DrumBeat: July 12, 2009

The planet's future: Climate change 'will cause civilisation to collapse'

An effort on the scale of the Apollo mission that sent men to the Moon is needed if humanity is to have a fighting chance of surviving the ravages of climate change. The stakes are high, as, without sustainable growth, "billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilisation will collapse".

This is the stark warning from the biggest single report to look at the future of the planet – obtained by The Independent on Sunday ahead of its official publication next month. Backed by a diverse range of leading organisations such as Unesco, the World Bank, the US army and the Rockefeller Foundation, the 2009 State of the Future report runs to 6,700 pages and draws on contributions from 2,700 experts around the globe. Its findings are described by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, as providing "invaluable insights into the future for the United Nations, its member states, and civil society".

The impact of the global recession is a key theme, with researchers warning that global clean energy, food availability, poverty and the growth of democracy around the world are at "risk of getting worse due to the recession". The report adds: "Too many greedy and deceitful decisions led to a world recession and demonstrated the international interdependence of economics and ethics."

Richard Heinberg: "We Have Reached The Global Limits To Growth"

At the deepest level, our societal expectation of perpetual economic growth is based on the assumption that we will always have increasing amounts of cheap energy with which to power the engines of production and distribution. This expectation of growth became institutionalized in ever-increasing levels of debt and in increased financial leveraging. Thus when the amount of energy available started to level off or decline, the entire financial house of cards came tumbling down.

What population apocalypse is affecting us now?

For many groups yesterday, July 11, on which we marked World Population Day, was another chance to bemoan “the relentless growth in human population,” while the United Nations Population Fund says “stabilising population would help sustain the planet.” The problem, however, is not population but poverty.

Over-population enthusiasts have always claimed there is not enough land or resources for everyone and, even as their predictions of apocalyptic famines, epidemics and shortages failed to come true, they gained support from many environmentalists.

Trial Balloons

The Obama administration is, rather quickly changing the tenor of the discussion. We will likely be told soon that the America we used to know is in a state of flux -- the old assumptions may not apply. Obama needs to do this now to prevent the pitchfork-and-torch crowd from stirring things up as we deal with the global financial crisis and it's attendant issue: peak oil.

Gordon Brown: Britain's green revolution will power economic recovery

Two centuries ago, Britain was at the forefront of a new industrial age that transformed our small island into the workshop of the world and a global economic powerhouse.

Now we must once more harness the expertise of our engineers and scientists - and the ambition of our entrepreneurs - to embrace a green revolution that will significantly change the way we all live and work. At a historic summit in Italy last week, G8 leaders agreed to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels and cut their emissions by 80% by 2050.

"Peak Oil Day" dodges political roots of crisis

You'd think by now these guys would have figured out that predicting the future is a dangerous business. We are not anticipating a robust recovery, but the question (for now) remains one of control of oil—not "energy scarcity." There are still vast resources that have not been brought on line—from Iraq to the Caspian to the Amazon. But the effort to bring this oil under imperial control—especially via the Iraq adventure—has meant a hemorrhage of the national wealth of the world's biggest economy. This has more to do with the current econocataclysm than the specter of "energy scarcity."

How $30/Barrel Oil Could Save the World

The UK and France took action last week to limit speculation in oil prices. The US government is also seeking a way to limit oil price speculation. It is obvious that lower oil prices can help most corporations and also help people in the price of gas they pay at the pump, which in turn can end the recession.

However, there is an even bigger reward for bringing down the price of oil to $30.00 a barrel, which is probably the correct price as governed by today's supply and demand ratio. The lower oil price can bring an end to Iranian backed terrorism and peace to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

If Gas Prices Go Up, Are Speculators To Blame? (audio)

Some U.S. lawmakers and a number of international leaders say oil prices are being driven far higher than necessary by financial investors who gain from driving up commodity prices. They want to limit futures contracts to crack down on speculation.

Daniel Yergin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Prize, talks with host Scott Simon about the role of speculators in the energy markets.

Oil prices could ruin us yet

It strikes some on the outside looking in that the normal operations of the oil market are not only manipulated by speculators but all too brazenly by the producer nations as well.

Many of them formed the oil cartel OPEC that effectively has curtailed production to offset reduced demand, helping to sustain a high price for its commodity that even before the epic bubble set new records as it broke through one barrier after another.

UK: New energy strategy 'will cost'

Households will face rising fuel bills as Britain shifts to a low-carbon strategy, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband warned.

Mr Miliband - who publishes the Government's renewable energy strategy on Wednesday - rejected reports that the change could add £230 a year to the average household fuel bills.

How to Invest in Peak Oil

Think back to July of 2008, oil was over $140/barrel and a lot of talk on “Peak Oil” (the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached) was floating around. By late December a hard hitting recession (depression?) and a strengthening dollar drove prices under $35/barrel. Suddenly there was very little peak oil talk. Today oil is around $60/barrel - and dropping. It is time to again visit peak oil thinking.

Oil giants tremble at Nigeria's oil reforms

A proposed law aimed at sweeping reforms of Nigeria's oil sector is almost halfway through the legislative stages of approval but some of its provisions are sending jitters among giant oil operators.

Nigeria rebel Okah agrees to gov't amnesty -lawyer

LAGOS 12 (Reuters) - A top Nigerian rebel leader has agreed to the terms of a federal amnesty programme, his lawyer said on Sunday, but analysts doubt that militants will halt attacks in Africa's biggest oil sector.

Henry Okah, suspected leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), may be freed as early as Sunday after more than a year in detention, one of his lawyers Wilson Ajuwa told Reuters.

China rises in Latin America to a top trade partner

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - All but invisible in Latin America a decade ago, China now is building cars in Uruguay, donating a soccer stadium to Costa Rica and lending $10 billion to Brazil's biggest oil company.

It's supplanted the United States to become the biggest trading partner with Brazil, South America's biggest economy.

Alaska natural gas gets new competition

If there weren't already enough barriers to building a gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope, the Lower 48 recently entered its biggest-ever natural gas boom.

Just as the prospects for the Alaska gas line seem to be growing brighter, new drilling techniques have unlocked vast pools of natural gas all over the Lower 48, from Texas to Pennsylvania. For now, demand isn't keeping up. Prices have swooned and drill rigs are idling.

Turkey willing to compromise on Nabucco gas pipeline

Istanbul- Turkey on Sunday has expressed a willingness to compromise in a row over delivery of natural gas in the Nabucco pipeline, a day before an accord for the multi-billion-euro European Union project is due to be signed in Ankara. Turkish media quoted Energy Minister Taner Yildiz as saying that Turkey will no longer insist upon receiving 15 per cent of the gas transferred through the pipeline.

Kurds lay claim to land and oil, defying Iraq's central government

TAK TAK OIL FIELD, Iraq – With the passage of a controversial new constitution, the Kurdish regional parliament has added fuel to an already raging fire between Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq and Iraq's central government.

The constitution, which still must be ratified in a popular vote, asserts Kurdish sovereignty over Kirkuk and other disputed areas, including oil fields. The constitution would require Baghdad to get Kurdish government approval of any international treaty signed by Baghdad that affects several disputed provinces with sizable Kurdish populations.

Officials in the central government strongly oppose the constitution, saying it's an illegal grab for power.

Iran preparing package for talks with West

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran is preparing a package of proposals to present to Western powers that could be a basis for future talks, the country's foreign minister said Saturday.

Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference that the package deals with political and economic issues as well as security and international affairs but did not say whether its proposals also covered Iran's nuclear activities.

Bangladesh - Gas crisis: 4 power plants likely to use liquid fuel from August

Four gas-based power plants are likely to be converted to dual-fuel system to run by using imported liquid fuels from next month for unimpeded production of much-needed electricity, official sources said.

Oil Tank Blast in Urumqi Not Human Fault, Xinhua Says

(Bloomberg) -- An oil tank explosion today in a chemical plant in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, was not caused by human-related factors, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing a plant official.

U.S. makes $3 billion available for renewable energy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Thursday unveiled guidelines that will allow companies to apply for some $3 billion in government funds to boost development of renewable energy projects around the country, creating jobs.

