uncommon you need to think again.

I do not think leaving meat hanging in the open is wise. Fly eggs will inhabit it.

No thanks.


Some interesting read on the swine flu:

The Swine Flu and The Swines.

Mexican Virus

Conspiracy #1

1] Obama gave Mexico the swine flu.

Taxi driver 1: “When Obama came to Mexico he shook the hand of the director of the Anthropology museum. The director died days later. Within a week this swine flu arrived here in Mexico.” Update: this has been picked up by the mainstream Mexican media and is close to being a fact. Update 2: This may be losing some currency, it has not come up in a couple days.


Given the blood shedding record of americans it makes sense. Perhaps a way to stop mexico going in the hands of drug smugglers, gangsters keeping it a vassal state of usa atleast as long as canterral has something to produce. Hmm, its also in american thinking a nice way to reduce domestic consumption of oil in mexico keeping the exports to america at level ("atleast we are not nuking them!!!", "don't you see we let them use their oil!!!", "they are luckier than iraqis!!!")

Great link, thanks souper.

Dryki had the quote in yesterday's DrumBeat:

This is the vast systemic disease of our time - the destruction of trust and credibility. The only thing we can believe - from learned experience over and over and over and over - is that there is simply no way to believe anything the "authorities" put out. Those in "authority" systematically lie and mislead.

I have no idea what to think about this particular flu. I cannot parse the genetic code. I can't understand a patient chart let alone a series of them. What I do know is that whatever the "authorities" are putting out is a lie tailored to their advantage.

A pandemic is a real and likely event. The problem is the messengers are too corrupted to believe.

Combine misinformation with disinformation, lying with incompetence, and trying to figure out what is happening with this is presently hopeless.

A moderate pandemic would crash the world economy. So it's not that hard to fathom that there are steps to counter information out there on how the swine flu really is doing.

Are we ignoring the flu?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing in the Telegraph (hat tip: Naked Capitalism), believes that investors are being far too relaxed about the swine flu outbreak – even as the World Health Organization moves closer to declaring the outbreak a global pandemic, the first since 1968.

The World Bank has estimated that an outbreak as serious as the 1918 Spanish flu would cost the global economy a total of $3-trillion (U.S.) and knock 4.8 per cent from global gross domestic product. Mr. Evans-Pritchard acknowledges that these are arbitrary telephone book numbers, but even lesser losses would provide another deflationary shock to the economy and probably ruin half of the global banking system.


I was getting annoyed at Mexico for not being more candid about numbers of deaths and cases, and how they have been struggling with this for weeks without a peep, how they now closed non-essential government offices even though they are claiming the outbreak is "stabilizing", and then I realized as our leaders became increasingly defensive about not closing borders (a horse is out of of the barn, but what about the other horses???) that it is in their best interest too to make Mexico's outbreak look less than it is or could well be.

Oh well, Colorado just confirmed its first two cases, one in a woman returning from a cruise to Mexico and stay in San Diego, the other in an airport baggage handler. The latter is a concern because until now close contact was supposed to be "usually required". I'm not sure what the baggage handler's close contact is.

I share your concern.

I have been puzzled by all this "green shoots" talk. The Governor of the Bank of Canada went from a realistic perspective (one that went against the tenor of government pronouncements) to a very optimistic and positive perspective inside a week. No data to support his change.

A unified "positive" messaging campaign would help get consumers feeling no cause for concern and may possibly spark plug an uptick in consumer spending which is some 70% of the economy. The flu punches a big hole in the gloss of optimism. If the flu is as bad as it has the potential to be then the downside to the economy is huge. Imagine whole cities where the population stays home for 5 days. FF stocks will build and I expect we will see a price collapse due to both reduced consumption and OPEC cheating on their quotas.

Yeah -- exactly. By now, they should have a good number of people contacting the disease and how many deaths result from that. Saying 2500 contacts with 150 deaths is just disingenuous. If the number is just that low after more than 1-2 months of outbreak then why do they have a panic. Just doesn't make sense. Anyway, the number of deaths is pretty high for the numbers given above (6%).

They must have approximately how many deaths from this virus by comparing current death for March-April vs the numbers from previous years. If the number is flying way out -- then you have a real problem. I wish some media would ask these questions and put everything in perspective. Not good to sound alarm then tell everyone to calm down. Just stupid.

Exponential Growth

WHO raises alert level to phase 5, confirms 148 H1N1 cases worldwide.

Thursday WHO Update
The situation continues to evolve rapidly. As of 17:00 GMT, 30 April 2009, 11 countries have officially reported 257 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection.

Bear in mind that the testing to confirm the virus takes from 1 to 5 days with labs reporting increasing delays as the number of test samples grows. There may also be countries with H1N1 infections who lack the ability to monitor and test their populations. So while the WHO data appears to be the most valid it also likely under reports the growth in infections.

Interesting and comprehensive site about the 1918 pandemic


Even more interesting is the 1918 episode started in March stayed relatively low key the went hog wild come October.


Nuclear power plants do not emit carbon (Yes, yes, I know that carbon is produced by the mining and processing and transportation of the uranium, and by the construction of the plant itself...I am referring to the on-going generation of electricity)

Nuclear power plants do not emit mercury, cadmium, etc. into the atmosphere, nor do they produce huge toxic sludge ponds.

As far as I know, mining uranium does not involve mountaintop removal.

Although the waste is dangerous, it is compact, and it has been demonstrated that it can be safely transported and stored. The waste can eventually be reprocessed or 'burned' in advanced reactor designs.

The roadblocks holding up nuclear power are not scientific or technical, but psychological.

Add in as much wind and solar power and negawatts as we can, educate folks to have 0,1, or 2 children per woman, and start to wind down the filthy coal industry. Besides, doesn't anyone think we might want that coal later for chemical industry feedstocks?

Uranium mining and ore processing is as nasty as any mining, be it coal, gold or potash. We (American taxpayers) are currently spending 10s of billions removing a 50-year old pile of toxic slag from the banks of the Colorado River (source of drinking water for 30 million downstreamers) left by processing mill of a bankrupt chemical company. Travel around the uranium belt of the Southwest and you will see tailings and open pits and miners with lung cancer reminiscent of West Virginia.
And, yes, one big roadblock to nuclear power is psychological, but the other is liability. Nuclear power producers demand to be excused from "fallout" from accidents.
I am neither pro- nor anti-nuke, but before the debate starts, lets get all the cards on the table.

Read Airdale's account of the Fast-food chains above.

Their survival rests on maintaining the illusion that they are clean, but he clearly shows us just how you can keep that illusion going, and not really be clean at all. That is Nuclear Power. The radioactive byproducts are SO easy to sweep under the rug, since the real poison is invisible. (But ask Madame Curie if it's real or not)

As far as sludge is concerned.. (On St Paddy's day, they color it green and put a big 'Grimace' on the cup!)

About 53 million gallons of high-level radioactive and chemical waste are stored in 177 underground tanks the size of three-story buildings, buried in Hanford’s central area, about 12 miles from the river. Over the years 70 of the tanks have leaked about one million gallons of waste into the soil. At least some of the leaked tank waste has reached the groundwater, which eventually flows into the river. Estimated time for the tank waste to reach the river is anywhere from 7 to 20 years to a couple generations. How badly it damages the river depends on how much gets there and when.

Presently DOE does not have a plan for intercepting the tank waste before the waste reaches the river. To prevent more leaks, DOE has been pumping liquid waste out of the leaking single shell tanks into the newer, not yet leaking, double shell tanks. The pumping is going well and is on schedule.

Oh, their 'The pumping is going well and is on schedule' at the end there.. did you see my Nuclear Waste quote from yesterday? Here, I'll go grab it..

Radioactive-waste leak at Hanford worst in years
Aug, '07

The waste from the bottom of the tank is so lethal "that a cup full of waste would kill everyone in a room in a short period of time," Pollet said.

Early Friday, the pump became clogged and workers reversed it in an effort to clear the blockage. That sent some waste from the bottom of the tank up into the hose that was feeding water into the tank, leading to the leak onto the ground, Noyes said.

Workers in surrounding areas were evacuated and the pumping operation was shut down. Also shut down was the pumping of another nuclear waste storage tank. Both will remain closed until it is determined that work can safely proceed.

There is SO much that can, will and IS going wrong with this, and a great deal of it will happen in the long-term, which the Immediate Gratification Society has no intention of looking at.. this is not a solution. (Even though so much of it is IN solution)

A couple of appropriate links forward from yesterday's Drumbeat.

With coal power we get global warming with our nuclear waste, and we can't even seem to admit that it's nuclear waste.

There's pictures of people wading in the stuff attached to several stories about the TVA spill.

What would the Nuclear industry do without coal, though?

They NEED coal out there to make them look clean by comparison.

Only because they are.

We use Nuclear along with everything else to replace fossil-fuel based electric generation, then we phase out nuclear because wind and solar really are cleaner.

I just don't think hysterics about how horrible nuclear power is are helpful, especially when it is obviously better than what we are doing now to fill the power generation niche it supports.

Labeling opponents of nuclear power "hysterics" is a losing tactic for nuclear proponents.

There are plenty of calm and rational people who consider the unsolved waste disposal and decommissioning issues, along with the environmental impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle, plus the proliferation/security risks, plus the need for billion dollar insurance subsidies (Price-Anderson,etc.), plus the massive centralization and security culture required, etc. as reason enough to invest in energy efficiency and renewables instead. Insulating an attic has a much better energy and economic return on investment than building a nuclear plant, which is probably why more attics get insulated than nuclear plants built.

Insisting on the urgency of nuclear construction, while ignoring US houses that leak energy like sieves makes me question the real objectives of nuclear proponents.

There are plenty of radioactive tailings and contaminated mines and mills from the last boom around my neighborhood of Western Colorado and Utah. Hard to argue for starting up another boom when the debris from the last one still has not been cleaned up.

It's not obviously better, and opposing it because it's unstorable and uncleanable is not Hysterics.

Anything I've said in the last two days, I've backed up. What makes people call it 'Hysterics' is that it's opposing someone's business schemes because of some pesky 'Eco' details. Big business is treated as sacrosanct. I don't think that particular God is dead yet, but he's not as Omnipotent as he used to be.

You did present some wonderful evidence about how bad Nuclear power is.

I countered with some nice evidence that shows that while it's got problems, we tolerate very much worse in other areas and in what it would be primarily be replacing.

You countered with fairy tales about children thousands of years from now basking in the warmth of our nuclear waste.

Fact based?

Sounded like argument from emotion to me. Hence: hysterics.

You want some half-life numbers?

That's not hysterics, it's merely extrapolation. But the wastes are up here on the ground, near the rivers, presently undealt with.

There are countless 'temporary' storage facilities that are waiting for a solution, for a permanent and theoretically durable resting place. Until then, they are in limbo, resting on the lightweight promises of Technical Bureaucrats and Public Servants who may well be doing their best, but who will die long before the real but invisible hazards of these materials are dispersed or decayed to safe levels.

The waste from Maine Yankee is still encased above ground in concrete towers, as I recall.. you can call it a fairy tale as you will, but if we have managed to shrug off cleaning up any of this stuff, and there is a lot of it.. then someone is going to be living with it. Eating the fish from Montsweag Bay, drinking the water at the pools on this island..

You clean up your messes. That's what you do. You don't leave caustic, concentrated and mutagenic materials around where you can easily anticipate that it will foul that environment. We are proving every day that we don't have the resources to manage this kind of material.. so we have no right to produce more of the stuff. We have to find other solutions.

It is a risk, you are correct there.

It is a risk that people are uncomfortable with despite insisting on being allowed to take greater risks on a daily basis.

No solution will ever be perfect, my belief is that nuclear does not cross the threshold to "to bad to use" as it is a lower risk than the systems it would be replacing: coal fired baseload plants.

You said in a previous post that nuclear needs coal to make it look good, and I agree with you on that, but you come to the conclusion that nuclear is still too bad to use where I come to the conclusion that we need to deploy nuclear to get rid of the coal plants.

No matter what choice we make as a society, the kids of the future will need to live with it.
Will they need to live with the risk that we didn't clean up our nuclear waste adequately? Possibly, even if we stop it all today.
Will they need to live with 20% less land because global warming melted the poles and raised sea levels? That is also a possibility.

I am more concerned with the second risk than the first, and it may be too late to prevent either one.

The number and vehemence of anti-nuclear power folks here is surprising, given the alleged technical-engineering background demographic as reported in the TOD poll previously.

I seriously doubt these folks have picketed a coal mine or laid down in front of a coal-laden unit train or protested in front of a coal power plant, not do I think have they likely written their elected representatives about it either.

If they want to worry about nuclear energy, then they better start worrying about all the warheads in the World's arsenals.

Nuclear Energy!

'Outsourcing the cleanup costs to your grandchildren' Clever!


And to top it off the videos of those two clowns infecting food with their nostrils has been taken off the internet. Someone , under I suppose the efforts of Dominos, was able to slap some sort of arcane copyright notice and stop each and every video.

Talk about power. That was an amazing feat.

I tried to show the youtube to a coffeeklatch group but it was totally smeared off the net.

This is just so they can try to keep their hands clean. When they are not. I believe that I will never eat another pizza from any franchise again. Not that I do that much. But I did about two weeks before this video was out on the net.

