DrumBeat: July 6, 2009

Peter Tertzakian: The Wealthy World at its 'oil break point'

Recovering-economy-equals-higher-oil-prices is a mostly valid notion in a “peak oil” world; however, everyone in the oil business should be aware that the relationship between economy and demand for petroleum products is changing significantly in mature western countries -- a block of nations that I call the “Wealthy World.” In these 30 or so rich countries, where 46 million of the world’s 84 million barrels a day of petroleum are consumed, positive economic activity no longer has much if any impact on demand growth. Put another way, don’t assume that more oil will be guzzled in Wealthy World when the big economies of the United States, Japan and European Union break out of their six-quarter blue funk.

First, let’s be clear that we are not in a recession, but a contraction. Recession means a slowdown in growth, contraction means outright shrinkage. The wealth of Wealthy World economies, of which the United States is the largest, kept shrinking through the second quarter, making them poorer on a year-over-year basis for the first time since the Second World War. Consensus estimates suggest that when the second-quarter numbers get reported, U.S. shrinkage will be around two and three per cent, a major bout of wallet tightening that, not surprisingly, has led to unemployment of 9.5 per cent (as reported last week).

For oil demand, the distinction between recession and contraction is important, because GDP growth and oil consumption typically move in tandem, especially in industrializing nations. So an economic contraction translates into a fall in absolute oil consumption, not just a stunting of growth.

Misreading the economy, then and now

While speculation in the markets may have some role in the price swings, they are mostly a result of the new energy paradigm. Call it peak oil if you wish, but it's another reality of discontinuity that puzzles the conventional wisdom. Thus we have the yo-yo effect (exaggerated by speculation and unwinding of leveraged contracts). Oil prices rise as there's a chance the world economy is reviving, and with it demand again outstripping production; they drop back as that hope is dashed, as happened with Friday's unemployment report.

Lisa Margonelli: "Free" vs. Peak Oil

The low cost of energy has underwritten much of what we accept as reality. Free shipping for buying an extra book on Amazon is a case in point. But so is the bargain price of goods made in China with subsidized fuel and cheap container transport. And so are suburban McMansions, enabled by mortgages that didn't take the cost of power into account. Long commutes in big cars were enabled by cheap gas, which seemed inconsequential until it topped $2 a gallon (and then $3 and then $4.) In the US, energy is a "right" as much as an expense, which changes its psychological price, at least.

Raymond J. Learsy - Biden:"We Misread How Bad The Economy Was." A Comment Scripted By The American Petroleum Institute?

The nation consumes some 20 million barrels of oil daily. A doubling of price to the current circa $66/bbl dollars means a daily additional "tax" on American consumers and industry of some $660 million. Simple arithmetic: 20 million barrels by $33 (the difference in todays $66/bbl price to February's $33/bbl) totaling $660 a day. In rough numbers, making allowances for variations from these benchmarks both up and down, the massive total cost to the economy impacted by the doubling of oil prices from the end of February through the first days of July was near $70 billion. This realtime sum virtually neutralizes in large measure that portion of government's stimulus package that has been spent to date.

What Oil Price can America Really Afford?

Saudi Oil Minister, al-Naimi, has warned that under-investment in oil capacity may lead to a return to $150/barrel oil, “or even worse.” The Paris-based IEA has also warned of price shocks due to resurgent demand and restricted investment. Will a high price environment truly emerge, or are price spikes followed by brutal recessions more likely, as experienced in the last year? And what is more important, the absolute price of oil or the rapidity of the price increases? A tour through the historical record may provide some insight.

Shell Downgraded by HSBC on Refining, Investment Plan

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, was downgraded by HSBC Holdings Plc on costs for unconventional crude projects such as oil sands in Canada and possible weak refining margins.

Battle looms in Brazil offshore oil push

Brazil's plan to overhaul laws governing massive offshore oil reserves faces an uphill battle for approval in a potentially hostile Congress, slowing Brazil's drive to become a major energy exporter.

California’s green dream

America is waking up to the reality of peak oil and climate change. In California there are very different responses to the crisis: some pin their hopes on new technology, while others advocate a radical change of lifestyle.

Technology can help Saudi tap 'real' oil wealth

Saudi Arabia controls nearly $16.9 trillion (Dh62trn) worth of oil reserves under its arid sands but the wealth could sharply rise with the advent of more advanced production technology, a key Saudi bank said yesterday.

The National Commercial Bank (NCB) said the kingdom's oil resources that can be recovered by present technology are estimated at around 260 billion barrels but they account for just a fraction of the real oil deposits.

Gazprom spending spree troublesome

MOSCOW (UPI) -- Excessive spending on reserves and acquisitions in a poor economic climate could overextend Russian energy giant Gazprom beyond profitability, trends suggest.

Alaska: The Final Frontier for Natural Gas

Alaskan natural gas has been touted as the next big think for years. Build-up in Alaska, especially in the resource-rich North Slope, has been talked up as natural gas prices have risen only to get pushed aside when prices retreated and the projects are no longer viewed as profitable.

Alberta premier Stelmach vows to ensure security at oil and gas sites after B.C. bombings

CALGARY - Premier Ed Stelmach says the province is working with oil and gas companies to ensure their worksites are properly protected as attacks escalate against EnCana pipelines in northeastern British Columbia.

Serbia’s Largest Petrochemicals Co May Halt Production Over Crude Oil Shortage - Media

BELGRADE (Serbia) (SeeNews) – Serbia’s largest petrochemicals producer, HIP Petrohemija, may halt production due to a crude oil shortage, local broadcaster b92 reported on Wednesday.

Death sentence declared for insurgents

Nigeria’s oil rich Delta State has enacted the Death Sentence Bill for kidnappers caught with arms and a life imprisonment for unarmed kidnapers.

Bond issuances to double Venezuela's domestic debt

Although the price of the Venezuelan oil basket, which is the source that provides USD 95 out of each USD 100 that enter the country, has risen and it has currently reached USD 60, more than twofold the price of Venezuelan crude oil last December, President Hugo Chávez's Administration has implemented an extensive borrowing plan to expand government funds and increase expenditures.

Russia's LUKOIL to invest in new US refinery

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's LUKOIL will invest in a new refinery on U.S. eastern coast together with its partner ConocoPhillips, the Kremlin said in documents on Monday prepared for the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.

The Problem with Biokinetic Sequestration

Writing in the current (6 July 2009) edition of Peak Oil Review, James W. Bunger, PhD asserts, "Peak OIl May Solve the Climate Change Problem without Regulation."

He contends that there is no need to regulate carbon dioxide emissions using cap and trade schemes like those found in the Waxman-Markey Bill (HR 2454) because two natural force are at work: rapidly approaching limitations on fossil fuel availability and natural (biokinetic) sequestration.

Russia bank may help Ukraine with $4 bln gas loan

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's state firm Naftogaz could secure up to $4 billion in financing with the help of Russian investment bank Troika to ensure payment for gas imports from Moscow, the Internet site Ukrainska Pravda reported on Monday.

A banking source later told Reuters that Troika is only large enough to serve as a conduit for the funds, which could ultimately come from Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom.

Kunstler: The Free and the Dead

I was out on a big Adirondack lake in a canoe this weekend while the American economy was dying -- but you wouldn't have known it for the fleets of giant power boats dragging children back and forth across the water on rubber tubes, and the giant camping vehicles crammed into every bare spot. How do people pay for these things, I wondered. For not a few, installment loans, no doubt -- though that still begs the question. The sheer programming of American life runs wide and deep. We are, apparently, a people born to drag children behind hundred-and-fifty horsepower two-stroke engines, so that's what we do, no matter what is really going on in the world. Alas, mindless programming is the sort of thing that kills societies.

RCMP urge patience in B.C. pipeline bomb probe

RCMP are asking residents in northeastern B.C. to be patient as they investigate the sixth bombing of an EnCana Corp. natural gas pipeline, attacks they are now labelling "domestic terrorism."

Petrobras says halts Tupi well on equipment snag

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras PBR.SA said Monday it suspended test production at a well in the offshore Tupi field due to an equipment problem.

The massive Tupi field forms part of a cluster of offshore oil fields buried beneath a layer of salt far below the ocean's surface that hold the potential of turning Brazil into a major energy exporter.

'New oil laws wont affect Petrobras'

The Brazilian government's plans to change the nation's oil law will not turn state-controlled oil company Petrobras into an outsourcing producer of crude nor hinder its ability to bid for exploration permits, a local newspaper said today.

Petrobras boss Jose Sergio Gabrielli told Valor that the implementation of production-sharing agreements in the so-called pre-salt deepwater oil reserves will favor the company.

German Minister Gabriel Seeks Earlier Reactor Closure

(Bloomberg) -- Germany must speed up the closure of aging nuclear power stations following an automatic shutdown at Vattenfall AB’s Kruemmel reactor over the weekend, Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said.

“We must pull these older nuclear plants from the grid,” Gabriel said on Germany’s ARD television today. “That means tightening up the legislation we have.”

Report warns reliance on wind will drive power price volatility

The expansion in wind energy capacity across the British Isles will result in huge electricity price volatility unless major reforms are undertaken to grid management in the UK and Ireland.

That is the conclusion of a study released last week by research firm Pöyry Energy Consulting, which warns that significant investment in grid technologies will be required to ensure that the intermittent nature of wind energy does not undermine the reliability of electricity supplies.

Wind-Turbine Orders Fell 50% in First Half of 2009, MAKE Says

(Bloomberg) -- Wind turbine makers around the world reported 50 percent fewer orders in the first half of 2009 than a year earlier and the market won’t improve until the last three months of the year, an industry consultant said.

Manufacturers have made “widespread” job cuts and prices for turbines in Europe and the U.S. have fallen 5 to 25 percent in the same period, according to a research-note excerpt posted today on the Web site of MAKE Consulting.

China Wind Companies Poised For Green Policy Boost

HONG KONG/BEIJING - China's ambitious plan to increase wind power capacity could attract up to $150 billion in investment, but Beijing will have to get serious about revamping regulations and building much needed infrastructure.

Corn ethanol has little effect on food prices

WASHINGTON — A new report from the Congressional Budget Office confirms what hundreds of economists and industry experts have stated for months: Using corn for ethanol has little impact on the price of food. Rather, the main culprits driving the higher cost of food are energy costs, excessive unregulated speculation in the commodities future market and a weak dollar.

The CBO analysis says ethanol was only responsible for 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent of the rise in food prices.

