DrumBeat: July 7, 2009

EIA raises 2009 world oil demand forecast

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday once again raised its world oil demand forecast for this year as the global economy gradually improves.

In its monthly energy outlook, the EIA increased its 2009 global oil demand projection to 83.85 million barrel per day (bpd), up 170,000 bpd from its June estimate of 83.68 million bpd. World oil demand this year is still well below 2008 levels of 85.41 million bpd.

The agency said consumption will rebound to 84.79 million bpd in 2010, up 380,000 bpd from the previous estimate of 84.41 million.

Oil prices: is there a spike on the horizon?

So, have the past 12 months been a blip in the relentless charge ahead or were speculators the cause of an unsustainable boom?

The implosion of the global economy cut energy demand to such an extent that tankers were being used to store oil offshore in the hope prices would rise in the future. Offshore storage peaked in April, when 100m barrels were being stored aboard ships. However, since the oil price has started to recover, this oil is gradually being brought onshore.

More Ideas for Breaking the Climate Deadlock

There’s a batch of new proposals for breaking the persistent global deadlock over dealing with global warming, all coming as world leaders prepare to meet at the Group of 8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, and in parallel sessions of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. Britain’s former prime minister, Tony Blair, rolled out a list of climate and energy strategies. A couple of other new ideas are summarized below. I will add reactions from other specialists immersed in the ugly nexus of economics, climatology, demography, diplomacy, energy policy and politics.

Pickens paring down wind farm project

T. Boone Pickens' plan to build the world's largest wind farm is off.

Instead, Pickens said he will build five or six smaller wind farms, in the Midwest and possibly Texas, though he hasn't settled on locations.

Last year, Pickens announced that he would build a 1,000-megawatt wind farm in Pampa, Texas. The problem a lack of a transmission line to bring the juice to population centers, Pickens said in an interview last week.

Rep. Welch pushed Vt. energy initiatives

"Although some dispute it, there is little doubt that our oil is a finite resource, that we are at or near-peak oil, that global warming is real, the threat to our economy immediate, the need to act urgent," Welch said.

The legislation will create jobs in a new "green" economy in Vermont and across the country, Welch said in a telephone interview prior to Friday's vote. "The concern I heard is people want jobs," he said.

The Fed and peak oil

Laurel Graefe, a senior economic researcher working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has written an excellent overview of peak oil, “The Peak Oil Debate”. I consider this a must-read piece, as much for armchair oil experts as beginners, and as much for who published this as what it contains. This should be very high on your list of “brother-in-law” documents, the ones you can safely recommend to co-workers, neighbors, or, well, your brother in law.

While Graefe has taken a decidedly middle of the road approach, which will be enough all by itself to infuriate the Apocalypticons, she also touches on several points that I would have expected a publication from any part of the Fed to ignore.

B.C. pipeline bombings just a 'nuisance' to industry

RCMP are calling a wave of bomb attacks on natural gas facilities in northern British Columbia "terrorism," but an energy analyst says the bombings are having little impact on the gas industry.

When a takeover battle goes nuclear

What happens behind the scenes when one energy company refuses to be swallowed by a bigger rival?

EU Hits U.S. Biodiesel Makers With Five-Year Tariffs

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union imposed five-year tariffs on U.S. biodiesel to help EU producers counter American subsidies and price undercutting, a step that may stoke trans- Atlantic trade tensions.

The duties punish U.S. manufacturers of biodiesel, a type of biofuel made from vegetable oils and animal fats for use in diesel engines, for receiving government aid and selling in the EU below cost. The companies targeted include Archer Daniels Midland Co., the world’s largest grain processor, and Cargill Inc., the biggest U.S. agricultural company.

“This is all about protecting vested agricultural interests on both sides,” said Christian Egenhofer, a researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels. “Governments are not in control.”

California - And by Extension the U.S. - Headed for Permanently Smaller Economy

The June issue of Gregor.us Monthly, The Scholarship of Collapse, addresses several views of economic and systemic collapse from the works of Jared Diamond to Joseph Tainter, and then goes on to apply these views to the United States–and to its biggest state, California. Frankly, it’s not much fun to suggest that another leg down in housing is on the way. Or, that California is unlikely to see its GDP exceed its previous peak for quite some time. But without the two industries that characterized post-war growth in the US, housing and automobiles (and the financial industry that squatted on top of these) it’s hard to see how California–and the US by extension–does not become a permanently smaller economy.

ConocoPhillips Reports Increase in Second-Quarter Output

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said second-quarter production rose from a year earlier as new projects came online.

Output of oil and natural gas climbed to the equivalent of 1.86 million barrels of crude a day, Houston-based ConocoPhillips said today in a statement on Business Wire. That compares with production of 1.75 million barrels in the second quarter of 2008.

Iran’s Political Turmoil Cuts Crude Oil Demand, PFC Energy Says

(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s oil will probably extend declines in the first four months of the year as the political turmoil that followed last month’s disputed presidential election damps economic growth, consultant PFC Energy said.

Oil demand dropped by 30,000 barrels a day in January to April year, compared with a growth of 100,000 barrels a day in the same period in previous years, Raja Kiwan, PFC’s Dubai-based analyst, said in a report received by e-mail late yesterday.

Congressional Smokescreen (Blown With Oil)

REINSTATE Glass-Steagall in its entirety, and return commercial banking to the utility function that it is and should be, as it is both regulated and protected by the government against the full consequences of failure.

Demand that those who want the "hedging exception" demonstrate their actual use of the commodity in question in amounts that correspond to the hedged positions held, with nightly reporting requirements to the CFTC.

Ghana May Buy Kosmos’s Stake in Jubilee Oil Field

(Bloomberg) -- Ghana National Petroleum Corp., the state-owned company that oversees the country’s nascent oil and gas industry, may buy Kosmos Energy LLC’s stake in the $3.1 billion Jubilee oil field.

Saudi, Total sign $9.6 billion Jubail refinery deals

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco and France's Total signed on Tuesday 13 agreements with contractors to build a $9.6 billion joint-venture refinery in the kingdom, state news agency SPA reported.

Aramco to start gas plant expansion in Sept

State oil giant Saudi Aramco plans to start up the expanded Juaymah gas plant in September, a few months later than last scheduled, sources working on the project said.

'Difficulties during the mechanical commissioning caused the delay,' one source told Reuters. The plant was last scheduled to come online in June, after several delays from the initial schedule to start in the first quarter of 2008.

The Dark Side of Climate Change: It's Already Too Late, Cap and Trade Is a Scam, and Only the Few Will Survive

Father of the Gaia Theory, James Lovelock says we can't stop climate change, but that humanity will continue in some smaller form.

Turkey Loses $630 Million Dam Financing on Flood Plan

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey lost European financing for a hydroelectric plant on the Tigris River after failing to offer environmental protections such as relocating antiquities from the Middle Ages that will be flooded by the dam.

GCC likely to pump $200bn into renewable energy plans

The choice of the UAE as the location of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) will provide a strong push to efforts by Gulf and other Arab countries to develop such resources, said officials and analysts.

Although Gulf countries have the biggest conventional hydrocarbon resources, they need to develop other sources to meet a steady growth in domestic consumption and save those resources for future generations.

Nuclear Output Little Changed; Hope Creek in New Jersey Slowed

(Bloomberg) -- Nuclear output was steady today as the Hope Creek reactor in New Jersey slowed to 85 percent from full capacity yesterday and the Millstone reactor in Connecticut remained shut.

Output from U.S. nuclear plants decreased by 172 megawatts, or 0.2 percent, to 97,962 megawatts today from 98,134 early July 6, according to a report from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The total represents 98 percent of U.S. capacity. Two reactors are offline, according to the commission.

Vattenfall’s Kruemmel Reactor Won’t Start for Months

(Bloomberg) -- Vattenfall AB, the Nordic region’s biggest utility, said its Kruemmel nuclear reactor in Germany won’t start for “several months” and that the plant’s head resigned.

Vattenfall will replace the 1,346-megawatt facility’s two tranformers, the Stockholm-based company said today in an e- mailed statement. Hans-Dieter Lucht, the head of the plant near Hamburg, resigned after two automatic halts this month.

MDU to Join ITC on Green Power Transmission Project

(Bloomberg) -- MDU Resources Group Inc., the largest company in the Dakotas, said it will join with ITC Holdings Corp. in developing the Green Power Express, a transmission project that will link wind farms in the U.S. Plains to cities.

The transmission lines will run about 3,000 miles (4,827 kilometers) through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana, MDU said today in a statement. MDU, based in Bismarck, North Dakota, said the Green Power Express will carry as much as 12,000 megawatts. One megawatt can power about 800 average U.S. homes, according to the Energy Department in Washington.

Richard Heinberg: Peak Oil Day - July 11

Maybe it’s a stretch to say that the production peak occurred at one identifiable moment, but attributing it to the day oil prices reached their high-water mark may be a useful way of fixing the event in our minds. So I suggest that we remember July 11, 2008 as Peak Oil Day.

We are now approaching the first-year anniversary of Peak Oil Day. Where are we now? The global economy is in tatters, yet oil prices have recovered somewhat (they’re now about half what they were in July 2008). World energy consumption is down, world trade is down, the airline industry is shrinking, and most of the world’s automakers are on life support.

It is too late to prepare for Peak Oil—a year too late, in fact. Now the name of the game is adaptation. We are in an entirely new economic environment, in which old assumptions about the inevitability of perpetual growth, and the usefulness of leveraging investments based on expectations of future growth, are crashing in flames. Even if economic activity picks up somewhat, this will occur in the context of an economy significantly smaller than the one that existed in July 2008, and energy scarcity will quickly cause most green shoots to wither.

Oil, Gas Market Speculation May Face Restrictions by U.S. CFTC

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. regulators say they may clamp down on oil and gas price speculators by limiting the holdings of energy futures traders, including index and exchange-traded funds.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will hold hearings to explore the need for government-imposed restrictions on speculative trading in oil, gas and other energy markets, Chairman Gary Gensler said today in a statement. The agency didn’t say when the hearings would start or who would be asked to testify.

$20 Oil Is On The Table Again: Can Obama Pull The Israeli Rabbit Trick?

The bears are out again and there is talk of $20 oil; the logic is:

• All the oil stored up in super-tankers will flood the market.

• World GDP growth is low and perhaps getting lower or at least not likely to rocket any time in the immediate future.

But much of the oil stored in tankers was bought against futures contracts so it's sold waiting delivery. That was a nice little win-win situation for anyone who could buy oil when the current price was a lot less than what you could sell futures for. But don't expect the tooth fairy to touch you on the shoulder twice in a row; sure there may be a trading opportunity when that unfolds, and maybe not, it will all depend on the "discipline" of OPEC, and if you are a betting man on that sort of thing, well place your bets!

