Drumbeat: May 3, 2009

Military embraces green energy

The Department of Defense is the single largest energy consumer in the United States. Last year it bought nearly 4 billion gallons of jet fuel, 220 million gallons of diesel and 73 million gallons of gasoline, said Brian Lally, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment.

American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are using more fuel each day than in any other war in U.S. history. When oil prices spiked last summer, the Defense Department's energy tab shot up from about $13 billion per year in 2006 and 2007 to $20 billion in 2008. The Army alone had to make up a half- billion-dollar shortfall in its energy budget, said Keith Eastin, assistant secretary of the Army for installations and environment.

"That was, I think, a grand wake-up call that we somehow had to get a handle on what is loosely called energy security," Eastin said.

Gulf NOCs eye low construction costs to build new refineries

Three national oil companies (NOCs) in the Gulf are trying to use the prevailing low construction costs to build new refineries, according to industry insiders.

Construction projects of three refineries that had been put on the backburner during the real estate boom have been revived in the past week.

Saudi Arabia most likely to host Gulf central bank

DUBAI - While the race will be tight, Gulf Arab leaders meeting this week are most likely to choose Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy, as the headquarters of their common central bank, a Reuters’ poll showed on Sunday.

The world’s top oil exporter will face tough competition from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which were neck-and-neck in the second and third spot in the poll of 21 economists.

After the Bubble

With a massive restructuring of the U.S. auto industry under way, there is an important point to consider: Just how many cars can Americans be expected to buy in a post-bubble economy?

Invoking the Sputnik Era, Obama Vows Record Outlays for Research

Mr. Obama made clear that a new burst of advances in energy technology, medicine and other important arenas would not come from money alone, but required scientists to get out of their laboratories and find ways to inspire young people “to create, build and invent — to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.”

US families rely on handouts in world's richest country

Roach says that while some residents have been left in a desperate situation by the local lumber industry shedding jobs, most of those forced on to food stamps and other welfare are still in employment.

"I blame everything on the price of gasoline. When it went up to $4 a gallon 18 months ago it affected everybody. It forced up the cost of food and utilities. People were working all day and they still weren't earning enough to pay all the bills," he said.

"Food prices you can combat a bit because people can grow their own gardens. They can kill deer, fox. You can eat 'coon. But gasoline affects everybody. They just can't make it."

Russia to build floating Arctic nuclear stations

Russia is planning a fleet of floating and submersible nuclear power stations to exploit Arctic oil and gas reserves, causing widespread alarm among environmentalists.

A prototype floating nuclear power station being constructed at the SevMash shipyard in Severodvinsk is due to be completed next year. Agreement to build a further four was reached between the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, and the northern Siberian republic of Yakutiya in February.

The 70-megawatt plants, each of which would consist of two reactors on board giant steel platforms, would provide power to Gazprom, the oil firm which is also Russia's biggest company. It would allow Gazprom to power drills needed to exploit some of the remotest oil and gas fields in the world in the Barents and Kara seas. The self-propelled vessels would store their own waste and fuel and would need to be serviced only once every 12 to 14 years.

BG price protection combats ‘gas glut’

This is not a good time to be in the gas business. Rising supplies from new projects coming on stream have met faltering demand from businesses battered by the global recession, creating a “gas glut”. While the price of oil has risen this year, the price of gas has continued to decline. This year the benchmark gas price has dropped about 40 percent in the US and 51 percent in the UK. Yet BG Group, the exploration and production company spun out of the old British Gas, is coping well under the pressure.

Brazil will use more natural gas

Brazil plans to more than double the amount of natural gas it uses to generate electricity and will increase Bolivian imports to help meet demand, said Maria das Gracas Foster, energy chief at Petrobras.

Culture change key to growth: Shell chief

When Jeroen van der Veer looks back on his five years as chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, he reaches for a phrase from John F Kennedy. One of his priorities, he says, was to change the culture, so Shell employees thought less about themselves, and more about “what you can do for the company”.

In the fevered atmosphere of the company in 2004, after it was revealed that its oil and gas reserves had been misreported for several years, that culture change was badly needed. The incentives for managers and staff had to be put straight. “If you do good for the company, you make progress in the company or you get more salary,” van der Veer says now. It is an approach that is characteristic of his management style.

Schlumberger has hope for Iraq: But energy giant doesn't see a quick comeback in North America

Schlumberger cast further doubt on the prospect of a swift recovery for the oil and gas business in North America, saying it doesn't expect a rebound until at least next year.

"We do not see any significant recovery in North American gas drilling before 2010," Chairman and CEO Andrew Gould said, citing continued weakness in commodity prices and reduced exploration and drilling spending by oil companies.

Parl. says Iraq's water share condition for signing pact with Turkey

(MENAFN - Aswat Al-Iraq) An Iraqi parliamentarian on Saturday said that the Parliament had stressed the addition of an article about Iraq's share of water to the Iraqi-Turkish agreement as a condition for signing the pact.

Kuwait Central Bank fearful of Moody's downgrade

Kuwait's central bank has urged its leaders to bring in a better political climate and measures to weather the financial crisis, after Moody's said it may downgrade the country's sovereign rating.

Saudi crown prince's surgery raises questions

(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia's crown prince was convalescing Saturday in Morocco where he arrived this week after surgery for an undisclosed illness in New York City, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.

New Hawaii petroleum tax hike likely to raise gas prices

Looking for money to finance renewable energy and food security, state lawmakers have agreed to increase a per barrel tax on petroleum products sold by distributors, which could cost consumers a few cents more per gallon of gasoline but eventually help wean the state off fossil fuel.

The barrel tax, which is now collected to help the state respond to oil spills, would increase from 5 cents per barrel product to $1.05. The $1 hike could generate $31 million a year to help the state explore alternative energy and protect local agriculture.

Russia Digs In Alongside Breakaway Territories

MOSCOW — Russian border guards on Saturday began taking up long-term positions along the boundaries of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, an arrangement that will probably mean sustained tension in the two breakaway Georgian territories.

Generating Energy From the Deep

LOCKHEED MARTIN is best known for building stealth fighters, satellites and other military equipment. But since late 2006 the company has taken on a different kind of enterprise — generating renewable power from the ocean.

An ill wind blows away renewables optimism

Miliband's bubble was burst on Tuesday morning, when an announcement issued from Aarhus on the east coast of Denmark reached his desk. Danish wind energy giant Vestas was about to deal a hefty blow to his vision of building thousands of jobs and new businesses around the "low carbon" economy. Vestas chief executive Ditlev Engel revealed the company was axing 625 jobs in Britain and planned to close its manufacturing plant on the Isle of Wight.

Although the City has become almost blasé about such announcements during the recession, the surprise statement knocked policymakers sideways as it meant jobs were being lost in an industry which had been viewed as Britain's next great industrial hope.

Here Comes the Sun. Right?

Despite the recession, a German solar company sees the United States as a promising market.

Laser quest: The scientist with a planet-saving plan straight out of Spider-Man

Clean energy forever. That, in a glorious theoretical nutshell, is what nuclear fusion – the reaction that gives stars and hydrogen bombs their immense power – could deliver. The urgency of the climate-change debate and the renewed impetus to tackle the 21st century's glaring energy problems have put fusion back on the agenda... and, thanks to key contributions from the British-trained scientist Dr Brian MacGowan, the highly volatile process may be harnessed to provide us with a viable source of green electricity sooner than previously expected.

Briefing: Electric vehicles

Just how realistic is Irish politicians' target of having 350,000 plug-in vehicles on our roads by 2020?

Brookhaven Finds Its Star on the Rise

The 5,300-acre laboratory, established in 1947 on the grounds of a former Army base called Camp Upton, has moved past its local villain status of a decade ago. It has never been a scientific slouch — six Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work done at the lab — but now its star is clearly on the rise.

In late March, Energy Secretary Steven Chu selected the lab as the site to announce how $1.2 billion in stimulus funds would be spent at the country’s 10 national laboratories, with Brookhaven receiving a $184.3 million chunk.

Bringing Efficiency to the Infrastructure

IN the mid-1990s, the Internet took off because its technological time had come. Years of steady progress in developing more powerful and less expensive computers, Web software and faster communications links finally came together.

A similar pattern is emerging today, experts say, for what is being called smart infrastructure — more efficient and environmentally friendlier systems for managing, among other things, commuter traffic, food distribution, electric grids and waterways. This time, the crucial technological ingredients include low-cost sensors and clever software for analytics and visualization, as well as computing firepower.