The funding will help meet the White House's goal to double U.S. renewable energy production over the next three years and also provide companies with easier financing than many can obtain in the private sector where credit remains tight.

A Rough Year for High Ethanol Blends

Far fewer people have been refueling with high ethanol blends this year in parts of the Midwest.

In North Dakota, sales of E85 — gasoline blended with 85 percent ethanol — were down by more than 60 percent this year from January to May, compared with a year earlier, according to the state’s Commerce Department.

€400bn energy plan to harness African sun

The world's most ambitious green energy project is about to take shape. It is a plan for a chain of mammoth sun-powered energy plants in the deserts of North Africa to supply power to Europe's homes and factories by the end of the next decade.

Solar program a success, with 50,000 units installed

Hawaiian Electric's $2.5 million payment backlog to contractors in its solar water heater program detracts from its success.

The program helps Hawai'i homeowners and businesses escape from nation-leading electricity rates in the state while cutting down on the amount of imported foreign petroleum used in the generation of electricity here.

Carbon dioxide bill may aid oil recovery

With an economy beholden to oilfields, fuel refineries and chemical plants, Louisiana was not exactly prepared for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, who has put renewable energy and the fight against global warming at the forefront of his administration.

But state lawmakers may have found a way to walk between the two worlds. Passed with little fanfare last legislative session was House Bill 661, also known as the Louisiana Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide Act. The bill, which was signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal last week, would create a new unit within the Department of Natural Resources dedicated to capturing that greenhouse gas.

Clean-coal project gains government support

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Taylorville Energy Center, a proposed clean-coal project to be built in Illinois, expects to obtain a federal loan guarantee of nearly $2.6 billion after being selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for final term-sheet negotiations, the developers said on Friday.

Taylorville, a hybrid integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant, will produce 525 to 550 megawatts of electricity along with substitute natural gas.

The plant will also capture and store at least 50 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions, reducing emissions to levels more like that of natural gas-fired plants.

Lima: Desert city in need of water

In the past the flow of the rivers was adequate to supply Lima's needs. But Lima is a growing city and the flow of water down the rivers has decreased during the Andes' dry season. In the past glacial melt kept river levels high in the dry season but the glaciers are disappearing due to global warming.

Now Lima has a water shortage for many months of the year and recent droughts are exacerbating the problem even further. Shutting off the water supply to homes and businesses during the wee hours of the morning is occasionally done and cutting back on landscape watering is also practiced. These water-saving strategies, however, appear to be insufficient to resolve Lima's long-term water problem. Desalinization of ocean waters is too expensive for Peru and would require the use of the planet's ever-dwindling supply of fossil fuel. Stay tuned.

OSU study: Thin forests can’t fight warming

GRANTS PASS — Scientists conclude in two government-funded studies that forests in the Pacific Northwest have a huge potential to store more carbon to combat global warming, but not if they are heavily thinned to prevent wildfire.

That poses a dilemma to the U.S. Forest Service, which has historically focused on balancing timber production against maintaining fish and wildlife habitat, but is increasingly trying to thin out young trees and brush to control wildfires that regularly cost $1 billion a year.

Climate change may displace millions in Mekong Delta: report

Climate change impacts will force the displacement and migration of large populations in Vietnam, particularly the Mekong Delta, international experts reckon.

A report jointly written by experts from the United Nations, CARE International, and the Earth Institute of Columbia University estimates more than 14 million residents in the Cuu Long River Delta could lose their rice fields if sea levels were to rise by two meters.

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor during the Clinton Administration says the economy will never recover.

When Will The Recovery Begin? Never

My prediction, then? Not a V, not a U. But an X. This economy can't get back on track because the track we were on for years -- featuring flat or declining median wages, mounting consumer debt, and widening insecurity, not to mention increasing carbon in the atmosphere -- simply cannot be sustained.
The X marks a brand new track -- a new economy. What will it look like? Nobody knows.

A brand new economy? Something that does not resemble our present economy? But of course. And I shudder when I try to imagine what that economy will look like.

Ron P.

a new economy. What will it look like? Nobody knows.

Life goes on in the countries that hardly use any oil.

It's still possible to bus the kids to school.


An X? So half it will run backwards?

I'm still not convinced consumers have learned some lesson from this they'll hold dear to for the rest of their frugal creditphobic lives, either. Bets are they're just waiting for pols to make it all better so they can go back to maxxing out their credit cards on that new jet ski - what other world are they familiar with that they're supposed to go back to? The Greatest Depression Generation was largely from a rural background, had parents who'd dealt with WWI, also the depression in 1920, or the Panic of 1907. Whereas today's armies of Boomers and Xers, what world of privation and toil are they supposed to cue off from? Even if they remember the '80 recession, I highly doubt they were pumping water from a well or cleaning out cook stoves during it.

"Xers," hey, is Reich suggesting the new economy will be sullen/cynical/materialistic? Cue up some Nirvana.

I need an easy friend
I do with an ear to lend
I do think you fit this shoe
I do but you have a clue

I'm still not convinced consumers have learned some lesson from this they'll hold dear to for the rest of their frugal creditphobic lives, either.

That is not really what he's arguing. What he's saying is that we won't have a choice. We simply won't have the money - or the credit. Even if we want to get back to our spendthrift ways, we won't be able to do it.

He talks about consumers needing A) money and B) feeling secure about spending it. I like to entertain the notion that the roaring economy paradigm isn't in the dustbin as of yet, protestations to the contrary. You do have guys like John Rubino who follows up a widely praised book on the death of the dollar with a book about the coming green tech boom, which he describes as nigh unstoppable. Sure, it's another bubble; does anybody care? So long as they get a hit of that euphoria. And at least this time it would be for something useful to mankind/the planet.

I don't understand how assets could be so toxic as to render the LIBOR dead as the dodo, either. Is it really in their best interests for the FIRE sector to let this cancer metastasize? Declaring force majeure on all this bad paper seems far more likely then letting things get to the stage where basic services break down. I've tried to put this scenario to Stoneleigh but didn't get a reply, I imagine others have as well but missed it. She did respond in full to this Gary North guy's ragging on deflation proponents, part of his argument being that cataclysmic scenarios are ridiculous in of themselves, thus not worthy of discussing, which is specious in the extreme, as she pointed out. But I'm interested in equally drastic actions on governments or communities at large to side step or mitigate these problems.

The same steps will be taken to deal with peak oil, you have supply disruptions, MOLs being breached; what can we do to effectively ration fuel? And there are actions that can be taken, far in ahead of the bare shelves rampant cannibalism action flick scenarios.

It's not entirely clear why Reich thinks the economy will never recover; he says he'll explain more later, and I'm looking forward to that. But I would guess he's not talking about peak oil, nor expecting bare shelves and rampant cannibalism.

My guess is that he's basing it on economics, not resource depletion. Real wages have not increased for decades. Not since peak oil USA, coincidentally or not.

The "growth" of the past generation was fueled by women going to work, by an explosion of credit, and then by the housing bubble (which let people use their homes as ATMs). I think what Reich is arguing is that this is a Great Depression level bursting of the bubble. There won't be another bubble for a long time, not so much because people are afraid to spend, but because banks are afraid to lend to them.

The only way to turn this around is for wages to resume growing. But how is that going to happen? Unlike in 1930, we have a global economy now. There are people in China and Mexico and South Africa who are willing to work for a fraction of what Americans are paid.

So, I suspect what Reich is talking about is not peak oil, but the moving of the financial center of the universe away from the US.

When will lending go away for good, then? What's the incentive for banks to loan at all at this stage - force of habit? TARP money? Confidence in a turnaround? I'd like to play around with historical data on this, if it hasn't been charted out at Calculated Risk or the like already (probably). If previous recessions were x months long and lending went sour for x+y, what can we expect given the additional severity involved here?

Or will community banks take up the slack for their bigger brethren, basing viability of a loan not on raw FICO score but on intangibles like a person's standing in the community? Like personal energy use it seems like much of past credit usage has been so much fat that can be easily trimmed away, leaving that which can be put to more tangible and useful purposes.