And so do those entities with far far more resources and funds lie to us? Put out press releases that is pure trash and lies?




According to YouTube, the copyright infringement was filed by Kristy Lynn Hammonds, the stupid cow that did the video in the first place, as is her right. If Domino's encouraged her, we'll probably never find out.

The video is now back up on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrsyAM9hGAI, which is surprising and encouraging, not that I want to watch it.


I saw it once and that was enough for my stomach.

But I have some friends who don't even know it happened and when I tried to bring it up for them.....well it was copyrighted.By the cow you said and talk about weirdness.

Thanks for the link.


RE: Chrysler to file for bankruptcy
...Some lenders refuse offer to reduce debt, leading to likely bankruptcy filing. But Chrysler expected to remain in business and complete deal with Fiat... (More up top)

Anyone want to bet how fast GM will do the same?

Robert Farago has been on top of the bankruptcy of Detroit story since I started reading the site at GM Death Watch #62. Today he is at GM Death Watch #249:


Bet? Twenty bucks says they don't go bankrupt...yet.

The politicians will keep GM going to please the union workers and so they can stuff the board with political sycophants. This will be our version of Japan's Zombie banks or Europe's airlines.

Primal Screams on the Texas Prairie

Following is a link to a Dallas Morning News blog that addresses some myths about rail transportation. There is an ongoing effort to allow local areas to be more flexible with taxes, in order to direct more tax revenue to rail transportation. I thought that two of the comments (shown below) were pretty revealing.

"Conservative myths" about rail transit

The most dedicated critics of North Texas' goal of expanding rail transit have been conservatives in Collin County, notably County Judge Keith Self and state Reps. Ken Paxton and Jodie Laubenberg. Self testified against proposed local option funding in both Senate and House committees, and he has posted his Senate testimony on his own website. . .

Hyperactive on a national scale in taking shots at transit is the free-market, libertarian group Reason Foundation, which dedicates a portion of its website to picking apart transit proposals and projects. . . You may be more interested, however, in the counter-intuitive -- conservatives who have been even more active in promoting transit and active longer.

Two responses:

Posted @ 6:24 AM Thu, Apr 30, 2009
No thanks - I'll continue to live in the suburbs and drive my own vehicle to work. Public transportation equates to , less freedom, inconvenience and "very" close association with people I would rather not associate with! One last item - it does not take a "village" to raise a child - it takes a family. My wife and I will take that responsibility ourselves!

Posted @ 7:31 AM Thu, Apr 30, 2009
I think there is a place for Rail and TOD in DFW. However, it cannot replace highway construction needs, it can only supplement. DART and its member cities are doing a good job of building rail lines with TODs at rail stops. This is the best way to ensure high ridership. But a DART line can only carry so many people, it will never replace highways in DFW. EVER.

Strange world.
Unemployment is at a high and more layoffs are forecast - the market rises.
The world is on the verge of a global pandemic - the market rises.
I guess that if the globe were to fracture and turn into a collection of asteroids the market would go through the roof.

The headline of the day (from Bloomberg) is Catastrophic Quarter Is Averted as Job Cuts Help Profits Exceed Estimates. Now there's a recipe for success!

The markets' grip on reality is tenuous at best, but they have now become completely unhinged. This feels to me like the final blowoff before a big decline.

I was going to post this yesterday, but didn't...

On Guard for Phase II of the Storm

In keeping with our update of 4/07/09 and 4/14/09, “The Eye of the Storm” economic data is now showing clear signs of a bounce typified in today’s headlines which showed both an improvement in Consumer Sentiment and in the Housing Markets.


Thus, there is no surprise that with the stock market at least temporarily on the mend, that the crowd psychology has begun to improve with some leading economic gauges showing material upticks. Unfortunately, the economic ‘rebound(?)’ of the next few months will very likely plant and water the seeds of its own self-destruction, which in turn could quickly lead the global economy into the next, much deeper level of economic collapse. How could this be so? The answer lies in understanding the pendulum nature of crowd psychology. When crowd psychology reaches a negative extreme, it is the norm for psychology to mean revert. This is “the pause” in the underlying trend. This ‘mean revert’ pause produces the “eye of the storm.” Yet, IF there is no solid foundation for the underlying bounce, then like a shanty house in a hurricane, everything gets blown apart.

"We" need to keep our eye on the ball...I don't even watch CNBC anymore - even for the "entertainment" value.


Call me a pig. I watch CNBC for two reasons; Trish Regan and Erin Burnett, in that order.

Ok, three reasons. I switch to that channel to see the live Dow and crude prices. It's the only channel on my cable system that provides it.



From her CNBC Bio

"Regan began her career working for Goldman, Sachs & Co. and D.E. Shaw & Co"


There's the world according to Wall Street...

Stocks jump in early trading
Wall Street charges ahead as investors stay focused on signs of stability in the economy, take in stride reports of an imminent Chrysler bankruptcy.

Stocks rallied Thursday morning as bets that the economy is closer to stabilizing trumped any worries about a looming Chrysler bankruptcy.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) gained 66 points, or 0.8%, after ending the previous session at a more than two-month high.

The S&P 500 (SPX) index added 8 points, or 1% after ending the previous session at a three-month high. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) rose 23 points, or 1.3% after ending the previous session at the highest point in almost six months.

And then there's reality, straight from Denninger...

No, There Is Not a New Bull Market

There are a few listings of actual ALT-A mortgage defaults out there on structured deals, where its easy to get the numbers.

They're running anywhere from 35-50% with fairly tight clustering, so ~40ish percent is about right.

These are 60 day+ delinquencies, which means they're not someone who missed a payment or two; they are people who can't restructure because they're severely underwater and would have to bring tens of thousands of dollars (which they do not have) to the closing table.

90% of those loans are going to foreclose. This is a fairly representative look at the 2006 and 2007 production in the "ALT-A" (Option ARM and Liar Loan) space, which was 30-40% of the market during those two years. These foreclosures have not yet happened but they will, and so will their economic impact. That's a certainty over the next 6-12 months.

All this "new bull market" nonsense is crap.

Pure, unadulterated crap.

Karl, you are absolutely right, but investors think it's 1999 again. Short the market down to zero and make some coin.

Chrysler files for bankruptcy and gets 8 billion to rebuild ????


Mexico flu strikes wrestlers to politicians
Roberto Mendoza was a brawny masked wrestler, aged 29, who ate heartily, pumped iron at the gym and loved football. Then he caught a vicious strain of flu, checked into hospital and nine days later he was dead.


Everyone knows that professional wrestling is fake.

Hunkered down here on the farm and perusing the TOD news clippings and all the other doomerish events its hard to be optimistic about anything.

I recall a Kingston Trio song:

"They're rioting
in Africa. There's strife in Iran. What nature
doesn't do to us will be done by our fellow man."

Sitting on the grass at the amphitheater at Kapioliani Park in Oahu, I was listening to this song as they sang it on the stage, for the first time.

We all were into folk music back then and many of us playing similar instruments. We never thought it could get really, really bad.

But...it has.
A possible killer flu stalks us.
Our big 3 automakers are dying off.
The banksters have destroyed out economy.
We are about out of 'go juice'.
Most all our industry was shipped out.
Our waters are poisoned.
Land animals are dying out.Bats,bees,birds,etc
The poles are melting.
Our climate is extreme.
Our food is tainted with chemicals.
Obesity is rampant.
Our children can't do arithmetic.
Our medical system is a joke.
Big Ag is killing the land and nature.
And at least two countries that hate us are going nuclear.
The last election was pure folly.

I am going to remain hunkered down. Recall the past.
Play some of those Kingston Trio instruments I picked up along the way. Banjo and guitar and reminisce on how it once looked so blessed
and then our leaders became something else as we watched it all
unfold and did nothing.

Airdale-I might have missed a few,this is all very sick and the Kingston Trio is likely all dead.

the Kingston Trio is likely all dead.

No, actually they are taking bookings and on tour. If you have a chance, go see 'em...

Yes your right. I will be damned.

One of the original three played a tenor guitar. A guitar with 4 strings. So happens that this is the first acoustic instrument I brought back in a music store in Honolulu.

My squadron of had a group of airdales that played folk music and they began to play in cocktail lounges near Waikiki. Talk about groupies!Beach parties! I was good buddies with one of the guitarists and flew with some of the rest.

Never seen them play again after the concert in that park.


You KNOW that your song has to end with the cry..

"Car 54, Where are you?"

I'm reminded of another song, from Steppenwolf : Monster/Suicide/America

Our cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin' the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can't understand
We don't know how to mind our own business
'Cause the whole worlds got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who's the winner
We can't pay the cost
'Cause there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into a noose
And it just sits there watching

America where are you now?
Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster

Wow, that brings back memories...

What a great place for concerts. Used to go to shows and sit outside in Kapiolani park and listen for free - until they passed a noise ordinance making them turn the volume down.

Best show I saw there, from inside, was Hiroshima. Just fabulous. Great music, good friends. One of the best concerts I've ever seen. Or maybe it was the mushrooms.

Tis why it's best to be drunk and forget about it all? *laughs*

There's no need to sugarcoat what's happening, Airdale. Bring it on. We can take it.

Here is an interesting article on shale gas from today's WSJ. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124104549891270585.html
Despite its obvious CO2 risks NG use is probably going to be in use for a while.

Here is a quote from the article:
"Huge new fields also have been found in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. One industry-backed study estimates the U.S. has more than 2,200 trillion cubic feet of gas waiting to be pumped, enough to satisfy nearly 100 years of current U.S. natural-gas demand."

What do you think?

We really don't know at this point, IMO. We should have a better idea of underlying decline rates by the end of 2010. Matt Simmons thinks that the industry will never again be able to match its 2008 production rate.

this haynesville boom could, i said could, become an haynesville bust. take widely spaced wells and make the assumption that
well(s) on 40,80,160,320 or 640 acres will perform the same as a well in an infinite acting reservoir and the boom could, i said could, turn into a bust.

Are you saying that they were not able to distinguish these from infinite acting reservoirs, so that their estimates could be way off? Since they have no asymptotes, they blindly put the numbers in to some equations and came up with huge numbers?

public traded companys are positing such claims with nearly every analyst presentation. an analysis based on a hyperbolic decline curve could be the basis for these claims.

properly designed pressure tests would be able to identify an infinite acting and a bounded reservoir. i have doubts that a type curve analysis as presented in spe 119897 would do the trick.

contrast the 742 tcf claimed in the graphic presented below with the largest domestic natural gas field, hugoton, expected to recover 81 tcf.

9 hugotons in fractured rock with nanodarcy permeability ?

the grapic posted below claiming 742 tcf "reserves" should probably be called resource potential.

maybe this is a case where "it's all about flow rate" is the source of delusion.

It's not what you can find, but what you can pump that matters.

Read up on the Bakken Formation for a good example. 200-400 billion barels of oil in place, but the rock is fairly impermeable and non-porous. In other words, it's locked tight in the rock, and difficult to pump out...

I'll offer you a bold answer Jim: YES!!! 2,200 tcf and maybe more. All it will take is for NG prices to rise 10 to 20 times what they are today and remain there through the future. The NG is really there. All it takes is economic justification to develop it.

There...we are saved. and if can afford those prices then we also shouldn't have any trouble paying for the sequestration of all the CO2 from this energy source.

we also shouldn't have any trouble paying for the sequestration of all the CO2 from this energy source.

Just pump it back down the hole it came from... (PDF Warning) Serves the purpose of recovery and sequestration pretty well. I mean, come on, there really isn't much cost in carbon capture, containment and sequestraion, is there...? /sarcasm

I had a chance to talk to Matt Simmons recently, and he agreed with my assessment--the key requirement (in addition to the price) is a virtually infinite rate of increase in drilling rigs & personnel. What Matt is concerned about is that once we get behind the curve, i.e., once production falls below demand, we may never be able to match our 2008 production rate, because of high underlying decline rates and insufficient rigs, personnel and infrastructure.

I was just recently forced to reconsider my position on that issue. This report by Tudor Pickering Holt and Co looked into what would happen if number of drilling rigs remained constant, wells had a high decline rate, but initial flow rates and URR remained constant. They found that natural gas supply would slowly grow.


I am very worried about the rate that rigs are dropping right now. We have reached a decline that is enough to balance the market, but the rigs are still coming down. It will take a long time to claw back up to our current supply levels if drilling keeps falling. Shutting down moves in the same direction as fast decline rates. Building up is working against fast decline rates. Against will be much tougher.

The rig decline has been pretty dramatic -its almost half what it was last summer and still falling.

Chesapeake -in a recent presentation- sought to draw a line under prices. Basically at these levels only a few players are making any money -why not just stop supplying like OPEC has done?

Now another question...

I know it is possible with a relatively straightforward modification costing a few thousand dollars to convert a car to NGas...

So what could the NGas price rise to as a subsitute for petrol? (I'll use the UK term petrol as I find it gets confusing to use the term 'gas') -Let's say petrol is $5/US gallon.

Anyone can answer? -I'm sure it would be a lot higher than what it is now -$3/?mcf? -maybe even high enough to get a LOT more drilling done...