At the Indian Point Nuclear Plant, a Pipe Leak Raises Concerns

Some experts worry that a threat to the safe operation of aging reactors across the country may lurk in underground pipes.

In a Senegalese Slum, a Building Material Both Primitive and Perilous

In an upside-down world where garbage is sought for and dumped among homes, not removed, “people have no alternatives; they are left to themselves; they can only count on themselves,” said Joseph Gaï Ramaka, a leading Senegalese filmmaker, who made a documentary about an incomplete government effort, the Plan Jaxaay, to build modern housing for people in vulnerable neighborhoods.

“These are people who are proud of being clean,” said Mr. Ramaka, who now lives in New Orleans. “When they have to buy garbage, it’s because they don’t have any choice. The garbage, at least, allows them to sleep with their feet out of the water, and in their own house.”

Australia: Green group calls for one child policy

AUSTRALIA should consider having a one-child policy to protect the planet, an environmental lobby group says.

Sustainable Population Australia says slashing the world's population is the only way to avoid "environmental suicide''.

National president Sandra Kanck wants Australia's population of almost 22 million reduced to seven million to tackle climate change.

Depopulate and die of boredom

If you believe that population growth will eventually lead to the collapse of our civilisation and planet, then the last millennium of human history must be very confusing. Over and over, we have demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to innovate our way out of any theoretical "limit to growth".

So it takes a strange sort of intellectual hubris to imagine that the exact moment you are alive just happens to be the exact moment in human history that we cross the "too many people" line. In the 1970s, zero population growth advocates were pretty sure the end was nigh, but humanity has managed to barrel on for a few more decades. Anyway, few species have found flirting with extinction a particularly effective survival strategy.

Ethanol test for Obama on climate change, science

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's commitment to take on climate change and put science over politics is about to be tested as his administration faces a politically sensitive question about the widespread use of ethanol: Does it help or hurt the fight against global warming?

Proposed Federal Acid Rain and Mercury Control Act

A Central New York congressman, seeing an opportunity that may never come again, has introduced a bill requiring the most drastic cuts in U.S. history to the pollution responsible for acid rain.

Securing future harvests of farmers in dry areas

The world's dry areas – which cover 41% of the earth's land area, and are home to a quarter of global population – will be facing the brunt of Climate Change. This will lead to unprecedented challenges to food security particularly with the food and economic crises on top of evermore erratic weather patterns.

"But these challenges can be overcome if policy makers, researchers and development agencies work together, in genuine partnership" stressed Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

Thrifty Gardeners Live Lightly on the Land

Water is precious and expensive. In California, moving water from its source to where it’s needed requires the largest energy expenditure in the state! The energy involved in pumping and distributing water can also be a significant source of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The less water we lavish on our gardens and lawns the better for all.

Carbon trading could hurt coal industry

LIVELY GROVE -- When the Prairie State Energy Campus cranks out its first kilowatt hour of electricity -- which is scheduled for two years from now -- it could end up costing ratepayers way more than anyone had predicted.

That's because of recent efforts by the Obama White House and Democrats in Congress to begin the regulation of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. More than half the world's industrial CO2 comes from coal power plants.

Big business attacks plan to cut carbon emissions

NEXT YEAR Tesco will be forced to pay £40m to the government to comply with a new – and little known – regulation designed to reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency.

The supermarket is just one of 5,000 firms that will be subject to the government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC), which takes effect from April 2010.

Buildings face carbon clean-up

The internal combustion engine. The jumbo jet. The desktop computer. In the fight against climate change, they have all been targeted by lawmakers and eco-warriors alike.

Yet the biggest baddies of them all, buildings, have so far slipped under the radar. That could be about to change. According to research from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the world’s houses and office buildings consume 40% of global energy and emit the same proportion of gases, making them the single biggest source of pollution in the world. Transport, at 30%, is the next biggest culprit.

Yet unlike the motor sector, where stringent regulations dictate what comes out of the exhaust pipe, no similar system exists for buildings.

Climate Change: How The '2 Degrees Celsius Target' Can Be Reached

ScienceDaily — If CO2 emissions are halved by 2050 compared to 1990, global warming can be stabilised below two degrees. This is shown by two studies by a co-operation of German, Swiss and British researchers in the journal Nature.

8:41 PM AST 1 May 2009

A little CC data/trivia.


Is the previous housing bubble giving birth to its descendant?


Hope springs eternal...a fool and his/her money are soon parted...There is a sucker born every minute...

Wow, and there it is in the story you posted:
Although Gripshover does express some misgivings about the unfortunate circumstances in which many of those homeowners now find themselves, he's also an optimist. "It's a goldmine!" he tells us. "Don't let yourself do what my brother did!"

OK, I doubt these guys actually believe what they're selling but I'm sure there's enough suckers - and enough of them working at Citi, Fannie Mae, et al to prevent anything positive coming form all this.

I've noticed a surge in "make money off foreclosures" infomercials. Instead of "no money down" real estate, it's now "buy houses in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure." As the economy worsens, those scams will doubtless proliferate.

I also just noticed Best Buy's slogan this morning. "You, happier."

Arrghhh. We're freakin' doomed.

Forgive me if I sound cynical, but of course you can make much more selling a lifestyle instead of something as pedestrian as an mp3 player.

Isn't cynicism a requirement on this forum?

Arrghhh. We're freakin' doomed.

Yes, and not only in the "in the long run we're all dead" sense.

I had the pleasure to meet and to listen to Sharon Astyk (jewishfarmer) speak at the Cape Elizabeth Grange last night here in Maine. She felt it necessary to make the point that "it's too late". I think that's a critically important point of view, because it changes the list of what actions make sense.

Without an understanding of the context - something business and government go out of their way to distort - people can't make good decisions, but will more likely make entirely wrong decisions.

The obvious example would be the clusterf**k around the concept of and schemes for "recovery".

On reflection, I'd qualify what Sharon said last night. Not only is it too late, but it's later than we think. That's got to be one of the corollaries to Murphy's Law. Nassim Taleb addressed it in Black Swan in more detail - that once something starts slipping, it only slips faster. I bet there is something in Odumspeak about how once the pulse starts it's next to impossible to cap it.

cfm, back to the garden, Gray, ME

""it's too late". I think that's a critically important point of view, because it changes the list of what actions make sense."

I love our Jewish Farmer.

I second your point. Would the communities around me be trying to fund and build two new multi-hundred million dollar casinos and mega-schools if they understood, "it's too late" ???

Even though I sometimes find myself in the "it's too late, we're doomed" camp, at the end of the day I reject the notion that humanity has reached its peak of per capita energy use and will now inevitably decline back to a pre-industrial level of civilization. I think this is more wishful thinking by people who have various personal reasons for wanting modern civilization to fail than any kind of scientifically supported fact. Surely such defeatism flies in the face of our very natures as intelligent, tool-making animals who have learned to harness ever greater amounts of energy over time. We may be entering a period of great energy and environmental challenges, but I see it as an opportunity to make a cultural, technological or even evolutionary leap just as our ancestors did in previous eras of stress such as the Ice Ages. I think people who consign themselves to a declining future are thinking too small, rejecting the entire sweep of human history, and will ultimately be proven wrong. I suspect that there are a few positive Black Swans in store for us that will show us a way out of this predicament that doesn't require a collapse or rewind of our civilization. The future is rarely what people expect it to be, and judging by the sentiment at places like TOD that's probably a good thing.

There is a fine line between hope and reality, and it is important that we walk it (optimism makes us feel better, decreases stress hormone secretion (cortisol), boosts helper T-cells and our immune system, etc. These things make us think clearer, but to wave our problems away in expectation of some positive black swans is folly. And human history is a history of small populations running up against population bottlenecks and going to war (in general), until we found fossil fuels and this warlike tendency has been suppressed.

The most upbeat speaker was Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, who argued that—contrary to what many scientists once believed—levels of violence are much lower in our era than they were before the advent of modern states some 10,000 years ago. According to ethnographic surveys and archaeological evidence, Pinker pointed out, 30 percent or more of the members of tribal societies died as a result of group violence; that percentage is some 10 times greater than the proportion of Europeans and North Americans killed by war-related causes during the cataclysmic 20th century.

