Drumbeat: May 7, 2009

Coal-fired power plants: The writing on the wall - Only green compromises will allow them to survive

At least the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), in a complete reversal from its role under the Bush administration, is doing its best for the cause. On April 27th it withdrew an air-quality permit it had issued for a 1,500mw pulverised coal-fired power plant, called Desert Rock, which was to be built on Navajo Nation land in New Mexico. In effect, this pulled the plug on the enterprise. That ruling was the first public consequence of an EPA mandate, issued on April 17th, that the most harmful heat-trapping greenhouse gases were a threat to public health and welfare and a cause of global warming. The mandate gives Barack Obama carte blanche to regulate the power industry.

Among the utility companies feeling the heat is NV Energy, which is postponing plans for a $5 billion, 1,500mw coal plant in eastern Nevada. Instead, it will harvest the state’s plentiful solar and other renewable resources. Farther north, Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Co-operative says “regulatory uncertainties” have forced it to defer plans for its 250mw Highwood coal plant near Great Falls. It proposes to build a smaller, cleaner-burning, natural-gas power station, as well as a previously announced 9mw wind farm. And several power companies are planning to convert older coal-burning plants to run on biomass, such as woody forest waste.

Chevron’s O’Reilly Says Lawmakers Trade ‘False Hopes’ on Carbon

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer David O’Reilly said U.S. lawmakers “vastly overstate” how quickly reductions in carbon emissions can be made and would risk an economic collapse by imposing unrealistic cuts.

“Seeking those reductions without any realistic plan to replace that energy is a straight path back to a pre-industrial economy and a standard of living to match it,” O’Reilly said in prepared remarks for a speech he’s giving today in Boston.

Natural Gas Industry Slow to Apply Brakes

Natural gas prices are about a third of what they were last summer, and oil and gas companies are cutting their capital spending to the bone. But it’s hard to turn off the spigots in the enormous shale fields that have been developed from Pennsylvania to Texas over the last few years.

Independence could bump output

US independent Anadarko Petroleum said today the huge Independence Hub natural gas production platform in the US Gulf produced an average of 900 million cubic feet per day of natural gas in the first quarter, with additional capacity possible.

Chevron’s Cash Hoard Returns Less Than a Penny on the Dollar

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp., which last week posted its lowest quarterly profit in half a decade, earned less than a cent on the dollar from a $9 billion cash hoard amassed during last year’s record surge in oil prices.

Energy Department plans to award $10B in auto retooling loans in '09

Washington -- The Obama administration plans to award $10.1 billion in advanced technology retooling loans to the auto industry this year.

President Barack Obama's budget proposal, released today, also boosts vehicle research spending, but cuts hydrogen fuel cell research funds.

Goodbye to shop 'til you drop: Even when the economy recovers, retail experts don't expect consumers to go on a spree

"Our retail culture is in a major transition. Conspicuous consumption is now bad manners," he said. "Too many of us have spread ourselves far beyond our means. We can't do this anymore."

"Our closets are full, are houses are too big, we have too many cars," he said. "It's time to make some very wrenching changes."

Post-recession consumers will spend very carefully. Buying previously owned products, for instance, will lose its stigma.

Insuring climate change still possible - Munich Re

Reuters - Insuring the effects of climate change is still possible anywhere in the world "at the right price" despite increasing natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, reinsurance group Munich Re said on Wednesday.

Natural catastrophes resulting in insurance losses of more than $500 million more than doubled in 2008 from 1980, the group said. Most of these can be wholly or partly attributed to the effects of climate change.

In 2008, it is estimated that Hurricane Ike in the U.S. state of Florida resulted in $11.5 billion of insurance losses.

"So far, nowhere in the world is uninsurable," said Georg Daschner, member of the board of management at Munich Re. "It is a question of getting the right price and whether people are prepared to pay that price."

Obama gives DOE $406 mln hike, cuts oil tax breaks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department would see its funding increase $406 million, or 1.6 percent, for the 2010 spending year, under the Obama administration's proposed government budget released on Thursday.

The administration also proposed ending "unjustified tax loopholes" for oil and gas companies that would raise $26 billion over the next 10 years.

Budget Appears to Back Off on Gulf Drilling Tax

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration appears to have dropped a plan to raise $5 billion via a new excise tax on oil-and-gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, a sign it may be retreating on one front in its fight with the industry.

The decision, revealed in a detailed fiscal 2010 budget plan released Thursday, comes as the White House is sticking with other plans to eliminate $26 billion in tax breaks for oil-and-gas companies. Half of that would come from eliminating a tax break for domestic oil-and-gas production. Companies say the tax measure keeps jobs in the U.S.

Free Trade, Green Trade

PRESIDENT OBAMA and the other leaders at the Group of 20 meeting last month vowed to both pursue a “green” economic recovery, and not turn inward. They can fight protectionism and climate change at the same time by unilaterally eliminating tariffs on clean technology products.

The United States should call on each of the major economies to choose any of the products from the World Bank’s list of 43 climate-friendly technologies — for example, solar and wind energy equipment — and end tariffs on them. The only requirement would be that each country reduce the tariffs collected on these 43 products in total by at least 20 percent.

OPEC Unlikely to Announce New Output Cut in May, Barclays Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, supplier of about 40 percent of the world’s oil, is unlikely to announce a further output cut at its next meeting as prices “stabilize,” according to Barclays Capital.

OPEC will probably keep production targets unchanged as long as crude prices remain around current levels and inventory growth continues to slow, according to Barclays’s head of commodities research, Paul Horsnell. The group meets on May 28 in Vienna.

ConocoPhillips Said to Plan Full Shutdown of Irish Oil Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips plans to shut Ireland’s only crude oil refinery in the third quarter for maintenance and inspections, three people with knowledge of the work said.

The halt is likely to occur in August and last about a month, two of the people said, declining to be identified because the information is confidential. Bill Stephens, a ConocoPhillips spokesman based at company headquarters in Houston, wouldn’t confirm or deny the plans, citing a policy not to discuss refinery operations that are subject to change.

TransCanada to build $320 million pipeline in Mexico

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - TransCanada Corp said on Thursday it won a bid to build and own a $320 million natural gas pipeline on Mexico's Pacific coast, expanding its operations in the country.

The proposed pipeline will run 310 km (193 miles) to Guadalajara from a liquefied natural gas terminal being built near Manzanillo, the biggest Canadian pipeline operator said.

Bike lanes inspire love from cyclists, grousing from neighbors

Last fall, Williamsburg businesses and drivers flipped out when the city removed 340 parking spaces along Kent Avenue to make way for a 1.5-mile bike route.

The city created a "no standing" zone on both sides of the busy street that stripped 30 manufacturers of their loading docks. It also stoked tensions between biking hipsters and the Hasidim, many who drive.

"You can't uproot people because of a bike route," said Simon Weisser, a community board member who represents the Hassidism. "How can you live in such a place where you can't stop your car?"

Shell Plans to Increase Spending on Biofuels in Coming Years

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, will boost spending on biofuels this year and next to create a “commercial-size” renewables business.

“We expect to grow our spending in 2009 and 2010 in next- generation biofuels and biofuels technologies,” Chief Executive Officer Jeroen van der Veer said today at the Shell Eco-marathon Europe event in Lausitz, Germany.

Japan, waking up to peak oil?

Japan has a 49% dependence on oil for its primary energy supply and an 80% dependence on fossil fuels (which includes oil, natural gas and coal). From an energy security perspective, Japan’s economy, the second largest in the world, is increasingly vulnerable as peak oil approaches.

So what is the Japanese government doing to prepare for the reality of peak oil?

More peak oil articles from this UN think tank here.

Chesapeake CEO: Dramatic Natural Gas Price Rebound Expected

Current low natural gas prices are setting the stage for a dramatic price rebound that should begin this fall or winter, Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s chief executive officer told analysts Tuesday.

"Today's gas prices are clearly not strong enough to support a North American rig count that is high enough to prevent a very severe and unprecedented decline in North American gas production," Aubrey K. McClendon said.

"This will set the stage for a dramatic reversal of natural gas prices sometime this fall or winter," he said.

Natural Gas Discoveries are bad news for those looking for growth of railroad coal traffic

Recent discoveries of new natural gas reserves have sent well-head prices to levels not seen since late 2002, and supplies are now estimated to be sufficient for 100 years at current rates of usage. Just last year, supplies were thought to be limited and it looked like the natural gas industry was going to be as reliant on foreign imports of LNG as the gasoline industry was on the import of foreign crude oil. Now price, supply, and LNG imports are no longer obstacles to increasing the use of natural gas to make electricity and to power highway. Since coal has been the reserve fuel for those utilities which thought natural gas supplies were limited, the prospects for the former fuel have declined as those for natural gas have risen.

Oil-Services Providers Ponder How to Survive Energy Bust

When oil-service providers met at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston during the recent boom in energy, they were used to calling the shots. Now, caught between high operating costs and clients bent on reducing their own expenses, they're exploring strategies to survive the current economic crunch.

"All of us are starting to see an impact," said Thierry Pilenko, chief executive of oil-services provider Technip, citing a downturn in services dedicated to petrochemical projects, onshore drilling and even deepwater activities.

Venezuelan Oil-Services Law to Affect Some Foreign Companies

New nationalization legislation now in the hands of Venezuelan lawmakers will impact the operations of some oil-services companies but will leave out rig firms and large well-service firms.

GM loses another $6 billion

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors' financial woes continue as the automaker teetering on the edge of bankruptcy reported a $6 billion loss during the first three months of the year Thursday.

GM burned through $10.2 billion in cash in the quarter, leaving it with only $11.6 billion in cash on hand at the end of the period. The company says it needs between $11 billion and $14 billion on hand to continue normal operations.

Demand for boat slips in Marina del Rey is drying up

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of an empty slip.

Or in the case of Marina del Rey, more than 200 of them.

In good times, there was a two-year waiting list for spaces and small boaters complained that they were being pushed out by bigger boats. But as of February, Los Angeles County officials said, the number of boat slip vacancies at Marina del Rey had nearly doubled to 259, compared with 133 a year earlier.

Teams cope with schedule cutback and rain

INDIANAPOLIS — What once was billed the Thirty Days of May is now down to a half-dozen, maybe fewer if the rain continues.

The traditional monthlong Indianapolis 500 schedule, first trimmed amid fears of a gas shortage in the 1970s and then adjusted and readjusted several times over the years, has taken another hit because of the state of the economy.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has laid off employees to save money, closed the Brickyard Crossing Inn, a hotel just outside the track's second turn, and lopped two days off the practice time leading up to the May 24 race.

Study: Corn-based Biofuel Costs 50 Gallons of Water per Mile

Federal requirements to increase the production of ethanol has developed into a “drink-or-drive issue” in the Midwest as a result of biofuel production’s impact on water supplies and water quality, says an environmental engineering researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology in the latest issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In an analysis of the water required to produce ethanol from various crops, Joel G. Burken, Ph.D., a professor of environmental engineering at Missouri S&T, and colleagues from Rice University and Clarkson University find that ethanol could become a costly proposition in terms of “gallons per mile” and other water quality issues. They describe the Midwest’s water needs and impacts as the "water footprint."

