DrumBeat: June 11, 2009

Oil climbs near $73 on higher demand

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil jumped near $73 a barrel on Thursday after the International Energy Agency raised its estimate for 2009 oil demand for the first time in 10 months.

Light, sweet crude for July delivery jumped $1.35, or almost 1.9%, to settle at $72.68 a barrel Thursday.

That's the highest settle price since Oct. 20, when oil ended at $74.25 a barrel.

China’s Commodity Buying Spree

HONG KONG — Strong buying by China has helped lift commodity prices around the world this spring, but growing evidence suggests that a sizable portion of this buying has been to build stockpiles in China, and may not be sustainable.

At least 90 large freighters full of iron ore are idling off Chinese ports, where they face waits of up to two weeks to unload because port storage operations are overflowing, chief executives of shipping companies said in interviews this week. Yet actual steel production from that iron ore is recovering much more slowly in China, and Chinese steel exports remain weak.

Commodities and shipping executives describe Chinese stockpiling in recent months of a range of other commodities as well, including aluminum, copper, nickel, tin, zinc, canola and soybeans. Starting in April, China began stockpiling significant quantities of crude oil.

Future for big, bulky SUVs remains murky

Last week’s agreement to sell the General Motors division to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. won’t do much to satisfy those who had hoped GM would simply pull the plug on the brand. But then again, with oil prices rising once more, it’s uncertain Hummer’s new Chinese masters will be able to revive a marquee born in the wake of America’s heady victory in the first Gulf War.

Indeed, with pump prices again nudging the $3-a-gallon mark in places like California and Michigan, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen to light truck sales, and SUVs, in particular.

Chrysler's next fear: High gas prices

Fiat's fuel-efficient cars are more than a year away from helping Chrysler and the company prays that rising gas prices won't kill its bread-and-butter truck and SUV sales.

Iraqi oil exports reach 2003 levels

BAGHDAD (UPI) -- Crude oil exports from Iraq reached 2.4 million barrels per day, their highest level since after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the Iraqi oil minister said.

Valero to shut Aruba refinery due to poor margins

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N) confirmed on Thursday it plans to shut its 235,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Aruba refinery for two to three months due to poor margins.

Chu wants faster action on stimulus money

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Thursday expressed dismay at the slow pace at which some members of his department are distributing money under the federal economic recovery plan, saying he's making phone calls to tell people "this cannot be business as usual."

The Energy Department has nearly $39 billion at its disposal under the economic recovery effort, but has awarded only $4.4 billion as of June 7, according to the department's web site. Only $94.7 million has been spent.

FEMA Launches Effort to Measure Impact of Climate Change on Flood Insurance

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Federal officials are struggling to calculate the fiscal impact that climate change could have on the nation's troubled public flood insurance program, amid predictions of intensifying downpours and more potent hurricanes. The mission is proving extremely difficult, according to one researcher, who said the effort so far has failed to reveal even "squishy assumptions."

The study, undertaken by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the insurance program, aims to determine how seawater will surge onto shorelines around the United States as warming oceans expand and rise. It also seeks to establish how warming temperatures will affect inland flooding nationwide, potentially revealing the likelihood of more damage in some riverine areas.

The results might raise policy premiums and mark a need to redraw flood lines that may place more homes in the riskiest parts of valleys and flatlands. Those changes are politically tricky, and the study could press lawmakers to make unpopular decisions that have an economic impact on their states.

Heavy crude to stay costly, hurt refiners - report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Heavy-sour crudes are likely to remain unusually costly compared to light-sweet varieties for years, potentially hurting U.S. refiners like Frontier Corp. and Valero Energy that invested heavily in heavy-sour refining, Credit Suisse analysts said on Thursday.

Higher global refinery demand for heavy crudes and a likely boost in Saudi Arabia's production of lighter oil mean prices for heavy and sour crudes - normally cheaper to purchase but costlier to refine - should remain strong through 2010 or longer, Credit Suisse said in a report.

Since 2000, heavy crude has been cheaper than light varieties by an average of around $10 a barrel, while sour crude has traded at an average discount of $3 a barrel to sweet crudes, the report said.

The historical discounts prompted major global refinery investments to process more of the cheaper oil. But this year, Mexico's heavy Maya crude has averaged just $4 to $5 a barrel cheaper than light crude, while West Texas Sour WTS- is trading around $1.70 below light, sweet benchmark West Texas Intermediate CLc1.

U.S. Economy: Retail Sales Gain on Cars, Gasoline

(Bloomberg) -- Retail sales rose in May for the first time in three months, an increase driven almost solely by U.S. shoppers returning to automobile showrooms seeking bargains and the rising cost of gasoline.

Petrobras Bonds Drop Most in Three Months After S&P Downgrade

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s bonds had their biggest decline in more than three months after Standard & Poor’s cut the debt ratings of Brazil’s state-controlled oil company to the lowest investment-grade level.

...S&P reduced the rating late yesterday to BBB- from BBB because of concern the company will have difficulty raising financing for a $174.4 billion investment plan. Petrobras, as the company is known, is trying to boost output by more than half to 3.66 million barrels a day by the end of 2013.

Spilling over: A payout could encourage others

Some Ogonis are disinclined to forget years of mistrust and others are in talks to clean up the oil spills that have been left untended, still oozing into farmland and rivers after 15 years. Ogoniland is just a sliver of Shell’s onshore oil fields, and the out-of-court settlement is unlikely to end the company’s longstanding troubles in a volatile part of Nigeria that is even more violent now than it was back in the 1990s.

The payout could also spark further court battles invoking the same American law, the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789, originally intended to counter piracy, under which the Shell case was brought. It has been used to great effect in recent years, first against foreign officials who violated human rights, and later against firms that appeared to abet such acts. Most of the lawsuits against big companies, however, have been settled out of court, setting no clear precedents.

Gas Exporters to Discuss Secretary General Choice at Doha Meet

(Bloomberg) -- Russia, Iran and Qatar, holders of more than half of the world’s natural gas reserves, will meet on June 30 at the Gas Exporting Countries Forum to discuss the gas market and the appointment of a secretary general, a Qatar Petroleum official said.

DOE releases money for vehicle efficiency research

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Energy Department says its making $240 million available for research into more fuel-efficient large trucks and passengers vehicles. It also is providing about $11 million for nine projects looking into capturing carbon dioxide from coal plants and $49 million for two dozen solar technology projects.

EDF Needs State OK for Constellation Nuclear Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA must get state regulatory approval for its planned $4.5 billion purchase of half of Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s nuclear-power business, the Maryland Public Service Commission said.

A full review is necessary because Paris-based EDF would gain “substantial influence” over state-regulated utility Baltimore Gas & Electric, the commission said in an order today that was e-mailed to Bloomberg News. The decision will be issued before the planned Sept. 17 closing of the deal, the order said.

ONGC May Have Lost 30 Billion Rupees on Gas Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, may have lost 30 billion rupees ($630 million) selling natural gas at below production costs in the year ended March 31, Chairman and Managing Director R.S. Sharma said in New Delhi today.

The Vindication of a Public Scholar: Forty Years After The Population Bomb Ignited Controversy, Paul Ehrlich Continues to Stir Debate

For all of the things the popular book got wrong (or had mistimed), it got many other issues right. The book, which was about so much more than simply population, remains impressively prescient. “All of the junk we dump into the atmosphere, all of the dust, all of the carbon dioxide, have effects on the temperature balance of the Earth,” the Ehrlichs wrote, long before the risk of global warming was understood. The book spoke of the scourge of pesticides and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. And it made this outrageous assertion: “If our current rape of the watersheds, our population growth, and our water use trends continue, in 1984 the United States will quite literally be dying of thirst.” This was clearly premature, but here’s what the Web digest Earth Week, a valuable summary of scientific observations, said on March 7, 2009: “A warming and drying climate across the southwestern United States could eventually make major cities in the region uninhabitable. . . .With severe drought from California to Oklahoma, a broad swath of the Southwest is basically robbed of having a sustainable lifestyle.”

In retrospect, Ehrlich feels that The Population Bomb was “way too optimistic.”

U.S. Oil Imports at Risk

In addition to decreased supplies from Venezuela, the U.S. should expect continuing declines in imports from Nigeria and Mexico, as I recently discussed. Nigeria is being consumed by an internal war; Mexico can’t drill its way out of continuing decline rates, particularly at Cantarell but also, coming next year, in other fields. Canada is not in a position to increase its exports south of the border given recent cutbacks in production capacity investments. These are four of the top five suppliers to the U.S. That essentially leaves OPEC to make up the difference.

One implication: longer supply lines, and thus more demand for oil shipping capacity. The increased shipping demand should come both from the longer supply lines going into the U.S. and the longer supply lines going into China and other growing Asian economies from Venezuela and elsewhere.

