Drumbeat: August 12, 2009

Inventories may distort oil prices, IEA says

Oil prices may repeat the swings seen in the first quarter as inventories of the benchmark U.S. West Texas Intermediate rise at a time of the year when they are normally depleted, the International Energy Agency said.

Crude stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the New York Mercantile Exchange light sweet oil, registered counter-seasonal gains in July as refinery utilization decreased and imports rose, the IEA said. Stockpiles are at their highest levels since March, at 33.3 million barrels a day as of July 31, the agency said in its monthly report.

Oil prices in the first three months of the year fluctuated between US$35 and US$55 a barrel, caused by "periodic bouts of deep contango near expiry as Cushing spare capacity likely eroded," the IEA said in its report. Contango is a price situation in which oil today is worth less than in the future, encouraging supply storage.

Mexico: Falling oil could greatly worsen recession

MEXICO CITY—Mexico's finance secretary is warning that falling oil production and prices may push the already cash-strapped nation into its worst economic recession in 30 years.

Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex currently pumps about 2.6 million barrels a day, down from about 2.8 billion a day last year, Finance Secretary Agustin Carstens told a Senate committee Tuesday. Carstens said he expects output to slide to about 2.5 million barrels a day next year.

Mexico is the third-largest oil supplier to the United States but its reserves are drying up, and Petroleos Mexicanos has been slow to explore deep-water deposits.

When oil becomes too expensive

That oil supplies will run out one day is inevitable. It doesn't grow on trees. And new sources of the black stuff are proving too expensive to extract when each barrel is trading at less than $100.

But once we're out of recession, the price of oil can only go one way. Up. A long way up. Such is the premise behind a fascinating book by Canadian economist and energy expert Jeff Rubin.

Economics books can be pretty dry affairs. But not this one. Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller is a rollicking account - packed with relentlessly depressing facts and stories - of how the price of oil and the effect of peak oil is going to mould a new world and a new way of life for us all.

Gas Fund Stops New Offerings on Regulatory Concern

(Bloomberg) -- United States Natural Gas Fund, the world’s largest exchange-traded fund in the fuel, will suspend offering new shares on concern that federal regulators will keep it from investing in natural gas.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission heard testimony in July and August that commodity funds may be distorting energy prices. CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler has said he believes that speculation contributed to a surge in crude oil to a record $147.27 a barrel. The fund invests in futures and swaps to track the price natural gas.

Amaranth to Pay $7.5 Million to Settle U.S. Charges

(Bloomberg) -- Amaranth Advisors LLC, a hedge fund that collapsed in 2006, will pay $7.5 million to settle allegations from U.S. regulators that it tried to manipulate natural-gas futures.

Russia: Bill Gives Priority to Gas Power

The government submitted a bill that would give priority access to the wholesale electricity markets to electricity stations that are fueled by associated gas, the Energy Ministry said Wednesday.

The bill aims to help oil producers, which are obliged by law to utilize an annual 95 percent of their associated gas by 2012.

“The bill will give an incentive to investors to build power stations that use associated gas to produce electricity,” the ministry said in an e-mailed response to questions. “And it will also make it more economical for oil companies to refine associated gas.”

Facing loss, Barnwell cuts staff, pay

Barnwell Industries reported a $3.2 million loss for the third quarter as a result of an accounting change in how it determines the value of its oil and natural gas holdings.

The Honolulu-based company (Amex: BRN) said it lost 39 cents per share in the third quarter ended June 30, compared to earnings of $3.5 million, or 42 cents per share, during the same period in 2008.

The company also said it was cutting staff, pay and administrative costs.

Exxon Loses Phase One of New York Groundwater Trial

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. lost the first phase of a trial in which New York accused the company of poisoning the city’s groundwater, with a jury ruling the city intends to build a plant to treat the water as it says it does.

The trial moved to the second of four phases after today’s jury finding. The panel will next decide if the water will be contaminated. Exxon, the biggest U.S. oil company, may face millions of dollars in damages.

Trade gap widens on high oil prices

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. trade deficit widened in June to $27 billion, as goods imports increased for the first time in 11 months on the back of higher oil prices, a Commerce Department report said Wednesday.

Analyst surveyed before the report had expected the monthly trade gap to widen to around $28.5 billion. But stronger foreign demand for U.S. goods and services offset some of the impact of the oil price increase on the deficit.

Clinton Pledges Help for Niger Delta; Minister Optimistic

(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged U.S. support for Nigeria’s efforts to combat militants who have slashed oil production in the Niger Delta, while the country’s foreign minister predicted peace would be restored to the region by year’s end.

Apparent paradox: Vietnam running short of coal, but pushing exports

According to calculations by Vinacomin, the sprawling state-controlled ‘Vietnam Coal and Minerals Group,’ Vietnam will need to import coal to supply domestic power plants beginning in 2013. Demand for coal will rise to 94 million tonnes by 2015. Coal-fired power plants alone will consume 67 million tonnes. Coal production, however, is forecast to be 60 million tonnes at maximum.

By 2020, Vinacomin expects, Vietnam’s demand for coal will reach 184 million tonnes. By then, annual consumption of coal by power plants will be 150 million tonnes, and, according to Vinacomin, domestic coal production will be 70 million tonnes.

Cameroon's only aluminum smelter stops production

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (MarketWatch) -- Cameroon's lone aluminum smelting firm, the Societe Camerounaise d'Aluminium, or Alucam, stopped production during the past two weeks and isn't certain to restart in the next two weeks, state-run daily newspaper Cameroon Tribune reported Tuesday.

With an annual aluminium output of 90,000 tons, Alucam has merged with world smelting consortium Rio Tinto-Alcan to enable it to increase annual aluminum production to 300,000 metric tons.

But the company, which consumes approximately 50% of the country's total electricity supply, announced earlier this year that it slashed annual aluminum output 40% due to lack of sufficient power supply.

GM admits Volt doubts

General Motors has cast doubt over the long-term future of the Chevrolet Volt by claiming it may not be commercially viable and other rivals may overtake it with superior and more advanced technology.