States seek tests for older drivers

Driving is often vitally important for seniors. Several studies have shown that taking the keys from elderly drivers who have no other transportation can cause them to become depressed or inactive, lose access to health care and die sooner.

Hybrids help Toyota, Honda dominate Japan car sales

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp's Prius hybrid was Japan's best-selling car in June while Honda Motor Co's rival Insight ranked fourth, helping the two hybrid leaders dominate the list of top-selling models.

Sales of the Prius, which was remodelled in mid-May, jumped 258 percent to 22,292 units from the year-earlier month, data from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association showed.

Cash squeeze may put United Airlines in a bind

Rather than banking cash from peak-season flying this summer as they normally do, United and its peers are paying a king's ransom to borrow money to get them through the winter months, when demand for air travel usually chills.

But after leveraging everything from frequent-flier miles to spare jet engines, United is running low on assets that it can use as collateral for debt or sell to raise cash. That limits the Chicago carrier's options as it faces new requirements by its credit card processors to keep unrestricted cash near the present level of $2.5 billion, analysts said.

Global Warming May Sap Productivity for Those With Outdoor Jobs

(Bloomberg) -- Tea pickers in India, coffee-bean harvesters in Vietnam and millions of outdoor workers will be less productive because of rising temperatures from global warming, according to a study.

Volatile Swings in Price of Oil Stir Fears on Recovery

The extreme volatility that has gripped oil markets for the last 18 months has shown no signs of slowing down, with oil prices more than doubling since the beginning of the year despite an exceptionally weak economy.

The instability of oil and gas prices is puzzling government officials and policy analysts, who fear it could jeopardize a global recovery. It is also hobbling businesses and consumers, who are already facing the effects of a stinging recession, as they try in vain to guess where prices will be a year from now — or even next month.

Oil hits 5-week low

LONDON (Reuters) -- Oil fell to around $64 a barrel on Monday and touched a five-week low, pressured by doubts over the prospects for a global economic recovery.

The U.S. jobless rate reached a 26-year high and Euro zone unemployment is at the highest in a decade, reports showed last week. Oil fell even after militants attacked oil installations in major African exporter Nigeria.

UK and France target less oil volatility

France and Britain called today called for discussions between oil producers and consumers to curtail oil price volatility.

Crude oil’s rally built on house of cards

The recent rally in crude oil prices may have come to an end, having been built on a house of cards.

Oil on the boil, again

We know that hydrocarbons are finite and that oil can only be burnt once. But the oil supply curve is more elastic than peak oil theorists maintain.

The world as a whole does not peak and decline like individual fields: we face a long undulating plateau in supply as technology and oil price squeeze more oil out of reservoirs.

Iran Is Poised to Increase Price of Light Crude Oil

(Bloomberg) -- National Iranian Oil Co. is poised to increase the official selling price for its main Iranian Light crude oil to Asia in August to the highest in 13 months after Saudi Arabia raised prices yesterday.

Saudi slashes July gasoline imports by 40pc

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, will slash gasoline imports by 40 percent in July as new domestic production capacity comes online, traders said on Monday.

The world's top oil exporter is expected to import around 34,100 barrels per day (bpd) of the motor fuel in July, because of the start-up of a gasoline production unit at its $10.3 billion Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Company.

Oil prices moving us further into the forest

Last week Goldman Sachs' Energy Watch led with the headline: "As the financial crisis eases, an energy shortage lies ahead."

For Goldman, the energy shortage will include a four-stage oil price.

This is further evidence of the sentiment now spreading through investment banks - global recovery will stimulate asset prices.

On Oil's Sesquicentennial, The Dream Becomes a Nightmare

On August 27th, we'll celebrate the 150th anniversary of Colonel Edwin Drake's completion of the world's first successful oil well near Titusville, Pennsylvania. That discovery and the many that followed planted the seeds of an industrial, economic and cultural revolution that transformed America from an agrarian backwater into a global superpower. For the next 114 years, oil was cheap, plentiful and the solid bedrock of the American Dream. Since the early '70s, however, the dream has gradually become a nightmare as domestic and global oil production began an irreversible decline.

Gasoline Peaking as Refinery Output Nears Record, Demand Slows

(Bloomberg) -- Gasoline, the best-performing commodity investment this year, may be peaking as refiners make fuel at near-record rates and demand slows with rising unemployment and the global recession.

Russian 2009 Oil Output May Fall 0.9%, Bernstein Says

(Bloomberg) -- Russian oil production is likely to fall 0.9 percent this year from last year’s average of 9.78 million barrels a day amid declining drilling, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Oswald Clint said in a research note.

While second-quarter production showed unexpected strength, the performance of individual companies, fields and assets “does not provide enough evidence to suggest that this strength is permanent,” the report said.

Oil Price Shocks and Market Fundamentals

Capital expenditure (capex) in the oil and gas sector has reportedly been declining since the precipitous fall of crude oil prices from the peak of about US$147 per barrel in July 2008. Speculation has inevitably been rife about a price shock occasioned by the inability of supply facilities to meet demand requirements (due to withdrawal of the enabling investment) when the global economy begins to rebound. The International Energy Agency has projected a price crunch by the year 2012, just 3 years away.

Such concerns may be unrealistic and for three reasons.

FSA drug query on rogue trader Steve Perkins

The Financial Services Authority is to examine whether Steve Perkins, the rogue oil broker who caused a worldwide spike in Brent crude oil prices last week, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he embarked on his dealing spree.

Perkins, a senior broker at PVM Oil, bought crude futures equal to about 9m barrels from his home in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He used a home computer with remote access to the oil futures trading exchange, for a spree that started at about 2am and lasted for eight hours. By the time he was finished, the price of Brent crude had shot up by more than $1.50 a barrel to $73.5, the highest level so far this year.

Oil reserves ‘sufficient for 42 years’

The proven global oil reserves of 1,258bn barrels, excluding Canadian oil sands, are enough for 42 years at the 2008 production rates, a BP review said.

On the same basis, global gas reserves are sufficient for 60 years and coal 122 years, the 2009 BP Statistical Review of World Energy said.

Reflecting the extremes of the world economy in 2008, strong growth followed by sharp decline, the review shows that overall primary energy consumption nudged up just 1.4% — the smallest rise since 2001.

Russia plays chequebook diplomacy

Russia is using its energy wealth to shore up influence abroad, pouring billions of dollars in loans and grants into former Soviet states and long-standing allies - even as it faces its own severe economic downturn. Faced with its own economic crisis, the Kremlin could have downplayed its drive to reclaim its former status as a "great power" and fight fires at home. Instead, armed with cash hoarded during years of high oil prices, Russia has gone on a cash offensive - pledging loans and aid to Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Armenia. It has tied in its neighbors to crucial energy deals, and has talked about lending billions of dollars to Ukraine and Serbia.

Violent street battles kill dozens in China

Many Uighurs yearn for independence for Xinjiang, a sprawling region rich in minerals and oil that borders eight Central Asian nations. Critics say the millions of Han Chinese who have settled here in recent years are gradually squeezing the Turkic people out of their homeland.

China's overseas investments surge

China, sitting on the world's largest foreign exchange reserves of about $2 trillion earned from burgeoning trade surpluses, has been on a spree to invest its money overseas while attracting inward foreign direct investments.

As China's overseas direct investments skyrocket, some estimates say they could soon overtake China's FDIs.

Kuwait refineries well-protected - official

(KUNA) -- Kuwait's oil refineries are well-protected by 700 cameras of various types and 32 kilometers of electric wires, the country's Oil Sector Services Company (OSSC) chairman said here Sunday.

Iraq could bring second oil auction date forward

After last week’s auction for Iraq’s oil and gas fields resulted in only one contract being awarded, a senior official has said that the country will bring forward the date for the second round of bidding and may allow foreign oil companies another opportunity to bid.

Iraq looks to cut Kuwait payments

It appears that Iraq is hoping to cut by half the amount of money it is required to pay Kuwait annually for damages inflicted during the first Gulf War, according to an aide to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Currently, Iraq turns over 5 percent of its oil revenue to a United Nations war reparations fund created after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Kuwait is the fund's primary beneficiary.

Iraqi officials say the financial obligation is a heavy burden as Iraq attempts to rebuild; some say that their country should no longer be required to pay reparations. So far, Kuwait is insisting that Iraq continue its reparation payments. The issue is raising tensions between the two neighbors.

Nigeria Rebels Attack Oil Facility, Hijack Tanker

Nigerian militants said Monday they destroyed a Chevron oil pipeline junction and seized six crew from a ship in the latest attacks on Nigeria's key money earner since the government offered an amnesty.

Nigeria's Oil Communities Blame Oil Industry for Misery

Barely a week after Amnesty International released a report condemning oil companies for widespread environmental damages and abuse of impoverished communities in the Niger Delta, some of the communities are talking about the hardships they face.

Oil has generated an estimated $600 billion since the 1960s in Nigeria. But most inhabitants of the country's main producing region have seen few benefits from five decades of oil extraction that has damaged their environment.

House: Nigeria May Face Hard Times By 2014

The House of Represent-atives has warned that the Nigerian economy which largely depend on crude oil exports may witness a major shrink in five years time unless the Federal Government aggressively pursue a policy of diversification of its source of revenue.

Yemen Will Be Self-sufficient Of Domestic Gas By 2010

SANA'A (Bernama) -- Yemen will get self-sufficiency of domestic gas by 2010 after setting up a new plant in Safer, Marib province,to produce Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), Minister of Oil and Minerals Amir al-Aydarus has said, reported the Yemen news agency (Saba).

Al-Aydarus said the capacity of the new plant ranges from 700 to 1000 metric tons a day which will achieve the self-sufficiency of domestic gas and will cover the increasing demands of local market in a convenient way.

China and Latin America

China’s links to the region are deepening fast. Indeed, if the mooted $15bn bid for Repsol YPF’s Argentine oil unit by China’s state-owned energy companies CNOOC and CNPC comes off, South America will also be the recipient of China’s largest outward investment to date. Bilateral trade with the region has risen 10-fold since 2000, reaching $143bn last year. China is now Brazil’s largest trade partner. It takes almost three-quarters of the iron ore produced by Vale, the world’s largest iron ore company. It has been a bigger buyer of Chilean copper than the US, and it is already a major investor in Venezuelan oil – even as Caracas has nationalised several western concerns.

Do Peru's uncontacted Amazon tribes even exist?