Saudi stays at No 1 in world oil producer list

Saudi Arabia has easily held on to its title of the world's biggest oil producer in an annual ranking published by BP.

The world’s top oil producer last year pumped 10.846 million barrels per day (bpd), ahead of Russia with its output of 9.886 million bpd.

FACTBOX - Saudi Khurais field, a boost to world's oil

Following are some facts on the 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) Khurais oilfield project.

PDVSA Cuts by Nearly Half '08 Debt with Providers

Venezuela's state oil company reduced by close to half its outstanding bills from oil-services providers last year after reviewing and renegotiating some of the contracts with these companies.

Exxon may join TransCanada Alaska project

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - Alaska officials said Thursday an announcement was imminent on a deal that would have energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp team up with Calgary-based TransCanada Corp to design and possibly build a long-sought Alaska natural gas pipeline.

Scarcity of diesel fuel prevents fishermen from getting a catch

Thousands of fishermen in Cilacap, Central Java, have for the past week been forced to remain at port due to a scarcity in diesel fuel supplies for their ships in the region.

The shortage is linked to a 50 percent decrease in diesel fuel supplies to the areas by the state oil and gas company PT Pertamina Cilacap. Fisherman blamed a fire last week at one of the company's refineries as the cause of this shortage.

Imported minerals, metals fuel U.S. shift to homegrown power

A U.S. clean-energy boom could force the nation to shed its addiction to foreign oil, only to develop a dependence on imported minerals and metals.

Clean-energy technologies -- solar photovoltaics, geothermal, compact fluorescent and light-emitting diode lighting, and wind turbines -- depend on globally scarce materials, some of which are produced only in unstable nations.

Electric Utilities Fail to Promote Their Energy-Efficiency Initiatives

Electric utilities are increasingly offering energy-efficiency programs, but there’s a good chance their customers don’t know about them. That’s according to a survey by market research firm Gartner that found that while the vast majority of respondents said they were willing to participate in programs that could help them reduce energy bills, more than half said they were unsure if such programs were available from their utilities.

Is the problem that utilities need a lesson in marketing 101? Well, not really. The problem, according to Gartner analyst Zarco Sumic, is that most utilities are regulated in such a way that they make money from producing more electricity, not less (the exception is states that have decoupling laws, like California). That means they have little incentive to encourage customers to reduce energy use, even if they have energy-saving programs in place. Twisted? Yes.

Tesla Co-Founder Sues Elon Musk

Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard is suing Elon Musk and Tesla Motors for a slew of reasons including allegations of libel, slander, and a breach of contract.

Three Cheers for Peak Oil!

So although peak oil sounds intimidating and disastrous, if its arrival is concurrent with a change in our consumptive culture, new behaviors, and the development of an abundant, domestic, renewable, clean, low-carbon alternative, then it can also be synonymous with many good things. Peak oil might mean peak smog. Peak water pollution. Peak obesity. Peak traffic congestion. Peak carbon. We might return to nature hikes, walking or cycling (to my daughter’s delight!). Maybe peak oil will be the downfall of drive-thrus and their window-framed relationships, forcing us instead to engage with our fellow citizens face-to-face. Can we hope that peak oil will end the construction of highways that divide our neighborhoods by wealth, color or luck? Can we be bold and say peak oil means peak divorce? After all, instead of ferrying ourselves around alone in our cars, maybe we will be home with our families, dining with our spouses, speaking with our neighbors, playing with our children.

Highly vulnerable to oil shortages

ONE of the world's leading energy experts has warned that Australia will be one of the first countries hit hard by oil shortages as oil production peaks within the next three years.

Kjell Aleklett, a physicist from Uppsala University in Sweden, says Australia's relatively underdeveloped public transport system leaves the country more vulnerable to a downturn in energy production.

"Australia is very sensitive to such developments," Professor Aleklett told the Herald. "Much of your industry and transit is dependent on oil, and supplies will decline."

The Peak Oil Crisis: A Letter From Baghdad

A couple of weeks back the peak oil community received a letter from an officer serving with our forces in Iraq.

Despite numerous distractions in Iraq these days, this officer is so concerned that peaking world oil production will soon become a serious problem that he began discussing the future of America's energy supply with soldiers in his unit. What he concluded has a message for us all.

Author Jeff Rubin says peak oil will shrink Asian trade

Rubin’s book chronicles depletion of global oil reserves at the same time as demand has increased sharply in oil-producing countries. He notes that Russia has helped fill a growing gap in supply in recent years but claims that its production has peaked.

“If we can’t grow world production above 86 million barrels a day, we may not be able to grow world GDP [gross domestic product],” Rubin said. “The single most important thing to prevent peak oil from becoming peak GDP is to go back to local economies.”

Rubin's oil message a wake-up call to high tech

I've never been a huge subscriber to the concept of peak oil, originally dreamed up by a thoughtful Shell scientist named M. King Hubbert. According to the aptly named "Hubbert's Curve" theory, which he developed, world oil reserves will soon peak – if they haven't already – and start to dip as the world's energy supply passes a tipping point.

Mr. Rubin, a long-haired former CIBC chief economist who quit his job to promote the book, believes intensely in peak oil. He also believes in using fear to sell books, as demonstrated by the fact that he released his tome during the greatest recession since the Great Depression.

BP's Tony Hayward warns of dwindling demand for oil

It used to be the nightmare scenario that the world would run out of oil and civilisation would grind to a halt. Not so, Tony Hayward, the chief executive of BP, said yesterday: global oil production will decline, but because of dwindling demand, not because of a scarcity of supplies of crude.

Gains in energy efficiency will lead, ultimately, to falling oil demand, he said. Indeed, consumption of oil in the developed world fell by 1.6 per cent last year, the largest drop since 1982, and the decline is set to continue.

BP's grim warning over North Sea oil

British production in the North Sea is set to drop to levels not seen since the late 1970s, BP statistics suggested.

Chief executive Tony Hayward said output will fall by at least 5% a year in the coming years, and if investment is not stepped up the declines could be even steeper.

Oil price leaps to year's high

The drop is partly attributed to a drop in exploration drilling due to the precipitous fall in oil prices last year but also to the end of "easy" oil. Conflict this week in the Amazon and speculation about Arctic drilling underlined how oil companies are pushing into environmentally sensitive places to find new reserves.

Iraq oil genie gets out of the bottle

Could the reawakening of an oil giant drill a hole in oil price expectations?

Oil near $72 on economic recovery hopes

VIENNA – Oil prices hovered near $72 a barrel Thursday as investor optimism about a global economic recovery pushed crude to fresh highs for the year.

Oil has jumped from below $35 a barrel in March on expectations the worst of a severe U.S. recession was over. Traders are now beginning to price in a recovery by the end of the year and improving crude demand.

Consumers feel pinch of high gasoline prices

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. motorists are again facing summer pain at the pump as rising crude oil prices drive up the cost of gasoline, forcing spending cuts elsewhere and threatening the fragile economic recovery.

BP boss sees oil price between $60-90

LONDON (AFP) – The boss of British energy giant BP forecast on Wednesday that world oil prices would trade between 60-90 dollars per barrel in the coming years.

"I think there's a rational argument, for where we are today, that an oil price somewhere between 60-90 dollars is the right sort of range," Chief Executive Tony Hayward said at a press conference unveiling BP's annual report.

Behind Oil's Surprising Surge

It seems like a paradox: Demand for oil, which almost always rises, is likely to drop by 3% in 2009—the worst decline in almost 30 years. Stockpiles are so high that an ocean of oil is building up around the world in tankers or in depots. Yet since hitting a low of $34 per barrel on Feb. 12, the price of light, sweet U.S. crude has more than doubled, to $71 per barrel. Why are prices soaring?

IEA Raises Oil-Demand Forecast

LONDON -- The International Energy Agency Thursday slightly raised its 2009 world crude-demand forecast for the first time in 10 months in response to gentle signs emerging that an uptick in economic activity is breathing some life back into oil consumption.

In its monthly oil market report, the IEA said it expects global crude demand this year to average 83.3 million barrels a day, representing an increase of 120,000 barrels a day from the agency's May report.

On the issue of oil demand, not supply problems

Peak oil proponents like Simmons, of course, believe the world has reached or is nearing the maximum global petroleum extraction point, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This does not stem so much from well or reserve depletion, but rather the moment when the costs no longer make sense, and alternatives like renewable energy become economically more viable.

Is It Time to Buy Oil?

Those bullish on oil point to the inevitability of "peak oil," arguing that the time will come when we hit the peak of global oil production. From that point on, we'll be able to pump less and less oil out of the ground. In economic terms, we'll face decreasing supply.

Gazprom plans to postpone several investment energy projects

MOSCOW, June 10 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom considers postponing several investment projects in the field of electricity generation, Gazprom Board Member, Chief of the Department of Marketing, Gas Processing and Liquid Hydrocarbons, Director General of the company’s subsidiary Mezhregiongaz Kirill Seleznyov said on Wednesday.