GM submitted a regulatory filing report to the US Treasury yesterday and CEO Fritz Henderson claimed its “disclosures are consistent with our commitment to remain transparent and to keep the public informed of our progress”.

Mexico’s Peso Declines to the Lowest in a Week on Oil Forecast

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s peso fell to the lowest level in a week after Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said oil production may fall 4.9 percent next year as the nation faces the greatest “fiscal shock” in 30 years.

Mexican Drug Gangs Diversify Into Oil

HOUSTON -- Smuggling billions of dollars worth of narcotics across the Rio Grande apparently isn't enough for Mexican cartels. In recent years, they have expanded their activities in kidnapping, extortion, people smuggling and, of all things, petroleum siphoning.

When oil talks, the planet suffers

Day 1, for someone on the very banks of the environmental problems, brought few surprises—like learning that Arab officials go to international conventions unprepared and uninterested. And when they do attend in enough numbers and with sufficient resolve, such as in the case of Saudi Arabia, they put forward positions that align them with the wishes of what are called "Annex 1 countries" in environmentalist lingo -- rich countries, to make a long story short. These countries are historically responsible for the amount of carbon released through early industrialization and excess use of fossil fuels.

So why would Saudi Arabia advocate a position of “less restrictions on carbon emissions?”

They are worried that restrictions will reduce the demand for oil, and thus, their revenues. The price for this stance might very well be the extinction of the globe. But hey, who wants to say no to the Saudis?

Why Corporations, Emerging Powers and Petro-States Are Snapping Up Huge Chunks of Farmland in the Developing World

In the past six months, big players in the global economy have grabbed 50 million acres of arable land, from Africa to Southeast Asia.

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before:

Investment banks, sovereign wealth funds and other barely regulated financial entities in search of fat paydays go on buying binges structurally adjusted to maximize their earnings reports and employee bonuses, while simultaneously screwing their business associates and everyone else in the process. It's all done in near-total secrecy, and by the time everyone finds out about it, they're already in the poorhouse.

That's more or less the playbook for the derivatives and credit-default swaps gold rush that ruined the global economy, which cratered in 2007 and has yet to recuperate.

The bubble money has now moved on from housing and turned to the commodities markets, especially global food production. Given what that money did to the housing market, things don't look good for local communities whose land is being bought up by governments, sovereign wealth and hedge funds, and other investors on the hunt for real value in a hyperreal economy.

IEA Raises 2009, 2010 Oil Demand Forecasts on China

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency raised its global oil demand forecasts for this year and next, citing accelerating industrial activity in China, the world’s fastest-growing consumer of crude.

The world will need an average of 85.25 million barrels of oil a day next year, 70,000 barrels a day more than previously estimated, the adviser to 28 nations said in its monthly report today. Demand growth next year at 1.6 percent will be lower than earlier forecasts after the outlook for 2009 was also increased. The agency boosted predictions for supply from outside OPEC.

“There are some signs of life, certainly in the Chinese economy,” David Fyfe, head of the IEA’s oil industry and markets division, said by telephone from Paris. “But you’ve got to offset that with what’s happening” in developed economies, where industrial activity remains “very sluggish,” he said.

Gasoline Margins Rise as U.S. Refiners Cut Back Production

(Bloomberg) -- Gasoline margins rose as refiners limited production to protect profits.

U.S. refinery utilization is estimated to fall for the fourth week in a row, according to the median of responses in a Bloomberg survey of nine analysts. Use rates dropped 0.1 percentage point to 84.5 percent during the week ended July 31, 2.4 percentage points below a year earlier, the Energy Department said Aug. 5. The department will release its report tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Washington.

Oil drops below $69/barrel on demand worries

Oil prices dropped to near $69 a barrel Wednesday as several organizations said global demand for crude would improve only gradually as economies struggle to emerge from recession.

Benchmark crude for September delivery was down 20 cents to $69.25 a barrel by noon European electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, the contract fell $1.15 to settle at $69.45.

Kuwait foils plan to attack refinery, official says

KUWAIT (Reuters) – Detained members of an al Qaeda-linked group planned to attack Kuwait's Shuaiba oil refinery during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a security official said on Wednesday.

Clinton to Balance Oil Need, Anti-Graft Demands in Nigeria Stop

(Bloomberg) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues her African journey in Nigeria today where she will seek to improve ties with the largest U.S. oil supplier on the continent while offering to help it tackle corruption.

Clinton arrived in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, late yesterday from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she urged that government to prevent militias from exploiting mineral wealth to fund their warfare. She stopped earlier in her trip in Kenya, South Africa and Angola, another major African oil producer.

Shell, Total Yet to Resume Contracted Nigeria Crude Shipments

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, and Total SA said they were yet to resume contracted deliveries of oil exports from Nigeria.

Total declared force majeure on shipments of Amenam crude oil on July 13 after a compressor fire. The legal clause, allowing companies to miss export obligations due to circumstances beyond their control, is still in place.

“Currently, there is a limited impact on production,” spokeswoman Phenelope Semavoine said today from Paris. She couldn’t say when the restrictions will end.

Chinese crude-oil imports race to record in July

China's crude-oil imports raced to a record in July, up 42% from last year's weak base, while refiners raised output to their highest yet as stimulus measures stoked demand in the world's No. 2 consumer.

Although some of the increased gasoline and diesel production is being sold overseas, or pumped into domestic depots, swelling fuel stocks at home, the raft of data painted a distinctly bullish picture for oil markets that have already doubled since February on hopes of recovering global demand.

Sinochem Bids $875 Million for U.K.’s Emerald Energy

(Bloomberg) -- Sinochem Corp., China’s biggest chemicals trader, offered to buy U.K.’s Emerald Energy Plc for 532 million pounds ($875 million) to add oil and gas drilling operations in Syria and Colombia.