Pinker identified several possible reasons for this trend. First, our increased life expectancies make us less willing to risk our lives by engaging in violence. Second, the creation of stable governments with effective legal systems and police forces has eliminated what British philosopher Thomas Hobbes called the "war of all against all" among pre-state humans. Third, mass media and travel have boosted understanding of, and empathy toward, those beyond our immediate family and even nation. This may be the best news of all: civilization, which has often been blamed for war, is actually helping us achieve peace. From: Scientific American 4/2009: Taming Our Urge For War

(note: Pinker didn't mention energy)

As for pointing to our mental failures with scorn or dismay, we might as well profess disappointment with the mechanics of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, the degree of disillusionment we feel in response to any particular human behavior is the precise measure of our ignorance of its evolutionary and genetic origins." Reg Morrisson - The Spirit in the Gene (I've read it 3 times)

as leanan points out time and time again. hunter & gatherer life expectancy is skewed too short due to the higher infant mortality & infanticide if a child is born the wrong time of year to support it. I also don't buy the 'constantly fighting' line of thought because each group was too small to support it's self genetically long term before you start inbreeding. groups that are constantly fighting won't allow enough genes to migrate between groups to prevent the disability's from inbreeding.

You have to be careful generalizing the history of HG societies. Some based their cultural cohesion around conflict with another group. Some did not.

With regards to genetics, one of the fruits of warfare was the capture of the opposing tribe's women and this promoted gene migration.

Yeah, some HG societies probably did pretty well while other really did have it 'nasty brutish and short' (a description from Hobbes that, I believe, came out of medieval Europe and doesn't properly apply to HG societies).

There is, as I understand it, pretty good evidence in several areas where the HG remains give evidence of a healthier people than the ensuing agricultural society. But cripes, the earth is a big place and many scenarios have developed over the millenia, too many to be able to generalize about a particular 'stage' of human development.

from a risk standpoint capture and then reproduction was very high. I doubt many went that route.

Pinker...effective legal systems

Interesting take on that point. An effective legal system - which depends on legitimacy strikes me as critical. Unfortunately - at least in US - the trend has been to replace the "rule of law" with the "rule of man" over the past decade or so. Obama is making a specific point of NOT changing that. Legitimacy is threadbare. Invisible cloth for those who really look. Decline boils down to "what is fair and who decides". Absent a common understanding of legitimacy (in the sense of justice not legalities) we're really lost. Nothing but violence remains. Of course, that's what the authoritarians want.

Degree of disillusionment

Yeah, I'm REALLY upset at how many buy into this Hope thing. One does not need Hope to put one foot in front of the other and to do the right thing. My disillusionment comes from the degree of uselessness with which so many approach a hopeless situation. It saddens me how lost the human animal is.

cfm in Gray, ME

I think the "sweep of human history" is a myth. We pick two points, and draw a straight line between them. But that's not how it was. Civilizations vanish, knowledge is lost - sometimes temporarily, sometimes forever.

Yep, I agree, even though we are taught that parsimony (preference for the least complex explanation for an observation)is usually the correct answer to a problem, there are way too many examples where it was not.

When I took evolution and classification in my Entomology graduate school days, there were many, many examples where parsimony did not apply. When faced with huge sets of data and computer models that required sets of rules to crunch number by, however, parsimony is the easiest way to come to a conclusion. It is a tool to wade through all the noise and try to make some logical sense. Still doesn't mean it is/was correct.

"It's too late", depends on what meaning we read into those words, they do not necessarily end in humanities doom.

Too late for the huge wasteful system that we have built up over the last couple of hundred years, really, TOO LATE - 100 miles to go with 1 gallon of fuel in the tank, that's pretty obvious.

Finding a new supergiant oil well or cracking fusion in some way, or banning the use of personal automobiles tomorrow and setting up a massive public transport system so that our current infrastructure would still have some utility: Those would change the whole conversation, they are very big White Swans however.

I enjoy Sharon's work, and link to her from my own pathetic little blog, but can you add a little context to the quote for those of us who 1. weren't at the talk and/or 2. don't read her blog every day?


Context from memory, ccpo. More or less along the lines of Kunstler's sunk investment or Orlov's boondoggles. One who hopes for recovery will invest his last resources in different places than one who knows otherwise. Those resources are wasted. They may well make matters worse. They waste time.

Sharon was talking mostly about climate change, resource depletion and farming. If my memory is right, at this stage in the talk she had onscreen a slide showing a bit of Antarctica as one of the last places environmentally suited for agriculture. [No doubt we can compost all those penguins to make soil.] We aren't going to stop runaway warming and exhaustive depletion. So, how do we best adapt our farming - at least for the interim before Antarctica becomes the last farm.

At the risk of misstating what she meant, I'd use the Smart Grid as an example. Do we really want to sink more resources into a megaproject designed to transmit "more"? If it is successful, it makes matters worse. If not, the resources are wasted.

There were some other TODers at the talk. Maybe they can pick up and clarify a bit. This bit of context is my own purple haze.

cfm in Gray, ME

Thanks much.


"We're freakin' doomed."

i'm a serial frickenizer m'self.

I also just noticed Best Buy's slogan this morning. "You, happier."

Arrghhh. We're freakin' doomed.

For the most part, I'm with you but, just to add a little doomer hope back in... we have this, from corporate marketing no less!

We put the "no" in innovation.

Fearing Blight, a California Town Makes It a Crime to Neglect Foreclosed Homes

"If I need to do it, I'll say, 'Mr. Bank President, if you don't come and take care of your property, we're going to come arrest you and take you to court in California,'" says Brad Ramos, Indio's long-serving police chief.

The hard-line approach is part of this town's attempt to gain leverage over some of the nation's largest lenders. A couple of years ago, Indio was a real-estate bonanza. Old date farms were closing down, sprouting subdivisions in their places. Today it's a different scene with one in 10 houses either in default or foreclosure.

While I understand the city's position, I have to wonder how long it's going to take the people running the mortgage divisions in these big banks to realize that they will never find buyers for enough of these properties to recover the costs of foreclosing, maintaining, paying fines on the ones they forgot they owned, etc. I suspect that tnedency of the business "leaders" to think that they can just wait for the market to recover and then they'll be sitting on a gold mine what with them owning so much of the nation's developed real estate.

What I'd love to see is someone at the banks legitimize the work that one guy in Florida is doing matching up homeless people with abandoned homes. Just let people live in them rent free as long as they maintain the homes and the bank maintains the right to sell the home at any point. Just the amount of work involved in processing the huge numbers of homes would create a fair few new jobs.

I know - while I'm at it, I should also wish for a pony that craps ice cream. Anything that won't improve the bankers' bottom lines now will never fly.

The key to this, and all land use regulations, is to treat all property owners equally. A local government cannot focus on bankers as a class of owner, just as they cannot focus on African Americans or Asians (equal protection); so, to pull this off, the city will need to simultaneously enforce codes on all properties with visible signs of neglect. This is often tough to pull off if/when poor elderly folks own a home free and clear but lack the skills/ability/money to keep up with the maintenance. Who's going to put Grandpa Joe in the slammer for failing to mow his lawn? But if you don't, you'll have a hard time putting Banker Joseph in jail for the same offense.

Now stop that! I'm getting all teary-eyed about Banker Joseph's plight. The very idea, Ken Lewis could go to jail for failing to mow his lawn?? It's an outrage, really.

Has anyone noticed that all those sturdy real estate signs, basically 4 X 4 posts implanted in a foreclosed McMansion frontyard, that they would make great public punishment yokes for Banksters?

Woodcut showing pillory being used for public punishment of a man accused of passing counterfeit money.

Here is a tastefully censored photolink to a more humorous example of how a real estate agent plus signage can increase home viewership and foot traffic to a distressed property:

future of real estate marketing

Good point and I'm sure any good attorney would send out an army of paralegals to comb the city records for examples of properties that the codes weren't enforced but the conditions of the property were as bad or worse than the ones for which Mr. Banker was on trial for. And with city budget cuts, getting out and enforcing this on all the neglected properties could prove unfeasible so then the whole plan falls apart. Hopefully, they make the fines big enough to cover the costs of enforcement then.

Hopefully, they make the fines big enough to cover the costs of enforcement then.

Perhaps you forget that payment of fines is optional with the ruling class. How much did Exxon finally wind up paying at Valdez??