I don't know if lending will go away for good. The steady-state economies of the ancient world forbade usury (lending money for interest). But the fact that it was illegal tells you people were doing it. You don't bother passing laws against something nobody ever does.

But the kind of casual consumer credit we have now? I think that could well go away.

I remember discussing this with someone over PO.com years ago. He was a classic free market libertarian type. He insisted that there would always be borrowing, because even if we collapsed back to a feudal type system, eventually the peasants would want nice houses and air-conditioning, and therefore would borrow the money to buy them.

NINJA loans and the like, sure. But lack of sales of muni bonds meaning no water treatment? I'd show up to work anyway, ala post-FSU. Underground and black markets would fill gaps as well.

Over at po.com Mr Bill was definitely the most vocal free marketer; he could present a lot more sophisticated argument than what you're recalling, though. He vanished in a huff last fall, maybe shock from his portfolio largely being burnt to cinders. Really sarcastic at the end. We have Dantespeak back, too; figured he'd been a casualty of the Wall St meltdown possibly to never return, luckily not the case.

He insisted that there would always be borrowing, because even if we collapsed back to a feudal type system, eventually the peasants would want nice houses and air-conditioning, and therefore would borrow the money to buy them.

And of course you pointed out to him how absurd a notion that was. Peasants, by definition, are dirt poor and live hand to mouth. The idea of a peasant living in a fine home with air conditioning is hilarious. I grew up dirt poor, just like a peasant, we had nothing because we could afford nothing.

Dad was a sharecropper until 1945 when he bought his Mother's farm. Of course it was mortgaged for many years. So he was able to borrow money because the farm was collateral. Some sharecroppers did borrow money. They borrowed in the spring to put in a crop and paid it back in the fall and hopefully had a few dollars left over to buy clothes and other staples.

But not all sharecroppers could borrow money. If a sharecropper supplied his own seed and fertilizer he gave the landowner one fourth the crop as rent. But if the landowner supplied the seed and fertilizer, because the sharecropper could not borrow any money, then the landowner got one third the crop instead of one fourth. And that is more like the feudal system. In a feudal system the landowner controls everything and the peasants have nothing but a roof over their head and what rags the landowner will allow them. The idea of them borrowing money for a fine home with air conditioning is laughable.

Ron P.


I agree,with you and with Riech.

We will have to wait for his further comments,but imo it is safe to interprtet his comments so far as meaning we will not only not return to the RECENT business as usual model anytime soon,we will not be returning to it AT ALL.

Of course there will be a new business as usual scenario,but events may move so fast it won't have time to become recognizable as such.

Then we will be redefining chaos as business as usual-because we will get used to that too.The experiences of people who have lived thru it,however,such as the Vietnamese who lived thru the last five or six decades of the last century, indicate we won't necessarily like it.

At least the citizens of the future won't miss our fossil fueled fired life style.You can't miss what you haven't experienced.

“I don’t think we are in a recession, I think we have reset,” he said. “A recession implies recovery [to pre-recession levels] and for planning purposes I don’t think we will. We have reset and won’t rebound and re-grow.”
—   Steve Balmer, CEO, Microsoft Corp., June 29th, 2009

How rich that a Microsoft guy thinks reality has a reset button. Kidding aside, I'm not sure how he equates "reset" to NOT recovering - seems kinda like the opposite.

He should have used the Blue Screen of Death analogy, then everyone would have instantly understood what he meant... well, at least those who use Windows.


How rich that a Microsoft guy thinks reality has a reset button.

Especially when everyone installs Linux...

Linux? What's that?

Did you ment to say FreeBSD and mis-typed?

Yeah, that would work ;-)

Ballmer was speaking more narrowly:

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer: Traditional media will not bounce back


It is good to see that more notables in the main stream media are starting to better understand where we are headed. I am reading more and more of this type of reporting.

I think when more understand where we're headed and faith in fiat disappears completely . That's when things get real interesting, The Great Unraveling.

We had a discussion a few days ago about scientific illiteracy, willful ignorance, and the implications for society. There is a new book out which goes into all of these things:

Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future

For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science; 46 percent of Americans reject evolution and think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old; the number of newspapers with weekly science sections has shrunken by two-thirds over the past several decades. The public is polarized over climate change—an issue where political party affiliation determines one's view of reality—and in dangerous retreat from childhood vaccinations. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of Americans have even met a scientist to begin with; more than half can't name a living scientist role model.

For this dismaying situation, Mooney and Kirshenbaum don't let anyone off the hook. They highlight the anti-intellectual tendencies of the American public (and particularly the politicians and journalists who are supposed to serve it), but also challenge the scientists themselves, who despite the best of intentions have often failed to communicate about their work effectively to a broad public—and so have ceded their critical place in the public sphere to religious and commercial propagandists.

I read of someone else commenting on this book and they feel the authors didn't mix it up with the fundies enough.

The author of the book Chris Mooney is involved with a discussion over at DailyKos this morning. Join in @

Chris Mooney should get involved with TOD. In certain ways this is one of the most scientific, especially in terms of ideas and methodical rigor that we have on the blogosphere.

For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science; 46 percent of Americans reject evolution and think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old;

I'm not any more impressed with the scientifically-literate, who willfully ignore basic thermodynamics, history and logic, in order to sidestep the cognitive dissonance of their deeply unsustainable lifestyle.

Ok, so a Christian traditionalist may believe in a 6,000 year old Earth. Is this more or less dangerous than a mainstream liberal who believes in "sustainable growth" and "developing nations?" You might say that the Christian is less dangerous, because their beliefs don't form the practical basis of domestic and foreign policy (as much.)

Pot, kettle, black you might say.

Bmcnett, it has been my experience that mainstream liberals are a lot more likely to be energy and peak oil aware than Christian traditionalist. Virtually all the Bible thumpers I know, and I know hundreds, deny peak oil, deny global warming and deny that humans are doing any harm to the environment whatsoever.

And you are dead wrong about Christians being less dangerous. A Christian Fundamentalist got us into this damn Iraq war. He also fought global warming science tooth and nail.

Most liberals have a lot of learning to do concerning resource depletion and environmental degradation but they are light years ahead of your average Bible thumper.

Ron P

Bmcnett, it has been my experience that mainstream liberals are a lot more likely to be energy and peak oil aware than Christian traditionalist. Virtually all the Bible thumpers I know, and I know hundreds, deny peak oil, deny global warming and deny that humans are doing any harm to the environment whatsoever.

I agree that the peak oil aware are more likely to have gotten there via mainstream liberalism than via traditional Christianity.

That being said, I will compare my liberal and Christian acquaintances' stances in the election of 2008.

My liberal acquaintances supported Obama 100%, and still do. Those who dismissively handed me a Chomsky book 20 years ago, now unanimously say that Obama embodies the living will of the people. If Obama does something wrong, they unanimously say that he means the best but can't control his evil subordinates or can't be blamed for Bush's evil legacy.

My Christian acquaintances supported Ron Paul 100%, and still do. They were against the banks and the Fed during the election, and still are. They want a return to the gold standard. They despise the hypocrisy of the establishment, and don't care if a hypocrite is Republican or Democrat.

Neither group admits limits to growth, but which sounds more peak-aware to you? To me, the Christians do. The mainstream liberals seem far, far more deeply invested in the infinite growth paradigm and business-as-usual.

I'm eager to hear counterexamples.

The "Gospel of Prosperity" is taking over the TV Christianity.

Joel Osteen is one leader in this new movement, on TV and pastor of the largest church in the USA.


Hardly. What percentage of the total population believes in a limits to growth? What percentage have even heard of the idea and even seen the logical arguments (that aren't filtered by critics)? And of those that have considered the concept, how many have considered the idea that the limits are upon us and not 200 years in the future?

An individual who is more likely to view the world through the eyes of science is one that we can converse with and attempt to convince with data and charts.

A person who views the world through the eyes of fundamentalist religion is likely to be harder to reach - their beliefs aren't ones that one can really argue against. If part of their brain starts to admit that you have a point, then the rest of their brain tells them that it is just Satan trying to confuse them, so they shut the whole thing out.

Brother-in-Law on the sofa

Household formation drops significantly (reduced immigration is also a factor).