Repsol Is Said to Favor CNPC Over Cnooc in YPF Sale

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s largest oil producer, is pursuing talks to sell a stake in its Argentine unit to China National Petroleum Corp. rather than Cnooc Ltd., two people familiar with the matter said.

Poland, Russia unlikely to sign gas deal by Sept

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland is unlikely to sign a gas deal with Russia during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to Warsaw at the beginning of September, Polish Economy Minister Waldemar Pawlak said on Wednesday.

A further round of negotiations between Poland and Russia on gas deliveries aimed at securing full supplies from 2010 is set for late August following the failure of talks in July, but this would leave insufficient time to rubber-stamp a potential deal.

E.ON Raises Full-Year Profit Outlook After Expanding Abroad

(Bloomberg) -- E.ON AG posted higher first-half profit and said 2009 earnings may drop less than anticipated as Germany’s biggest utility increased power generation by a fifth after expanding in Italy, France and Spain.

Hybrid and electric power systems at a glance

Hybrids like Toyota's Prius and plug-in vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt run on systems other than purely gas-fired engines.

The systems, or powertrains, that drive the so-called greener cars use electricity generated by batteries and electric motors to either supplement or largely take the place of internal-combustion engines.

Ethanol Limit Must Rise to Ensure Cellulosic Growth, Poet Says

(Bloomberg) -- Development of biofuels not made from corn will halt if the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t raise the amount of ethanol that can be mixed into gasoline for retail sale, the head of Poet LLC said.

The lack of a government decision to raise the “blend wall” to 15 percent from 10.2 percent is the biggest obstacle to biofuels industry development, Jeff Broin, Poet’s chief executive officer, said today in an interview. The industry needs to expand sources of supply to ensure financing for new projects, he said. Poet is the biggest U.S. ethanol producer.

BP signs deal with US firm to develop biofuel production

LONDON (AFP) – British oil giant BP said Tuesday that it has signed a deal with US group Martek Biosciences to further develop biofuel production using sugar.

"BP and Martek Biosciences Corporation today announced the signing of a joint development agreement to work on the production of microbial oils for biofuels applications," the pair said in a statement.

Beijing to Triple Use of Renewable Energy by 2010

(Bloomberg) -- Beijing, China’s second-largest city after Shanghai by population size, plans to triple the use of renewable energy including wind power by 2010 from 2005 to help fight pollution and climate change.

Renewable energy will account for 4 percent of the city’s total consumption by next year and 6 percent by 2020, the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission said in a statement handed out to reporters at a briefing today.

Energy bill requires doubling nuke use

To satisfy House Democrats' low-cost solution to global warming, Americans would have to double their reliance on nuclear energy by 2030 - a target the nuclear industry says is unlikely and that many environmentalists and Democrats dislike.

That is the conclusion of a new Energy Information Administration report that looked at the House Democrats' global warming bill. To produce enough clean energy at a reasonable cost would require construction of dozens of new nuclear power plants, even though no new plant has been built in decades.

Florida Approves First Nuclear Power Plant in 33 Years

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (ENS) – The Florida Cabinet today approved site certification for Progress Energy Florida's Levy nuclear power plant, the first nuclear facility approved in the state since 1976.

Chubu Electric May Buy Power After Earthquake Halts Reactors

(Bloomberg) -- Chubu Electric Power Co., which halted its sole functioning nuclear reactors after a 6.5- magnitude earthquake shook Japan yesterday, said it may buy power should demand spike after summer holidays end next week.

The Hamaoka No. 4 and No. 5 units shut automatically when the temblor struck southwest of Tokyo soon after 5 a.m. local time. Chubu, which is checking for damage, doesn’t know when it will be able to restart the units, spokesman Toshimitsu Shibata said by phone from Tokyo today.

Atlantic Depression May Become a Tropical Storm, Heads West

The Atlantic hurricane season, from June 1 to Nov. 30, has yet to include a system of tropical-storm strength this year. The last time it has taken so long for the season’s first storm to develop was in 1984, when a subtropical storm emerged on Aug. 18 and the first named storm formed on Aug. 28. A tropical storm’s highest winds are around its core, while a sub-tropical storm can have its strongest winds away from its center.

The depression was located 535 miles west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands, the center said. The system was heading west at 12 mph, and is forecast to accelerate. Should the current system strengthen into a storm, it’ll be named Ana.

Peak oil changes everything

Hubbert believed a conversion to solar power would replace fossil fuels, but such a conversion, at the massive scales required today, may not be practical.

Unfortunately, simply getting the millions of modules required to support a portion of the country's present electric economy shipped across the planet from where they're made, Japan and China, might not be practical, even if political stability is maintained to allow such trade.

Civilization lived with 100 percent renewable solar energy from the dawn of time until the beginning of the industrial age in 1750. Human population of the planet during that time never exceeded about 500 million people . This was the carrying capacity of a totally solar-powered world.

Expert calls for culture change

Cultural change takes a long time, and people are "addicted" to oil, he pointed out.

"You have to have a crisis to get anywhere," he said, referring to the auto industry's need for a government bailout in part because consumers want vehicles with higher fuel efficiency.

Hawaii is "the No. 1 poster child for that mistake," with 92 percent of oil imported, Schneider said. "It is completely vulnerable to fluctuations of the world market and the chicanery of supply."

Supermarket offers and food waste targeted in goverment's food strategy

Fewer cut-price supermarket gimmicks and other measures to help target food waste are central to a new government food security strategy to maintain UK food supplies for the next 40 years.

The strategy is highly critical of bogof - "buy one get one free" - offers and heavily reduced "loss leader" lines that encourage shoppers to buy food they don't need which eventually ends up in the bin. And it calculates that reducing food waste has the potential to cut carbon emissions equal to taking a fifth of the country's traffic off the roads. It also promotes leaner and healthier diets, along with higher crop yields and a move towards accepting genetically modified crops.

Local food advocates seek Aoraki links

Building a more sustainable world is the aim of a new partnership in Timaru.

A farmers' market and garden-sharing scheme are visions of Transition Timaru, which has approached Aoraki Polytechnic to provide appropriate courses.