The existence of uncontacted tribes in Brazil and Ecuador is accepted, but Peru's government has ridiculed the notion of such communities in its part of the Amazon. President Alan Garcia says the "figure of the jungle native" is a ruse to prevent oil exploration. Daniel Saba, former head of the state oil company, is even more scornful. "It's absurd to say there are uncontacted peoples when no one has seen them. So, who are these uncontacted tribes people are talking about?"

Seoul gets tough on fuel economy

The government yesterday announced a national program to reduce carbon emissions and raise fuel-economy of new cars starting in 2012 in an effort to combat global warming and energy shortage problems.

The plan will require passenger cars and mini vans with less than 10 passenger seats to run an average of 17 kilometers per liter by 2015 and produce less than 140 grams per kilometer of carbon emissions, officials said. The requirement will be enforced gradually, starting with 2012 vehicle models.

Don't be swayed by oil exploration rhetoric

As Sen. Bill Nelson toured Florida threatening his filibuster to stop a federal energy bill, he regretfully demagogued on the "evils" of domestic oil and gas exploration off Florida's coasts and predicted the demise of our state's tourism industry and military bases should this occur. Scare tactics and outrageous claims will not fix our nation's energy crisis. Sen. Nelson's unwavering resistance to domestic exploration of oil and natural gas is stubborn and incongruent with the majority of Floridians who support it.

Byron King: Iran Suffering from Own Version of Peak Oil

Iran is suffering from its own version of Peak Oil. Iranian net exports of oil are falling. Iran's oil infrastructure is aging. According to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the trend is that Iran will be exporting ZERO oil by 2014, which is a mere five years from now. That means almost no serious money will be coming in for the Iranian leadership and government.

Iran clerics declare election invalid and condemn crackdown

Iran’s biggest group of clerics has declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election to be illegitimate and condemned the subsequent crackdown.

The statement by the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qom is an act of defiance against the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has made clear he will tolerate no further challenges to Mr Ahmadinejad’s “victory” over Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Saudis give nod to Israeli raid on Iran

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Why Jimmy Carter's Malaise Speech Is More Relevant than Ever

Why does the speech matter today and warrant revisiting? Well first off, and strange as it might sound, the speech was a glowing success for the president. Many would think that being tough on the American people would have resulted in bad stuff for the president. But that’s not the case. Carter’s poll numbers shot up 11% in the wake of the speech, something that rarely happened during his presidency. Americans wrote him letters in copious amounts, almost all of them positive. Many pledged that they would join him in fighting the energy crisis facing America (for instance, walking or biking to work). And somehow, just somehow, the American people appeared fine with hearing that the country – meaning: themselves – had grown selfish, corrupt, and soft. They wanted a leader who confronted truths about the country’s state of being and who tried to confront the energy crisis as a deeper moral and civic crisis.

Cowboys Stadium likely off-limits for drilling

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Dallas Cowboys' new $1.15 billion stadium would probably be off-limits for underground drilling under the team's contract with the city of Arlington.

City Attorney Jay Doegey said there are concerns about the possible risks of drilling under such an ex-pensive and huge structure, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday. The stadium weighs more than 805 million pounds.

Street Farmer

Like others in the so-called good-food movement, Allen, who is 60, asserts that our industrial food system is depleting soil, poisoning water, gobbling fossil fuels and stuffing us with bad calories. Like others, he advocates eating locally grown food. But to Allen, local doesn’t mean a rolling pasture or even a suburban garden: it means 14 greenhouses crammed onto two acres in a working-class neighborhood on Milwaukee’s northwest side, less than half a mile from the city’s largest public-housing project.

Food Wars

In 2006–08, food shortages became a global reality, with the prices of commodities spiraling beyond the reach of vast numbers of people. International agencies were caught flatfooted, with the World Food Program warning that its rapidly diminishing food stocks might not be able to deal with the emergency.

Bumper harvest eases Zimbabwe food shortage

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe // After two consecutive droughts that left them hungry, Douglas Mpofu, a peasant farmer, and his family have harvested enough corn for the next six years.

World at Gunpoint, Or, what's wrong with the simplicity movement

So, part of the problem is that “looking down the barrel of environmental catastrophe” makes it seem as though environmental catastrophe is the problem. But it’s not. It’s a symptom—an effect, not a cause. Think about global warming and attempts to “solve” or “stop” or “mitigate” it. Global warming (or global climate catastrophe, as some rightly call it), as terrifying as it is, isn’t first and foremost a threat. It’s a consequence. I’m not saying pikas aren’t going extinct, or the ice caps aren’t melting, or weather patterns aren’t changing, but to blame global warming for those disasters is like blaming the lead projectile for the death of someone who got shot. I’m also not saying we shouldn’t work to solve, stop, or mitigate global climate catastrophe; I’m merely saying we’ll have a better chance of succeeding if we recognize it as a predictable (at this point) result of burning oil and gas, of deforestation, of dam construction, of industrial agriculture, and so on. The real threat is all of these.

GM bankruptcy plan approved

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors' plan to emerge from bankruptcy, with a lot of help from the federal government, has been approved by a federal judge.

Judge Robert Gerber gave his approval late Sunday after three days of hearings last week, saying it "is the only available means to preserve the continuation of GM's business."

If nuclear power is so great, why aren’t we doing it?

The last word on building of nuclear power plants is that even the traditional models are not being built at such a lick. Somewhere, somehow, investors aren’t keen, and my suspicion is that expense is at the heart of their concerns, and not waste (environmental) or accident (social) issues.

Renewables alone are not the answer

The evaluation clearly indicates that if the Code for Sustainable Homes is to be met on a mass market basis, there is a need to concentrate on low energy homes before zero carbon. Add-ons, in the form of micro renewable technology such as wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and solar thermal, do not consistently deliver the required performance levels and the cost savings that would make them viable. Equally, in order to achieve the ultimate aim of a low energy use society, consumers themselves need to change their behaviours in terms of how they use their homes to make a positive impact on reducing their energy consumption.

Wisconsin wind power progress stalls because of outdated transmission system

As support builds for wind and other renewable options, one major question remains: how to move electricity from the wind-swept prairies where it's generated to the big cities where it's needed.

Experts agree the network of wires moving electricity from power plants to end-users is old and unreliable. Adding renewable energy to the load would likely be too much for the system to handle.

California solar-power subsidy program approaches its limit

The state's $3.3-billion solar subsidy program has become so popular that the state utilities are approaching the legal limit for how much power they can buy from customers.

Putting the Wind (Back) to Work

Wind power is in front of national discussions on energy, the environment and national security, moving from side show to the center ring in the national energy mix. President Obama gave his Earth Day address at a wind turbine tower manufacturing plant and touted the possibility that the United States could get 20 percent of its energy from wind by 2030. Yet, the wind industry is facing a tough 2009, with prospects for new wind capacity installations at least in the short term seeming to decline.

How can the prospects for this industry be so high while it is experiencing such challenges? A review of the recent history of commercial wind power in the United States shows the industry reaching its fullest potential when at least three variables work together, in addition to the obvious requirements of having suitable technology and an abundance of windy sites to build on.

Energy descent and transition in Mexico, part 1

In the last few months, amongst every day’s news about the unfolding financial meltdown, the dramatic decline of Mexican oil extraction was about to be forgotten. When recent propoganda about the so-called "swine flu"-outbreak is combined with the fact that the central government is about to lose any capacity to control the mighty drug cartels (a situation that has already reached crisis proportions), the decline seems to be just another serious issue among many. But the more you investigate the current situation, energy descent turns out to be the underlying cause of the Mexican crisis, which is only destined to get worse in the near future.

Blair Says Saving Energy Is Faster Fix Than C02 Trade

(Bloomberg) -- Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair said saving energy and forests will yield faster reductions in greenhouse gases than trading carbon-dioxide allowances.

Make state-run banks invest in renewable energy, urges ex-BP chief Lord Browne

State-controlled banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group should be forced to invest in renewable energy schemes, helping to kickstart a transition to a lower-carbon economy, Lord Browne of Madingley writes today.

Spanish winemakers look to higher ground

MADRID (AFP) – Climate change, which could transform the Iberian peninsula into a semi-desert, is forcing winemakers in Spain to consider moving their vines to higher ground to escape the blistering heat.

Spain, which has more hectares (acres) of vineyard than any other country in the world, "is in the frontline of climate change," said Juan Francisco Cacho, a wine expert at the University of Zaragoza.

Tropical zone expanding due to climate change: study

Climate change is rapidly expanding the size of the world's tropical zone, threatening to bring disease and drought to heavily populated areas, an Australian study has found.

Researchers at James Cook University concluded the tropics had widened by up to 500 kilometres (310 miles) in the past 25 years after examining 70 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

Leading International Climate Scientists Call on World Leaders for Global Emissions Peak by 2020

L'AQUILA, Italy /PRNewswire/ -- A group of the world's top climate scientists today called on the leaders of the world's major economies to adopt strong measures to address climate change, including a peak in global emissions before 2020.

In a letter addressed to Ministers and Heads of State attending this week's G8 summit and Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Italy, the climate scientists, including several senior government climate science advisors, make specific requests for policy action and warn that failure to reduce emissions presents "unacceptable risks."

In reference to the above post:
Byron King: Iran Suffering from Own Version of Peak Oil

Another example of ELM at work...?

Iran and Oil

Iran's internal consumption of oil is almost half of production and has been rising steadily. Production has not kept up with increased consumption this decade.

From the Energy Export Databrowser:

Iran and Natural Gas

Measured in million tonnes of oil equivalent, Iran's rapidly increasing production of natural gas now matches it's output of oil. But Iran's consumption of natural gas has increased just as fast as production.

Iran is in a tight spot energetically with a very young population. It's hard to imagine how they will continue to be a net energy exporter for more than a few years.

This is the underlying conflict in the whole region. Iran can only survive politically and economically by dominating its neighbours. That's why they are-probably- striving for nuclear weapons, and that's why they are actually surrounded by western troops. It's highly possible that the israeli attack on the iranian nuclear sites will be within the next six months and I do not doubt the iranian government will welcome it in their own "logic" of the problem: As a justification of war to oppress inner tensions and to gain control of the region. If each hostile side considers a war useful -even because of totally different reasons - it becomes inevitable.


An attack by Israel on Iran has been imminent for the last six years. The British Telegraph newspaper in particular reports these almost monthly. Iran has every economic reason to build conventional nuclear power. As Pakistan amply demonstrated, having even a modest nuclear capability can turn a dangerous military dictatorship into a valued ally to be kept in power at all costs. Iran may have an anti-democratic , abusive and outmoded theocratic leadership, but so do all the ME countries. Iran may, or may have supported terrorism, but we actively fund insurgent groups in Iran. It is all part of the game. Iran would be insane to attack Isreal,
and Isreal knows that a nuclear backed Iran can never be attacked.