I'll bet you can find some information on this at the NGV America website which discusses Natural Gas Vehicle use http://www.ngvc.org/

3/09 quotation to add natural gas fueling system to F-250 long bed pickup truck with 7.5 liter engine was US$6200. Changing from gas (petrol) to natural gas would have been done with switch mounted in cab. This was a firm quotation from a reputable shop and I doubt there would be much savings for a smaller vehicle. So at least one half of the equation is available.

Interesting report from Tudor Pickering and Holt and that is the kind of info I was fishing for.

Also noticed that Dr. Campbell's April 2009 ASPO oil and gas production profile chart seemed to show more unconventional gas which flattened the overall peak. http://www.aspo-ireland.org/contentFiles/newsletterPDFs/newsletter100_20...

Yes, I asked Matt that same question at last year's ASPO conference in Sacramento and he was not very optimistic for the reasons you cite.

WT -- I agree with you and Matt. But the rigs and personnel could be there if the price is right. Back in the 70's boom we hit twice as many rigs running as we peaked last year. Granted, the 70's boom turned out to be a very damaging expansion in the end. Lots of poorly built rigs and under trained hands = lots of wasted money + injuries/deaths. We could have 5000 rigs running in a few years. The economy could certainly use another 1 million good paying jobs injected into it. But we won't see it happen IMO even if the prices get high enough to justify it at the time. The price volatility we've seen recently won't be forgotten. Thus I also don't see us matching the 2008 rate anytime soon.

I will echo Rockman, the gas is underground, but the prices are going ever higher to get it out. Money is one way to measure that. But there are physical methods such as EROI or gas returned per foot drilled.

I don't have a US EROI chart, but look at this gas returned per thousand feet of well drilled:


Let me see...where have I heard that before?

I guess we have known this all along:

And then as a bonus, we have all those methane hydrates at the base!

What do you think?

That the WSJ writer does not read TOD.

We have had an Antrim Shale developer installiing new wells all around our property in northwestern lower Michigan for the past year....though things have slowed a bit lately since the gas price has dropped. I believe are poised to significantly ramp up drilling work as soon as prices firm up....assuming they have the financial staying power.

does this 3X increase in supply apply worldwide as well?

given the cost and time and effort to ramp up UNG production, and the (apparently) huge oversupply, this seems like a receipe for significant ongoing volatility

haynesville isn't awol. it's only misplaced.
same for southwest wyo. where's this guy from ? bangalore ?

No wonder those wells are costing $9-10 million. Its the 500 mile lateral!

Gail... if you're around, I wouldn't mind reading your opinion on the WSJ article highlighted herein.

I think the issue is price. We have a huge amount of natural gas reserves. I was one who said that last year.

The problem is that the price has to be high enough to justify pulling natural gas out of the ground. At the current price of $3 mcf, natural gas producers can barely cover their current operating costs, with nothing left over for buying land and drilling wells. If prices stay this low, the number of rigs will drop even farther, and production will eventually drop--later this year or early next year.

Producers really need a price up near $8mcf to cover their costs and make a profit. If the price would go back up to $8 mcf and stay there, I think we would be in good shape with respect to natural gas production for quite a while. After 10 or 20 years, the price might have to rise again, to justify pulling more gas out--maybe as far as $20 mcf.

The problem is that $8 mcf or more, natural gas gets awfully expensive, compared to what we have been used to paying for heating and electricity. Families would need to cut back on other things, to afford its high cost, causing further recessionary impact. Also, LNG is likely to be available for less than $8mcf, at least during the current recessionary period.

So what is going to happen? It seems like the price will have to go back up to the $8mcf range, to justify pulling the gas out of the ground. Families will find themselves poorer, and will have to use less--perhaps moving together into smaller quarters. (At a lower standard of living, we can afford to spend a greater share of income on fuel.) Some of the natural gas will be used for fuel for vehicles, as gasoline becomes more scarce.

Eventually, it will be the conflict between the price society can afford and the price it takes to get gas out of the ground that will determine how much natural gas can be pulled out of the ground. So natural gas may help buffer the oil shortfall for at least a while, if price can stay high enough. Once natural gas prices rise too high for people to afford, demand will drop, and production will decline.

Europe does not find petrol (gasoline) expensive at three times the price you pay in the US.

If you have that much relatively affordable, relatively clean energy, you are a very lucky country. Use it to build a sustainable energy infrastructure over the next twenty years.


Europe does not find petrol (gasoline) expensive at three times the price you pay in the US.

There is a big difference, however. In Europe most of the additional price at the pump is in taxes, so that money stays in the country, and benefits (hopefully) the buyer directly, rather than going to the exporting countries.

Last year I believe they were quoting near $20 per MMBTU for LNG imports. If you assume $20 per MMBTU say...15 years from now and we have 3% inflation this equates to a current price of about $12.80. Hopefully, people will make their homes more efficient between now and then so they will not need as much natural gas which would further mitigate the energy cost increases.

Thank you

Milken: Oil, Shocks, and Energy Security

72 minute roundtable at the Milken conference on where oil prices are headed, followed by another roundtable on reverse price shocks in the Middle East. First commentator in the first video expects developing nations to rapidly ramp up demand and resulting in a "tight" relationship b/w supply and demand in the 2-5 year window.

Via Infectious Greed:

Today's wealthy aren't going to make Marie Antoinette's mistake:

Rich people feel guilty buying luxury stuff in bad economy

More than half of affluent consumers say they feel "guilty" making luxury purchases in this economy, a survey of the most-moneyed Americans finds. Fewer this year also say they like to be labeled as "wealthy."

Businesses get goodwill by giving away services for free

While only a fraction of the nation's 27 million businesses are taking such unconventional actions, the wave is crossing industries. This is not about bartering. Nor is it about charitable or pro-bono work. This is free work, plain and simple, for clients that matter most.

Governments trying to raise money any way they can:

Courts trying to nail fine-dodgers

Spurred on by tight budgets and long lists of delinquents, courts across the USA are stepping up efforts to catch fine-dodgers who, combined, owe hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid fines.

Strategies include computer upgrades, bank account garnishment and special court hearings to recoup money owed for everything from parking tickets to penalties for felonies.

I'm not really sure about how towns will change their collective attitudes.

WARNING: I'm using specific names here and relaying unofficial hearsay that I heard.

This might only be hearsay, but I'll repeat it anyway. I recently happened to travel to Princeton University because I was interested in some research done there. On the way there I had to stop at Princeton Junction, a well-off adjacent town. I noticed that their (?)only(?) supermarket was closing... so I started talking to two residents (seperately) and each one said that the town raised property taxes on the site; the owner appealled at a hearing saying that the economy was bad. As I understood it, the town really didn't consider that to be a valid reason to delay/reduce the tax hike.

I was also told that the intersection where this supermarket was located had several pedestrian fatalities over the years, but the town also doesn't see a need to put a light at the pedestrian crosswalks because there was a nearby light at the adjacent corner about 200 feet away. I'm somewhat skeptical, but someone was fired up over it as they said it.

There, my rumormongering for the day.

I lived in the area for about 10 years, and my wife still works there. There are plenty of supermarkets in the area. Whether there is more than one in Princeton Junction or not, I can't say, mainly because almost nobody knows where Princeton Junction stops and the next little town (Plainsboro, Ewing, Princeton Borough, unincorporated West Windsor township, etc) starts.

Property taxes are pretty high in NJ. It is one of the reasons we left (We couldn't imagine being retired and being able to afford paying high taxes with little or no income). Municipalities in NJ have few other options for raising revenue.

IMO, one of the other shoes to drop economically involves state & local governments being unable to fund basic operations. Their revenues are declining as the economy tanks. There will be immense pressure on them to raise taxes, which will only make the problem worse. In the end, I suspect the Feds will have to throw local governments a few trillion to keep the wheels on the bus, figuratively & literally.

I'm not sure that I hold the same opinion. Towns spend A LOT of money on useless things just to keep up with the neighboring towns.

A lot of small towns spend a lot of money to build and maintain these huge and "improved" community centers, firehouses, "auxiliary police centers," etc. saying that the 20-to-50 year old buildings that these places were moved from were antiquated. I have to agree with Kunstler, a lot of these newer public buildings look like fortresses designed keep the public out.

I remember that the police department in my (and surrounding) town(s) had a friendly entrance way with a desk where a human being would talk to you like a fellow human being. Today, my town's police department sometimes has somebody sitting behind a bullet-proof glass window... sometimes nobody is sitting there. (Darn, I can just imagine somebody getting killed right in the main lobby and the killer getting away without ever being caught.) Neighboring towns are worse, you have to pick up the phone in the lobby and call a faceless person.

And after talking with some town workers (not necessarily my town) I hear them unload about all the design flaws that show up in the fire houses. I feel sorry for what these guys have to put up with. The people who sign the contracts and approve the designs apparently don't have to use the buildings that are built.

I agree that communities spent a lot of money on "useless" things -- firehouses, schools, auxiliary police centers, etc, that were overbuilt and possibly unnecessary. However, they mostly borrowed money to build them, and they still owe money on those bonds. And they still have to pay the faceless person who answers your phone call, not to mention for the phone service and other utilities.

Just like a lot of people in America, communities lived beyond their means by going into debt. When you do that, it isn't as simple as cutting back when your income drops. If you can't service your debt, you are going to have to cut essential services or you're going to have to default on your debt. My bet is that the federal government won't let them default, because that would be very bad for the bondholders and imperative #1 of this administration is to protect the bondholders at all costs.

Well I think bondholders given the red carpet is coming to a end. I suspect that the Chrysler bond holders won't fare that well in the end although I suspect that all have plenty of CDS protection so at least for now the new game is to force bankruptcy and let the CDS pay off with the Government probably eventually providing the cash for the CDS payout. But recognize this is just some of the bond holders that win.

Paradoxically only the ones that used CDS instruments and force bankruptcy early will recover the rest will get hosed. If we have every little town in American defaulting you simply don't have enough money to cover the bonds and the CDS coverage will be forced into counter party default. Remember your going to have states like California going bankrupt along with many of its towns in cities. This alone is enough to torpedo the system.

Your also forgetting about the pension obligations which are themselves enormous. You can figure that pensions are going to also suffer even more losses in stupid investments over the next few years.

Its going to be a combo of the state in local governments defaulting on bonds and also on their pension funds at the same time. Attempts to raise taxes will fail or if the succeed they will be so punitive as incomes fall that revenue will continue to fall.

Sure the US government could print and print and print but so what ? Your just devaluing the currency and the price of oil will certainly rise if the currency is inflated destroying the economy this way.

There is no way out of this no financial slight of hand can save you in this situation. Its default no matter how you slice or dice it.

God only knows what the current outstanding value is of every state and local bond and near term pension obligation is. Its simply to big. And of course consider normal business defaults bank failures etc going on in addition to this government financial crises.

I'd argue that debt will default so fast its impossible to print your way out. In fact all the government printing to date has done nothing to solve the banking crisis it has slowed the collapse rate but not prevented it. This state and local default and pension default is at least ten times larger a problem.
Associated business default will also be about 10 times larger. And the banking crisis itself will return with a vengeance also about 10 times larger. And of course you have the CDS and other advance financial instruments with real payouts at least 10 trillion maybe much higher. My opinion is its a 300-500 trillion dollar problem no way its can be solved.

For those expecting the US to inflate much more I'd argue that the bondholders will increasingly choose to takeover the means of production and milk future cash flows and at least at first take the CDS payouts .
With the Fed "inflating" by channeling money into CDS payouts we see deflation. If they freak and crank the printing presses oil will soar and the economy is dead literally overnight. With peak oil they literally don't have the time to inflate and the problem is so large they can't even channel the money in fast enough. The combination of peak oil and the simple complexity of trying to print your way out in a crony capitalism biased manner makes it impossible to beat the debt deflation.

Understand and its important the bank bailout and attempts to channel funds to the elite has actually failed it did not succeed. Sure some people made money but so what the whole system is still falling apart. The chances of the billions of dollars having any value in five years is zero if they inflate if they don't inflate then these wealthy people will be the despised rulers of a broken nation and subject to physical assault so did they win ?

No they got to party for just a bit longer and far far worse the pitchforks have been mentally sharpened and on the first hint of serious trouble you can bet that the wealthy will be targeted.

We really only have two choices.

We can recognized we really messed up take our lumps default on our debt and let the resulting deep depression and financial turmoil play itself out but at least you still have a fairly unified large nation or we can play games until we collapse. And of course regardless of the financial choice you have to deal with peak oil and probably soon global warming.

To be honest personally I think the need for huge nation states has really ended with nuclear weapons massive standing armies are really of no use. Trade can be left to work itself out. I don't see the US acting in the correct manner and even if it did I'd argue it should still break itself up into smaller entities which simply don't accept the debts incurred by the current political configuration.

In my other post I'm arguing that at a personal level you should eliminate all debt and figure out how to live within your means this applies all the way up. We simply have no choice but to disband our current political systems and reform new ones that are sustainable. I think its going to happen no matter what we simply have to much baggage to even live in a new much poorer post peak world the old contracts must be destroyed and new sustainable ones created. All I can say is that in my opinion if its done with forethought and on purpose then the transition will be the cleanest least painful one possible.


I don't know who you are or your background, but for some reason your posts ring true, they help me to think through our predicament, and I very much appreciate them. Keep 'em coming.