My neighbor told me some months ago that he was struggling to make house payments -- falling behind. I gave him info and he did stay in the house with his family for awhile. Recently they just disappeared.

A guy came by and photographed the house one day. Another guy soon came by and briefly looked it over, and my house, too.

I live in a poor, racially mixed part of Minneapolis.

Foreclosures are frequent, here.

My former neighbor worked full time for years as a baker -- still does. He and his family did not live extravagantly at all. My wife and I work full time, and usually she works more than 40 hours a week.

Will we be next? What then?

And what about all the vacant houses with no one to live in them or care for them? Squatters and thieves look for them. How many of these foreclosures will it take before this economic massacre of poor working people stops?

We are slaves now.

I looked at a foreclosed house in St. Paul with a realtor recently. The neighbors gave the back story: the couple worked at the Ford plant, pulled 12 hour shifts, used this house basically for sleeping & eating between shifts; they had another house in the country that was more of a real residence. Ford plant closes, they no longer need the "work" house, so they walked away from the mortgage. House was in tough shape, but in a nice neighborhood and not likely to be vandalized.

My point is that we are probably still "over housed" as a nation. In addition to the arrangements above, there are thousands in the midwest who own second homes at vacation areas; many of those second homes are used 3-4 weeks per year. There are better arrangements which may be not only more fiscally sound, but ecologically less damaging: time sharing, fractional ownership; the economic surpluses of the 20th Century meant that we rarely had to consider such options.

My point is that we are probably still "over housed" as a nation.

I agree.

In addition, I think the American dream is going to be downsized. As the economy worsens, there are going to be more people sharing homes and apartments. Not long ago, it was common for three generations to share a home. Around here, it's still common for Italian families to share their homes with extended family. A three story home will have a family on each floor: grandma on the first floor, her adult children on the second floor, adult grandchildren or an aunt or cousin on the third floor.

I've thought about what I would do if I got into financial difficulty, and I think I would move in with either my parents or my sister. It's the obvious way to save big bucks.

And if they needed to move in with me, I would welcome them with open arms.

But as long as we can afford it, we opt for lower density: suburbs and McMansions for two. So much for the "open arms."

The key words being as long as we can afford it. I think we're going to find that we can't afford it any more.

Most of my life has been in shared households, and most of my friends rent rooms to friends or students. In college towns visiting professors, graduate/undergraduate/exchange students are always looking for housing. Our current roomer may be moving out and just the word of mouth network has given us several possible replacements. We could well afford not to share our house, but we prefer sharing to wasted empty space.

So plenty of people already choose to share housing, even if they could well afford not to, and they gain community, reduce expenses,etc. Agreed that it is not the American Dream or the American Norm, but it is sad how many people could avoid foreclosure by using their house more efficiently and the possibility never crosses their mind.

Indeed, most of the world currently lives in much smaller spaces than Americans. Whether in city apartments or with extended families.

Many areas now have rules governing household size. Usually because immigrants or college students were living 15 or 20 in a single house or apartment. You're not allowed to have more than two or three unrelated adults living in a house.

I suspect enforcement of those rules is going to fade away.

On March 28 Nate posted an article titled Peak Oil and Peak Capitalism - Professor Richard Wolff

There's a link near the top to an interesting video lecture Capitalism Hits the Fan.(57+ min)

As you watch the video, at about minute 30, you should realize, you always have been a slave my friend. Or maybe I should say WE have always been, at least all of us that have been swept up by the mass consumerism pushed by the MSM.

Alan from the islands

Fantastic explanation of America's new capitalism (CHTF) . Thanks

"(big banks etc) will never find buyers for enough of these properties to recover the costs of foreclosing, maintaining, paying fines on the ones they forgot they owned, etc.


Razing Hell: New-Home Demolitions in the California Desert

Matthews Homes is the home builder. Guaranty Bank of Irvine, CA, took possession of the project through foreclosure, and now wants out, as the bank was getting slapped with fines for improper maintenance of the properties.



Empty Florida homes may return to nature

"We heard they were in such bad shape they'd have to be taken down, he said...

We're sort of like the un-developers right now,"


Empty Florida homes may return to nature

Net Oil Exports Revisited (8/06)

A Proposed Triage Plan
I believe that vast expanses of American Suburbia are going to become virtually abandoned in the years ahead. Alan Drake has noted that a good deal of suburbia was so poorly constructed that a lot of it is biodegradable. Alan has outlined how we can go back to what we used to have: electric trolley cars connected to electric light rail lines . . . I propose a sort of triage operation: "tiny" homes and multifamily housing along electric mass transit lines. In my opinion, it is the only way that we can preserve some semblance of a civilized society. The suburbs are, by and large, a lost cause.

Of course, JHK and the End of Suburbia folks pretty accurately predicted, back in 2004, recent events:


PetroleumWorld.com has a good article today on Natural Gas as a transportation fuel as well as a pretty good commentary on the consequences of Peak Oil.

A Natural Gas Centric Strategic Long-Term Comprehensive Energy Policy

A peak oil future will be characterized by economic contractions of increasing severity. Each economic contraction will lead to sharply reduced oil demand and subsequently reduced short-term oil prices; both are being experienced today. Each economic recovery will see increasingly higher peak oil prices until economic growth is stifled.

Ron P.

That article was posted at Seeking Alpha last month. I believe there's some discussion of it in the April 25 and/or 26 DrumBeat.

I'm kind of surprised you like this article. It's basically arguing that natural gas will save us all.

I meant that it's a pretty good read, not that I agreed with it. Nothing is going to save us, particularly nothing finite.

Unlike those who refuse to read "Doomer Porn", I read everything, pro or con, concerning peak oil.

a switch to ng is jumping from behind one
8-ball to another, imo. bau: the sequil.
this plan may buy the 'merkun consumer some time, but is anything likely to change ?

Henry Kaufman feels that some middle class and working poor Americans will relocate to Costa Rica to survive-makes sense http://costaricaviews.com/wall-street-legend-kaufman-eyes-costa-rica-mar...

Costa Rica seems to be a favorite pick among peak oilers, too. There's someone at PeakOil.com who relocated his family there 2-3 years ago. Says his children are already fluent in Spanish. They bought a huge plot of land that cost peanuts by US standards. They're farming and selling things like vegetables, eggs, and homemade soap and candles.

And someone here who had lived in and studied south and central America for years recommended Costa Rica as a place with a political system more open to foreigners than, say, Mexico.

My family owns part of a small farm in Costa Rica and it is beautiful place where I love to visit and relax.

But I think Costa Rica might do worse than the US post-peak in many respects. Population is still booming and there is not enough land to support everybody in agrarian homesteading style. Transportation is very oil-dependent. Locally made goods are often poor-quality and expensive, while imported goods are sometimes expensive and/or unavailable. Family structure has broken down and single mothers are almost the norm. There are an estimated 1 million illegal Nicaraguan immigrants in Costa Rica (not sure how accurate an estimate, but clearly lots of desperate Nicas come seeking work).

While it is true that Costa Rica has no army and a functioning democracy, there is definite resentment among Ticos about foreigners buying up prime real estate. Property crime is quite common and frequently directed against foreigners.

Costa Rica lacks much of the infrastructure that the US has accumulated, and creating it post-peak will be harder. There are many advantages to Costa Rica, with friendly, relaxed people, cheap, high quality medical care, natural beauty,etc. But I think people imagining a Post-Apocalyptic Retreat might be in for a big real-world suprise.

Yes, despite the problems the US has, I don't think I would leave if I expected a SHTF situation. I don't think you want to be the foreigner in any society if things get bad.

regarding the Indian Point NYT article.. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/nyregion/02nuke.html?_r=1

"The tank has an alarm to indicate its water level is falling, he said, but it did not sound because an automatic system was topping off the tank with purified water."

Two fully functional automated systems, cancelled each other out to allow this leak to grow undetected. This is straight out of Jurassic Park.


"The company initially said the pipe was losing 18 gallons a minute but later amended that to 12; either number is small relative to the 600,000-gallon tank, he said."

Well, sure.. that's small relative to a lot of things.
12 gallons a minute.
720 gallons an hour.
17280 gallons a day.
120,960 gallons a week.
518,400 gallons a month.


“We were not aware of a problem before with underground pipe,” Mr. Gray said. “Now that we have one, it’s got our focused attention.”