Oil Prices: Demand, What Demand?

Crude oil slud, as Dizzy Dean might have said, to $64 a barrel, continuing a dismal run for oil and underscoring just how uncertain the global economic outlook really is.

But here’s the thing: Even a modest economic recovery might not do the trick. Demand for oil cratered after last year’s spike in prices, and could go walkabout for years to come. Crude futures closed down 4% today to $64.05.

Lock ‘n load

Today’s deflationary environment will ultimately be replaced by inflation. You’ll have no trouble recognizing this when oil hits $150, a litre of gas is a buck and a half, food prices are going nuts and mortgage rates are rising monthly.

But this will not make us Argentina. Instead of hyper-inflation which wildly inflates wages, salaries, prices and asset values at the same time, this is the kind that just sees prices go up, while your income doesn’t. There are many sound economic reasons for my saying this. I’ll explain over a few scotches some time.

This inflation will also not escalate house values. Not by enough to compensate for your lost net worth, anyway. The main reasons will be stagnant family incomes, the debilitating effect of energy prices and rising mortgage costs.

Schork Oil Outlook: The Fear Trade

Apropos the current strength in the market, the common refrain amongst traders and analysts interviewed on these shows goes something like this… I don’t believe in this market’s strength, but I want to participate while it lasts.

Got that? Traders are so desperate that they are now buying, not on fundamentals, but rather on fear of missing out before this market heads back into the toilet.

Repsol Says Global Oil Reserves Will Cover 40 Years of Needs

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s biggest oil producer, said existing global oil reserves will meet supply needs for 40 years while gas reserves will last for 60 years.

New areas of exploration such as offshore blocks in Brazil and Siberia will add to future reserves, Nemesio Fernandez Cuesta, general director of upstream at Madrid-based Repsol, said today at a conference in the Spanish capital.

Nigeria Rebel Attacks Shut 589,000 Barrels of Oil, Trust Says

(Bloomberg) -- Armed militants targeting Nigeria’s oil industry shut 589,000 barrels of crude a day in two months, Daily Trust reported, citing Mohammed Barkindo, head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

The losses resulted from more than 12 attacks carried out between May and June, Barkindo told oil and gas workers at a meeting in the capital, Abuja, according to the report.

Is Nigeria Still a Relevant Issue for Oil?

At the end of June, the oil market got something it hadn't had in a while: news of actual, real-life supply shock. After months of declining demand reports and inventories that are quite robust, the unrest in Nigeria gave people something bullish (admittedly not happy) to add to their buy/sell equations.

PDVSA Sells $1.42 Billion of Bonds, Less Than Planned

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA issued $1.42 billion of bonds in the local market, less than half the $3 billion it planned to sell.

China eyes $14.5-billion bid for Repsol stake

China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), the country's largest oil company, could pay up to $14.5-billion (U.S.) for 75 per cent of Spanish oil major Repsol's REP-N Argentine unit YPF, sources said on Tuesday.

Russia's Gazprom confirms Naftogaz payment for June gas volumes

Moscow (Platts) - Russia's Gazprom confirmed Tuesday it received payment from Ukraine's Naftogaz Ukrayiny for gas supplied in June.

"Naftogaz has paid in full for June gas supplies," Gazprom official spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Tuesday in a statement.

Oman Seeks to Produce 804,000 Barrels a Day of Oil by Year End

(Bloomberg) -- Oman, the largest Gulf Arab oil producer that isn’t a member of OPEC, seeks to produce 804,000 barrels of oil a day by the end of the year, its economy minister said.

Chinese oil firms may bid for Iraqi oil fields

BEIJING (AFP) – China's three largest oil companies may take part in Iraq's second auction of oil and gas fields, as the Asian giant seeks to strengthen its foothold in the oil-rich nation, state media said.

Iraqi oil revenues up in second quarter

Iraq says its oil revenues rose by more than 45 percent in the second three months of the year compared with the first quarter.

Oil Ministry figures released Tuesday showed that second-quarter revenue was about $9.57 billion, up from $6.57 billion in the first quarter.

Russia subsoil law up for discussion

US oil major ExxonMobil is looking to clinch new deals in Russia but sees the country's subsoil law, which limits foreigners' access to strategic fields, as the main obstacle, an executive said today.

China to slap curfew on riot-torn city

Xinjiang has long been a hotbed of ethnic tensions, fostered by a yawning economic gap between Uighurs and Han Chinese, government controls on religion and culture and an influx of Han Chinese migrants who now are the majority in most key cities.

Beijing has poured cash into exploiting Xinjiang's rich oil and gas deposits and consolidating its hold on a strategically vital frontierland that borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, but Uighurs say migrant Han are the main beneficiaries.

India: Govt may end fuel price curbs; cuts natgas tax

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India, Asia's third-largest oil consumer, outlined plans in Monday's national budget to pull domestic fuel rates into line with global prices and waived tax on natural gas production to spur investment in exploration.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government would form an expert group to decide on a viable fuel pricing system in an announcement just days after India hiked petrol and diesel prices by as much as 10 percent after a recent rally in global crude prices.

GM product chief says no delay for plug-in SUV

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors is on track to launch a plug-in sport-utility vehicle in 2011 despite scrapping its Saturn brand as part of a sweeping reorganization in bankruptcy, according to the automaker's product chief.

"I can tell you that I won't lose one day in terms of customers being able to walk into dealerships and actually purchase a plug-in," GM Vice Chairman Tom Stephens said in an interview.

Pure Energy Launches - First National Radio Program Dedicated to the Business of Renewable Energy

MIAMI /PRNewswire/ -- Pure Energy, the first national radio show dedicated to the business of renewable energy, is launching from the Miami studios of 880 The Biz (WZAB) on Monday, July 13, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. Pure Energy is hosted by noted energy expert Sean O'Hanlon, who is also the Executive Director of the American Biofuels Council (ABC). Guests for the premier show include renowned engineer and author Dr. Robert Zubrin as well as worldwide peak oil expert and author of nine books including "Peak Everything," Richard Heinberg.

"With oil prices heading back over $70/bbl, and set to go higher, it could not be more urgent for America to take immediate action to break free of the stranglehold of the oil cartel," said Zubrin, author of "Energy Victory". The U.S. congress could effectively destroy OPEC with the stroke of a pen simply by passing a law requiring that all new cars sold in the U.S. be flex fueled. Such a law would make flex fuel the international standard and would thereby create fuel choice all around the world."

Carbon vs Cap and Trade - taxes that will never go away

All that talk to get us away from oil is partly a ruse. Sure, we need to get off of oil, but "peak oil" doesn't mean no oil at all, like we're dry. Besides, there are plenty of ways to transform our country without taxation. How about giving people a tax break? Why not be positive, but government-revenue neutral? That won’t happen, and here’s why.

Whther we have a straight Carbon Tax or a Cap and Trade, process especially reflects a political end game, a massive scheme in socio-economic engineering that makes automotive technology look like a grade-school science project. The project really started when the green heads kidnapped the ultra-liberal wing of government to advance their fears of climate change, aside from the fact the planet has seen multiple climate changes long before man ever walked the earth.

Transition Town timeline - a vision of hope

The Transition Town movement has produced a year-by-year timeline to lead us to a happier, healthier society. Shaun Chamberlin outlines this vision - beginning with a landmark 2010 climate change accord.

Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — When Congress passed a new energy law two years ago, obituaries were written for the incandescent light bulb. The law set tough efficiency standards, due to take effect in 2012, that no traditional incandescent bulb on the market could meet, and a century-old technology that helped create the modern world seemed to be doomed.

But as it turns out, the obituaries were premature.

Researchers across the country have been racing to breathe new life into Thomas Edison’s light bulb, a pursuit that accelerated with the new legislation. Amid that footrace, one company is already marketing limited quantities of incandescent bulbs that meet the 2012 standard, and researchers are promising a wave of innovative products in the next few years.

China's first of 7 mega wind farms ready to start rolling

China will start constructing a 10-gW wind farm in Jiuquan, Gansu province on Friday, the first in a batch of similar mega wind power projects the country has planned for over the next few years to increase the share of clean energy sources in its power consumption mix.

ADB backs China wind farm project

MANILA (AFP) – The Asian Development Bank is helping to finance a pioneering private-sector wind farm in China's Inner Mongolia that will help the fast-growing nation fight climate change, officials said.

The Manila-based ADB is lending about 24 million dollars towards the overall cost of 73 million dollars for the facility, China's first wind farm to be built as a joint venture between Chinese and Japanese companies.

Hybrid Solar Cells Shine

As the race to create clean, renewable power heats up, the solar industry is focusing on a technology in hopes of producing utility-scale energy.

Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power -- which marries traditional solar photovoltaic technology to large-scale concentrated solar power plants -- could ramp up utility-scale solar production, advocates say, especially in niche markets. But as with all developing technologies, the effort faces significant hurdles.

Coal Industry Sees Life or Death in Senate Climate Debate

When people in the coal business talk about "the valley of death," they are referring to a grim place not located near any mine. It is an economic chasm that the industry fears awaits it if the Senate approves climate legislation similar to what passed the House.

India Says Developed Nations Are Responsible for Climate Change

(Bloomberg) -- Developed countries must bear “historic responsibility” for industrial emissions of greenhouse gases they have produced, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said ahead of climate change talks this week.

“What we are witnessing today is the consequence of over two centuries of industrial activity and high consumption lifestyles in the developed world,” Singh said in a statement in New Delhi today before leaving for the Group of Eight summit in Italy. “It is the developing countries that are the worst affected by climate change.”

World's rich targeted in new model for carbon cuts

(CNN) -- Researchers in the U.S. have proposed a new way of allocating responsibility for carbon emissions they say could solve the impasse between developed and developing countries.

The method sets national targets for reducing carbon emissions based on the number of high-income earners in each country, following the theory that people who earn more generate more CO2.

How the US Is Blocking Progress on Climate Change

As the predictions for global warming get more and more alarming, talks on a worldwide climate treaty have stalled --largely due to the United States. The G-8 summit in L'Aquila, which begins Wednesday, is likely to generate little more than the usual platitudes.

A new take on Kyoto

Obama's fear is the US will be unable to cut fast enough. And if it fails, US taxpayers could have to pay for a billion tonnes of carbon credits. At $20 per tonne of CO2, that would add up to serious money. But with a large forced buyer like the US, the carbon price could soar. Just how high, no one knows. Obama is understandably reluctant to take on such a huge open-ended commitment – one which could prove highly unpopular with electors demanding spending on health, education and pensions.

Can Obama find a way out? Yes he can! He should ditch the whole system of national emissions targets and move instead to a genuinely global system for regulating emissions. It sounds revolutionary, and it is. But a proposal along these lines could garner widespread international support. The talks leading up to the Copenhagen climate conference in December are stuck. Governments are all reluctant to take on ambitious targets – because doing so could cost their taxpayers dear, and because they fear competitive disadvantage compared to countries with weaker targets.