Are you still in Irvine? Might be time to pull the rip cord.
(a former Irvine resident).
Irvine is one of the least survivable places.

First thanks Lilith !

Yeah still in Irvine but going up to Portland Oregon July 4 to look for a place to rent then moving before the end of the month. And I'm following my own advice saving as much as I can and watching all the variables housing prices, oil, economic stability my own savings etc. This friggin housing bubble has been a real pisser but if you look at the issues if you don't have megabucks and don't have a house paid off your actually not all that bad off playing the variables on the way down to try and get into housing cheap. Risky but I can't figure out anything viable except for no mortgage or a very small one any other "solution" has to high a probability of you losing your job and getting foreclosed on.
Its a bit ironic that the whole reason I'm in effect forced to wait for rock bottom prices is the problem that will cause them.

I'm actually not so much worried about Irvine itself for a while but literally right next door is Santa Anna which is a real cesspool. A lot of northern Orange county is pretty sketchy. They might be able to keep this area safe but I think it will increasingly be a enclave and at some point you have to figure the rich will smarten up and bolt from Irvine and Laguna Beach. A couple of nasty murders or hijackings on the highway or something like that will convince the rich to leave. Then I think this place is going to go downhill fast.

I suspect the rich enclaves in the in many parts of Cali will go through a similar situation.

I just hope all of these jerks down here go to Texas :)
I'm from Arkansas so I'm free to say anything I want about Texas :)


What are you stuck on staying in California?

Arkansas has some very nice areas. In the northern midsection is some very nice areas. Nice small mountains(Ozarks),remote, wooded, water,etc....

Airdale-course you gotta give up that west coast lifestyle

PS. I might add that the northeastern part grows a lot of rice. I tend to like Arkies myself.

There is a graph in the usual textbook of Economic 101 written by Samuelson. It shows gdp growth of usa from 1930 onwards, with a very much constant growth rate of 3% per year inspite of the usual business cycles (booms and recessions). At some place else I read that usa's govt is inflating the dollar by printing at the same rate, 3% per year. If that is not since 1933 when gold standard was abandoned it is atleast from 1970s. This explains why americans rightfully complain about the stagnant salaries/life-styles since about the same period. Govt of usa is obviously sucking up all the growth, so the masses stay at the same place. Since in other parts of world, especially the oil rich middle east (which has no inflation at all) and third world countries (which do has a high inflation) there is still real growth after subtracting the effects of inflation, the superiority of americans over the rest of world is decreasing. Another decrease is coming with technological development in these countries, both civilian and military.

The govt of usa is indeed the most inefficient machine on planet. Inspite of very high tax rate of around 30%, plus inflation tax of 3% plus a gang of other taxes including sales, property etc etc plus a world-tax of 3% by dollar devaluation the usa govt is the entity with the most loans (over 12 trillion plus 8 trillions of bail-outs). The usa govt is technically bankrupt since atleast 2007 when for the first time it had to get fresh loans just to pay the current obligations. With a sinking economy and the limit of technological development reached situation is going to get worse for usa's govt.

Govt of usa has to take drastic steps if it want the union of american states to exist, otherwise it would not be long till states broke in independent groups as predicted by many. Some of these steps include:

(1) Roll back all space operations. Dismantle NASA. Bring all astraunats back from space.

(2) Pardon atleast 50% of all prisoners, starting with those with least crimes.

(3) Shut down all military bases outside its national borders.

(4) Reduce its military size to half gradually by recruiting only 1 new soldier for every 2 getting retired.

(5) Cancel all civilian licenses of fire arms. Cut supplies of ammunition to zero. Start a huge campaign of taking over the weapons.

(6) Radically shift its military's armoury from insanely expensive and high-tech to cheap and low-tech.

(7) Reduce the number of fighter aircrafts to a quarter. Limit extremely advanced stealth aircrafts like B-52s to a dozen or two.

(8) Dismantle the car industry. Its a huge burden on economy and its not going to get any better. People would not be needing cars post-peak. Production of new cars must stop immediately.

(9) Reduce the number of border security forces, police, national guards etc to atleast half and more desirably quarter. This would make their numbers just enough to what govt can afford to pay. An unpaid guard who start taking bribe to live is far worse than no guard at all.

(10) Increase salaries of soldiers, guards and policemen 50% enabling them to fight inflation better. A few highly paid, loyal and motivative soldiers, guards and policemen are better than an unpaid crowd.

(11) Liberate territories it occupied in past wars including cuban island, hawaii, lands in asia (near brunei) etc. These places are not worth to keep given their distances from mainland, their extremely small sizes, lack of natural resources. These places were occupied in 19th and 20th century by a rising usa that want global presence and lots of military bases. A falling empire must contract itself (like the british do) if they want to continue their existence.

(12) Start diplomatic relations with all countries, friends or foes. Accept the iranian revolution govt, cuban revolution govt, north korean govt and so on. They are a reality and usa must learn to accept reality. Its no more 1950s or 1960s. Those days are long gone. When usa can have diplomatic relations with its arch enemy soviet union all along the cold war then why not with the rest of its enemies?

(13) Stop supporting israel. Stop aiding israel. No more multi-hundred billion dollars aid should go to israel from usa. Usa has put a lot at stake due to its relations with israel, its ethics, its logic, its reputation, its military and its people. There is no use of israel for usa. That country has no resources and its a tiny tiny country anyway. If israel want to exist it must do so on its own resources and stop being a parasite to usa, especially when it is in crisis.

(14) Last and most important. Usa must stop all of its wars.

I used to do some work down there, and got to drive by some of the Water towers that got shot-up during The War of the Worlds Broadcast in Grover's Mills area..

That'll be good farmland again someday, if they can clean up the Pharm-wastes and the Far-commuters.

Plainsboro.. that's where it was. Appropriately, it was a Drinking/Driving Public Service Announcement, where we staged a Road-crash, had Med-Evac and Fire&Rescue. Fun to shoot.. sad to think about.

Martian Park was nice. Was there once about 15 years ago.

Slides now available for Kjell Aleklett's must-see presentation on global energy supplies.

If this year you see just one overview of global energy supplies and how it pertains to global warming and the prospect of continuing the human experiment, this should be it!


Also for those in San Francisco on May 21, I will be delivering "Peak Oil, Climate Change and the Great Transition." Come participate in the FULL HOUR of Q&A afterward. I'll be carbon pooling from San Rafael into SF. Maybe I can entice Chris Nelder to join me....

RSVP here:

I'll try to attend (I live in Mill Valley)

It would be wonderful to meet you :-).

If Chris comes, you may be able to carbon pool together and chat on the way down. He lives in Mill Valley, too.

That would be great. I'll see how thing develop.

I think this is a important post by Mish and also CalculatedRisk



Whats important is PCE is shown as up. This is probably the start of the trend I predicted.
When under pressure people will default on debt to preserve cash flow.

Now I expect that we will find out that this rise in PCE is from people maxing out their credit cards in as they prepare to file for bankruptcy. I think in a few months we will find that walkaways and credit card defaults starts soaring this quarter. Foreclosures probably won't start rising until later on as banks are simply swamped. Only after the massive amount of consumer debt and associated business debt is defaulted on will the price of oil become a big issue.

If oil prices start rising then at first all it will do is accelerate the default rate on debt. And last but not least since homes are still insanely overpriced in most areas especially given a large excess in supply from overbuilding and from people moving to denser living conditions and last but not least baby boomers selling second homes and downsizing to prepare for retirement you have a massive overhang of buildings. In many places the value of most homes will approach zero.

This of course will take several years in the interm your going to see what I call the McDonalds effect.
A former mortgage broker making 300k will get a job at McDonalds as a manager making 30k the distance from the McD's to his new smaller apt is the same as what he traveled to his brokers office. You have effectively a 90% reduction in GDP in this case yet the persons fuel usage remains constant while gasoline take a much larger share of the persons budget. We can readily see a 30% or more decline in GDP without fuel usage changing all that much. By my calculations only when energy expenditures approach 15% of a persons income do they become a serious issue. And of course this entire time period rents will be falling steadily as more and more homes are bought put up for rentals fail to cash flow foreclose sold cheaper and again put up for rentals at a lower price. This goes down until the maintenance costs for the rentals becomes a factor and then down even further as the units become slums.

Also of course at some point down the curve the tax base will collapse and most areas without intrinsic or a local economy which is a good bit of the US will find that they are incapable of funding social services. Government will probably in general go bankrupt with the first few down getting bailouts but the problem is so large that its unsolvable. My opinion is that the failure of governments to pull back to only provide basic services early will quickly lead to overall collapse as they become unable to provide any services and pension obligations destroy local and state governments.

First it will be Federal bailouts then Federal troops in many areas. I've picked Los Angeles and Atlanta as my poster child cities. Oakland CA, Baltimore and Miami or other candidates for the first to have to resort to using troops. Whats interesint is Washington DC is high on the list also.

I'd suggest that people will find it difficult to sale homes in places that have resorted to using troops to provide order and have a bankrupt government. Your talking entire cities that suddenly have no value.
People will of course continue on with their daily living the onces that can leave these cities will. This of course means they will have a even larger oversupply of structures as the population melts away.

These economic refugees are often broke as they flee they will strain the budgets of host cities causing more failures. Think Katrina on steroids. Eventually of course the government will have no choice but to impose travel restrictions and that is the end of the US as we know it.

Whats really interesting is the root cause of failure seems to be the fact that Governments will refuse to downsize and reduce government services to sustainable levels no matter how painful. The big government and deficit spending approach we have embarked on ensures that we cannot transition to a third world/ second world economy without tremendous pain.

On a macro level the intrinsic problem is the US will find what all third world government know when the bulk of the economy is focused on meeting daily living needs the amount of excess funds that can be devoted to taxes goes to zero. You have a tax revolt on your hands. Sure you can print money and I'm sure at some point we will see hyperinflation as the government prints money in lieu of taxes but it does not matter.

At the community level of course public works and public needs will have to become just that communities that wish to survive will be forced to take on government tasks directly. People will have to volunteer time and effort in lieu of tax money. Barter based government is a must as attempts at general taxation and spending simply are to inefficient and require scarce real wealth.

Anyway I find it fascinating that as far as I can tell the real problem seems to be that Governments are utterly incapable of shrinking to allow a region to form a stable economy. My position that we should undertake a controlled collapse to maximize standard of living implies that on of the first things that needs to happen is Governments must cut to the bone. This is simply not going to happen.

I wish I could get you to do a presentation in San Francisco, Mike. It would be fascinating. If you ever come up this way, let's set something up.

My office is actually in SF and I go to it 3-4 times a year.

My email is of course in my address.

Given this scenario how do you convert a government to a lean mean format.

All I see is it must be volunteer and I'd suggest you get a tax abatement coupon thats not tied
to the individual i.e it can be traded for cash. It should work such that if you worked everyday
for coupons you would get at least minimum wage selling the coupon.

Effectively your allowed to work off your taxes and then work off other peoples.
The coupons would sell at a discount to par making them valuable to people who have more money than time.

You have to be able to effectively convert your labor to taxes thats the key. If you can reasonably work and pay off your taxes then I suggest that government will be the correct size.

Potentially you could have tiered payments a heavy equipment operator makes more per hour vs picking up trash etc.

Effectively government employment would be open enrollment.

Anyway thats the idea I've come up with the issue would to be to get a a city to try the program.

Of course when the city itself needs cash instead of direct taxes it sells some of these coupons at a discount but in large blocks.

Something like that. The key is that by being able to exchange labor for taxes we eliminate the tax burden in favor of giving up some free time.

The Egyptian way :)

When local gov't services collapse (and I would suspect that they will go first, before state services), you are certainly correct that this will cause a decrease in population in those areas as waves of refugees look for new places to live (thereby putting even more pressure on govt's where ever they wind up). But these refugees will be the ones who don't know how to adapt in a non-BAU world.

The far more interesting people, and the ones that provide any sense of hope to me, are the ones who will stay behind despite the lack of services. Certainly, minus roads, water and sewage, and trash pickup, a large city like Atlanta can not support the population it currently has. But how many could continue to live there in the absence of city government? Water and food become the focal points of life (rather than driving to a job) and some (many?) will choose to do that in the context of where they live rather than uproot themselves and seek out a FEMA trailer and government hand outs.

No, it won't be life in America as we've known it, but there are some opportunities there for some very meaningful, if difficult, lives.

Hmm...that sounds like a budding slum to me. I imagine that large cities could go either way but with a strong force toward slumdom as oil is removed from the system. As Mike (memmel) points out, LA, Oakland, Miami etc. are prime candidates for the social contract breaking down first. Business then leaves because private security costs are too high for the amount of profit to be made. But the people have nowhere to go and what little opportunity there is to make money in the world will be in the cities. Presto, a new slum.

Which American cities will degenerate into slums first? I don't know the answer to that question, but I don't doubt that the slums below will not be the only ones in twenty years.

Planet of Slums
Slums of the world, in millions, sorted by population (wikipedia)

Except for the problems of bullets flying about sure of course some will stay. In most cases it will be the old people with paid off homes and those to poor to move.

The problem is your remaining community is biased towards those who are least able to work i.e perform manual labor. Sure those that flee will be looking for BAU but that are in general also the ones capable of performing manual labor or any job if forced.

