DrumBeat: July 14, 2009

Curbing speculative oil trading is a good move

WASHINGTON – Curbing speculation in oil prices is now a priority with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Chairman Gary Gensler has announced hearings over the next month to determine what the agency should do to check wild price swings like the ones we've seen in the last 12 months.

Unless you are a speculator, this should be welcome news. Markets should be open to any buyers and sellers who want to participate. Their trades should reveal a true price. But when prices take off in a speculative frenzy that drives much of the world economy to its knees, consumers should not have to pay through the nose while waiting for the bubble to burst.

Mexico’s Peso Falls for 7th Day in Longest Slump Since October

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s peso declined for a seventh day, its longest losing streak since October, on mounting concern the government will fail to ease its dependence on oil revenue as production of crude slides.

India's Reliance eyes direct fuel sales in U.S.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Reliance Industries, owner of world's biggest oil complex, aims to directly sell fuel in the United States, the world's biggest oil consumer, a top company official said on Tuesday.

Exxon Dry Brazil Well Was ‘One Off,’ Oil Agency Says

(Bloomberg) -- A Brazilian oil well drilled by Exxon Mobil Corp. that showed no sign of oil was a “one off,” according to Nelson Narciso Filho, director of Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency.

Drilling at the Tupi field in Brazil’s offshore Santos Basin will probably provide more information about the viability of the country’s so-called pre-salt oil fields, Narciso said in an interview in London today. Exxon Mobil said last week it failed to find oil or natural gas in the offshore Guarani well in the sub-sea block known as BM-S-22.

“This is a one off,” Narciso said. “The risk is always there but we don’t see it as a problematic situation for the pre-salt area.”

Russia scrambles to contain Volga oil spill

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian authorities were scrambling Tuesday to contain a major oil spill on the Volga River after a barge ran aground when its captain fell asleep.

The barge spilled two tonnes of oil products into Europe's longest river when it ran aground early Monday, creating a 12-kilometre (7.5 mile) slick, the emergency situations ministry said.

Cities Must Become More Resilient to Survive

The idea that cities are greener than suburbs has gotten a lot of attention lately. But a recently published book argues that in a future of diminishing resources, cities themselves are going to have to become much more efficient and inventive if they are to be sustainable -- indeed, if they are to survive at all.

Turkey to rule on nuclear plant bid within 2 months

ISTANBUL - Turkey will complete within two months its review of a bid by Russia’s Atomstroiexport to build the country’s first nuclear power plant, a year after the company won the tender, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

Wood stoves -- a viable home heat source?

MADISON, WI -- The stress of rising natural gas prices is leading many consumers to rethink how they heat their homes. For some this means moving towards modern alternative energy options, while others have been turning to a more traditional method for a solution to these rising costs. In Canada and the United States, wood burning stoves have been reevaluated as a potentially viable option for home heating.

Walking, biking to work linked with better fitness

CHICAGO – Walking or biking to work, even part way, is linked with fitness, but very few Americans do it, according to a study of more than 2,000 middle-aged city dwellers.

In what may be the first large U.S. study of health and commuting, the researchers found only about 17 percent of workers walked or bicycled any portion of their commute.

Those active commuters did better on treadmill tests of fitness, even when researchers accounted for their leisure-time physical activity levels, suggesting commuter choices do make a difference.

Despair flows as fields go dry and unemployment rises

Reporting from Mendota, Calif. -- Water built the semi-arid San Joaquin Valley into an agricultural powerhouse. Drought and irrigation battles now threaten to turn huge swaths of it into a dust bowl.

Farmers have idled half a million acres of once-productive ground and are laying off legions of farmhands. That's sending joblessness soaring in a region already plagued by chronic poverty.

Water scarcity looms as a major challenge to California's $37-billion agricultural industry, which has long relied on imported water to bloom. The consequences of closing the spigot are already evident here in rural Fresno County, about 230 miles north of Los Angeles. Lost farm revenue will top $900 million in the San Joaquin Valley this year, said UC Davis economist Richard Howitt, who estimates that water woes will cost the recession-battered region an additional 30,000 jobs in 2009.

Then & now

Recently a friend gave me a copy of a January 22, 1973 issue of Newsweek. The cover title was “The Energy Crisis”. It’s interesting to look back and see how things have changed; or, to be more accurate, not changed.

US DOJ Petitions Supreme Court in Anadarko Royalty Case

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday appealed to the Supreme Court to reject a lower-court ruling that blocked the Interior Department from collecting as much as $10 billion in oil fees.

In January, a federal appellate court sided with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) in a controversial and precedent-setting case, finding the government couldn't collect royalties from eight oil and natural gas production leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

UK's newest LNG terminal gets first cargo -BG

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's newest liquefied natural gas terminal, Dragon LNG, took delivery of its first cargo of super-cooled gas on Tuesday, BG Group, which holds a 50-percent stake in the facility in south Wales, said.

BG's Methane Lydon Volney tanker, which can carry 145,127 cubic metres of LNG, arrived as expected on Tuesday to deliver the first commissioning cargo to the terminal at Milford Haven.

Asia Fuel Oil-Indian Oil, Essar offer mid-Aug lots

"We usually see higher volume of exports from India during the monsoon season, as domestic consumption and asphalt demand are lower, but this time round, exports are down, as most of the domestic refineries have cut runs," said a Singapore-based Western fuel oil trader.

Royal Dutch Shell drills ahead even with future uncertainty about crude oil prices

Working all over the world, looking for new reserves even as it sells refined products in its several international markets, Royal Dutch Shell can analyze its financial performance on a regional basis. This permits a geographical allocation of downstream funds based on where the growth is. The other half of the profit equation is the alignment of income producing expenditures to get the maximum number of barrels at the least cost. There were times in the history of the company when it did not drill at all, preferring to buy inexpensive crude oil from low cost producers most of them in the Middle East. That era is long vanished and no one thinks it will ever return. Now, like all of the super majors, RDS tries to achieve a blend of purchased and equity crude that will result in the greatest profit. RDS sells finished products equivalent to about twice is crude production.

Pemex in need of reforms

The reform of the energy sector constitutes an important challenge, given the fiscal dependence on oil revenues and the lack of competition in the sector. The Mexican Constitution reserves the right to exploit national hydrocarbon resources to the state, and Pemex operates on its behalf. Oil reserves fell in December 2007 by 5.1 percent from the previous year. At current substitution and extraction rates of approximately 3 million barrels per day, proven oil reserves would last only nine more years.

The investment rates of the past two years are not sufficient to increase the production rates, or even to keep current production stable; on the contrary, the latter has been decreasing in the past two years.

Hitor Group: Fall in Mexican Oil Production Prompts Exploration.

According to a recent report by Hitor Group, in an attempt to offset waning output at many of its current well, Mexico is planning to increase oil exploration in a group of states near the Gulf of Mexico.

According to rumours emanating from within the ranks of Hitor Group, Petroleos Mexicanos which is a state-run oil company is in search of companies to design oil wells and supervise exploratory drilling. It is said that a contract for the desired services would run for 2 years and begin as soon as November of this year.

Indian Oil Delays Overseas Investment on Reduced Cash

(Bloomberg) -- Indian Oil Corp., the nation’s biggest refiner, will delay crude-processing and pipeline projects overseas, including Nigeria and Turkey, because of reduced cash flow after selling fuels below cost.

“We may not be able to expand overseas in a big way because of the liquidity crunch,” Brij Mohan Bansal, the company’s director of planning and business development, said in a telephone interview from New Delhi yesterday, without providing details. “We are keeping on the backburner our overseas projects, be it refineries or pipelines.”

New power plant a quick fix to energy shortage

What will burn natural gas and sit idle most of the time, but be big enough to power three Guelphs on the hottest day of the year?

It's Ontario's newest power plant, the strange-looking structure commuters may have noticed looming beside Highway 401 in Halton Hills.

Bill to Jumpstart Natural-Gas Vehicles in Utah?

WASHINGTON - Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) joined with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to introduce a major piece of legislation aimed at jump-starting the use of natural-gas vehicles in Utah and elsewhere across the nation.

Natural gas is a clean source of fuel, which in most cases is significantly less expensive than gasoline per mile driven, Hatch noted at a press conference.

Toyota launches Lexus hybrid

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp launched its first dedicated hybrid model under the premium Lexus brand on Tuesday, saying it had received orders worth six months of targeted sales in Japan.

The launch of the HS250h sedan marks the latest push by the world's biggest automaker to drive fuel-sipping hybrids into the mainstream as governments around the world tighten emissions and fuel economy regulations while offering consumers incentives to purchase less-polluting cars.

Does NASA's James Hansen Still Matter in Climate Debate?

The man termed "the father of global warming" has irked many longtime supporters with his scathing attacks against President Obama's plan for a cap-and-trade system. Now, a leading Republican climate skeptic is considering calling Hansen as a witness at upcoming Senate hearings. A House Democrat, meanwhile, labeled Hansen's Capitol Hill appearance yesterday "irrelevant." With landmark climate legislation heading to the Senate after passage in the House last month, the friction surrounding Hansen raises questions about what role, if any, the Iowa-born scientist will play in the upcoming debate.

Three Plans for Fuel Emergencies

Three plans for fuel emergencies have recently been released by UK public sector agencies. This review compares the three plans, highlights certain points from each, and provides internet links to the documents.

Students dig into sustainable farming at Vermont college

POULTNEY, Vt. — Devin Lyons typically starts his days this summer cooking breakfast with fresh eggs from the farm's chicken coop. Then, depending on the weather, he and a dozen other college students might cut hay in the field using a team of oxen, turn compost or weed vegetable beds.

While other college students are in stuffy classrooms, about a dozen are earning credit tending a Vermont farm. For 13 weeks, 12 credits and about $12,500, the Green Mountain College students plow fields with oxen or horses, milk cows, weed crops and grow and make their own food, part of an intensive course in sustainable agriculture using the least amount of fossil fuels.

On tiny plots, a new generation of farmers emerges

ROCHESTER, Wash. — Joseph Gabiou walks the fields of Wobbly Cart Farm with a practiced eye. He kicks dirt into place to keep the wind from blowing the protective covering off a row of organic broccoli. The seedlings are vulnerable to the flea beetles that came in the spring, just as longtime farmers in this valley told him they would.

To a new farmer, that's crucial information. The farm, started five years ago, is young. But so is the 33-year-old Gabiou at a time when the average age of the American farmer is 57, according to the Department of Agriculture. The 2007 agriculture census found that more than one-quarter of all farmers are 65 or older.

Wobbly Cart is also tiny, just 6 acres. Nationwide, the average farm is 449 acres.

But Gabiou and business partner Asha McElfresh, 32, differ from typical farmers in another way. Wobbly Cart, say agriculture specialists, is part of a movement in which young people — most of whom come from cities and suburbs — are taking up what may be the world's oldest profession: organic farming

"I'm seeing an enthusiastic group of young people all across the country who want to get into farming," says Fred Kirschenmann, a longtime farmer and fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University in Ames.

States passing laws to assist food pantries

As pantries across the nation face increasing demands for help, a growing number of states have enacted or are considering laws to make it easier for restaurants to donate leftover food to charities.

Gasoline prices drop as crude oil hits eight-week low

Retail gasoline prices dropped an average of 8.4 cents a gallon nationwide in the last week to $2.528 a gallon for regular grade, the Energy Department said Monday.

The price drop was the third weekly decline in a row, in part because of crude oil, which hit an eight-week low Monday.

OPEC Forecasts Slower Oil Demand Recovery Next Year Than IEA

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries expects a slower rebound in oil demand next year than the International Energy Agency, based on a weaker outlook for the global economy.

Worldwide crude-oil consumption will increase by 500,000 barrels a day, or 0.6 percent, to 84.3 million a day in 2010 as industrial production gradually picks up after this year’s recession, OPEC said in a report today. That compares with an increase of 1.4 million barrels a day, or 1.7 percent, to 85.2 million, forecast by the IEA on July 10.

Morgan Stanley Raises 2010 Oil Forecast to $85

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded in New York will average $85 a barrel in 2010, Morgan Stanley said, 31 percent higher than its previous estimate of $65 a barrel, as demand recovers and supplies decline.

Commodities will rise as investors’ appetite for risk revives along with the global economy, Morgan Stanley analysts, led by Hussein Allidina, said in a report yesterday. At the same time, oil production will drop as much as 6.3 percent a year among suppliers outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and by 3.5 percent within the group, the bank said.

Oil May Fall Below $45 on Weak U.S. Demand, BNP Says

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil in New York may fall below $45 a barrel by the end of August as the global recession stalls a recovery in fuel consumption in the U.S., the world’s biggest energy user, BNP Paribas said.

“There’s no summer gasoline demand season this year in the U.S.,” Harry Tchilinguirian, a senior oil analyst at France’s largest bank, said in an interview yesterday in Tokyo. “It can test the low $40’s, and again our average is relatively weak at $58 a barrel for the third quarter.”

Low gas prices hurt sales of high-ethanol E85 fuel

MINNEAPOLIS – Lower gasoline prices, while a boon for drivers, were a gut punch for ethanol producers and promoters of the high-ethanol blend known as E85.

In Minnesota, the nation's leader in E85 pumps, sales fell off by more than half this spring compared with the year before, a disappointment to E85 producers and the farmers who supply them with corn to make the fuel. It's also a letdown for those who hoped the blend would provide a cleaner alternative to gasoline and accelerate the move away from fossil fuels.

Perenco Is Close to Halting Ecuador Output After Oil Seizures

(Bloomberg) -- Perenco Ecuador Ltd., a unit of London-based oil explorer Perenco, said it is close to ceasing production in Ecuador unless the country’s government stops seizing oil as part of a tax dispute.