Norway oil spending set to increase

Investment in Norway's oil and gas sector is set to continue in 2010 after an expected 17% surge this year to a record Nkr145.2 billion ($22.88 billion), Statistics Norway said on Thursday.

'Global warming is hoax': the world according to Nick Griffin

OK, how about the fact that I believe, along with the Czech politician [Vaclav Klaus] everyone is berating, that global warming is essentially a hoax. It is being exploited by the liberal elite as a means of taxing and controlling us and the real crisis is peak oil. We're running out of proper, real energy. And it is something with an immediate and catastrophic effect in a few years' time potentially — not worrying about floating polar bears in a 150 years.

Portland's streetcar architecture -- past becomes future

Today, planners call these structures mixed-use buildings with ground-floor retail, but many historians and architects call them something else: streetcar architecture. Today's versions may be taller and clad with modern materials, but the concept is the same. They add human density and retail services on streets served by public transit.

Development plans lack proper direction

Judging by what some councillors had to say, they haven't actually visited an Ottawa suburb in this century. First place goes to Councillor Diane Holmes, who said people in the suburbs are "living the 1950s white picket fence dream."

Anyone who has visited a suburb would know that developers are jamming townhouses and stacked townhouses into new developments that are housing far more people per hectare than the norm in the city's older single-family neighbourhoods. Anti-suburban councillors believe that suburban houses are almost all singles and they are on big lots. In fact, about half of what's being built in suburbs are not single detached homes at all.

Metro Vancouver's growth strategy hits interference

Reimer and some others have also raised the spectre of peak oil, which is the point when global petroleum production will go into decline. Some analysts say that after the world surpasses peak oil production, we can expect to see sharply higher transportation, food, and energy costs. In his response to the draft regional growth strategy, Bryn Davidson, executive director of the Dynamic Cities Project, recommended explicitly acknowledging oil depletion “as a key factor” in regional planning between 2010 and 2040.

In addition, Davidson recommended adopting a regional oil-consumption target and updating infrastructure-planning methodologies “to incorporate both current and future demand shifts driven by the combined impacts of peak oil and climate change”. He noted in his submission that Portland, San Francisco, Brisbane, and the Southern California Association of Governments are already responding to peak oil.

Battle escalating over mass transit fare hikes

NEW HAVEN — As buses rumbled toward crowded stops on the New Haven Green, Democratic lawmakers, mass transit advocates and environmentalists decried as “outrageous” a provision in Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s proposed budget that would increase bus fares by as much as 40 percent, and Metro-North fees by 10 percent.

“By raising the rates of mass transit, you’re pushing more people onto the roads, you’re discouraging more people (from taking) mass transit, and make it harder for those who ... depend on mass transit, make it harder for them to get to work,” said House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden.

The result, he said, could be “crippling” for the people who can least afford it, he said.

Report blames petroleum industry for 25% of toxic pollutants

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US petroleum industry accounted for a quarter of toxic pollutants recorded across North America in 2005 by a government-backed environmental watchdog, an annual report said on Wednesday.

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) -- created by Canada, the United States and Mexico -- said 90 percent of toxic pollutants came from just over a dozen industries.

Aside from oil and gas extraction, mining, wastewater treatment, electric utilities and chemical manufacturing are named as the principle offenders.

Peru suspends decrees that fueled Amazon violence

LIMA (AFP) – Peruvian lawmakers suspended a controversial law that eased restrictions on lumber harvesting in the Amazon rain forest, days after it sparked clashes between police and indigenous protesters, killing dozens of people.

The legislature agreed by a 59 to 49 vote to suspend Decree 1090 -- dubbed the "Law of the Jungle" -- that covers forestry and fauna in Peru's northeastern Amazon rain forest, said Javier Velasquez, the head of Peru's single-chamber Congress.

House GOP offers nuclear-loaded energy bill

WASHINGTON – House Republicans are calling for a hundred new nuclear power plants to be built in the next two decades as part of an energy plan they say is a better alternative than one championed by Democrats.

The legislation unveiled by the GOP Wednesday would also increase production of oil and gas offshore, open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and spur refinery construction. The money from the new drilling would go into a trust fund that would pay for the development of renewable energy.

Company Calls New Small Nuclear Reactor a 'Game Changer'

A major manufacturer of power-generation equipment announced plans today to build a small nuclear reactor that company officials touted as a "potential game changer for the global nuclear market."

RI lawmakers debate new plan for funding wind farm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The state's dominant electricity distributor would be forced to buy power from renewable energy producers under a deal struck Wednesday that could remove a major financial obstacle to building a windfarm off Rhode Island.

Study: Jobs in fledgling green sector growing

NEW YORK – The fledgling renewable energy industry has grown steadily over much of the past decade, adding jobs at more than twice the national rate, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study released Wednesday.

Solar and wind-power companies, energy-efficient light bulb makers, environmental engineering firms and others expanded their work force by 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007, the latest year available, according to Pew.

The average job growth in all industries was 3.7 percent during the same period.

Canada to establish carbon trading market

OTTAWA (AFP) – Canada announced Wednesday plans for a carbon market that could eventually link up with nascent EU and proposed US markets to form a global system for carbon pollution trading.

The local market would provide Canadian companies and individuals an opportunity to reduce their carbon emissions, which are linked to global warming.

China says no to greenhouse gas cuts

BEIJING (AFP) – China will not accept binding cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions, an official said Thursday, after the United States said it made progress with Beijing in talks here on a global climate pact.

The comments came after a visit by US climate change envoy Todd Stern aimed at pressing the Asian giant to commit to hard numbers on emissions reductions ahead of December talks in Copenhagen on a new global warming treaty.

Japan Sets Emissions Targets, and No One Seems Pleased

TOKYO — Japan, a major emitter of greenhouse gases and an important player in the global warming debate, announced Wednesday that by 2020 it intended to reduce emissions 15 percent from 2005 levels — a goal immediately criticized as inadequate by environmentalists and industry officials.


The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 30 was 6,816,000, an increase of 59,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 6,757,000. The 4-week moving average was 6,750,500, an increase of 57,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 6,693,250.


GM financed "Citizen Action" ad from 1954


If you wondered why the US has developed the way that it has since WW II.

Several cultural myths were clearly enunciated in this campaign.


I saw a pickup truck the other day with a faded decal on the back looked like this:

How ironic.

if Chevy trucks are the heartbeat of America, I guess were having a heart attack from overconsumption.

'After Fighting our way through Wild Animals and Indians..'
'It's a Pipe-dream, an Exhaust-pipe-dream!..'

Blatant promotions of Antisocialism!

Here, I'm putting a YouTube Counter-curse onto this thread, to neutralize the poison.

Trolleys in Brooklyn, Flatbush and 5th and Bergen Sts.. around the 40's. You can even see the conductor hauling the transits down by rope. (Is that what the contact-arms are called?)


You can even see the conductor hauling the transits down by rope. (Is that what the contact-arms are called?)

Since AlanFBE hasn't answered yet...


They're called trolley poles. The conductor is changing the trolley poles.


I've heard some other word, too, like Pantographs or something.. couldn't pull it up.. Pantaloons, Pantyhose? (So I just made something up that sounded close.. sometimes you have to Advertise the Truth with a bodyguard of Typos and Flubs!)

Hehe Bob,

Modern electric trains and streetcars do indeed have pantographs instead of trolley poles.


They work in both directions, and so do not have to be changed at each each of the line.

It is called a trolley pole. I see them do this at the Carrollton terminus of the St. Charles Line and every terminus of the Canal and Riverfront lines. This is done when a streetcar reverses direction.

Best Hopes for loops at the end of the line (which do not require this. 3 minutes is scheduled for reversing direction).


One of hundreds of YouTube Videos

On Canal


On St. Charles


Cool. Thanks Alan!

Don't know if I've mentioned this already.. but every spring, Portland's streets are a mass of Ice-wrought potholes, a great many of which reveal our old Trolley Tracks, slyly playing with Heat and Water to break out here and there and remind us of our not-so-distant past. Paved right over in the mid-Forties.. it's like looking through little cracks into another world!


This is my "everyday" transportation at home (the Canal and Riverfront streetcars are newer and quieter, but same seats and basic look, a/c on Canal streetcars). Of course, I love the 1923/24 St. Charles more :-)

Best Hopes,


Yes, trolleys, the superiour form of transport.

'A Bus Named Desire' just doesn't hit the right notes.

San Francisco: they had some speedy cars!


DC/Capital Transit;


Same problems, same recipes here in Santo Domingo. With the little difference that the date of prescription is 2009...

I love these old-time propaganda films.