You don't want to stay in Atlanta your much better off in the second cities that collapse especially if they have significant local agriculture that can absorb labor at least for food. And to a point smaller so they can turn away or through out troublemakers. Best to leave Atlanta and its ilk to rot for a few decades and then maybe resettle.

Turns out there seems to be a intrinsic reason why cities are abandoned the population becomes selected for those least capable of performing useful work the old the poor and thugs. It becomes a non-viable community only after this phase has ended does it make sense to resettle assuming its a natural viable location for a city.

The best place is probably what I call third wave. This is a town large enough to be viable as a fairly complete economy i.e say 10k-50k surrounded by rich agricultural land but also fairly weak as far as employment goes one that is still tied to agriculture primarly. Say it has a big employer or two that shuts down "killing" the town. This would have a out immigration to the big city initially and important for me become a cheap place to live. Lets also assume it has 1-2 towns between it and the city center and a commute via train are car would be hard so say at least 45min-1 hour by car from the big city.

The first wave of outflow from the big city will tend to cluster in the suburbs and near by towns overwhelming city services. This probably will be in the form of cheap suburban homes converted to rentals then turning into slum broken up apts. This turns into a cesspool and people move from here to the smaller agricultural towns looking for work but this would I believe be selective since the town can control the immigration. The ones getting the second wave will still be strained but its not absolute i.e they can employ these people doing some manual labor thats at least productive.

Eventually of course the violence burns itself out and migration then slowly reverses.

Now for critical cities like port cities its interesting then you get a situation where the core city remains viable. New Orleans probably will remain given its vital use cases as a port and the oil.
Or at least one or two of the ports. However we know from third world demographics what happens to vital cities is they get surrounded by outlier slums. Some cities will go down this path.

Overall if you can figure out a way to get out then your probably better off. My opinion is that you absolutely must live without a mortgage as far as possible and preferably without rent.
Basically you really want to figure out how to execute a situation where you either have no mortgage or one thats a few hundred dollars and can be survivable working at minimum wage.

If your life is to complex and this is not feasible waiting till you can pay cash for a small plot of land with electric/well and room for a garden then picking up either a mobile home or probably cheap RV after things get really bad to move onto the land is quite feasible. And there is no huge rush no reason to pay 50k a acre for land for example. Well before we crash I'd suggest that a viable minimal living situation will be doable in the more rural areas for 10-20k even 5,000 dollars is doable.

At a minimum figure you might get 0.5 acres with a well septic and electric say with a ruined house or where a old trailer is or used to be for 2-4k and can buy a unwanted RV trailer of some sort for say 1-2k
add say 2k for a car and 500 dollars for a small motorcycle and you can live.

If you can't achieve one of these minimum decent survivable situations then you should seriously rethink your priorities. If your doing something in the city and cannot save 5-10k over 2 years then you need to think hard about why. If its medical or other issues that can't be helped so be it.

However if you can make a change and simply don't have money then and obvious choice is to enter the agricultural community as a worker common laborer if you have to and become a member of a smaller community. To me at least if you don't have money then the next best thing is to get involved in a vital industry in a smaller community. I'd suggest considering trade school also.

But given I expect well before we collapse that opportunities to buy a small plot of land and some sort of cheap housing will arise regardless of your financial situation trying to get to the point that you can at least create this minimal garden/house arrangement as close to a place with jobs but also comfortably away from the largest cities is probably a good idea. Jumping early with a mortgage thats beyond what can be handled with minimum wage is probably not a good idea.

Regardless everyones goal should be to try and change their life such that all they need to do is figure out how to pay for gas and food. I'd say a reasonable projection is that your only employed six months a year at say 5 dollars and hour. This is some sort of seasonal work situation. This suggests this should be enough to buy bulk food and then a garden to supply the rest of your food. I suspect that as things get worse these sorts of jobs will tend towards feeding the workers on site at least one meal.

Obviously people forced to rent that have no skills will simply be completely stuck financially and have a hard time keeping housed. But renting now and developing skills is also good.

My experience in Vietnam and China was that people did not make a lot of money but food and even rent where not expensive however you had little chance to get ahead even though housing when I was there was cheap because loans where not readily available and even if they where work was uncertain so if you got one good chance at some point you would default. If you can just save enough cash to buy somewhere livable with a garden you can survive reasonably well with little cash. If no one has money housing by definition is cheap. It may not be up to the standards we are used to but if you have any money at all you can get something reasonable. However if you don't start now working on figuring out how to live with no mortgage or rent payments the chances of you being able to buy as housing prices fall becomes slim.
Its a bit of a catch 22 housing is really cheap because no one can afford it but it does not matter because if you wait to long to save money you will probably not be able to buy.

If you have not been thinking about how to handle issues given how things are going Its time to seriously think about what your going to do. Obviously the one thing pretty much everyone can do is work towards a goal of having enough money for minimal housing and a garden and a lifestyle that can handle very low wages. And even for people that think they have everything under control if its to big of a place you may find yourself targeted with unpayable taxes and your property seized. You can suspect that at least in some areas larger landowners will be targeted. Throughout history when times got bad land was seized first from the wealthier class then eventually from the poor. Having a second minimal place preferably in a different tax district or nearby state is not a bad idea.

Obviously the theme should be clear if you can own your own place outright and its livable on a minimal income then you probably will do a lot better than most. Anything more than this is in danger of being seized anything less and you may find yourself stuck living day to day. By taking care of housing and some food costs you should be able to build a small savings just about no matter how bad it gets.

Mike, I think there is much to your line of thinking if one wants to follow the curve all the way down, but I want to make sure that the conversation for what is possible is included, too.

So here are some things that are possible:
* forming a group of people who pool resources and lives together better as a group than they would individually (cohousing comes to mind)
* creating a business that provides goods or services needed and affordable post-collapse
* identifying and learning an uncommon (or even a common) skill that is still needed post-peak; i.e. welder instead of stock broker
* become a trader who connects buyers and sellers
* and so on

True, not everyone will see or create a clear pathway to produce the above results but some people can and should. They are going to tend to be the people who are already entrepreneurial in our current system who then direct their attention to setting up properly for Energy Descent.

Still, other people without a history of entrepreneurialism may find their inner courage and seize their moment, especially if their back is against the wall (nothing like being boxed in for producing results).

Their are tons of things you can do.

I used to be a startup junkie working for a string of high-tech startups all over the world.
Obviously one was not google :)

I've seen 50 ways to kill a start-up. I finally guit working for them when it was obvious I had more experience then most.

Here are my smart rules:

The very first thing you have to do is take care of your personal finances this is debt and cash flow.
If you can't live on 20-30k a year then you have no business starting a company. Personal cash flow needs is what will kill you in the end. And if your personal finances are mess your business will be cleaning up your own house and understanding sacrifice is the first step.

Next you set some rules and don't break them set a time limit to make money and a exit plan. When and how do you plan on shutting the business down. If your putting your own money in how much ? Don't cheat here if its your first business attempt or second or third then your probably going to fail. Write down exactly when you consider the business a failure and shut it down. Don't go insolvent the moment you can't pay your bills shut it down immediately keep your creditors whole. Certainly can offer parts of the company in exchange for debt but make it a clear clean transaction. I know this is brutal but 99.9999% of the time when you miss even one payment in a business your toast. Obvious cash flow problems should be coverable by a bridge investor I'm assuming you did find some source for short term loans. Your going to need it but make them fully secured.

This is much stricter than and existing business but you don't have a history and much better to fold a few times and try again then to burn up. After a while if you get decent cash flow you can relax just a little bit but always be on guard for the downward spiral. Personally I never change I'm always ready to shutdown any company I run the moment it looks like its going negative. Never once have I regretted the decision and always after I'm out for a while I realize that it was probably a hopeless situation. My tough rules work because I know I'm not rational when a business faces a cash flow crunch. Never once has the situation not been that it was going to be insolvent.

Then think about how your going to make money but don't focus to much on it execute your dream. I've seen as many businesses ruined because people set around arguing against a dream because they could not see how it could make money. I'm sure a lot of business types will find this advice profane but to hell with trying to run a creative startup like some widget factory and applying irrelevant rules. Build it and if people like it they will buy it. Don't worry about it. Thats not to say don't be aggressive about trying to sell your dream but throw it out there and see whats sticks. Ignore the business types they don't have a clue. Your doing it because you have some dream always chase that dream. Your real goal is to get people to pay you money to do something you enjoy. Your goal is to make sure you execute your business so it is enjoyable and gratifying. The best thing in the world is walking around and seeing stuff that you built in peoples hands. Personally I've made some big contributions to open source grep around in gtk and webkit directfb and cairo :) Its been the absolutely most satisfying work I've ever done and I've benefited financially because of the recognition of my abilities even though I don't make a single penny directly. My point is my success has followed a route that not on single business idiot would consider possible. Until your product is established developing the product, finding a customer and creating the market are all so tightly intertwined you can't treat it as a traditional business its a gamble.

And last but not least when you make the step to actually hire someone do your best to have a years salary for them in the bank. Pay them well and expect them to perform. Once you move beyond yourself your number one duty is to your employees then to your investors. Of course this is the exact reverse of how the US does business but real business take care of their people first and foremost. Share your success and failures be honest right from the start. Don't wait till things start going bad to start explaining your situation. If you keep your employees informed of the good and bad then they will understand what they need to do to succeed. Obviously I've had to share way to much bad news in my lifetime. One reason I got out of management was I simply don't want to lay people off anymore its to hard to do. A lot of people don't realize that failing and having to lay people of is as painful for a dedicated manager as it is for the employee. Both in hurting people and because you know that your giving yourself a pink slip right after them.

I really don't think you need much more to execute a successful business. Probably the only other thing thats become a must is a nice website and good info on the company but thats about it.

I won't even go into vulture capitol ratchets and covenants and all the other nasties about actually raising money that side is simply to disgusting to bring up on this web site. My only satisfaction in this area was one time we went back to a major investor who had put in 5 million dollars trying to get a few hundred k to stay afloat. This guy looks us strait in the eye and says you two are really good you have taken me for 5 million dollars more than anyone has ever taken from me my entire time in business.
Your the best lying sons of bitches I've ever met so get the hell out of my office.

I have a really warped sense of pride in having one of the most ruthless business men I know compliment me in this fashion. Now I wish I had gotten the 200k but even I can recognize a closed door.

Seriously though the money side of a startup is really really messed up. These days I've chosen to go the bootstrap route or only take in investors who are fully involved equal partners. It the cleanest solution but maybe not always viable. I just found anything that involves a hands off traditional investor is screwed up. I'm a bit of a convert to Sharia banking from my own experiences but even stronger in that a investor also has to work in the company. Again it may not be the best solution but its the cleanest.
No doubt in my mind that money is evil :)

Anyway I hope this helps I obviously still do a bit of startup stuff but its low key I'm pretty much burnt out on it. I am of course slowly working myself up to do it again because running a flexible business is as you point out probably the best way to stay afloat as times get tough but for me its like getting electrocuted for the ten thousandth time and throwing the switch myself I know exactly what I'm in for.

Looks to me like you are thinking in terms of downsizing, but essentially trying to keep a functioning agro-industrial economy. I'm thinking beyond that to transitional scavenging-artisan economy.

And I'm not as worried about the bullets as most here. Most violence has to do with "wealth redistribution" - as cities collapse there won't be much wealth to redistribute, so I don't expect all that much violence. The sort of gratuitous violence of a mad max movie is just entertainment - great for movie audiences, but counter productive for real people wanting to eat.

I do agree with you about preferring smaller cities for my personal planning. I wouldn't want to be in Atlanta proper, though I'm sure there are some nice towns turned suburb nearby that could be livable given a dramatic population decrease in the metro area.

memmel, what you describe is just fascinating.

This of course will take several years in the interm your going to see what I call the McDonalds effect.
A former mortgage broker making 300k will get a job at McDonalds as a manager making 30k the distance from the McD's to his new smaller apt is the same as what he traveled to his brokers office. You have effectively a 90% reduction in GDP in this case yet the persons fuel usage remains constant while gasoline take a much larger share of the persons budget. We can readily see a 30% or more decline in GDP without fuel usage changing all that much.

Looking at present US gasoline consumption I think this is already happening.
GDP shrinking without gasoline consumption contracting, which suggests that specific GDP ($$$/Bbl/person) is declining.

Using your example (which I think is great) you also say that the person you illustrate it with will now have less resilience to any future increases in the oil price.

Right eventually people are correct and on a individual level people will reach the point that they can't pay the high prices. Some will of course give up on oil based transportation use public transport if its available etc. But these same people are still very close to being maxed out and people slightly above them will be pushed downwards. Of course many will fall out the bottom aka third world slums. Absolute demand will contract but its a painful and bloody smash down and conservation will in general come only once its people reach the point they can no longer use oil. Of course well before this they have given up on expensive houses new cars luxury goods etc etc so the economy is tanking right along with this.

But the key point is as people lose their jobs based on luxury spending they will take whats left which will tends towards jobs in ever more critical areas and they will use as much oil as the can afford.
All thats happening is more people are pushed down where the cost of oil is a big factor limiting their standard of living until it makes sense to abandon oil.

Look at any third world country and you find people using oil to the maximum of their economic capacity.