The researchers report that ethanol derived from corn grown in Nebraska, for example, would require 50 gallons of water per mile driven, when all the water needed in irrigation of crops and processing into ethanol is considered. Fuel derived from irrigated sorghum grown in that state would require even more water to produce – as much as 115 gallons per mile.

House Ag Chair's Embarassing Biofuels Hissy Fit

WASHINGTON - The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee reportedly declared at a hearing today that he “will not support any kind of climate change bill” because he is “upset” that proposed EPA biofuels rules require all global warming pollution resulting from biofuels production to be taken into account.

EPA view on biofuel worries industry

Washington, D.C. - The government and the biodiesel industry are at odds over the impact of the soy-based fuel's failure to meet standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Japan's Itochu takes fuel oil storage in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Itochu Petroleum has expanded its presence in Asia's fuel oil market, by taking 100,000-120,000 cubic metres (cu m) of storage space at joint-venture partner Chemoil's Helios terminal, industry sources said on Wednesday.

India buys more Iran, less Saudi crude oil in '08/09

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India raised crude imports from Iran, Venezuela and Kuwait in fiscal 2008/09, but Saudi supplies dipped as the top oil exporter reduced output and as key customer Reliance Industries cut refinery runs on low demand.

Crude processing by Indian refiners rose 3.0 percent in the 2008/09 financial year that ended in March, the slowest pace in three years, while Reliance Industries reduced production at its export-oriented plants by 3.5 percent.

Total eyes other oil sands assets to fill 'gaps'

Total SA may make acquisitions in Canada and elsewhere to fill "gaps" in its business after failing to buy UTS Energy Corp., a Canadian oil-sands developer, in a $830-million hostile takeover bid.

Saudi Aramco CEO defends massive expansion plans

The president and CEO of Aramco, Khalid Al-Falih, has defended the company’s massive expansion plans and spoken of its commitment and sense of responsibility at being the world’s largest energy supplier.

Baker report adds perspective to Mexico's energy reform, deepwater strategy

HOUSTON -- To understand the dynamics of Mexico's state oil company Pemex, it must be compared to international standards, George Baker, consultant and principal of Energia.com, said today at an OTC press conference. "Their methods of holding themselves to international standards are weak," he said.

Pemex's lack of attendance at international gatherings such as OTC, where ideas are shared, is one example, Baker said. He also pointed to the company's organizational structure, which he said is flawed, citing its lack of an easily identifiable exploration management team. "Pemex's exploration challenges are not a matter of technology, but a matter of the organizational structure of the company," he said.

Transocean May Build Rigs in Brazil as Petrobras Expands Search

(Bloomberg) -- Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore driller, may build rigs in Brazil as energy producers including state-controlled Petroleo Brasiliero SA seek to tap the Western Hemisphere’s largest discoveries in three decades.

Geneva-based Transocean may hire shipyards in the South American nation to construct drilling vessels to satisfy Petroleo Brasileiro’s requirement for domestically built equipment, Chief Executive Officer Robert Long said today during a conference call with investors and analysts.

EU Offers Russia's Neighbors Perks for Energy

The European Union will offer better trade ties and easier visa rules to six of Russia's neighbors on Thursday as it seeks their support for oil and gas pipelines bypassing Russia.

The Eastern Partnership — as the EU plan to build closer ties with the six countries is known — kicks off with an inaugural meeting in Prague on Thursday, followed the next day by a separate event focusing on Nabucco, the planned gas pipeline to bypass Russia.

"It's a sort of challenge to Russia," said Boris Shmelyov, director of the Center for Comparative Political Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences. "If it wants to keep these countries in its orbit, it has to come up with a good neighborhood policy of its own."

Asia Fuel Oil-India exports resume after 2-mth halt

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Indian Oil Corp (IOC) is offering 380-cst fuel oil for June lifting, after selling a mid-May cargo, while Essar Oil sold two May parcels, marking the resumption of India's exports of residual fuels after a two-month hiatus.

Traders said Indian refineries were resuming fuel oil sales, in line with the start of the monsoon season between May and July. Exports had halted since late March, as refineries cut runs and switched to production of bitumen to meet rising demand from domestic infrastructure projects.

Total boosts fuel oil purchases to 580,000T

Total, global oil and gas company and chemicals manufacturer, has bought 90,000 tonnes of cracked 380-cst fuel oil from Saudi Aramco, taking its total to at least 580,000 tonnes since late March.

The French oil major's recent physical fuel oil purchases -- which come after a number of years of inactivity -- could signal a push into higher margin physical trades, traders said.

Exxon Mobil, Aramco's China refinery starts up - source

BEIJING (Reuters) - Sinopec Corp's expanded 240,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Fujian refinery, a joint venture with Saudi Aramco and Exxon Mobil Corp, started pumping crude into its new facility late last month, an industry source told Reuters on Thursday.

We must cut dependence on oil to stop kowtowing to despicable Saudi regime

If you ever wonder why you need to drive an electric Dinky toy car and use wind to power your kettle, forget global warming and think of Frank Gardner.

Frank's the journalist who was left paralysed after six al-Qaeda bullets were shot through him five years ago in Saudi Arabia, and he now sits wheelchair-bound in a BBC studio.

He's not just an exceptionally brave man but bereft of self-pity, which is why he refuses to blame the Muslim world for his plight.

Yet even this knowledgeable, forgiving, pro-Arab journalist has one word to describe the treatment afforded him by Saudi Arabia. Despicable.

Environment challenges facing Arab countries on the rise, warns report

Abu Dhabi: The Arab Environment Future Challenges Report, presented by the Arab Forum for Environmental Development (AFED) in a ceremony on Thursday, warned that the challenges facing Arab countries, especially fresh water scarcity, desertification, air quality and marine pollution, will grow because of climate change.

Saudi to commission $15 mln solar plant

Saudi Arabia will commission the $15 million two-megawatt solar power plant at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in July, a senior company executive working on the project said on Thursday.

The plant will generate enough power for about 500 homes, said Abdulhadi al-Mureeh, a business development director with National Solar Systems.

Monbiot: How much fossil fuel can we burn?

Governments need to cap the amount of coal, gas and oil we extract if they are serious about fighting global warming.

The wrong direction

Agriculture has been another major contributor to Canada's greenhouse gases, accounting for seven percentage points of the overall increase since 1990. Environment Canada blames the growing market for meat, and the increase in the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

And then there are the tar sands. Mining, fossil-fuel production and electricity production were all major contributors to the increase in emissions since 1990. Even "fugitive releases" (pipeline leaks, etc) increased by 22 megatonnes between 1990 and 2007.

New "Green Cities" Report Assesses How Key Cities in America are Combating Climate Change

A new report released today called Green Cities is one of the first assessments of exactly how 40 of the country's largest cities are trying to limit their carbon footprints and take the steps needed to raise these efforts to the next level. The report was initiated and conducted by Living Cities, a long-standing collaboration of 21 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions.

Based on conversations with the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field, the report is an effort to showcase and support the innovative ways in which cities are creating an equitable green economy - one that connects low-income people and under-invested urban communities to the economic mainstream. According to the featured survey included, it is here where cities have generally fallen short.

Collapsing Towers

In the heady days of high finance, cheap credit and expensive oil, there was so much money sloshing around the world that it was difficult to find ways to spend it.

Many developers, especially in the oil-enriched nations of the Middle East, drafted plans to build super skyscrapers, the likes of which the world had never seen. Had these plans come to fruition--by 2020, barely a decade from now--the tallest finished building in the world today, the 1,670 foot Taipei 101, would have been the 20th.

So much for all that. A crashing global economy put an end to those dreams, at least for now, especially in the Middle East.

Saudi industrial plans seek extra help

THE PROJECT OF steering a vast desert kingdom towards ultra-modernity and diverse, export-led industrialization gathers pace. In an era of sparse international credit, it is even more important but much more difficult to maintain the speed.

Consumer behaviour has undergone ‘climate change’

Former Procter & Gamble global marketing officer Peter Stengel said retailers face a “climate change” as shopper behaviour undergoes a fundamental and irreversible shift.

Stengel, who is chief executive of his eponymous think tank and consultancy, said that there was a “fundamental shift” in consumer spending patterns, which will have long-term repercussions for retailers long after the recession ends.

“It is not a weather change, it is a climate change,” he said at today’s World Retail Congress session on the new global consumer.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Bankruptcy

A few years back peak oil all seemed so simple.

Worldwide oil production was going to stop growing; shortages were going to develop; prices would go higher and higher; demand would drop; prices would fall; demand would increase; and the cycle would repeat itself. Each repetition would send prices higher than the one before as more and more people would be forced out of the oil age.

Last summer, it looked as if this scenario were happening. Oil prices, which had been rising slowly for several years, suddenly shot up to $147 a barrel causing all sorts of economic havoc. Weak airlines dropped like flies! New car sales plummeted! Politicians postured! The Saudis opened the oil tap a bit! Exactly why this price spike was happening became a matter of national debate.

Oil Rises Above $58 on Speculation That Bank Crisis Is Ending

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose above $58 a barrel for the first time this year on speculation that the banking crisis and worldwide recession are ending, stoking demand for energy.

Oil traded at the highest price since November as equities rose in anticipation of a “reassuring” report later today from U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on banks’ ability to bear economic stress. Crude extended yesterday’s gains on reports showing that the U.S. companies cut fewer jobs in April and China’s economy performed better than estimated.

Russian Ruble Jumps as Oil Rises to Six-Month High, Stocks Gain

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s ruble climbed against its target currency basket for a fourth day as oil prices surged and the Micex stock index jumped to its highest level since October.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain to Keep Currency Pegs to Dollar

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain officials said today that they see no need to change their more than two-decade-old fixed-exchange rates to the U.S. dollar.

“We are committed to the peg because it serves us well,” Saudi central bank Governor Mohammed al-Jasser said today at an Islamic Financial Services Board conference held in Singapore. The dollar still remains the “dominant” global currency, he said.

Kuwait suspends oil exports due to high winds

KUWAIT - OPEC member Kuwait halted exports of crude oil and products on Thursday due to bad weather, a spokesman for state refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Co said.

“We have stopped all exports, crude and oil products, due to high wind and dusty weather,” a KNPC spokesman told Reuters, adding that exports would remain halted until the weather improved.

Kuwait to invest $11 bln to boost neutral zone output

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait Gulf Oil Co (KGOC) plans to invest around $11 billion in the next 20 years to boost oil output capacity to 900,000 barrels per day from a divided zone it shares with Saudi Arabia, a top oil official said.

KGOC also plans to spend billions of dollars to develop the massive Dorra gas field with Saudi Arabia, said Bader al-Khashti, chairman of the state-run firm, which operates on the Kuwaiti side of the shared Neutral Zone with Saudi.