If there was going to be an Isreali attack it would have happened by now.

"But Iran's consumption of natural gas has increased just as fast as production."

While I don't have the numbers, it's my understanding that Iran has been engaged in its own "Pickens plan" -- conversion of cars and trucks from gasoline to CNG -- in an effort to reduce its imports of gasoline.

I wonder by how much its reduced imports of gas have ofset its reduced exports of crude...

The instability of oil and gas prices is puzzling government officials and policy analysts, who fear it could jeopardize a global recovery.

There are many strange and inexplicable things in the world, but the volatility of oil prices ain't one of them, not in light of peaking which is more and more widely acknowledged. There is no doubt market manipulation, but that's on top of the underlying ping pong match between decline and consumption. Were it not for decline, oil would plummet and "stay plummeted". I don't believe for a moment that the top levels of gov't are puzzled, except about how to present the issue to the public.

I thought Jad Mouawad was starting to get it about peak oil, but since the price drop, he's regressed.

The end quote was the closest he got:

But to Jeroen van der Veer, who retired as chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell last week, prices are increasingly dictated by long-term assessments of supply and demand, rather than current market fundamentals. He advised taking a long-term view of the market.

“Oil has never been very stable,” Mr. van der Veer said. “If you look at history, you have to expect more volatility.”

That could be interpreted as a veiled reference to peak oil.

Wisconsin wind power progress stalls because of outdated transmission system

What is being done to address this obvious weak link in the renewable energy system?


The electrical island of Texas#, ERCOT, has announced a $4+ Billion transmission upgrade (next 5 years ?) to be able to accept up to 10 GW of wind energy. Other goals as well (eliminate bottlenecks) but more wind is #1 reason for upgrade.

Costs of upgrades will be spread evenly among all electrical users.

# ERCOT is most of Texas (about 85% of electrical demand) but does not include El Paso, the northern half of the panhandle (Lubbock ?) or the eastern edge (Beaumont, Port Author, Orange).


Hi Alan,

Of course, the siting of new bulk power transmission facilities can be highly problematic, as you well know, and as illustrated below:



Nalcor is so f**king stupid! Running their HV link through a National Park/UNESCO World Heritage Site? They were just begging for failure! This doesn't bode well for the 2,000 MW-Lower Churchill development they plan on the other site the Labrador strait.

I agree - this is about as idiotic as they come. I can't wait for the next shoe to drop.


Bumper harvest eases Zimbabwe food shortage

After two consecutive droughts that left them hungry, Douglas Mpofu, a peasant farmer, and his family have harvested enough corn for the next six years.

I love these misleading headlines. This farmer has in one harvest produced enough maize to support six families for one year. Wow.

The country (which ten years ago was known as the breadbasket of Africa) is estimated to have grown enough food to feed two thirds of its population. Some bumper harvest.

If the food aid dries up we will see more see more starvation in the streets.

Concerning the above link: Violent street battles kill dozens in China. It is likely that this is just the tip of the iceberg. First it is ethnical violence between the Muslim Uyghurs (pronounced Weegers) and the Hans. Racial and ethnical tensions are always the first links to break. But as millions become unemployed and get hungry, they will use any excuse to riot. What you are seeing right now in this Chinese province of 20 million people will soon be commonplace all over China...then the rest of the world.

Here is a link to a video of the rioting: Over 140 killed in ethnic unrest in China

Ron P.

"But as millions become unemployed and get hungry, they will use any excuse to riot. What you are seeing right now in this Chinese province of 20 million people will soon be commonplace all over China...then the rest of the world."
I have a problem with this line of thinking. In my reading of history there is no direct causal linkage of famine and civil unrest, I just don't see the evidence for it. For example during the great Chinese famine during the Great Leap Forward (estimated 15 to 36 million deaths, wrap your mind around that) there was not associated mass civil insurrection, instead it was reported that peasants would woefully gather at full grain warehouses and ask in vain for the Good Chairman to save them.
Looking at history you see lots of famines. Looking at history you see a lot of racial and ethnic strife. The correlation is loose. Counterexamples abound. For example you could make the case that the great Jewish pogroms were motivated not by want but by greed or fear.
I agree that a lot of things which seem inconceivable now will seem obvious and predictable once real privation sets in. I just can't see where the actual arc of human misery about to unfold will follow a simple pattern of hunger leading to ethnic strife leading to genocide

Yes, I agree. It's a subject that's been getting a lot of attention lately, from peak oilers and others. Why are there riots and demonstrations in some places but not others? What would it take to get Americans off their couches and into the streets?

No one knows for sure, but my guess is $10 per gallon. People put a lot of weight on round numbers.

"What would it take to get Americans off their couches and into the streets?"

If food shortages won't do it, then imagine a major city suddenly running out of water due to the arrival of some unforeseen Black Swan. It would be Hell on Earth in my Blazing Hot Asphaltistan. :(

No, I don't think so. It would be hell on earth, yes, but there may not be riots. If things get really bad, people just don't have the energy to riot.

The residents of Phoenix are too socially isolated (many live literally behind walls) and too unused to physically activity (like walking) to "riot". And what are they going to burn, the neighborhood gas station ?

"Every man for himself" trying to get out or get control of the neighbors swimming pool is the likely response IMHO.


I agree with your assessment,Alan. It can be rather difficult to find a more explosive recipe than when "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting" is mixed with "Water flows uphill to money".

I'm not sure a low physical activity level stops someone engaging in rioting. The UK experience has been that there hasn't been even low-scale "rioting", but there have been some crowd issues such as when a march in London to protest the G20 meetings apparent focus on just refinancing out the banking corporations led to in-crowd-vandalism of the RBS's main London office (RBS being seen as behaving particularly badly for a bailed out institution). It seems like being in a dense, like-minded crowd is a precondition which "justifies" the rioting in the rioters minds.

In many parts of the US I suspect Alan is right and people are unlikely to be in densely packed together demonstrations in the first place, and even if they are they're likely just geographically too far from the places they invest with the strongest negative emotions (Goldman Sachs, AIG, etc).

Peak riot energy?

people just do not riot spontaneously -- they have to be led. And the leaders are frequently in the pay of some faction of the respective government.

who knows what is going on in China -- is the government itself provoking and leading the riots?

Americans, in particular, seem pretty riot resistant. Population density too small, except in very particular situations -- New York, Los Angeles for example

"people just do not riot spontaneously"

Yes they often do. True they require a trigger but that trigger can be a rumor or often someone just getting damn mad because they are hungry and think the government, or someone else, is to blame.

"they have to be led."

And often the leader is just a rabble rouser in the crowd. But after a riot gets underway it proceeds... leaderless.

"is the government itself provoking and leading the riots?

Oh! The government wishes to overthrow itself? Or perhaps you think this is a method of population control? Only 140 dead in the Chinese riots, miniscule as far as Chinese population is concerned but the cost to the government is significant. Did you watch the video and see the police cars being wrecked and burned?

"Americans, in particular, seem pretty riot resistant. "

Errr...you don't remember the 60s do you? I recall riots in virtually every major city in the US. Even in relatively small Birmingham, Alabama. Of course those were not food riots but we are yet to reach that level of hunger in the US. The starving people are still a relatively small percentage of the population. But just wait....

Ron P.

As a population, the USA isn't physically able to riot on a large scale. 51% of the population is on prescription medication and 10% of the population is on anti-depressant medication. Overall, the USA population is too old, fat and sick (mentally and physically) for widespread violent political upheaval.

As a population, the USA isn't physically able to riot on a large scale. 51% of the population is on prescription medication and 10% of the population is on anti-depressant medication.

Of that 51% most will take medication for high blood pressure, diabetes and/or high cholesterol(LDL). A lot of them are not too old, fat and sick.

"All members of society are conditioned in childhood to hold the values that the World State idealizes. Constant consumption is the bedrock of stability for the World State. Everyone is encouraged to consume the ubiquitous drug, soma, which is probably a historical allusion to a mythical drink of the ancient Aryans. Soma is a hallucinogen that takes users on enjoyable, hangover-free "vacations"." (Wikipedia entry for Brave New World By Aldous Huxley, 1932)


How many people died in all of those "60's riots?" Very few

Who led the riots? They weren't about oil or global warming, not even about food.

The Chinese government is not likely to be any more monolithic than our own. Factions occur, civil wars start. When does a "riot" become a "civil war"?

No, it's not about population control. It's about mind control

No, it's not about population control. It's about mind control


In my wildest imagination I would never have made any connection between riots and mind control. That would have to be the govermental conspiracy theory to top all other conspiracy theories.

The Mao regime was very much about mind control. The Little Red Book and all that. Riots were simply not allowed. It would have been counterproductive for Mao to allow riots. And it seems to me that it would be counterproductive to any mind control scheme. How could a riot enhance any mind control scheme by the government? Never mind answering, the question was rhetorical.

Anyway thanks for the exchange.

Ron P.

I believe the intended point was that mind control prevents riots. For the US, I would see it as the whole bread & circus phenomenon, the methods of placating the populace.

I agree too. I think it has something to do with something I just learned about in Sociology 101.

The J-Curve Theory of Revolutions.

And Smesler's preconditions.

Yes, I think this is more along the lines of what sldulin meant.

The first seems like something Kunstler writes about a lot, thought not in those exact terms.

...What would it take to get Amerikans off their couches...?

Take away their televisions.

I have a problem with this line of thinking. In my reading of history there is no direct causal linkage of famine and civil unrest,

I started to post several links showing a clear and direct link between famine and civil unrest. However I found far too many to list them all. Here Google list many: Food Riots around the World

The above link lists dozens of such direct linkages to famine and civil unrest. For a few hundred more simply google "Food Riots". However for those occurring very recently you will need to use news.google.com instead. There you will find many more recent examples such as this one:
Food Wars

Some thirty countries experienced violent popular actions against rising prices in 2007 and 2008, among them Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Mauretania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. Across the continents, people came out in the thousands against uncontrolled rises in the price of staple goods that their countries had to import owing to insufficient production. Scores of people died in these demonstrations of popular anger.

Thanks for the reply anyway.

Ron P.

These riots seem to occur by decently fed people in response to prices. Famine, on the other hand, tends to bring out apathy in the underfed.