1.) Propane for cooking fuel/ Diesel/Gas generator for electricity.
2.) Walking if you have nothing.
3.) Bicycle/Rickashaw
4.) Motor Bike
5.) Bus
6.) Taxi
7.) Private Car

Small cc motorbikes are huge. But 4,5,6,7 all use oil and most importantly they use what oil the person can afford to buy. It takes about ten seconds in any third world country to realize that because the per capita consumption is low it means nothing since relative to incomes its maximized. As long as the world economy does not fall apart completely you have plenty of demand for what ever oil is available at basically any price until other fuels are both equal and price and can meet enough of the demand volume to supplant oil.

And of course it should be obvious that there is no excess money the moment people have money they buy two things a mobile phone and a motor bike. Next of course is a car or more taxi rides.

On the housing side if they get the car then thy buy the biggest house they can afford which maximize home energy use.

The problem is not per capita usage which is used by people that believe we can conserve our way out the problem is everyone works in terms of maximum energy. They use the maximum amount they can afford.
If oil is declining then we will continue to maximize oil usage forcing prices up and of course eventually any other partial substitute will be used to its maximum. I argue that for the foreseable future that energy will remain very expensive until you actually have the overall population decline to the point that renewable energy sources can meet demand and then some.

Only with a controlled small population and a renewable infrastructure can you return to a situation where you actually are generating a significant amount of excess wealth greater than living costs and also have reduced the demand from the bottom for a better living standard to the point that pressure is finally taken off energy. I'd argue its at least 100 years if not longer before we see the world return to a point if we decide on strict population controls or events force the issue that you have a situation where the remaining population has a net excess in resources. Even then they would have to be very careful to preserve the balance.

Going here.


Assuming 100 hectares per capita of prime farmland would ensure you have healthy wealthy population.
We have about 8 billion hectares this implies a population of about 800 million as a reasonable max.
Lets assume that this population is very conservative and only used half of this letting the rest return to nature preserve thus this gives a global population of about 400 million as one that represents one with significant intrinsic wealth. Assuming significant use of robotics for work and advanced systems these 400 million will live whatever lifestyle they wish.


Population was in this range from 1200-600 AD and reasonably close from as early as 200 BC.
Now of course back then even with this low population many lived lives of misery so you have no assurance that low population alone is sufficient to ensure both a fully renewable lifestyle and a high standard of living. Technology will have to play a role. But I'd argue that the intrinsic carrying capacity of the earth is probably in this range if your serious and control population you might as well keep it at this level. There is no reason to stress the planet and every reason to focus on the opposite which is the lowest population capable of providing an advanced civilization.

For that we can readily figure out a sort of minimum for a technically advance civilization. One can readily argue that the state of California or Britain is more than capable of supporting any level of advanced technology you desire and thats without even trying t maximize everyones contribution.

This is about 30-50 million people. We can say increase this number four times to be really safe on the technical level and you get 120-200 million as a very very safe low estimate of the population that might actually be needed to build a robust sustainable high tech civilization. So even 200 million is very sensible for our planet. Although I don't know of anyone that does this one could consider allowing the population to slowly oscillate between say 200-400 million over time to sort of find the sweet spot.

And of course no reason at this point that you can't start bleeding off excess population to settle in the solar system and eventually the stars. Assuming we develop robust space travel at some point you would be simply bleeding excess population off at a fast enough rate that strict control would probably not be required instead it would become a problem of keeping the youngsters at home and not off exploring.

Hell if we had just stopped at 2 billion back in the 1930's and started a renewable focused society we could have still reached a sustainable population. Even as late as 1950 we still could have reversed course without any serious pain. We probably would at that point have had to bring real space travel in sooner than later capable of allowing people to actually immigrate. But population control leading to a declining population and say sufficient space transport to bleed off 1-2 million people a year would have brought the population under control in at least 100 years. I'd argue if we could lift 1 million we could easily lift 10 million people a year into space thus you could have rolled things back easily in 100 years.

Assuming we recognized the situation and started on the right track in 1930 then I'd argue right now we would have a planet population of probably about 1-1.5 billion with 500 million or so scattered through the solar system. One could guess it may have taken say 50 years to reach the technical level to actually have serious space launch capacity. So from about 1980 on we would have been bleeding excess population into the solar system with a very strong renewable culture supporting the expansion. It would have been a green expansion if you will.

We blew it.

We do not have 8 billion hectares of arable land. Total land area of world is 15 billion hectares. 40% of it is arable. We have total 3 billion hectares.

To grow food for one person in average land we need 0.4 hectares. It is when the annual food consumption is as follows:

Grains 125 kg
Milk 400 kg
Fruits 200 kg
Veg 25 kg
Beef 50 kg
Sugar 25 kg
Cotton 50 sq m

Land allocation is as follows:

Grains 800 sq m
Veg 100 sq m
Cotton 100 sq m

Total 1000 sq m = 0.25 acres for six-months crops

Orchard 800 sq m
Cane 100 sq m
Fiber 100 sq m Fiber is for making ropes, baskets etc. May be something like jute.

Total 1000 sq m = 0.25 acres for annual crops (except jute which is six-months crop)

Pasture 1000 sq m = 0.25 acres
Grains 1000 sq m = 0.25 acres

The last two are for growing feed for animals to get milk, meat, skin, wool etc.

So, total 1 acre arable is needed to grow food for one person when land is average (10" rain per year), no artificial chemicals are used.

To be sustainable, an isolated village having no trade outside the village has to keep two arable acres per person, to grow twice food than needed in average year and just enough to sustain in hard years. Note that half of the land is for growing animal feed that can also be used to grow food for humans in case of further emergency. So, 2 acres of arable land per person.

There must also be a forest in or around the village to have some wildlife, hunting ground, wild fruits, bio diversity, extra feed for animals, wood, medicines, extra fiber, protection, prevention of soil erosion etc. I think a 0.25 acres per person for this is more than enough.

Each acre of wild forests has on average 160 trees and each of these trees has 2 tons of wood standing, so total 320 tons. One quarter acre means 80 tons wood standing for each person. Its known that 10% of it can be taken out per year sustainably as long as ashes are thrown back at forest. This means 8 tons wood per person per year. One ton of wood contains 20 GJ on average. So, it means 160 GJ. This is equal to a constant power of 5070 watts per person.

So, total 2.5 arable acres or 1 hectare per person is enough to sustain.

Lets leave half of the land for wild life.

The planet can easily sustain 1.5 billion humans living in isolated pockets. If trade is there then there is no need of keeping twice arable land per person in villages than needed. So, 3 billions can sustain.

The reason why human population not reached that number for much of history is that almost half of the arable land was unknown to most of humanity, these are ofcourse the lands in americas and australia. Infact much of the land in the known three continents was ignored by much of humanity for much of history, it includes the land in central asia, much of europe, africa and far east. It is known that the ship of Prophet Noah (as) landed somewhere in iraq, that is where the first human civilization was borned. It seems like the people prefer to live at or around that place, in the fertile crescent whose fertility was known and tested. Very few took the risk of moving to unknown places in central asia, middle of africa, far east etc.

The peak populations of ancient empires of fertile crescent is about one person per 3 to 4 arable acres. Infact a safe number is 4 but 3 also work. The most recent and most populated example of sustainable empire is moghul empire of india. It had a population of 100 million people living at 350 million arable acres with preservance of wild life.

Hyper inflation is an almost sure thing to come. Once economy fall to a certain level and unemployment reach a certain level just increasing tax rate would not be enough to keep the level of govt's income. Hyperinflation is a short-term remedy, it enable govt eat people's dollar savings but what after that? In such situations usually empires collapse. The inner pressure on resources for infrastructure maintenance and salary obligations becomes higher than the outward pressure the empire can create by looting other countries' resources. Result is failure of empires. Think about tzar's russia, soviet union etc etc.

The only way out is power down. Govt of usa must reduce its size. It must take itself out of all wars. It must abandon all parasites (including israel). It must abandon all outlandish adventures like space exploration.

You are right that a large population of cities have to leave due to property losses, income losses, law & order problems etc. Usually they go to farms to their families in asia and africa but in case of america and europe they have no such place to go. Their condition is much more vulnerable than that of a subsistent farmer of madgascar because they need a functioning system to survive. They are away from the natural habitats for so long (three generations) that it would take them a long period of time (one or two generations) to get where they were.

About tax revolt I don't agree with you because govt would suck up whatever it can from the masses and the resistance of the masses would be negligible at best and non-existing at worse.

Is food the last thing to worry about? from the link above.

The author, Toby Hemenway, misses the point that there is a learning curve to change. Taking a bunch of suburbanites used to picking up prepackaged foods at the super market and getting them to organically grow and then prepare local foods will take years if not decades.

The reason to start gardening now is so that when it does come time that you have to, and no one is really arguing that the time won't come, you'll be better prepared.

I also wonder how the breadbaskets of Canada and the US are going to feed the rest of the developing world; it's not just about feeding ourselves. They won't be able to feed themselves with their skyrocketing populations so our farmland will also be required to feed 3 billion more people overseas. Denying them food will cause a world war.

Our "breadbaskets" can't feed an infinitely "skyrocketing" population. Forget about the ethics of the situation - it's just not physically possible.

World war? I doubt it. The starving people involved are not in a position to wage world war. Now oil, that's a different story.

I can give good news about that. In some third world countries, including india, pakistan etc, since the green revolution farmers are usually dedicating the entire summer crop to cash producing crops like cotton. Once we have a food crisis we can use this crop to effectively support atleast twice the number of people we do now. Summer is when we have the moonsoon rain which is 80% of the annual rain water we get. It means that we can grow more crops and more water intensive crops in summer than we currently do in winter.

The author, Toby Hemenway, misses the point that there is a learning curve to change. Taking a bunch of suburbanites used to picking up prepackaged foods at the super market and getting them to organically grow and then prepare local foods will take years if not decades.

Exactly my thought. I've said here previously, I have experience gardening, but once I decided to try to produce a significant proportion of our fruits and veggies, it was a whole different ball game.

Most people I know cannot even recognize common vegetable plants like tomatoes or peppers if they don't have fruit on them. (Even in the supermarket, many young cashiers are flummoxed by even slightly out of the ordinary vegetables.

Even basic cooking skills are a lost art among many. Large numbers of people don't know how to cook dried beans, bake bread, or make any number of dishes from scratch.

I didn't even bother with the whole article, it was so out of touch.


While it is true that most folks these days don't know a tomato plant from a ragweed...

I think you will be amazed at how quickly people will get their gardening s**t together with a little help. I have taught many. In my opinion, gardening skills are not something that will take generations to acquire, as some have suggested. A couple of years gardening and you can get the gist of it. A couple more years, and you know your patch pretty well - what works, and what doesn't. But do get started now!

Same thing with cooking. It's not as though it's going to take generations of trial and error for folks to learn to cook. People will learn how to deal with basic ingredients - especially if those folks are hungry :-)

Who knows! Perhaps those of us with a knack for growing things and cooking them up in a tasty fashion will be in some demand...

A couple of years gardening and you can get the gist of it. A couple more years, and you know your patch pretty well - what works, and what doesn't.

Agreed, mostly. Maybe more than a couple - certainly not "generations." But most people are not going to get going on that learning curve until they are already hungry. Maybe you know more prudent people; I don't. Especially after decades of becoming accustomed to "instant gratification."

One small example: Two years ago we planted dwarf cherry trees. Our neighbors across the fence were very interested - UNTIL they asked, "When will you get cherries?" When we told them it would take 3-5 years for decent production, they turned away. "Good luck with that," they said.

Who knows! Perhaps those of us with a knack for growing things and cooking them up in a tasty fashion will be in some demand...

I'm practically banking on it!! :)


PS The cherry trees are already sporting blossoms this year!!!

Well, maybe more than a couple years, but I've been amazed at how some people have taken to growing things. Tending a garden seems to lurk in the human soul...

"I'm practically banking on it!! :)"

Heh heh, me too! :-)

This is why I'm looking for a established old farmstead. With mature trees :)

Waiting for prices to come down and working on convincing my wife that buying a older farm
is the right move. I'm betting on the buildings needing significant sweat equity.

I think its just a matter of 1-2 years before people will price these old un-refurbished homes
down to a cheap price.

I think land prices are going to really start crashing this year so a large yard or even a few acres will become a selling point but not a friggin 50k acre price increase.

The days of people tacking on 30-100k to anyplace potentially sub-dividable are I hope over.

Of course with my goal of paying cash I'll have to wait till prices really crash so it will be a bit of a race between buying the house and getting everything in place and when TSHTF :)

I've figured the absolute most I would want to borrow is if I felt it was the right move would be 20k or so.
If you have space for a large garden and esp with mature fruit trees I figure you can readily grow enough food to offset about 100-200 a month of a food bill for a family of four. Also one can expect high oil prices to increase food costs.

Assuming a sort of bottom in rents of 200-300 a month for a 2bedroom apt that not in a war zone and minimum wage you get a take home of about 900 or so.
Here it is for a single person.


Now assuming you take the plunge when you make a lot more say 60k a year and live a very conservative life you could pay of 20k in about 2-3 years. Assuming you are aggressively saving say 10-20k a year if for example your dual income and one salary even minimum is going into savings then say you give your self two years to try and get a good price your looking at about 60-100k with lots of variable as a sort of viable super prudent purchase price if you think its right to take a small mortgage.