BP reveals Azerbaijan deal to explore Caspian Sea

LONDON (AFP) – Energy group BP said on Monday that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Azerbaijan state oil company SOCAR jointly to explore the Caspian Sea.

EU Bourse Needed for Volatile Oil Prices, Italy Regulator Says

(Bloomberg) -- A European oil bourse and globally agreed rules are required in order to provide transparency, effectiveness and reliability to commodities trading where “excessive” price volatility remains, Italy’s energy regulator said.

Our proposal is for “a real, regulated European oil bourse open to selected operators,” Electricity and Gas Authority Chairman Alessandro Ortis said at the presentation of the regulator’s annual report in Rome today. The bourse should allow the trading of “long or very long term products, with delivery within Europe and guaranteed by a reliable central European counterpart.”

Stephen Leeb: Instablog Time To Invest With The Ants

China has been stockpiling commodities, particularly oil and iron ore. Unlike Americans, the Chinese think long-term. Rather than worry about next quarter or next week, China plans decades in advance – and it has over a billion people to house, clothe, feed, and transport to work each day.

Buying resources makes perfect sense if you have even a broad idea of the resource crisis that's approaching. The problems we have today may seem big, but at least they can be solved by money. The coming resource shortage cannot. China's method of using money to accumulate resources is now one of a few possible answers. As the fable goes, they are the ants, and we unfortunately are the grasshoppers.

Nigeria fears rebel offensive is widening as militants kill 5 at Lagos oil depot

LAGOS, Nigeria - The country’s main militant group widened its offensive against Africa’s biggest oil sector yesterday despite the release of its suspected leader, raising concern there may be further attacks.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, sabotaged an oil offloading dock in Lagos state, killing five people in the group’s first attack outside the Niger Delta since the offensive.

The attack has heightened security concerns beyond the oil industry and dashed hopes that the release of its suspected leader, Henry Okah, would halt the offensive, analysts said.

Europe targets Russia's grip on gas with new pipeline

European countries have sealed an important agreement aimed at diversifying the continent's energy sources - but their pipeline project to bring natural gas from Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe can't entirely break Russia's dominance.

Bulgaria seals new Greece pipe link

Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) signed an agreement with Greek natural gas monopoly DEPA and Italy's Edison today to build a gas link to Greece to ease Bulgaria's dependence on Russian gas.

Buyouts back on the table in the oil industry

Takeover activity has returned to the oil exploration sector with a vengeance with deals totalling almost £10billion tabled in little over a month.

Pakistan 'fatwa' on power thieves

A power company in Pakistan has obtained a decree - or fatwa - from 12 senior Islamic scholars, declaring the theft of electricity a sin.

The Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) says the thieves are costing it 1bn rupees ($12.3m) a month.

People had to realise, it said, that stealing electricity was as illegal and immoral as any other form of theft.

Many people in Karachi either siphon power from overhead cables, or slow down their electricity meters.

NTSB says D.C. Metro system lacks 'safety redundancy'

WASHINGTON — A defective monitoring device that allowed two Metro trains to slam into each other June 22 began failing five days before the crash, but operators were never alerted to the problem, federal investigators said Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) computer system that continually tracks the location of trains did not sense one of the two trains in the accident.

'E-Rockit' hits German fast lane (video)

A Berlin inventor has come up with an electric bike which you power by pedalling that can reach speeds of 50 mph.

Stefan Gulas has developed a system that amplifies the effort you put in by a factor of 50, meaning you can accelerate quickly and maintain high speeds with very little effort.

Brown to Promote Wind, Clean Coal to Curb U.K.’s Gas Dependence

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K., more reliant on natural gas than any country in Western Europe, will try to persuade utilities to build more wind parks and carbon-free coal plants.

Britain is importing record volumes of gas, through pipelines from Norway and by ship from the Middle East, to replace production from spent North Sea fields. The purchases leave the country open to price increases and supply disruptions. Russia provides a quarter of Europe’s natural gas and cut shipments last winter because of a dispute with Ukraine.

Drawing Critics, China Seeks to Dominate in Renewable Energy

BEIJING — When the United States’ top energy and commerce officials arrive in China on Tuesday, they will land in the middle of a building storm over China’s protectionist tactics to become the world’s leader in renewable energy.

Calling renewable energy a strategic industry, China is trying hard to make sure that its companies dominate globally. Just as Japan and South Korea made it hard for Detroit automakers to compete in those countries — giving their own automakers time to amass economies of scale in sheltered domestic markets — China is shielding its clean energy sector while it grows to a point where it can take on the world.

Exxon to Invest $600 Million on Biofuels Development

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, plans to invest at least $600 million to research and develop biofuels with J. Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics Inc.

The focus will be on developing fuels from algae, Irving, Texas-based Exxon said today in a statement. The company expects to spend $300 million on internal costs and direct “potentially more than $300 million” to biotech specialist SGI.

Can thorium save the planet?

Surprisingly, even if we resorted to "clean" wind power, the cost of building and servicing the windmills would be an extra 13 million tons of carbon annually, not to mention the additional 80 thousand square miles needed for wind farms each year... and we would have to pray that the wind kept blowing!

These are the reasons that the Government has suggested that we simply cannot afford to ignore nuclear power, an energy source with a carbon cost only half that of wind. The problem is that, whether rationally or irrationally, public perception of nuclear power is coloured by issues of safety, the radiotoxicity of its waste, its links to nuclear weapon proliferation and concerns about its vulnerability to terrorism. Clearly the nuclear option is very controversial.

But perhaps there is a more acceptable nuclear alternative.

Moratorium sought in Utah on depleted uranium

SALT LAKE CITY – State regulators will consider whether federal rules for disposing of depleted uranium are adequate to protect health and safety in Utah or if the waste should be banned until more stringent procedures are put in place.

Syria: Hubble bubble means forest trouble

People in cooler mountainous areas have traditionally been allowed to use branches from the woods, which are viewed as public property, for heating. Since charcoal production became popular, cutting down whole trees has reached alarming levels, experts say.

Mahmoud Ali, a professor of environmental sciences at Tishreen University, said the green cover is declining "dangerously" in Syria and the area of forest per inhabitant and relative to the country's total land area is low.

"Producing charcoal could kill the trees or affect the quality of the wood by making them more vulnerable to attacks by pests," Ali said.

The growing deforestation is also leading to undesirable effects on the environment, said Amin Moussa, an agricultural expert also teaching at Tishreen University. Especially on the steep mountainous slopes, cutting down trees is causing landslides and leading to a deterioration in soil fertility, he said.

Enjoying the sunset of the automobile era

Last Friday I walked down Main Street, along with thousands of others out to enjoy the sunshine and ogle the dazzling array of classic cars at the Atlantic Nationals.

For all the merriment, to me it feels like the sunset of the automobile era -- the last couple of hurrahs before peak oil and climate change put the kibosh to this peculiar obsession of ours. And I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Global warming's timing problem

Evidence is growing that climate change is exacerbating water scarcity problems around the world.

But now, a study shows that parts of even drenched New England may be facing water shortages as the world warms and demand increases.

Monbiot: BBC still walking with dinosaurs when it comes to climate change

The most extreme example was the three-part series on the Congo made for the BBC by Scorer Associates. At the height of a devastating civil war which had caused the deaths of some 4 million people, the series reported that "the Congo may once have been known as the 'heart of darkness' - today it seems more like a bright, beautiful wilderness." In two and a half hours of programmes the killings were not mentioned.

Lovely as the unit's output remains, I believe that it creates a misleading impression of the world, which can have grave political consequences. It encourages people to believe that all is well with the world's ecosystems; often it produces the only footage viewers see from far-flung parts of the world. I am not arguing that the political or environmental context should dominate the unit's output, only that it should be acknowledged and explained, however briefly. Is this too much to ask?

Mystery mechanism drove global warming 55 million years ago

PARIS (AFP) – A runaway spurt of global warming 55 million years ago turned Earth into a hothouse but how this happened remains worryingly unclear, scientists said on Monday.

...What seems clear is that a huge amount of heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases -- natural, as opposed to man-made -- were disgorged in a very short time.

The theorised sources include volcanic activity and the sudden release of methane hydrates in the ocean.

Trapping Carbon Dioxide Or Switching To Nuclear Power Not Enough To Solve Global Warming Problem, Experts Say

ScienceDaily — Attempting to tackle climate change by trapping carbon dioxide or switching to nuclear power will not solve the problem of global warming, according to energy calculations published in the July issue of the International Journal of Global Warming.

Leanan, that story on top about Green Mountain College farming sans fossil fuels - that is run by my friend and co-author on EROI papers, Kenneth Mulder - so bizarre to see that story atop Drumbeat (without me forwarding it...;-)


p.s. - they are really doing cool things at that school.

It sounds interesting. I'm kind of tempted to enroll.

You are going to pay $12K to be a farmhand? I don't mind trading work for knowledge but this seems a bit much. $12K buys a couple of acres of good land here in the U.S.

That's about a tenth what I paid for my college degree.

I'm willing to pay for knowledge. Unlike land, gold, money, etc., it can never be taken away from you.

I'm willing to pay for knowledge. Unlike land, gold, money, etc., it can never be taken away from you.

What's that disease aging people get? You know, the one where they can't remember stuff. Starts with an A, I think...

You can lose it. That's not the same thing as it being taken from you.

Loose something or have it taken from you: in either case it's gone, which is the pertinent consideration.

Yeah, but losing it because of memory you won't know what you are missing!

Not to me it isn't.

Perhaps I'm thinking along these lines because of recent Billings murders. It appears that it was an "In Cold Blood" scenario: they were attacked by people they didn't know, simply because they were well-off. Their wealth made them a target.

With knowledge, yes, you can lose it, but it doesn't make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer's. In fact, it's the opposite: education decreases your chances of suffering dementia.

And if I do suffer from Alzheimer's, would spending my money on something other than education help me? No. If dementia is in my future, then having gold or land or a fat bank account won't be any consolation. And I doubt I'd be able to keep them for long, anyway.

My great-grandmother had Alzheimer's. She lived to be 106, and the last ten years of her life, she didn't know us. If it comes to that...I plan to jump off a bridge long before I reach that state.


We've always heard around here that there are salesmen so good they can sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

I intend to keep an eye on this concept and if it flies I 'm intending to charge only half as much tuition ,and assign twice as much homework.

That should leave me plenty of time to enjoy the Oil Drum even more!

And incidentally I can obtain a "collegiate professional certificate" -an AGRICULTURE teachers liscense -from the Commonwealth of Virginia by taking a couple of classes online.

I read a book titled the Good Life once by a couple who seemed to be mostly sincere ,but my final impression was that they were quite as capable as the moonies guy-his name escapes me at the moment-at obtaining free labor in exchange for a modicum of educational experience.Most characters of this sort imo just lack the organizational abilty and or ambition to go big time.(The thing that clinched my opinion was seeing online pictures of the last house they built.)

Maybe I'm a little sour on such folks as preachers because they usually live better than thier flocks by essentially the same means they condemn from the pulpit.


But this does bring up a very interesting topic-the cartel like ability of educational institutions to avoid providing what should be very cheap services cheaply.

An introductory algebra class that costs hundreds of dollars and requires a book costing a hundred more-a book with absolutely nothing new in it except the catalog number and perhaps some of the practice problems-rakes in maybe ten to twenty thousand bucks and occupies maybe at the outside two hundred hundred hours of the instructors time.That's if the instructor is better(more turoring time one on one) than average.Homework is graded on machines mostly these days.

And the notion that advanced credendtials are needed to teach introductory courses is bullshit,a point proven by the fact that so many are taught by grad students at good schools.

(There is no doubt that pros with reputations and charisma can inspire students and are worth more than they will ever be PAID TO TEACH but they are very much the exception,rather than the rule.And there is another rule that says they don't teach a lot of intro courses,except at the most elite schools.)

The so called costs of running the school ARE the problem.Education is no more efficient today than it was a century ago for the most part.

Academics are not making very many sacrifices,given thier overall lifestyles and the attractiveness of the work-the only CLASS of exceptions I am aware of are those who choose to teach engineering and medicine,etc.My sister who is APRN and can easily earn over a hundred grand in most large cities is giving up practice to teach because it is "SO MUCH EASIER".The life style improvement trumps the pay cut.No more nights,no weekends,no on call, just a few Saturday mornings to cover cover missed clinicals for students who were sick ,etc.

I could even go so far as to say that the lifestyle is so attractive that I pursue it at my own expense to the extent that I am able,no salary necessary.

Tom Sawyer

blow to the head. Gone.

You watch too much TV.

That's definitely good stuff! Perhaps you could ask your friend to write an article about his experiences for TOD? I'm sure a lot of us would really appreciate it.

I'm in Vermont too and I practice farming without fossil fuels as well -- double-dug garden beds, compost, milking cows by hand, beekeeping, haying with a scythe, etc. It keeps the body and mind in shape and produces good, nutritious food. Could we feed 7 billion people this way? Absolutely not. Not even close. If humans can avoid extincting themselves perhaps these efforts can be the seed communities of a post-die off, more benign human species.

And you can keep this up until you are how old? And if you don't get sick or hurt.

There remains a need for community, a community of producers, not consumers or hoarders.

I haven't figured out how to encourage such a thing, but I have tried many ways, and with some partial success. I suspect that privation and want may facilitate community building to a degree -- but the increasing presence of AK-47s and what appears to be an increasing number of people with "PTSD" and other serious personality disorders, to say nothing of a couple of generations of people who don't know how to do much but shop and twitter does not bode well.

Maybe slavery will come back into fashion.