Best Hopes for Higher Density,


You're absolutely correct on that Alan. Municipalities have to draw a line around urban development which leads to higher density, efficient mass transit and redevelopment of our urban spaces.

Did you see that program on Portland, OR last week? Perhaps this economic impasse will cause Americans to re-think our suburban paradigm...


I see a number of suburban developments that are I suppose an improvement over the past. They are combining some retail and offices with mid to high rise condo buildings. Better in the sense that I don't see as much of the isolated cul-de-sac developments being planned any more. But there isn't any transit anywhere nearby, so they still have huge parking lots for all of the cars. And some of these developments seem to be popular - the parking lots are jammed.

The link up top: What population apocalypse is affecting us now? is nothing but more cornucopian B.S. Take this passage:

On the contrary, our lives are now longer, wealthier and healthier. At early stages of development, societies give priority to acquiring wealth over environmental protection, to get basic needs and wants like food, shelter, health, education and material goods. But, once these are met, societies soon have the desire and, importantly, the wealth and technology to solve environmental problems.

Get that? Once we raise the quality of life of everyone in the world to the level where everyone's needs are satisfied, including material goods, we will then have the wealth and technology to solve our environmental problems. This solution, usually called the demographic transition is a cruel hoax. In order to raise everyone's standard of living to the level now enjoyed in the developed nations would raise everyone's carbon footprint to that level also. It would require many times the available natural resource, including oil, than is actually available. And it would completely destroy the environment.

The population apocalypse is upon us now. We are deep into overshoot and have been for a very long time. Touting "raising everyone's standard of living" in order to fix all the world's problems is nothing but magical thinking. It totally ignores resource availability and the impact it would have on all other species as well as the environment as a whole.

Ron P.

I agree with you completely, Darwinian. But I find that, in talking with friends and colleagues I believe ought to know better about overshoot and resource (especially petroleum) depletion, many just don't seem to get some very basic notions. First of all, they invariably have little or no grasp of exponential growth. Secondly, they have no real sense of what an extraordinary and unique resource petroleum is. Sure, they know how much we humans rely upon it for transport; but they seem to think (and, in fact, often say) that if only we got our acts together and focused on alternative energies, we could shortly find and implement a viable alternative. Thirdly, there is intellectual (but no "gut" or real) understanding of how dependent human manufacturing has become on petrochemicals and plastics and how dependent modern (mass) agriculture has become on pesticides and fertilizers made from and/or with fossil fuels. When I wonder how we will engineer a soft landing for the decline from our present numbers back to the one or two billion of us who might be sustained by agriculture unsupported by massive amounts of fossil fuels, these friends and colleagues shrug, roll their eyes, and say something like, "Surely we can find a way in time." They might as well say, "Not to worry. The Lord will provide."

Although I think of myself as an unwilling Doomer, these friends and colleagues invariably refer to me as the Voice of Doom. When I remind them that the Voice of Doom does not thereby speak falsely, they laugh and change the subject, usually as politely as they can (these are friends and close colleagues I'm speaking about).

I mention this, not for the sake of anyone's sympathy. Those of us who frequent TOD are quite familiar with such reactions, I'm sure. What I'm pointing to is how difficult it is to speak about unpleasant, really quite threatening subjects.

How, in fact, can we do this in useful and fruitful ways? Assuming we think it's worth bothering with such a task, how exactly can we undertake it in ways that might help others...and ourselves?

I'm not about to offer a "how to" list of ways to engage others in meaningful dialogue about these subjects. I'm not always convinced that such is possible with many of the folks I talk with. It's as if we are beginning with different paradigms. We ARE beginning with different paradigms.

All we can do, I suppose, is talk as calmly and sensibly and rationally as we can about peak oil and climate change and overshoot--if only for our own sakes (so as not to disturb whatever equanimity we have mustered for ourselves), but also so that we might help others see what's happening. My own thinking and feeling about these issues have been changed by calm and rational voices throughout my life. Others can change too.

My greatest fear is, of course, that whereas individuals can change their minds, cultures and economies--i.e., systems--cannot, or will not, so readily or easily change their "minds" or their operating assumptions.

Perhaps the time is upon us for simply tending our own gardens and hunkering down as best we can. Many of us who frequent TOD are no doubt doing just that. Still... We are a communicative lot, and we seem to talk not just to and among ourselves. We try to talk to others as well, even though it may be too late for that. I like that about us (humans). That optimism and hope, as silly and counter-productive as it may be, helped us get where we are.... What am I saying? Oy!

Perhaps the time is upon us for simply tending our own gardens and hunkering down as best we can.

That is all there is to do. Lately I cannot get past the conflict between the obvious fact that I would like for me and my family and friends to survive, but that we are part of the vast human population overshoot. Those things that I do to help us get by are only making the burden on the planet's limited ability to support humans worse. The same hold true on a global scale - if the economy were to recover, then the climate change problem will get worse.

When you look at these issues from a position already vastly into overshoot, you see that there are no solutions that will make it all better. We simply need less of us, but I'm not volunteering. Nor am I interested in deciding who else should go. That doesn't leave much in the way of useful responses, other than to try to live a life using less, make a lighter footprint, and let the rest fall where it may - hoping that the transition will take long enough that it won't be too awful. The forces at work are very powerful and cannot be controlled - the kind of things described by Greer and Diamond and Tainter. I guess I think that's a good thing now.

Whenever I start a conversation with someone about these issues, even if they are willing and interested (rare), I have a hard time summoning much enthusiasm. I know what lies at the end of that intellectual journey, and I just don't want to go there.

Hello Twilight,

Your Quote: "I know what lies at the end of that intellectual journey, and I just don't want to go there."

I am the opposite: I constantly reach for the 2X4 approach to bean them in the forehead with info by the Peakoil Shoutout and Peak Everything cards. Jay Hanson quote: "..die with your boots on".

I tell young adults to get moving towards mitigation or else they will have to kill me--when their jaws drop, eyes widen, and nostrils flare in Flehman Response--it is a clear sign that I jumpstarting many subconscious and conscious [S]ynaptic wildfire[S].

Recall the cartoon of the doomed, the defiant mouse 'flipping the bird' to the eagle targeting in..

Refuse to be like Tadeusz Borowski, #119198.

Clearly, the survival of the planet's non human residents depends upon the only solution, human centered dieoff. To be honest, if all we can do in response to our various crises is cut or personal consumption, we are clearly doomed, as we cannot depend upon the mass movement of individuals. Suicide, while perhaps somewhat consistent and noble, is equally fruitless. These problems simply cannot be solved at the level of the individual.

Dieoff cannot come a moment too soon. Unfortunately, before that happens, human beings will have already destroyed the ecological integrity of the planet. We will do everything in our power to ensure the extinction of other species before bringing on our extinction or near extinction.

I recently introduced the subject of resource depletion to a physician who works for an HMO. He is in a key position and I wanted him to be thinking about public health and health care in a future that included oil depletion. His response, and the one I usually get is "I have never heard of that concept ... and it is quite provocative." At least if people hear about it perhaps their sensitivity is raised and as they see more evidence surface in the future they may give it more credence. As we know, most people have no concept of energy, where it comes from, thermodynamics, scale of the issue, etc. so it is foreign to them. As was mentioned in an earlier TOD post we need more people to pay attention to science education, and writing as it is sorely lacking in our world.

Alarm Sounds On US Population Growth

Americans consume like no other nation -- using three times the amount of water per capita than the world average and nearly 25 percent of the world's energy, despite having 5 percent of the global population; and producing five times more daily waste than the average in poor countries.

``Most Americans say that most of the population [increases] are happening in other parts of the world, but if you look at this report, the trends that stand out are what's happening here" in the United States, said Victoria Markham, the center's executive director and author of the report.

One of the most alarming findings was that baby boomers -- those born between 1946 and 1964, about 26 percent of the US population -- were not downsizing as their children became adults and moved out. Instead, many have moved into bigger houses or bought vacation properties, and the tally of homes with space greater than 3,000 square feet went up 11 percent from 1988 to 2003.

In suburbs nationwide, Markham said, ``You are losing pieces of land rapidly, and the species you're seeing in your backyards are there because they don't have normal predators anymore, or they have lost their land."