Remember TERMINATOR 2? When Miles Dyson (Joe Morton, the 'Brother from Another Planet'), the techie who was central in developing 'SkyNet' got religion and was left in the Skynet building holding a detonator. He was full of bullets and fading fast.. but had just enough strength and awareness to hang onto the 'Dead Man' switch on the Device. All was fine, as long as he could hang onto that switch and keep the mayhem at bay.

That's Nuclear Energy.

We're going from a time where the energy to hold onto that switch that has kept 'many' disasters from striking has been abundant.. to a time where it very well may not be.

Quint: Anti-shark cage. You go inside the cage?
[Hooper nods]
Quint: Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark.
Quint: 'Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we've received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.'

Bob, being hysterical

Calling American Swine

... China and Russia, have banned the import of American pork.

The flu is not spread through eating pork, and so banning it is an economic move and a symbolic gesture... they have a chance to ban American Swine!

American Swine come in three main varieties: the Hog, the Bankster, and the Neocon...


I does seem like several countries (China and Russian being the most notable) are using the swine flu as a veiled excuse to put some mild hurt on the US and our southern buddy, Mexico.

China has also recently (and somewhat unreported in the US media) slowed its buying of US Treasuries, forcing the Fed to buy it instead. It appears their tactic to weaken US' world position is 1,000 cuts instead of huge, singular confrontations.

US pig meat exports are about 3 billion per year. Put in context, $3 billion at $50 per barrel is about 60 million barrels or about 3 days worth of consumption. Still - not chickens feed..

" forcing the Fed to buy it instead"

Which forcing the taxpayer to buy instead.

The sooner the federal government collapses, the better. The weasels are just buying themselves time.

The executive and legislative branches are unsustainable - filled with parasites, which are themselves filled with parasites.

The sooner the federal government collapses, the better. The weasels are just buying themselves time.
The executive and legislative branches are unsustainable - filled with parasites, which are themselves filled with parasites.

While I think government collapse is always possible, the "The sooner the federal government collapses, the better" attitude strikes me as very naive.

If there is no federal government, there will always be someone who takes the power. IF we end up being ruled by Somali style warlords or gangsters (the most likely consequence of government collapse judging from history) , people will remember the times with a functioning government as a Lost Golden Age, while they live thru a New Dark Age.

Tommyvee, Exactly! Those who think their present government leaves a lot to be desired need to live a few years in Somalia. When our government collapses, all hell will break loose. Every pip-squeak dictator in the country will be vying for power. You will not know misery until then.

Our very best hope is for the present government to remain in power until those who are making preparations for a transition to an agrarian economy have time to make that transition. Otherwise the warlord thugs will ruin any hope of our survival.

Thanks for making that point.

Ron P.

That really depends on where in America you live.
The folks living here got a leg up on the rest of us.

Personally, I want the government to keep slogging along doing BAU for as long as possible. I don't want anyone but close friends (and TODers of course :-) ) to realize what sort of doo doo we are in because my metaphorical ark is not ready.

At the same time, I need enough people that are aware so we can pool our resources and get on the same page.

Cynical yes, but I don't see a viable alternative, as Sharon says, it's too late for that.

IF we end up being ruled by Somali style warlords or gangsters

It's not at all obvious to me that the Somali style warlords aren't the appropriate response to the situation. What I've learned about the dumping of toxic waste off the shores and about the fishing (nice combination that makes) suggests maybe it's an appropriate response to their being looted by Empire. I guess it depends on which side of Empire one finds one's self. Do you feel more at one with the palestinians or with the israelis? Me, I always go with the underdog.

Whether or not Somali warlords are an "appropriate response", only a fool or a lunatic would prefer to be ruled by Mohamed Adid, or the khat-crazed technical on the corner, rather than by Obama.
Behind the rhetoric of hating government, does anyone choose to leave the "oppressive Federal government" behind and move to Somalia??

There is plenty of flow in the other direction, from chaotic failed states to places where the rule of law still holds to some degree.

Based on the following experience by a WSJ reporter, it appears to me that we have very little idea how many H1N1 cases are actually out there. Anyone have any idea if total deaths have increased of late in major cities?



There seems to be something strange about this bug, or there is a real reporting/fudging problem going on.

Last count, all of Mexico reported deaths at 22 and the number of confirmed cases has increased to 568 from 506. They also report that the infection appears to be peaking.

US still only has 1 death reported, of a Mexican toddler visiting.

All cases in Canada have been reported as "mild".

The WHO has reported that although there are some cases reported in Europe, the propagation rate is very low and the vast majority of the cases remain in North America. Curiously, they also say that they are considering raising the alert level from 5 to 6.

The disparity of death rates is puzzling as is the generally mild reactions almost everywhere except Mexico. My own guess is that many others have been infected but never bothered to seek help. Anytime I get sick, I just stay home, suffer, and pass the time by feeling sorry for myself.

As for the WHO alert level, they imply (by referring to the 1918 outbreak) that they are worried about a rebound in September. I don't know about their procedures, but I can't see the value in keeping the alert high now (until September?).

It's all very odd. Hope this helps.

Based on this article, we really don't have a clue as to the total number of cases out there, which what was led me to wonder about any possible recent rise in total deaths (from all causes).

There's a theory that the death rate is so high in Mexico because people there tend not to go to the doctor until they've tried everything else. You can buy antibiotics and other drugs without a prescription, and people are used to self-medicating.

That's plausible, and scary.

Use of ineffective or marginally effective antivirals enhances mutation and drug resistance.
Inappropriate application of antibiotics does the same thing.

Many diseases have more than one variant of the same pathogen present, each of which can have a resistance to a different antibiotic or antiviral.

Depending on how resistant the strain(s), doctors are now prescribing a cocktail of up to 3 antibiotics to minimize the chance that a newer, stronger strain is not propagated.

Gee, maybe widespread arbitrary use of antibiotics and antibacterials wasn't such a good idea. Nanites anyone?

I think since the MSM tends to lean towards eternal optimisms, I seek out those financials articles that lean towards pessism. Somewhere in the middle probably lies the truth.

Anyways, Seeking Alpha is not a "doomer" financial site by any sense. This article caught my eye mostly because it was on this site. It is written with some humor, but still invokes thought.

The Worst Case Scenario (Someone Has to Say It)

When these predictions come true, I expect to be rewarded with a seven-figure consulting gig, a book contract, or a high-level position in whatever administration succeeds the doomed Obama team—that is, if anyone succeeds it at all.

Prediction one. The twenty-five-year equities bubble pops in 2009. U.S. and foreign equities markets will stop treading water and realign with economic reality.
Prediction two. With public pension systems and tens of millions of 401k holders virtually wiped out—and with the Baby Boomers retiring en masse—there will be tremendous pressure on the government to get into the stock market in order to bid up prices.
Prediction three. Millions of new retirees—including white-collar people with high expectations for a Golden Retirement—will be left virtually penniless.
Prediction four. “Quantitative easing” will fail to restart previous patterns of lending and consumption.
Prediction five. The government will stop pretending that it can finance continuous multi-trillion-dollar deficits on the private market.
Prediction six. As the need for financial industry paper-pushers declines and people have less money to spend on lawyers and Starbucks (SBUX), unemployment will rise until the private sector has eliminated all of its excess capacity and superfluous or socially needless jobs.
Prediction seven. With their pension dreams squashed, and their salaries frozen or cut, police and other local government workers will turn to wholesale corruption in order to survive.
Prediction eight. Commercial overcapacity will strike with a vengeance. By 2012, thousands of enclosed malls, strip malls, unfinished residential developments, motels, truck stops, distribution centers, middle-of-nowhere resorts and casinos, and small-city airports across America will turn into dilapidated, unwanted, and dangerous ghost towns.
Prediction nine. By the end of 2010, tens of millions of households will have fallen behind on their mortgages or stopped paying altogether.
Prediction ten. -- Property crime will explode as citizens bitter over their own shattered dreams attempt to comfort themselves by taking what is not theirs. Mutinies and desertions will proliferate in an increasingly demoralized, over-stretched military, especially when states can no longer provide the educational and other benefits promised to their National Guard troops.

There will be widespread tax collection issues, and a huge backlash against Federal and state bureaucrats who demand three-percent annual pay raises while private sector wages remain frozen or worse. In short, the “Tea Parties” of tomorrow will likely not be so restrained.

added bold and -- means I cut to shorten

I think his predictions are reasonable (and thanks for the link).