"The plan is to spend around $11 billion over the next 20 years...This includes all the projects that we have in mind for the development, expansion and drilling," Khashti told Reuters in an interview.

Shell’s chief executive on the oil industry, the Arctic, Russia, CO2 controls and the company’s future

Q: How deep is the hole that the industry is in right now?

A: Oil prices came down very sharply, I think at the speed that hardly anybody expected. Secondly, there was a loss of demand as well, especially in the US and Europe and less so in the Far East. And thirdly, usually people don’t notice it so much but we have quite acquired some volatility in currencies as well. So you have to live with that and, of course, you have to look at your customers: whether they still have the cash to pay for their supplies.

Stimulus weatherization aid favors cold regions

A huge boost in federal funds to help low-income families weatherize their homes provides more than $3 on average in the coldest states for every $1 given to warm-weather states, an analysis of the aid program shows — even though exposure to extreme heat and cold are both health risks.

"People think weatherization is only for cold weather," says James Miller, spokesman for the Florida Department of Community Affairs. "The heat is just as dangerous as the cold."

Making Natural Gas Transportation a Reality

So, what now? For those of us who believe a natural gas centric energy policy should be an urgent and critical priority for America’s future prosperity, how can we make it happen?

GM Faces Exile From Dow as It Mulls 60 Billion Shares

(Bloomberg) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average may lose its lowest-priced stock with General Motors Corp. facing a bankruptcy or reorganization, said John Prestbo, the editor and executive director of Dow Jones Indexes.

GM costs the least among the 30 companies in the Dow, representing 0.2 percent of the price-weighted measure, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. International Business Machines Corp., priced the highest, has a 9.8 percent weighting.

Nissan plans electric car to challenge Chevrolet Volt

Nissan says it could beat General Motors' highly publicized Chevrolet Volt to market, selling an electric car as soon as fall 2010 with an eye-popping fuel-economy rating equivalent to 367 miles per gallon and a range of 100 miles on a charge.

The electric car does not use petroleum fuel directly. The mpg equivalent is calculated using a federal formula that takes into account the fuel an electric utility would use to charge the car.

Ford said Wednesday that it will begin producing a battery-power version of the next-generation Focus compact sedan at a converted Michigan truck factory in 2011. An early prototype gets 357 mpg, using the federal math.

Ford invests $550M to bring new Focus to market

WAYNE, Mich. – Ford Motor Co. stripped "truck" from the name of one its Detroit-area plants Wednesday as it announced plans to build its next-generation Focus here, including a battery-electric version Ford expects will run up to 100 miles without using gas or emitting greenhouse gas.

While Chrysler LLC sells assets in a New York bankruptcy court, and General Motors Corp. works around the clock on ways to cut labor costs and debt before a government imposed deadline, Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and CEO Alan Mulally announced plans to invest $550 million to retool the Michigan Truck plant so it can make small cars it will sell worldwide.

Something fishy about forest biomass claims

RISI, the leading information provider for the global forest products industry, states in its October 2008 Wood Biomass Market Report that “the perceived overabundance of ‘waste wood’ in the nation’s forests is simply not there.”

What this means is — even counting on the current unsustainable rate of short-rotation toxic clear-cutting on private forestlands — there’s not enough wood to feed proposed biomass plants, such as Seneca Sawmill Co.’s.

So why are there more and more proposed biomass plants across the United States?

New Zealand: Harbour barrier could control sea, create power

A Barrier should be built across Otago Harbour to protect Dunedin from sea-level rise and help generate electricity, Dunedin city councillors were told yesterday.

Clean energy firms still offer good returns: investors

LONDON (Reuters) - Renewable energy companies could still provide substantial returns for private equity investors this year as those with real growth potential are surviving the economic slowdown, investors said at a conference on Wednesday.

Shares in clean energy companies under performed other stocks in 2008 because of their dependence on growth, technology advances and high oil prices. More expensive debt since the financial crisis has curbed installation of clean energy projects, for example in wind and solar power.

Some Americans clamor to try wind power at home

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The idea of wind turbines churning out free electricity alongside every home and office building has appeal, judging by the throngs around "community wind" purveyors at a Chicago wind power convention this week.

Darrin Russell of Southwest Windpower was inundated with questions during the Windpower 2009 convention where he explained the economics of the company's workhorse 2.4 kilowatt Skystream turbine, which plugs into the local electrical grid.

Cert energy-saving bulb scheme not saving power

Ofgem will soon publish figures for the first year of the Cert scheme, under which ­energy companies help householders install energy-saving items. It will say that no less than 152m CFL bulbs have been given out to British homes – about six per household.

Review: Prosperity Without Growth?

In response to these concerns, this book cites the studies of Peter Victor, a Canadian economist, who has run computer models of how the Canadian economy would react to the end of growth with differences in macroeconomic variables such as the savings rate, the rates of public and private investment, and the length of the work week. Results are dramatically different with different values for these variables. In one run, the end of growth brings economic instability, high unemployment, and rising poverty. In another run, the end of growth brings economic stability, cuts both the unemployment and poverty rates in half, and reduces the ratio of debt to GDP by 75%. In part, the difference comes because the second scenario has a higher savings rate, a lower rate of private investment, and a higher rate of public investment. In addition "unemployment is avoided ... by reducing both the total and the average number of working hours. Reducing the working week is the simplest and most often cited structural solution to the challenge of maintaining full employment with non-increasing output."

Peak-Oil Prophet James Howard Kunstler on Food, Fuel and Why He Became a Vegan

Kunstler dishes on the collapse of our institutions, why "recovery" may never come and how to survive the fall of farming as we know it.

Profile: Stephen Kronstein promotes peak oil

Point Grey’s Green Party MLA candidate, Stephen Kronstein, is aware he will not win on May 12. Hence, he is freely toting throughout Point Grey one issue: peak oil.

U.N. CO2 scheme needs energy efficiency focus: developer

BEIJING (Reuters) - A bigger role must be found for improving energy efficiency in any new U.N. deal aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a leading China-based project developer said on Thursday.

Climate Experts Warn That Short-Term Snapshots Of Temperature Data Can Be Misleading: Focus Instead On The Bigger Picture

ScienceDaily — In the hotly debated arena of global climate change, using short-term trends that show little temperature change or even slight cooling to refute global warming is misleading, write two climate experts in a paper recently published by the American Geophysical Union — especially as the long-term pattern clearly shows human activities are causing the earth’s climate to heat up.

Energy industry adjusts to politics of global warming

Whether or not oil and gas players have abandoned years of skepticism about the human role in climate change, the industry appears to have accepted the likelihood of pending game-changing legislation.

The change goes beyond the environmentally friendly ad campaigns from companies like Shell, BP and Chevron in recent years. Exxon Mobil made several mentions of projects with “lower greenhouse gas emissions” during its earnings calls last week. Companies in all parts of the business have started including climate change laws in their risk warnings to investors.

Cut Carbon And Stay Competitive: $10 Billion?

As Congress debates how to regulate carbon emissions, business is up in arms over costs they say will leave them handicapped in the face of growing global competition.

But an estimate out today says the U.S. government will give away just $10 billion per year in carbon allowances to keep many domestic industries competitive under a federal cap and trade climate scheme--petty cash in the current bailout era.

Peak phosphorus: the sequel to peak oil ?

Phosphorus isn't quite at the top of the list of fashionable causes, but perhaps it should be. Dana Cordell warns of a looming problem, we've become addicted to it and, like oil, it's believed it will run out.

Phosphorus has been used extensively for over 100 years as a fertiliser in modern industrial agriculture. The widespread use has lifted crop yields and helped feed the world's growing population, but what happens when production reaches a peak?

Only one month ago an obscure organization (IMF) warned that toxic debts could reach $4 trillion ($2 - 2.5 trillion to go). I'm so glad that this was solved in the meantime. I'll buy oil now.

well... it's my guess that you probably should

a couple more months of good news like "oil is rising on suspected crisis end" will draw money hidden away into the market. it's a self fulfilling prophecy, and a scam

The toxic debts should be equal to the fall in property prices since its peak (fluctuate between 25% and 33% of its peak value) plus money drawn out by families, businesses, govts and ngos using property as atm (through refinancing etc) plus the markup on those loans. Somewhere I read that soc (social overhead capital that include cummulative price of property) of usa fall from $65 trillion at its peak to $45 trillion now, so that net $20 trillion, add loans for properties that are yet to be paid and their accumulated markups, it should be something between $25 trillion to $35 trillion. Guess how many years china need to pay for that (through buying usa's loan that it can never pay back).

The toxic debts should be equal to the fall in property prices since its peak

If you define toxic debt, as loans that are unlikely to be repaid (and even then only the amount of loss to the bondholder), your formula would be a gross overestimation. For instance, my house is paid off, so the 50% fall in its market value from mid 2005, cannot be dumped onto a financial institution. At most the difference between the value of the loans and the value of the collateral should be used. And even there, people with other assets, or continuing income may choose not to default, as that reflects poorly on a persons credit rating. In the USA, a person's credit rating is also checked by potential employers, so even if a citizen intends to never borrow again, he/she still has substantial incentive not to default. The net loss of asset value, is thus only partially transfered to toxic debt, much of the losses are "owned" by the individuals/institutions who made the bad decisions themselves.

Good article on natgas transportation fuel. For the next 2-3 years everybody has stars in their eyes about PHEVs. Except they probably won't buy them due to cost and range limitations. NGVs will pick up the rebound if the home fuelling equipment maker doesn't go under.

It's also hard to disagree with the article's opinion on whether Chu is reality based.

from the cited article:

>"Natural gas reserves in the US are abundant and can power US home heating, industrial, electrical generation, and transportation sectors for decades into the future.
>Vast US natural gas reserves and the nation’s 2.2 million mile natural gas pipeline grid are the best weapons in the war on foreign oil imports"

this country will have to get past "abundant and vast",

imo. a few public traded companies start telling a few analysts/investors how much gas they are finding and without a critical thought among them, seemingly, gas "reserves" are suddenly xxxx tcf and yyy yrs of supply.

granted hz shale gas drilling and other gas drilling has created a temporary glut. what happens after a dose of reality ? look at reserves after a few yrs and a few thousand more wells are drilled. what happens when gas drilling holds at ca 700 ?

this author seems to be a gasucopian.

we are hearing that the majic of shale gas drilling and frac'ing has suddenly found xx (take your pick) hugotons in nanodarcy permeability rock.

The word of the day award goes to Elwood for gasucopian

Interesting mix of viewpoints in the NG articles. Chesapeake CEO calls for "dramatic" price rebound in NG while Toby Kolstad advises ". . . new natural gas reserves have sent well-head prices to levels not seen since late 2002, and supplies are now estimated to be sufficient for 100 years at current rates of usage." A true gasucopian!