'The Greenland Ice Sheet Is an Awakening Giant'

The Greenland ice sheet is, like some regions in Antarctica, an awakening giant. In the coming centuries it will add significantly to the global sea-level rise. It matters to a huge number of people around the globe, as there are definitely regions that are very sensitive to even the slightest changes in the global sea level. People in the Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives, for example, are already worried right now.

We had a short discussion about commercial foreclosures yesterday. 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. A few interesting quotes:

Because the majority of buyers are in ultra low and low-mid prices ranges, the supply-demand imbalance from foreclosures and organic supply will crush the mid-to-upper priced properties in 2009. We already have early seasonal hard data proving this. As the mid-to-upper end go through their respective implosions this year and the volume of sales in these bands increase as prices tumble, the mix shift will raise median and average house prices creating the ultimate in false bottoms. We also have data proving this phenomenon.

After a year or so the real pain will occur when the mid to upper bands are down 40% from where they are now, and the price compression has made the low to low-mid bands much less attractive – the very same bands that are so hot right now. Rents are tumbling and those that bought these properties for investment will be at risk of default (investors have been buying all the way down). Investors have just started to get taken to the woodshed from all of the supply and this will get much worse. Mid-toupper end rental supply is also flooding on the market making it much better to rent a beautiful million dollar house than putting $300,000 down and buying.

I predict another federal bailout.

Possible, but I sense a lot of bailout fatigue. Shareholders and bondholders may end up eating a lot more of this.

One thing in the pdf that was interesting was that they were talking about paying back the government to get out from under TARP is premature. And the banks that are out from under it can poach employees of banks that are still under TARP. They also say wrt bailouts:

• This is unfair and unwise
– Fairness: Debt holders were paid higher interest than, for example, buying Treasuries in
exchange for knowingly taking more risk. These investors made bad decisions, lending to highly leveraged companies that made bad decisions, so why should they be protected?
– Moral Hazard: The reckless behavior of debt investors was a major contributor to the bubble. It was low-cost debt with virtually no strings attached that allowed borrowers, especially the world's major financial institutions, to become massively overleveraged, fueling the greatest asset bubble in history. This was not an equity bubble – unlike the internet bubble, for example, stock market valuations never got crazy – it was a debt bubble, so it would be particularly perverse and ironic if government bailouts allowed equity holders to take a beating, yet fully protected debt holders.
• The solution: debt should be converted into equity

It will not be popular, but I don't think Obama and Congress will have choice. Helicopter money will be the only thing they can do (at least politically).

Another anecdotal data point. Out by the ocean where we are, there are lots of expensive vacation homes - in the 1-2M$ price range. Typically these are bought as investment properties - one can rent them out for weekly rentals, and the income can cover a good chunk of the mortgage. I believe that the calculations for affordability take the rental income into account, but in the past there was a lot of funny business involved in stating how much income is really possible. These days, you have to prove that a certain amount of rental income is possible and not just pull a number out of your backside.

But this summer, the rental market out there is really soft. We know of one house that would probably have sold a year or two ago for 1.6M$. The rental for the week of July 4th would have been 4000$/week. The rental for the remainder of July and all of August is 3500$. Yet the house wasn't rented this week at all, and I am told that the rest of the summer has been really soft. Now this house in particular was bought in the early 1990s, so they aren't being squeezed that much by the loss in income. But many of the houses out there were built and sold much more recently, and for them this rental income would probably be more critical to maintaining cash flow. And to top it off, I suspect that some of the homes out there were bought with ARMs of some sort, and if they start to reset the cash flow gets worse.

People who want to go to the beach can instead stay in a hotel, or there are much cheaper properties for rent that are further away from the ocean. Or of they want to save even more they can go for 3 days instead of a week, or for that matter not go at all..

Fall and winter rentals out there are much cheaper as demand is a lot lower. So far the market out there has been stuck - nobody buying and sellers not budging on the prices. But I am thinking that this fall will be when there are some people looking at their cash flow and finding themselves in deep trouble.

U.S. debt shrinking at glacial pace

Eighteen months into a deep recession triggered by a credit bubble, consumers have made little progress shrinking a mountain of debt. Until they do, the economy will struggle to grow — likely for years.

Dropped from $13.9 trillion to $13.8 trillion over the course of a year. Whoop-de-do!!

Actually, I wouldn't even call that a "glacial pace" -- with GCC, the glaciers are moving much faster these days!

Inflation (2.5% ?) reduced the value of that debt a bit.

Just speed up inflation and the debt load will shrink >:-)


Most of the debt is on things like houses and cars - in the real world the value of both of those are deflating, houses at around -20% a year in some places, which makes real interest rates a usurous ~25%. Through most of my lifetime real interest rates have been close to zero or negative.

We are now in a significantly different, unprecedented, situation - new financial strategies are required.

I think what Alan was driving at is that if the government were to try and print their way out of the mess (which I consider likely), the increase int the money supply would be inflationary, would would eventually cause a reverse in the drop in prices. Not that this would be a panacea - the prices of other things would skyrocket as the dollar would have been devalued..

For something like a car, the term of the note is considerably shorter than for a house - I don't know what is typical these days, but in a few years people could in theory have paid off a lot of the cars out there.

Just about right.

Debt is in nominal $, print more and make the load "easier" (for still employed debtors that is).


This is just a viewpoint looking into the USA from the outside, IMO the USA is in a unique position as the US $ is the world's reserve currency, so I think different rules apply.

If you go to hyperinflation, which I agree is the normal policy Governments take, all the holders of dollars around the world would lose all their savings. Nobody will ever lend the US anything ever again and anything like oil that you have to import will become completely unaffordable. Unfortunately the current conditions are far from normal, so don't assume normal policy, the current situation is unique and the PTB appear to have no idea what to do any more other than lie.

I think either massive deflation (which we currently have) or the hyperinflation that may eventually follow will destroy the value of our supposed savings, but I think that the Chinese and Japanese etc will try and make sure it is the Americans that lose all their $ wealth.

Instead of inflation I expect the personal debt in the US (at least) to be defaulted - it seems US laws allow people to just walk away from a lot of housing debt with few ongoing problems, this is not normal elsewhere in the world.

The myth of final salary pensions is unraveling, it really isn't possible to get something for nothing - 2nd law of thermodynamics prevails as always.

Asset prices falling is not necessarily deflation, the money supply is still increasing. What's more likely is that those assets that are priced less than this time last year where in a bubble that burst... Oil and Housing come to mind...


the money supply is still increasing

I think you don't understand the situation - money supply isn't just from the government and banking system any more - and the Governmenmt alphabet soup of ways for banks to raise cash is deliberately obscure to hide the real situation.

The current oil, stock market and housing prices, unemployment etc are all symptoms of deflation. You only experience the effects of inflation or deflation when you try and buy or sell something. The Government average inflation figures are a special subset of the things you buy and sell, and are almost certainly not the inflation figures experienced by you.

The current oil, stock market and housing prices, unemployment etc are all symptoms of deflation.

IMO current prices are a result the slow-down in debt expansion (debt=money supply increase). We have seen a slow down in debt creation as people do not want or cannot take on more debt -and the banks have tightened their lending requirements even at a time when interest rates are very low to try and induce take up of debt.

Btw. I'm talking Austrian school Inflation definition. Inflation = an increase in the money supply, Deflation = a decrease.

It seems to be a race to see whether the impact of a slow down in money creation via the reduction in debt/lending can be made up for by the creation of money -so far it looks like a close race. The worrying thing is that any return to BAU borrowing (debt creation) with present levels of money creation would induce Price-Inflationary pressures -the FED aims to ease-out of money creation as the economy recovers but that would mean Bond prices falling and thus choke off lending as rates would rise... That's my take on the situation anyway...


Nobody will ever lend the US anything ever again

History says that is wrong.

Go read/research the phrase 'not worth a continental'.

Instead of inflation I expect the personal debt in the US (at least) to be defaulted

No. I expect inflation as the US of A already HAS inflation. Inflation is the increase in the money supply - and if you want to show how the US is shrinking the money supply I'd be happy to examine the proof backing THAT idea.

The US isn't shrinking the money supply, but I think the argument can be made that the money supply is shrinking. Homes now worth a fraction of what they used to cost, people whose credit cards are cut off or limited, all the "wealth" that vanished when the stock market fell off a cliff, etc.

Hmmmm ...

The money to 'inflate' would have to be borrowed. Who would lend?

Borrowing is getting to be a real concern for the Treasury. The White House is making noises about 'Son of Stimulus' and it is generating a lot of anxiety.

There is a hazard because the government has to borrow in order to run itself on a day-to-day basis. If it borrows too much, too soon, interest costs would rise. At some point the lenders (in the bond markets) would decide that the rise in interest rates does not reflect inflation risk but reflects default risk, instead.

Those who lent money to the government with the concept that Uncle Sam could deliver some real value in return would all want to sell at the same time - to collect what return they could. The act of selling itself without any obvious cause ... could trigger a follow- on run ... that would accelerate in a vicious cycle.

Also, the economy is still too large for the government to create much money supply all by itself. Generally, the banking system and foreign exchange creates money - lending and whatnot @ high levels of leverage. Now ... there is not much borrowing. Consequently, there is little 'checkbook credit'. The increase in base money isn't really inflationary because it only replaces a percentage of private loans written off and doesn't replicate itself by fractional lending.

People who need loans desperately cannot get them because the individuals are too risky to lend to and those who are not needing credit aren't borrowing. Why should they? There aren't 'investment opportunities' with deflation and yields at zero ...

Right now the government is creating money out of thin air and it stays with the banks. This is called a 'liquidity trap'. What liquidity escapes the trap inflates prices higher ... but doesn't increase the purchasing power of (unemployed) customers. A lot of the liquidity that escapes from the bad loan black hole goes right into the oil market!

Talk about self- defeating!

It also reaches those levels of industry closest to the liquidity source; banks and finance firms. These have first claim on money. From there the liquidity flows to commercial firms who have the next claim on money. Here, the liquidity results in unaffordable goods - more dollars chasing a fixed amount of production. With goods prices increasing and wages dropping like a stone eventually the producers themselves go out of business.

This is what happened during the Great Depression. The Hoover government and the Federal Reserve tried all these numbskull tactics from 1930 onward and they simply made things worse. There was no throttling oil price input back then either.

Yep, we have deflation of many assets and overall wages, some small inflation in necessities, with banks increasing debit interest rates and decreasing credit rates wherever they can in order to increase their spread and shore up their positions.

Very little of the bailout monies has made it into the real world, again much being retained by the banksters and other vested interests and lobbyists.

The banks which have survived are making more money in traditional trading since there are fewer competitors.