At what time in the future will someone say no to growth? The above report was done 3 years ago and was apparently a waste of time and energy for all of the good it did.

I'm convinced that human civilizations will continue doing what they have always done until collapse. Am I saying do nothing, go on a cruise and relax or get some guns, ammo and K-rations? Not at all. On the contrary do everything you can to save natural habitats (those will be the seeds of salvation in the long run) lower your personal footprint, learn how to garden and stay in good physical condition. My dad is almost 80 and he rides his bike 5 miles every day.

If you have a better idea than that then I'd be willing to listen.


I'm convinced that human civilizations will continue doing what they have always done until collapse

Recent human history shows that humans react to a new source of food just like any other species - in our case Fossil Fueled industrial farming and thousands of mile long supply chains. I think it is an essential part of 'survival of the fittest', hard wired into our brains, to grow the population to the limits of the food supply, so I don't expect anybody to try and deliberately restrict growth.

It is wrong to assume that the way we act is due to rational thought - even though we can think rationally, we are mostly acting in 'as designed' automatic mode in reponse to threats and stimulus (that means inadequate proactive actions) which means our population will collapse when our food supply collapses, just like any other species.

Organic farming, recycling all nutrients back onto the land will be the only future method of food production as it is the only high yield food production system proven to possibly be sustainable for hundreds of years - but for that to work you have to proactively say goodbye to all flush toilets, change to vegetarian diets and deliberatley shrink the population so that the lower total yield is adequate. Good luck with that, from what I know of human nature, people will die first.

"nearly 25 percent of the world's energy, despite having 5 percent of the global population."

This erroneous idea is often trotted out by alarmists. Americans produce about 22% of world GDP; so of course they use about 25% of world energy. They are the most productive workers in the world despite all the put downs. That 5 percent of the world's population can produce about a quarter of world GDP is amazing.

What other country could keep this up and currently fight two wars at the same time? This is not even considering the other cold and hot wars of the past 70 years.

As for American population growth, most of it is due to legal and illegal immigration. Most Baby Boomers did not have many children. Now that they have the wherewithal to live the good life in their final years, they aren't suppose to? Their children will inherit it all in the end. A lot of them have few siblings and will inherit a lot. At least that is the way it is in my family.

I have 5 siblings. Only my brother has children and then only two. He is a millionaire because he aggressively bought farm land before prices rose and ruined his health farming. Both of his kids will be millionaires.

Let his children do the down sizing. As for me, I've down sized enough already. I'm not going to down size even more so that my millionaire niece and nephew can have even more after I'm dead.

Americans produce about 22% of world GDP; so of course they use about 25% of world energy. They are the most productive workers in the world despite all the put downs. That 5 percent of the world's population can produce about a quarter of world GDP is amazing.

This logic can be used to defend any wealthy minority: X minority has the most money, and so "of course" it is just for X to consume other peoples' resources.

Throughout the entire Irish potato famine, Ireland continued exporting potatoes to England while the Irish starved to death. Is this justified, because England had a higher GDP?

They are the most productive workers in the world despite all the put downs

Actually many Europeans produce more/hour than we do. We just put in longer hours.

Much smaller Germany exports more goods than the USA does.

Most productive ? Americans are not really close.

We are obese energy hogs though.


you forgot to say "yer either with us or yer again us and if we change our lifestyle, the evildoers win."

The article “How $30/Barrel Oil Could Save the World” is certainly one of the most irrational comments about the oil market I’ve seen lately - which actually is hard to do in the steady stream of irrational proposals we’ve seen in the major media lately.

Perhaps the author can just point the oil companies to where they will find the $30 oil? Then they won’t have to spend $200 billion on getting oil out of Tupi and other far fetched locations.

To those who bash speculators, I say be careful what you wish for - you may not get what you think you will.

Ahhh... You are just a party pooper. From the article:

Restricting oil speculation and regulating oil at $30.00 a barrel will bring about the changes the world so desperately needs...

The time is ripe for authentic changes and the world hungers for fairness and justice for everyone.

Seriously, this is really hilarious. How do we get to $30 oil? Well we simply regulate it to that price. That is we declare $30 the official price of oil and that is that. That would mean fairness and justice for everyone because we all deserve very cheap oil.

Now isn't that simple? How could anyone argue with that? Or...are there really people out there, blogging on the internet, that are that stupid?

Ron P.

Or...are there really people out there, blogging on the internet, that are that stupid?

That was a rhetorical question, right? ;-)

How do we get to $30 oil? Well we simply regulate it to that price. That is we declare $30 the official price of oil and that is that

Some sort of Stalinist state could do that. Of course how much oil would actually be available at that price is a different matter. By one means or another there would be rationing. But with the appropriate combination of will and coercive power, you could impose it.

As long as we can just regulate it, why not $5 oil? If indeed the speculators are responsible for high prices, then bring them on. $30 oil is just another way of sealing our and the planet's doom. I guess the world desperately needs cheap resources, including oil, so that we can speed up our descent over the cliff of unstainability.

If we produced more oil than we used, things could be like KSA, Venezuela, and Mexico where oil is subsidized, but the reality is we import 65% of our oil and must pay the market price. As less oil is exported, the market price will rise.

I don't know enough about how the oil speculation markets work, and frankly, I don't care to know. I do know that the cost of bringing a barrel of oil to the surface is less than $15 in KSA. Shipping 1 BBL of oil to the US and Europe probably adds an additional $4 to the cost. If you allow for a 30% profit for the oil producers, that leaves the mean price of a BBL of oil at about $24. If that is the case, then why are we seeing a BBL of oil selling for $60 on the NYMEX? Someone is making obscene profits from this and it is likely politically connected speculators (banks and hedge funds) who have the ability to bid the price up based on a corrupt trading system.
This needs to stop before the entire world economy collapses. I hope the U.S. SEC and others are able to curb the speculators in a meaningful way so that growth can return to the world markets.

Spindoc, you are simply way off base here. There is no set price for what it cost to produce oil. Old that are from wells sunk thirty years ago cost very little while new oil cost a lot more. How much more depends on where it comes from. Offshore oil cost a lot more and deep water oil even more. The Tupi oil will probably cost more than $70 a barrel, probably a lot more. Tar Sands oil, at first cost perhaps $20 a barrel but the price has skyrocketed in recent years.

And you obviously haven't a clue as to how the futures market works. NO money is made on the NYMEX! (Except for commissions of course.) The futures market is a zero sum game. For every dollar made one is also lost. And oil is really not traded on the NYMEX, only futures contracts.

And the futures market has nothing to do with the economy collapsing. People like you who think speculators are responsible for high oil prices are simply misinformed.... Pity!

But you did get one thing right. You haven't a clue as to how the futures markets work.

Ron P.

Dubai buying 750 buses to feed Metro (when it opens)

Standard is no more than 10 minutes wait at stop. "Park & Ride" at Metro stations is not going to be the paradigm. (Reading between the lines, these will be smaller buses).


Best Hopes for Reduced ELM,


Hi, all. A bit off topic but hopefully useful nonetheless...I've had a series of conversations with the CEO of Emergency Management Solutions in the past couple days and here is what I have learned:

  • all her clients activated their pandemic plans when the WHO raised the pandemic level to 6
  • at the conference held last Thursday they were told by the CDC that it looks like the best case scenario is infection rates this fall of 50% to 70% in North America with a mortality rate of 0.5%; this is comparable to the Asian Flu (H2N2) in which approx. 2 million died
  • seasonal flu has an infection rate of 10% to 15% and a mortality rate of 0.1%
  • businesses should plan for significant drops in revenue and up to 50% of their employees staying home due to illness
  • supply chain disruptions will occur
    "Social disruption may be greatest when rates of absenteeism impair essential services, such as power, transportation, and communications." (WHO)
  • models by some of her bank clients show a potential economic drop of 20% and a slow recovery (>5 months)
  • businesses that rely on groups of people gathering (restaurants, theatres, etc.) will be hardest hit, especially if a "do not congregate" order is issued
  • if your business does not have a pandemic plan, there is not a lot of time to create and enact it but do not delay

For personal preparation, see this page:

I have purchased surgical masks (for trips to the grocery store) and some N95's and N100's (in the event I have to take care of someone ill or they have to take care of me). I also have, from my peak oil preparations, sufficient food in the house that I don't have shop for food for an extended period of time. I also am able to work from my home office.