Transition Timaru is a new society trying to build resilience to the effects of climate change and the peak oil crisis by reducing carbon emissions and creating self-sufficient communities in South Canterbury.

Council delivering sustainability

A leading solar-lighting company will shift its manufacturing to the Sunshine Coast, land is being sought for a $200 million solar thermal power station, and the Coast council is hunting a $100 million federal government "green" grant.

The council has started to deliver on its mandate to create an Australian model for regional sustainability.

Climate Disobedience: Is a New "Seattle" in the Making?

When Vice President Gore started endorsing civil disobedience, Abigail Singer, an activist with Rising Tide, a leading network of grassroots climate groups, noted, "It'd be more powerful if he put his body where his mouth is." She had a point.

As it happens, 68-year-old James Hansen, arguably the most famous climate scientist alive, has been less reticent about putting himself on the line. His involvement has furnished a great deal of mainstream respectability to those turning to more confrontational means of expressing dissent, and the trajectory of his political engagement catches an important trend.

Conference to question climate change notion

Not everyone believes global warming is real, and many of those skeptics will be gathering later this week in Springfield.

The group Scientists for Truth is hosting a meeting Thursday in Springfield that will bring together a variety of climate change skeptics.

Russia's Arctic Plays Concern Region

The polar ice cap is shrinking at a rate of 9% each decade as Arctic ice thins, melts and ruptures. The consequences for global warming are potentially catastrophic. Yet as the ice recedes, Arctic resources are becoming more accessible. Eight countries--the U.S., Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland--have claims to those resources. Of these, Russia has been the most active in putting forward claims, creating significant anxiety for some of the other Arctic states.

Rising ocean acidity: 'The other carbon problem'

What happens if there's no more "shell" in shellfish?

A new documentary on Discovery's Planet Green network, Acid Test: The Global Challenge of Ocean Acidification (premiering Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, and repeating throughout the month), explores this and other questions related to ocean acidification, a little-known but potentially disastrous consequence of global warming.

I have been seing bits and pieces here and there for a while now about the land grabs and posted a couple of comments on the same.

In the end I am absolutely confident that there will be a lot of blood spilled as a result of this new type of colonialism.In the past the more powerful countries simply used thier armed forces to take what they wanted,using purchase agreements as a fig leaf.Nowadays it's a lawyer with his briefcase,and when it works it pays off better on a smaller investment,which is why it's sop these days.It generally works.

The locals hopefully will be able to secure enough arms to resist forcible eviction at the hands of thier own governments when the new stealth owners come to take possession.

At some point a little farther down the road the local govt may very well find itself fighting for it's own survival,threatened on one side by displaced/hungry locals and the other by more powerful countries pressing for access to the land and resources they purchased.

There is nothing new under the sun in the affairs of men.War,which is always with us,will flame up and spread from place to place like the plague.

Let us pray that the fights burn themselves out fast enough to prevent a general conflagation such as the ww1 flu epidemic.

That's about all we can hope for,realistically.

This tactic was first used on Iran.

Porge ,thanks for the link.

One more book to buy for sure for my personal library.

The movement of land from "local" hands to ownership by mega-corporations and state organizations is a process that began more than 400 years ago.

It is an excellent example of why the problems we are facing are not just a matter of "peak oil," "climate change" or resource depletion. The problem is in the very conception of human relationship with nature and with the phenomenal world.

Part of the "modern" (read Western European) worldview's destruction of the European variant of "fuedalism" included moving the concept of land as part of the divine right of lords/kings to something which can be owned - property.

What we have seen since the advent of the so-called "green revolution" is the increasing control of all aspects of our agricultural system by corporate and, to a lesser extent, state interests.

This "globalization" of the agriculture industry has accompanied and abetted the final spread of the concept of "property" to all corners of the world.

In a sense, we are witnessing the globalization of property - the last vestiges of the uniqueness of land are disappearing and land has become a commodity.

Could there be a worse fate for humanity? If there is, I can't imagine what it would be.

But it seems that he Green revolution is a consequence of the oil age.
Without oil and natural gas (fertilizer) much of the current food producing areas could not be artificially forced into agricultural use.
The Imperial Valley is a perfect example of the need for fossil fuel to change the use of land.
Irrigation, chemical fertilizer and tons of energy required to grow immense amounts of food but without these inputs all you have is a desert.

Everything will revert once FF are gone.

Yes, you are right at the level of enabling the green revolution.

But the "oil age" is itself the result of a particular relationship between humans and the phenomenal world.

Will everything revert once FF's are gone? Maybe, but perhaps the real question is what happens to us in the meantime. What happens when corporate interests "own" all the fertile land and then attempt to use state apparatus to maintain that control in face of declining ff inputs? What extremes will corporate interests go to protect their interests - what search for substitutes (ever play oilogarchy?), what human cost will the be willing to accept to protect their profit?

We are seeing a lot of the answers to those questions already.
Until/ unless the current power structures are overthrown and replaced things will continue on this course of destruction.
It seems as if there is a deeply embedded characteristic of human societies at play..............it seems to be the nature of the beast.

Did you note your words? - "embedded characteristic" and "the nature of the beast." Interesting mixture of interpretations

But in short, you are no longer explaining, but attempting to end discussion by claiming to know some fundamental base reality.

As for the "course of destruction" - people still have lives to live during that "course." Should we just accept that those lives are forfeit? Or should we look for ways of providing meaning to those lives?

I think we should oust the powers that be and start over.

sounds good - now the hard part - how do you do it?

Hi guys -- I'll throw out a stalking horse. Perhaps it is too abstract to be useful, but worth a try IMHO.

Start over with a society based on two principles: (1) subsistence is a basic right society must honor; this implies free calories and energy to all consistent with subsistence, and (2) restrictions on births allowed per woman, enforced via tradeable permit system, with the allowable level adjusted periodically to maintain consistency with principle (1).