Has anyone here read,"The Hunger Games" ?

Kunstler's "World Made By Hand" seems much more likely, but "The Hunger Games" is a distinct possibility (and a much better read - couldn't put it down).

Prediction six. As the need for financial industry paper-pushers declines and people have less money to spend on lawyers and Starbucks (SBUX), unemployment will rise until the private sector has eliminated all of its excess capacity and superfluous or socially needless jobs.

"...and people have less money to spend on lawyers and Starbucks..."

So lawyers as well as barristas are going to get the boot! I would place the barristas at a slightly higher level of importance than lawyers who do no useful work whatsoever.

My sister is a lawyer, and I think she does useful work. She's something of a bleeding-heart liberal, and does things like sue slumlords on behalf of little old ladies, and sue corporations to stop them from polluting public lands.

Why do you need to sue slumlords or polluters? Why not just enforce existing laws against this type of behavior?

To enforce the laws, you need lawyers.

What are you suggesting, that anyone accused of a crime should be thrown into jail and presumed guilty?

I also have relatives that are "good" lawyers, but they will not be immune to lack of jobs for sure.

Tough time for law grads

Barely a day goes by when some big law firm hasn’t announced lawyer layoffs, salary freezes or cutbacks in its hiring. As of April 20, 10,659 people — 4,316 lawyers and 6,343 staff — had been laid off by major law firms nationwide, according to Layoff Tracker, a Web site that monitors law firm layoffs.

Yes, I agree. Even in good times, there tends to be a glut of lawyers. Law firms use young lawyers as cannon fodder. Hire them out of school, use them for a few years, then dump them for younger, cheaper replacements. I know lawyers who are working at the mall to pay their student loans (which tend to be immense, because few law schools offer scholarships).

Frankly, I don't think any profession will be immune to the lack of jobs. Even seemingly peak oil proof professions like nursing and petroleum engineering are hurting.

Even seemingly peak oil proof professions like nursing and ... [not immune to the lack of jobs.]


There is part of the big lie ... shortages of nurses, shortages of engineers, shortages of lawyers ... yeah; right.

Two things there is no shortage of is a gullible public and lying-through-their-teeth pundits trying to sell more snake oil to the public.

Remember that colleges and universities also need to sell themselves. The last thing in the world they want to hear is that there is no market for their graduates. My wife's college (mid-sized central missouri) has a good mixture of practical degrees (social work, airplane piloting and maintenance, nursing, etc.) and less practical degrees (english, philosophy, art, etc.) so they are doing OK right now. I think once the job market shows no improvement at the end of 2009, many potential students will start to shun the larger universities and the degrees less applicable to "the new economic reality".

And I believe all jobs (outside the financial elites) will see substantial contraction of salaries by the end of 2009. Many companies, including my own, have been very creative with cost-cutting in the last year or so. They are now realizing that they need to shrink their working population to match the level of demand out there for their product(s). This "consumer traffic decline" is not going to be a short term phenomena.

Several years ago, westexas put out his ELM(?) ideas and one of those was "learn to live on 50% less than you currently make at your job". This was sound advice then, but it is now a huge wake up call to all currently-employed individuals (outside the financial elite). So, back to college students getting ready to graduate...how many years will it take those accruing large student loans to figure out the salaries they can realistically get upon graduating will keep them indebt up to their eyeballs for many more years than "the good ole days"?

My wife's college (mid-sized central missouri)

Hi Dragonfly, Greetings from Columbia MO which has a university, a private women's college, and a community college. Seems that the community college is weathering the downturn best.

Where in MO are you?

My wife teaches at University of Central MO (used to be CMSU, but changed recently to UCM). We live in Lee's Summit and she commutes. I'm quite familiar with Columbia (mom went to Stephens College). I love stopping off at Roche Port and checking out Les Bourgeois winery. Doesn't Roche Port have wind turbines now?

So good to hear from a neighboring TOD member :)

I don't know of any big windpower installations in Rocheport, but I may have missed it. They did have an alternative energy expo at one of the winery's last year though.

Last Thursday I had a plumber at my house to do some repairs. We got to talking after the job was done. He is a middle-aged man so I asked him how many years he had been a plumber. He surprised me when he said he had just got his journeyman papers the previous week. Before that he had been an electronics technician but when the bottom fell out of that market a few years ago he re-trained into a steadier job. Few if any people bother to pay someone to repair their cellphones or laptops because it is just as cheap to buy a new one. But when the toilet quits or the furnace goes out, they have to get it repaired.

I'm in oil investments now but I have a B.Sc. in horticulture, a journeyman certificate in landscape gardening, and 30 years experience pruning trees and tending parks. I'm not afraid of the future because if worse comes to worst I can always go back to pushing a lawnmower.

Hello Dale:

What is the local perspective on the Suncor PetroCanada merger?

The market seems to like this but I am puzzled. Apart from some retail gas stations in CO, Suncor is pretty much a pure tar sands play. Petro Canada is more diversified but the combined entity will remain heavily focused on tar sands and if they need $50 a bbl then they may be in for a world of hurt if prices drop below that. How do you read it?

I don't have any investments in the tar sands because of their high risk side, but given that Peak Oil exists, the bitumen will flow (or be melted out, to be more accurate) in the future. I suspect that part of this merger is the desperate race to keep up company oil reserves. I've talked to a few engineers from Athabasca or Cold Lake and they say the main reason the big boys are investing up there is not so much return on investment but because publicly-traded petroleum companies are judged on their reserves. Oilsands are guaranteed reserves, even if the profit is iffy. This is why my investments are in private-equity conventional-oil junior petes, where the long-term view will prevail, not the race to have bragging rights in the annual company report about how many barrels of reserves were added last fiscal year.

Opinion in the Calgary oil patch about the merger seems favourable as far as I can tell.

Thanks Dale

My take is that SU is seeking to diversify away from tar sands. I'm sure they can see the same issues with NG supply that get discussed on TOD. For PCA that organization has been going sideways for so long that any form of change is a relief.

I think once the job market shows no improvement at the end of 2009, many potential students will start to shun the larger universities and the degrees less applicable to "the new economic reality".

I wonder. People with college degrees are holding up better in the job market than those without. If the job market is not improved, that may drive people to think they need degrees more than ever. Even now, college grads I know are responding to the bad job market by staying in school - going for the MBA, MS, or PhD. They're sure the job market will be better when they graduate with the graduate degree.

Student loans may end up being the new indentured servitude. The only way to get rid of them will be to serve ten years in government-designated "high need" jobs (teaching in inner cities, serving in the military, etc.).

Leanan -

This default position of going back to graduate school if one cannot find a job is the height of self-delusion. I guess the basic idea is to ride out the recession and to then be ready and primed with a brand-new degree when things turn around and when happy days are here again.

Well, these days an advanced degree in many areas is a guaranteed one-way ticket to being amongst the permanently unemployable. I've seen it already with some of my son's friends.

I cannot help but seeing a huge cohort of very qualified and very pissed-off young people who had invested vast amounts of time, energy, and money on advanced degrees but have absolutely nothing to show for it. Many would have been far better off if their parents had taken the $100K+ invested in a next-to-useless college education and instead bought their kids something like a dry-cleaning establishment. While hardly very sexy or status-enhancing, such an endeavor would at least generate a generous amount of sorely needed income.

I do think that so-called 'higher education' is going to be in for a very rough time.

Well, given the state of the economy, at least the US military is not going have much trouble recruiting the next generation of cannon fodder (or Homeland Security thugs).

Graduating large numbers of highly indebted young people unable to access even menial positions does not seem an appropriate policy response in a nation attempting to spark consumer demand.

The second negative effect is that the older members of the workforce may seek to delay retirement due to the loss of pension funds, market funds, house value etc. This will result both in a lesser number of opportunities and because this cohort will be saving to restore lost retirement funds will also have negative impact on consumer spending.

Both of the above support a long term L shaped recession.

From my personal experience, the older folks that have been with companies for a long time have higher salaries than those with around 5-10 years of seniority. Slowly but surely, those "old timers" are being forced out and their jobs and the job is just eliminated or being back-filled with younger folks asking lower salaries. Not sure how much the "not retiring" strategy will pan out for many.

I have two female friends whose husbands recently lost jobs (one from Sprint and one from an investment firm). One is going back to college to get a degree so he can teach at college and the other (who is handy with carpentry and sheet rock) has been doing sporadic IT contract work and also house fixups for friends and relatives. I give the second one more of a chance at making some money than the other.