Never went out of fashion that I can see. At present, North America outsources slavery, but it is likely to come back on shore as people get more desperate, and oil is too expensive to allow cheap transport of manufactured goods.

Modern-day slaves can be found laboring as servants or concubines in Sudan, as child "carpet slaves" in India, or as cane-cutters in Haiti and southern Pakistan, to name but a few instances. According to Anti-Slavery International, the world's oldest human rights organization, there are currently over 20 million people in bondage.

Slavery is truly, alive and well in world. Yes,it will be in your future.

Not to mention cane cutters in Brazil. (Sugar goes to feed ethanol production)

Never went out of fashion that I can see. At present, North America outsources slavery, but it is likely to come back on shore as people get more desperate, and oil is too expensive to allow cheap transport of manufactured goods.

total agreement with you. another thing that never ended was environmental devastation. globalism exported it across the globe, where it grew far faster and more enormous.

once the cheap fuels are gone, these things will all come home to roost again.

the media very consistently tells a story about how in "early development" of a country, the environment is destroyed and slavery is widespread. only in "late development" are these bad things banished, because everyone suddenly realizes they are immoral.

most people i know believe this. it is completely without basis in fact.

Could we feed 7 billion people this way? Absolutely not. Not even close.

It sounds peculiar to say so, but that's irrelevant. When you're in a box with only one exit, that's the one you go for. And ultimately, as below ground resources become ever more inaccessible, the soil IS the only exit. Exactly how much time there is to make the transition is unknown, but it's very likely going to be made in the century, and it seems likely that a big start needs to made in the first half.

Once people start living in communities that are obliged to live off of local and regional resources, they will become much more conscious of resource limits and the need to plan, including human reproduction. Returning to the soil is a key component in controlling population.

But returning to the soil via community is also vital, because this is the only hope of retaining science and some of the other good stuff we're acquired in the oil age and its run up. ALSO, it will allow resource planning, population included.

I have no idea what the carrying capacity of the planet is without industrial monoculture. It's a topic I want to get into. I've seen figures as low as 1 or 2 billion. But I know far too little about agriculture and surface of the planet to make any judgment. I don't know what permaculture and other agricultural innovations are capable of. But there is absolutely no question that this is the direction we must go.

That's what gov't ought to be encouraging and subsidizing -- a return to the soil, small localized communities that are as locally and regionally self-sufficient as possible. People and groups are doing it on their own, but there are obstacles -- getting the land, mortgages, lack of training, etc. Of course it won't anytime soon. I would be helpful if the gov't would at least refrain from bombing such settlements.

Down thread someone jokingly suggests slavery. But there is a serious point there. Suppose those an elderly couple with lots of acres in the countryside. Why should they not make some kind of deal with younger people to set up some kind of community on their land in exchange for fresh chickens, logs, and some guitar concertos? There must be land that is not suitable for mechanized agriculture, but that could be brought into cultivation by a greater amount of human sweat, and done so in a sustainable way.

Anyway, I day dream a lot these days.

Thanks Dave,
Good comments. Keep dreaming, you're not the only one.

I was on the roof today, taking down bricks from an old chimney**, and on the ground floor yesterday, laying new brick into the foundation.. and dreaming the whole time. Action doesn't preclude imagination, nor vice versa.


** The old kitchen chimney is the channel for my prospective 'Solar Oven IN the Kitchen' .. a tracked mirror array on the roof, and a cookbox/waterheater box on the Kitchen wall. Fun, Right? Like I keep saying.. Collect Glass and Mirrors. I'll bet their EROEI is through the roof.. ahem!

I have no idea what the carrying capacity of the planet is without industrial monoculture... I've seen figures as low as 1 or 2 billion.

Way too high. More in the vicinity of 200 million, half a billion tops.



or just a WAH!? (Wild-Assed-Humbug!)

I usually see the figure as 1-2B. A figure as low as 500M would imply population levels similar to about 1500AD.

Now it may well be that because of environmental degradation and over-extraction of resources, that population will undershoot that level - that's another matter entirely.

No one knows, it's never been done with modern sustinable methods. Using pre-industrial numbers dosn't really work as alot of understanding has been gained since then. On the other hand alot of damage has been done and the climate is changing.

Whatever the nubmers turn out to be, that's what we'll have.

Using pre-industrial numbers dosn't really work as alot of understanding has been gained since then.

Unfortunately, most of this "understanding" we gained is relevant only in the context of unsustainable consumption of cheap and abundant resources, particularly fuel.

The modern process for smelting aluminum, for example, requires so much energy that it was irrelevant until fuels became cheap enough. The ancients were perfectly clever enough to figure it out, had cheap fuels been available to them.

As I understand it, the Wright Brothers' primary innovation was to power flight with gasoline, which until roughly that time was not yet a viable fuel.

There IS as you say new "understanding" in agriculture that is sustainable, but these aren't the ones that currently feed 6.5 billion people, and I'd wager that they are outnumbered by old "understandings" we lost in the transition to industrial agriculture.

Plant breeding very not energy intensive, or inoculation of legumes with nitrogen fixing bacteria. These are new developments that alone help to feed an extra 3Billion people. Pre- 1920's maize cultivars or pre-1890's wheat cultivars only yield about one third modern cultivars even with NPK.

Aluminum is produced by an electro-chemical process I don't think electricity was understood by the ancients. It doesn't use that much energy(6-12KWh/Kg). They had water wheels and wind mills but didn't know how to turn mechanical power into electric power. Societies may forget a lot of technology but they will never forget how to use electricity it's just too useful for so many different things.

Aluminum is produced by an electro-chemical process I don't think electricity was understood by the ancients. It doesn't use that much energy(6-12KWh/Kg). They had water wheels and wind mills but didn't know how to turn mechanical power into electric power.

We discovered electricity thousands of years ago, as evidenced by the Baghdad battery. We implemented electricity only once fuels became cheap enough, such that metals became cheap enough, that the required large-scale experimentation and buildout became feasible.

When fuels are expensive, metals are expensive, and so historically metals were reserved for the military. Urine, which can be fertilizer, was likewise historically reserved for gunpowder production.

In the future, fuels become expensive again, and therefore so do metals. Thieves today in America make a big profit from stealing electrical wires, so imagine how profitable that will be in the future when metal is far more expensive, and unemployment is far higher.

We can imagine that a metal water mill with a metal motor and metal distribution wires is efficient to smelt aluminum, but when thieves steal the distribution wires, what do we do? By definition, distribution wires travel long distances that are hard to patrol. Eventually, thieves may steal the wheel and motor, too.

The military can afford to guard these things, and so the military will have electricity as long as it needs.

But we can't assume that because this is true, everyone else will have access to electricity.

As a matter of fact, in 1800 only 0.9 billion people lacked electricity. Today, about 1.6 billion people lack electricity.

Don't get carried away with the electricity idea. The evidence is weak. Archaeology is not an exact science! Lots of technologies have been discovered and lost by past civilisations. We can't predict which will survive the transition.


I said people didn't understand electricity or know how to convert mechanical energy into electricity. Electricity was know long before the first dynamo was invented,(c 1830) but it was a novelty until it was understood to be related to magnetism.
Are you saying that 1.6 billion do not have access to battery powered radio, TV, mobile phones, solar power?? or 1.6 Billion do not have grid connections??
In Roman times metals were not only used by the military, think of lead plumbing(the word from the Latin for lead), iron cooking pots, gold and silver table ware, jewelery. Iron was widely used and produced using charcoal, long before cheap fossil fuels.
Metals were expensive, because the technology for producing them was very low efficiency, transport of ores was expensive, and high grades ores were remote, not because energy was expensive relative to food or other goods.
In the future, fuels become expensive again, and therefore so do metals. Thieves today in America make a big profit from stealing electrical wires, so imagine how profitable that will be in the future when metal is far more expensive, and unemployment is far higher.
Why will energy become more expensive in the future? why will unemployment remain high in the future? The only part of your thesis I am sure will be true is that there will be thieves, the rest is your fantasy.

In Roman times metals were not only used by the military, think of lead plumbing(the word from the Latin for lead), iron cooking pots, gold and silver table ware, jewelery. Iron was widely used and produced using charcoal, long before cheap fossil fuels.

Roman times were special - they represented a near-global empire of peak wood, like today is a global empire of peak oil. Everywhere else in history before and after, metals were by far reserved for the military, and sometimes on a small scale for public works and quite rarely farming.

Moreover, in Roman times only the mega-rich in great cities had plumbing, etc.

Metals were expensive, because the technology for producing them was very low efficiency, transport of ores was expensive, and high grades ores were remote, not because energy was expensive relative to food or other goods.

Gold was the first metal exploited, because nuggets of pure gold sat around in streams. It took little energy to gather pure nuggets from streams. In terms of calories spent per kilogram of metal produced, mining was at peak efficency in the beginning. That is what "golden age" means.

Your idea of efficiency is probably kilograms metal per capita, in which case today is the most efficient - because energy consumption per capita is the highest ever. But without cheap energy, that isn't true anymore. So we're talking about calories per kilogram metal.

As time progressed, we spent increasing amounts of energy to exploit increasingly difficult ores. In terms of calories spent per kilograms metal, mining is today the least efficient in history.

Today, we mine and process tons of rock to produce one pound of copper. The good ores were mined long ago - if they still existed, we'd ignore the bad ores and mine the good ones, instead.

We've long since processed all the good iron, copper, gold, silver ores. What's left is impossible to mine, except with fossil-fueled mega-machines. Once the high-density fossil fuel is gone, it will be impossible to mine metals, because calories will be too expensive, and what ores remain require more calories per kilogram metal than ever before in history.

"When thieves steal the distribution wire..."
You mean, when thieves are allowed to steal the distribution wire and sell it to someone else, all without fear of any significant time in jail and most likely a short probation period not served behind bars.

What makes you think that thievery of distribution wire won't be punished by more drastic methods, say, hanging the thief and his/her fence using a bit of the distribution wire they stole? The economic dislocation caused by peak oil is going to force radical changes on the criminal justice system. It's just not going to be possible to spend $30,000 to $40,000 per year to jail someone so they can sit around and watch TV all day. I predict the return of prison farms and chain gangs doing manual labor as punishments instead of jail, and for violent crimes and certain kinds of theft, I wouldn't be surprised to see hanging, quickly administered, come back. They used to hang horse thieves, you know...

It doesn't take a lot of education to be a farm hand, and I imagine that's where a lot of the population who couldn't get a real education in a useful art or science will end up, criminal justice system or not.


Apparently for much of recorded history anyone who discovered something gaurded the new knowledge as if it were a military secret,so many discoveries were made and lost.Progress was pretty slow until the Enlightenment.

Progress calls for both prosperity,in order that the investigators can find patrons or support themselves w/o working for food and shelter plus a world view that is inclined towards sharing knowledge.

Priests are among the last to give up thier secrets.

Solar dude,

I'm afraid we may have to return to the old ways as a matter of nesessity,but I can't day I looking forward to it.

Would you (if it's not too nosy of me for asking) mind telling us about how many hours per week you spend farming and about what percent of your food is homegrown?

My family has been farming for about a hundred years in the mountians of southwest Virginia and family lore has it that growing enough to eat was no problem ONCE fields were cleared,sheds and fences built,fruit trees bearing ,and so forth.

(Growing enough for sale to buy necessary tools and items such as nails,water pipe,glass for windows,and barbed wire was another story altogether.)

But our weather is much more moderate than yours-we can work lots of days in December and March without coats during the warmer part of the day.

I will guess that everything else equal,you need at least two to three times more fire wood than we do here,as just one example of how much harder things might be in Maine or Vermont.

I'm afraid that some folks who may be thinking about "doomsteading" are not giving sufficient thought to the difficulties involved in living in areas lacking in adequate rainfall,short growing seasons and so forth.

When I was a teenager I spent about fifteen days to thirty days a year mowing our mountian orchards with a scythe,depending on how much help I got from the rest of the men,who were often busy with other work.

Most people have no conception of what real hand labor is.

The mountian orchards have all reverted back to poplar,locoust, and maple now,and in another fifty to one hunderd years they will have morphed into a temperate climax forest.

All our orchards now are on land we can work with trucks and tractors.

Is there an age limit to enrolling? I've been in my twenties for more than 10 years.

I am wondering when this H1N1 starts to impact oil demand:

A top World Health Organization official says the H1N1 swine flu virus is "unstoppable" and says every country needs the vaccine.

WHO vaccine research chief Marie-Paule Kieny said Monday that health care workers should get immunized first because they are needed during an outbreak. She said authorities must then decide who gets shots next. Swine flu is mild in healthy people and most victims do not need hospitalization. But the virus can be severe and even deadly in those with other serious health concerns, including asthma and pregnancy. Researchers also say that extreme obesity is now considered a risk factor for a severe reaction. Meanwhile, officials in Britain, Thailand, and the Philippines all reported new swine flu deaths Monday. The latest WHO report confirms nearly 95,000 swine flu cases around the world, with 429 deaths.

Speaking of lower demand:

The Economy Is Even Worse Than You Think
By: Mortimer Zuckerman

Next year state budgets will have depleted their initial rescue dollars. Absent another rescue plan, they will have no choice but to slash spending, raise taxes, or both. State and local governments, representing about 15% of the economy, are beginning the worst contraction in postwar history amid a deficit of $166 billion for fiscal 2010, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and a gap of $350 billion in fiscal year 2011.

Having said that, at mid-year, for what it's worth, the EIA is estimating the decline in total worldwide demand at only about 1.5 mbpd versus 2008, but as you noted, things could change.

Meanwhile, the top story on the CNN Money page:

Here comes the recovery. Honest.