Draconian? Yes. Unlikely? Probably. But if we are in overshoot something like this gives more play to human freedom and choices than anything else I've seen proposed, while acknowledging limits (OK, I haven't seen much else proposed...)

Other aspects intrigue me: our decision-making bodies need to be more decentralized and cover smaller groups of people per representative. For instance, Congress has way too few representatives, a larger deliberative body should hang out at home and vote by secure e-mail. Appropriate technology would emphasize virtual networks (think YouTube videos demonstrating farming techniques) and minimize physical movement of goods over large distances.

OK, got a little cranked there. Comments welcome!

The problem is that no time remains for population reduction via decline in birth rate & consequent attrition to be viable. The carrying capacity of the biosphere is already so far exceeded that population collapse is a virtual certainty. It sure would have been nice if your scenario had been adopted centuries ago. Now it's far too late.

DD -

I appreciate the knowledge you bring to this discussion, but struggle with the finality of your speculation.

Really? The question of humanity's and the ecosphere's survival was settled by the ratio of peasant farmers to monks/nuns/eunuchs centuries ago? Is it 'technocopian' to reply, however meekly, that there must be something those of us here today can do?

I have a particular problem with the intellectual acceptance of slaughter in the name of population collapse. It just seems like if we believe 90%+ are going to die off then it becomes a no-holds-barred world, ethically speaking. 90% is an unimaginably big casualty rate: higher than casualty rates among French knights at Agincourt, American marines landing at Omaha Beach, the Titanic sinking etc. etc.

Technically 'my scenario' could work even in the face of collapse. But as always, the devil will be in the details.

""Is it 'technocopian' to reply, however meekly, that there must be something those of us here today can do?""

Yes, it is Technocopian to reply meekly....

What you should do is yell as loud as you can, while giving the finger to the Eagle of AGW, as it swoops down to snag your a$$.

Alas, it is already too late to do anything, but find a safe place to be a Rider on the Storm.

Hah! Jim Morrison, the ultimate Technocopian:

I am the Lizard King
I can do

Now it's far too late.

dd So you conclude that it's Game Over. So what do you propose? Should we party on?

Or should we instead behave like the doomed hero Freeman Lowell:

Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) in Silent Running, the resident botanist and ecologist aboard the Valley Forge, a 2,000 meter-long freighter, preserves the forests for their eventual return to Earth, and the reforestation of the planet.

When orders come from Earth to jettison and destroy the domes, and return the freighters to commercial service, Lowell opts instead to save the last remaining forests.

"Resistance is futile!" Emperor Ming, Flash Gordon


So what do you propose? Should we party on?

Yes, if partying is your inclination. I propose that people do whatever makes them happy. Making end-game preps is futile, for two reasons. First, we don't know the specifics as to the timing & nature of the local emergencies we will have to contend with, so any preps are liable to have been the wrong ones. And secondly, it won't make any difference. At best preps may buy one a little time, is all. Personally, I live to a certain extent like many of those on TOD who recommend prepping for some gradual powerdown call for. I've given up, or never indulged in, many of the energy consumptive goods & activities that are almost ubiquitous in modern society. Television, telephone, internet (at home), religion, air travel, health care, hard liquor, gas heat, sucrose... for example. But that's because I'm an old hippie & prefer to live this way, PO or no. I say do whatever you find enjoyable. The biosphere is taking a major pounding and the consequences of this pounding is the mass extinction of species, our own species included. And it won't be long, in terms of geological, evolutionary, even ecological time. Decades to centuries. But so what? All species go extinct just as all individuals die. Your own personal death should be of much greater personal concern to you than some abstraction such as the extinction of your species. Just do what you will and try not to bother others too much while you're at it.

"Just do what you will and try not to bother others too much while you're at it."

I generally agree that people should enjoy the life they have, but the problem is that most have bought the idea that enjoying life requires massive use of CO2-spewing, ff-driven devices. Enjoying oneself while further accelerating the degrading of the earth is morally dubious at best.

I think people should in fact value the living world as much as their individual lives. If more did so we probably would not be in the fix we're in.

It wouldn't matter. There are far too many of us for our individual consumption habits to make any difference. If we all lived like the poorest Kenyans or Haitians our collective carbon footprint would still be driving the biosphere down. What's done is done.

Hmmm. Not sure that this completely relieves one of moral responsibility.

If someone already has terminal stab wounds is it completely morally ok to continue to stab them?

I am as confirmed a doomer as just about anyone, but even in doomerism, I think we should have the intellectual humility to admit that there could be some unknown unknown beyond our ken that might intervene. Taking actions that any such positive black swan event could have a chance of helping does not seem judicious, and it smacks a bit of self-justification.

I think the question at hand is whether doing anything "helpful" is worth the effort. Comforting the "stabee" is a moral obligation on the innocent bystander, I suppose. But not spending the rest of your life at it.

Waiting for the black swan to arrive is probably as good a plan as any but it doesn't demand any particular action. Like DD I try to maintain a low profile and disdain most modern excesses.

I vacillate between "nothing matters" and a Pascal's Wager attitude.
I do feel better when I think like Blaise Pascal though.

Thanks for that - it's pretty much where I come out. The forces at work are enormous, and in the interplay between giant forces there is no way to predict specifics. Some things look pretty obvious, but even those may surprise in the end. So I have two kids to raise - we are here and there is a life to live. We didn't chose these times or circumstances, but here we are, and we must make of it what we can. This is why I say the best preparations are the mental ones - understand as best you can what is going on, embrace the changes, and be ready to adapt.

dd I don't give a hoot for the extinction of my species nor the end of our "fossil fuel" civilization.

Ecologists are all too aware of the "beating" that the biosphere is taking. A good sign is they're no longer wasting time trying to save Charismatic Species, other than the leverage provided by charismatic and well known species to achieve more subtle and far-reaching goals in species and biodiversity conservation.