The official flu season starts Oct 1.

The vaccine should be ready by mid-October (again, in the U.S.). I don't know its availability in Europe and Canada and elsewhere.

To track the spread in the U.S., see this page:

As of July 10, 2009, the U.S. situation is:
37,246 cases
211 deaths



Best of luck to everyone. I expect in a few months our conversations will mostly revolve around the flu.

(I sought and received permission to share this information.)

Funny how the main infected countries are either English speaking or in Latin America.

I suspect that's more who's reporting than actual number of cases. The US has a very good system in place for tracking influenza. Nigeria? Probably not.

There's also the weather to consider. It's winter in the southern hemisphere - flu season.

More Gardening Downhome Style(little or no science involved):


Of the hardneck variety..or Italian Red as I heard it called.

The more of it in your garden and growing around the edges the better your control of insects and you get a lot of very nice garlic for keeping.

This is your last chance and fading rapidly to 'pull' your garlic stalks with bulbs attached, at least in the heartland of Amurkah where I survive.

Rain right now will loosen the hardstem and when you pull the bulb will stay in the ground with the buds(segments) remaining as it is wont to do at his time of the season.

You must pull it now and set it in a shady place for a bit. But I just pulled mine and nipped the stalk off and set it aside to cure out.

Then you may wish to use the smaller bulbs to replant this October. Also the seed heads are now falling or already have. Take handfuls of them and scattter the seedlets all over where you wish more garlic to grow. They will work into the ground.

Garlic is a very healthy herb. It is also a good 'indicator' plant. Where the heads grow large and healthy you have good soil and nutrients. Where not? Then you need to improve it.

Ok..I just came in from being on my knees pulling weeds, harvesting garlic and noting my tomatoes are now starting to ripen. Garlic, tomatoes and some Italian spices render down to a Marinara sauce. Marinara means 'The Navy Way'..and good enough for me,an exsailor.

And this small blurb in for those who are also too busy to comment on DBs but busy in their gardens yet take time to cruise TOD as they might. For them I created this and the other one a few days back.

I know..yeah it needs to be in a Campfire but those are so tied up in the metaphysics of resource depletion,etc ..that the mundane 'down on your knees' type of activity is scare unless someone leads off with a hint or two. Besides the garden timing waits for NO MAN. You do it or you lose it. Simple.

Airdale-I do have a website and have for years but never use it. One day I will and start once more to put photos of my endeavors on it and perhaps some links to ....ahh say 'what does really good soil in very good tilth actually look like?' or such as that.

PS.Sorry if this is a tiresome topic but the garlic was timely and the signs were right{aquarius/pieces) and the moon in the right quarter.

I think anything goes on the drumbeat.

For sauces, my favorite is spaghetti alla puttanesca, and although its origin is still much debated, its tastiness is not. (Is it the sauce of whores? Or...?)

It uses LOTS of garlic, always fresh and cut into small slivers. The tomatoes must be ripe and fresh and they should not be those awful store-bought tomatoes designed for long travel instead of actually tasting like a tomato. If a tomato has a blemish on it and you hesitate to use it in a salad, it is simply a sign from your favorite god that you should make a puttanesca sauce that very evening.

I find it challenging to eat the sauce without the traditional anchovies in it, although I know some people manage it without long-term psychological effects. But leave out either the capers or the olives (or the garlic!) and you will get no credit for cooking the dish from the god that sent you the sign to make it. This is highly risky behavior and I recommend against it. You've been forewarned.

Um, no. It's not "anything goes" on the DrumBeat. I do ask that posts be reasonably on-topic (though I understand conversations do drift). Gardening/local food is on topic, however.



I grow boat loads of garlic and feel I owe it to the good folks here to point something out.
seed producing garlic is extremely rare and if you've got a strain that does you're sitting on a money maker. I suspect you're talking about the bulbils that grow 1/3 to 1/2 up the stock, which I've never seen on a hard neck (who knows). While the bulbils will take root and reproduce you won't be pleased with the result. Ron Englund (sp) suggests separating out your just above average bulbs and planting the individual clove in the fall. Here in the high sierra my planting date is the World Series.


I have a variety that is common to this area and I got a start of from a neighbor many years ago.

It is definitely hardneck. The stem is hard and goes thru the bulb.
Mine forms a cluster at the top of the stalk/stem. These then scatter as they dry out and voila new garlic shoot from. Also if you do not pull your garlic this will result in a very large mass of stems for the next year..form up in fall and last thru the winter then harvest in July.

Yet the 'buds' , as I hear them called on the root bulb do not make very large bulbs the next year for they are crowded. And as well the top cluster of seeds(seedlets?) do not make a goodly mature plant then next season but each season the results are a larger and larger bulb and stem. The larger the stem,the larger the bulb under the soil.

Over crowding as they propagate on their own results in a failed harvest due to overcrowding and a big wind usually blows them down and they then 'lodge' in a mass and produce little.

So I have several choices and exercise them as the need fits. Buds, seeds,whatever. I harvest a very decently large crop of very nice bulbs. Put them in a wooden box and slid under my bed, as the Southern Illinois Eyetalians do.

Use them til the next harvest and plant what I don't use as they are already creating little green shoots.

I eat a lot of garlic. A lot. Roasted garlic bulbs are to kill for IMO.

You harvest and dry in July. Replant in October. Or let them do as they like but leave some cloves in the ground to replace what you take.

Airdale-for buds I meant cloves. Couldn't think of that term at the time. Mine I call Italian Red for my wife's step-father was a Illionois ironworker italian of the old school and he called it Italian Red. But it is a hardneck too. Not elephant or the other kinds.

I think we have some sort of colloquial dilemma going on.
let me get this strait.
Your garlic goes to seed and produces a flower, a scape, looks a lot like an onion flower. from this viable seeds are produced? Do they look like onion seeds? does your neighbors behave the same?

I'll check back in in a couple of hours, I need to harvest garlic

I'll explain to you how I made garlic press out of a worn out washing machine and a high lift jack

The structure at the end of the scape is not a flower. There is no pollen, no ovary, no fertilization. The bulblets that form there are simply clones of the parent plant - simple vegetative reproduction.

I understand that once in a blue moon, a garlic plant will actually produce flowers, from which come seeds (not bulblets). I have never seen this in 15 years of growing garlic, and knowing lots of people that grow it.

This gene rearranging (aka sex) is how new varieties are brought into the species.

this why I'm so intrigued by what Airdale is saying, it's very rare to get seed bearing garlic.
and not researching it, and if I understand you correctly, I'd beg to differ about the "flower" at the end of the scape, I believe it's called an umbrell. If seeds were to form they'd form there just like an onion

An "umbel" is a form of flowering head. The thing at the end of the scape is most definitely not a flower. It is not an umbel, or a panicle, or any other flower type. It is a cluster of bulblets (or bulbils) formed vegetatively - asexually. There are no flowers there. It is nothing like what goes on with onions/chives flowering and forming seeds.

I've never seen nor heard tell of seed-bearing (actual flowering) garlic, though it seems such a thing may be possible. People sometimes call scapes "garlic flowers", but they are not flowers. The things that form out there are not seeds, they are clones - little cloves of garlic, ready to go.

The Allium tribe is a strange genus, for sure.

umbel, thank you
we seem to be barking up the same stalk
according to Nancy Bubel's The New Seed Starters Hand Book isbn 0-87857-747-5 In 1988 There were 4 places on earth, Ca. 2 in Germany and one in Japan that could cultivate seed producing garlic, very rare,
take me to school
I try to "pop" all my scapes so I don't think I've seen one fully developed. If a garlic were to produce a seed head what would it look like or what would it be called?
thanks for participating in my nit picking


Regarding my hardneck garlic. Like I said at the beginning, there is little or no science involved in my gardening.Yes the little cloves/bulbetts/whatever can I am sure be eaten or used in cooking but I just crush the head in my hands and scatter them to get more garlic plants started. If I want them in a row in my garden I use last years cloves. This gives bigger garlic sooner.