Ignorant you are making a distinction I would not dare make. Of course if people are near death they haven't the energy to get out of bed. But the hungry clearly do riot! I guess it all depends on how weak they are from hunger. However if you click on my above Google link and go down the line of all the many different cases of food riots, you will find many that are rioting because of prices but also many other rioters that are in various stages of hunger. The "Food Riots in Ireland" link is a perfect example of starving people rioting.

The point is folks, we live in the age of the internet, in the age of Google. The data on just about anything is just too easy to find. As I told a poster the other day who wrongly claimed that world oil production soared in the early 80s, in the days where the data is available from just a few keystrokes then there is no excuse for making such a gaff. By simply checking the data one may find that long held opinions are simply wrong.

Ron P.

I don't think this is fair. sldulin said there was "no direct causal relationship." That is not the same thing as saying there is no relationship, nor is it a claim that no one has ever rioted because of food shortages. What he said was that it's more complicated than your post indicated, and your links do not refute that.

Leanan, the undeniable gist of Sldulin's post was that hunger or famine do not cause riots. It is simply nitpicking to say there is a difference between a relationship and a direct causal relationship. However history does reflect thousands of direct causal relationships between riots and hunger.

Looking back at his post, and I was negligent in not mentioning this before, was that Sldulin was looking at China during the great famine during the Great Leap Forward. In places where the government rules with an iron fist, there are never riots. Or if there are, they are never publicized. We never hear of them. There were none under Stalin when millions died of starvation. Stalin simply killed anyone who dared riot. Likewise in North Korea. Who would dare riot in North Korea. It would be a certain death sentence.

People do not riot if they are certain that rioting will lead to their own deaths in short order. I am very sorry that I did not make this distinction in my first reply.

Ron P.

hardly 'nitpicking' to make a distinction between a causal and a casual relationship. You don't like my counterexamples, ok, how about the US in the thirties, did people go hungry? Were there food riots?

I think Hurricane Katrina provided some insight into how Americans behave when things get difficult.
Maybe "looting" is considered different from a "food riot"? I tend to think of civil unrest in different ways not one big general category. I think its likley that theft, and looting will occur. rioting for the sake of violence - probably less so. When youre hungry I suspect that you dont have the energy for political protest, or making molotov cocktails, but Id bet you have the energy to smash a window and grab some bread.

More importantly, if you do not believe that officials bring genuine help you will usually try to keep your head down and avoid notice as much as possible.

Rioting is rather the opposite of that.

hardly 'nitpicking' to make a distinction between a causal and a casual relationship.

Again Sldulin, you clearly meant that hunger and famine did not cause civil unrest. That should be obvious to anyone who read your post. There is simply no other way to interpret your post. What you actually said:

I have a problem with this line of thinking. In my reading of history there is no direct causal linkage of famine and civil unrest, I just don't see the evidence for it.

That was in response to me saying: "But as millions become unemployed and get hungry, they will use any excuse to riot." I said there would be riots and you said, in effect, "No because these things do not cause riots."

You don't like my counterexamples, ok, how about the US in the thirties, did people go hungry? Were there food riots?

And how about Russia, China and North Korea? There are lots of reasons that riots do not occur. One is the iron fist of the government. A second reason are soup kitchens, charitable organizations and dozens of other reasons. That is not the point of contention. I am saying that hunger and famine do cause civil unrest and riots. And they have occurred hundreds, perhaps thousands of times. The fact that riots sometimes do not occur does not change that fact.

If you throw a flaming torch into a building it often causes a fire. The fact that sometimes it does not cause a fire does not mean there is not a no direct causal linkage between the throwing flaming torches and a fires.

Ron P.

So you are saying that hunger and famine do cause civil unrest and riots.
Except when they don't.
Well, let's wade into logic for a second and look at two basic kinds of causal relationships, Necessary Causes and Sufficient Causes.
Necessary Causes: If A (hunger and famine) is a necessary cause of B (riots and civil unrest), then the presence of B necessarily implies the presence of A. The presence of A, however does not imply that B will occur.
Well, almost, except that I can give thousands of examples of B without the existence of A.
ok, let's try Sufficient Causes:
If A (hunger and famine) is a sufficient cause of B (riots and civil unrest) then the presence of A necessarily implies the presence of B. However, another cause C (say resentment at higher taxes) may alternatively cause B. Thus the presence of B does not imply the presence of A.
Well, almost, except that there are many instances of A without B.
So in what meaningful sense do you have causation?
I'm not going to bring up the correlation vs causation distinction but Edward Tufte suggested that the shortest true statement about correlation vs causation might be something like "Empirically observed co-variation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for causality."
That would imply that the greater the degree of famine, then the greater the degree of rioting and civil unrest. Again, unsupported by the historical record.
OK, I agree that this argument is arid and pointless, especially as how I accept your basic premise of a looming discontinuity with our familiar BAU cheap fossil-fueled lifestyles. I am only being disputatious because i think it is possible to maintain social cohesion even under radically distressed circumstances.

So you are saying that hunger and famine do cause civil unrest and riots.
Except when they don't.

And I take it that you have trouble with that logic? Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer except when it doesn't. Do you have problems with that logic or do you insist that if cigarette smoking causes one person to have cancer then it must cause everyone who smokes to have cancer?

Well, let's wade into logic for a second and look at two basic kinds of causal relationships, Necessary Causes and Sufficient Causes.

No, let's don't. You have a theory and I have the data. Data trumps all theories. Once again, click on this link: Food Riots Now slowly, one at a time, click on each of the thumbnails that display hungry people rioting. There are 18 of them. Then after you have checked out each one go to the bottom of the page and click on "Next". This will bring up 18 more thumbnails depicting food riots. Then after you complete this page click "Next" again, and keep doing so until you have gone through several hundred cases.

After you have tired of reading about all the food riots around the world, go back and read your theory again, the theory that says what actually happened could not really happen.

Which do you think carries the most weight, the stories of hundreds of food riots or your theory?

Ron P.

let me be clear why I brought this up. I suspect that when the die-off begins it will be famine and disease working together. I suspect that all societies will become obsessed by their own problems and we will choose to ignore reports of huge casualty figures coming from afflicted regions. I suspect vast numbers of people will die alone, at home, in their villages, relatively quietly, out of sight of western media. It won't bleed so it won't lead.
That is my premise, no more based in fact than your belief that starvation will be preceded by social mayhem.


Nobody was hungry in the thirties in the US because of food shortages or high prices.And not many,in terms of the total population,were ever in danger of starvation ,although large numbers of people were reduced to charity cases.People were hungry for the VERY simple reason that they had no jobs,or customers,if self employed.

Your are justified in insisting that food has not necessarily been the cause of lots of riots in the past,and that there were times when food riots did not erupt when conditions were ripe.

But there are enough examples to prove the rule,and there have been many other times when riots were brutally oppressed or simply not even concievable,as in the Stalin Era in the old Soviet Union.

Riots were indeed part of official govt policy in China during the cultural upheavels when teachers and doctors were beaten and forced into the fields,although these riots may have been different in thier outer aspects and origins than most others.

Furthermore we need to remember Taleb's 'silent evidence"(pages 100 to 103 in The Black Swan)when we use examples from history.

Dead sailors who prayed and drowned are not able to offer thier testimony as to the efficacy of prayers,as shipwrecked survivors are prone to do.

A wife left behind during a war can never conclusively prove she has remained faithful,but the birth of a child at the right(wrong!) time proves conclusively that she has not.

Times have changed enormously in that people no longer are as willing as formerly to accept the "will of God" or the words of thier leaders.I can't think of a single person known to me personally who believes in any world leader in the way that many Cubans believe(?d) in Castro or as others believed in Stalin or Hitler or Roosevelt,although I suspect there are some who hold O Bama in similar regard.

We aren't nearly so afraid of our governments anymore,we do not hold them (leaders or govt) in high regard,we are able to communicate quickly,and while we are astonishingly niave in many respects,we are mostly not so niave anymore as to believe that "the powers that be" are our true friends. We view tptb at best as somewhat unreliable allies or even enemies a lot of the time.

The above two paragraphs were painted fast with a broad brush,but I think they are not to far off the mark.

And now that we know that television has made it nearly impossible for a democracy to fight a war that costs the lives of it's own boys,etc,why would we not believe it can get every body just as "all bent out of shape" over a rare food riot?Given the way the msm works,the coverage of even one or two riots is apt to spawn dozens more in an exponential fashion,if people are already 'in the mood".

The stage is set.

Whether the show goes on I cannot say,but I have been "stocking up" for some time now.

Dead sailors who prayed and drowned are not able to offer thier testimony as to the efficacy of prayers,as shipwrecked survivors are prone to do.

Damn, I gotta remember that one. Thanks Mac.

Ron P.

Thanks,but it's not mine ,it's out of The Black Swan,but that may not be obvious since I did not say so in so many words.

Good thing I didn't get paid for that line!

Fully agree.

Don't have time to search it out, but there is a Chinese Aphorism about 'Well-fed people are quiet, and do not riot'

and then there's a Czech homily that 'The government that raises the price of beer won't last beyond the next plum harvest' .. if memory serves.

Famous last words #126:

"Let them eat cake..."


I agree that a lot of things which seem inconceivable now will seem obvious and predictable once real privation sets in. I just can't see where the actual arc of human misery about to unfold will follow a simple pattern of hunger leading to ethnic strife leading to genocide

If it is not civil unrest and genocide that caused the millions of deaths in your example than it are horrible other things. You can read in history books what people with hunger did in the middle ages during periods of severe famine.

In my reading of history (Tuchman, Daileader)of the middle ages, at least the 14th Century, the great peasant revolts were unrelated to famine but the result of an aggrieved working class that resented being taxed and not receiving protection from marauding private armies. Also there was a strong element of collective irrationality as evidenced by the accusations against the Jews. So which are the great episodes of civil insurrection caused by hunger and famine? One can certainly find examples of disease leading to widespread criminality and innumerable examples of war leading to public revolt but as for food shortages (of which there was a lot due to depredations by armies) leading to general uprisings, well...I would just say that an empowered proletariat due to labor shortages is far more dangerous to public order than one enfeebled by food shortages. The great peasant revolts of the 14th Century did not occur in the first half of the century when the population was high and there were crop failures, but during the second half after the Black Death had reduced the population by half.
Now if you want to jump forward in time and argue about the French Revolution where the relationship between absolute privation and civil insurrection seems firmer, well...I would say even there the relationship is much cloudier than a causal relationship between hunger and a breakdown of the social order. There were powerful political actors eager to exploit a perception of a ruling class deaf to the suffering of the poor.