It may also have a serious impact on the availability of public transport, and who knows what else. I've just come across this:

Finnish Railways (VR) said Tuesday it was prepared for a worst-case scenario of a quarter of its staff contracting swine influenza in the autumn.

The government-owned rolling stock operator added it would have to cut services in such an eventuality.


Presumably there would be a similar impact on the availability of goods, and so on. This just might get interesting.

Electricity and water.

People made fun of former Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt because he told everyone to put canned tuna and peanut butter under the bed, and prepare to live for a couple of weeks without water or electricity. The worry was bird flu at the time, but they're still giving the same advice for swine flu. The fear is that quarantine or high levels of illness will mean power plants and water treatment plants will have to be shut down due to lack of workers (never mind grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, etc.).

More on flu from WHO, comparing virus to 1918:

The new H1N1 influenza virus bears a disturbing resemblance to the virus strain that caused the 1918 flu pandemic, with a greater ability to infect the lungs than common seasonal flu viruses, researchers reported on Monday. Tests in several animals confirmed other studies that have shown the new swine flu strain can spread beyond the upper respiratory tract to go deep into the lungs — making it more likely to cause pneumonia, the international team said.

In addition, they found that people who survived the 1918 pandemic seem to have extra immune protection against the virus, again confirming the work of other researchers. "When we conducted the experiments in ferrets and monkeys, the seasonal virus did not replicate in the lungs," said Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, who led the study. The H1N1 virus replicates significantly better in the lungs." The new swine flu virus has caused the first pandemic of the 21st century, infecting more than a million people, according to estimates, and killing at least 500. The World Health Organization says it is causing mostly moderate disease but Kawaoka said that does not mean it is like seasonal flu. "There is a misunderstanding about this virus," he said in a statement. "There is clear evidence the virus is different than seasonal influenza." Writing in the journal Nature, Kawaoka and colleagues noted that the ability to infect the lungs is a characteristic of other pandemic viruses, especially the 1918 virus, which is estimated to have killed between 40 million and 100 million people.

Old Protection

They tested the virus in blood samples taken from nursing home residents and workers in 1999 in California, Wisconsin, the Netherlands and Japan. People born before 1920 had a strong antibody response to the new H1N1 virus, meaning their body "remembered" it from infection early in life. This finding supports a study published in Nature in August that also found people who survived the 1918 pandemic still had immune protection against that virus. Flu viruses change constantly, which is why people can be re-infected and why the vaccine must be changed regularly. Current seasonal strains of H1N1 are distant cousins of both the 1918 pandemic strain and the new H1N1 strain. "Our findings are a reminder that swine-origin influenza viruses have not yet garnered a place in history, but may still do so, as the pandemic caused by these viruses has the potential to produce a significant impact on human health and the global economy," the researchers wrote. Other tests showed the virus could be controlled by the antiviral drugs Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline, and Tamiflu, made by Roche AG, the researchers said. The World Health Organization said on Monday that vaccine makers should start making immunizations against H1N1 and that healthcare workers should be first in line to get them. Companies working on an H1N1 vaccine include Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis AG, Baxter International Inc, GlaxoSmithKline, Solvay and nasal spray maker MedImmune, now part of AstraZeneca.

Jim Rawles has had a pretty regular section for flu links on his blog for some time. http://www.survivalblog.com


Use this page, too:

The emergency planners were told at the conference that "the best case" is 50% infection and they are expecting this fall's strain to increase in its lethality to something like 0.5%. This makes it close to the Asian flu in 1957.

My colleague is planning for two more waves (this fall and next spring) with the major impact occurring this fall.

I was further told that businesses should plan for significant numbers of employees (possibly as high at 50%) staying home, a significant drop in revenue and supply disruptions. Citizens should make every effort to get set up to work at home and have a minimum of two weeks of food in the house, better is four or six weeks. Get prescriptions filled out ahead of time for regular medications.

For those in San Francisco, I'm holding a "How to Prepare" event on July 27th...might be one of the last until the flu season is over. We'll see.



Yesterday I was in Oxford, UK, and I went to Boots, a so-called Pharmacy (they sell mostly perfumes) and I asked for a face mask, I wanted to buy one just in case. No luck.
It is not that they don't sell them, they don't even stock them.

I'll try and make that one-

Jet fuel demand has been significantly affected already, however, since the virus is widespread and in the absence of increased virulence there is no reason to think that decrease in air travel from H1N1 will continue. With an increase in virulence, I would expect the global economy to suffer resulting in a significant decrease in other oil products demand, too.

UAL, Continental Air May Lead U.S. Carriers to $1 Billion Loss

The flu outbreak reduced demand, prompting Continental and other international carriers to trim Mexico flights. Continental said May revenue slid by about $30 million, with Tempe, Arizona- based US Airways forecasting about $20 million in lost revenue.

Delta, the world’s largest carrier, said the flu wiped out about $150 million in second-quarter revenue, much of it in Asia.

One point to remember is that the combination of economic contraction + the H1N1 virus will not only negatively impact demand, they will negatively impact supply--as (1) new production projects are deferred, scaled back or cancelled (economic effects) and (2) as companies have trouble staffing production, refining and distribution of petroleum facilities (flu effects).

BTW, didn't JHK call it the "Mexican Flu" in "World made by hand."

In the UK we have about 10K lab-tested swine flu positives, but probably close to 20K actual but only 17 deaths so far. Numbers are forecast to go to 100K new cases per day by the end of August. So far the death rate is much lower than the 0.5%(?) figure mentioned by ToD contributor aangel recently, when he drew on look-ahead by official US sources? Could be due to the large use of tamiflu prospectively on contacts, children in affected schools etc.
Inevitable some parts of the economy will retract. If death rate changes (recombination with more lethal genes) expect that to be enormous. We were told here the other night that there is a disproportionate effect even now on lungs compared with 'seasonal human flu'.

Shades of "28 DAYS" ????

Get ready to rumble..

From what I have been able to learn the reason the fatality rate is not higher is because the case load is currently low enough that they have been able to provide ventilators for all in need.

If case load goes up this may change.

You've mentioned that to me in that past Jeff and I think that's part of the reason.

A powerful strain of avian influenza has generated concern about a possible pandemic, though scientists do not know with certainty whether or when a pandemic will occur. However, the better-prepared New York State is, the greater its chances of reducing morbidity, mortality and economic consequences. In a pandemic, many more patients could require the use of mechanical ventilators than can be accommodated with current supplies. A federal ventilator stockpile exists, and New York State plans to buy additional ventilators that would meet the needs of patients in a moderately severe pandemic. In a disaster on the scale of the 1918 influenza pandemic, however, stockpiles would not be sufficient to meet need. Even if the vast number of ventilators needed for a disaster of that scale were purchased, a sufficient number of trained staff would not be available to operate them. If the most severe forecast becomes a reality, New York State and the rest of the country will need to confront the rationing of ventilators.

From "Allocation of Ventilators in an Influenza Pandemic:Planning Document" (2007 PDF)

The other part is the natural mutation of the virus; the second wave tends to be a more lethal form than the first wave.

Not a good flu, I got it a few months ago. It caused great difficulty breathing. I could only sleep by sitting up, otherwise breathing difficulties kept me awake.

Fortunately, I have a lot of practice sleeping while sitting.

I don't think there is anything that can cure it. You just have to endure. I drank a lot of tea. Vitamin C is probably the best way to battle it; 500mg will keep the coughing under control for hours. Go to the drugstore, buy a bottle and gobble. Otherwise, stay inside and away from people. It goes away after about two weeks.

Speaking of H1N1 and pregnancy...this about 30 miles north of me

Pregnant Palm Beach County waitress' swine flu worries co-workers

Opdyke is currently in a medically induced coma at Wellington Regional Medical Center, suffering from what her husband Bryan says is complications due to a confirmed case of the H1N1 virus -- the second pregnant Palm Beach County woman confirmed to be stricken in a week.

Local TV news report last night suggested her survival prognosis is less than 50-50. Seemed like a missed or late diagnosis and in 24 hours went from sore throat, to constant coughing, to medically induced coma to try to save her life and that or her fetus.

I was reading something the other day about the H1N1 flu and coma. Seemingly some Russian researchers found that treating the flu with aspirin can induce a coma. If true, I hate to think what the ramifications of this would be.

Here's a link from a Google search:

Russian doctors say treating swine flu with aspirin causes coma


E. Swanson

I think it could be pretty bad.

Here in my city we have run out of ventilators (more on order) and the skilled folks to run them. A state of emergency has been declared in the hospitals and staff with even a smidgeon of critical care or emergency experience are being redeployed and run through refreshers to cope with the conditions we are in now. For every person requiring ventilator support there are others who require admission and care - we have opened wards to accommodate them. These cases are on top of our usual case load - the other sick people didn't go away.

This is the spring season (and it is july!!) I can only hope that come fall we have a miraculous influx of trained staff, equipment and supplies and an unforseen spurt of immunity.

Please note - the numbers are not huge. We have fewer than 1000 cases in our province and that was enough to stress our system significantly. These numbers are much much lower than 1918 infection or death rates.

In the news yesterday Ottawa was developing triage guidelines for the allotment of resources should the system be overwhelmed. Most people not in healthcare that I have spoken with are shocked and believe that a scenario of that type is not likely. Having seen what even small infection rates can do to our system I think it is very likely that we will be implementing this form of disaster triage unless some significant luck comes our way. I work in a large emergency department and this outbreak has noticably increased our workload and the acuity of our patients. I shudder to think what the fall may bring.

Regards, Al

Yesterday's DB had an article about Strauss & Howe's "Fourth Turning" theory of cyclical cultural change. Though it started off with a decent re-cap of the theory, it then devolved to the author ranting about "green extremists".

And then just this morning I came across this interview with Howe that does a nice job of relating what his theory predicts for the next decade or so. It's called "A 20 Year Bear Market?" and is at:

Here are some snippets from it:

The summary outlook, according to Howe, is that we are in the very early stages of a 20-year period of economic and institutional upheaval - an era denominated by a crisis during which we'll likely witness the tearing down and reconstruction of many aspects of society as we know it.
The potentially good news, if you credit Howe's research, is that the Crisis we're now entering will change pretty much everything. While this change will entail a great deal of pain and a reduced standard of living for a large number of people, by the time the Crisis subsides, society will have pretty much remade itself in ways that no one can predict at this point.

Put another way, today's intractable problems will be solved... one way or another.
Most importantly, if Howe is right, this crisis is far from over. In fact, when I asked him where we are today on a scale from 1 to 10 -- with 10 representing as bad as the crisis will get -- he replied that we are at either 2 or 3. In other words, the worst is very much yet to come. And, per above, he expects this period of turmoil to take 20 years to play out. Thus, if nothing else, you may want to continue approaching matters of personal finance cautiously.

An equally interesting look at cyclical changes in our cultural desires (The American Dream periodically drastically changing) is detailed in Professor Jack Lessinger's "Schizomania" theory. His latest book is called The Great Prosperity of 2020 (and yes, we have to go through bad times first to get there...)

Neil Howe is interesting, but I don't think he has a clue about peak oil or resource depletion. He makes his predictions by looking at the past - at the four different kinds of "generations" that repeat in the US in the same pattern.

I think peak oil might well be a game-changer that breaks the pattern.

Peak oil, and it's economic effects, will probably end up being part of the "Crisis" that catalyzes this Fourth Turning.


game-changer that breaks the pattern

is what causes a "Crisis".

Howe's generational insights deal with how we will deal with the crisis (not what causes it).

If we consider Peak Oil to be 'done deal' then it is the question of how we will deal with it that becomes a much more compelling question...


game-changer that breaks the pattern

is what causes a "Crisis".

No, it's not. A crisis is part of the pattern - as he sees it.

Howe's generational insights deal with how we will deal with the crisis (not what causes it).

I understand that.

But I think he's probably wrong about the next generation being a happy party time, like the 1950s were after the Great Depression/WWII.

The reason the 1950s were such a happy party time for the US was because we were on top of the world with the only industrial infrastructure still standing. If the coming crisis includes massive depopulation, the next generation could be relatively well off for the survivors.

You are very much on target with the US being unrivaled industrially in the 50s, plus we had all the worlds gold. Talk about a huge head start.
Harry Dent subscribes to the whole generational cycle thing and it does make some sense when the characteristics and data are cherry picked but I don't see how in the world the depletion of fossil fuels can't be the main factor in anything that happens next.
The next 20 years and beyond are going to be much different and not in a good way. There is already incredible poverty and hunger world wide now and that is at the apex of civilization. There is going to be a massive reduction in population starting with the 3rd world and working its way all the way up.
What is happening now in the US is surreal and can only be a foreshadowing of the disruptions and eventually chaos that will define the future.

I would like to add, as Leanan alluded, that the cycles he sees have been occurring during a time of relative stability and plenty, much like the modern world. Like Leanan, I don't think his patterns will apply during a crisis of this magnitude in which so many of the underlying structures are likely to shift.

Cheers (from inside the USA!)

Peak oil and Population; here and World wide.

I am pretty sceptical about any cyclical theories of history. They all end up trying to fit things into the pattern that just don't fit. Furthermore, I continue to insist that one cannot simply project past patterns into the future and rely on things to actually turn out that way. "Past performance is not a guarantee of future results."

I am equally sceptical of optimistic linear theories, too. Just because the trajectory has been upward in the past is no guarantee that it will continue to be so in the future.

What I actually suspect is that the future will be quite "messy" and not fit neatly into any of our pre-conceived models.

They don't seem to consider the possibility that the "light at the end of the tunnel" 20 years out might actually be from a hole in the face of a sheer vertical rock face, with a long drop down.

I'm a lot more worried about a collapse twenty years out than I am about it happening in the next year or two.