No job will be immune in the medium term, but some are holding out longer. I had a conversation with the instructors who are researching a "Sustainable Post-Peak Livelihoods" course they are developing and apparently computer consulting seems to be holding up pretty well.

But, unlike previous downturns, the ability for people to downshift from a corporate job into more "true to oneself" jobs like massage therapist or dog walker is not happening this time. There is simply little to no demand for these services and people attempting the transition are failing.

Along this line...I have seen two signs in my middle class neighborhood advertising "Handy man for hire...any job, any time." One of those is a chap I know that worked for MO Public Transportation and was laid off recently. I actually like the idea of having someone I trust in the 'hood that can do a lot of fix up type of stuff b/c I am staying in my cheap house for awhile and can do some fix up myself, but other things are too complicated or require several people to do.

I take this as an interesting development and a possible optimistic pathway for some suburbs to evolve...employment out of the house for certain services and specialties. I hope some day to see "At home bakery" or "Car mechanic...call Bud at ???".

Of course, all this probably violates all kinds of city permits and such and maybe best be spread word of mouth or by flyer to keep it under the hat for now, but once civil servants become too preoccupied with other matters, this sort of thing may become more commonplace.

my attorney works for slum.........er i mean landlords, landlords.........i meant landlords.

Thanks for the link Dragonfly. This is truly frightening. What I had predicted to happen by 2017 this guy is expecting to happen by 2012. However I will have to say I believe he is predicting things to fall apart too early. All that he predicts, I believe, will happen but it will all happen a little later than he predicts. Having an intricate knowledge of the workings of things tends to do that to a person, that is, cause them to see things happening sooner than they will actually happen.

It is the same thing as insider traders selling their company's stock. There is a saying among stock brokers and stock prognosticators; Insider traders are nearly always right and nearly always early.

Ron P.

Darwinian...I agree...and therefore his humoristic caveat at the beginning. We could say the same about many of our Peak Oil predictions. Many of us expected more swift effects, yet have not occurred at the rate predicted.

BTW...your moniker reminds me of my favorite Darwin quotes. He meant it for animal evolution, but I have found it to be useful personal mantra to live by.

It's not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.

Dragonfly, the only problem with that quote is that Darwin never made it. It was Clarence Darrow who said, or wrote, that line.

* It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.
o Attributed to Clarence Darrow in Improving the Quality of Life for the Black Elderly: Challenges and Opportunities : Hearing before the Select Committee on Aging, House of Representatives, One Hundredth Congress, first session, September 25, 1987 (1988), this and a slight variant of it ("...rather the one most responsive to change") have become attributed to Darwin since at least 1997, but without any citation of an original source.

Charles Darwin - Misattributed

Ron P.

Hmmm...not sure if that is definitive, but nevertheless, Clarence Darrow did a great defense job in "The Scopes Monkey Trials" and I would not have a problem attributing him. Inherit The Wind is a favorite movie of mine even though it was not 100% accurate.

Now, given the fact that Darrow was not a biologist and the trial directly involved Scopes teachings from Origin of Species I am somewhat suspect of the claim. I may have to research this further for my own piece of mind.

No matter who said it, however, the quote rings true.


It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.
As quoted in Improving the Quality of Life for the Black Elderly: Challenges and Opportunities : Hearing before the Select Committee on Aging, House of Representatives, One Hundredth Congress, first session, September 25, 1987 (1988); this and a slight variant of it ("...rather the one most responsive to change") have also become attributed to Charles Darwin since at least 1997, but without any citation of an original source.

From your source:

Clarence Darrow (April 18, 1857 – March 13, 1938)

For such a self professed agnostic as was Clarence Darrow to reach out 50 years beyond his death surely casts doubt on his other arguments.
Unless it was just some congresscritter telling us what he REALLY meant to say.

However, I did a word search for that quote on the more popular of Darwins writings on www.gutenberg.org and I could find no reference.

Hello TODers,

Recall my earlier prediction on problems across Southern Asia. From the Boxer Day Tsunami onward, Thermo/Gene disaster is gradually spreading, it just takes time for reality to propagate.

Myanmar [Burma] was hammered by Nargis a year ago to the tune of 140,000 dead: it appears that things are still spiraling downward [Recall my recent one-year anniversary posting]. Does anybody still care about the plight of the Rohingya--> "They are not allowed to survive.."?

Nepal could really use a dose of full-on Peak Outreach:

Protests erupt in Nepal after PM fires army chief

..Anger is high in Nepal, where much of the public blames the Maoists for the power outages that can last more than 16 hours a day, the fuel shortages that have made for endless lines at gas stations, and the rising price of food and household staples.
It is thermodynamically very ERoEI challenging to get imported FFs & I-NPK from sea-level to far inland, then further up to high elevation Himalayan cities and topsoil. Broad boundary analysis of Nepal's Net Energy Cliff [hat-tip to Nate's key graphic] may show an equivalent precipitious decline equal to Mt Everest-->sea-level.

Is there anything more luxury discretionary spending than trying to lure tourists to climb a mountain simply because it is there?

Recall from an earlier weblink that India's military has declared 'shoot first, ask questions later' on any suspected smugglers backpacking subsidized I-NPK Nuhautl Tlameme-style into Nepal.

Is Bangladesh now ERoEI on the brink [a 3-part series]?

Coal Mining Challenges in Bangladesh [Part-1]

..But due to lack of appropriate vision, good management and lack of political commitment we failed to economically explore and exploit the resources to utilise these for economic development. We failed our national energy policy. The exploration and exploitation of basic resources to fuel energy generation did not match energy demand growth. The deficit increased in geometrical progression.

Consequently the country is now suffering from the worst energy crisis of its history. Entire country is suffering from 8-10 hours load shedding on the average despite of the fact that only 35% of its 15 million people have direct access to power supply. Industrial growth has come to almost standstill due to inadequate gas supply. Existing industries can not be operated properly due to unsteady supply of energy.
Part 2:


Part 3:

..Every one realise, Bangladesh do not have required capacity to explore and exploit coal resource. We do not have technology, required technical and managerial capability. Moreover no Bangladeshi private or public company can make such a huge investment for coal mining...

Don't Believe the India Hype

[Last Paragraph excerpt] India Hype-peddlers neatly sweep the country's institutional rot under the carpet. However, India cannot be expected to grow and prosper far and fast, not just now but for decades ahead, with such shaky foundations.
I would venture a guess that the est. 250,000 farmer suicides are not a vote of confidence in India's postPeak future.

Feel free to google more info on Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kashmir.

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

just some anecdotals from a region most of you probably don't frequent: just spent 3 weeks in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. In Beirut, many people including my in-laws have contracted with a second electricity provider that has installed generators all over the city. When the daily black-outs come, there is a 15 - 30 second pause, then generators fire up all over the city. We even noticed this in the hotel. Naturally air quality was bad in this otherwise amazing city. In Aleppo, Syria, my in-laws oftentimes have their water turned off each day at 5pm. It wasn't every day but they keep a bucket of water in the bathroom for when they need to flush during the shut-offs. In Amman, Jordan, you might as well be in LA, it is all sprawl, all the time. Completely FF-dependent car culture, but running out of water fast. New subdivisions way out of town with huge gated communities, landscaping, etc. Also locals notice that since the Iraq War, all the US government workers and contractors passing through Amman on unquestioned and unaudited expense accounts have caused the prices of everything to double and triple since 2003.

Military Embraces Green Energy: Bahh! The best way for the U.S. military to save energy is to cut its size in half, and also stop driving convoys up and down Afgan and Iraqi roads in some futile quest to turn these places into little Americas (I mena exploit their OIP and oil pipeline corridors).

MoonWatcher -

Not to mention stopping generals from using giant C5 transports as their personal limos to commute back and forth from the Pentagon to almost halfway around the world to Afghanistan so they can appear to be actively 'managing' the situation.

A 'green Pentagon' almost defines the word, oxymoron. Gimme a break!


I could write three books about it...but they'd probably make my life miserable, and not many people would read it anyway or care.

Your put it wonderfully: A green military is an oxymoronic concept.

One of the many ironies I noticed and still notice is that the biggest screamers about government spending, waste, and corruption are in the military. They seem oblivious that their organization leads the way in all of these...but the marketing machine of U.S. military Inc. has done a bang-up job of cloaking the military-industrial complex with angels' wings and halos.