The unemployment timebomb is quietly ticking

The shocker last week was not just that the US lost 467,000 jobs in May, but also that time worked fell 6.9pc from a year earlier, dropping to 33 hours a week. "At no time in the 1990 or 2001 recessions did we ever come close to seeing such a detonating jobs figure," said David Rosenberg from Glukin Sheff. "We have lost a record nine million full-time jobs this cycle."

Another reason not to give the government interest-free loans...

Much-needed tax refunds delayed from Ga. to Calif.

Tax day—April 15—has long since come and gone, but sharp budget cuts and falling revenues have forced many states to delay income tax returns for months—and left taxpayers longing for their money.

Japan backs dollar as reserve currency

China has asked for a new currency to replace the dollar as the world's reserve, but Japan says major countries should stick with the greenback.

Check out the charts at Unemployment Rate % Change versus Prior Recessions. Real Stuka dive bomber trajectories we're on, and it's only going to get worse.

No Great Depression on those charts...

Party like it's 1999...

U.S. loses equivalent of every job created in decade

The U.S. economy has lost the equivalent of every job created in the past nine years.

All job growth since the final year of the dot-com bubble, its recovery from the bust, and the ensuing six years of consumer-driven boom is now gone, leading some economists to fear an outright decline in wages will be next. Others believe the United States is on track for a painful "jobless recovery."

"This is the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all jobs growth from the previous business cycle, a testament both to the enormity of the current crisis and to the extreme weakness of jobs growth over the business cycle from 2000 to 2007," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at Washington-based think tank The Economic Policy Institute. "It is apparent that, despite the substantial positive impact of the February recovery package, the economy's dramatic deterioration from November to March was even greater than anticipated."

In regards to refunds, I'm sure some of it too is due to people such as myself who cannot afford to pay all the taxes they owe. I managed to arrange a payment plan with the feds on what I owe them, which spreads out what I owe them over a period of 3 years. Unless a massive amount of well-paying work falls into my lap, I simply don't have the funds.

Satyajit Das gives some lessons from the global economic crisis:

Questioning growth- at- all- costs from the mainstream ...

Limits to growth

The Global Finsnvial Crisis (GFC) coincides with another crisis: the GEC or Global Environmental Crisis. "Toxic debt" and "toxic emissions" increasingly clamor simultaneously for politician's attention.

Irreversible climate change, scarcity of vital resources (food and water) and falling biodiversity are not unconnected with the existing economic system.

Economists and politicians implicitly assume that high levels of growth drive increased living standards, rescuing people from poverty and social development. No limit to economic growth is recognized.

The GFC brings into question much of established orthodoxy of economic models and approaches. It calls into question social and political models based on high levels of economic growth and financial rather than real economy driven growth. It also questions the ability of mandarins to control the economic engines. The world needs to adjust to a new economic order and a world of reduced expectations.

As Keynes wrote in 1933: "We have reached a critical point. We can ... see clearly the gulf to which our present path is leading….[If governments did not take action], we must expect the progressive breakdown of the existing structure of contract and instruments of indebtedness, accompanied by the utter discredit of orthodox leadership in finance and government, with what ultimate outcome we cannot predict."

Concerning Byron King: Iran Suffering from Own Version of Peak Oil from up top. Looks like the concept of ELM is sinking in around the world. The link below may have been posted before but in the light of the Byron King article it is worth another read. I mean...we should expect such articles from The Daily Reckoning but when a right wing former presidential candidate and Nixon speechwriter says virtually the same thing, then we can conclude that the word is probably getting around.

Ten Days That Shook Tehran by Patrick J. Buchanan

According to U.S. sources, Iran produced 6 million barrels of crude a day in 1974 under the shah. She has not been able to match that since the revolution. War, limited investment, sanctions and a high rate of natural decline of mature oil fields, estimated at 8 percent onshore and 11 percent offshore, are the causes. A 2007 National Academy of Sciences study reported that if the decline rates continue, Iran's exports, which in 2007 averaged 2.4 million barrels per day, could decrease to zero by 2015.

Ron P.

Well just the fact that Iran uses ANY oil for transportation in a country with the 2nd largest NG reserves, the third largest flareer, and imports 40% of its gasoline is just insane. I know they've been converting many of their cars to nat gas and their industries are gearing up to produce more NGVs, but they'd be insane not to.

Any country that is a major LNG exporter that uses petroleum products for transportation is just insane. If you export large amounts of LNG, then nat gas in your country is for all practical purposes free, so why would you spend billions of dollars and significant amounts of your net energy exporting lower value product and use your higher value, easily transportable oil domestically?

As Dr Bakhtiari (of the Iranian Oil and Gas state company) said, Iran doesn't have anything like the claimed NG reserves - and neither, he said, did anybody else.

And sanctions against Iran prevent it from developing the resources it does have as effectively as it would like. Iran currently doesn't even have enough NG production/distribution capacity to fully supply its own population's current needs at times of high demand.

You are 100% correct on all your points, however, even if wildly exagerated, Iran's nat gas reserves are still massive, and if they even just cut down on flaring, they could displace a substantial portion of their oil demand. That's without even mentioning the gas pipline they planned to build to Pakistan.

Hell, if they had 1/10 the innitiative to reduce the 40% of their gasoline that they import, their #1 strategic vulnerability, done profitibly with otherwise wasted natural gas, as they do their nuclear program, I'm sure they could do it with or without international cooperation.

Well, they will do it with the Chinese if US pressure keeps others away...

Iran would consider Total for gas project

Head of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) says the door is open for France's oil giant Total to participate in Iran's South Pars gas field project.

Seyfollah Jashnsaz, however, said that Total must first secure the consent of China's CNPC, which became Iran's main overseas partner when Total fell behind with its commitments due to political pressure from the US.

"Because of Total's procrastinations, the contract for the upstream sector was signed with the Chinese company and this company is considered as the operator of this project," Jashnsaz said, according to a report on the website of Public Relations Department of Iran's Oil Ministry.

...Following long delays from Total, Iran set a deadline for the company to reevaluate its negotiations with Iran. When Total failed to respond, the country signed a $4.7 billion deal with China last month.

Total CEO Christophe de Margerie recently described negotiations with Iran as being "at standstill," but said there was still a possibility for cooperation.

I have no doubts they will.

After several years of being a net NG importer, EIA data for 2007 showed that Iran (net) exported about 1% of their 2007 production:

Seems to me that they're net neutral on NG due to a lack of domestic investment, rather than a lack of geological capacity. Otherwise they presumeably wouldn't be reinject 30% of their NG, be building LNG plants, and be the third largest gas flarer. I would imagine developing nat gas fields would be cheaper than building new refineries.

Isn't a similiar logic the reason why they want to use nuclear reactors? Ditto KSA.

Couple of potentially worrying posts above like the "KSA allowing potential air strike access to Isreal" one...

Who would want to risk invading Iran after seeing Iraqs disasterous attempt under Sadam? Why does Iran need NukeBombs? With 70+ bombs in Isreal why would Iran risk a first strike anyway?


I don't know about the risks that Iran really pose to Israel, but Israel appears to be from our 1% playbook - if it's possible, try and stop it, even if not probable.

That said, there is no invasion, just lots of airstrikes and maybe (very small maybe), Israeli special forces. Even with Iraq, what if we did just do "Regime Change" - and then bolt two months later. That certainly would have been cheaper, and probably resulted in a civil war. Which still may happen.

Iraq is a terrible example. Try the previous example - Israel's attack on Iraq's reactor(s) in the early 80's - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Opera.

The comparison to the Israeli raid on the Iraqi reactor isn't a very good example, however. There are many nuclear sites that would have to be hit in geographically disperate locations, many of which are deep underground. Iran also has a sophisticated integrated air defence system and is farther away than Iraq. It's really a whole different animal.

Iran's air defenses, while being non-trivial, are not a show-stopper by any stretch of the imagination. Not to the U.S, and not for Israel. Distance and the need for aerial refueling and long-range C4ISR platforms and the need for a permission slip from U.S. would hinder Israel. Thanks to our imperial military industrial complex defense spending overkill, we have all the toys we would need and many extra yet to carry off any level of air strikes against Iran.

Hard and Deeply buried targets can be dealt with...after a fashion.

Fortunately we seem to have a President, now, who understands that we have more tools in our tool belt than a hammer and that every world issue is not a nail. He understands blow-back/unintended consequences and seems to have a real desire to give the high road a try. Unfortunately, even he and his administration cannot bear to come to grips with LTG, PO, etc.

Sam's outlook for Net Oil Exports from Iran shows an unusually wide range for when they approach zero (the projected initial 10 year net export decline rate is shown, plus or minus 7%):

Based on EIA data, they showed a slight uptick in 2008 net exports after declining for two years--so they fell (2006-2008, inclusive) between his middle case and best case, which is true for the top five net oil exporters overall.

Iran could be expected to develop some of their recently discovered oil fields (source: Drumbeat a few months ago).

Peak Oil doesn't mean that we stop finding and developing new oil fields. The problem is offsetting the decline from older and larger oil fields.

It wasn't an arguement against PO, but to indicate that Iran's oilexport could follow the best case scenario (if geopolitics don't get in the way). Anyhow, 'exports reaching zero in 2014' seems very pessimistic.

Sam's worst case (for Iran approaching zero net oil exports) is 2020, best case about 2040, but the most likely scenario at this point is that the top five net oil exporters (which includes Iran) will have shipped about 60% of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports by the end of 2015.

I saw the graph (2014 was from the article), so let's hope for 2040. It is allready a big challenge for the world if the top 5 exporters reach zero in 2040.

I will be interesting to observe how Mexico, a country of similar size and development will cope with zero net exports in the nearer future. But while Mexico is not a regional power but the backyard of the United States, one has to count with Iran military. So the outcome might be totally different.

Who will Iran threaten? KSA? Maybe reduce the level of fanaticism that is pouring out of there. Didn't the Egyptians do that once around 150 years ago. And some other political faction, Ottomans? around a 1000 years ago.

Having Mexico faa into chaos is way more threatening to the US. Mostly because of the 'US" mentality. It could make the Manifest Destiny expansion into the southwest and to the Pacific look like a boy scout operation.

RE: States seek tests for older drivers

The problem is that they lack alternative modes of transport. In the US it is assumed that everyone has a car and can drive themselves. If, though no fault of your own, you can't, then you are SOL.