I do it the old downhome, down on your knees style. Over time some things work out for my area and some do not or not worth the trouble.

For pasture , as an example, I found that Orchard Grass and Kenland Red Clover were the best. Makes incredible square bales. Round bales I gave up on and sold my round baler but I kept the 'haybine'. Round bales tend to waste hay IMO.

As to the gardening. Used to be one could check out your neighbors gardens for what worked for them and thereby pick up some valuable clues but guess what? Not too many are gardening anymore. Oh a few more than normal but most will pay $1.50 /lb in the store for tomatoes rather than garden. Why that is? No clue. Lazy perhaps, new generation who do not have the skillsets or desires?

But there are a very few still clinging on. Very few. And so I do it mostly myself and develop my own methods. Some work and some go by the wayside.

Like rhubarb. I found that lately the only crop was in the spring and maybe fall because the hot sun just wilted and turned the leaves brown as they came up so I took some tobacco bed cover. Bent a lenght of welded hog wire into a semi-circle and set it over the row of rhubarb and then put the cover over that and secured it with clothes pins, leaving the ends open and raising the sides to get a good air flow.

Now it looks like I might get some good stalks for pies , even in the middle of the summer. So far so good. I am going to try this technique on some other crops. I think its an old method but using tobacco bed cover might be new. I got a huge roll of it at a farmers co-op for doing the same to my cabbages,,but didn't and lost some of the cabbage to the lopers worms...its the butterflies that lay the loper worm eggs and so a secure cover should eliminate that problem.

Airdale-welded hog wire panels work out real well in a garden, to stake up tomatoes, make bed covers,cucumber supports

seed producing garlic is extremely rare and if you've got a strain that does you're sitting on a money maker. I suspect you're talking about the bulbils that grow 1/3 to 1/2 up the stock, which I've never seen on a hard neck (who knows). While the bulbils will take root and reproduce you won't be pleased with the result.

If by seed producing you mean with a flower and pollen - yea. But most garlic will produce little bulbs in the scape and they SEEM to make fine garlic plants.

But I could be doing it wrong....


I, for one, love these posts. It makes me wonder if some of you farmers might not do a series on farming info, techniques, methods, old wisdom... Maybe a series with topics:

Choosing crops for your climate (though now ever-changing)
Prepping/testing your soil
Green houses
dry spells/Drought
Too much rain
putting up/Canning

raised beds
natural farming

Just some brain storming... I wonder if such collected info might be the makings of a website...


Simple soil testing.

I purchased a very small quite good soil test kit for like $3 at a ACE hardware store. I was checking my ph and it gave me a 6.5 in several areas. Right where it should be.

Also this crop of new potatoes I am sifting lime over as a means of better storage.

I ran across a very old article on storing potatoes that said using lime prevents almost all storage failures due soft spots turning to rot. This is what we did way back as a youth. We put them in the corn crib in the barn and sprinkled lime on them. Seemed to work back then and kept the rodents at bay as well as I seem to recall.

So I put mine on a sheet of pegboard laid horizontally and after they dry and cure a bit will lime them and then I will see how they do this fall. Might have to bring them in when it gets freezing out.


Thanks for the reminder on Garlic. Most people don't realize you plant it in the fall or late summer.

I've found that certain varieties do better in my local climate and soil. Those that thrive are the ones that get re-planted. Keep the biggest cloves and re-plant them in the fall. In a few generations you can tailor a variety to your local microclimate and soil.

One of my favorite uses of lots of fresh garlic is to add it to tomatoes I am canning. Simply throw in about 6 large peeled cloves in with each quart of whole tomatoes, I then stuff in a big stem of basil, flowers, leaves, stem & all. Can or process as you usually do, and you will have a bit of summertime in mid-winter. It looks beautiful too and makes priceless gifts.

My wife and I plant garlic year 'round. But we've never harvested a single garlic bulb. We let it get 8-10 inches tall and pull and eat like green onions. Delicious! Garlic is cheap to buy in the store, but I've yet to see a store that sells garlic "scallions".

A I also use garlic this way. Any one of the clove sections that is starting to grow, gets planted.

A little different way of looking at net export numbers, consumption as a percentage of production (at 100%, production = consumption, and the country generally transitions to net oil importer status).

Consumption as a percentage of production:
(EIA, thousand bpd total liquids, except where shown)

Some Representative Former Net Oil Exporters:

US (Became Net Oil Importer in 1948):
1948: Approx. 100%
2008: 228.6% (19418/8494)

China (Became Net Oil Importer in 1993):
1980: 83.5% (1765/2114)
2008: 201.1% (7984/3970)

Indonesia (Became Net Oil Importer in 2004):
1996: 52.4% (858/1638)
2008: 110.3% (1158/1050)

UK: (Became Net Oil Importer in 2006):
1999: 60.7% (1811/2982)
2008: 107.1% (1697/1585)

Top Five Net Oil Exporters:

2005: 17.7% (1,963/11,096)
2008: 22.0% (2,374/10782)

2005: 29.3% (2,785/9,511)
2008: 29.7% (2,907/9,789)


2005: 7.2% (213/2,978)
2008: 8.8% (217/2,465)

2005: 36.7% (1,556/4,238)
2008: 42.0% (1,755/4,174)

2005: 13.2% (374/2,844)
2008: 15.2% (463/3,046)

Combined Top Five:
2005: 22.5% (6,891/30,667); Net Exports: 23.8 mbpd
2008: 25.5% (7,716/30,256); Net Exports: 22.5 mbpd

Canada, Mexico & Venezuela:

2004: 73.7% (2310/3135)
2008: 69.7% (2338/3353)

2004: 51.9% (1995/3847)
2008: 66.4% (2123/3192)

2004: 19.3% (552/2855)
2008: 29.5% (779/2642)

Combined Canada, Mexico & Venezuela:
2004: 49.4% (4857/9837); Net Exports: 5.0 mbpd
2008: 57.0% (5240/9187); Net Exports: 4.0 mbpd

Thxs WT--that is fresh way to gander at the numbers. Imagine the USA, or any large % net importer for that matter, if some event immediately curtails most of the VLCCs from arriving at the docks.

Don't forget our National Food Security is quite precarious now, too, as we are a large % importer of I-NPKS [source: USGS--see info below]. Have you hugged your bag of either I/O-NPKS today?


Net import reliance as a percentage of apparent consumption 2008--48%

Import Sources (2004-07): Trinidad and Tobago, 56%; Canada, 15%; Russia, 12%; Ukraine, 10%; and other, 7%.

[S]ulfur net import reliance as a percentage of apparent consumption 2008--28%.
[P]hosphorus net import reliance as a percentage of apparent consumption 2008--9%.
Potassium [K] net import reliance as a percentage of apparent consumption 2008--81%.

Don't forget that we are currently deep burying many tons of these Elements at a taxpayer cost upwards of $330,000/ton.

EDIT: The event that curtails VLCCs will, in high probability, also curtail the cargo ships bringing in I-NPKS. FF/I-NPKS latency will go skyhigh at that time...

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

I occasionally tweak the noses of GSHP advocates, although a properly designed and maintained system can provide superior results. That said, no air source heat pump can do this:



So are we going to need to bore test wells as a matter of course in the future before doing gshp?

Or is this a truly exceptional example?

It occurs to me that probably there are lots of places that might have similar geological properties not yet known to local builders.

I really do not understand this.

I installed my own GeoThermal HP several years ago.

There were several options. I chose the easiest at the time and a view towards converting at a later date.

The choices were:
1. A pipe down your well to pull the water up to the heat exchanger and then discharge is back down or into another drilled well. No acquifer lose here.
2. The one I chose...just run it off the well pump and dump the outlet down the holler..where it once more sinks down back into the acquifer,but with some loses..this sounds wasteful until you realize that we have many springs where the underground water runs out continously,,and the same source as my well.
3. A loop thru a pond.
4. A ground loop...buried about 5-6 foot deep. Best of all. You constantly recirculate the fluid(water,antifreeze,whatever).
5. And the best of all is a loop laid in a free running creek. You could build a small dam and sink it in that as well. I had a creekbottom that had a running creek fed by many springs. But didn't build there because I found it out later. It was my uncles land.