I think McClendon has it right on prices. He is pricethrutheroofer not a gasucopian.

i think mcclendon want us to think that they have plenty of reserves and the selling price will be astronomical.

eog has made announcements that they are curtailing production(in nd) while apparently still producing along at rates their wells would have declined to anyhow. this gives them an opportunity to claim superhuman powers to generate revenues while cutting production or alternately offering the alibi that their income was adversly affected in future qtr reports.

A lot of gas could be freed up by not using it so much in base and intermediate load power generation, a job that could be taken over by nukes. You just have to pass laws
- do not sell alcohol to minors
- do not use gas in power stations.

The energy density of hydrocarbon fuel both liquid and gaseous is so great they might one day have to be made synthetically. Unfortunately there is no clear winner yet among synfuels.

People might not buy PHEVs due to cost considerations, but limited range is not a problem with these vehicles. They have the same or better range than a conventional auto. It is the pure electric (EV) type vehicles where range might be a problem to a buyer.

George Will: Sunbeams From Cucumbers

Gulliver's travels took him to the Academy of Lagado, where "professors contrive new rules and methods" for everything: "One man shall do the work of ten; a palace may be built in a week, of materials so durable as to last forever without repairing. All the fruits of the earth shall come to maturity at whatever season we think fit to choose, and increase a hundredfold more than they do at present." There was, however, the "inconvenience" that "none of these projects" had yet come to fruition and "the whole country lies miserably waste." But "instead of being discouraged," people were "fifty times more violently bent upon prosecuting their schemes," which included "extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers."

One man shall do the work of ten: The energy economy gives every man in the industrialized world the ability to do the work of 100.

All the fruits of the earth shall come to maturity at whatever season we think fit to choose,: global food distribution, greenhouses

and increase a hundredfold more than they do at present: gm modified crops, pesticides, I-NPK

extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers: ethanol

Thank you.

I tend to wonder if George Will wears those glasses to look smarter, but that he might possibly see things more clearly without them?

Railing against the spectre of 'REGULATIONS!' when our fantasies of unchecked omnipotence can so easily be traced to our access to unconscionable volumes of nearly free energy. Naturally enough, the addicts of this drug will answer with ridicule AND Violence, (the one comparison I think you left out) to any proposal that we put some limits on this Baccanalian Orgy.. like taking a hand in getting Auto MFRS to make products that we need, not ones that just fuel our Bloated Self-image..

Of course Momma Geology won't mind how much George rails.. Her Regulations are pretty unbendable.
As he says himself.. "It is Demagoguery 101 to identify an unpopular minority to blame for problems."


Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the DB link: "Peak phosphorus: the sequel to peak oil?"

I hope all TOD 'NPK newbies' will listen to the audio [but she does talk fast], as I think she gives an excellent non-technical Phosphorus overview of what I have previously discussed in my many NPK postings. My Kudos to Dana Cordell!

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Yo Toto - Did you catch this one?


Thats a hell of a lot of ammonium nitrate up in smoke.

"As three million pounds of ammonium nitrate/fuel oil explosives continue to rip through the lush green Appalachian mountains and historic mountain communities every day, coalfield residents from West Virginia have issued an extraordinary letter today..."

Hello Soup,

Yep, that the problem or promise with the Elements NPKS: it can make a damn fast chemical boom, or a slow and steady photosynthesis bloom. I prefer that we choose the latter; wheelbarrowing NPKS is better than using NPKS in guns & explosions. I feel sorry for those living in areas where valley fill is being used--what a mess.

Trying to find a job is not a job: Keeping the unemployed busy is an exercise in denial -- and social control

In most parts of the world, from Paris to Beijing, mass unemployment brings the specter of mass social unrest. Not here, though, where 13 million people have accepted joblessness with nary a peep of protest.

Many reasons -- from Prozac to Pentecostalism -- have been cited to explain American passivity in the face of economic violence. But the truth may be far simpler: In America, being unemployed doesn't mean you have nothing to do but run around burning police cars. Unemployment has been reconfigured as a new form of work.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the white-collar world, where the laid-off are constantly advised to see job searching as a full-time job. As business self-help guru Harvey Mackay advises: "Once you're fired, you already have a job. The job you have is tougher than the last one. It's more demanding." How demanding? He says you need to "plan on 12 to 16 hours a day."

In fact, there are now more people on Government Payrolls (22,385,000) than Goods Producing payrolls (21,618,000)! Hahaha! We are so freaking doomed! What makes it So Damned Funny (SDF) is that a conceited, self-absorbed nation like America, that boasts how smart we are, cannot possibly realize the utter, utter stupidity of this! Hahaha! And yet, here it is! Dare I repeat myself that we are freaking doomed? Sure! We're freaking doomed! Hahaha!

I'm getting this image of an upside down pyramid... At the bottom is one worker, making non-government goods or services... And, he pays an enormous tax rate, supporting 2 government workers providing government services, which support 4 more people, which support...

A bit upside down, eh?

Oddly enough, 83,000 jobs were created in the April's Birth/Death Model in the category of "Leisure and Hospitality", which I figure is a pretty good estimate of the number of women who have recently become prostitutes because they are so desperate for money! Welcome to the hell of inflation!

True story- in a city in Wisconsin by my neck of the woods, a housewife was prostituting herself during the day (when her husband was at work) on Craigslist to make ends meet. She was caught and charged with running her service... I wonder how much more of this we'll see. Barter service anyone?

I canot find a link, but I think it might have been on The Rachel Maddow Show last night where she reported that the Pentago is hiring/adding 20,000 jobs. 11,000 of them to replace contractors currently doing the jobs and the other 9,000 as auditors.

Anyone (else) see a problem here?


Was that the story where the housewife was moonlighting during the day and ended up with her own husband as a paying customer?

That's called a marriage......

No, that one happened in Poland... They met each other at a brothel (where she was an employee and he was a customer) and asked each other what they were doing there...

Boy, is it ever different in Europe:

In Europe, social safety net softens the slump

While economic forecasts are just as dire on this continent as in the United States, Germany’s citizens — and, indeed, most across western Europe — can count on a broad government safety net that includes generous unemployment checks, universal healthcare and inexpensive university education to tide them over.

“The German government is really good about taking care of people; we know we won’t be starving one way or another," she added.

Interesting claim: A bacteria is able to make 'sandstone'

Got me to:
bacillus pasteurii and urea (not sugar) to make solid what was sand.

The local pH rise may be achieved by the production of ammonia and carbon dioxide resulting from the enzymatic hydrolysis of urea. Bacillus pasteurii, a common soil bacteria, uses urea as an energy source and produces ammonia which increases pH, in turn causing Ca2+ and CO32- to precipitate as CaCO3.

Calculating the calcium, water, and bacteria "food" required for this wall will be the extent of it.

I was thinking of it as a way to make buildings or building material. Might just be cheaper than concrete. Add some water-sealant on the outside for protection...

For yucks I may try it on my parents land to make a bubble-style small rock-esque home. 1st make the stone floor, then a pile of sand that you then covered with plastic, then piled more sand on top of and be sure to add Calcium to the sand or perhaps to the urea applications.

In other news, a project to reclaim the Sahara by importing lots of water ...

DB toplink: Corn-based Biofuel Costs 50 Gallons of Water per Mile

Ouch! Not positive, but I don't think even the old time steam locomotives used water/mile at that rate. Pumped aquifer water for ethanol makes no sense to me.

Corn-based Biofuel Costs 50 Gallons of Water per Mile this is insane if true. Thx for alerting me here Toto.

Reeling states hit by April tax shortfalls

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- State officials nationwide are wrestling with yet another round of budget shortfalls, this time due to plummeting April income tax revenues.

The latest gaps are proving more of a challenge. Most states close their fiscal years at the end of June, so they have limited ways to balance their budgets at this point. Unlike the federal government, states can't run a deficit.

Most are looking to tap rainy day funds or use federal stimulus money to shore up their finances, since spending cuts or fee hikes won't bring in the bucks in time. The problem is that many states were counting on those funds to balance their fiscal year 2010 budgets.

Link up top: Review: Prosperity Without Growth? A total myth.

If the population continues to grow, growth is needed to give jobs to an ever growing population. The review completely ignored this issue.

In a debt based economy, growth is needed to pay the interest on money borrowed. In a zero sum economy no new money is generated and only the principle could possibly be paid, no interest. The review completely ignored this issue. (I don't know if the book brings up these problems or not, but I assume not else they would have been mentioned in the review.

If technology continues to make industry more efficient then growth is needed to put people to work that were laid off due to technology. The Luddites were right but industrial growth made their argument moot because the people found new jobs due to growth. The review completely ignored this issue. The article mentions technology only as a negative.

One more very important point, which the review, and apparently the book, along with just about everyone else, completely ignores. That point is; no one, not even the government, can dictate behavior. One government may attempt to dictate a proclamation such as: No more technology. Or: No more population growth, or any of the many other things required to prevent the total collapse which we are headed for at full speed.

Oh one or two governments may attempt such dictates, likely with dubious success but ALL governments will not and cannot. So saying; here is what we must do, is a total waste of breath. Almost seven billion people will, in general, do as they damn well please and pay absolutely no attention to "what we must do."

We are but observers in this catastrophic collapse. Reading such; "How the World can be Saved" may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling but in the long run they are but a total waste of time and money. Your time and resources would best be spent trying to improve your own, and your families, chances of surviving the coming collapse and forget about trying to save the whole world.

Ron P.

I think there were some useful things there. Population is only growing in the US because of immigration. And immigration is encouraged because of the need for economic growth. You need ever more poor people coming in at the bottom of the pyramid to keep the ponzi scheme going.

If we did manage to let go of the growth paradigm, then populations could shrink naturally, as they are in Japan, Italy, and other developed countries. Economic difficulty could encourage this. Many of the Soviet Union countries struggled to keep their birth rates up, but even with draconian measures like banning birth control and examining all females starting at age 12 monthly to make sure they didn't abort, birth rates kept dropping...for economic reasons.

In any case, it's interesting to know which government policies work, and which don't. Even if it seems unlikely they will be enacted...you never know. I never thought I'd live to see gay marriage legalized, let alone in Iowa.

You need ever more poor people coming in at the bottom of the pyramid to keep the ponzi scheme going.

That sounds very reasonable, very logical, until you examine it a little closer then it becomes obvious that you have it exactly backwards. The growth scheme, (call it a ponzi scheme it pleases you), is necessary to give jobs to those poor continuing to enter the bottom of the pyramid. You cannot stop those people from entering at the bottom so if the scheme collapsed they would simply starve.

If we did manage to let go of the growth paradigm, then populations could shrink naturally, as they are in Japan, Italy, and other developed countries.

You can't be serious! The population growth rate is rising slightly in developed countries but is still growing by almost 1.5 percent in undeveloped countries. By what logic would stopping GDP growth, (which is mostly in developed countries), cause the population to stop growing in undeveloped countries?