Believe me, a lot of the elderly who are marginal drivers, or worse, would just as soon not have to drive. It becomes an ordeal for them, and they do worry that they will have an accident and hurt someone. They continue to drive because they have no alternative; that is the only way they can get to where they need to go. They cut out the pleasure trips years ago, now they are only trying to get medical care, and medications, and food.

Many, many places have very little or no public transport options. Even in those cases where special shuttle buses are available for those who can't drive themselves, these are not always a sufficient answer for some. For some people who are invalids, getting themselves to a physician or other health care facility is a terrible ordeal. (Doctors don't do house calls any more, remember?) So we also expect them to call for pick up a couple hours ahead of their appointment, just to allow enough extra time for the shuttle bus to make it around to their address, then pick up others who knows where along (or not so along) the way, and then to wait a couple of hours after their appointment to be picked up and to be taken back home again, via another circuitous route? Next time you are really sick with the flu or something, try getting to the doctor's office two hours early, and wait two hours after being seen before going home; that will give you a little taste of what these people are expected to go through - frequently, because their health care situations tend to be chronic rather than acute.

The average sick or injured dog is taken to the vet, treated, and returned home in far less time - but of course, dogs are fortunate enough to have someone to drive them to the vet, since they can't drive themselves. Those who are not so lucky end up being "put to sleep". I wonder how long it is going to be before our society decides that this is the humane solution for those no longer able to drive themselves? And I wonder how many of you reading this are going to be lucky enough to escape that fate when you are older, and YOU can no longer drive yourselves?

Actually, there are some drs who do make housecalls for those who can't make it to drs. However, these are for patients who truly cantget out of the house like the frail or disabled elderly, maybe the not so elderly. We had one for my father when he was so physically destroyed by a stroke but his mind was okay. what rates they charge I'm not sure, Medicare paid for most of his bills before his secondary insurance took over.

how you find those drs is another story. Other drs referred us to the one we used for a year.

Part of the problem is that modern medicine makes such extensive use of expensive, and often large, diagnostic equipment. When the only diagnostic tool a physician had was a stethoscope, hopping into a horse-drawn carriage or a Stanley Steamer to make their house visits was quite feasible. Not now, unfortunately.

Good points...and yet...and yet all of the places I've ever visited that had good public transportation - good enough to get a person to an arbitrarily set doctor's appointment (and nearly all are arbitrarily located and timed) and back in a timely manner - were also crammed wall-to-wall with people. I haven't seen any place where a person can have it both ways - low density peaceful surroundings where one can get a good night's sleep without being pounded out of bed by the neighbors' home-theaters, which implies few people; and good public transportation, which requires a place to be a crowd-container so overstuffed with people that large groups regularly appear wanting to go to in the same direction at about the same time. I see no solution that would be acceptable to most Americans.

I look at the window at 1500 Camp, New Orleans and see both ideals :-)

Walk score 77.


Unfortunately, even a community with a walk score of 100 might prove difficult for someone who has to get around with a walker or wheel chair. Some people need help getting around, it is as simple as that.

1500 Camp, New Orleans, AD 2020: Swim Score 77?

Probably a kayak. The question is when NO goes under, not if. Of course, one can build infrastructure to hold off the elements, but that requires complexity, something that is now at a point of diminishing returns.

But the same argument can be made for 'When (not if) your house goes dark, or when your fridge gets warm'..

We can choose when something is worth holding onto.. and while you may not care to help Alan's current hometown, there are many that call it home who do, as there are many who keep their houses heated against the snows or cooled against the swelter.

I don't think whether it's worth holding onto enters into it. It simply won't be possible.

Nature bats last.

As I have posted before, eminently possible. And much cheaper than replacing the essential infrastructure. (I asked you before for a cost estimate for a two track, unlimited weight railroad bridge over the Mississippi River, an item related to your work, you demurred).

Parts of Rotterdam are 28' below sea level, far lower than New Orleans, yet it is designed for once in 10,000 year conditions.

Unlike other US port cities, New Orleans has the massive quantity of sediment from the Mississippi to work with. Prototypes of river diversion for sediment build-up have been successful in rebuilding marsh lands.

If worse comes to worse, we can open up the existing Bonne Carre spillway and fill up Lake Pontchartrain to several feet above sea level. Almost zero cost except environmental.

Best Hopes,


I think Rotterdam is doomed as well.

Obviously, a person cannot live out in the middle of nowhere, fifty miles from the nearest medical care, and expect to not have any transportation issues. On the other hand, as you point out, even in those cases where dense cities do have mass transit systems, it still isn't a very good solution for the elderly. The systems might now be "accessible", but the reality is that they are just barely so. A young, otherwise healthy person with a disability can probably cope OK. Consider the plight of some elderly, though. They might have trouble seeing, and hearing, and moving fast enough to get in and out of cars, and negotiating their way without stumbling or being pushed or jossled and falling and breaking something - and managing to avoid having a purse or wallet stolen, or be verbally insulted/assulted, or worse. Then there are the problems of carrying groceries home. Consider further that this is just the plight of those who are merely frail, but otherwise healthy. Now consider those who are actually suffering one or more (and as one ages it does tend to become multiple) ailments on top of the above. Consider how it might be to navigate a mass transit system with a walker or wheel chair. One is led to the conclusion that merely having a mass transit system nearby and available might still not be enough for such people.

I'm inclined to think that what is needed is a system intermediate between ambulances and ordinary mass transit (or private automobiles). I am thinking in terms of a system of vans or shuttle buses, equipped to be accessible to those who use walkers or wheelchairs, and can carry several such people at the same time. We might also need some transfer points, so that some of these vehicles could constantly be circulating between residences and the transfer points, and others could be circulating between the transfer nodes and health care facilities. The transfer points would be climate controlled, staffed facilities where patients in transit could wait in safety and comfort. Such a transport system would be more expensive per rider mile than urban mass transit, but would certainly be less expensive than ambulances, and maybe less expensive than taxi cabs or even continued ownership by the elderly of an automobile.

As far as I can see, most elderly are going to be dependent on children or other younger relatives to get them to the doctor.

Below about age 80, there is a possibility of general mass transit working, but after that, things seem to go downhill. The problem isn't just one of getting to the doctor's office, it is hearing what the doctor said, remembering what the doctor said, getting up and down off the examining table, and filling out forms. There are also details like what one does when the first doctor says the elderly person really needs to be seen in an emergency room, instead of his office, or when the elderly patient needs to make another stop to pick up a prescription or get an x-ray.

I expect in a world with lesser transportation, a lot of elderly won't get to the doctor very often. It will just be too much trouble.


You are dead on concerning the "old old " folks problems.I will be spending the next decade or two keeping an eye on my mom and dad,if our luck holds and Daddy and I last.Momma is not long for this world now.

It's enough to make you cry to visit a nursing home and see the old folks kept like cattle-prized and coddled cattle but cattle never the less -who have no friends or relatives left and almost no meaningful human contact other than a few minutes at a time with overworked and burned out staff.

But it's not bad at all for me, I get to indulge my self for a good many hours every day in my favorite pastimes.:-)

You might guess I have had (and still have) elderly relatives to take care of.

Good points...and yet...and yet all of the places I've ever visited that had good public transportation - good enough to get a person to an arbitrarily set doctor's appointment (and nearly all are arbitrarily located and timed) and back in a timely manner - were also crammed wall-to-wall with people.
I see no solution that would be acceptable to most Americans.

Maybe you are not looking hard enough then. My soon-to-be 92 year old mother has lived in a 4 story apartment building across the street from the hospital for 5 years here in Boulder. Special Transit picks her up at her front door, the grocery store is 1.5 blocks away, and the Skip bus comes at 15 minute intervals 1.5 blocks away. About 30% of the residents in her building are elderly and rent for a 1 bedroom is $700. Sometimes I give her a ride to a specialist, but transit works for her and many other elderly people in Boulder, without "wall-to-wall" people. 3 and 4 story buildings are enough density to make transit work, but half acre lots and sprawling ranches aren't.

My aunts and uncles in their 70s all live in and around NYC, without owning and using cars. My aunt lives in Brooklyn, which may be your definition of "wall-to-wall" but her neighborhood is 4 and 5 story brownstones with back yards and parks nearby. My uncle has lived without a car in Ossining, a railroad suburb, his whole life, including several major surgeries, so some people find a solution, that does not involve running over 4 year-olds.

Sooooo true, most problems are of attitude, not logistics. Can't deal with the issues of transportation...MOVE. Same goes for all the whiners about paying the high cost of heat/ac/gas, when they live in the boonies. Lose the arrogant attitude of the typical MERKAN and move. You're all dead in the end anyway. How much you gonna take with you??

This applies in the UK too. All this generation developed before the car, yet 95% are too stubborn to rearrange life while they can.

I have been earbashing my mum to move for strategic reasons for decades. Now she won't have a knee replaced because she lives in a remote place, can't drive for a month or 2 after the op, house full of cats, dogs etc.. I live 200+ miles away [work is very regional in the UK]. She got plenty of advance warning from me.

Aren't parents a PITA??

I see that Russia and the US have reached an agreement to reduce their nuclear warheads:

U.S., Russia Set Arms Treaty Goals

Deployed nuclear warheads would be reduced within seven years to between 1,500 and 1,675, from the current ceiling of 2,200 -- in line with negotiators' initial targets.

What, if any, impact would this have on recycled bomb material for use in nuclear electric power plants? My first reaction is that the resulting uranium doesn't add much to the world market, and in fact suggests a fairly big step-down from recent supply levels resulting from the recycling of Russian nuclear bombs.

When I look at this document, I see the following comment about the treaty we are currently under:

Under the U.S.-Russian Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Purchase Agreement, 500 tons of HEU from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons enough material to make over 30,000 nuclear weapons[1] is to be blended to proliferation-resistant low-enriched uranium (LEU) by 2013. The material is being sold to the United States for re-sale as fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. As of the end of 2002, 171 tons of HEU had been blended and delivered to the United States, and more was being blended at a rate of roughly 30 tons per year.

If the world market is currently getting the equivalent of something like 30,000 / 10 = 3,000 nuclear bombs a year of nuclear bomb material recycled, a drop from 2,200 nuclear bombs to 1,675 over 7 years is not going to provide very much in comparison. What am I missing?

FAS Strategic Security Blog » Blog Archive » Briefing on US-Russian Nuclear Forces

Wonder how the rest of the world stacks up against all that massed death.