What we needed at all levels is the same financial strategy as always, don't spend more than you can afford.

What we need is a non fiat currency.
We need to link what we do all day to something that represents the real world.
I like energy as the score card. However, I am not sure on how to go about accounting for it.
I can't help but wishing that we are finally on the cusp of awareness that leads to a more rational way of life.......I can dream.

Price inflation without commensurate inflation of income will not help in reducing debt. If anything, it makes it worse. The large number of lost jobs will also be detrimental to getting the debt paid down.

spot on.
Debt is useless if it has no way of being serviced.
We are screwed.

I have to say this...........everything is related to the income of the masses.

We are grossly over-populated and therefore labor(as a commodity) is extremely cheap.
Hence, no one makes any where near enough money as wages to service the level of debt that is required to keep the ponzi scheme running at full tilt.
cheap oil, cheap oil, cheap oil..........etc.

It is possible that after a few years of debt-deflation the USA will enter a highly inflationary environment, as the US pursues a policy of deliberate currency devaluation and money printing. I don't think inflation has any hope of gaining traction while real estate crashes and job losses are mounting.

But even when inflation takes hold, wages will probably stagnate due to a lack of bargaining power. So, as you say, it will be very difficult for many people to make enough money to service, let alone pay off debt, in an environment where mass unemployment holds down wages.

As you say, there is a global surplus of cheap labour. I can't see any country with good growth prospects over the next decade - I'm sceptical about China, a lot of what they did over the last decade was "built it and they will come".

So we are looking at a global low wage environment for the next decade, and inflation won't change that if demand for labour is low. You'd need really high inflation - over 30% per annum - so that wages would rise significantly in nominal terms even as they fell in real terms.

I suppose the Fed could engineer that if they want, but not for a few years yet. I don't think they could create this kind of inflation until after the economy found a bottom of its own accord. That's my reading of the 1933 - they managed to engineer inflation after the market fell 90% and bounced.

So a lot of debt may be eliminated by jingle mail, as people walk away from houses that are now worth a fraction of the mortgage, and banks are forced to write the loans off.

Yes-speed up the inflation a bit and shrink the payoff,at the expense of the note holders.Classic historical strategy.

But the chinese at least are onto us,and are spending dollars AS FAST AS THEY CAN UNLOAD OIL AND SCRAP IRON.

Now not being blinded by knowing too much about economics, I interpret this by means of plain old common sense as meaning either one ,that they expect energy and energy intensive commodities such as steel to appreciate sharply in value and given that,are thereby better investments than bonds,even though piles of iron and tanks of oil earn no interest;two that thier money managers expect the dollar to decline, or three; both one and two.

Now this buying spree should be enough to convince the inflation doubters that the Chinese at least believe commodities are headed up and the dollar down.

I would remind them that the Chinese are noted as being oriented to the long run probably more than any other society.

Most of the various bail out monies went to companies not people.

Also, when a high-debt person loses his job, this debt will explode.

Also, when a high-debt person loses his job, this debt will explode.

Just call up one of those debt settlement companies...

Er, wait...

Debt Relief USA in Addison files for bankruptcy

Debt Relief USA Inc., an Addison debt settlement company, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has ceased operations.

In its court filing, the company listed $4.65 million in assets and $5 million in liabilities.

"Debt Relief USA anticipates sending written instructions to its customers, most former customers, creditors and known potential creditors with instructions on any steps you need to take to protect your interests," the company said...

You know it's bad then a debt settlement comany goes bankrupt...

Cash-strapped states strain to repair budgets

CHICAGO - Illinois has stopped paying $1,655 a funeral to bury the indigent dead. California is issuing IOUs in place of tax refunds. Ohio's rainy-day fund has dwindled from nearly $1 billion to exactly 89 cents.

...Mississippi used a last-minute sleight of hand to make the numbers work, passing a budget that left the state's utility regulatory agency and public service commission unfunded. Connecticut's 50,000 employees will take seven unpaid furlough days in the next two years.

Consumers fall behind on loans at record pace

Soaring U.S. unemployment and a shrinking economy drove delinquencies on credit card debt to an all-time high in the first quarter as a record number of cash-strapped consumers fell behind on their bills.

California exports: Computer Code (from Silicon Valley), Wine (from Napa Valley) and Junk Bonds (from Sacramento Valley)...

California: Teetering closer to junk
Fitch Ratings downgrades the state's bond rating to BBB, just above junk status. Budget impasse continues to rile the state's financial standing.

California's bond rating is far from golden.

Citing the Golden State's ongoing budget upheaval, Fitch Ratings on Monday downgraded California's long-term debt to BBB, one category above junk bond status. The next step is BBB- before the state's bonds would be considered speculative debt.

Fitch also maintained its so-called negative outlook on California. "[I]nstitutional gridlock could persist, further aggravating the state's already severe economic, revenue and liquidity challenges," Fitch wrote.

Better wine from Sonoma County................

And in a month or so the wine vats are going to have to be emptied for this years harvest. Producers here in France are worried, there's little market for what they've got stored already. Producer inventory is building.

At some point reality has to be realised and prices slashed. The producers won't want to destroy their existing market if they can help it and so they will try dumping it into someone else's. Probably sparking a trade war.

i'm recommending they turn it into vsop brandy.

Hello Leanan,

Thx[S] for link containing the info: "CHICAGO - Illinois has stopped paying $1,655 a funeral to bury the indigent dead."

Unfortunately, the article doesn't say what the morgues are doing with the dead that must be piling up fast. It is very energy-intensive to keep these dead souls continually refrigerated versus a quick burial or even cremation--this only further increases overall Illinois FF-depletion rate. No cost-savings can be achieved by further embedding more energy into a dead person.

We should expect this Dieoff trend to exponentially increase as we go postPeak. Recall Zimbabwe: where the poor families would give a fake name as they wheelbarrowed, then checked in a dying family member at a decrepit hospital, so they would not be billed for burial costs.

Thus, I think a market now exists for rapid O-NPK recycling so that the dead can help leverage relocalized permaculture. I dead-reckon we can do it much better than the Brits did earlier by their practice of dead-heading home massive dead-weight tons of approx. 3.5 million long distance 'immigrants' per year [Recall my prior posts on this topic].

I am not an expert at high-speed, very high-volume, minimal-energy human recycling techniques, therefore, the experts [FEMA & Pentagon?] need to research whether we want to run the dead through powerful wood-chippers, then on to a compost pile to help feed worms, or if it would be better to setup up giant solar ovens in every city for cremation, or just use [S]ulphuric acid to quickly slurry the dead, then send this dissolved juice through pipelines as additional inputs to I-NPK factories.

We could incentivize this trend by encouraging family members to upfront donate a favorite photo and/or poem with the body, which would then be attached to the finished product bag. Then retail purchasers could admire this info as they stirred the NPKS into their veggie plots.

Early jumpstarting of Recycling practices mentioned above are psychologically much better than waiting until machete' moshpits are common. This will only result in lots of dying and dead in our neighborhoods, creating massive health problems and even greater recycling in-efficiencies, plus increased recycling latency effects--further depressing permaculture harvest yields.

If a dead body is roughly equal to a 10 lb bag of I-NPK: At a 20:1 Liebscher's Optima, this person can generate 200 lbs of food. Thus IMO, Optimal Overshoot Decline would indicate that fast recycling is much better than expending much energy for deep burial. Why make the starving have to hand-dig them up from 8-feet down at a later time [negative ERoEI]? I don't think even the dead soldiers in the battlefields of Leipzig and the Crimea were even buried that deep.

Illinois is currently deep burying vital food input nutrients at a very high cost:


At $1,655/person and 10 lbs I-NPK equivalency: 200 people/ton X $1655/person = $331,000.00 per I-NPK ton.

State Govts should be rapidly moving now to reduce these costs by moving to Full-on Peak Outreach and O-NPK Recycling of the Dead.

Consider the massive, wasted-energy being embedded in Michael Jackson's funeral and celebration today. Probably equivalent to a $Trillion/ton.

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

..setup up giant solar ovens in every city for cremation..

No. There's no point in pyrodenitrifying all that O-N.

..fast recycling is much better than expending much energy for deep burial.

Agreed. It's stupid to deposit nutrients below the rooting zone.

Toto: Get out of the sun.

Hello Lynford,

Thxs for your reply and the replies from other TODers on this minithread. The Circle of Life means that it is a Ruthless Jungle out there--IMO, the sooner we get back to full-on, fast O-NPK recycling, the better off the living will be overall.

In regard to your comment that I need to get out of the sun: recall from my earlier postings that when I die, assuming that society is still somewhat functioning: my corpse will be pitched into my scorching desert to receive Maximum Sunlight and Maximum Attack by Nature [fast & free O-NPK recycling]. Then, rookie Forensic Detectives and Pathologists will periodically examine my remains as part of their training process.

I encourage all TODers to become organ donors and research participants. :)

I hope a coyote immediately eats my lips so I will sport a giant grin, but generally predators first prefer to gut out the high ERoEI internal organs, eating the tough muscles and bones last. Lots of Youtube videos show the freeding frenzy to be the first pack predators to consume the soft and tender belly and ribcage contents [high ERoEI].

We are no different: Most humans just love bacon & eggs which originate from the gut area of pigs and chickens, and caviar from fish is expensive, too. We don't buy cow's teeth, chicken beaks, and fish fins at the grocery store because the digestive-ERoEI is too low.

My mother-in-law who passed away a few years ago at age 100 lived in a small town in East Texas during the flu of 1917-18. Half the people there died in a few weeks. A wagon came by and collected the dead every morning. A crew of men were digging graves (often for themselves) in the cemetery. They put a rough note on a shingle of who was buried there. During that time no one knew if it would end.

It is hard to believe the horror of a contagious fatal disease with no cure ravaging your community and no help from the outside. She said that not knowing if you are next was a big stain as well as caring for the sick and dying. As we know, it was taking the young adults and in this town of a couple thousand only a few dozen young adults made it through and hundreds of orphan children were left to feed and take care of. Those were tough people. I don't think there are many like that left.

Around here a body in the desert will not last the summer and typically the bones are scattered. Steve Fossett’s body was never entirely found after his crash.

Hello Lynford,

Thxs for your thoughtful comments. My father, who died at age 96 in 2005, was cremated. In accordance with his wishes: I dumped half of his O-NPK ashes on a mountainside near his house, and the other half in the Sea of Cortez at Rocky Point [Puerto Penasco, MX]. I still have his metal toe-tag: it is on my house keyring. That way, it constantly reminds me to be careful, whenever I am motoring along with my pickup or scooter, or pedaling my bicycle. The serial # on the toe-tag is just one digit off from:

by Tadeusz Borowski, #119198

Ashes aren't organic & there's no N in them.