The same group of officers who bad-mouth non-military workers for the sins of wanting health care and pensions are the ones who would absolutely revolt if the military reneged on their lifetime (assuming they serve 20 honorable years)health care and COLA pensions. They throw UAW workers under the bus for the reported high wages (these figures include all benefits, realized or not, plus the amortized costs for all worker benefits who are retired before them) yet they make egregious big bucks for making superbly crafted and pointless 'PowerPoint Engineering' slide shows later in their careers. The friggin military would grind to a halt if PowerPoint was wished away.

The administration increased the military budget by 4%, but since the President is a Dem, he gets lambasted for 'leaving America defenseless' by the Chicken Hawk bloviators and cable 'news' talking heads. 4% increase? I could cut the budget by 40% and make sure no one invaded our lands and take very stringent precautions to guard against WMD detonations withing our borders...but all the defense contractors would put a contract out on me...

Not just Little Americas, little CHRISTIAN Americas!


MSNBC is showing "Future Earth" now. Climate change doomer porn. :)

I thought I read somewhere that it was going to be a four part series, but there was only one title on my TIVO. Is it one part or four?

It's part of a series, but they are airing over several weeks or months, I think. Only the first part has aired so far.

Has Oil and Gas Collapse Sealed Fate of Peak Oil?

Simmons & Company International

Slide show ..Lots of graphs ....


Australia's cap and trade scheme has been postponed by a year
but the CO2 cuts will be bigger. Feast now and diet later.

If in fact Australia's coal exports have declined (statistics are out of date) that could be a far bigger real world CO2 reduction than envisaged by the domestic scheme. The CO2 price will be fixed at $10 a tonne for the year July 2011 to June 2012. That will cost 2.5c on a litre of petrol (9.5c /US gall). If TOD commentators are right then fuel prices will have climbed back to high levels by then.

I sometimes wonder if the human race is like fleas on a dog's back. They are just passengers until the dog dies when maybe there is no other dog to cling to.


A year or so ago, the Rudd Government was saying that delaying the introduction of the ETS/CPRS was bordering on criminal, and that it would cost the economy dearly to delay. And now they've delayed it. [i]And[/i]increased the Carbon Offsets to 'export sensitive industries' to as much as 95%. [i]AND[/i] reduced the cost of the permits by almost two-thirds for the first five years! And Big Carbon can still buy Carbon Offsets (forest, averted emissions) in Asia or somewhere for $2 - $3/ton, instead of genuine reduction efforts within the country.

The only bright side is that they're increased the upper 2020 target from 15 to 20% (still with a lower bound of a miserable 5%) and allowed individuals to buy and retire carbon permits.

Even The Greens have compromised, lowering their 2020 target from a 40% reduction to just 25%. And the Coalition and Big Carbon are still screaming about jobs jobs jobs that will get lost as industries magicaly levitate their fixed assets and move them to China, India, and South America, and the poor coal power plants (why do we care? Half of them are owned by overseas interests) that will be forced out of business (eh? Increasing costs that can be passed onto consumers means they'll go out of business?)...

Unacceptable on all sides. Big Carbon still rules this country.

Hello TODers,

32 US banks collapse in '09; three more fail in one day

NEW YORK [May 3]: Starting the month on a sour note, three more American lenders have been closed down, making it an average of six bank failures every month in 2009.

9,459 US banks with $100 million or more.
As we also have 16,000 US golf courses: I wonder if they will close in a greater than 1:1 ratio with our banks.

WT has mentioned this before: what are the top ten banks worth without the top ten oilfields? I would ask: what are the top ten golf courses worth without the top ten banks? How many unemployed Banksters are looking to get hired mowing the greens?

More on golf course closings:

Connie Standridge, Corsicana’s city manager, is absolutely right about the Oak Trail Golf Course.

The City of Corsicana [in Texas] has no business trying to buy and operate the Oak Trail Golf Course, despite the impassioned, and understandable, outcry of those who want to maintain the local “non-country club” course.

Of course, it would be nice if the city did buy the course, and maintain it, and improve it, and operate it, and make money at it, and put a little star on the newest city map showing exactly where the municipal golf course was located.

Winning the lottery would be nice, too.

But the odds of either of those two things happening — the city buying the golf course and winning the lottery — are about as slim as someone hitting 11 consecutive holes-in-one at the aforementioned course.

The stark reality of the situation is this — the City of Corsicana has a whole lot of other “fish to fry” before it should consider getting into the golf course business. You could have the finest municipal golf course in eight states, but if you can’t drive down any number of city streets without knocking the front end of your car out of alignment, what do you have?

A long list of golf courses for sale or up for auction by the National Golf Course Owner's Association.

example of one listing:

Arizona , Course
Contact: Tom Starrs

GOLF COURSE AUCTION: Must sell turnkey business (+ pro shop, restaurant & bar) in sunny Arizona to the highest bidder. It could be you! Motivated seller is leaving country...
I bet he is...

In Recession, Some See Burst of 'Neighboring'

..Some sociologists and community organizers say they think there has been an uptick of "neighboring" in the recession, as residents who just waved hello before are instead reaching out, in person and through e-mail discussion groups. They're talking crime and the economy, helping others through job losses and organizing money-saving potlucks.

..Historically, economic hard times can be tough on civic engagement -- involvement dropped during the Great Depression, for example -- but experts say that doesn't take into account new social technologies, a burst of political involvement among the young and a president who has inspired many. Experts are waiting to see whether President Obama's call for service will be felt locally, as it has on such national programs as AmeriCorps.

..The group estimates that 33 percent of the nation attended a community meeting in the past year and that nearly 40 percent worked with others in their neighborhood to fix or improve something.
Well, I certainly did not have much luck when I tried to get my Asphaltistan neighbors interested in starting a community garden several years ago--but maybe things are starting to change?

It will be interesting to see if we follow the Great Depression trend of decreasing involvement or go vice versa. Are sales of wheelbarrows and hand gardening tools now widely outstripping the sales of guns & ammo?

Kindergartner Sent Home With Bag Of Feces
If you recall concepts detailed in the Macfarlane PDF on Japanese O-NPK recycling-->Kids like this will instead be widely praised by their postPeak parents & teachers for being so cognizant of the family's and community's recycling needs.

Have you hugged your butt today? [full credit to the TODer that authored this great quote]

You are crazy; did you even read the story and understand the implications? The kid apparently has some disability ("special needs"). He probably had an accident and the teacher decided to humiliate him in this way. He was not the one who decided to carry the bag of feces home. His teacher forced him. Instead of feeling sorry for him you go off on your usual rant about O-NPK recycling.

How would you feel if it was your son?

Hello TODers,

It appears the UN FAO is finally getting more receptive to Thermo/Gene Reality:

4 May 2009, Paris - Amid growing evidence that the fight against hunger risks being lost, senior experts from FAO and the 30-nation Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) open a two-day, high-level meeting tomorrow to map out long-term investment and financing strategies to avert the menace of unprecedented levels of hunger.

Under-investment in agriculture over the past 30 years, high and volatile food prices and continuing economic turmoil are all combining to sharply increase the level of global food insecurity, which is expected to aggravate further this year as the financial and economic crisis hits the developing countries.

It is currently estimated that close to one billion people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, compared with some 825 million a decade ago. On current trends, the 1996 World Food Summit's target of halving the number of hungry people by 2015, and the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG-1) of halving the prevalence of hunger and poverty appear increasingly unattainable.

I wonder if the UN FAO took a good look at this photo slide show to help change their mind:

Pulitzer-winning photographer Patrick Farrell told of Haiti's horrors as no one else could

..On Monday, his work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography.

..It includes a cross-section of the work that Patrick and Jacquie sent home over four trips to Haiti, facing a debilitating combination of poverty, hurricanes, flooding and malnutrition.

..I kept thinking, "This just can't be", said Patrick.
As posted before: Malthus was not wrong.

Thxs for the additional info from other parts of the globe. It is the giant, pervasive, eco- & macro-trends occurring that most people can't get their minds around [unless they purposely look for it].

Re: Carbon trading could hurt coal industry
Oh stop. My heart is bleeding too much.

Re: Overpopulate and die of boredom

Certainly, Sustainable Population Australia is just a fringe environment group,

Just like the IPA is a fringe policy institute.