The Biomes that might be preserved from extinction will potentially be the seeds that might allow a gradual recovery and a reseeding of the planet. Consider Chernobyl: Alan Weisman, in his bestseller The World Without Us reports that Chernobyl, Ukraine (abandoned in 1986) and Varosha, Cyprus (abandoned in 1974) find that as the human structures crumble, as weather does unrepaired damage other life forms return and create new habitats.

Will the habitats return to their former selves? Of course not. But the more intact habitats and species diversity the more robust the recovery will be once human civilization fades. Therefore efforts to save Habitats count for something.

My hope is for a rapid collapse rather than a long protracted one. BTW I don't see any scenario where humans go completely extinct unless this becomes a hostile, over-heated planet like Venus.


A doomer is an American brat who realizes he'll never afford a Lear Jet and can't stand the thought. That's an American doomer. An English doomer is some old man like Lovelock who's going to leave this mortal abode soon, says the World is leaving him.

(1) subsistence is a basic right society must honor; this implies free calories and energy to all consistent with subsistence

one way this society could start to honor this right would be the passage of gleaners laws such as exist in France. I think all PO aware people should acknowledge the moral necessity of such laws.

I'm amazed by the continuous propositions, that i read here in the commentary section of the oil drum, that some form of totalitarian government, ruled by the illuminated elite aware of natural constrains, imposing restrictions and totalitarian policies will/would save us from the inevitable outcome.

Sorry, i prefer to be one of the victims of the coming die-off than one more wheel in the machine of one more failed totalitarian regime which will collapse anyway, regardless of their altruistic objective.

This illusion that we can overcome our biological nature, and build new social and institutional arrangements that serve this "new men" capable of being one with nature is nothing more than an illusion. Several kinds of regimes tried to create a "new men", all of them with great objectives, all of them claiming the use of rationality over our "beastly" nature. All of them failed, bringing misery, death and oppression.

I believe that all this propositions to avoid disaster will only make the die-off more extended in time and painful.

We will continue to cope like our ancestors always did, until we can't cope no more. Like all animal species that have existed and exist in this planet.

This illusion that we can overcome our biological nature, and build new social and institutional arrangements that serve this "new men" capable of being one with nature is nothing more than an illusion

One thing that certainly hasn't changed in my hiatus from TOD - no end of (no doubt, well intentioned) posters who know what the fundamental truth is about the "nature" of humankind.

...the continuous propositions, that i read here in the commentary section of the oil drum, that some form of totalitarian government, ruled by the illuminated elite aware of natural constrains, imposing restrictions and totalitarian policies will/would save us from the inevitable outcome.

I call Strawman on this line of thinking. Reasonable people can discuss principles of a society that constrain human behavior without advocating totalitarianism. In my post, I advocate decentralization.

Jefferson, Jay, Adams, et al were keenly interested in constraining human behavior vis a vis goverment, and the balance of power between majorities and minorities, but were not at all interested in totalitarianism as a way of enforcing those constraints. The Constitution they came up with was decent, although in hindsight it relied on an appropriated continent to remain durable.

Props out to you re: human nature. How much constraint can a soul endure? Maybe it is a bridge too far.

A long time ago I was a student of planned paths to better futures. The World Order Models Project (WOMP) of the sixties and seventies brought together people of different backgrounds and intellectual bents and tried to get them to detail a better future.

The formula was fairly straight forward and really should inform any discussion of planned futures. First you need to provide a diagnosis/prognosis - essentially, define what the problems are in the world as it is. Next you need to present your proscription, essentially how you would like to see the world organized. And finally (and this is critical) you need to provide a transition strategy, how to get from the diagnosis to the proscription.

Anyone can complain about the present world. Most everyone can dream up a preferred world. But getting that transition, that's the tough one.

I'm no longer that interested in planned worlds, I fear the strategy itself might lead down the road to totalitarianism. But that doesn't change the importance of a transition strategy in any effort to change the future for the better.

Remove your consent.
Stop paying taxes.
Take your money out of the system.
The power rests in the peoples consent and willingness to go along.
This isn't that hard it is just hard to convince people to act.
If there was a parallel currency issued like when Kennedy issued, silver certificates and was killed for it, than we could by-pass the fed res. and the people would be in control of the money again.
I would rather see a completely different system based on resource or energy economics but that is a huge undertaking and would need to be transitioned toward.

While well intended, this approach might not get you what you want. Thoreau knew this quite well.


"Remove your consent.
Stop paying taxes.
Take your money out of the system."

porge, the "system" isn't just the tax collector. The system are the property rights, food delivery supermarkets, fast-food franchises, gas stations, utilities...

Now explain how to unhook from the system and continue to exist.


A-HA! NOW you're on to the crux of the problem.

There's a helluva lot an individual, or a household, can do on their own to disconnect - a lot more than most people (even those who come to TOD) have been willing to do. But at some point it becomes clear that no more can be done individually.

Despite what most neo-Darwinians will tell you, H. sapiens survived because they lived and worked in groups (yes, Virginia, science can be politically motivated as well). I'd estimate a group of at least 50 persons is absolute minimum critical mass for those wanting to seriously disconnect from the system, and that's just for mere survival. If you want anything more than just survival, you'd better get bigger by an order of magnitude real quick, and try to hook up with similar groups whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Easy? Not a chance. But if you want easy, just keep on keepin' on. In any case, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of making it on your own.

Despite what most neo-Darwinians will tell you, H. sapiens survived because they lived and worked in groups (yes, Virginia, science can be politically motivated as well).

Nonsense! Why do you think that neo-Darwinians would deny that man is a gregarious animal? Any fool that knows one whit about anthropology knows that humans are gregarious. No neo-Darwinian in his right mind would deny something so obvious.

Or perhaps you meant that humans survived only because they were gregarious? That is nonsense also. Of course living in tribes was a tremendous advantage. That is why the tribal adaptation evolved. But man survived also because of his brain. He could out think his competitors and predators. No animal survives only because of only one adaptation.