World Population, More vs. Less Developed Countries.
(World population is growing by 1.167 percent. 2009 estimate )

However the problem with your statement above is that you are making an assumption that has no facts to back it up. You are just assuming that because Japan’s population is not growing, it is because their GDP stopped growing. The rooster crowed just at sunrise so therefore we can assume the rooster crowing caused the sun to rise.

No, population growth slows in areas that are highly developed, countries where per capita fossil fuel consumption is extremely high. In undeveloped countries, where per capita FF consumption is extremely low, the population is growing very fast. So if logic would dictate that if we could just develop these countries, about 80% if the world’s population, increasing their FF consumption by about five fold, we could slow down population growth. Do you seriously think that is an option?

Ron P

That sounds very reasonable, very logical, until you examine it a little closer then it becomes obvious that you have it exactly backwards. The growth scheme, (call it a ponzi scheme it pleases you), is necessary to give jobs to those poor continuing to enter the bottom of the pyramid. You cannot stop those people from entering at the bottom so if the scheme collapsed they would simply starve.

I think we can stop people from entering at the bottom. It's probably the only population control measure for which there is political support.

The population growth rate is rising slightly in developed countries but is still growing by almost 1.5 percent in undeveloped countries. By what logic would stopping GDP growth, (which is mostly in developed countries), cause the population to stop growing in undeveloped countries?

It wouldn't. I'm not talking about undeveloped countries. I'm talking about our own country.

You are just assuming that because Japan’s population is not growing, it is because their GDP stopped growing.

No, I am not making that connection at all. I'm just saying...it's possible for a country's population to shrink naturally. No draconian government measures, no trying to fight "human nature."

So if logic would dictate that if we could just develop these countries, about 80% if the world’s population, increasing their FF consumption by about five fold, we could slow down population growth. Do you seriously think that is an option?

No. I'm not talking about the rest of the world.

Errr...okay Leanan, now I understand where you are coming from. It looks like you are advocating a new kind of isolationism. Figure out how we can survive and screw the rest of the world. But just in case you haven't noticed, this is not a USA problem, it is a World problem.

I do not think there is any possibility that the USA can survive if the rest of the world collapses. Our oil supply would be about 5 million barrels per day, and declining. That is less than one third our current consumption. The stock market collapses because all industry collapses and unemployment would reach at least 75 percent. The government would have no tax base and nearly all social services would collapse, including social security, medicare, police and fire protection.

Other developed countries, like your favorite example, Japan, would be in far worse trouble. Japan has virtually NO fossil fuel resources. Only Russia would have any chance of surviving alone.

Sorry but it is back to the drawing board Leanan. Neither no growth nor total isolationism will not save us, it will only hasten the collapse. And in case no one has noticed, no growth has just begun.

Ron P.

The original article was clearly focused on the national level. The "solutions" offered were solutions meant to work on a national level. Not global, not village, national. So that was what I was discussing.

Doesn't mean there aren't things we could be doing globally or locally, too.

The original article was clearly focused on the national level.

Okay, that is another serious problem with the article, and book. When we are discussing the collapse of the world economy there are no solutions that work only at the local level. (Except for the wilderness survivalist of course.) The world population is growing and people must have jobs, or farms, or starve. Technology keeps putting more and more people out of work and only more growth can give them new jobs. Money is borrowed to keep the economy going and only growth can generate money to pay the interest.

The article and book is nonsense. No-growth economy is possible but only if we live like we did before the industrial revolution. And only a couple of billions, at most, can possibly survive in such a society.

Ron P.

The article and book is nonsense. No-growth economy is possible but only if we live like we did before the industrial revolution. And only a couple of billions, at most, can possibly survive in such a society.

The article was written about Canada, not the US. Canada probably has a low enough population density.

I believe the original report is out of the UK, though.

The issue isn't interest, it's profit. Where was it I read that prices basically didn't rise at all for almost all of the 1700's or 1800's? That's pretty slow growth in inflation for a rapidly growing world population.

Let's also consider Jubilee. All debt paid off. Everyone free and clear, yet it never caused collapse. Why can't that be a permanent state?

The most important single vector for survival is food and water. I can't speak to water, but I've run the numbers on arable land and there's enough for the current population +.

Get rid of banks, or at least interest, and get rid of profit, and you've got a shot. Keep either, and you've got either no shot at all, or what you say: feudalism.

The problems are not physical, they are political and structural.


Lacking all your numbers, charts, graphs and hypothesis I am confident that 5 million barrels a day is enough for most Americans to live a pretty comfortable, happy life. We used to manage on a lot less than that. We also used to do pretty well without computers. Sure, lots of changes would be necessary and sure, it wouldn't happen by choice or design. But we could manage better than you think.

I am confident that 5 million barrels a day is enough for most Americans to live a pretty comfortable, happy life. We used to manage on a lot less than that.

Sure we did, and we used to have a much smaller population than we do today. During my lifetime, the population of the world has tripled, and the population of the US has increased by two and one half times. (I was born in 1938) We used a lot less oil back then.

The current US population could not possibly get by on 5 million (and declining) barrels of oil per day, your confidence notwithstanding. Moreover the US could not withstand a collapse of the global economy. Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and dozens of other nations with virtually no oil or even coal, would be in desperate straights. What would they do? Would they go to war in an attempt to survive?

Most of you folks are truly living in a dream world. It might just be my opinion but I believe very few of you have given any serious thought as to what effects a global economic collapse would have on your daily lives.

Ron P.

chuck -- Here's a consideration: how are the folks currently earning a living (via that extra 13 million bopd we use) going to make a pay check? I get your point about the amount of oil we might need to maintain ourselves physically (but I think it would take a bit more then 5 million bopd). That's the trap we've built for ourselves. We have become a service bases economy. Limit disposable income and we destroy ten's of millions of jobs.

The report addresses that, by suggesting shorter workweeks. Everyone works, but everyone works less. (And earns less, too, of course.)

Nate joked that eventually, the 40-hour work week would be a 4-hour work week as oil resources continued to dwindle.

I agree. Eventually, we'd hit up against continuing decline, but it might be a lot longer than many here think. So much of our energy use is non-essential. Heck, it doesn't even give us very much enjoyment.

Of course, a government mandate saying we can't consume as much isn't likely to work. But it doesn't have to. We're going to be consuming less because of poverty, not out of altruism.

The original report the article is based on suggests re-defining prosperity. So the "prosperity" without growth it's talking about isn't the kind of prosperity we tend to think of when we use that word.

Only Russia would have any chance of surviving alone.

Norway maybe also. Look at the list of countries in www.eiu.com.

Norway is very well positioned in terms of energy. Home grown hydropower accounts for 40% of their total energy usage. Just look at the mix of sources in their consumption profile from the Energy Export Databrowser:

(Units of Joules puts all energy sources on an equal footing.)

Looking at "Import/Export" plots from the Databrowser you can see that Norway only uses a small fraction of the oil and gas it is produces and exports the rest. With any conservation efforts at all, it will take a generation or more before production declines in the North Sea prevent Norway from meeting its own energy needs.

So Norway is completely self-sufficient in terms of energy for at least for the next few decades.

If we did manage to let go of the growth paradigm, then populations could shrink naturally, as they are in Japan, Italy, and other developed countries. Economic difficulty could encourage this.

In Holland population did grow in 2008(0,1%). In the first place because of more immigrants, but also more births than in 2007.
"In quiverful movement, birth control is shunned". ??

I read Peter Victor's book recently. Victor doesn't tackle the problem of what might be termed 'debt-pushed' growth, as I recall. I think Ron is right to flag this issue. On the other hand, the book does provide a worthy analysis of the failure of 'growth', beyond a certain measure of 'development', to deliver 'the goods' in terms of quality of life. So Victor does argue in favour of growth in poor nations, but argues that 'we' who have and continue to materially benefit from industrial development, have nothing worthwhile to gain from continued growth.

In a public forum here in Ottawa, Victor faced comments similar to Ron's from an occasional Drumbeat poster, DavidMDelaney. Victor's response was essentially: I (and my helpful group of graduate students) have done one piece, but a lot more work (research, analysis, debate, publication, advocacy, enablement, empowerment...) awaits the effort of others.

Victor most decidedly doesn't retreat into the 'take-care-of-mine' and somehow survive TEOTWAWKI mode recommended by Ron, and I definitely side with Victor. Ron's prescription leads logically to the hapless knight, armed to the teeth, sitting on his bag of rice, surrounded by cans of sardines, desparately attempting to ward off sleep while real and imaginary enemies circle his abode and those of his goats and chickens. Moreover, Ron's prescription offers an ethical justification for warlordism, which afterall is all about 'me-and-mine', thus promising the highcountry hillbilly knight and his dependents the probility of organized assaults on their fortified cabin.

Survival in a world of 'me and my family' will be random. Individual effort will be pointless. Random is random. How many hours can you stay awake? Will your son-in-law conclude that his chances will increase with your demise...

Individual effort only gains meaning in the context of social action. Engagement in the public policy process is the only route through which individuals and families can hope to bias outcomes such that the likelihood of their own survival escapes the randomness of chance.

Moreover, Ron's prescription offers an ethical justification for warlordism, which afterall is all about 'me-and-mine', thus promising the highcountry hillbilly knight and his dependents the probility of organized assaults on their fortified cabin.

My prescription??? I have no prescription. I do say don't waste your time and resources on trying to save the whole world because they will be totally wasted. After all, what percentage of the world's population have taken your/our advice so far? Far less than one tenth of one percent.

As far as the fortified cabin goes, well hell, don't fortify I don't care. Just tell yourself that everything will be fine and live happily in your dream world.

Engagement in the public policy process is the only route through which individuals and families can hope to bias outcomes such that the likelihood of their own survival escapes the randomness of chance.

I have advocated, for several years now, that people should form groups of like minded people. They should form farming communities with all the houses in a central location and the farms surrounding the central community. The community should have a blacksmith, a doctor or nurse, and all the other trades that are needed to survive. And...your entire community should be armed to the teeth. Were I a younger man I would be active in forming such a community myself.

However trying to convince the world's population to behave in a given manner, to stop doing this or that and to start doing this or that, is a total waste of time, money and energy. You are not going to change the world....end of story!

Ron P.

However trying to convince the world's population to behave in a given manner, to stop doing this or that and to start doing this or that, is a total waste of time, money and energy. You are not going to change the world....end of story!

Of course, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson,etc., did not subscribe to this nihilistic philosophy. And the world is a better place because they were willing to act on the basis of their hopes and dreams, rather than retreat into apathetic disengagement.

Philosophy has consequences in the physical world (from fundamentalist Islam to Marxism to secular humanism). The belief that nothing can be changed is a sad and pathetic self-fulfilling prophecy.


Of course, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson,etc., did not subscribe to this nihilistic philosophy.

It was Gandhi who said:

"It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions have ceased to use their hands ..these great gift.
It is highly likely that a time will come we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse for having forgotten the living machines given to us by God."