Frome here.


Median house price are about 180k so you probably should hang out till housing prices fall another 50%.
Assuming 20% a year your talking 2011 before in general in the US you would want to commit to buying a post peak house using my above example.

Also the trends and everything would be very obvious at this point. If oil has obviously peaked and oil prices should be high and of course most people would assume housing would have bottomed.

I'd argue that if the median home price in the US is still as high as 100k then we still have not really crashed but it starts to get really dicey trying to play it to say 50k. Once its 100k then decent properties should be listing for 60-80k or even lower.

Now as far as housing prices themselves go give the various reset charts I've seen the unemployment rate and say oil at 100+ a barrel by the end of the year a 30-40% additional decline in housing price in 2009 and another 30% in 2010 is entirely reasonable. Whats important is we are now looking at already having undergone at least a 20% decline in most areas further declines this year would put a lot of mortgage owners underwater this coupled with a 10% plus unemployment rate and high oil prices should crush housing
this year 2010 at the latest. And I'm of the opinion that a significant drop in housing prices of 50-75% is a must before we reach the point that things are really falling apart. Its not the end of the world for housing to fall until its 1-2X median income. But I think before things really start falling apart we will pass through a phase of relative stability with cheap housing. Its once oil prices rise after this and falling housing cost no longer can buffer rising commodity costs that TSHTF.

Literally even now you still have time to make a pretty sound post peak move.
I checked house prices in Houston a city with a full range of employment that should do well with peak oil and I found plenty of 3/2 SFH on 1/2 acre lots for 50-60k.

This is for 1 acre lots and you still have some right near 100k.


I don't personally want to live in Houston I grew up int the south and don't miss the summers.

But my point is that very viable post peak solutions exist and make sense. Some have higher risk than others I'd say the critical one is to not take on any debt that incurs more than 300 a month in expenses using my minimum wage metric. This is about 20-30k worth of debt at most.

Depending on your savings rate and given the above you may well be better off waiting a year if prices are still dropping fast and your within 20-30k of buying a decent post peak place.

Whats interesting is no matter what scenario you run you end up with a fairly standard result you pretty much have to build up at least 10k and really 20k of savings if your planning on getting post peak ready late. Also you really really should not carry more than 20k of debt on your dwelling to do the best you can to avoid default post peak.

About the only thing I'd really add is you probably want a well with a manual pump and electric and a decent place to cook with bottled propane even in winter. A propane fired or mixed fuel generator is not a bad idea along with wood heat and one well insulated room with say wood heat and a way to have a safely vented propane heater.

Certainly if you have no debt you can do more and of course a woodlot or more land is not bad but I don't think it really adds dramatically to this sort of basic plan. Better off say learning how to do bulk storage of grains and build a 2-3 year supply. There are lots and lots of things you can do even always avoiding debt but I'd suggest your probably 90% prepared for post peak living with this sort of basic setup. Its effectively how people live quite well in third world countries with a small footprint.

If your single then of course the requirments drop dramatically if your married moving to live on one income and assuming the second one is about 20-25k allows you to readily achieve this sort of solution by saving the entire second income.

So to expand a bit more on topic with the large garden one can of course sell cooked meals or even some raw food.

Next near the outlying agricultural towns that would have houses with land you should see a initial flight into the cities as gasoline prices soar. It will kill the long distance commuter traffic housing prices should crash to local wage levels. If your willing to ride a motorcycle then you can do a longer commute and get good gas mileage. A super cheap econobox is also viable. You have to look at the cash flow issues. If you can pull it off without or minimal long term debt and the wages are higher then pay for the commute but look aggressively for work locally. If you find something that cash flows minus the commute take it. If gas is 10 bucks a gallon then you can take a hefty pay cut in exchange for a local job and no commute.

Given the problems I think will happen in the cities and that you can if you have to figure out a way to handle a fairly long commute carpooling is fairly obvious I'd personally go opposite the flow and find a place thats going to be the most stable post peak and have no debt and pay for the gasoline.

If the cities do crash then no one will really have a job anyway and your looking at working for barter much more feasible in a agricultural community. And of course like I said I expect smaller cities under 100k will remain stable so they are not bad.

Anyway sorry or the long diatribe but my basic point is you can in the US in my opinion easily set yourself up with a extensive garden thats livable as long as things hold together and better if things fall apart. You just have to be really really careful about your debt load and plan to be competing as a common labor first and minimum wage then potentially lower.

Is food the last thing to worry about? Maybe not the last, but it is lower on the list than most people realize. Its been months now and still no one is able to rebut the basic premise contained within my blog post: Is Industrial Agriculture really such a bad thing? My premise is that it is the Food Service Industry that uses the bulk of the resources that we spend on food.

I dont know, maybe people just dont like to admit when they've got something totally backwards? I just dont see how it is ever NOT going to be economical to can corn or peas and ship them by bulk hundreds or even thousands of miles to central distribution centers. Come on, it just dont cost that much to ship a pallet of canned corn. Nor does it cost that much for ONE person in a local community to drive to the nearest market and pick up 200 cans of corn and 20 bags of flour for the local cumminty. Even if shipping costs quadruple, it still will not cost that much for a single can of corn. As I've argued repeatedly it is the Food Service Industry that incurs most of the energy costs. Fast food joints, and all the rest of the massive infrastructure that we've built around the 2nd and 3rd party preparation of food. That's where we waste moste of our energy on food. ALL of that can and will go before the price of a can of corn or a bag of flour becomes unreasonable. We might all have to get back to preparing meals locally, but there is no way we're ever going to get to the point where we all are growing our own food. The pure chaos and anarchy will wipe out most of us before we ever get to that point. So yes it is a MAJOR waste of time and mental resources for us to be thinking about growing our own food. If it gets to that point, its well past endgame anyway. We need to be focused on ways to trim the fat off of the food service industry.

And we also need to become more knowledgeable on the lesser explored avenues of physics. For all of you who have spent a hundred hours or more growing your own food, here is a question for you: have you ever heard of cavitation? Have you studied how it can be applied to possibly generate heat or electricity at unheard of levels of efficiency? That's where the solution lies. And the only way to get there is to get more minds on the problem. If even half the mental energy that is wasted on football and American Idol is focused on developing just one unexplored avenue of physics such as cavitation, our problems would be solved. And there are dozens of other untapped gold mines. Sonoluminescence. The Casimir Effect. This is where the answers lie.

I look at all this talk about "growing your own crops" as highly destructive disinformation. Naive or malicious, I dont know yet, but I'm leaning towards the latter. I dont know how much more obvious it has to be before people realize they're being sold a bill of goods...

Perhaps you should consider that the lack of rebuttal to your basic premise might not lie in its irrefutable nature.

You're right, and I dont. I think it comes down to intellectual dishonesty. There are frauds in every field. The frauds in this field cannot or will not admit that relocalization and all its derivatives represents a false choice that will lead all who subscribe to it down the road to ruin. But if people cant figure out a scam when they see it, then I guess they deserve to be slaves on the plantation.

Your arrogance is impressive.

By "cavitation", do you mean what pumps do? I fail to see what relevance this has. Sorry, your sonoluminescence and casimir effects are still bound by the laws of thermodynamics and don't change the energy situation.

Why dont you do some research before you start gibbering about the laws of thermodynamics.

Tone it down, please. This kind of post doesn't add anything to the discussion.

Your cheap can of corn argument might have to stand up to an old joke.

"If you're an Impala, you don't have to outrun all the other Impala to escape the Lion.. just one of them."

Considering the range of expenses involved in processed and canned foods that will ALL be elevated in a food/energy constrained environment, the costs of canning, labor and of travel will not have to become crushingly high, just enough higher that getting other foods fresh and closer to home regains it's original homefield advantage.

The 'Grow your own' is usually not held out as a panacea.. your garden and growboxes don't prevent you buying other goods from nearby farmers. What seems highly destructive to me is when these discussions get represented with extreme interpretations, and then thrown out on those false premises.

"So yes it is a MAJOR waste of time and mental resources for us to be thinking about growing our own food. If it gets to that point, its well past endgame anyway." Don't say those things around my seedlings. They're very sensitive.

'When life fails to satisfy.. there's always the Garden.'

I'm a huge fan of the locavore movement. First of all it is about quality food - about disputing the idea that food should be cheap above all else. It is about saving the local agricultural landscape. It is based on the fact that for most of us, food is where we interact with nature in an obligatory way. It is quite basic!!

Finally, it is a pathway to a more satisfying community organization - an alternative to commuting alone to work then getting home to watch TV over a frozen dinner (or can of peas). Gardening together with your kids, yardsharing with your neighbors, these things make energy descent into something we are looking forward to. Last time I took a can of corn over to my neighbors', I didn't get the fuzzy sort of feelings I get from showering them with homegrown tomatoes. That's all.

My seedlings are doing awesome this year. I think it's because of the additional insulation causing the house to be a tad warmer. Amazing how one improvement can lead to many others.

Seedlings inside the house? at the end of April?

I'm guessing you're in a different zone than me. I've got some nice looking tomato plants in the garden that began flowering a couple weeks ago. They're late this year because we had a late freeze and I may not get any fruit from them before it gets too hot for them.

Zone 5; last expected day of frost: May 21. That is a short growing season all right. Only in an exceptional year can you eat anything out of the ground this time of year (OK, dandelions and parsnips if you plan ahead properly). However, with a cold frame, much is possible. Then again, you need water rights when droughts come around, and even then. Wouldn't call it a friendly food growing climate.

Seedlings inside the house? at the end of April?

I'm guessing you're in a different zone than me. I've got some nice looking tomato plants in the garden that began flowering a couple weeks ago.

Show-off! :)

Here at the northern lattitudes, we have to wait a bit. My (indoor) tomato seedlings that I'm currently "hardening off" are HUGE. :)


"I may not get any fruit from them before it gets too hot for them."

Too hot for tomatoes? My plants love the heat and usually continue to produce juicy tomatoes until the weather cools down. (As long as they get enough water.)

I'm a huge fan of the locavore movement. First of all it is about quality food - about disputing the idea that food should be cheap above all else. It is about saving the local agricultural landscape.

Thank-you for this.


The 'Grow your own' is usually not held out as a panacea.. your garden and growboxes don't prevent you buying other goods from nearby farmers.

Exactly. I get so sick of hearing that we can never grow all our own food. That is not my goal! I'm realistic enough to know that. But we can grow enough to supplement, and given the cost of organic, we can save a little growing some of our organic produce. We don't have to wait for someone to drive out to the supplier and bring back some food (as iconoclast posits) if we have our own canned, dried, and root cellared.

Most importantly, how healthy is that industrially produced can of corn? Are there pesticide residues (endocrine disruptors)? Is it GM corn?

As I learned from Matt Simmons years ago in a different context, you have to "complete the equation." What is the "cost" of that cheap can of corn if you factor in health costs down the road?


Man I'm having a hard time buying off on this. I have spent 30 years in the food mfg/food service biz and while I will admit the end waste products may be greater the system is pretty efficient. For mass feeders like schools, institutions, biz cafeterias, I don't know how you could find a more efficient system.

Example Mid Sized High School: How can preparing 900 individual meals at 900 different locations be more efficient than feeding a captive audience that has another reason to be on premise?

Example Cooking and Packaging in Bulk: A Thermal Screw Meat Cooker processes 10,000 lbs an hour of pizza topping and packs in 10 lb bags 4 to a case. Ships truckload quantities to a warehouse where it is combined with other items to fill up a truck and the truck drops to 20 stores 1x-2x a week. I stop by and pick up a pizza made from all those items on the way home from work. That product is prepared by 5 people producing a few hundred pizza's a day in an conveyor oven that remains on for 10 hours a day. Those few hundred pizza's feed a thousand people. Versus a system that pretty much replicates until you package the product in a package ranging from a few oz. a pkg to a pound(s). All the items are shipped to a store where they are handled, displayed, individually scanned, packaged again and hauled home. Where each of several hundred ovens are pre-heated, packaging removed and usually pitched. My premise is more energy will be used in prep, more trash generated (also energy)and the process less conducive to recycling of fats/oils, packaging. If you weren't substituting your labor for the purchased labor you would probably be able to purchase the food cheaper or as cheap at the Food Service establishment than at grocery store.

As far as growing your own food being less efficient or causing cavitation (I'm a little confused/slow on the linkage here) I need more explanation as I don't understand? I use heirloom seeds so I harvest my own seed as needed. Not to tough to get seed from squash or a tomato. Or to get spinach, Cilantro, to bolt and seed. Or set some potatoes aside to sprout, or garlic cloves to split and replant. So after year one I have little imput cost other than some fertilizer and water. I harvest, process, and recycle the plant waste. If I have extra I can or freeze, sometimes dry. How am miscontruing this as positive being less energy intenstive when you're convinced this is a malicious act?

You know what I love, though?

Interchangable Parts. Standardized weights and measures..

I think that as we go into this (probable) storm, many of the advantages of Assembly Lines and the Machines that live there will continue to be very beneficial. I mean like saving lives, getting people through.. I didn't really agree with most of Iconoclast's conclusions, but I did want to mention that I do agree that we have some tools that can process, cook and store a lot of food with fewer people, with the heating of one oven for 10 hours instead of 500 ovens for one hour, etc. A big industrial stainless steel kitchen can work hard and long to get peoples' bellies filled.