We are looking at a serious situation with economics, PO, flu, etc. When we try to estimate what the effect of all this is going to do to each of us and our families, it is easy to conclude that, “It really ain’t that bad right now.” And for the most part, this is true. The cornucopians are more or less correct to date. You may think, I should have a couple more years to assemble my caca.

I would like to point out some common sense from Taleb’s “Black Swan”. The negative effects of a black swan are greater when other negative effects are occurring. In other words, “Badness is expoential.” You may think you are OK for the badness you see but be on your toes for hints of badness to come. Keep a close eye for possible black swans on the horizon that will make the known situation much worse.

Assuming you are mostly prepared for PO (out of debt, a garden, some gold, tools, proficient at a trade, means for water, NPK, etc.). If you hear that Israeli warplanes have launched, immediately buy whatever else you may need (lots of flour, sugar, beans, etc. Your list may vary.) before they get to target. If you wait to see what happened, you and your family may end up just another statistic in the die-off that will follow. The only way to mitigate a black swan is to be aware of the possible results and take corrective action ASAP. This is especially true when we are looking at this perfect storm in the making. Sure, the launch may be a bunch of guys flew over to the French Riviera for a knight on the town but if they headed the other way, it could be a very bad black swan. Be aware of what you might need in varying circumstances and be spring loaded to get it right away.

I'm betting collapse happens in less then 3 years!

Pretty Dyana

Came across a documentary the other day that might offer a glimpse of what a dire, melted down urban life could look like post fossil fuel abundance. About 45 minutes long, it follows a group of gypsy scavengers living informally on the edge of Belgrade. They run a small fleet of recycling trucks based on old Citroen Dyanes, hence the title.




The center of Edinburgh, Scotland is currently having trams installed. This is most unpopular. Then so was the Scottish Parliament building when it was being built. Now most folk are happy with the parliament and the new building so there's hope for the trams.

I went down town this morning and took some photographs of the work in progress.

In this photo, you can see the concrete foundations and the rails being installed in Princes Street (looking east).

Here is a view across the new rails towards Edinburgh castle.

And here's a view from the steps at the front of the National Gallery of Scotland looking west.

I then climbed the 287 steps of the Scott Monument and took some more photographs which are still on old fashioned film in my camera.

Why are trams so unpopular in Edinburgh? It seems like such a sensible idea, and it certainly will improve mobility in a post peak world.

I can see why building those tramlines is unpopular. Princes Street doesn't quite look the way it did when I was there some 18 months ago. When did they start building them, and when are they supposed to finish (i.e. what's the schedule)?

I'm sure Edinburghers will appreciate having them in the end, anyways!

It's interesting to compare my photos with those taken last time last time they installed trams in Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh Trams website has lots more information, photographs and news.

Diversions were put in place for all traffic on Princes Street from Saturday, 21 February 2009 and these will last until the end of November 2009 apparently.

People in Edinburgh can't believe we're spending £512 million on trams when we have a perfectly good, in fact a rather excellent bus service. Traders in and around Princes Street, Shandwick Place and Leith Walk are all losing business due to the disruption. It's the favourite topic of complaint from taxi drivers.

Strategic issues such as resource depletion is way off most people's radar.

I've always liked trams. I remember when I worked in Milan, Italy, in the 80's using their tram systems regularly. They had a marvellous ticket system of time based tickets, which allowed you to travel on any tram to any destination.

But when I now hear of trams, light rail, etc. a nagging question always remains at the back of my mind. Their heyday was during the tremendous growth of cities, fuelled by the Industrial Revolution and FFs. What happens on the down side? What happens as the cities lose their "raison d'etre" and people no longer have places of work to go to or other reasons to travel?

I often wonder whether people are fighting the last war rather than the next one. Basing a future on false assumptions.

I agree. I don't think the future will be like the past, only backward. Rather than using mass transit more, I suspect we will be traveling a lot less.

Hello Leanan,

I hope that continued efforts at Peak Outreach & Peakoil Shoutout will lead to some measure of Optimal Overshoot Decline, instead of a fast descent to the Tlameme Backpacking Scheme [a non-effective collective-diameter for a city or town].

IMO, we need to move to a lot of physically-fit people traveling much more distances with pedalized SpiderWebRiding [a more effective collective-diameter for an area. 100 miles,200 miles?]. Picture nearly everyone doing their best-effort Lance Armstrong imitation with a cargo-railbike every day to keep vital resources moving bi-directionally.

Real spiders evolved in this direction a very long time ago:


"Remember when the music..[song title]
Was a glow on the horizon of every newborn day.."--Harry Chapin

Or will we prefer the agonizing screams of a Nuhautl Tlameme?

An Indian woman carries a load of firewood on her head as she crosses the desert of The Little Rann of Kutch in the Kharaghoda region some 120 kms north-west of Ahmedabad on March 7, 2008, on the eve of International Womens Day. The woman regularly embarks on a journey of some twelve kilometres from Kharaghoda to a forested area to gather firewood to sell. One load would sell for sixty Indian Rupees (USD 1.48).
It wouldn't surprise me if this desolate area is now having machete' moshpits like those other Indian areas with severe water shortages [See the weblink provided by a TODer in yesterday's DB].

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

Rather than using mass transit more, I suspect we will be traveling a lot less.

Thats the way I see it too.
The mass transit probably will never be built, at least in America and to the degree it will be meaningful.

I strongly suspect that transportation for most places will increasingly become multi-modal and multi-nodal.

What I mean by this:

-One will get around one's own neighborhood, or to the nearest transfer node, on foot, or bicycle, or maybe in a pedicab, or maybe in an NEV (owned, or rented, or hired as a taxi), or maybe in a small jitney - or maybe even by horse-drawn carriage.

-One might travel a little past one's own neighborhood in any of the above, but there also might be one or more modes that can take one from the neighborhood transfer node to another neighborhood transfer node, or an area node serving several neighborhoods. This might be by tram, but will more likely be by shuttle bus or van.

-The area transfer nodes in turn might be connected to each other through a network that includes one or more regional/metropolitan central transfer node(s). These might all be connected by subway if passenger traffic is heavy enough, or maybe only by light rail or tramway, or even just by bus if the passenger traffic is smaller; there could also be a mix, with some area nodes connected by one mode, others with a different mode, and some perhaps served by two or more different modes.

-These regional/metropolitan transfer nodes in turn would be interconnected by inter-city passenger rail, or maybe something like the old interurbans, or maybe by something like a Greyhound bus if passenger rail is not possible. Once again, there may be a mix of modes connecting one regional node with others. Note that a trip across several states might require several hops and transfers from one city to another; there will be very few, if any, overnight trains, and passengers traveling long distances will probably have to stay overnight at a "station hotel" as they did in the old days. I anticipate that there will be few, if any, long haul passenger lines (the present Amtrak model).

-A select few of these regional/metropolitan nodes might be connected by subway, or light rail, or tram, or bus, to a regional airport. A few passenger flights might continue for some very long-distance routes, such as NY or DC to LA, for example. Air travel will be very expensive and only a very small number of people will still travel that way - mostly high-ranking government and corporate executives and professionals, on important business.

The reason I am convinced that it will be this way is because it is modular and can evolve on an incremental fashion. I am highly sceptical that this country can actually even decide to undertake any massive programs, let alone come up with the money to fund them. On the other hand, what I have described can be put together piecemeal with little actual planning over the course of a couple of decades. A good number of the pieces are actually already in place, it is mostly just a matter of filling in the gaps.

One of the biggest challenges that will have to be overcome as we transition to this multi-modal, multi-nodal transport system will be security for the passengers. People will not wait at transfer nodes or ride in conveyances if they feel, or actually are, threatened by gangs or other criminals. If we want to get people out of their cars (as we must), then this is a problem that MUST be solved. Communities that are unable or unwilling to do whatever it takes to provide adequate security to transport passengers will find themselves declining, collapsing, and ultimately being abandoned to anarchy.

This security issue is one we have not discussed very much here, but it is hugely important. I am predicting that it will be one of the main "make or break" issues for transportation, and indeed for all the mitigation/adaptation efforts that must soon come.

Hi Observer,

People will not wait at transfer nodes or ride in conveyances if they feel, or actually are, threatened by gangs or other criminals. If we want to get people out of their cars (as we must), then this is a problem that MUST be solved.

I'm beginning to think that industrialized humans have become utterly stupid (especially US folks). The bicycle (and trikes) is undoubtedly the greatest invention of mankind. We could add another 50 years to the urgency of PO with the stroke of a pen - mandate that bicycle transport takes priority over all forms of motorized transport. Of course, this will not happen.

Security is a very real issue - starting with getting motorists to recognize bikes as legitimate vehicles - not targets for abuse. But more to your point - how much of problem would we have with criminals if the roads were filled with cyclists instead of cars? When China's primary mode of transport was the bicycle, did those folks worry about criminals at every corner?

I know lots of folks in thier 50s, 60s and 70s that can cycle 100 miles in a day. We are so easily deluded into certain mindsets - like automobiles being some kind of god given preference for transport. Bicycles have a potential that is simply beyond comprehension for the vast majority of people. Stupidity is the only explanation that comes to mind when thinking about the impediments to a bicycle centric world.

All the excuses of physical fittness, weather, distance, etc - all nonsense for the vast majority of people. Although I have to admit that our dog gets really bored after riding in the bike trailer for more than 10 miles - still trying to solve that problem.

I agree about the potential of bikes.

I think 'Stupidity' is a little too easy a reason. I think we were drugged(and largely happy to BE drugged).. That brought out a lot of stupid in us at many levels.

How much could your dog run alongside? Not that it's practical or really even possible in street traffic.. just wondering. Before we moved into this apartment, the previous tenants used to leave the big Entertainment system on all day so their dog would not be bored.. maybe you could give Spot a TV? kidding..

Best hopes for more ADHD and Restless Tongue Syndrome drug solutions for our pets...

Hi Jokuhl,

You're right, it is more complicated. I have felt for some time now that "disinformantion" from all the vested interest folks is a major factor in the general complacency about PO.

My wife's pride and joy is an aging Irish Terrior (Terriorist?) We try to take her "baby" everywhere we go but running along side is not an option. But, pulling the trailer is always fun - people look for the "baby" and then smile big-time at seening "Shannon" instead.

Yesterday I saw a man on roller skates being pulled by his dog. One solution :-)

It is not uncommon to see a bicyclist slowly pedaling as they walk their dog.

Perhaps a dBike (like an eBike but dog assisted ?)

Statistics show that as the # of bicyclists increase, the absolute # of deaths stay flat or go down. More is safer /bicyclist.

And I am a member of the local bicyclist advocacy group and harassment of bicyclists is very rare in New Orleans.

Best Hopes for more bicyclists,


I worry though that one of the things that municipalities will cut is maintenance for bike paths. Instead of asphalt, many will revert to gravel or crushed stone, and that's a lot harder to ride on.

Street maintenance will become rarer, and road conditions will deteriorate. More potholes, more patches, etc.

I would need a different bike with fatter tires..

Interestingly, it was bicyclists who were largely responsible for getting our roads paved in the first place. See The Good Roads Movement.

One advantage of bike lanes. Bicycles do NOT wear out the pavement. Smooth lane right next to potholes.


Dog sled has been a reliable mode of transport in arctic climes for many thousands of years. I also didn't mention various water-based modes of transport, which are also obvious options in coastal and riverine locations. It really is fascinating to study all the various ways people have invented to get around. I suspect that we are not quite done inventing, either. There are so many different ways to get around, why say that just one mode is IT, to the exclusion of all others. Diversity in transport modes leads to resilience and greater stability in the civic ecology.

Yes, a person COULD bicycle clear across a city from one side to another, or even from one city to another. It does take time, though. It is one thing to cycle a 20 or 30 minute commute each way, each day. Two or three hours each way is another matter. This is why I think that multi-modal rather than a single "silver bullet, one size fits all" approach is what will actually work best. Cycle to the neighborhood transfer node, load the bike on a rack, ride to another node, get off, and bike to your final destination. I believe that you will see many more people actually using bicycles if this is an available option.

And yes, a person could bicycle in all weather, no matter how bad. If they had other, less miserable options to fall back on in bad weather, though, I suspect that they would feel better about committing to bike in good weather. The same applies wrt illnesses or injuries, which people DO sometimes get.

Or live in an area with a decent walkscore (say 77) and within 0.5 miles (National WW II Museum) to 3.x miles (Tulane, Loyola, far side of Medical Center) of most major employment centers.

Except for JazzFest (5 miles away, 6 miles by streetcar) and the airport (~dozen miles away), I have little need or desire to go more than 3.5 miles from home.

Best Hopes for Efficiency by Location,


Security has been a major issue for years already in many downtowns and on many public transit systems but it's not considered polite to talk about it.

We have cops with handcuffs,mace and pistols in just about every public school nowadays and hardly any timid women I know are willing to ride the city buses in Richmond Va where I used to live due to the young men with attitudes and pants hanging half off.

It's probably going to get a lot worse,and the more the people who see the government as thier mommy try to make every body be nice the worse it will get imo because the streetwise who have nothing to lose know how to "game the system"but if an ordinary citizen says anything to a couple of punks the cops are on his case in a hurry.

I will go to my grave convinced that the guy in new York who shot the fellows with the screwdrivers should have gotten a medal in stead if being prosecuted.

But what actually happens is that we abandon more and more turf to the lawless while the politically correct opinion makers hide in gated communities and eat in restaurants too expensive to have to listen to loud conversations consisting twenty five percent of the word "motherxxxxxx".

I married a nice Jewish girl from New York who was deathly afraid of guns when I met her but nowadays two of her best friends are her concealed carry permit and her palm size Beretta.