Ron Patterson, neo-Darwinian

One of those items tucked away in the brain from can't remember where, so sorry no reference:

Apparently the size of primate neocortexes is highly correlated with the size of the social grouping. When you substitute the human neocortex size you get about 150 individuals as the size of the social group, which loosely means the number of people you have the brainpower to maintain any sort of meaningful relationshp with.

Probably not coincidentally, it's when social groups get larger than this that you start requiring formalised systems of organisation.

I was referring more to the political system and by association the corrupt financial system.
Nothing will be possible without a change in leadership and Obama ain't the real leader.
Our country has been highjacked by criminals we have to do something.

Imagine if one day everyone went and withdreww money from their bank.
Or imagine for one entire week everyone did not purchase anything.
That would get a lot of attention.
Pay for things with cash.
If things go to hell and the only accepted currency is a plastic card we are all screwed.

Beyond that it is about figuring out how to survive without a financial system and that is much more involved and difficult.
Most people are not even to the point of recognizing the failed status quo.

Yes.....when national Gvmts in the ‘first world’, developed countries, the so called Western democracies, and others like China (leaving the definition loose as there are all kinds of variants, etc.) become infeodated to corporations, that is big business entities, for several reasons, e.g. they count on and need economic growth, for tax revenue / employment, etc. purposes; the individuals themselves want riches and fame, and not just lowly admin status; lobbying, etc. they quietly slip from considering what the ‘Nation’ group needs or what will serve it, to pandering to the interests that serve them. Blair and Berlusconi are typical examples, from contemporary history. The excuse is always that whatever is done is for the good of all...

As International law and State sovereingnity are eroded, personal and private, read corporate, initiative gain more grip, and even land-use (ownership, renting, exploiting, squatting, etc.) are relaxed to favor whomever can pay..

In a globalized world, few nations actually own or control their mechanisms of production, and those who do to some degree are targets for attack. Such as Iran and Venezuela.

I wonder. Seems to me like this has been going on for a long time, and with no fighting resulting.

Look at the plantations that provide luxury goods such as spices, coffee, and chocolate for rich westerners. The locals would be much better off if those plantations produced food for local consumption. But they don't go to war over it. Instead, they end up working on these farms, producing a product that they may never taste.


The fighting in the areas where the plantations are presently located is in the past-we evicted or mirdered our local American citizens by birth from the south some time ago in order to grow tobacco, rice,and cotton for export on thier land.

A little later we evicted them from the midwest where we grow the grain we export today.

The fighting will flare up again once the present day working people are back to the wall-fight or starve.Fortunately in my neck of the woods we don't depend on ag exports to any significant degree any more.And as a country ,we are for now at least strong enough that we can't be strong armed by those who have bought up ag land inside the US.

There are going to be one hell of a lot of hungry/starving people in the world pretty soon if the ELM model is accurate(-and I personally can see no reason why it isn't)even without the land grabs thrown in.

The land grab will serve as a political rallying point/call for the rebels/freedom fighters/patriots/terrorists/whatever they are called,depending on who's calling of course. I personally wouldn't want to be a politician or banker involved in a land grab for fear of my life a few years down the road.

I have up until recently thought that there is some reasonable hope for a peaceful contraction of the industrial/ consumer economy.That hope is ,for me personally,fading fast.

There are going to be one hell of a lot of hungry/starving people in the world pretty soon if the ELM model is accurate(-and I personally can see no reason why it isn't)

I can see why it isn't. Or why it might not work out in a straightforward manner.

The oil producing nations are dependent on food imports. Land grabs aren't going to fix that, at least not any time soon. Plus there may be limits on exports; several countries limited exports during the last price runup.

Back in the '70s, there was a popular song called Cheaper Crude or No More Food. It was silly at the time. If we didn't sell the OPEC countries food, someone else would have. But things have changed, and I think being a food exporter will be as strategic as being an oil exporter. Of course we need fossil fuels for that, but we'll get them...in return for food.

In the long run, yes, I see a large population decrease in our future. But I am not confident that I will live to see it, even if I live to be 106, like my great-grandmother.

You have lived to see the growth rate fall. I think it will be near zero or slightly negative before 2030 but it could be huge bubble about to burst, too. I don't have a clean drinking water source in my state so without huge energy inputs ...

You've fallen overboard and are sinking fast. Gradually you realize that the rate at which you're sinking has declined. Great! you think, until it dawns on you that you're already too far below the surface to ever draw breath again. The light from above may be dimming a bit more slowly than it was before but the darkness is still closing in on you.

While the growth rate may be falling the actual numbers are not. They have started to rise again:

Wikipedia: Population Growth Rate

The actual annual growth in the number of humans fell from its peak of 87.5 million per annum in 1989, to a low of 76.4 million per annum in 2002, at which it stabilised and has started to slowly rise again to 79.4 million per annum in 2007, and 80.2 million per annum in 2009. Growth remains high in the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa.[7] According to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau, the annual world population growth will peak in 2011 at 80.9 million.

At any rate the population growth rate is falling in the third world because of Malthusian principles. There is massive hunger around the world, this causes fertility rates to fall and infant mortality rates to rise.

Ron P.

There's an often overlooked Malthusian Principle, besides War, Hunger, Disease, Infanticide and other violent, gruesome, unappealing acts.
As it was called in his time, that is, unfruitful sexual acts or as the well-known French Marquis put it, "the seed evilly deviated from its natural destiny."
It was well known in his time that the low birth rate among the French owed a lot to the ability of the French ladies. Comdom is, by the way, the most important city of La Gascoigne, where they were particularly crafty in making those useful scabbards from the guts of sheep -unfortunately no longer advisable because of the risk of the hiv virus passing through the pores. It had some advantages in the coefficient of heat transmission, I am told.

As I suppose that all of you are of more than legal age, and wise to the evil ways of the world, I don't need to point out in clear other alternatives. Yet some comments could be enlightening.

It is with some misgivings that I watch the increasing presence in the media of what for lack of a more obscure name I am going to call the Human Female Phenocopies. Also the disconcerting promotion of all forms of the love that didn't dare say its name.
Perhaps it is not the governments, it maybe an unconscious adaptation by the human species to changing conditions.