An interesting book on this topic is Lizabeth Cohen's A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America. It describes in much detail how in the US consumption began to replace citizenship as the model for the virtuous individual in public life - but it was a particular type of consumer. It was not the wartime consumer who was asked to be a careful steward of the family's (and thus the nation's) resources, but the consumer of conspicuous consumption and mass prosperity whose 'patriotic' spending enriched the rest of society. They really did think that you could have your cake and eat it too - that hedonistic consumption really could create a better society. And perhaps it did for awhile.

I've thought for a long time that our problems are not primarily economic nor technological. The debate is not over different, but equally well-reasoned and rationally-derived position on how our society shall be organized.

It is fundamentally a fight over culture, value, and meaning. It's a battle of identity. It's a fight to determine who we are as opposed to what we do.

A Tale of Two Depressions

• World industrial production continues to track closely the 1930s fall, with no clear signs of ‘green shoots’.

• World stock markets have rebounded a bit since March, and world trade has stabilised, but these are still following paths far below the ones they followed in the Great Depression.

• There are new charts for individual nations’ industrial output. The big-4 EU nations divide north-south; today’s German and British industrial output are closely tracking their rate of fall in the 1930s, while Italy and France are doing much worse.

• The North Americans (US & Canada) continue to see their industrial output fall approximately in line with what happened in the 1929 crisis, with no clear signs of a turn around.

• Japan’s industrial output in February was 25 percentage points lower than at the equivalent stage in the Great Depression. There was however a sharp rebound in March.

The graphs are rather unnerving.

The emissions targets appear to be taking care of themselves.

Interesting graphs.


Yeah, though I was surprised to see the US doing better than most on the industrial output graph, slightly above the first depression graph (though probably not statistically significantly).

The last great depression ended with a world war. Any reason this one won't?

Eight years ago I would have said that the clear military dominance of the US, which spends more on its military than most of the rest of the world combined, would prevent a world war--who could hope to compete?

But after years of debilitating quagmires in two ongoing wars, both the power and the reputation of the US military is much tarnished and drained. From the mideast to south Asia to North Korea, there seem to be all sorts of powder kegs set to go off. Which ones would be likely to trigger a broader conflict?

Industrial output isn't as important today as it was then. Real GDP fell by a cumulative 26% in 1930-1932. Today, the best forecast is that GDP will fall 2.8% in 2009, while it will increase by about 2% in 2010.


The main reason for us not repeating the Great Depression is that we (as in the macro economists and the politicians) know much more today. Thus we won't kill global trade and we won't let the money supply fall that much, and we won't let too many banks collapse and we won't try to set excessive minimum wages and prices and so on. You may think the current deficit spending is stupid, but actually, the Bush/Obama policies are pure genius compared to what Hoover and Roosevelt did.

Nope, it'll be much worse this time because the people in charge *think* they know more than people did then.

There is such a thing as negative knowledge.

To me, it is obvious that we aren't about to repeat, to any great degree, the policy mistakes of the 30-ies.

"we won't let the money supply fall that much"

You sure the relationship isn't the other way around? How much might the money supply let us fall?

Hello Jeppen,

Recall that the world had a world of resources to exploit back in the '30s [positive sum game]. If we are now postPeak [negative sum game]: it will be much harder, or impossible, to come out of this recession or Depression. The many charts in the link upthread seem to further validate the Thermo/Gene Collision and Olduvai Gorge Re-equalization, IMO. Decreasing BOE/C is being goosed by an additional 80 million/year; numerator shrinking & denominator growing.

Recall the wisdom of Dr. Bartlett, Garret Hardin, et al.

We still have room to grow energy extraction and the recession is ending as we speak. Doom isn't near - and this will become increasingly clear, so you guys need to prepare to survive another period of economic growth.

Today, the best forecast is that GDP will fall 2.8% in 2009, while it will increase by about 2% in 2010.

Given the rate in the first quarter alone was at an annual of over 6%... hahahahaha!!!

Given there is absolutely nothing positive in the economy... hahahahahahaha!!!

Every time I start to think we may find a way out of this mess, I read some fantasy-laden mewlings of economists and the rightful balance of doom and gloom restores itself. You can't fix real problems with pretend.

Housing: still falling

Mortgage defaults: still raging and about to enter another upward cycle

Debt: Rising faster than Superman speeding off to save Lois Lane

Stress Tests: FAIL! (They belong on failblog.)

Bond Market: Wobbly as an unbalanced top.

Transparency: Inky waters, those.

Reform: More like gerrymandering.

Debt: Socialized!

Profit: Privatized!

Peak Oil: Here and gone!

Climate Change: Thar she glows!

American behavior: Whew! Glad THAT'S over!

jeppen: Priceless!



Given the rate in the first quarter alone was at an annual of over 6%... hahahahaha!!!

Well, more like 5.7%, which is an annualized rate, so it's really -1.4%. I see no problem for 2009 growth to be -2.8% when it was -1.4% in the first quarter, so I'm not sure why you are laughing.

I don't see any reason to comment on the rest.

Well, more like 5.7%, w...

You listen to the government, I'll listen to reality-based people, thank you very much.

You're saying, along with a whole bunch of people who didn't see it coming and created the problem in the first place, that this recession is done and we're climbing out, and you wonder why I'm laughing?

THEN, you completely blow off a list of indicators of why it won't, and ask why I'm laughing? Them you're afraid to deal with those issues?

You pretty much post with an ideological bias, and it is no clearer than with this. Big Energy, Big Gov. (will save us all from this recession)...

Reality, wherefore art though?

I'm going to go back and read all your posts in this thread and may revise this. (8AM EDT)

Alrighty, done. The sum total of your evidence was.... ZERO. You noted a survey and made some claims, but offered ZERO analytical support for your position. I made a whole list of items. These, data, facts, you deem unworthy of comment. But a POLL, by golly THAT'S worthy of our attention!

And a poll of a bunch of witch doctors, to boot.

So, go through my list and answer each one, if you have the cajones.


The main reason for us not repeating the Great Depression is that we (as in the macro economists and the politicians) know much more today.

Considering the vast numbers of politicians and economists keep flouting 75 year old fallacies, I have serious doubts about that. Sure the best economists may know what to do, but the human penchant for turning economic policy into a morality play is undimmed. Its kinda similar to the PO situation. We here (at TOD) may pretty know how to mitigate it, but getting society as a whole to take well-intentioned, and well thought out advice is a different matter altogether. Add into the economic mix, the near certainty that we are also running into limits to growth issues, as well as more classical economic/credit cycles, and our ability to intelligently guide the process decreases enormously.

I don't think economists do know what do to.

For one thing, the economy is vastly different now than it was in the 1930s. And even if it weren't, there was never any real consensus on what the right thing to do was. It was all very politicized (and still is). Global economics is not something you can do scientific experiments on. So economics will continue to be more politics than science. There's simply no way to prove all these theories.

In short, the idea that we know more today may be an illusion. We just never got a chance to discover that...until now.

We know that some stuff we did in the 30-ies were really stupid and we won't repeat. Although you're right it's still politicized. Obama probably knows the minimum wage hike you're about to do is stupid, but he won't dare try to postpone it, for example. (OTOH he won't hike it even more.) You still talk about "buying American" which is stupid, but you won't shoot global trade to pieces again. And so on.

Elites know economics pretty well, and therefore they will do stupid stuff to a lesser degree. Some stupid stuff might be politically necessary, but they won't overdo it. The same is true in Sweden, where socialists have ruled most of the time, but they have still opened up the economy and deregulated most of it. They still talk the socialist talk, but they act quite sensibly.

This Speigel article is a couple of month's old but not out of date:

Current Crisis Shows Uncanny Parallels to Great Depression

... the economic crisis is taking place in 6.5 billion minds at the same time, making it the biggest psychodrama in world history. Experiences and television images become condensed into expectations, expectations turn into fears, and fears shape what is happening in every market today. These fears exert a stronger impact on markets than politicians and central bankers, with their speeches and their programs. The virus has eluded the powerful.

The entire world is now on edge, causing large numbers of people and businesses -- from housewives to CEOs to bankers -- to hesitate and take a wait-and-see approach to things. This partly explains why the World Bank and the IMF predict a decline in global economic activity in 2009 -- for the first time since World War II.

In its most recent report, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) writes: "The world economy is in the midst of its deepest and most synchronized recession in our lifetimes, caused by a global financial crisis and deepened by a collapse in world trade." According to the OECD, by 2010, the gap between our current economic potential and the current output of goods and services will be twice as large as in the early 1980s, when many countries faced their most severe recession since World War II.

Guess someone forgot to tell China; todays news item
Industrial-output growth accelerated to 8.9 percent and sales rose 15.2 percent, the statistics bureau said.