I love handmade, home-cooked, acoustic, organic, reused, sidewalk-scavenged.. etc.. but I'm also very fond of my real tools and how I can use them to make other tools. I'm building a new Steadicam to help me make movies, I'm building a webpage to share my Solar Heating and refrigeration devices.. I'm building an E-trike, and a gate for the garden. Been thinking, just to be a bum, that I'd open a gadget shop up here called 'Techno-Fix'.


KansasCrude has a point. I worked for a division of Continental Can in the 1970's. Our CEO gave a presentation that said the using a steel can required only one tenth of the labor of a reusable glass canning jar.

"..yes it is a MAJOR waste of time and mental resources for us to be thinking about growing our own food.

how does growing food waste mental resources ?

time is relative. some would rather spend their time participating in the rat race up and down the highway to nowhere in their climate controlled pleasure barge suv and some would rather spend their time on more sane-based activities.

After reading the article up top titled A potential breakthrough in harnessing the sun's energy, I guess it's time to try bringing this to the attention of TPTB in my neck of the woods. The most recent rates for the local utility are available here (pdf, J$=US$0.0141 at the time of publication, 1J$=Us$0.01163 today), with residential customers paying the utility the equivalent of 18c/kWh for the first 100kWh and 23c for everything over that and according to that story, basic solar thermal can easily improve on that.

Photovoltaics — semiconductor panels that convert sunlight to electricity — deliver power at roughly 40 cents per kilowatt-hour, while conventional solar thermal power plants can do so for around 13 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This is only marginally more expensive than the average U.S. price for coal-generated electricity in 2008 of 11 cents per kilowatt hour. The cutting-edge technology of using molten salts to store solar-generated heat is considerably more expensive, but experts expect that price to fall steadily as the technology improves and is mass-produced.

Spanish investors have made significant investments in Jamaica in recent years, almost all of it being in the hospitality sector. From an October 2006 news story quoting a govt. PR agency release Spanish investment improves hospitality sector in Jamaica

Spanish hotel chains are building some 13 new hotels in Jamaica, at an estimated value of US$550-600 million. According to the Jamaica Tourist Board, these investments are major contributors to the anticipated 5,000 new rooms, to be added within the next ten years.

The latest Spanish chain, Iberostar Hotels and Resorts, broke ground late last year in the Rose Hall area for the construction of a US$100 million, 950-room family-oriented hotel.

From the Guardian article, it appears that Spanish companies are doing a great deal of research and development in the area of solar thermal. The total island wide generating capacity is somewhere around 1000MW, not including the alumina plants which generate their own electricity. Does anybody else here think it would be a good idea for the government of Jamaica to start making overtures to the Spaniards, with a view to encouraging them to do some research on Solar thermal in tropical island conditions?

Instead, the majority stake in the local electric utility has recently been sold by the previous holders the Japanese firm Marubeni Corporation, to the UAE firm, TAQA.

Alan from the islands

I agree. Solar is moving quickly toward affordability.

See First Solar's high profits last quarter due to them achieving a cost per watt of 93 cents!

Grid parity seems within reach by 2012...


I just did a calculation for my sister on this topic.
Namely w/out any federal state rebate, $1/W translate to about 4.3c/kWh --
assuming you have a 30 years/5% interest amortization of your investment.
Currently you can find PV system with tie-in grid for about $4.5/Watt.
Federal rebate is about $1.2/W and some states also have their own rebate that can go up to $1/Watt or more -- I know TX is discussing such a bill right now.
So if you can install the system yourselves -- you can get a good system for about ([4.5-1.2-1]*4.3 ) 10cents/kWh. Adding installation cost of $1/W would bring this up to about 14cents.

I am assuming at least a 30yrs life-span of such system. With 20 yrs, then everything is about 20% more expensive. If you are paying more than 15cents/kWh, my suggestion is to go and get a system installed.

The concept of doing it yourself is a good one however Northern Nevada will not process any rebate unless you have a certified contractor do ALL of the work. That means the rebate is useless because it is much less than the contractor costs. I can however design my own off the grid system and get a permit for it.

We installed a SW heater here in N.Nevada some years ago. Did it ourselves from equipment bought locally, and the total cost was $3K. Had we contracted it out, it would have probably cost double. While not done by a contractor (they didn't ask - we were lucky...), we did get a $900 rebate after several years from SPPower, and this year they are doing the energy credit thing again. We now have about $1500 in energy credits we can sell back to the power company. That means our total cost (excluding our free labor) is about $600 out of pocket.
However, regardless of all that, it probably paid for itself in reduced energy costs in about 5 years, even if we didn't get the energy credits.
While they don't work optimally in cloudy weather, the electric backup does fine. Also, we seem to have overbuilt a little bit, as we have 2 panels, and in summer it gets so hot that we have to cover one of them up to keep the water temperature reasonable.
Granted, solar hot water is different than PV panels, and does not need the sophisticated (and expensive) equipment to change 12V DC into grid-feedable 120 AC, but we love our little water heater. Even tho' it does require some looking after, and occasional maintanence, it's fairly trouble free.
Last month I picked up two sets of those 45W solar PV panels at Harbor Freight. Seems like a really good deal, includes two fluorescent light fixtures, a charger/controller with 5V, 3V, 6V, 9V, and 12V plugs, and the mounting brackets. One set is on the motorhome, happily charging batteries, and running the grain grinder when I'm home, and the second set I'm getting ready to build something out of.
Seemed a good deal at $220 (on sale including tax) out the door, and with all that other stuff included.
If anyone knows of cheaper sets, let me know, otherwise I'm saving up for one more set which will let us 'disengage' from the power lines a little bit more.
I do like your idea for designing your own off the grid unit, that's the kind of stuff we need to all work on.

Grid parity seems within reach by 2012...

For you..., that means about next year or the year after for me. I've already bought my panels and a couple small grid tie inverters. The inverter charger and batteries are next since I'm getting a little worried about going grid tied (having to rely on the grid to keep the inverters going.

My original post was referring to utility scale thermal solar for the local power co. which calls for a different set of cost calculations altogether.

Alan from the islands

Looking to buy panels ...

Link to best US prices ??

Chinese oil installation attacked in Iraq

Gunmen attack Chinese oil installations in southern Iraq
Azzaman, April 30, 2009
Unidentified gunmen have destroyed a power station feeding the Ahdab oil field which a Chinese firm is developing.
The attack is the first on Ahdad for the development of which the China National Petroleum Corporation had signed a $3 billion contract with Iraq in 2008.
The Chinese had only started operations in earnest last month and the attack is a blow to their plans to develop the field situated in the border Province of Wasit southeast of Baghdad.
Iraqis provide security for the Chinese workers and their equipment and the Chinese are also reported to have brought with them their own security team.
A provincial official, refusing to be named said: “Installations belonging to an important oil field have been subjected to a terrorist attack from unidentified gunmen.
“The attackers targeted the electricity system linked to the field as well as the lines carrying power. The damage is estimated at more than $1 million,” the source added.
He said the authorities believe the attack is a warning for the Chinese to leave.
Full article:

Thus now the opposition is not political to foreign companies, but now we have on the ground violence, and yet the Iraqi government want oil firms to advance 2.6B for the privilege to be politically and physically attacked.


And, if I am a Prince sitting on a dune a few hundred miles to the south, I may be concerned over the decline in state oil revenue which means I must postpone trading in the blue 747 for the pink one.

Under those trying and difficult circumstances I see no reason not to call upon a few brothers and supply with them with what they need to discourage development of additional production, production which will only to further drive down the price and cause me more discomfort.

Hello TODers,

With the economy cratering resulting in people having very little cash to spend on new cars or to buy the gobs of fuel to run them: the scooter industry is trying to encourage their products.

Piaggio Wants 20 Million Two Wheelers on American Roads

..The solution, in the corporate mind of Piaggio, is to encourage use of motorcycles and scooters as transportation here in the land of the superhighway and SUV.

That's not entirely fantasy: scooters are one of the fastest-growing segments of the powersports industry, with 78,000 scooters sold in 2008, up from 13,000 sold in 2000 (that's not counting the vast number of mainland-China-built scooters that aren't counted in the official Motorcycle Industry Council numbers), according to Timoni.

The ultimate goal is to have 20 million Americans riding scooters and motorcycles to work, and most importantly, buying 1.5 million scooters a year. That number would bring the percentage of Americans commuting via sub-four-wheeled transport in line with the current percentage of Europeans doing so.

But how to get there? Timoni described Piaggio's three-part plan: to communicate the benefits of using motorcycles and scooters as transportation, work with authorities (local, state and Federal) to pass laws and regulations that are moto-friendly (for instance, to allow lane-splitting in all 50 states, promote more two-wheeled parking, and "streamline" licensing regulations) and promote motorcycle awareness among motorists. The program is already in effect, with Piaggio's "Vespanomics" program trumpeting the fun, reduced pollution, lower cost, and greater convenience of using scooters as transportation.
Obviously, walking/bicycling to Alan's RR & TOD depots is best for those with longer commutes, but IMO, this buildout is moving too slowly. A good interim step is for municipalities to allow lots of bicycle & small scooter riders to commute to rail, TOD, or bus stops by providing free & SECURE parking [for those that don't wish to commute the entire distance by small scooter/trike/quad]. This would help leverage further public desire for even more RR & TOD.

A used, 50-250cc scooter/trike/quad is very cheap to buy, insure, maintain, and fuel. Let's hope the motorcycle industries hooking up with Govt, Insurance Cos, and RR & TOD orgs can promote faster change. They don't need a bailout like GM and other car mfgs, they just need legislation conducive to level the playing field.

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

Some more thoughts:

People with cars are generally in favor of mass-transit so that the 'other guy' is not congesting his daily commute with his/her big vehicle. IMO, it would be simple to get lots of big vehicles off the road plus ramp a rapid buildout of Alan's ideas.

If a person uses a 50cc scooter or a bicycle to go to a RR or TOD depots for long commutes: no insurance required, the state picks up the health, liability, theft, and comprehensive ins. cost. With millions moving on scooters short distances--the state would more than save this cost on road maintenance.

It recoups that cost by heavily taxing owners of autos, but the owners would have very little road congestion to worry about because so many people would be piling into localized RR & TOD [a huge benefit for car commuters. Consider that 4 scooters take up much less asphalt space and burn less fuel than your typical vehicle too; 4 x 50cc = 200cc versus average US car > 1,500cc-2,500cc-6000cc!

An additional kicker to speed this process along would be to make gas free for those with 50cc engines and the cost is passed along to the larger vehicles when they need to refuel. Bicyclists could be given food vouchers for their refueling needs with the cost passed along again to larger vehicle owners.

Just make the 50cc scooter tanks a 1/2 to 3/4 gallon capacity plus some tech-tricks so that most will not be interested in moving the free-fuel to a normal car. This could be something simple like moving the gas storage area cast into the middle of the engine--nobody is going to dis-assemble a scooter motor to just get a smidgen of gas. This concept combined with a tamperproof one way fuel-inlet pipe would preclude fuel transfers.

My little Honda 49CC scooter is the best investment I've made for many years, since I sold the 'car' in 2002.
At 100mpg with a speed of 33mph, it requires (in Nevada) no insurance, plates, etc.
I drive it year round, never have to get into a hot car, or scrape windows in winter. When it's cold out I dress warmly, and in hot weather the air rushing(?) past cools very effectively.
It's 4-stroke, very quiet, and requires paltry maintanence.
Parks nearly anywhere, and I figure I'm saving about $500 a month over the cost of buying a new car with its taxes and mandatory insurance, etc..
That's some serious savings IMO, especially since I work a 30 hour workweek.
I figure that it's saving me at least a day's work a week, and that's more time for gardening and doing solar projects.
Also, it might make a real good Bug Out vehicle, since it will easily travel between the long lines of cars waiting to exit the cities.
Yep, best money I've ever spent, especially with an average fillup of half a fin- tho' I'd rather have an E/bike kit for my ancient Schwinn.
Hope to see you out there on one soon....


Senator John Thune Republican from South Dakota introduces indirect land use bill:


California is using a fallacious model which forces ethanol to bear the burden of indirect land use changes in foreign countries as a factor in its environmental impact. Farmers and ethanol producers in the US have no control over what others do in foreign countries.

It is particularly egregious in that gasoline is not forced to bear the indirect environment impact of oil production linked to such things as oil well flaring in the Middle East which I have read is so large that is can be seen from space. Nor is gasoline required to bear the carbon emissions that are made by American and other military forces in the Middle East to maintain access to that region's oil supply.

California treats ethanol unfairly compared gasoline by using a double standard in its environmental impact models. This may be the least of its errors. In comparing ethanol and gasoline, it is comparing things that are different which is fallacious. Comparing a renewable liquid fuel to depleting one is wrong. They are not the same. Any result of the comparison is invalid on its face since gasoline and ethanol have different characteristics such as renewablility, utility, availability and price.

Even if ethanol has a worse environmental impact, it is silly to reject it because it is the only practical alternative to gasoline on the horizon. Add in the economic benefits of home grown fuel and the loss to the economy of shipping wealth abroad to pay for imported oil and the decision should be a no brainer.

Not in California.