Her current husband can hide behind her back if someone troubles them on the streetwhen they take an evening stroll.Armed robbery in the street is not rare anymore.

We don't have the money or the will to control our society any more and my guess is that in a few years if you aren't prepared to look after yourself no one else is going to be around to look after you.

Our streetcars are among the safest public places in New Orleans and the buses "aren't bad".


There's a photograph of the original Edinburgh tram network here taken from the same spot I took my photograph yesterday in front of the National Gallery of Scotland looking west.

Conference Board says slump all but over, growth to rebound 2.7 per cent in 2010

The Bank of Canada's summer survey of businesses revealed a surprisingly upbeat mood among Canada's leading executives, with 61 per cent expecting improved conditions and 39 per cent planning to start hiring in the upcoming 12 months.

And the Conference Board of Canada's newest quarterly forecast calls for the recession to finally end this summer, setting the stage for a better-than expected 2.7-per-cent output rebound next year.

Whew, we're out of the woods up here in the Great White North! Now we can get right back into the bubble economy with barely a hickup.

The hazards of buying a foreclosed home:

Illnesses Afflict Homes With a Criminal Past

Federal data on meth lab seizures suggest that there are tens of thousands of contaminated residences in the United States. The victims include low-income elderly people whose homes are surreptitiously used by relatives or in-laws to make meth, and landlords whose tenants leave them with a toxic mess.

...“The meth lab home problem is only going to grow,” said Dawn Turner, who started a Web site, www.methlabhomes.com , after her son lost thousands of dollars when he bought a foreclosed home in Sweetwater, Tenn., that turned out to be contaminated. Because less is known about the history of foreclosed houses, Ms. Turner said, “as foreclosures rise, so will the number of new meth lab home owners.”

Those meth houses need to be torn down and the debris taken to a toxic waste site. The upside is that this would make a dent in the surplus housing stock, raise neighborhood housing values, and open up some spaces for infill development.

Maybe the deal could be structured in such a way that Goldman Sachs is left holding the bag - they can certainly afford to take the loss.

maybe we could have a similar program for toxically flipped houses. many of the foreclosed houses have their root in a flipper's cover-up.

here is a partial list:

1) vinyl siding
2) carpet
3) cheaply built expensive cabinets
4) tub/shower surround
5) textured cielings
6) paint.............more paint
7) expansive wooden deck

I'm burning some fossil fuels next week, flying in to Northern California (Oakland) to visit some relatives. Any good tips on things to see? Any places to learn about post-peak preparation / transition? I know the Post-Carbon Institute is up north in the country, and Willits has it's transition efforts, but is there anything to see and learn from on an afternoon visit? I'm looking for lessons to take back home to my community.

Check out what www.baylocalize.org is doing. They've got quite a few interesting projects going on.


Re: New power plant a quick fix to energy shortage

Acts II and III are presumably to follow shortly (note that this Star article is dated October 29th, 2008; construction on the Guelph plant began in December 2007):

Power plant needed to meet energy demand, province says

Energy minister makes case for natural gas facility in Mississauga, Etobicoke or Oakville

The OPA is now seeking a new location for roughly 850 megawatts of power generation, in south Etobicoke, Mississauga or Oakville....The mayor has said it is time for Etobicoke or Oakville to take a plant, saying Mississauga is getting a 280-megawatt gas-fired plant near Dixie Rd. and Queensway E.

See: http://www.thestar.com/Article/526488

In related news:

Mayor seeks health ban on power plants

The mayor used a Tuesday meeting of the Regional Health Committee to introduce a motion that calls on the Region to pressure the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure to terminate any process that sees a gas-fired power plant established in the Oakville/Mississauga area known as the Clarkson Airshed.

The motion comes as four companies submit their bids to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to build and operate such a power plant.

If successful in its bid, TransCanada proposes to establish the 900-megawatt Oakville Generating Station on a Ford owned site, located at 1500 Royal Windsor Dr.

See: http://www.oakvillebeaver.com/news/article/267006

SNC-Lavalin says its Goreway gas-fired power plant near Toronto has...

OAKVILLE, Ont. - SNC-Lavalin Group (TSX:SNC) says the C$942 million Goreway power plant near Toronto the company built is commercially producing power for the Ontario electricity grid.

SNC-Lavalin Power Power Ontario Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary, said Thursday that testing has been completed on the 880 megawatt Goreway station in Brampton, Ont. and the plant is delivering power to the Ontario grid.

See: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/business/breakingnews/SNC-Lavalin-says-...

A 110 MW power plant was recently commissioned at the Pearson International Airport in neighbouring Milton.


You may find this talk an interesting listen to.


Claims that a diet change creates a genetic change in under 3 months.

Regarding Mexico, story linked uptop, it's going to be very interesting to see what happens to their consumption over the next four years, if, as most of us expect, their production declines at kind of rate that we have seen over the past four years, especially last year (almost -10%/year). In any case, following are some examples of net export declines, including Mexico. Notice a pattern in the numbers?

Some Net Oil Exporters Showing Production Declines
Production & Net Export Declines Per Year, Over the Referenced Time Frame, Are Respectively Shown (EIA, Total Liquids)

Saudi Arabia (2005-2008)
-1.0%/year (Prod.) & -2.7%/year (Net Oil Exports)

Norway (2001-2008)
-4.7%/year & -5.1%/year

Iran (2005-2008)
-0.5%/year & -3.4%/year

Nigeria (2005-2008)
-6.4%/year & -6.9%/year

Venezuela (1997-2008)
-2.6%/year & -4.5%/year

Mexico (2004-2008)
-4.7%/year & -13.5%/year

Colombia (1999-2008)
-3.6%/year & -8.3%/year

Oman (2000-2008)
-3.1%/year & -4.4%/year

Vietnam (2004-2008)
-3.5%/year & -46.0%/year

Russia has shown a resumed production decline for only one year, but here are the 2007 to 2008 numbers:
-0.9%/year & -2.5%/year

Some Former Net Oil Exporters
Production & Net Export Increases/Declines Per Year, Over the Referenced Time Frame, Are Respectively Shown (EIA, Total Liquids)

China (1985-1992)
+1.8%/year & -16.9%/year

Indonesia (1996-2003)
-3.9%/year & -28.9%/year

UK (1999-2005)
-7.8%/year & -55.7%/year

The ELM (Export Land Model) would fall in the "Former Net Oil Exporter" category, with the following numbers, over an 8 year period:
-5.0%/year and -28.8%/year

Graph showing year over year change in net oil exports for ELM, the UK and Indonesia:

It will be interesting to see how much of this comes to fruition, but it does make for interesting PR nonetheless:

GE Targets Net Zero Energy Homes by 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GE announced today that by 2015 it is developing a turn-key product portfolio that will empower consumers to build – both new home builders and existing homeowners – to efficiently consume, manage and generate electricity to enable an overall net zero annual energy cost. In addition to GE’s current portfolio of energy-efficient lighting and appliances products and demand response technology that GE is currently developing, GE plans to develop residential power generation products like solar PV and residential wind products, well positioning GE to make the net zero energy home a reality.


There are about 60 Million U.S. homes with electric tank hot water heaters, if 10 percent installed a GE Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater, this would save 15 Billion kWh annually of energy. In addition, the demand response capabilities of the GE Hybrid during peak demand time could reduce the energy consumption associated with the 6 Million units by as much as 22.8 Gigawatts or the equivalent of reducing the generating capacity of 40 coal plants during peak demand time.


Talk to me, baby, “Smart” appliances that talk to the grid are coming your way soon

So the oven says to the refrigerator, “Don’t be so cold.”

That line will soon be more than a bad joke. The Jetsons are coming to life as dishwashers, washing machines, and other home appliances begin to talk to each other and to the electricity grid in an effort to manage and reduce energy use.

See: http://www.grist.org/article/2009-07-14-smart-appliances-talk-to-grid/


Hi Paul, interesting stuff as always. Those hybrid heat pumps are very interesting and fitting them with a simple frequency response or a some sort of smart control system would help peak demands and be a good way of storing off peak or variable electricity.

Thanks. I can't recall the exact numbers off the top of my head, but I believe 80 or 90 per cent of the domestic water heaters in Nova Scotia are electric, and in neighbouring New Brunswick I think that number is 97 or 98 per cent (the percentage is quite high in Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador as well)... so if I seem to have an unnatural fixation with heat pump water heaters, now you know why (*).

A side bar to this: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/opinion/article/724546

Back in the early 80s, I leased a water cylinder from Toronto Hydro (the home was all-electric) and it had a ripple control. I believe Toronto Hydro has discontinued this service, but the one thing I didn't like is that you paid a flat fee for, effectively, unlimited hot water; whilst the load control aspect was great, it ultimately encouraged excessively high usage.

BTW, something else you might appreciate: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/greenproperty/5794878/Eco-homes-how-...

Edit: Since we seem to travelling throughout much of Atlantic Canada, let's make the trip complete... The CBC's evening news broadcast in PEI, Compass, featured some helpful energy saving tips a couple years back, which you can view online at: http://www.cbc.ca/pei/features/powerpoints/ The companion series, "Escape from Oil" I've mentioned here before, and it can be viewed at: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2008/11/13/pe-f-ener... (BTW, Prince Edward Island, IMHO, is one of the most beautiful islands in the world.)


(*) My basement dehumidifier is the second largest consumer of electricity in my current home after my two heat pumps, and a HPWH could theoretically supply all the hot water I need at less than half the cost of my current cylinder and, at the same time, allow me to kick this noisy, power guzzling, you-need-to-empty-my-bucket-again appliance to the curb.

China car sales are surging!

The first half of 2009, the shadow of the financial crisis has not been fully dispersed, the Chinese automobile market is extremely strong and has set a record in history. Statistics show that during the first half of 2009, domestic car production and sales will exceed six million, the data in 2008 year-on-year during the first half of 3.609 million representing an increase of 66.25%. Cutting-edge local Shenzhen BYD Automobile Brand for five consecutive years in the high growth of 100 percent, based on sales during the first half of 2009 once again soaring sales grow 176 percent year-on-year, higher than the industry growth rate of nearly 110% , deserved to become the first half of the fastest growing automotive brand.


And also very important IMO: The chines car buyers are buying their car for CASH. Up to date there is practically no leasing/credit procedure available.

IMO, China is to our current predicament as the US was to the Thirties--when there were reportedly three million more US cars on the road in 1937 than in 1929. And it appears that 1930 was the only year that showed a decline in worldwide oil consumption, with consumption rising thereafter, with oil prices increasing at +11%/year from the summer of 1931 to the summer of 1937. Big difference today is that hundreds of millions of people worldwide want to drive a car for the first time.

... not only that. I guess that for every old-person having a driving license who dies today - there are '10 teenagers' turning 16y or 18y eligible to start training for a driving license. That leads to : 1 off-the road vs. 10 onto-the road. Obviously most of them 10 teenagers are poore with no car 'running' in their famliy - but at least a substitute number of 1:3 seems likely today world wide.

The Chinese may not be buying so many cars and they are not all paying cash:



The Chinese are following the asset price bubble path followed by the US without the securitization. Bank failure is one possible outcome or surge in inflation. Enabling car consumption is not only self- defeating but completely stupid.

From the last article:

"The researchers also point out a flaw in the nuclear energy argument. Although nuclear power does not produce carbon dioxide emissions in the same way as burning fossil fuels it does produce heat emissions equivalent to three times the energy of the electricity it generates and so contributes to global warming significantly, Nordell adds."

This is a point I hadn't heard before. I'm sure some of our nuke enthusiasts will have something to say on it?

Consider the earth as a black box radiation model. Heat comes from the sun in the form of photons and from the earths core on the input side and the radiation out to space is effected by clouds and other atmospheric conditions.

If you are converting matter into energy at the local fission plant not only are you adding heat, but you are warming water and therefore adding to the effect of water vapor in the atmosphere.

So yes, a fission plant adds to global warming.

I may be wrong here but it seems to me that those fissile isotopes would be decaying at the same rate, producing the same amount of heat, whether they were diffuse in rock or concentrated in fuel rods. Am I missing something? And while water has a higher heat capacity than rock, making it heat up & release heat more slowly, the amount of heat energy is the same. I'm no advocate of fission powerplants (would shut 'em all down immediately if I had my way) but I question the claim that such a plant heats the planet any more than does the natural decay of radioactive isotopes.

I question the claim that such a plant heats the planet any more than does the natural decay of radioactive isotopes.

It would have to be a 'rate of flow' issue. Energy is first invested to increase the concentration of fissile uranium (the enrichment process) and then of course the fuel rods get fired, generating the heat rapidly. Maybe it is the enrichment that sets up the ability to generate the heat so much more quickly.

EDIT: Besides which, coal plants have the same issue with the heat lost in conversion. If you want to get picky, the conversion efficiency of PV is worse still. This argument feels like a red herring....

but it seems to me that those fissile isotopes would be decaying at the same rate, producing the same amount of heat, whether they were diffuse in rock or concentrated in fuel rods.

The rate is changeable due to neutrons hitting other atoms.

Hence the designs with rods to control the reactor activity.

I question the claim that such a plant heats the planet any more than does the natural decay of radioactive isotopes.

You are changing the heat over time. Heat in the now, VS less heat in the future. You would be heating things now.

(Not that fission reactors heat is an issue given the number and the amount of energy given off by earth. )

Yes, there is heat generated from burning FFs in the construction of the nuke plant, mining & processing of uranium, etc. And yes, the rate of heat production is increased for the reason you say. Yet discounting FFs, the net heat produced by a nuke plant is the same as it would be if the isotopes decayed in rock over time.

darwinsdog -

I think you are about half wrong regarding reactor versus 'natural' radioactive decay as a source of excess heat.