This is a huge issue. Dead, decomposing bodies are going to be a huge problem in a collapse. In rural areas they can be safely composted by covering them with mounds of organic material. Cities are a different matter.

Soylent Green. I wonder if they will be allowed to label it "organic"? Probably not - given what passes for food in Big Agra USA, most would need to be labeled "toxic".

Human Bodies? Forget it. We're a mess.

My wife just told me about the Toxics report just for Johnson's Baby Shampoo.



Additional thoughts:

Recall that Nature does this O-NPK recycling very fast and totally free [See my prior Youtube link on Hyenas eating a Wildebeest alive].

Predators don't deep bury a fresh-kill, then dig it up years later to jumpstart the O-NPK/food supply train as we do. We need to roughly emulate this process quickly for postPeak optimality, IMO.

It might also quickly reduce the extinction rate of keystone predators if lots of fresh human dead are fed to these animals at zoos, and also in the wild. I think it would make lots of the Overshoot people to be much more hesitant to venture into the postPeak Wild if you know big predators a just drooling heavily for the taste of human meat. Thus, it helps increase the numbers of the other prey animals in the wild forests and Serengentis. Beach tourism could significantly decline if sharks were human-food trained to attack those wading and swimming. How much energy would that save if it helps force even more airlines, car-rentals, and hotels into bankruptcy?

Imagine going to the zoo at Lion and Tiger feeding time when they pitch a few dead humans into their compounds. It would be a perfect opportunity for the zoo tourguide to then talk about Overshoot and Collapse, fast O-NPK recycling, Peak Everything, and Optimal Overshoot Decline.

Image of PostPeak Grocery Shopping

Hahaha .. Bob Shaw, I have to say I appreciate your approach to nutrient recycling. Maybe we can take it one step further.

We can feed some live Congressmen, Treasury Department officials, coal- and- oil company executives and Goldman- Sachs alumni to the sharks/lions/hyenas/piranhas/crocodiles and put that on Youtube.

Cremation is also good, burn them at the stake.

Alkaline hydrolysis - the latest green fashion to depart this planet

...A 300°F solution lye (sodium hydroxide) is sprayed on a body at 60 pounds of pressure per square inch in stainless steel cylinders. This actually turns the dead body in to brown syrup with some bone residue...

"Bring out your dead!"
(bangs a small gong)
"Bring out your dead!"

Toto; Looks like you finally get to put that strategic wheelbarrow reserve you've been talking about for all these years to good use after all...


I stayed in one of those houses on the NC outer banks two years ago come T-day. What you say is absolutely true, and has been for a while. T-day the beach was empty. Rental income is a fiction. Maintenance is huge. The sand and salt eat everything. The house we were in was two years old, but it looked twenty on the outside.
This is just a microcosm of what's happening around the world as people act happy that they can rent the house for less than the cost of maintenance. Everybody is hanging on, expecting a return to BAU. Meanwhile the buildings rot away.

Of course what the Outer Banks really needs is a bazillion windmills. The same real estate agents and contractors that pushed beach houses on us probably are selling windmills. The same banks will finance the projects. We'll all be bazillionaires again.

The good news of deflation is that everyone that refuses to play ends up looking smart.

Cold Camel

Someday, maybe soon, a Cat 4 or 5 will reduce all of those houses on the Outer Banks to toothpicks. Rising ocean levels, courtesy of GCC, will submerge whatever is left.

Maybe that's why people there don't worry so much about maintenance costs. They know that your typical Airstream trailer has a much, much longer useful life than these houses are going to have. Come to think of it, it really would be much wiser if Airstream trailers were the only human habitations allowed on the Outer Banks. Then people could evacuate their homes when the hurricane warnings are issued.

Every time I've been out there, I just shake my head the whole time.

Enjoy it while it is still there, I guess. But not during hurricane season, I'd advise.

Would you mind stating where you are?

The ocean community I am speaking of is on the Delaware shore.

Unfortunately, Uncle Sam has gotten himself so deeply in debt that HE needs a bailout.

Unfortunately, there's nobody around that can finance it.

The timeline they are predicting is soon - before the end of the year. Despite Leap2020's predictions, I don't think the dollar will collapse by then. Bernanke can just fire up the printing presses. With the economy so bad, there won't be inflation.

What if all paper money collapses?

From Currency Switching to Currency Twitching to >*shudder*< paper currency Death.

The we can trade canned goods, walnuts and bees wax candles.

Out of fear of the death of paper currency I've been trading all my savings into commodities; mostly silver.

Not perfect, but I feel better having it since historically it was the mainstream currency.

Absolutely not!

Commercial real estate is pure speculation.
At least people live in their houses.
At least car companies make vehicles.

What we need is a stimulus that doesn't get gobbled up by somebody's debt.

Speaking of commercial foreclosures- it's hard to pay the mortgage when no one is paying the rent...

US office market continues to spiral down--report

The U.S. office market vacancy rate reached 15.9 percent in the second quarter, its highest in four years and rent fell by the largest amount in more than seven as demand from companies and other office renters remained weak, real estate research firm Reis said Inc.

"It's bad," Reis director of research Victor Calanog said. "It's decaying and getting worse. Given the depth and magnitude of the recession, you can argue that we are facing a storm of epic proportions and we're only at the beginning."


Although the sector has experienced downturns before, the current one may be lethal for lenders and investors who bought property during the boom years of 2005 from 2007. Many of them based the price and the loan on the belief that rents would continue to post strong growth and occupancy increases.

"It's like taking on a lot of debt as an individual and now suddenly earning 10 percent 20 percent 30 percent less," he said.

The dwindling cash flow resulting from higher vacancy and lower rent weakens the ability to repay financing and pushes a borrower closer to defaulting on a loan.

Yet I'm seeing more commercial properties being built. It's crazy; this newly constructed extra vacancy will ensure a big crash, I think.

The town planning boards have not done their jobs.

I work with town planning committees. It is inaccurate to portray them as having much to do with managing the supply-demand equation for CRE. Indeed, a hallmark of US land policy is to let the market make much of the decisions about how much RE to make available in different classes (especially if you view things from a regional or state perspective, as some towns may NIMBY some things away but other towns accept them).

No town planning board member is skilled or prescient enough to ascertain the "correct" number of condos, malls, whatever. It really is the bank and other financiers of these projects whose job it is to determine what the market will bear. Are they doing their job if they continue to underwrite these projects?

Anybody who is on a planning board should be able to look at the townwide vacancy rate and come to a conclusion regarding whether the town needs more of a type of real estate, commercial, residential, or otherwise. They may not be prescient, but when you have a 20% office vacancy rate and somebody comes to the board asking for permission to build a new office complex, the answer should be, "No." There are two big reasons for planning boards not to answer that way. First, when a property is developed the tax assessment goes up, and that's what property taxes are made of. Second, if they do answer in the negative, the developer is probably going to sue them, and unfortunately, win.

Anway, you're right that no planning board is able to give an absolute number as the "correct" amount of a particular type of real estate. They still should be able to look at what's currently available as compared to the total and make a judgement call on whether it makes sense to allow more to be built at any particular time. If they can't do that, what in the world are they doing in a position where they're supposed to be able to do so?

There is always a big difference between a large city which has a lot of staff, and a rural town where the jobs are small enough and the budgets are small enough that they can't really afford much of a planning staff.

I remember reading stories about counties that had previously been pretty much nothing but rural. As the exurban growth started to reach them they initially were enthusiastic - it meant more revenue. But they didn't see the flip side of it - the need for more services for all of the new people. Usually it isn't until too late that they realize the nature of the Faustian bargain that they have agreed to.

In addition to ericy's response, I would offer that the plan committee/commission/whatever serves an administrative function to ensure that people are treated fairly in the land use change process (i.e. the staff is not discriminating). They should also help create and help attain an overall "vision" for the community; this is quite general and is rarely stated as specifically as the % occupancy or the number of housing units. The zoning ordinance and the community plan are tied in to the police power of local governments, which pertains to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. This largely entails separating incompatible uses.

If and when the planning board becomes interested in % occupancy, or return-on-investment, it enters a slippery slope. Say I own the only gas station in town: should I get on then planning board and influence the zoning to prevent more gasoline stations from being built? Also, while there may be high vacancy rates in CRE, perhaps it is because the current stock is antiquated and undesirable- if no new units are added, where does that leave us?

Might I suggest that the planning people "know" this is just a slip from BAU and only when the members themselves are hurting will they change their minds.

YARTBAD (Yet Another Reason To Be A Doomer) "Nothing will happen till it has happened."

Glad I wasn't long crude oil for the last 10 days.

My Prediction.

Christmas sales which account for a large part of the yearly income of many merchants (and their suppliers) are very likely to be a disaster this coming Christmas shopping season (only 5 months away).
As the already stressed merchants start going under shortly after the new year from lack of Christmas sales, the commercial real estate business will get quite a bit worse.

Read somewhere - can't find it now - that the CMBS time bomb(s) start going off in 120-150 days which coincides nicely with many predictions of the next leg down in equities this fall. Any post-holiday effect may be bayonetting the wounded.

But the US gummit is working on it. ;-)

Link courtesy of TAE. Look halfway down the page for the link-name article:

'Time bomb' in commercial mortgages poses big test for the Fed

he US Federal Reserve is trying to defuse a "ticking time bomb" of hundreds of billion of dollars of maturing loans made to finance shopping malls, office blocks and other commercial property.

The ability to refinance commercial mortgages at low interest rates has been hit hard by the credit crunch.

Commercial mortgage loans to the value of $400bn are due to be repaid this year. If the debtors default, the properties backing the debt could be put up for sale, which is likely to push declining prices lower still.

Read somewhere - can't find it now - that the CMBS time bomb(s) start going off in 120-150 days which coincides nicely with many predictions of the next leg down in equities this fall. Any post-holiday effect may be bayonetting the wounded.

You saw it here: 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.

Ron P.

I suspect that a great many retailers and CRE operators are just holding out in hopes that this holiday season will be just good enough. If sales are down in Nov/Dec, then vacancies and foreclosures in the CRE world will snowball in January.

This lower & low-middle vs. upper is evident in New Orleans.

In 2008, New Orleans may have been the only market showing appreciation (+4%) and suburbs did relatively well (-1% to -7% from memory). But even then, anything over $400,000 to $500,000 "did not move" whilst anything under $150,000 was "hot". $150 K to $400 K was a "decent market".

IMO, the days of the suburban McMansion are over. Supply > demand for multiple reasons, including demographics, fashion (Americans are herd animals when it comes to housing fashions), energy costs and commuting costs.