Delta cutting more capacity

Executives at the world's largest airline operator told employees in a memo Thursday ahead of a presentation at an investor conference in New York that Delta will reduce system capacity by 10 percent this year compared to 2008. That is up from Delta's previous plan to cut system capacity by 6 percent to 8 percent.

Delta also will reduce international capacity 15 percent, up from a previous plan to cut it by 10 percent.

I spoke with a Delta Mechanic recently who mentioned that they are mothballing planes so they can be stored out west in the desert somewhere. Jet fuel demand is down more than 10% (most weeks its down about 13 or 14%) compared to same time last year.

This simple animation highlights the relationship b/w corn and oil . As oil prices keep increasing (relative to discretionary income), the price of food will also increase.

Another random thought about corn and possible effect of an ice free Arctic: yields are much better with cool weather in the spring.

Let's not even think about peak P today.

Also consider the extra precipitation down wind from the arctic, especially in the autumn. There should be much heavier autumn/winter snows. Not sure what the impact on crops would be from this.

Why do the two of you expect those specific changes? Got info?


I used to live in Buffalo, USA. When cold air flows over open water, you get lake/ocean effect snow/rain. This will continue until the water freezes; then it gets a lot colder and dryer. This is a fairly local effect.

Second, open water evaporates more moisture than ice. This moisture will fall down wind.

Ah. Lake effect. Guess you'd call it Ocean effect.

One thing: temperature changes are relative. Air temps in the Arctic are still virtually always below freezing, so I'm not sure how much this applies? Perhaps in the fall when the latent fusion of heat (I think it is) is growing the fall ice pack and throwing gobs of heat into the air?


I used to live in Buffalo, USA. When cold air flows over open water, you get lake/ocean effect snow/rain. This will continue until the water freezes; then it gets a lot colder and dryer. This is a fairly local effect.

As you say it is a local effect, the moist layer never gets very deep. I lived in both Wisconsin, and earlier central Michigan, and we never got any snow from the lakes. As an avid X-country skier this was a huge dissapointment to me.
I think some of the ajoining land areas, such as Fairbanks Alaska are seeing greater annual snowfall. Unfortuately GW is so strong that the date when the snow melts in the spring is advancing despite the greater winter snowcover. As the fire season is highly dependent on the length of the snowfree season, during which the ground can dry, it is an important effect.

More students on free lunch programs

Many new enrollees are believed to be first-timers from families hit by the recession, says FNS Administrator Julie Paradis. "These programs are intended to expand when the need is greater ... and we're pleased that they're working," she adds. "But certainly there are additional costs, and that is a concern at a time of scarce resources. Our state and local partners are stretched."

In Jackson, Miss., where 86% of all students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, "some of our students show up for breakfast and haven't had anything to eat since lunch the day before," says Mary Hill, executive director of food services.

These stories always get me worked up. Food is incredibly cheap in the US... For example, I have a bowl of oatmeal every morning and I doubt that I could eat more than $0.25 worth before I was stuffed. For lunch I typically have a sandwich... I haven't done the math, but I'd be surprised if I could eat more than $0.50 worth of pbj in a sitting. Ham and cheese maybe a bit more. For dinner, A serving of meat with a staple like rice, beans, or potatoes and some veggies is likely to be less than $2 per person, depending on the amount of meat... staple calories are practically free. The bottom line is that for a few bucks a day, it is possible to provide a decent meal for most children. The root cause here most of the time is poor decision making. People pay for "necesities" like a cell phone, cable, junk/fast food, and beer, and then complain that they don't have enough money to feed their children. Poor kids...

The fact that soooo many do not understand and will not accept.

Poverty has almost nothing to do with money.

It is about education.

I recently became curious about the real cost of typical meals (breakfast and lunch) and, aided by a sensitive balance scale and the price tags on food containers, came up with the following. Note price of electricity is included. Breakfast is complicated by mixing 2 types of serial in one bowl, plus the half-banana (OK call me obsessive):

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich: $0.84

- bread 2 slices 84g $0.50 (loaf = 680g for $3.99, 16 slices)
- raspberry jam 26g $0.163 (jar = 510g for $3.19)
- peanut butter 31g $0.17 (jar = 453g for $2.49)

Hot Chocolate: $0.11

- powder hot choc 23g $0.10 (tin = 1100g for $4.79)
- electric power $.01 (1.5kw x 2.5min = 0.06kwh @ $0.15/kwh)

Breakfast cereal + half-banana: $1.02

- Post cereal 50g $0.42 (box = 453g for $3.79)
- Cheerios 35g $0.34 (box = 396g for $3.79)
- 1/2 banana 97g $0.14 (bunch= 453g for $0.67)
- Milk 4oz $0.12 (2 qt = 128oz for $1.85)

Breakfast Oatmeal $0.41 total

- packet oatmeal $0.37 (box = 10 pack for $3.59)
- milk 1 oz. $0.03 (2 qt = 128oz for $1.85)
- electric power $0.01 (1.5kw x 2.5min = 0.06kwh @ $0.15/kwh)

Coffee regular $0.29 total

- 5g coffee $0.19 (283g for $10.79)
- milk 3 oz. $0.09 (2 qt = 128oz for $1.85)
- electric power $0.01 (1.5kw x 2.5min = 0.06kwh @ $0.15/kwh)

How many Calories???

That's the question. A .49 cent burger at Micky D's has 250.

5.1 cents per cal. Compare?

Before you posted that, I had (just for fun -- how odd is that?) calculated the calories per dollar for my emergency food.

Sugar = 3200 calories/ dollar
Crisco = 1000 calories/ dollar
SPAM = 600 calories per dollar

Hormel bone in ham = 550 calories per dollar

Then looked at produce I bought at the same time:

Cabbage= 50 calories / dollar
Kiwi = 100 calories / dollar

The raw ingredients are cheaper than the processed convenience foods, like SPAM. But I know that time is an issue in food choices. Bake a ham vs pop a can and serve...

I made a meal a couple weeks ago for 15 people at a local economic development meeting. I made calico bean hotdish using dried beans, local hamburger and bacon. That fed 15 people for about $14. Then I baked 3 loaves of organic french bread-- that cost less than $2 for the ingredients.

It seems like a vicious circle. You have to work 2 jobs to feed your family, so there's no time to cook, so must buy more expensive processed convenience foods...

Interesting way of looking at the cost of calories View. Thanks.

But I'm not convinced about the vicious circle aspect. We both work long hours after which we pretty much turn into couch potatoes. But since you threw in your great bean dish I use beans as an example. Growing up in New Orleans I developed a taste for a good pot of beans...any bean works. We usually had them 4 or 5 nights a week. Even in our sedate positions on the couch in the evenings I can still whip up a great pot with a little meat for flavor with little effort. Nothing nicer then smelling a pot of beans cooking for the next night’s meal while watching “House”. Breakfast is also a 5 minute quickie with cheap oat meal and a handful of raisins or dried cranberries thrown in (big bags at Costco are cheap enough). Throw in a cup or two of coffee with chicory and I’m good till lunch.

We could just say most folks don't know how cheap you can feed a family with a tasty and health diet. But I don't really buy it. Folks enjoy those expensive, high calorie and poor quality meals. We all make bad choices from time to time. But I think a very large (pun intended) segment of the society simple refuses to make the right choices when it comes to diet. We want what we want: poor quality expensive meals/big SUV’s/etc/etc.

I don't think they necessarily refuse to make the right choices. As Michael Pollan has pointed out, processed food is the cheapest, and there's a huge industry behind it, encouraging us to eat it. There's not enough markup on dried beans or bags of whole wheat flour. The real profit comes with processing. We are all affected by advertising, or they wouldn't spend so much money on it.

Then there's the issue of "food deserts." Urban or rural areas where there are no grocery stores. People end up buying their food from fast food places and convenience stores. That has happened in my town. I saw the last grocery store close, and while I can simply drive out to the 'burbs to a big box supermarket, those without a car are screwed.

In rural areas, most people have cars, but the nearest Wal-Mart may be hundreds of miles away. The "mom and pop" grocery stores that used to serve those areas can't compete with Wal-Mart when it comes to the distributors.

Re: Saudi stays at No 1 in world oil producer list (linked in the Drumbeat)...

Why is it so rarely mentioned that U.S.A. is the world's third largest oil producer? I would guess that <1% of the American public knows this rather important fact. We are oil rich! We are the Saudi Arabia of the western hemisphere!

Our conventional reserves are also about 80% depleted.

Sure, but if people are under the impression that U.S. domestic production is a trickle to begin with, 80% depletion is of little consequence. When instead they hear something like:

"This nation is the world's 3rd largest oil producer, the largest oil producer in the western hemisphere, producing about as much oil as all South American countries combined, and it now only has 20% of its oil left and will be producing only a small volume of oil in X years. This nation is YOUR nation."

Maybe, just maybe, someone will pay attention? All these headlines about the sky falling in Mexico, when the big story is just north of the border.