The success of the notion that it is pointless to bother making an effort to change the world is the product of several decades of relentless propagandizing on the part of the 'great right-wing conspiracy' Secretary of State Hilarious so accurately described sometime back. Their funded think(not) tanks endlessly denigrate the idea of collective action, even as their funders spend even more money pursuing the domination of the political process so that the redistribution of wealth, opportunity and other privileges from the many to the few continues apace.

We have changed the world, for the worse in my opinion, but that is not the end of the story. Unless you like losing.

We have changed the world, for the worse in my opinion, but that is not the end of the story. Unless you like losing.

I think Ron's point is we have already lost. Like it or not.


I think your beliefs on survivability are hopelessly naive.

Its great fun to poke sarcasm at those who want to survive, isn't it?

Individual effort is wasted? Just how many people in the culture can one actually trust? One short drive down the interstate surrounding any major city will convince me or anyone else as to the trustworthiness of any Amurkhan.

Do they suddenly change after exiting from behind the wheel of their vehicles? No. They will cut you off at the knees and eat your face if they do desire. We have fallen just exaclty that low on the morality scale.

Laugh all you wish under your sheet hiding in the basement. Its reality. Ivory towered stories that ridicule are worthless.

You need to get out of your capsule and visit those hilllybilly knights perhaps. They may understand a few items that fell off your list long ago.

No one is going to save your ass or cares really. You are the sole 'keeper of your ass'. Not your suburban neighbor who might be hoarding body parts in his basement freezer.


I grew up around high country hillbillies and self-styled survivalists before there even was such a term. Back in the early seventies I even tried the lifestyle myself for a couple of years. Even now I occasionally visit old chums who continue to try to live off road kill and wild garlic. I notice they smoke a lot of tobacco and fidget a lot.

For the next several months, I'll be in British Columbia to build farm outbuildings for people who want to try to restore their 10 acres of paradise to agricultural viability. Fortunately for me, they are unafraid, fully intergrated members of society, who can pay my invoices.

It's your childlike belief that you can survive chaos in some kind of self-sufficient independent mode which is hopelessly naive. But you're welcome to your paranoia. For myself, I will continue to spend most of my life in the heart of a wonderful city with a vibrant cultural life and thousands of people who like me know that our health and that of our children is well served by building community institutions, including urban gardening organizations, community associations and other bondings. It is these institutions that form the basis of our security and of our capacity to meet new challenges.

In a debt based economy, growth is needed to pay the interest on money borrowed. In a zero sum economy no new money is generated and only the principle could possibly be paid, no interest. The review completely ignored this issue. (I don't know if the book brings up these problems or not, but I assume not else they would have been mentioned in the review.

This is a reoccurring theme on TOD, but I don't understand the reasoning behind it. Why does a lack of growth in income preclude the paying of interest? The issue isn't the generation of money, but of having sufficient income in the future to meet debt obligations. No growth may influence either the scale of debt or the interest rate, but there is no reason that it precludes debt with interest.

This post tries to explain that.

Thanks for the link. To be honest, though, I don't find the fable particularly compelling. For starters:

They can make more rounds and also expand the economy; for instance by increasing their chicken production (and also therefore their food production to feed the chickens etc). In this scenario the worth of a single round doesn't change, even though there are more of them, because the increased amount of currency "covers" the expanded economy.

Money changes hands multiple times, so there is no requirement that value of existing currency equals the value of output. The quality equation of money is useful here:

MxV=PxY, where V is the value of the money supply, v is the velocity (number of times currency changes hands), P is the price level and Y is the (real) level of output. If M increases (more rounds), but P and Y are precluded from changing, then adjustment happens at V. So M can increase without an effect on Y (more output) or P (inflation). Money just doesn't changes hands as often.

Even worse, the author claims "this story is a highly simplified version of things that isolates only the effects of interest repayments." However, in the fable, the stranger hasn't even made a loan -- he has introduced fiat money into the economy. Since there is no loan, his payment isn't interest --- it's a payment for introducing fiat money. My idea of isolating interest is agreeing to trade a chicken now for more than a chicken in the future. If I want to add a money-lender, I add an intermediary --- I have a chicken I don't need now, so I given it to someone (the money lender) who agrees to give me a chicken in a year's time. The money-lender finds someone that will take the chicken now in agreement for providing a chicken and then some in the future. Why this transaction requires growth is beyond me. IMO the fable is anything but illuminating and has no clear bearing on the modern financial system.

If someone really wanted to isolate the effects of interest, the story would involve an IOU (a bond), which doesn't involve the creation of new money. If anyone is seriously interested in why this is a misrepresentation of fractional reserve banking, go pick up a freshmen macroeconomics textbook.

Think of yourself in an ever-improving situation. You can always borrow from tomorrow, and pay back what you owe. If there is enough growth, you can even pay it back with interest, and still end up with more money than if you hadn't taken out the loan. (Think about this in term of successive one year loans, to make it easier to understand.)

Now suppose each year is the same as the last one. Suppose each year you take out a one year loan, and pay it back with interest. After the first year, you will come out behind by the interest paid on the loan.

Now suppose you income is declining each year. This year you borrow from next year, which makes this year very good. But next year you have the chore of paying back the loan with interest, from a based of less income. Doesn't work so well, does it?

Declining income by itself does not preclude the ability to repay a loan. What I'm questioning the logic behind the claim that growth is necessary for interest based debt. I have yet to see a logic-based argument for this claim. Start with a zero growth economy for the time being, which I'll define as constant income, zero population growth. As long as the amount of new debt being issued is the same as the amount of old debt being retired, there is no increase in the total debt load. A certain amount of income each year will be transferred from borrowers to lenders. As long as interest rates also stay constant, this represents a fixed fraction of national income. Why is positive growth required to sustain this?

Even with negative growth, a similar argument holds. As long as old debt is being retired quicker than new debt is being issued, both a positive interest rate and a certain amount of debt are sustainable. The debt-to-income ratio just has to remain constant, and again a fixed ratio of income will be transferred from borrowers to lenders each period.

I'm not arguing that the current debt structure (size of debt, interest rates) can be maintained in the presence of sustained economic contraction. But I do think the argument that growth is a prerequisite for debt with positive interest, as I've seen it presented on these boards, is fallacious, and involve various confusions about the relationships between money, debt and income.

But I do think the argument that growth is a prerequisite for debt with positive interest, as I've seen it presented on these boards, is fallacious, and involve various confusions about the relationships between money, debt and income.

I would agree with you.

One route to an unmuddling is to aknowledge the difference between investment and consumption which are simply being lumped together as "debt."

Case 1
I borrow $100,000 to invest in an MBA. My income rises from $40K per year to $120K with the prospect of future rises. The loan payments do not represent a problem and I am better off for having taken out he loan and financing my education than not taking out the loan.

Case 2
I borrow $100,000 to invest in Archeology degree. My income rises to $45k per year. I have saddled myself with increased debt but have not generated much of an increased income to service that debt. Economically I am worse off than if I had never taken out the loan. There may be intangibles that I value highly which provide personal satisfactions that make my education worthwhile.

Case 3
I borrow $100,000 to buy an SUV, a home theater and a 2 month round the world cruise. This is pure consumption there is no investment taking place in this situation, I cannot expect any form of increased returns. The world cruise is an intangible with no resale value, the SUV and home theater are depreciating assets and are declining in value each year I own them. I had to borrow to buy these items as I could not afford them without the loan. If I could not afford them before I obtained the loan how can I expect to afford them when I need to repay both interest and capital?

Case 3 is the way America has been operating for the last nine years at least. Gail argues that you need "growth" to pay off the loan. What growth? From where? A litter of SUV's? The key point is that you could nopt afford these goods before you got the loan and you cannot afford them after.

The cruise line and the SUV dealer and the home electronics store may exhibit an increase in sales but this is not sustainable. It is growth in consumption; it is future landfill. Get an entire nation spending big bucks on future landfill in the belief this constitutes "growth" and you walking into a world of hurt.

As I suspect you know there is a lot more detail to the analysis. We could end up writing a basic economics text and then rewriting it several times from different perspectives.

BOP and Jolly, there are, and always will be, anecdotal cases where a borrower is able to pay back a loan even after his income declines. That does not change the fact that borrowed money creates money and profit must be generated for that cycle to continue. We are talking about the big picture, the debt based economy in general. And in general, without profit over and above the amount borrowed, the cycle would come to a screeching halt. Again, we are talking about a debt based economy, not an anecdotal case here or there.

A debt based economy is a money generating economy. But without profit, (growth), over and above the amount borrowed, the whole thing collapses. That should be as plain as the nose on your face. And I don't blame others for throwing up their hands and refusing to argue the point further because you guys simply refuse to acknowledge that very simple fact.

Ron P.


There is a difference between your beliefs and the nose on your face. If you cannot see that difference then we have no basis for a discussion.
Can you have debt without money? Yes.
Can you have growth without money? Yes.

Yes, we can have debt without money. Yes we may have some type growth without money. But both these things are entirely beside the point.

A debt based economy requires growth else it collapses. That was the point of contention. Did you forget that?

Ron P.

You have $100.

I ask to borrow $100 from you. You agree.

Six months later I return the $100 to you.

Where is the growth?
Where is the collapse?

Six months later I return the $100 to you.

If you can return it. Without growth or worse maybe you lost your job. When energy and food are getting more expensive problably after six month you will find out that you needed the $100 for transportation and food.

I'm not going to speak for BOP, but I'm thinking of a situation where it's known that income is going to decline in advance. From an individual perspective, imagine someone that finances the purchase of a car every 10 years, has no saving, and is experiencing a gradual decline in income. They may well be able to finance future car purchases, but have to buy a smaller, successively less expensive cars to be able to manage the car payments. There is no need for income growth to manage positive interest payments...the debt load just has to be chosen appropriately.

I'm not disputing that possible disruptions relating to peak oil could make the current debt structure unsustainable. Rather, I'm suggesting that some of the arguments for why growth is necessary for positive interest rates are based on what I see as specious reasoning.

Well, I am going to take the risk of speaking for BOP.

The problem that I see with Han and Ron is that they both want to argue from a priori generalizations. They do not specify conditions in advance they just make blanket statements, demand those statements be accepted as fact and then proceed from there.

Once you begin to force them to unpack their statements and review the underlying premises then it becomes evident that they are parroting received wisdom and cannot support the position they argue.

When CERA does this it is viewed as "bad" and disreputable. Just because TODders use the same logic does not make it acceptable.

to argue from a priori generalizations. They do not specify conditions in advance they just make blanket statements, demand those statements be accepted as fact and then proceed from there.

The statement that economies will suffer from the year that oil-exports are going down. Not small declines, like in the 2006-2008 period. Of course, you don't have to take that as a fact.

Once you begin to force them to unpack their statements and review the underlying premises then it becomes evident that they are parroting received wisdom and cannot support the position they argue.