Perhaps it is not the ideal time, but I found an ideal location and nearly ideal house. Historic District (with associated zoning), corner of the best small urban park in New Orleans, walk score 77 (it feels higher), 3 blocks from streetcar, and can be made fairly energy efficient. 1,500 sq ft (I am renting out 2 rooms), street +1 foot above sea level, house +4 feet. VERY well built in 1930. Almost every major employer within 3 miles (many within 1 mile, 1.1 miles to 51 story One Shell Square). Small yard, large enough for urban orchard.

Long term I plan to demolish garage and build garage apartment (hyper efficient), move in and rent out house.

Best Hopes,


street +1 foot above sea level, house +4 feet.

Doesn't the altitude get to you?

He has to pump in oxygen.

Well, on the bright side his house doesn't need to have pontoons for the foundation...

A triumph of hope of the levees holding over experience of them failing.

"Best Hopes" that the levees will hold, the hurricanes will be diverted, rail transport (electrified of course) will be revived, and the economy will recover.

In my Asphaltistan, plus most other cities: A Triumph of Hope that water will continue to defy the Law of Gravity by flowing Uphill to Money.

Petrobras Suspends Tupi Oil Field Tests For 3-4 Months (Behind a pay wall but the entire article can be found by going to news.google.com and searching on "Tupi")

Brazilian oil major Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras (PBR), said it will have to suspend oil production tests at its deepwater Tupi field because of equipment problems Monday.

The state run oil company detected a technical problem which resulted in a temporary interruption of an extended test on the well's oil production capacity.

The discovery of Tupi was announced almost three years ago, (October 2006), and contains from 8 to 12 billion BOE. That is enough oil to keep the world running from 3 to 4 months, and they have been dancing about it ever since. However it will be the most expensive oil ever recovered, if the ever manage to recover very much of it.

Ron P.

And they plan to start a pilot production programme no sooner than December 2010. Plenty of time for things to go pear-shaped...
EROEI, anyone?

PBS aired a program last night about an American city, Portland Oregon, that has become the model of how cities can control sprawl and adapt in a constructive way. Although the city of Portland is made up of numerous municipalities it has one centralized planning board that approves development for the entire Portland area and they have an urban boundary beyond which is farms and wilderness areas.

They did give equal time to dissenters who disagreed with "centralized Soviet style planning" stepping on their "individual rights" to get rich by rezoning their farmland to suburbs.

The third installment in the MAKING SENSE OF PLACE series profiles the transformation of Portland, Oregon from an urban wasteland into a thriving metropolis. Following the rapid and uncontrolled growth of the 1950s and '60s, the civic leaders of Portland developed and implemented some of the most successful land-use policies in the United States. Today, Portlanders enjoy a flourishing downtown, as well as national recognition for their achievements in alternative transportation, emissions reductions and overall sustainability. With its alternative transportation, distinct urban boundary and overall “green” sensibility, can Portland continue to contain its growth and still satisfy all of its inhabitants?


When I compare Portland to San Diego, which has become a nightmare of suburban sprawl, it makes me long for "socialism".


When I compare Portland to San Diego, which has become a nightmare of suburban sprawl, it makes me long for "socialism".

Joe? Are you one of these anti capitalist pro working man types?

Where working men are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side,
Joe Hill is at their side."
"From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where workers strike and organize,"
Says he, "You'll find Joe Hill,"
Says he, "You'll find Joe Hill."
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me
Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead,"
"I never died," says he

Run Joe, run... those black helicopters are looking for you...

FMagyar - "Are you one of these anti capitalist pro working man types?"

Absolutely. Down with Empire. If there's a lost cause sign me up.

Thanks for the song and I really like those helicopter sound effects. Years ago when I lived in LA I used to go out on Patrol with the LAPD Helicopters on Friday nights. Talk about Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Phew! Those guys were crazy!

I was in Portland for two months two years ago. We rented an apartment next to the NIKE campus. I've never lived in a big city before, but my impression was that I had to drive everywhere, lots of miles, lots of time behind the wheel. I am sure there are walkable neighborhoods, but speciality items are scattered all over town, and my impression was that just about all of Portland was suburban.

Portland is a very nice town, full of wonderful people, but it ain't sustainable.

Cold Camel

If you were next to Nike, you were not in Portland. Nike is in the suburb of Beaverton, quite a distance from Portland proper.

Beaverton is the "other side of the mountain" from Portland. The Westside Express commuter train terminates at the MAX Light Rail station in Beaverton.

I have walked a bit away from the Max station in Beaverton and it is typical post-WW II Suburbia.

The Pearl area of Portland proper is a modern day success story for TOD. Quite walkable.

Best Hopes for more TOD,


"it makes me long for "socialism"

Joe, capitalists have no monopoly on getting it wrong.

Mumbai is getting thirsty as The Monsoon Is Failing

May you should have used href instead of ref
The Monsoon Is Failing

Yes. And remember, you can edit your posts and fix bad links, as long as no one has replied yet.

Also, if your HTML is shaky, just post the bare URL. It should be linkified automatically.

Leanan Q: How do I create a text link?

Like this:

[a href="http://www.whatever.com goes here"]The Headline Goes Here[/a]

And replace the brackets,[], with chevrons <>. And don't forget to put the quotation marks,", where I have them. It will not work without them.

Also, you can test your skills without ever posting anything. Simply open a comment window, do your thing, then test it in the "preview" window. Then you can simply back out of everything with the back button and never post anything. That way you can hone your skills without posting a bunch of junk.

And make sure they are plain quotation marks, not "smartquotes" or what have you. The link won't work unless they are plain vanilla quotation marks. (Often if a link doesn't work, it's because the wrong kind of quotation mark is used.)

This is why I discourage attempting text links if you're not familiar with HTML. The smallest mistake will make the link unusable. You would not believe the HTML people try to post here.

There are some Firefox extensions that make it easier. I like BBCodeXtra, but there are several others.

You would not believe the HTML people try to post here.

I believe you. What I find hard to believe is that so many have not figured out how to use the "preview" window. Links, and everything else, can be tested in the preview window to make sure they work before they are posted. I often, in my haste, get the "blockquote" window wrong. I will post a slash in the opening one, or forget to put one in the closing blockquote. But I always catch my mistake in the preview window. The preview window is there for the very purpose of correcting any HTML mistakes before they are posted. People should use it every time any HTML code is used.

I've gotten complaints from IE users that the preview window doesn't work. (Not sure if this is still an issue, since I use Firefox; I did report it to SuperG.) Also hitting "back" sometimes means losing all your text.

These aren't problems for everyone, but they are for some (depending on what operating system, what browser, what version of the browser, etc.).

I use Firefox and also use the preview window every time I post. I have never had a problem with it. I, on rare occasions, still use Explorer. No problems with the preview window there either.

There is no need to use the back button when making corrections from the preview window. Your rough draft is always there, right below the preview window. Corrections can be made, and then checked again in the preview window without ever hitting the back button. I only ever use the back button when I wish to back out of the whole mess without ever posting anything.

Ron P.

I was stuck using IE once, and I did have the problem. Preview didn't work. It was quite annoying.

Losing text has occasionally been a problem for me under Firefox ver. 2.* and rarely 3.*. I use preview as Ron suggested, but do my actual typing in a text edit program and then paste into comments. Works for me anyway.

Edited: Sorry, I'm stating what you knew already...

Tears and laughter


thanx Ron.

The preview function is a good habit to get into. Sometimes I've posted something that I wish to edit and then someone responds and I can't change it.

To make a text link, you need to know HTML. It's just plain vanilla HTML, like you would use to make a web page.

Could this "Anchors are used to make links to other pages" code be placed among the short bullet list on the comment form page rather than the separate "compose tips" page?

People have asked, but I guess it's not high up on the priority list.

Also, it doesn't really help unless the user already understands HTML.

Maybe the next upgrade comments can embed video links:

I'd rather not, at least in the DrumBeat. Slows the thread down too much.

Hightrekker, a couple of points on posting links.

You can test your links before you post them. Simply hit "Preview" instead of "Save" then test your link in the preview window. If they don't work then you can correct the problem before you post. Also, if you post something that is incorrect then you can change it by simply clicking on "edit", that is if you can catch your error before anyone replies to you. And last, you do not have to code your links in html code, you can simply copy and paste the link direct.

Edit: Sorry Leanan but I posted this before I saw your reply.

I tried both those strategies, but my cut and pasting skills must of been challenged before my first hit of caffeine-
But Thanks!

Thx HT , a worthy extract from that BBC article

"In my building all the families wake up at 4.30 am and everyone has to have a shower, wash clothes, utensils and fill up the water tank - all before 5.45 am. It's a mad rush. Children wake up, get ready and go back to sleep."

If the monsoon fails entirely in Western India this year , that will bode for som serious brownouts over the next year. So, no wonder - the authorities now say they are also considering seeding clouds to generate artificial rainfall.
The Western Ghats (mountain range) are dotted with hydro-stations 'running' large portions of modern India - if they start to fail during fall- God bless Mother India.
I've lived in Mumbai and the monsoon is finished in mid August or so ... thereafter 9 months of sun from blue sky.

Talking about brownouts, French nukes output are down about a third because of a summer heatwave. The issue is that 14 of 19 nuclear power stations use river water rather than seawater for cooling and the maximum permitted discharge temperature is 24C.

Even 24C is pretty hot for most fish.

I guess if we want to build a lot of nukes (as Obama seems to want)-- then we will have to get used to carp and forget the salmon.

Funny but I have been operating under the impression that OBama has been paying a little lip service to nuclear power without any intention of building any new nuclear plants.

If you build nukes as a replacement coal power plants, they have similar cooling requirements already zoned for existing coal plants. Cooling canals have also been built; Simply frying fish is an option certainly, but an unnecissary one.

Only the oldest coal plants had the thermodynamic efficiency of nukes (Unsure of #s for EPR, but I know earlier #s).

A retiring 30 year old 400 MW coal plant would have enough cooling for a 350 MW nuke (roughly).

The three units of the LCRA/Austin Energy coal fired plant at Fayette (1,641 MW) (1979, 1980 & 1988) would likely need a bit more cooling (or derating in the summer) to site a single 1.6 GW EPR. A single 1.2 GW Westinghouse would fit nicely. Of course nukes are more economic when built in pairs to quadruplets.


OTOH, transmission lines (another constraint on rapid nuke expansion often overlooked) would already be there, if a bit aged.

Best Hopes for Coal > Nuke,


The city corporation has urged citizens to save water and use it sparingly. They say one lake has enough water to last for the next three weeks, while two others have reserves for about two months.

Makes our water worries here in Oz (dams previously down to <20% capacity, scheduled to run dry in a year or so, but are now filing up as La Nina strikes (Brisbanes dams are up to nearly 80% now)) look pretty petty.

Fred Pearce: G8 emissions pledge is 'scientifically illiterate'

Even a decade ago, most scientists figured that we could probably cope with doubling the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from pre-industrial levels. That is, going from 275 parts per million to 550 ppm. Right now, we are at approaching 390 ppm and pushing up by around 2 ppm a year. So it seemed that we had a bit of time.