I've been trying to get people in the UK to listen to similar arguments about our energy future for the last five years.


My country produces four times the oil of your country! Russia excluded, USA produces more oil than all of Europe and Eurasia combined! And we have been in terminal decline for well over a decade. Why is this not newsworthy? Are people in the U.K. freaked out that USA cannot increase oil production?

And, if memory serves, USA imports more oil each day than any other country USES. Of course, USA has 305+ million people, so no worries, right?

With only a few procent of world's conventional reserves still the third largest producer. That makes one wonder why the Middle East couldn't increase production or stay at least at last year's level for a few more decades. I think they can, but that 'above ground factors' will make it very difficult.

Aren't the "With only a few procent of world's conventional reserves" a bit off when most of the people here on TOD think that most of the Middle East has heavily inflated their reserves.

But that's a minor point - the main point that wisco is getting is at is that this talk of other producers besides us curtails the logical conclusion that the world is declining in oil production.

With only a few procent of world's conventional reserves still the third largest producer. That makes one wonder why the Middle East couldn't increase production or stay at least at last year's level for a few more decades. I think they can, but that 'above ground factors' will make it very difficult.

Or they are also 80% depleted in conventional oil reserves. It remains to be seen if the technically driven reserve additions are real and if so what the production rate will be. I argue for the most part that they are not even real reserves but a figment of imagination. Given this and the expectation that what little is really there would be produced very expensively and at a low production rate we can simply say that oil for the common use cases of this civilization is running out.

Or they are also 80% depleted in conventional oil reserves.

Memmel, then the ME would be well past peak, which is not the case. Some (super)giant fields in KSA seem to be only 20-30% depleted (data from TOD) and many small fields are waiting to be developed, but problably at that time this oil never will be available for export.
Irak can increase production to about 6 mbd (in theory), other ME countries should be able to stay on plateau for some time if the necessary investments are made the next years.

I argue for the most part that they are not even real reserves but a figment of imagination.

So a lot of insiders say. Important to know is how much of the recoverable reserves there is light crude and how much the lower quality, heavy oil.

I'd argue that the expectation that production would drop at 50% depletion is unfounded esp on a field by field basis. With modern extraction methods production remains close to peak value right to the end of the fields production lifetime.

The weakest link in what I call modern peak oil theory is the correlation between 50% depletion and peak production. It does not hold at the well level nor at the field level. Only the argument of the central limit theorem would imply that globally this might be true yet right now most of our production is from fields that where discovered early in the history of oil production.

I've found no compelling evidence that disproves Hubberts world peak estimates.

If I'm right then ME oil production should be falling rapidly.

As always I could be wrong but if I'm right then world oil production should be crashing right now.

We will see.

If I'm right then ME oil production should be falling rapidly.

As always I could be wrong but if I'm right then world oil production should be crashing right now.

Well, if the modern extraction methods crashes world production: that would be a catastrophe.

I believe that you have to consider that the US is by far the worlds largest user of crude oil. Depending on how you count the stats, the US is also the largest importer of crude oil. All up, the US is very much behind the crude oil curve even as the third largest producer.

I agree Lyn. That's why, IMO, no one talks about how much we produce...it reminds them of how much we suck down daily. And no body likes to think of themselves as greedy pigs.

Others have done great detailed work but the short story: we have a bimodal curve: old fields with low decline rates and new Deep Water fields with high decline rates. Thanks to the small operators we have a very stable base. The DW...not so much. Besides relatively short lives many operators are trying to delay operations in the DW right now but it's difficult to stop very fast.

Just reminds me of the old saying: "Rich isn't determined by how much you make but how much you hang on to". The Us has been one of the world's great oil producing regions. But we've frittered away much of it while not preparing for the inevitable decline.

US produces 5 mbpd, but consumes 20 mbpd.
So can you live on 75% less oil and gas when the imports stop?
What will happen to agriculture in the midwest on 75% less fuel?
What about the trains, planes, buses, ships, etc?
What about the military?

It's officially a pandemic. The first in 41 years.

(CNN) -- The World Health Organization raised the swine flu alert Thursday to its highest level, saying H1N1 has spread to enough countries to be considered a global pandemic.

The outcome of a pandemic seems to depend on the severity in the second or third waves. Since it is also H1N1 strain and affects youngsters more severely, this pandemic closely resembles the 1918 pandemic.

In 20th century pandemics, a second wave of influenza activity occurred 3 to 12 months after the first wave. In 1957 the second wave began 3 months after the peak of the first wave, while in 1968 the second wave began 12 months after peak of the first wave. The first wave of the 1918 flu occurred in the spring of that year ending in March. That flu was very severe by usual standards but the second wave beginning 6 months later in September was the most fatal. During the 1918 pandemic, the deadly second wave was responsible for more than 90% of the deaths for the entire pandemic. The third wave occurred more than a year later, during the following 1919-1920 winter/spring, and was the mildest of all.
Globally and nationally, a pandemic might last for at least one year and up to three years, while disease outbreaks in local communities may last 5 to 10 weeks. Pandemics end simply because all or most susceptible persons within the population have contracted the infection and have either died, developed immunity or been vaccinated.


College in Need Closes a Door to Needy Students

PORTLAND, Ore. — The admissions team at Reed College, known for its free-spirited students, learned in March that the prospective freshman class it had so carefully composed after weeks of reviewing essays, scores and recommendations was unworkable.

Money was the problem. Too many of the students needed financial aid, and the college did not have enough. So the director of financial aid gave the team another task: drop more than 100 needy students before sending out acceptances, and substitute those who could pay full freight.

Americans' wealth drops $1.3 trillion

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Americans saw $1.3 trillion of wealth vaporize in the first quarter of 2009, as the stock market and home values continued to decline, according to a government report released Thursday.

May foreclosures fall - but still high

One of every 398 households in the United States received some kind of filing, including notices of default, scheduled auctions or bank repossession, during May.

Hey - but Worker efficiency is UP and GDP is barely budged (down about 2%).

Who you're going to believe.
The numbers we have are pretty bad today -- new unemployment is still going strong, we lost a lot of money last quarter. California is reporting worse and worse tax revenue stream -- every month we're adding about 1 billion more to our ballooning deficit -- but hey -- there is "green shoots" everywhere. So much for Obama's transparency -- I am pretty much fed up with all the manipulation at the top.

One billion a month? More like five billion per day!!!

Most banks still getting weaker, analysis shows

Bad loans on real estate continue to push harder on the nation's banks.

At the end of the first quarter, six out of every 10 banks in the U.S. were less well prepared to withstand their potential loan losses than they had been at the end of 2008, according to a new analysis by msnbc.com and the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University in Washington. Overall, bad loans rose another 22 percent in the quarter as the recession continued.

Denninger agrees.

He also thinks the bond market is signaling deflation ahead.

Filed under "Duh!", though it seems quite a shock to many.


"U.S. motorists are again facing summer pain at the pump"
Oh come on mericans stop whining about the ludicrously low price you pay, it is no wonder that 25% of the supply is burnt by 4% of the people. We're paying twice as much in Europe - and that's still too low.

Excuse me, but can we please stop with the intellectually lazy habit of broad brushing?

There are a LOT of "mericans" fighting like hell over here to educate people about the twin terrors of peak oil and climate chaos. Mindless stereotyping like that helps no one, least of all the person doing it.

No there is'nt.....

... And HERE's one more way to bring that fight to Congress!

Sign this Petition to get the NAS, National Academy of Sciences to study and report to Washington on Peak Oil!


It's quick, it's free! Loads of Pithy comments to steal for your Peak Oil Elevator Speech!


260 signatures including mine, a non-merican:-(

It always amazing me just how much fuel some people manage to burn. I'm not even sure how they do it. Don't you have to shut the car off now and then and sleep? I've averaged $1.51 a day in fuel costs since I got my current car in late 2006, doing annoyingly too much driving in an unnecessarily luxurious car. Insurance is more. The car itself cost vastly more. It's just not a big deal.

It always amazing me just how much fuel some people manage to burn.

But, then I am amazed that so many people don't turn their cars off when waiting for someone. It is claimed that it pays to turn off the engine for even ten seconds. (I have trouble believing this, as I would be worried about wearing out the starter). But it quite common for people to leave cars/trucks running for periods of a half hour! Then it seems like maybe 2% of drivers have any inkling about energy conservation. I think our biggest need is for people to be taught street physics, so that they can have some basic understanding of both energy usage and safety considerations.

Energy Export Databrowser -- Updated Data

I have just finished updating the Energy Export Databrowser to use the just released BP 2009 Statistical Review.

The new BP dataset adds data for the year 2008 and makes corrections to previously reported values.