True, the uranium itself will probably decay at more or less the same rate regardless of whether it's in a sub-critical fuel rod assembly or still chemically bound up as the oxide in the ore still sitting in the ground. (However, enrichment of the uranium might increase the rate of decay somewhat, though on this point I am not certain.)

Where your notion breaks down lies in the fact that the fission processes taking place in the nuclear reactor actually generate a whole host of very highly radioactive products, many of which do not normally occur in nature. Many of these have extremely short half-lives relative to uranium and are therefore highly energetic, highly radioactive, and extremely dangerous. Furthermore, the heat released by the natural decay of uranium has (and still is) taking place over billions of years. On the other hand, a reactor releases its waste heat over a far short period of time, by many orders of magnitude.

Getting back to the main question regarding heating of the planet, the waste heat generated by a nuclear power plant is probably the least of the problems associated with nuclear power, as there is a similar amount of waste heat generated by a fossil fuel power plant of identical capacity. Furthermore, this heating is probably very minor in relation to the warming effect of greenhouse gases.

Of course, the waste heat from a nuclear power plant, which is typically dumped into the waterway on which the plant is situated, can be a serious localized problem. Which is why the arid western US is not the best locale for nuclear power plants.

...the fission processes taking place in the nuclear reactor actually generate a whole host of very highly radioactive products, many of which do not normally occur in nature.

Okay. Thank you. I wasn't sure about this in a commercial plant. I never disputed that the rate of heat production is accelerated or that the amount of waste heat is inconsequential relative to the sun or that localized heat pollution of waterways isn't a problem. I only questioned net heat production over time. Your explanation clears the matter up.

As with peak oil, it isn't the total it is the rate.

On the other hand, nuclear fission doesn't do to bad for efficiency in comparison to other common thermal energy generation methods which make up most of the energy usage worldwide.

Since it is one of only two thermal-based electricity generation methods out there that doesn't release CO2 to help keep the heat in the atmosphere I put it in the "net win" category myself.

There's been some interesting work on fusion with non-thermal energy extraction, but it is at least as much a long-shot as thermal fusion.

Hello Joule,

Your Quote: "Which is why the arid western US is not the best locale for nuclear power plants."

My Asphaltistan's Palo Verde Nuclear Plant is cooled with treated sewage water. Just imagine the dire problems when this H20-supply becomes Unobtainium. I think excessive sunlight and blazing heat creates excessive numbers of techno-cornucopian idiots.

...Palo Verde is the only nuclear generating facility in the world that is not located adjacent to a large body of water. Instead, it uses treated sewage from several nearby municipalities to meet its cooling water needs.
We will have "glow in the dark" machete' moshpits for a full-on 24 hour dance action.

Albuqueruqe-ians thank you and P.V.(Palo Verde) for the trons!

Now if we can get smart and cover every roof with PV (photo-voltaic cells)!

Also, I think it is hot in ABQ at 98-100 degrees F...I can't imagine what Phoenix would be like all summer long (yes, I have visited there...but in October!)

Thick adobe walls and siesta during the hottest part of the day.

Not super-high productivity, but you can live with it.

The half life of any thermal radiation from a nuke (as solar advocates point out trivial compared to the Sun) is measured in days before it radiates out into space.

The half life of CO2 from a competing coal fired plant is on the order of 500 years.

Quite frankly, nuke thermal pollution is *NOT* a global problem (although it can affect fish & marine life in a specific river).



I posted a couple of questions I hope you (or any body ) can answer with a long comment relevant to energy prices/supply/depletion /pollution below the Pickens Plan article tonight.

If you've got the time,please take a look,thanks.

Not very much though.

1.74×10^17 J, the total energy from the Sun that strikes the face of the Earth each SECOND

1.46×10^19J, the yearly electricity production in the U.S. as of 2005

More energy is added to the earth in a few minutes than would be added if all electricity was generated using nuclear for a given year.

I'm not a nuclear proponent. I just think you should do the math before posting.

It smells of pure denialist BS. I think it claimed to the the journal of global warming, obviously a front for bogus denialist faux-papers.

The direct heat from power production isn't the issue, any excess is reradiated out to space within a few weeks. It is totally bogus to compare the increase in heat content of the earth ( air, land, water etc. ) to the total amount of energy from fossil & nuclear fuels. For the simple reason, that heatwise the earth is an open, not a closed system (i.e. heat comes from the sun, as is reradiated as infrared radiation). Our total energy consumption is about a ten thousandth of what we get from the sun, and has roughly a .01 degree impact on the global temperature. The real action is on our effect on the absorption and reradiation of energy from/to space. That is where greenhouse gases, aerosols, and landuse changes come into play.

I did a search for these people on Real Climate and came up with this thread: http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=153

In short, the whole thing is BS. They are out of their field and their article was "peer" reviewed by two nonclimatologists.

It is the difference between a greenhouse, and placing a hot rock in the greenhouse. Yes, the hot rock will heat things up inside for a while, but it will eventually cool off. As long as the sun shines each day and the exterior glazing remains intact, the greenhouse will continue to be warmed each day, forever.

(I realize that GHG molecules will not necessarilly stay intact in the atmosphere forever. Then again, panes of greenhouse glass might not stay intact forever either, so the analogy still holds.)

The next bubble to burst...college?

Authors Joseph Cronin and Howard Horton (respectively a past Massachusetts secretary of Education and the president of the New England College of Business and Finance) comment:

“The middle class, which has paid for higher education in the past mainly by taking out loans, may now be precluded from doing so as the private student-loan market has all but dried up. In addition, endowment cushions that allowed colleges to engage in steep tuition discounting are gone. Declines in housing valuations are making it difficult for families to rely on home-equity loans for college financing. Even when the equity is there, parents are reluctant to further leverage themselves into a future where job security is uncertain.

Consumers who have questioned whether it is worth spending $1,000 a square foot for a home are now asking whether it is worth spending $1,000 a week to send their kids to college.”

Even this underestimates the severity of the situation, however. The 2006 Economic Report of the President presents a remarkable fact: Between 2000 and 2005, the average wages of college graduates declined after adjusting for inflation.

From an economic point of view, in other words, a college degree costs more and more and returns less and less. Kind of like a hot stock with a price-to-earnings ratio of 32, it’s a prelude to a crash.

Not too far in the future, a comment by a community college admissions counsellor?

"We are full, but you might try Harvard."

From my early 2007 ELP Plan essay:


The biggest risk to family finances is trying to maintain the SUV, suburban mortgage way of life in a period of contracting energy supplies. Beyond that, one of the next biggest risks in my opinion, is excessive and unwise spending--especially debt financed spending--on college education costs.

While we will desperately need engineers and many other technically qualified graduates, we are seeing wave upon wave of college graduates entering the work force with degrees that very poorly prepare them for work in a post-Peak Oil environment. We may ultimately see college graduates competing with illegal immigrants for agricultural jobs.

I'm not sure what the effect would be - a reduction in tuition, or perhaps more likely a reduction in the number of schools and students with tuition hold up. Which would mean only the wealthy sending their kids to collage.

Which would mean only the wealthy sending their kids to collage.

I think that's what will happen. Before the fossil fuel fiesta, only the wealthy went to college. That is probably how it will be the future, too.

Education is expensive. My grandparents didn't even finish high school; they were needed to work and help contribute to the family finances.

I think state colleges are probably very vulnerable. California is cutting employee salaries 20%. How long are they going to be able to keep their universities running, provide financial aid to students, etc.?

Why is college so expensive? As a person who teaches at the college level, I can assure you that it's not professors' salaries.

I think the largest expense will turn out to be "opportunity cost." When you're in school, you're not earning money.

Most of the employment opportunities that pay anything require a college education. The unemployed are led by the uneducated by a big margin. How many high school dropout and HS graduates are working as managers in NYC, Washington, or Atlanta? We are already a Country of too many uneducated and our immigration policy does not exactly inspire confidence that our gene pool will be expanded. Our latest immigrants from Asia are leading the "work to the bone" and educate the kids formula to success. What is the opportunity cost in being uneducated? What segment of society requires the most governmental assistance? Alcoholism is highest in what segment? What about crime? The list goes on and on. The cost of being uneducated in this society is so large that the cost of college pales in comparison.

Most of the employment opportunities that pay anything require a college education.

That is the case now. It might well be different in the future.

That is in fact what the article I posted argued: that the benefits of a college degree were fading, even as the cost was increasing.

There are too many educated and uneducated. There are just too many people being replaced by technological advancement. Hell there are just too many people period.

I find this hard to believe. At our campus, most associate and full professorship faculties make six figure salaries teaching one or two courses per semester. Salary is the biggest slice of the budget in all departments and in most if not all universities. Facility and support staff come a distance second and third.

I believe paying six figure salary to teach one or two courses is unsustainable regardless of the larger economic environment.


I don't know what your campus is, but I strongly suspect is not the norm if what you say is true.

The biggest slice of the budget at most colleges/universities is building fancy new facilities (student centers, sport facilities, etc.) to be competitive in recruitment. Not to mention supporting football and basketball team.

was at the University of Maryland, College Park (2004). Salaries, by law, are published and made available to Marylanders.


I punched in a search of Indiana University for salaries b/w 100k-250 and returned over 750 results. 25 results for over 250k -- ouch. The basketball coach is the highest salary at $600k. That was for the campus at Bloomington -- I believe there are six other IU campuses around the state.

Indiana Public Employee Salaries

As a Prepschool Faculty kid with parents in Theater and Music, I cringed with an old and familiar pain when you said that about the BBall coach.

I know we've all got our things.. but I can hardly think of much that's more overblown in value than pro sports. Then again, I hear it's supposed to be a symbolic diversion away from warfare. That, or just practice for it.

Texas A&M once tried to lure a Nobel Prize winning physics professor from MIT by offering him big bucks. The alumni were enraged. What were they thinking, offering a physics professor as much as the football coach was getting?

Many universities hire professors to publish and acquire research grants as a higher calling than teaching, and these professors must essentially support themselves, and turn an intellectual property profit for the university as well -- many focus heavily on technology licensing as a profit center.

This of course won't be sustainable for long without Federal money to pay the grants, but we're still a ways before that grinds to a halt. It'll wind down when the gov't can run deficits anymore, most likely.

Then we'll be back with teachers who are paid by the well to do to teach, and research that is funded by industry on its terms. Professors and the educated experts will probably still exist, just in smaller numbers and tighter niches.

At the small college i attended 20 years ago, the professors taught 4 or 5 courses each semester.

Just moving to this productivity level would substantially reduce costs.

I find this hard to believe. At our campus, most associate and full professorship faculties make six figure salaries teaching one or two courses per semester.

My wife teaches at a small liberal arts college, carries a teaching load of 15+ credit hours per semester plus huge administrative responsibilities, and only gets no more than half of what your faculty apparently do, and maybe even less than half. This with a doctorate, full professor rank, tenured, and over a decade of service. Not exactly a gravy train.

I think some of it has to do with "competitiveness". If all of the other colleges and universities are adding buildings like crazy, then your campus would start to look shabby in comparison if your campus didn't do a similar build-out.

A secondary issue is college athletics. People keep telling me that these programs bring in more money to the school than it costs the school to run these programs, but it is always sports fans who make these arguments without ever having looked at the numbers, and I suspect that they are just pulling this out of their backsides to justify the status-quo. Phenomenal amounts of money are spent on coaches, staff, arenas and stadiums, and other bits of assorted gear. The alumni will bust their tails to raise money for a new football stadium, but if the school needs a new library or a new dorm? Crickets.

We have a friend who played football for a school out here, and who graduated recently. Our friend was essentially saying that for the top schools in the country, it might actually pay off (the school gets a bunch of money for appearing on TV - whether the school itself gets it, or they turn around and blow it on coaches salaries is another question that I don't know the answer to). The schools that don't rank as highly aren't getting any of this, and for them it is probably a drain on the resources.

Phenomenal amounts of money are spent on coaches, staff, arenas and stadiums, and other bits of assorted gear. The alumni will bust their tails to raise money for a new football stadium, but if the school needs a new library or a new dorm? Crickets.

I'm afraid that is pretty much the case. I don't know if the athletic departments are actually sucking in general funds, or just gorging on alumni contributions. A lot of rich alumni leave money with the proviso (buy my alma-matter a champion football team). But the athletic money isn't evenly spent, when I went to a large state U, I played water polo (which was a club sport). We had to pay dues, to chip in for bus fare to competitions etc. While the football team could afford to bribe statutory rape victims with full scholarships to not press charges against their star players....

Now, I suspect building aren't that big a chunk of the costs. I think administration is comparable in cost to professors etc. And then you ave the fact that most professors are paid to research/publish, teaching is just a minor and usually unwelcome part of the bargain. Sure, at community colleges, and some smaller private schools, salries may be primarily piad for actual instruction.

But, it is becoming true, that a highly motivated student can now learn a great deal taking internet courses. I doubt these are quite as good as live courses, and the temptation to skip important homework drills etc. is pretty great without someone breathing down your back. But, I think the gifted, and motivated student could probably combine internet learning plus testing out of some coursework with real classroom instruction to significantly cut the overall cost of a degree.

T Boone Pickens has given about a quarter billion to Oklahoma State athletics. Part of his charitable giving.


A secondary issue is college athletics. People keep telling me that these programs bring in more money to the school than it costs the school to run these programs, but it is always sports fans who make these arguments without ever having looked at the numbers, and I suspect that they are just pulling this out of their backsides to justify the status-quo. Phenomenal amounts of money are spent on coaches, staff, arenas and stadiums, and other bits of assorted gear. The alumni will bust their tails to raise money for a new football stadium, but if the school needs a new library or a new dorm? Crickets.