But five years ago, with growing concern about climate tipping points, scientists began to see 450 ppm as the threshold we should not exceed. That's a lot closer. We will be there in 30 years.

And more recently the talk has been about 350 ppm. In other words, because of the timelags involved in the whole global warming process, we will need to lower concentrations of greenhouse gases to below where they are now.


Perhaps due to lack of concentration it took me a while to get my head around this:

Climate change, it turns out, is going to be a mixed blessing for the sasquatch. The legendary American apeman will lose some of its existing habitat in the coastal and lowland regions of the northwestern United States, but gain a lot of new land in the Rocky Mountains and Canada.

So say biologist Jeff Lozier of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his colleagues, in an analysis just published in the Journal of Biogeography1. But they're not really worried about bigfoot. Instead, they're trying to warn their colleagues that ecological models are only as good as the data that go into them.


And here I was, thinking Nate is the last sasquatch!

But seriously, it's about models and their reliability or the lack thereof.

7% electric rate increase proposed; We Energies blames decline in sales amid recession

The deepening recession is slowing sales of electricity more than projected, so the Milwaukee utility is asking the state Public Service Commission for a bigger rate increase to cover the gap.

Could there be a converse to Jevon's paradox- as electricity usage declines, rates go up, further depressing demand, and inducing still more rate hikes?

It's always fun to ask your friends where their electricity will come from after their local utility shuts down because there are not enough people able to pay for the service.

Of course, THAT will never happen.

There will always be a Mommy to protect everyone - too bad Mommy has soooo many sharp teeth and claws (odd but the closer I look at Her, the more it seems She's nothing but thick fur, claws and teeth ... ugly, stinky Bitch ;)

Part of the trick is to BE a mommy or a daddy, SOP, in spirit if not in fact, and insist on helping to take care of a future that the baby is going to be living in.

I have two non-functional nipples so I won't be able to be an effective mommy. Besides, there are nothing but hungry, brain-dead mouths in my community (was that too harsh ??? - how about "hungry, sleep-walking mouths " ???).

As a daddy with three kids... I will do all I can with what I have available but we still have to exist among the sleepwalking titbabies that will be screaming for nipples.

Waldon's Pond beckons... let the titbabies' gnashing of teeth be on their own and eachother's bones. There is nothing we can do for them and they flatly refused to do anything for themselves.

There are certain fixed costs to running a utility that are independent of how much people actually use. I don't know how it divides out however - obviously any fuel they burn is at least somewhat related to the actual demand, but much of the rest isn't.

Do you recon the utility company employees will prefer to take a pay cut or lose their jobs?
My bet is that they will take a lot less pay rather than lose their jobs when things get that bad.
I expect that electric utilities will be among the last businesses to fail in a FireStorm Depression.

"There are certain fixed costs to running a utility that are independent of how much people actually use. "

Are the fixed costs of running the utility independent of how much people actually pay? What happens when the citizens cannot pay enough for the fixed costs, let alone the variable costs of fuel?

What happens to economic dead zones in their communities (... e.g. see Michigan's flint, detroit etc - drop sections of the city from service... )?

What happens if/when your entire city becomes an economic dead zone incapable of supporting the utility?

Got Candles, guns and butter?

Also, there are all of the deferred costs that have been put off, like fixing up transmission lines. When they are added to the cost base, and electrical utilization is going down, thing start to look bad. Add a few wind turbines, when utilization is not going up, and costs really go through the roof.

Also, there are all of the deferred costs that have been put off, like fixing up transmission lines.

This is a direct result of the repeal of the Public Utilities Holding Company Act. Fancy-pants New York financiers will buy up the utilities, suck off the cash flow (often by diversifying into non-utility areas, then spinoff those to the owners), defer maintenance to increase the cash flow, and then leave the utility to die by the roadside.

Deferring maintenance can be done for several years before it catches up to you. The utilities are going to go through the same cycle that the railroad industry went through im the 1960's and 1970's (Remember the Penn Central, Rock Island, and Milwaukee Road? - they're all gone now...)

So we the public will be expected to pick up the pieces and pay for it. Lot to be said for truly publicly-owned utilities, like coops.

But those corporations are getting a better relation between user and exchange values.
Being essentially psychopathic, this is the ultimate goal of corporations, and is even mandated by stock ownership, and up for legal action if this psychopathic behavior is not followed.

Ironically, part of the Milwakee Road collapse can be attributed to an accounting error...

Re: Conoco-Philips Reports Increase in Second Quarter Output. Up top.

This is the kind of press release that leaves me less informed after I read it than before. Perhaps it's because I have my antenna tuned for fallacious reasoning and see it so often. Or maybe it was the intention of the press release to misinform.

Crude oil and natural gas are not the same thing. One is a liquid and one is a gas. One requires refining and one does not. One is used for transport mostly and one is used mostly for heating. One has had a big recent price run up and one has not. Crude oil and natural gas are different things. They can not be compared, added, subtracted, multiplied or divided without causing confusion. It does not matter that they are produced by the same company and both come out of holes in the ground.

No matter to Conoco or the oil industry though. I can't help feeling the wool is being pulled over my eyes and a bait and switch is going on when I read these reports. Clearly the data for the production of both are available or else the barrel of oil equivalents number could not be calculated. Why not just report the totals for each and let the reader decide whether production increased or not?

What is the point of converting production to barrel of oil equivalents? What if auto makers decided to report their production in compact car equivalents. They could report 2 compact cars for each truck produced and say production increased when in fact production fell due to lower truck production. Or what if farmers were to report grain production in bushels of soybean equivalents where each bushel of soybeans equals 3 bushels of corn? The fallacy is obvious.

We are left to wonder did Conoco produce more crude oil or not. Was there a big increase in natural gas production that hides a big decline in crude oil production? Since the price of natural gas has remained low, what impact did that have on the company's profits?

We are left in the dark. I can't help but suspect that was the intention.

oil, gas and natural gas liquids are reported separately in their annual report.

RE: California, US, headed for permanently smaller economy

To make matters worse, the federal government is in the midst of one of the largest policy mistakes in US history as it has chosen to make enormous new investments in car companies, cars, biofuels, roads, and highways to the exclusion of public transport.

This is a classic, textbook example of the sunk cost effect in decision making and is a hallmark of the collapsed societies of antiquity. The choices the US makes from this point forward will likely have more of an effect on how the decline is mitigated.

The US is borrowing money it doesn't have, and wasting it on things it does not need. Until this changes, there is no reason for the slightest shred of optimism.

I feel this headline from this DB underscores my point -
GM product chief says no delay for plug-in SUV ..... SUV - SUV - ZZZZZZZZZZZUV ............

Is there no money to be earned in conservation ?

This GM-management did never understand the writings on the wall - not even after they have been informed orally in English - their native language.
Am I a cruel person that hope for a sudden and painfree brand New Bankruptcy on top of ongoing one ?
This article state that those directives from the Bailout-gangboss (Obama?) must be very poor - if not actually totally absent.

"The Dark Side of Climate Change: It's Already Too Late, Cap and Trade Is a Scam, and Only the Few Will Survive "

It is good to see at least one adult among the climate changers. One sober voice among the stupid drunks like Hansen and Gore.

...There is another, fourth voice in the debate over cap-and-trade, one ringing out from shadows rarely approached by the media.

In recent years, Lovelock has emerged as the world’s leading climate pessimist, raining scorn on the new fashionable environmentalism and arguing that the time is nigh to accept that a massive culling of the human race is around the corner.

“Most of the ‘green’ stuff is verging on a gigantic scam,..."

Peak oilers would do well to remember that our "cause" - if it is ever acknowledged in public at all - will just be co-opted by the dead-weights we call "leaderz."

It will become nothing but another series of "gigantic scams" for the feces of our species (e.g. the goldman sachs of the world).

Climate changers or oil peaksters can continue to piss into the wind and scream at thunderstorms all we want - at least it feels like we are "doing something." But it won't matter.

We need to prepare ourselves and our locales.

...and Only the Few Will Survive

This is not a given. Invariably, when human population collapse is the topic, it is assumed that the crash will not be all the way to extinction. The reality is that populations can and do crash to extinction, or close enuf to extinction that they oscillate around at a greatly reduced level for a few generations until Allee effects pull them on down to extinction. Please try to wrap your minds around the reality that human population may well crash to extinction within a handful of subsequent generations if not within the lifetimes of those already born.

- at least it feels like we are "doing something." But it won't matter.

Indeed. The situation is long beyond repair.

Nihilists annoy me.

Extinction for Homo Sapiens is not worth thinking about except in terms of prevention.

Besides, it isn't like I'll be alive to see it...

DD --

You are a Doomer's Doomer! (try saying that with 'apocalypticon'...).

I'll tell you what. I'll see your nihilism and raise you. I'll agree to accept

that human population may well crash to extinction within a handful of subsequent generations

if you will allow that the Earth, depopulated of humans, may in fact not 'heal itself' but will instead continue to decline in biodiversity and complexity, well shy of the sun's expiration.

That's my take: as imperfect (ok, downright awful) as we are, we may be the only guardians of biodiversity in the knowable universe.

Gonna call?

..the Earth, depopulated of humans, may in fact not 'heal itself' but will instead continue to decline in biodiversity and complexity, well shy of the sun's expiration.

You may be right. There are various levels of biodiversity. Species diversity (and by extension genetic diversity) was at its peak towards the end of the Pleistocene and may well be expected to recover following human extinction. But the diversity of taxa at more inclusive levels (i.e., generic, familial, etc.) I believe peaked at the end-Cretaceous. The world doesn't seem to be evolving any novel phyla, so if we lose any during AME this "higher" order diversity will probably never be renewed by selection. The planet's radiogenic heat is declining, after all, as isotopes decay down their series. This heat drives tectonic activity which drives vicariance which drives speciation. What I'm saying is that if we loose lungfish or polypterids, for instance, it won't matter if cichlids manage to re-radiate after we're gone.

The Sun is an aging star, and the last 100 million years was probably our best shot at diversity, even with the K/T extinction event.
That is the true tragedy of the current mass extinction (from an anthropological point of view)--
It is such a waste.

I think it highly probable for some other primate to evolve as our replacement. Sure, this will take many thousands of years, but it isn't impossible, nor improbable. The history of life on our planet shows it to be very resiliant and inventive. Of course, it is possible that Homo Sapiens Sapiens will be the species to evolve, just as we replaced H Erectus.

Possibly, but we have "Peaked" on diversity. I tis not a given, as the feedback loops get set to different values.

The intelligent primates are the great apes. There are (5) species of great ape. Four of these have a combined global population of about 200,000.

The global population of the fifth is increasing by about 200,000 PER DAY.

What chance to the other four stand to outlast us?