A few highlights visible in the updated Databrowser:

  1. Norway's increased natural gas production last year.
  2. Argentina's final departure from the world's list of natural gas exporters
  3. The UK's dramatic decline in indigenous energy production from all sources
  4. China's unabated appetite for coal throughout 2008
  5. etc.
  6. etc.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

Thanks for the speedy update.

There might still be an occasional bug. I checked for Ecuador, but it didn't seem to work.

Works for me.

Can you give me the specifics of what you are seeing?

The "Export" plots for 'coal' and 'nuclear' show a flat line because they have zero production and zero consumption. Apart from that I cannot see any problems.

-- Jon

Re: Khurais starting up

Something of interest from the announcement above:

- The project involved drilling 420 wells and building four oil processing facilities and two more for gas. More than 28,000 workers and 26 contractors worked at Khurais.

- The field needs two million barrels per day of water injection but lies 190 km from Aramco's Qurayyah seawater treatment plant. That plant was expanded and pipelines built to pump the water needed from the Gulf to the fields. Aramco drilled 120 wells alone for water injection.

Last year, I related that the original plan was for 310 wells including 168 producers, 125 injectors, and 17 observation wells. So unless they decided they needed 100 more observation wells, the balance is for a lot more producers.

Interesting Joules. Did you see the KSA annoucement that they were going to use Khurais' increased flow rate to lower Ghawar's rate and give it a chance "to rest"? Makes me wonder if they plan to over porduce rates at Khurais and hurt ult recovery as so many have specualted they've done with Ghawar. Maybe the reservoir engineering supports the increase in producers. Or maybe it's just another lie trying to cover up for a previous lie.

I mentioned that announcement at the end of my latest Ghawar post. Lord knows it could use a rest. I'll start writing a requiem mass.

I don't know about producing Khurais too hard. But having to add 60% more producers surely says that, despite all the field characterization, it didn't behave as they thought it would. My sense has been that they would keep drilling until they got it up to the target, for whatever reason.

but are the 420 wells for the khurias project, or the khurias field alone ?

The web page for the announcement is no longer available, but the quote by Abd Allah S. Al-Saif, Aramco senior vice-president exploration and producing, was:

...the Khurais development plans include drilling 310 horizontal wells and installing facilities for injecting 2 million b/ d of seawater. Included in the 310 wells are 125 water injection wells and 17 observation wells. Al-Saif said the producing wells will have single 1-2-km long laterals and be instrumented with modern real-time, intelligent, downhole completions with "smart" electric submersible pumps. The injection wells will have 1.5-km long laterals, he said.

Everything as I recall seemed to refer to the entire project, as they are always trying to talk up the numbers.

EDIT: I think both announcements (2006 and present) refer to the whole field.

"Peak oil might mean peak smog. Peak water pollution."
Unfortunately IMHO it makes it more likely we will use more coal which will lead to more CO2/pollution. I think the cap and trade policies will merely make the banksters richer, far simpler would be to put a tax on the resource including goods imported from countries without a similar tax. Of course since this is so obvious it stands no chance of being adopted unless we have something like severe food shortages in China.

I think that approach might be the only one that works. Starting say July 1st 2010 every country must levy a tax equivalent to $US 20 a tonne or metric ton of CO2. No exemptions no offsets. The revenue is all handed back for greentech grants, home weather proofing etc. We're talking up to 30bn X $20 = $600 bn.

If any country doesn't impose the tax their exports get a flat tariff in lieu, say 15% of the landed value. Nonparticipants can trade together for a while but eventually they must fall into line.

Re: House GOP offers nuclear-loaded energy bill

Here's a link to Congressman Mike Pence's announcement of the bill. I couldn't find a number for the Bill...

E. Swanson

Mother Jones is running an article about how Obama's DoE is acknowledging Peak Oil in the latest IEO from the EIA. As odd as it sounds to me, maybe some others could look into it.

Thanks, Herupa;

This line in the AP 'Chu' article up top caught my eye.

Chu, in an interview with The Associated Press, said Thursday that some parts of the department, including those involving environmental cleanup at Cold War-era nuclear sites are moving money out the door, but other people in the department "don't feel the sense of urgency that they should feel."

I'm so glad we have all this expensive Nuclear Waste Remediation we can be paying for, instead of putting that precious taxpayer money into New Power Solutions! Let's make a bunch more.

.. and from your MoJo article..

As recently as 2007, the IEO projected that the global production of conventional oil (the stuff that comes gushing out of the ground in liquid form) would reach 107.2 million barrels per day in 2030, a substantial increase from the 81.5 million barrels produced in 2006. Now, in 2009, the latest edition of the report has grimly dropped that projected 2030 figure to just 93.1 million barrels per day—in future-output terms, an eye-popping decline of 14.1 million expected barrels per day.

We're gonna party like it's 1066!

I don't think the Normans would take Britain now if you paid them to.

At the rate it's going, maybe Britain will ask to be adopted by them this time..

My Father's family moved to Australia after WW2. Visionary is the word that comes to mind.

This seems to be an article by Michael Klare. The numbers look right. It looks like the EIA has scaled back their forecast a whole lot, not that they have explicitly admitted to peak oil. Instead, they are showing that demand is way down.

Michael Klare also points out that the forecasts for energy use by China is expected to ramp up more quickly than in previous analyses.

Thanks for pointing this out!

The unfolding disaster in CA, as they arrive at the scene of the crash ahead of the rest of the country:

California nears financial "meltdown" as revs tumble

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's government risks a financial "meltdown" within 50 days in light of its weakening May revenues unless Governor Arnold chwarzenegger and lawmakers quickly plug a $24.3 billion budget gap, the state's controller said on Wednesday. Underscoring the severity of California's cash crisis, Controller John Chiang, who has previously warned the state's government risks running out of cash without a budget deal, said revenues in May fell by $1.14 billon, or 17.7 percent, from a year earlier. . .

"Without immediate solutions from the governor and legislature, we are less than 50 days away from a meltdown of state government," Chiang said in a statement.

I wonder what the implications of a "meltdown of state government" would be?

From the article, they make it sound like the worst that would happen is they'd have to sell something called "revenue anticipation warrants", which they don't want to do, to raise money. But to a layman like me that doesn't sound overly scary.


For example, when the state failed to preserve cash during the budget debate of 2003, Controller Steve Westly went to the RAW markets for $11 billion of short-term cash to cover expenditures made in the absence of a budget. To gain the desperately needed cash, the state not only had to pay steep fees and interest rates to Wall Street firms, but also was required to pay an additional $140 million for "credit enhancement" because note purchasers wouldn't buy the debt without a guarantee from someone other than California. Current Controller John Chiang made a good comparison when he recently described a RAW as "the equivalent of a subprime loan."

Basically, the same guys that took CA from where it was in 1979 to where it is 30 years later are going to be guiding the USA down the oil depletion slope (and stuffing as much cash in their pockets as humanly possible)-smaller groups have a shot but the USA as a whole has sealed its fate IMO.

Want to do something to increase the resilience of your neighborhood in preparation for the Long Emergency? Join or start a Kunstler Club!

What is a Kunstler Club?
A Kunstler Club is a small group of neighbors who are taking concrete steps to increase the resilience of their neighborhood in the event of economic collapse, energy or resource shortages, and/or natural or manmade disasters. Click here to learn more.

I say join your local "Grange" or "Transition Town" nearest you.

Example ..... Look at the agenda etc.



What is a Kunstler Club?

What indeed.

y'know, some names are catchier than others, in terms of rolling off the tongue. I enjoy JHK a lot, but if I was doing outreach, I'm not sure I'd lead with asking my neighbors to join a "Kunstler Club". Getting perky about the end of civilization is a hard enough sell without inviting tar and feathers.

I'm just saying....

really, though, good luck.

I love oildrum.com, so don't get me wrong, but do think it would be much better if each of the main front page articles had its own message board. Some do yes, but many do not, and it's difficult to respond to a main article when your clumped in with responders to 50 other articles. Just a suggestion.

I like the current format.

Hello TOD,

I am coming up on three years of being a member of TOD.
I have 9 weeks to go.

It just a few minutes ago struck me as what suddenly noticed about TOD after so many days of posting and reading.

Its this: The Death of Cornucopians on TOD.

No more do I see those posts denying the impending chaos and downward spiral.

This is rather amazing when I think of it. Of course there are those who still write twaddle about Ethanol and so a few others such as denying AGW.
But by and large all that has just about disappeared.

Amazing. This pretty much is in agreement with my long held belief of the present culture being totally unsustainable.

Cheers(as CCPO sez} but I say 'Tears'. Or go get some land and do what needs to be done. Period. End of story.

The longer you wait and cogitate the harder it is going to be.

DBs and other postings seem to have less and less total comments. I think many have left to go do what needs to be done and less time to listen to debates about it.