The current economy, mass economy (mass industrialisation), depends on increasing available and cheap energy. This is supported f.i. in the book 'from mass economy to information economy' from Paul Hawken (written in the '80's). End of this combination means trouble. You don't have to take this as a fact either, but it happened before. We have only seen the beginning now with oil production on a plateau and high oilprices. And unlike in the '80's, the oil boom is not going to come back. Now you will think that alternatives are filling the gap, but there is that Hirsch rapport that supports that you have to start with this 20 years before oilproduction goes down to avoid problems. I don't take 20 years as a fact, but I can imagine it is probable it's going to take about 2 decades for the economy can grow again. After 2 decades however, peak gas is behind us and peak coal is looming. So the Olduvai theory could hit us in practice also.

See, Ron, you're doing exactly what I described above. As far as I can tell, you're using money and income interchangeably, when they are not the same thing. And so your argument (which seems to be an assertion) is about as meaningless as the fable in the link that Leanan provided. My argument wasn't anecdotal...it was based on a particular line of reasoning that you haven't countered.

There is an argument that capitalism requires growth to accommodate continuous productivity gains and product cycles. Whether it is possible to have some form of managed capitalism that "powers down" to "manageable" levels of economic activity is an open question. What is not clear is that such a system would necessarily preclude debt and positive interest rates.

Toronto hospital worker with no links to Mexico recovering from swine flu

A staff member at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital is confirmed to have come down with swine flu, leading health officials to warn the flu is becoming "more widespread."

The woman is said to be recovering at home from a mild case of H1N1 influenza.

In a memo to staff, the hospital's CEO, Dr. Bob Bell, wrote, "Our ... colleague had no link to Mexico, which suggests the H1N1 virus is becoming more widespread in the community."

The link above about Southwest wind power contains the statement "It's nice watching the (electricity) meter go backward." I have 2 old meters I play with, and know that they will not turn backward any way shape or form.

Question for those of you with grid tie systems, Does the electric company install a special meter? and is it mechanical and indeed turns both ways, or LCD readout?

My old meter, the traditional mechanical model, did run backwards. Took a few months, but PGE installed a new meter. The one I have now is digital. Looking at arrows isn't as satisfying as watching the meter go backwards.

We used to unplug them and turn them upside down to run backwards (in the old days)--
You had to watch it, because if you went to far (more than your last reading), your bill would astronomical.
The digital world has stopped the monkey wrenching on that level.

Same old meter and indeed it does run backwards. One recent change, a sign of the hard times for local government perhaps, is that my utility, owned by the City of Palo Alto, has stopped allowing my excess generation to be credited towards other utility costs, e.g., nat gas. Now I can only use excess generation to offset the shortage in winter months. So there is no longer any financial incentive to conserve below what my Solar system generates for the year.

OK, I stand corrected. I just turned the newer meter over and it does run backwards. The older 115V meter wouldn't.

Local news piece about some homeowners who bought homes in a brand new subdivision:


The builder cant afford to put money into the HOA/management company. The dues they collect cannot support the pool he built. Not enough homeowners yet to take over the board themselves. Home owner associations are under the control of whoever owns the majority of the lots - so until 50% of the lots sell the builder has total control of the HOA. So the pool after one summer of use is now sitting idle - growing tadpoles and algae.

I especially loved the comment of one upset homeowner:

"The sad thing is, we live in a $200,000 home and my kids are playing with a 99-cent sprinkler in the backyard,"

As if overspending on her home entitles her to a swimming pool?

JHK would get a little chuckle from this I suspect.

Great line from his last blog: "For now, the "bottom" is in -- that is, the bottom of this society's ability to process reality."

Yard sale financing?

The City of Wilmington, Delaware has a fairly large library in an ornate grecian style building. I don't think it gets as much use as it should, other than being a daytime shelter for a variety of homeless. (As a result, on a damp winter day, it doesn't smell all that great.)

For quite some time the library has been badly in need of a new roof, a new heating system, and a general refurbishment. It also has a large collection of paintings by the illustrator, N.C. Wyeth (Andrew Wyeth's father) which are displayed high on the walls in the main room.

Well, it turns out that because City revenues are not available for this needed work, the library has decided to put its entire N.C. Wyeth collection, as well as some very rare books, up for auction at Christies, where the total lot is expected to fetch upwards of $5 million.

While it is probably the right thing to do, I still find it a rather creepy sign of the times .... sort of akin to burning your furniture in the fireplace to stay warm. I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing, which is but a micro example of the gradual but steady degradation of our entire public infrastructure.

Is anybody from here checking on swine flu? I calculate that the WHO's reported cases are doubling every 48 hours. They blame that on checking pending specimens which is hilarious. How can they justify the exponential increase? Why not the increase is sequential given fixed number of scientists, tests and labs. Are they trying to say that their ability of testing is doubling every couple of days?

City takes its first steps toward post-flu recovery

We've seen a trend toward a decline, but not a disappearance" of the virus, said Health Secretary José Angel Córdova during a morning press conference at which he announced that the nation's confirmed swine flu death toll had jumped overnight from 29 to 42 and that confirmed infections had risen from 942 to 1,112 as backlogged cases began being processed.


The latest reported numbers (1,112 cases, 42 deaths) reflect a fatality rate of 3.7%. This has been fairly consistent since the start of the flu outbreak.

Gotta love exponential growth...

The water lily

French children are told a story in which they imagine having a pond with water lily leaves floating on the surface. The lily population doubles in size every day and if left unchecked will smother the pond in 30 days, killing all the other living things in the water. Day after day the plant seems small and so it is decided to leave it to grow until it half-covers the pond, before cutting it back. They are then asked, on what day that will occur. This is revealed to be the 29th day, and then there will be just one day to save the pond. (From Meadows et al. 1972, p.29 via Porritt 2005)

So when is the 29th day for swine flu?

I doubt the number of labs and scientists are the constraining factor. It just takes a certain amount of time to conduct the test.

Update 2: 26 April --> 38 laboratory confirmed cases. 2 countries (Mexico, Usa). 18 in Mexico, 20 in Usa.

Update 4: 28 April 19:15 GMT --> 105 laboratory confirmed cases. 7 countries. 26 in Mexico, 64 in Usa.

Update 6: 30 April 17:00 GMT --> 257 laboratory confirmed cases. 11 countries. 97 in Mexico, 109 in Usa.

Update 10: 2 May 18:00 GMT --> 658 laboratory confirmed cases. 16 countries. 397 in Mexico, 160 in Usa.

Update 14: 4 May 18:00 GMT --> 1085 laboratory confirmed cases. 21 countries. 590 in Mexico, 286 in Usa.

Update 18: 6 May 16:00 GMT --> 1893 laboratory confirmed cases. 23 countries. 942 in Mexico, 642 in Usa.

The rate of change for world (new-value/old-value) per approx 48 hours is:
2.76, 2.44, 2.56, 1.65, 1.74

The rate of change for Mexico (new-value/old-value) per approx 48 hours is:
1.44, 3.73, 4.09, 1.49, 1.60

The rate of change for Usa (new-value/old-value) per approx 48 hours is:
3.20, 1.70, 1.47, 1.79, 2.25

Official says H1N1 could infect third of world

BANGKOK — A third of the world's population could be infected by the H1N1 flu virus in the next year, a top UN health official said today, urging Asian governments to stay alert for a potentially wider pandemic.

Keiji Fukuda, acting assistant director-general for the World Health Organization (WHO), also said it was “quite likely” the WHO would declare a pandemic in the near future but a final decision had not been made.


I would be worried about what happens if this takes hold in Africa: most of the worlds poor with little in the way of public health infrastructure acting as an incubator for a disease which re-emerges to ravage the wealthy.

I would be worried about what happens if this takes hold in Africa: most of the worlds poor with little in the way of public health infrastructure acting as an incubator for a disease which re-emerges to ravage the wealthy.

Yeah, heaven forbid anything happen to the wealthiest 20% of the world that consumes 80% of the resources. Dear Lord, let's keep those rich folks alive and let the rest die... /sarcasm

You and I and all the readers of TOD count as the wealthy. I was being a realist about how I think this flu will play out. As far as I understand it, the virus just keeps rolling the dice and at some point it comes up snake eyes and turns very lethal. I look at the diffusion rates in western countries (Wisdom has put the numbers up; we still appear to be on track to make your projection) and I think of how this will go in countries with no labs, no money, few hospitals, and a large population of malnourished and badly housed people with poor sanitary facilities. Three billion times the Mexican fatality rate of 4% is an enormous number of souls. And once this virus burns through the poor of the world it will return for us. When I wrote my text I was thinking how ironic that the Ann Rand philosophy of survival of the fittest will best be exemplified not by the self made millionaire men of America but by a few random segments of DNA operating at random with no understanding, knowledge, belief, or philosophy.

So I don't think there is any need to put the /sarcasm smirk on; I think all of us are going to have an opportunity for extended contemplation of exactly what it means to be human with a shared responsibility for our insignificant planet in this lost corner of an exploding universe./sadly

Run this clip on the major networks and a lot of the sheep are going to awaken-this guy obviously hasn't sold out yet-the reactions of the airhead bimbo bureaucrat are worthy of a SNL skit http://economicedge.blogspot.com/2009/05/is-anyone-minding-store-at-fede...

Hello BrianT,

Great video-->I just had to laugh to keep from crying. I bet she can't even balance her own checkbook.

It was like she was playing the role of an incompetent bureaucrat with an important job title in a B movie. The politician asking the questions seemed out of place in the USA-straight questions with no BS. After seeing the guy for a couple minutes it already looks like he would be a better leader than anyone with a chance at the Presidency.

Alan Grayson, Orlando (D)

If he keeps this up much longer, look for his obituary.

I'm interested to see what people think now rising oil and natural gas prices can do for the relative price of solar and wind in the months ahead. 2010 looks to be a very exciting year for renewables!



I was reading this:
Weeding the budget of $17 billion

"There is a lot of money being spent inefficiently, ineffectively, and -- in some cases -- in ways that are actually pretty stunning," Obama said.

and tried to square O's statement with this:

Chrysler won't repay bailout money
An administration official confirms that a $4 billion bridge loan and $3.2 billion in bankruptcy financing won't be paid back by Chrysler following bankruptcy.

Chrysler LLC will not repay U.S. taxpayers more than $7 billion in bailout money it received earlier this year and as part of its bankruptcy filing.

This revelation was buried within Chrysler's bankruptcy filings last week and confirmed by the Obama administration Tuesday. The filings included a list of business assumptions from one of the company's key financial advisors in the bankruptcy case.

Obama, WTF?

Watch the clip up above-17 billion is about one tenth of one percent of 13 trillion dollars.

Brian -- And $17 billion is the amount of taxes that 400,000 average US citizens paid last year. Perhaps that's where you taxe payments since the first day you started working has gone too.

17 billion is 81% of the debt increase in clinton's last full fy.

and about 1.8 % of the debt increase in bush's last full fy.

One for WT: Ecuador's Jan-March Oil Crude Exports -67% At $889M Vs Yr Ago

In terms of volume, Ecuador exported 29.8 million barrels in the first three months of 2009, down 11% from the 33.41 million barrels shipped one year early.