So I do not understand land sinking. Why does it sink. You use a ground loop to capture the underground temps of about 60 degree F all the year round. What is to sink? Or are they tapping into some real geothermal hot spots and not returning the outlets?

While I loved my GTHP it did use electricity. So I heated mostly with a Buck Stove in the winter with the HP as a backup for when I was too lazy to fetch stove wood. The AC side was very very effective. I had a full range of circuit options and lots of sensors in it. Florida four ton unit. Easy to install if you are knowledgable otherwise the contractors will just kill you.


I don't know the specifics of either event, beyond what I've read in this news item. The ground swelling, in the case of Staufen, is reportedly due to the presence of anhydrite coming into contact with water as the result of this drilling. I would "hope" that the contractors who installed this system would be reasonably familiar with the soils in this area and any potential risks that this drilling would entail(*). That doesn't appear to have been the case.

In any event, I've heard and read of numerous GSHP installations that, for a variety of reasons, didn't work out as well as expected/promised, and/or were plagued by mechanical issues of one kind or another. Hence, I often refer to them as "the Plymouth Volare of heating systems" -- things might turn out OK, but I'd rather not take my chances.

Folks who have gas boilers or furnaces may occasionally change an air filter or purge a line, or have a service technician clean and tune their system from time to time, but I wouldn't count on it. The truth is, GSHPs are not exactly "set and forget" and, although one could argue the point, air-source systems are generally more forgiving; i.e., it's a relatively simple and proven technology, most installers are familiar and comfortable working on them, and when bad things happen, they're relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. GSHPs? Not so much.


(*) The thermal conductivity of soil can vary by a factor of three, as determined by its type, density and moisture content. If you opt for a ground loop system, you'll want to make damn sure the installer understands this and adjusts his or her calculations accordingly; otherwise, there's a good chance the system will be undersized for your needs and thus perform poorly.

Hello TODers,

From a Florence,Alabama newspaper website [from the Entertainment Section--WTF?]:

Fertilizer facility closes

A controversial facility that transformed treated human waste into a fertilizer substitute has closed its doors, according to county officials.

..Synagro processed sewage sludge, including human waste, that was brought into Colbert County by rail car from New York City through the Port of Florence.
The article is unclear on the transit routing, but reads to me like NYC-->Alabama by ocean-worthy ship, then off-loading to barges for up-river transit on the Tennessee River, then final RR to this in-land facility in NW corner of AL: That is a long way and mucho energy to haul fresh O-NPK for processing. RR from NYC straight to Florence would probably embed even more energy/ton of crap.

You would think that at this point in time, the NY State Govt. would want to keep NYC's crap inside the state for their local farms as we go postPeak. A scientifically sound O-NPK Recycling plan could save them billions plus vastly enrich NY's topsoil.

I wonder if the crap is now just piling up on ships for long-term anchoring in NYC's harbor?

Typical bureaucrat behavior, I suppose. Making things overall much worse, instead of applying some common sense to the problem.

For a nostalgic look back to the days of the first oil shock, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-dTlUZwLNQ

The summer of '74, I would have been barreling down Autoroute 20 in the Challenger, with this slipped into the 8-track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zT20nJ6hkU&feature=related


Oh, boy. '74 for me was a buddy's 68 GTO and
James Gang.

PS liked your GSHP link. Hehe.

Hi Robert,

The '68 GTO was a very impressive car in its day and its stablemate, the Camaro, had perhaps the purest lines in the industry. I don't think anything GM produced from that point onward could touch it (of course, this is coming from a man who considers the '74 Ambassador wagon one of Detroit's high water marks*).

Edit: I was looking through some old wartime posters produced by Chrysler and came across one you might appreciate: http://www.imperialclub.com/Yr/1945/Ads/42AirTempMotors-reg.jpg The full collection can be viewed at: http://www.imperialclub.com/Yr/1945/Ads/index.htm


* I kid you not, an Ambassador wagon in all black is drop dead gorgeous. If I could own any three cars in the world, two would be Mopars and the third would be an Ambassador.

Most of my gearheadedness was vicarious.

The buddy I mentioned was teaching me as I didn't know how to tune the '67 4 door chevy I was given 2 years
previously as a college going away present.

Ahh, the days of 50 cent gasoline.

the days of 50 cent gasoline.

During Drivers Ed - they showed slides. The class was asked "what is wrong in this picture". I mentioned the $0.25 a gal price for a gallon. (the class laughed - but that was not the 'correct' answer. Nor was the correct answer to hit the gas, break, reverse, gas, break, forward, gas when the childs ball rolled out into the street)

This guy has done a phenomenal job restoring his gorgeous black '70 Challenger (you may wish to check out the 'cuda and charger whist there).

See: http://kaboom.autoalbum.nl/cars/553/photos/3367

Oh, I found a couple GTO pics for you as well: :-)

See: http://www.autoweek.nl/forum/read.php?6,1515267,page=7


A couple months ago while driving through the
neighborhood I saw a guy unloading a '71 Electra
225. That was the model of the family car in which
I learned how to drive ( aside from divers ed).

I knew the guy restored vehicles as I had driven
past his house enough times to see the signs. I
asked him why on earth would he pick that model
as I was quite surprised. He said that all the other
stuff was bought up.

If one considers ecosystem decline & vastly elevated extinction rates: IMO, places like Zoos & vital habitats should be the very, very, very last places to have their budgets cut:

Boston zoo says it won't have to kill its animals due to budget cuts
More likely in the postPeak: people will gladly eat these poor animals WTSHTF. Recall that the invading Iraqis consumed many animals in the Kuwaiti Zoo before the US expelled them.

Let me get this straight now, 390 parts per million (PPM), that's (.039%) of the atmosphere composed of an infinitesimal trace gas, essential to photosynthesis, will destroy the planet. Far greater concentrations of this gas have only stimulated planet and animal growth in eons gone by, and is happening now, as proven accidendently by Prof. Mann's Bristlecone proxy data. I would like to hear a cogent, common sense, cause and effect, summary of just how this CO2 induced collapse going to happen. Have at it.

{sigh} Another scientifically illiterate denier (most of whom are caught up in some semi-religious belief system that makes them immune to logic and analysis).

So as to not waste much time and bandwidth on replowing ground covered many times before:

Take a very deep pool of distilled water, add 0.39% India ink and tell me that the ink had no affect on absorption of visible light.

CO2 (and other GHG) are like India ink at infrared wavelengths; O2, N2 and argon are like distilled water.

Also, ask an weatherman in a northerly area if over night lows in the winter are affected by cloud cover (that reflects heat back). Is a clear night colder than an overcast night, all other factors being equal ?

What CO2 does is put the earth under a permanent cloud cover, reflecting back the infrared heat all of the time.

Enough on this,



"add 0.39% India ink" is incorrect by a factor of ten. It reads "thirty-nine hundredths (or about four tenths) of one percent". This is actually the amount of water vapor in our atmosphere. That's correct, water vapor is ten times more prevalent in our atmosphere than CO2 and it has a much higher global warming effect (potential) than CO2. Read the IPCC Technical Reports section which explains "Global Warming Potential" (GWP). You will find CO2 has a GWP of "1" at 20 years, 100 years and 500 years. This GWP is the lowest you will find for most trace gases, including and especially water vapor. Now do your math. To transform 390 PPM to a percentage, first divide 390 by one million (1,000,000), or simply move the decimal point six place to the left. That grade 5 operation gives you (.00039). Now multipy by 100 to get the percentage, or simply move the decimal point to the right two place. This grade 5 operation gives you (.039%). It's pronounced "thirty-nine one-thousandth of one percent" (or about four one-hundredths of one percent). It's truly an infinitesimal trace gas with a GWP of "1". It's insignificant by any definition of the word. Finally, trace gases as a group only compose one percent of our atmosphere (1%). CO2 simply does not contribute much warming. It can't by virtue of its extremely low atmospheric concentration together with its extremely low GWP. Do your homework before you call me or anyone else names.