I stay for I am pretty much ready. A few more items but thats it. My garden is going to bring in a very nice bounty. I will can about 100 or so jars of that. I will and have much firewood already. Four wood burners.

So right now I am just idling along. An auction this weekend to see what more I can add. A blacksmith forge would be nice. I have all the rest.

Airdale-good hunting to everyone,I just put in and salvaged some old and new grape vines. I love homemade wine. Home brew,,what ever.
Time is here. Its about time after watching this unwind for almost three long years.

PS. One last big task. Dig my root cellar. I gave up on freezers. This will be my last big project.

Cheers(as CCPO sez} but I say 'Tears'. Or go get some land and do what needs to be done. Period. End of story.

The longer you wait and cogitate the harder it is going to be.

We've got an interview date for the wife's green card. Should be in the US by Aug. 1, if the interview goes as hoped. Still looking at land all over. Also, some intentional communities. Etc.

Hope to have bought some land in time to cover crop. Maybe some Fukuoka seed balls for spring cover crop/first crop next year, should the land be up to it.

Will be hoping to get power established from the start, hopefully DIY wind and solar. If by a miracle we've got a stream, maybe some minimal hydro, too. If we've significant forest, might go with a rocket stove or something for heating and/or cooking.

Likely will rent nearby or buy an old but viable travel trailer or something for a year's living while building a zero energy, passive solar home.

It's gonna be a busy first year. And second. And third. In a perfect world, things start to slow down between years 3 and 5 as the forest garden takes hold and starts producing useful amounts of food.

Best Hopes for Joining or Building a Community. (Though family is not much interested.)


Glad to hear it.

A trailer to get started is a good idea. I parked a 35 ft Terry gooseneck in the middle aisle of my pole barn and we lived in it off and on for 3 or so years until I had quarters in another part of the barn finished off.

Advice. Instead of a standard 'house' some just build a metalroofed pole barn and pour a concrete floor. Some windows and then finish off the insides as the need occurs.

Its not as likely to burn. Its pretty secure. Its cheaper than standard construction and its very livable as a neighbor of mine's is. And they are not sore thumbs out in the country,,where there are few if any building codes to fight with.

Put in a nearby lake/large pond as you do the dirt work and you have water..also a place to lay a geothermal heat pump line to scavenge the even temps in the water. Cheaper than digging and running a line in the soil.

Never seen it done yet but should work.

Also a pond/lake to stock with fish. Edible, not the Koi and other stuff.

Airdale-park the trailer and build the barn around it or put it inside later to save on A/C and heating costs, like I did.

Tear up the school playgrounds, then teach the kids to grow food. Otherwise, they had better get used to eating govt mandated handouts of Campbell's Cream of Cockroach soup.

Behind Oil's surprising surge.

"Could oil prices surge out of control? That may not be the likely scenario, but it's certainly possible if the recovery is strong and anxieties about the dollar and oil supplies intensify."

It seems that we are caught between 'the devil and the deep blue sea' I think the biggest question from this post is: "What price will be the break point for a foreseeable low growth world economy?" I think that we are beginning to realise the next downward correction of the world economy that most of us here agree upon.

I think we are seeing a resurgence of speculation that may kill any chance for economic recovery in the U.S. The fundamentals do not support the current rapid rise in oil prices and it's time for the Obama Administration to put legislation in place to keep the speculators out of the market.

Dr. Colin Campbell, peak oil’s elder statesman, announces his retirement


Hello Jmygann,

Yep, I will miss this Grand Old Man, even though I never met him, he did much to further my Peak Education. His Monthly ASPO Report was obviously a MUST-READ for many of us TODers.

BTW, I just love the photo of him possibly doing Peakoil Shoutouts for the camera. Judging by his looks: maybe the third or fourth camera-take?

The Oil Age in an Irish Pub
Colin: "I wasn't happy with that last pose, let's do it again. Barkeep, please set up another round of glasses so I can drink them down to the perfect level."

You The Man, Colin! :)

Hello TODers,

Global hunger on the rise again

..After decades of progress, the scourge of global hunger is suddenly on the rise again. The number of hungry people in the world, defined as those getting fewer than 1,800 calories per day, is projected to rise by 104 million people this year, pushing the world total to a record number of more than a billion, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

..The World Bank has estimated that the crisis has set back the battle against poverty by seven years, with an additional 44 million children suffering permanent physical or mental impairment because of rising malnutrition last year.
The mothers cry as their babies die...

Destined to live in heat & sweat

With no respite from heat and sweat in sight, and duration of load-shedding increasing by the day, life in this fertilizer township has become hellish. Once known for zero power cuts, the township has been experiencing regular power cuts of 8-14 hours for the last seven days.

To add to the woes of the people, both the DVC and the JSEB cut power supply at different times of the day, and even during night. The harassed consumers don't even have any idea about the duration of such power cuts...
Gee, I cannot wait until this arrives in my Asphaltistan. :(

Food Security, Fuel Security, National Security
by Stranded Wind

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last eighteen months about food security, starting way down in the basement where sun, water, and soil come together in our volume grain production. There is a tight connection between our current population overshoot and the fossil energy resources, both fuel and fertilizer, that got us here. Food production, such as we do now, is more of an energy issue than an environmental one, but pile those two issues together with the economic concerns we face and it’s a truly poisonous brew.

We’re way out on a limb here, and we either start mindfully shinnying down to the solar maximum for the planet ... or we’ll get knocked down and knocked down hard.

..The fuel thing, that’s the one that’s going to hurt. I’ve had off and on contact with Alan Drake, the nation’s foremost rail electrification activist, and I cheer him on because he has a plan that is already proven in other parts of the world and backed by the top notch modeling of the Millennium Institute.
Kudos to SacredCowTipper [SCT] & AlanfromBigEasy!

he has a plan that is already proven in other parts of the world

Actually most of the population of the world doesn't travel much - that's why they use so little FF (and non-solar energy in general.)

IMO a plan to use electric rail isn't required - as is already proven in nearly all of the rest of the world for thousands of millions of years - it assumes a massively abnormal, unlikely BAU where we still have to travel long distances just to survive. Think local, affordable, sustainable, low energy, non-toxic, solar powered.

I agree. I think in the end, we are all going to travel less.

There are MANY shades of gray between current travel & freight movement levels and 4,000 BCE levels of travel.

As long as social organization holds, there will be some demand. Note that Joseph's family came to Egypt to buy food during a famine.

Given the time required, (couple of days minimum NYC to LA) the weekend trips to Vegas will certainly disappear post-Peak Oil (except perhaps from California). But trips to go to college, for those with specialist skills to travel for work, to transport food (yes, I like bananas and apples, and some bread, not just rice & corn), and so forth will, at a minimum, continue unless social organization totally breaks down.

IMHO, a cutback to 1950 (or even 1960) levels of per capita travel and freight movement is both quite sustainable and desirable. And electrified rail is the best way to supply the bulk of that transportation.

Best Hopes,


Indian Railways has one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, transporting over 18 million passengers and more than 2 million tonnes of freight daily

Indian Railways is about 29%-30% electrified (vast majority of traffic is on those electrified lines).


India has a population of ~1.1 billion, 18 million is just 1.6%.

The number of cars in India is ~13 million again ~1% of the population.

Like I say, already the vast majority of the world's population arrange their lives so they don't need much non-discretionary travel.

Your example shows that it is possible to do, living with essential transport use is the abnormal exception allowed by cheap excess energy.

That 1.8 million is the DAILY ridership !

A large minority of Indians (if not a majority) ride a train at least once/year and a majority do so in their lives.

2 million tonnes of freight/day > 700+ million tonnes/year by train alone. Over a half tonne/capita/year.

Add to the rail passengers the bus, jitney and "back of the truck" passengers.

Even in a very poor nation (MUCH poorer than the USA will be), there is much more mobility than you suppose.

I think your point has been contradicted.


Hello TODers,

This weblink is infuriating to me as they should be looking to turn this golf course into a veggie plot or back into a natural preserve:

Country club asks city for financial bailout

Palm Desert Country Club could be on the brink of financial failure and is looking to the city for a bailout.

..“If this golf course is vacated, you have 27 holes,” said Connie Swanson, who lives at the club with her husband Gordon Swanson. “You can have the homeless, you can have gangs, you can have kids, you can have rodents. You can't have that much vacant land go fallow.”

City officials also fear a bailout for Palm Desert Country Club might lead to more handout requests from other golf clubs in the city, many of which also have been affected by the down economy.

The National Golf Foundation estimates that as many as 15 percent of private country clubs in the United States are facing financial or membership crises.
IMO, Connie Swanson above needs a heavy dose of Peak Outreach.
Don't bail out golf courses! 15% of 16,000 = 2,400 golf courses that Tiger Woods & Justin Timberlake should be plowing!

A golf course in a desert??
Sounds like the whole area is becoming unviable.

Good lot me art Sikis