That translates into exports of 331,400 barrels a day between January and March from 367,143 barrels a day registered in the same period of 2008.

Which translates into that -67% drop in revenue. Are you modeling how others are faring? Financial Import Land Model, you could call it.

I don't think a ban on pork is such a bad thing.
I believe the calorie in vs actual calorie produced is 64:1 according to Richard Manning.
At the end of the race every calorie counts.

Grim sounding news on commercial real estate; more wealthy vaporized.

U.S. Commercial Property Faces Default Decade

At least two-thirds of the $410 billion of U.S. commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) loans that mature from this year through 2018 are not likely to qualify for refinancing, according to a report by Deutsche Bank...Deutsche Bank conservatively estimates that CMBS default-related losses for fixed-rate CMBS is $50 billion, 6.5 percent of the total aggregate outstanding balance...As CMBS loans make up only about 20 to 25 percent of the entire commercial real estate market, other sources of financing, such as insurance companies and banks, are likely to see similar or worse potential defaults

This looks like it could get ugly:

More States Start Pension Inquiries

The sprawling investigation into New York’s pension investments hints at a much bigger problem than the handful of indictments so far would suggest.

What started as an investigation by the New York attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, into the state comptroller’s office — where Mr. Cuomo says favors were being exchanged for contracts to invest pension money — has mushroomed into a broad look at more than 100 firms by attorneys general in at least 30 other states.

As Warren Buffet said, "When the tide goes out, you find out who has been skinny dipping." And lots of people have been skinny dipping.

Even if the stock market had not fallen, and even without fraud, many cities and states would not be able to meet pension obligations. Lots of cities are going to have to look at municipal bankruptcy filings (Chapter 9) because they won't be able to pay pension obligations and take care of basic municipal services.

Here is an article that talks about Chapter 9 filings in regard to pension and healthcare obligations:


It depends on what you mean by ugly.

From where I sit, it looks like it could be pretty friggin' sweet, :-) and about time too.

From where I sit, it looks like it could be pretty friggin' sweet, :-)

If you think that elderly people losing retirement funds and medical coverage is "pretty friggin' sweet", maybe some future life experiences will increase your empathy for others.
Perhaps eating some dog food, being homeless for a while, and suffering untreated medical conditions would make you see the misfortunes of others as something other than "sweet".

Whoa Tommy! I think you should be drinking decaf.

The article upthread of my comment focused on corruption, cronyism and nepotism. It suggests that the number of indictments issued so far may just be the tip of the iceberg. I did, and still do, think that many bankers doing the perp walk could be pretty friggin' sweet.

I think your vitriol is unwarranted and misplaced.

Reading the articles up top about ethanol today, I feel like I just fell into a rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Things are getting seriously crazy in the anti-ethanol debate.

Biofuels cost 50 gallons of water/mile for example: The article cites Nebraska which is noted for its corn irrigation in the western part of the state. This is cherry picking data to suit the argument. Only a small portion of corn is irrigated. And of that corn only a fraction is used for ethanol. Most corn for ethanol is not irrigated. If rain is not used to grow corn it will grow something else, sink into the water table or run off down the Mississippi.

Clearly the water that was "used" is not in the ethanol. Nor was it in the corn that made the ethanol since it can be no more than 15% moisture at sale. It disappeared into evaporation during corn growing or in evaporation during ethanol production. That moisture fell back to earth again as rain somewhere. It did not disappear into outer space or some such sink. The argument is without merit and irrelevant.

Rain if it is not used, is wasted. That is true of time and many other things including life itself. Should we not use our resources and just waste them? I don't think so. Water looks precious to those in the western U.S. who do not have enough, but in the Midwest too much water is often the problem. Right now it is delaying my corn planting.

Then the EPA nonsense brought about by Congress partly the result of the house hissy fitter Rep. Peterson from Minnesota: Why on earth did Congress tie biofuels production to cleaning up the environment. Clearly biofuels did not dirty it up for the most part since they did not exist until recently. Yet Congress for probably some political reason told the EPA that biofuels had to reduce polution that for the most part it did not create. What nonsense. Biofules are about mitigating oil imports, the resulting balance of payments issues and Peak Oil. To burden them with cleaning up a mess made mostly by fossil fuels is nonsense.

It's as though a farmer had a hog barn where he concentrated on reducing the mouse dirt to make the place cleaner. Why not concentrate on the fossil fuels which are the grossly larger component of pollution production?

Then I fell further into the rabbit hole with the article from Canada that said agriculture was responsible for 7% of the overall increase in pollution up there. Wow 7% of the increase and moving in the wrong direction! What about the other 93%?

My head is spinning so I better stop now before I blank out.

Alice in Wonderland indeed...

The current state of affairs re: US biofuels deliberations, stems primarily from the fact that ethanol opponents as well as the vast majority of ethanol proponents for that matter... simply do not understand or have failed to properly explain/argue the paradigm i.e. Peak Oil is a petroleum supply crisis –more specifically– a liquid transportation fuels crisis. Ergo, any and all efforts directed towards mitigating said crisis must (irrespective if you plan future food production, city development or military operations) absolutely MUST enjoy a low, PIR or Petroleum Input Ratio.

It’s that simple.

Take any assertion, paper, roadmap, guest post or pie in the sky argument ever hoisted for discussion in this forum; apply the PIR analysis and you will have your answer as to whether or not it is a viable Peak Oil solution.

Does ethanol have a low PIR? Yes. Does corn ethanol have a low PIR? Yes. Do most biofuels in general have a low PIR? Yes. How about CTL, does it have a low PIR? Yes.

And that my friend, is Pandora’s Box insofar as the NOCs and other vested interests are concerned, one they do not want opened because when that happens... they lose.

Geotime is not on their side, however, and they know it.

You’ll note how once touted wind, solar and other alternative energy programs/projects are discreetly being cut from the budgets and business plans of the world’s energy giants... all save biofuels that is.

Wow El, a brand new abbreviation "PIR" or Petroleum Input Ratio. Let me introduce LPIR (low) and NPIR (no/none at all) ..
You should grab the bull by the horns here El.. this is the time to start your very own NPIR - operation ==>> or "full_circle_ethanol_from_field_to_tank"-ethanoldriven business model - when done please :::

...please comeback next year and explain how your Corn-ethanol NPIR-op is going. Since ethanol is a perfect substitute for petroleum, the shift should not take too long, right ? .. b/c in these testing times it would be very smart to come clean on this, you know, since so many ethanol-plants are closing operation and what not(?) - due to strange reasons and more .. Your concept - with a few tips from myself - may actually save the entire corn-ethanol business. See?

Wow – how did you manage to respond via text message?

PIR is not a new abbreviation. Moreover, if you were to perform a full field-to-tank lifecycle analysis, you would in fact determine for yourself that even lowly corn-ethanol has a good PIR.

As to your comments re: closing ethanol production plants... I suspect you are being facetious – or perhaps you missed the global depression marching through your living room?

Your head is spinning because reality doesn't match your worldview.

Take a deep breath, drink some of your ethanol and say to yourself (over and over again) "EROI doesn't matter!"

you will feel much better. Oh, and stop reading scientific studies, those guys have no idea what they are talking about, clearly, since it doesn't agree with you.

Reality vs. worldview??? Please elaborate on that one.

And no, I never said anything about EROEI... Why? Because all ETOH production paths are positive.

BLAST! Those damn scientific studies eh?

Clearly the water that was "used" is not in the ethanol. Nor was it in the corn that made the ethanol since it can be no more than 15% moisture at sale. .

Interesting position. Science....Ok.

The argument is without merit and irrelevant.

Because you say so?

Rain if it is not used, is wasted.

1) Who says rain is the potable water people are talking about? What about underground aquifers?
2) Really? Why does Colorado ban rain barrels then?
3) Got proof to back up your position?

My head is spinning so I better stop now before I blank out.

Best to then examine if you are just making things up - the rain claim as an example. Or not mentioning the underground water used for crops.

Hello Leanan and all the other Drumbeat editors.

Thank you for all you do and now thank you for the

'Flag as inappropriate'

I love it,

Name Calling -- Flag it
Personnel Attack -- Flag it

Works good

For making the Beat better, thank you

Thanks. SuperG programmed it for us!

Just saw an article written by Albert Eistein -- a lot of what he described really ring with the current situation we are in. It's just showed how much things haven't changed.

Why Socialism?

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.

How will a World Recession Affect Oil and Gas Investment, Supply and Demand?
Andrew Gould, Chairman and CEO, Schlumberger, 15 April 2009

So the first issue with oil and gas at scale is the relative efficiency of the fuels in
their power to weight ratio and their relative ease of extraction conversion and
transportation and storage for their ultimate use. These arguments are not
currently popular with politicians but the facts remain.

This article must have been on every oil traders desk today as oil and NG rallied even though inventory for oil is at 20 year highs and NG inventory is 23% over the 5 year average. I wonder who represents the consumer in such a situation? Do oil traders play God here? I can certainly see that producers do not like low oil prices given that the cost for marginal new oil is substantially above market prices, ditto for NG. But to rely on a weekly employment guess to forecast a substantial oil usage growth is quite a stretch.
I personally agree with Mr. Gould's assessment. But I think governments must act for consumers and prepare them for the necessary trading ranges rather than making oil and gas traders richer and markets risky for most.

When the going gets tough, the tough get their guns and ammo:


Collective community gardening sounds much more rational than gearing up for 'Beyond Thunderdome'.

They aren't called self-fulfilling prophesies for nothing...

Alas, the gun play idiocy strikes close to home:


I love this guy's comment:

"People shoot at (vehicles) all of the time," Rael said. "I don't want people to think that riding the train is unsafe."

Rael sure inspires confidence with that little observation!

Brings back memories of several interstate sniper campaigns...and school & college campus shootings...

Who needs to go to the 'Stan or the Iraq when you can get your excitement right at home...

Here's to bullet-resistant glass for trains, and hoping for saner people.

Hello TODers,

Is the collapsing economy starting to really hit national infrastructure security? I can't imagine that there are a lot of locomotive repair facilities in North America:

Tough economy shuts down railroad repair company in Tacoma,Washington

.. Back in its heyday, CEECO used to see 600 railcars a year come through for a fresh coat of paint and up to 50 engines for repair. But freight car operations are gone now. And they're working on just four engines.

After 60 years in business, CEECO is calling it quits.

CEECO's 112 employees aren't the only ones hurt by what's happening. This is the only full-service one-stop shop in the region.

Railroad companies are left trying to do what these guys have been doing for years - overhauling engines with technical precision considered the best in the business.
IMO, it is expected for strip malls, golf courses, and car companies to go belly up. But if our RR network vastly shrinks too, we might be helpless when we cannot afford the fuel and mechanics to run the locos in sufficient numbers postPeak.

These skilled repair techs will be long gone [plus their knowledge] long before Obama's proposed high-speed rail dreams even begin to move off the drawing board years from now.