Isn't the problem now that most of the excess bombs have been recycled, as inventory has been drawn down? In the US, something like 50% of our nuclear fuel has come from recycled Russian bomb material, and only 10% or so from our own production. World uranium production hasn't been increasing much--prices are too low. It is also not sufficient to cover world demand, without recycled Russian bombs.

Once the current treaty comes to an end in 2013, we can theoretically continue to buy recycled bomb material from Russia, if they have material to sell, and want to sell it to us. But if most of the nuclear bombs that might be recycled are gone, they won't have material to sell (whether or not they want to sell it to us).

It takes a long time to build new uranium mines, or facilities for recycling uranium used in power plants. It seems like we should have started a while ago, if we want to avoid having a fuel gap.

The U235 "pit" in a thermonuclear bomb is dinky - I think that's the technical term - insignificant compared to the scale of a fission power plant.
The big money is in the tritium, but what can we do with it? Make night sights?

The U235 "pit" in a thermonuclear bomb is dinky

A couple of things to correct here. (1) The "pit" is plutonium not U235. But it is only a couple of KG. Many bombs are "enhanced" designs, for instance fission/fusion/fission. A fission pit, ignites some fusion fuel to enhance yield. Then when these blow a lot of neutrons are released, so making the case out of non weapons grade uranium can generate new fissions from the outgoing neutrons (i.e. a further yield enhancement by using otherwise wasted material). It is probably the later casing that is being recycled for power.

I am disappointed that the proposed weapons cuts did not go further...more like a hard 1500 ceiling (a couple of hundred less would have been even better), vice the weaselly 1500-1675 bounds proffered now. When you are a superpower (at least wrt these weapons), and you are given a window to live within, where would you cut to? The bottom, middle, or highest end of the window? You know the answer.

Furthermore, there is less to these numbers (as in cuts) than meets the unfamiliar eye. There always is (less cuts than the headline numbers would lead you to believe). The devil is always in the details of the fine print most citizens don't bother to research.

Nonetheless, the trend line is heading in the right direction in this arena, so I will be happy about that anyway.

I figure that the 'peak everything' phenomena will lead all sides to reduce their arsenals of these weapons even further anyway in due time, as they are a money pit. Hopefully we maintain an even keel until the complexity of the these weapons complexes around the World can no longer be maintained. I don't like radioactive Cesium and Strontium in my milk on my shredded wheat.

Chatham House has a presentation about how various oil exporting countries can/should handle oil depletion, particularly Yemen where the presentation was given.
The Dilemma of Oil Depletion -- Glada Lahn, June 2009

Table of Contents
  • Oil depletion –what should oil be for?
  • A potential depletion profile for Yemen
  • Lessons learned in managing the transition –examples
  • The need for a comprehensive energy policy
  • Transforming the energy mix: Indonesia and Malaysia
  • Observations on Yemen’s potential

Collapse may be a lot closer than a lot of people believe.

Speech By Dr. David Bronner CEO Alabama Retirement Systems

2) Within 120 to 150 days from now the commercial real estate market nationally begins to collapse as stores, malls, and shopping strips, and industrial plant have enough closures (store and plant) and loss of rental revenue to make them unable to pay their mortgages. They will start going into foreclosure unable to pay their mortgages in a significant way at that time creating a second wave of economic disaster starting three to four months from now.

The rest of the article is just as alarming.

Ron P.

Won't surprise me, I guess. I saw this earlier today.

To expand on this, I found a fairly thorough analysis of where we are now WRT the credit/debt situation here:


Warning - large PDF file - 152 pages. The short answer is that they agree that there are a lot more writedowns coming.

Just in time for the holiday shopping season. Ho, Ho, Ho!

This was just posted in Mark Thoma's blog:

"Half of the World's Emissions Came from Just 700 Million People"

New Princeton method may help allocate carbon emissions responsibility among nations, EurekAlert: Just months before world leaders are scheduled to meet to devise a new international treaty on climate change, a research team led by Princeton University scientists has developed a new way of dividing responsibility for carbon emissions among countries.

The approach is so fair, according to its creators, that they are hoping it will win the support of both developed and developing nations, whose leaders have been at odds for years over perceived inequalities in previous proposals.

The method is outlined in a paper, titled "Sharing Global CO2 Emissions Among 1 Billion High Emitters," published online in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the authors, the approach uses a new fairness principle based on the "common but differentiated responsibilities" of individuals, rather than nations.

"Our proposal moves beyond per capita considerations to identify the world's high-emitting individuals, who are present in all countries," the team says in the introduction. The authors include Stephen Pacala ... and Robert Socolow... Pacala and Socolow's concept of "stabilization wedges," a strategy that proposed concrete ways to prevent global emissions of greenhouse gases from rising for the next five decades, was featured in "An Inconvenient Truth," former Vice President Al Gore's 2006 film about climate change. The concept has given the climate change policy community a common unit for discussing how to reduce emissions and for allowing a comparison of different carbon-cutting strategies.

The lead authors on the paper are physicist Shoibal Chakravarty and economist Massimo Tavoni, both research scholars at the Princeton Environmental Institute...

Maybe if we could figure out a way to cap everyone in the world's income at $10,000 a year, we would solve our CO2 emissions problem. It seems like it would be a pretty tough sell (or even a cap of $20,000).

Peak World Series of Poker?

Couldn't help myself. Someone posted World Series of Poker stats here on TOD last summer. I was curious to see what this year's numbers would reveal:

2006   8,773
2007   6,358
2008   6,844
2009   3,685 (7323 Projected)

Here's what they were projecting in 2009:



Sept futures on corn are now down to $3.36..and if you take out the basis of about 50 cents that puts it at $2.86...and it was $3 (with the basis out just last week).

This is not good prices. Right now farmers are trying to empty their bins before the future harvest and trying to make a profit on that old corn. If it remains this low then many farmers might be breaking even or possibly losing some.

The USDA put up a report stating there was a huge huge corn crop coming. Farmers did not see it that way and many fields were still unplanted when that report was published. IOW manipulating the market..and the traders are doing their thing...as they always do.

If nothing changes I see this looming as a big problem for farmers this year.

As to my corn? The coons finally got the last of it. All the stalks are now on the ground and wasted..my garden corn that is.

I will have to put up an electric wire and fence charger next season. Too late this season and I had too much on my plate as it was.

I was bascially trying to save my seed corn and now lost it.

Our power is getting more and more unreliable. I am now working on a PC that was fried by a close in lightening strike.

Day before yesterday we had 'straight line' winds of over 75 mph...blew a camping trailer over down the road and his metal bldg came uprooted and took down a three phase line beside his house. I guess it became airborne enough to take the lines down.

This type of activity is becoming very common of late. The tailend of tornados that stike far away cause it. Never before though and with our woodlands really decimated it will get worse.

URL: www.agriculture.com

I'm not a great fan of ethanol (as a fuel, that is), but I can see a case being made for buying up a lot of the crop when it is this cheap, processing it into ethanol, and storing that as part of our strategic reserves. This would provide a pretty good price support for the farmers, and I imagine that they would appreciate it greatly.

I agree with you about recerves but we need grain reserves worse than we need fuel reserves,ans crude can be stored cheaply in old salt mines,etc.

And we have gotten ourselves into a lot of the trouble we are in today,as farmers and as a society,with subsidies.

Subsidies to farmers save a few farmers at the price of turning all involved into clients of the welfare state and locking us into static solutions in a fluid world.

And the checks in the mailbox are super potent as political weapons-the farm states congressmen and senators are largely bought and paid for by big ag-which is one of the three legs of the ethanol industry,the other two being over eager environmentalists and politicians not only ready willing and able to do thier masters bidding but EAGER TO DO SO.

I am a SMALL farmer -and small farmers get about the same share of the subsidy dollar as farmers in general get of the consumers food dollar -which is to say ,a damned small share of the whole pie,and that share subdivided among so many producers that compliance with the programs is all to often more costly than the value of the check.

Many farmers (beef cattle, most/all orchards, specialty crops (orchards plus vegetables, oats, rye and tobacco for last few years) are outside the crop support/subsidy programs. Some infrastructure subsidies (water & irrigation improvements for example) but nothing large scale.

The unsubsidized farmers do as well as the subsidized ones do.

Which makes me think that farming subsidies have just distorted the market. Dairy vs. Beef cattle.


Alan,You are correct in thinking that subsidies have distorted rthe markets and that distortion has cost the rest of society dearly in wasted resources and beuracrats salaries.

And once hooked,the farmers with the subsidies are generally no better off in the long term-if they are real farmers.But there are those who know how to farm the system ,so to speak,nd collect millions free and clear.

John Wayne was one of them.

And some small operators have done very well out of the subsidies too.

One of my nieghbors got a federal fifty thousand dollar very low interest loan back about 1970 and bought a very nice piece of property with it-two hundred and fifty acres-and has never farmed more than ten percent of it and that only sporadically.

That property was worth three million easy a year ago,and he sold off timber several times,a few acres at a time.

So he is now a millionaire on the basis of loan that was written with no credit check,etc.

From the sesquicentennial article above:

"On August 27th, we'll celebrate the 150th anniversary of Colonel Edwin Drake's completion of the world's first successful oil well near Titusville, Pennsylvania."

Wasn't the first successful oil well in Petrolia, Ontario in 1858?

We Drakes ignore/dispute any Canuck claim :-)


Oil wells in USA territories don't count. :)

I'm late to the party tonight, but wanted to comment on the earlier discussion regarding Americans potentially rioting under the right circumstances, such as 10 a gallon fuel or a lack of food.

I was blown away by the lack of people protesting the vote stoppage by Kathryn Harris in 2000, and then the apathy regarding the Diebold fraud in Ohio which gave the election to Bush.

There was no protest in either election, yet the people of Iran took to the streets in a country where their lives were in danger. I think to get Americans to riot would take many months of forced dieting resulting from lack of food, before there was even enough energy to walk. In fact, organizers might have to bring out those electric shopping carts in the thousands to get people to protest. Maybe if the carts had pole holders with pre-printed protest signs. "Just come on down and get into a cart and ride one mile down and one mile back for the cause!" Maybe that would work.

In the US we really do have a very open system and widespread faith that the system works.

It doesn't always, of course, but there aren't a whole lot of rules that can be broken that people will feel the need to get out on the streets for. Heck, I expected people to turn out for the bipartisan banking bailout and the silence outside economics blogs is deafening.

Give us blackouts, however, and there will be riots. People hate having their soma cut off.