We have a friend who played football for a school out here, and who graduated recently. Our friend was essentially saying that for the top schools in the country, it might actually pay off (the school gets a bunch of money for appearing on TV - whether the school itself gets it, or they turn around and blow it on coaches salaries is another question that I don't know the answer to). The schools that don't rank as highly aren't getting any of this, and for them it is probably a drain on the resources.

In previous jobs, I have been the chief financial officer for several colleges, some with athletic programs, some without. I can tell you for certain that athletic programs are a definite financial drain on the college. There may be individual sports that are money makers, but what happens then is that athletic directors become empire builders and add more (money losing) sports rather than just turning the money over to the college to be used for other purposes. There are also a lot of costs that should be applied to the athletic program but are not, and instead are hidden. There there are the opportunity costs - from money, to facilities, to time and effort, so much is lavished on athletics that could perhaps be put to better uses.

I firmly believe that the best colleges are the ones where there are no athletics beyond simple PE and intramural programs.

I think sports should be separate from college, too, even though I'm a sports fan. It's unfortunate that college football has become the "minor leagues" of the NFL.

However, I don't think it's going to change. College sports was a big deal before TV, and I expect it will remain so. They'll cut the money-losing sports, but Yale and Harvard have been playing football for over a hundred years, and I don't see that ending any time soon.

1. Same reason as the housing bubble. You're paying tuition with borrowed money and nothing up front. That will push rates up.

2. On the one hand the college application process is a financial auction of scarce spots in each freshman class, no matter how much colleges try to dress it up as something else.

3. On the other, colleges also compete for students, which nowadays means upgrading the amenities. (A pet peeve of mine. College needs to be austere enough to encourage on time graduation. College should not include sushi, climbing walls, or jacuzzis.) All that construction and renovation has to be paid somehow.

4. Parasitism. From cushy support staff jobs to all sorts of corners of each campus where money is spent for uses orthogonal to the college's mission, there is a lot of fat to trim in any college.

But ultimately, college means individual attention to each student from people with PhDs. No force in the world can make that cheap.

. Before the fossil fuel fiesta, only the wealthy went to college. That is probably how it will be the future, too.

The difference this time is you don't need the buildings or paper to get all learned up. There are people trying to get computer based education to work.

I'm betting the "energy to replicate" things like kindels is far lower than the energy to create books with the same information contained within.

It will be interesting when schools VS home education will be based on energy flows.

Obama Plans New Funds for Colleges

a $12 billion infusion for the nation’s community college system, part of his efforts to ease the considerable pain of the still-sagging economy...$2.5 billion of the new funds would go toward new community college facilities, with the rest going to an assortment of grants designed to boost graduation rates and encourage the teaching of skills that will better prepare students for jobs in a changing economy that is increasingly demanding a more highly educated workforce...$9 billion of the program would go to programs enticing community colleges to do more to boost graduation rates and to better prepare students for real-world jobs upon graduation...Some education and workforce development experts have questioned the effectiveness of such retraining efforts...A recent examination by The New York Times of a group of 36 laid-off workers in Michigan who completed retraining last summer at Macomb Community College — the location of Mr. Obama’s speech this afternoon — found that at least 60 percent of them were out of work months later or had taken jobs that had nothing to do with their training.

Colleges and medical industries will have to do the same thing to survive; lower their prices and their costs.

For colleges it will mean less ifrastructure and no more almost- but- not- quite professional football and basketball teams. It will mean more learning and less administrative nonsense.

for medical it will have to be prevention first and corruption last. The medical business is close to the banking business in how mafia- like management styles lurk just below the surfaces.

For colleges it will mean less ifrastructure and no more almost- but- not- quite professional football and basketball teams.

Disagree. The reason colleges have those sports is that they are money-makers. I think they will give up academics before they give up sports.

While it makes a lot of money, the money goes to further feed sports and not academics. I see these things as a cancer on academics - sucking money out of the school, and sucking money out of the pockets of the alumni. All the school gets out of it is some recruitment value (a school in the news because of a good team gets more applications).

But I see this as another aberration that will be corrected. TV revenues will decline, the alumni won't have as much money for tickets and donations. As this happens, the outsized influence will gradually decline. And for that matter, some here have suggested that in the future college education won't be anywhere as universal as it has been in the past, which means fewer alumni to feed the beast.

Being a sports fan, I've given a lot of thought to how sports will be affected by peak oil. Sports did pretty well during the Great Depression. As with the film industry, people were willing to pay for entertainment, no matter how bad it got. (There are peasants selling their blood in developing countries in order to afford movie tickets.) TV revenues may not decline as much you think; it's a relatively cheap form of entertainment. I think "local" sports like minor league baseball and college and high school sports might benefit, too; if you can't afford to go see the Yankees or the Patriots, you can see the Hudson Valley Renegades or the Siena College Saints instead.

I think it's the lower levels that will suffer the most. Kids' sports. High fuel prices hit school sports hard, even forcing some schools to form new leagues that played locally, in order to minimize travel costs. The recession is making it tough for some families to afford sports gear for their kids.

So that might hurt the development of talent for the upper levels.

OTOH, they probably won't be short of applicants. During the Great Depression, men and boys traveled from all over the country to Florida, to try out for baseball teams. It was one of the few steady jobs available.

From the point of view of long suffering Texas Rangers fans, one of the benefits of GW is that the Texas Rangers might finally make it to the World Series, as coastal cities are inundated, eliminating a lot of the competition.

Now if we can just hold on long enough. Reportedly Tom Hicks, owner of the Rangers, had to recently get a loan from MLB to make payroll.

I am reminded of a friend of mine, a graduate of Texas Tech. When the old Southwest Conference was still alive, he wrote into his will that if he died before Tech made it to the Cotton Bowl (the Southwest Conference champion always played in the Cotton Bowl), he was to be cremated, with his ashes being taken to the game in an urn (he specified that his urn would have its own ticket). Fortunately for him, I believe that he got to see Tech in the Cotton Bowl while both he and the Southwest Conference were still alive (he is still with us, but the Southwest Conference of course has passed away).

Yes, I do think sports will have to scale back. That is what happened in the Great Depression: attendance up, but not ticket prices.

The bottom really fell out of the baseball free agent market last winter. So much so that the players' union accused the owners of collaboration, and is talking about suing. I don't think it was collaboration. Unless you count having Paul Volcker tell the owners that economic armageddon was nigh counts as collaboration.

There are three basic reasons why most people go to college:

1) To have four years of fun before getting married and starting work. This is where collge athletics comes in, for the spectator students: entertainment. This reason will go away for all except the very, very wealthy. It might even go away for them as well. This function used to be filled instead by "the grand tour", and they might go back to that when travel becomes hugely expensive.

2) To get a credential. This is the college degree = higher income argument. It has been valid, and will probably remain valid to a limited, but probably decreasing, degree. It has partially been the case, though, that college degrees have functioned not so much as a credential to establish one's genuine qualifications, but rather simply as a tool for HR departments to weed out job applicants. There are a great many jobs that could be filled quite well by people without college diplomas, but instead are filled by college graduates who are probably underemployed. The obvious question: is the college degree really such a good deal if all it is going to get you is a job where you are underemployed? If the alternative is no employment prospects at all, maybe so. But in that case, there is little point in paying top dollar (or going deep into hock) for a top notch degree when a more affordable bargain basement degree will do just as well. The bottom line is that if you truly have elite-level intelligence and tallent, then earning a degree from an elite institution probably will still be worthwhile. For most people below that level, they need to save their money and get the cheapest degree possible - if they need one at all.

3) To get an education. This is the trickiest one of all. Everyone assumes that attending college for four years = getting an education. Not so. If you want to become educated, it is pretty much up to you. At the very best colleges, there are gifted teachers who will guide and mentor motivated students to really learn; the key word, though, is motivated, as it is still ultimately up to the student. More typically, college is a space and time where students can have the opportunity to study and learn on their own, if sufficiently motivated to do so. Of course, for many subjects one can study just as effectively on one's own at the public library and at the computer screen, and for a lot less cost.

Thus my recommendations for young people:

a) Learn as much as you can, as cheaply as you can. Most importantly, learn how to learn on your own. That is the foundational skill, and will serve you well for a lifetime.

b) Get a college degree if you really need one, but unless you have what it takes to make it in a really elite profession, then try to get a college degree as cheaply as possible. Take AP courses, take credit by examination, attend community college your first two years, attend inexpensive state universities.

c) Forget about college as four years of fun unless you are truly wealthy. That isn't affordable any more. This doesn't mean "nose to the grindstone" without relief, but there are many ways to enjoy oneself that cost a lot less than what colleges are charging!

Can someone educate me as to why nobody appears to be pursuing commercial thorium reactors despite all these articles about its great potential? What are the major downsides?

I think we didn't go that way in the first place was because we couldn't get nuclear weapons as part and parcel of the whole packet.

Doing something now would have a cost involved, and wouldn't be done immediately. Also, people assume we can just add more nuclear capability without these additional costs and time delay, so why not just do that instead?

I agree, though. It does look like something worth exploring more. Our current options aren't that great.

I do not know if Thorium cycles would work or not though on the surface they should. The reason in my opinion more has not been done with this is that many people are anti-nuclear.

A good example is the discussion up thread today about waste heat from reactors. No one pointed out that the excess heat is also produced by burning fossil fuels. Most of the posters did not realize that nuclear reactors produce heat from a fission reaction which is a much different animal than natural radioactive decay.

I do not know if the ignorance about nuclear power can be overcome even when people are cold in the dark.

One or two posters were given some specifics about the particulars of fission heat vs the dispersed heat of natural decay. With the degree that the fuels are concentrated, it's hardly an invalid question to raise.

It's pretty hard to tell from this thread that there is really a predominance of ignorance about Fission.. and there were clear references to the point that its not the heat outputs of the generation that is worrisome, but the layers of greenhouse gases that burned fuels have put into the atmosphere that are the real cause for concern. Adding much about the waste heat from that burning process was unnecessary at that point..

People with solar, hydropowered, geothermal or wind-powered heating and lighting will probably not spend a lot of evening time worrying about fission-heated generation, unless it's trying to solve that pesky waste problem that their grandparents left them with.

Can someone educate me as to why nobody appears to be pursuing commercial thorium reactors despite all these articles about its great potential? What are the major downsides?

It's not quite no-one, there is a company called Thorium Power, which is trying to research/promote the idea. But I think their budget is a few million, as opposed to the billions being spent on the Uranium fuel cycle.

I can think of a few reasons, mostly historical (legacy). Oft quoted is the fact that they won't produce weapons material. Also Thorium by itself won't react, you got to use neutrons from a normal nuclear reactor to change some of the Thorium into U233 (or is it U234?). But once you have enough to run a Thorium reactor, you should be able to use that to breed more fuel.

Supposedly, gamma radiation from Thorium is harder (higher energy) than from Uranium -so perhaps there is some re-engineering of the reactor vessel involved. Although I believe Thorium power rods can be mixed with Uranium ones in the same reactor.

I think the main reason is simply that Uranium is cheap, and for all the political/PR downsides, disposal of N waste from once through U reactors must still be considered too cheap to be worth the cost of avoiding it.

Here's something interesting: Geithner goes to the Gulf.

re: Curbing speculative oil trading is a good move

Oh no it isn't. We need higher prices now, which reflects FUTURE depleting supply, to allow for the development and economic justification of alternatives today (inclusive of renewable energy). If governments prevent the speculation of future depletion of supply, then we won't have the market justification to invest in alternatives today, which will lead to bigger problems in the future. The sounds more like preventing price spikes from damaging the recovery, than long term sound economic management. Possibly creating the groundwork for a new bubble market in alternative energy.

Curbing speculative oil trading is a good move [...] But when prices take off in a speculative frenzy that drives much of the world economy to its knees, consumers should not have to pay through the nose while waiting for the bubble to burst.

I can't figure this out.

For each buyer on the stockexchange, there must be a seller. For each seller, there must be a buyer.

So which one is the speculator?

Re: Wood stoves -- a viable home heat source?

In the case study, adding a woodstove to the ground floor of a 3200ft2 home reduced the mean annual gas cost by 60%; from $2260 to $880. The annual cost of the wood fuel for the woodstove amounted to $1330 for 5 full cords (a cord is 8 feet long by 4 feet high by 4 feet wide - 128ft3 ). This was a yearly savings of $50 at market fossil fuel prices of 2005-2007 without taking into account rising fossil fuel prices or the impending carbon tax. Should these variables come into play Dr. Grogan estimated that the domestic heating costs would be reduced by 25%. This translates into a potential savings of $920 in the first 3 years.

So the homeowner, in the example provided, reduced their overall heating costs by $50.00. A couple things come to mind. I don't know where natural gas prices stand today in relation to 2005-2007, but my hunch is that they're significantly lower which, if true, could result in a net loss unless the cost of wood has likewise fallen in lockstep. Secondly, the homeowner burned ***FIVE*** cords of wood and, even at that, still scarfed down an additional $880.00 worth of natural gas. Clearly, this is a home in desperate need of an energy makeover (I know Kingston winters are cold, but they're not that cold.) Third, if natural gas and home heating oil prices increase due to market forces and/or federal and provincial carbon taxes, is it not reasonable to expect the price of these alternative fuels to increase as well? Could increased demand also result in supply shortages? I can tell you that the cost of wood pellets last year (if you were lucky enough to find any) increased from $3.50 a bag to $5.50 and $6.00, far out pacing the increase in the cost of electricity.

Something doesn't add up. What am I missing?