Oh oh that was also a way to put it.... Tanks Ralph
BtW I came up with only four BIG apes : Human, Gorilla, Chimpz, Orangutan .... and ?

I would guess he's referring to bonobos. (Great apes aren't the same as big apes, BTW, at least in English.)

Thanks Ur probably correct -regarding what Ralph aimed at.
I took a googling trick .. The bonobos is a variety of Chimpz .And there are also some subspiecies of Gorilla and a couple of Orangutans as well.

I was fearing that Ralph knew of some "great green apes with big eyes and antennas" :-).

The bonobos is a variety of Chimpz

It isn't, actually. It's in the same genus, but a different species.

Ok, but in that case there seems to be at least 7 Great Apes according to Wikipedia -

Classification - Hominoid family tree
The seven living species of great ape are classified in four genera. The following classification is commonly accepted

That genera-thing made me ask Ralph for the 5th one ..

I agree that cap and trade will be another market for the banksters to game. IMHO the best way is a straightforward carbon tax, unfortunately it is too transparent so that the voteriat will find it unpopular and vested interests would not benefit so will oppose.

Hey, I just found another word for us "Doomers."

While reading the above link The Fed and Peak Oil I came across this phrase:

While Graefe has taken a decidedly middle of the road approach, which will be enough all by itself to infuriate the Apocalypticons, she also touches on several points that I would have expected a publication from any part of the Fed to ignore.

"Apocalypticons"...Naw, I kinda like Doomers better.

At any rate I clicked on the Laurel Graefe paper referred to in the article. I was not infuriated but I thought the article only fair. Here is something that almost infuriated me however:

People have been calling for the beginning of the end of oil for more than half the past century. (Keep in mind that the industrial use of oil began only about 100 years ago. Those who announce that the world is about to reach (or has already reached) peak always have counterparts who disagree. The nonbelievers had yet another victory in early 2009 when the 2008 production figures were released, showing that annual oil production increased to a record high in 2008, dismissing an increasingly popular prediction that world oil output had peaked in 2005 (see figure 1). The doomsayers, of course, must eventually be right—given the fact that oil is an exhaustible resource and will ultimately run out—though they haven’t been right so far. But the counterargument that oil production hasn’t peaked yet, so it isn’t going to, doesn’t prove terribly convincing.

The fact that 2008 production was a tiny fraction, eight one hundredths of one percent, higher than 2005 production means nothing. It was not a victory for the nonbelievers. The peak plateau was 2005 thru 2008 and that is the important thing.

Oh well....

Ron Patterson

Much better would be "Apocalypsos", because we believe we are going to have to go much lower.


Post-Collapse Health Care Plan

Denninger writes about the sideshow distracting most of the public and media:

"This is an extortion racket and absolutely none of the proposals being put forward have done a thing to address any of it."

He then makes his own proposals:


I suspect the next revolution in health care plans will involve payments in walnuts (the same with lawyers, etc. - think Atticus Finch in "To Kill A Mockingbird."

(P.S. - there is an as yet unsubstantiated but plausible rumor going around that former congress persons can be used to make good fish food for aquaculture !!! - see, everyone can be useful !!!).

When people finally wise up they'll see that they have to band together and form a cooperative, then HIRE the medical care the members need on a flat salary or flat per-capita reimbursement rate, and have each and every member pay a flat per-capita premium; also buy generic medications in bulk, and have a co-op run dispensary. That is the ONLY WAY for people to simultaneously have some control over their medical care AND keep the costs under control. What we have in this country now, and all the alternatives being discussed, is nothing but BS!

I belonged to such a co-op in the late 1970s, and it was great. Too bad we're too stupid and duped by industry and political propaganda to see that this is what is best for us, and to insist on it.

Hey, that sounds much to socialist to be accepted by the USA even though it is similar to some health systems in Europe.

too socialist for the wingnuts who have hijacked health care and the discussion of health care for their own private cash cow. i'm not a big fan of government run programs, but almost anything would be better than industrialized corporate kleptocracy run unhealth care.

it doesent seem that health care was nearly as expensive before widespread health insurance got in the picture.

Sounds exactly like Group Health in Seattle, WA USA during that timeframe. Some good friends of ours belonged and seemed to get good healthcare.

The thing I am amazed at is the fact that they are going to FINE anyone who doesn't "buy" their government or private insurance $1000 or more! I wonder what kind of special "salute" the EVIL EMPIRE in DC will come up with for us peons (and that is what intend to do to us) to honor their new elected (but maybe no for long?) Dictatorship?

(PS The link to Denninger is not working.)

I've written my congresscritters and elsewhere that if extortion is to be the new policy, like auto-insurance, then I will continue to purchase insurance from myself. AFAIC, with the exception of life insurance, all insurance should be single payer to make costs as low as possible and to ensure all are insured.

Am I missing something?

1. Every OECD country except the US has "socialized" medicine.

2. We (US) pay 2.5 times a much for health care as any other OECD country.

3. US outcomes by virtually every measure are not better, and often much worse than the OECD average.

How hard can it be to figure out a solution? Yet congress is proposing a plan that adds $100 million per year to existing costs.

Welcome to the twilight zone.

We could at least try to emulate the Swiss system:


And while we are at it, only about one-third of Swiss high school students are on an academic college track. The other two-thirds are on a vocational track and graduate with some type of job skill, and they can then go on to post-high school technical schools.

I made the note below about Switzerland w/o reading Westexas's post. I do agree, the Swiss system is worth emulating, even if it is the second most expensive.


We should learn from Taiwan on how to reduce health care administrative expenses. In Taiwan, each citizen is given a Smart Card which he/she then gives to the doctor/hospital when they visit. The whole operation is computerized and Taiwan's administrative expenses are less than 2% of health care expenditures, the lowest in the world. The current American health care system has become a form of extortion. Fewer and fewer people have access to health care over time and those who do have access are paying more and more. This is not how the free market is supposed to work.

We (US) pay 2.5 times a much for health care as any other OECD country

Switzerland has the second highest % of GDP devoted to healthcare, about 75% of USA, not 40%.


No, you got it -- It is a moot point, as all industrial democracies have universal health care, and do it at a fraction of the cost, with longer life spans, and a lower infant mortality rate.
This is an elite business class entrenched in the political and social system, demanding to continue a profit stream, with the people losing out .
Last I looked, I think we were rated by WHO at around 40th in health care worldwide.

'Time to ditch climate policies'

An international group of academics is urging world leaders to abandon their current policies on climate change...

"The evidence is that the Kyoto Protocol and its underlying approach have had and are having no meaningful effect whatsoever.


(There, I removed my 'offensive' editorial - although that was probably the most accurate characterization of the content and impact of the tomorrow's climate-related meetings by our beloved leaderz - circle jerk followed by posing for the world press and the gullible morons who read it).

(There, I removed my 'offensive' editorial -

Awww. Could you please restore it. It's probably the most interesting post so far today. I'd like to read it. :)

LMAO. It gots deleted for a reason. Let it die.

The latest International Petroleum Monthly is just out from the EIA with the latest data for April. World oil production was up 62 kb/d, (after March was revised down 20 kb/d), OPEC was up 125 kb/d while non-OPEC was down 62 kb/d.

Big gainers were Azerbaijan, up 109 kb/d, Canada up 43 kb/d, China up 68 kb/d, Kazakstan up 51 kb/d, Nigeria up 57 kb/d and Russia up 71 kb/d.

Big losers were Norway down 166 kb/d, United Kingdom down 133 kb/d, US down 42 kb/d and Other down 51 kb/d.

Ron P.

Some interesting TED talks. They are a few years old but still found them interesting.



Mostly talking about building and urban design for minimal energy use and ecological benefit.

Hello TODers,

Remember Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway? His latest is a wood burning, Stirling-powered scooter:


Hybrid Electric Scooter Runs On Anything That Burns

Since there is no need for a fuel to be injected, it can run on almost anything that burns - everything from wood chips to old Barbies. This really opens the door for renewable fuel technologies and the standards they would have to meet.

No, no and HELL no. We do not need this... I get visions of people burning garbage, leaves, and studs from foreclosed homes in it.

I get visions of people burning garbage, leaves, and studs from foreclosed homes in it.

Tires, plastics of all sorts, crankcase oil, anything that will burn, in order to stay warm and make whatever can be scrounged edible. Like the world's poor already do. Cancer from the incomplete combustion products won't be much of a concern when life expectancy is short. Immediate needs trump longer term dangers.


The EATR is an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance military missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling. The system is designed to obtain its energy by foraging—engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating.

Yes and hell yes.

To date there are no mass produced (and then hoping for low cost) stirling cycle engines.

With a low cost Sirling, CHiP (Combined heat and power) becomes possible. Burning of landfill gas, methane digester gas, and even waste heat recovery avoid all internal combustion engine issues.

Oh, and because you use heat - a solar powered Stirling system becomes an option. In cold places - imagine the cold side of the stirling is the home/human workspace during the cold season.

Oh yes, let's use wood for our next transportation fuel. Rather than scooters that run on wood, I think we should build really big SUVs that run on the corpses of idiots. We would never run out of fuel.

LOL! That statement is so sadly True that I bet we will do that exactly.

How will the machines identify the idiots? It would be unfortunate to be mistaken for one ;-)

Well, the idiots are usually self-selecting. Besides, we might not need to use entire corpses - I'd bet many would willingly give an arm and a leg to drive a few more miles for some high fructose corn syrup or more imported bits of plastic. Cars are, after all, much more important than anything else.

Sorry, I'm feeling somewhat.....sarcastic today. Did you notice?

Well, the idiots are usually self-selecting


Epic. This whole topic belongs in Doonesbury.

Related to the article on high efficiency incandescents, TCP, the largest manufacturer of compact fluorescent lamps sold in North America, is moving some of its CFL production from China to Ohio, home of its U.S. based operations.

See: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124654276439485945.html

The increase in manufacturing cost is said to be 20 to 30 cents per lamp (previously, the labour content was extremely high due to the complex nature of their assembly, but a good chunk of that has been now eliminated through automation). Of course, from that, we can eliminate the cost of shipping the product half way around the world, so it would be interesting to see how the final numbers shake out. As I read this, I kept thinking of Jeff Rubin (....who I knew from my days spent at Commerce Court West... **cough**)



The problem with Pickens' Plan lies in getting power from the proposed site in the Panhandle to a distribution system, Pickens said in an interview with AP .

He'd hoped to build his own transmission lines but he said there were technical problems.

Wind power is a big part of the "Pickens Plan," which was announced a year ago . Pickens has spent $60 million crisscrossing the country and buying advertising in an effort to get the government to subsidize his mad plan.

If he's not going forward - it'll be interesting to see if the water rights folks were right and Pickens starts moving water about with the right of ways he now has?