Certainly the future is not going to be like the past, and if it is the case that there is something like 20% too many young males in China (who knows how many millions) that also could be a factor in bringing down the birth rate, even if it is at the cost of some change in behaviour.

I don't have a clean drinking water source in my state

At least you have a source. Poisoned Waters, the Frontline Special (1 hr. 52 minute video), makes it pretty clear that for 25 years, federal and state governments have failed to keep their promises to clean it up.

The public has lost interest, too. Over 35 years ago Richard Nixon (an environmental dummy) signed into law the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act because of political pressure. Since then they've figured out that we'd settle for...

"loose shoes, good sex and a warm place to go to the bathroom"
James G. Watt, Interior Secretary under Ronald Reagan


That wasn't Watt is was Earl Butz, the ag secretary. It was an awful, hateful remark but much more poetic than what you have written.

You don't see a space-based population of 15 Billion then...? (10 Billion here, 4 Billion on Mars and the rest on the Moon and space/other planets)

[/Pigs Flying By Off]



I hope you are right.This is one case where I would be very happy to be wrong.

But the web grows ever tighter-just how is a politician who colluded in the sale of a large tract of land going to prevent the food grown on it from being exported w/o betraying the purchaser,who will be more than willing,most likely, to use whatever levers are available,including blackmail,and the occasional execution of a politician as an example to others?

This is a VERY HARD hard ball game scenario ,the last step before a physical invasion.

Drug customers are much in the habit of paying thier suppliers because a dead customer is found in the street occasionally.Of course the customer is not in as good a position visavis his pistol as the dealer because a dead dealer is of no use to his customer.If the buyer has something the seller wants,your scenario will fly.

But fiat money and containers full of junk merchandise aren't going to be worth very much,if I am right.

And as a farmer I can say with confidence that as diesel and fertilizer become scarce and more expensive,yields will fall like a stone,in proportion.There won't be a whole lot AVAILABLE for export sales ,sometimes not enough for domestic consumption.

I still remain of the opinion that things might work out,or at least CAN work out,more or less along the lines you propose in the richer parts of the world,especially the US,western Europe,etc.

I don't hope I'm right.

Well, part of me does. The selfish part. But as I've said many times before, I think a slow catabolic collapse is really the most doomerish scenario of all. It will allow us to thoroughly trash the planet on the way down. All resources and capital converted to waste, leaving an environment so impoverished it won't support agriculture or any other kind of complexity.

I agree. The crash is coming, willy-nilly, and the sooner and more drastically it happens, the more the survivors - of all species - will have left to work with.

You are exactly right on that count Leanan. And it will mean the extinction of all the world's megafauna and a lot of the fauna that is not so mega. But this is also very dangerous.

If it moves, it can be eaten: At dinner in Congo, bushmeat is on the table

Consumption of infected bushmeat has been linked to several outbreaks of Ebola, one of the world's deadliest viruses. The disease, which kills through massive blood loss, has claimed more than 1,000 victims in Africa since it was first identified in 1976.


Uganda: More Diseases Surface As Bush Meat Eating Rises"

Also, extremely hungry people will eat carrion. So if people really start to starve the disease rate could jump dramatically.

Ron P.

Hello Barrett808,

Thxs for the sad weblink. Again, it brings up the moral question of when a declining non-human specie is more important to biodiversity than any human [as there are certainly plenty of us].

Hypothetical situation: Imagine if Osama Bin Laden*** & his Boyz, plus the Taliban, globally announced that they will do anything to kill cute Chinese panda bears. My guess is that this would create such an immediate global firestorm that even China would start calling for a total scorched earth policy for Afghanistan/Pakistan. You could easily visualize 100 million Chinese soldiers marching out to make sure these guys don't even get anywhere close to a panda. The Theme: Kill em all, let God sort 'em out, but absolutely nobody will get a chance to harm a panda.

Hell, if the MSM really blared this out hypothetical situation worldwide: you could probably find enough kids crying about possibly dead pandas to collect the tears, then flood these two countries to death.

You would think that someone in Cameroon would think the same about their lions and order their militia or game rangers to just start blasting away at anyone taking food away from a lion, or who even sets foot inside the lion preserve. Can we really be that stupid to see an incoming, giant Tsunami and then everyone screams with delight, "let's go swimming, the surf is way,way up!". Sheesh, we are idiots thru & thru./rant off

*** I think OBL has been dead for years.

Can we really be that stupid to see an incoming, giant Tsunami and then everyone screams with delight, "let's go swimming, the surf is way,way up!".

Apparently so. Reportedly, when the sea retreated just before the so-called "Boxing Day Tsunami" struck the Indian Ocean basin in 2004, people went down to the beach to collect stranded fish. It was the last thing they ever did besides drown. These were the acculturated civilizados of the various Indian rim nations. The unassimilated Andamanese of North Sentinel Island weren't so stupid. They headed for high ground instead. When an Indian military helicopter flew over the island to assess their safety, it was fired upon with arrows.


AS long as people believe that they are some special form of animal, then yes, this stupidity will continue.

The best possible hope for humanity is a fast and worldwide dieoff with a remnant population of less than a billion, thinly spread over all land masses.

Ron - don't forget. There's still plenty of the Long Pig left.


Two thoughts here:

1) If "land grabs" happen in the US, it won't much be Chinese investors buying up farms onesy-twosy; it will be large corporations buying up farms, and then Chinese investors buying up minority stakes in mega-farm corps, and then slowly increasing their ownership until they can determine where the products are shipped, and how the labor is performed. As with any aspect of the slow collapse scenario, we'll be frog-boiled at every turn.....at the point when we say "we need our land to grow food for us", nobody will be quite sure which land even belongs to whom, and how to follow the money and control chains to their source. It'll be about as clear as figuring out who really owns your mortgage.

2) I don't think we can have a slow collapse for long. Eventually a war, or a plague, or some other major event will blast through to cause a major step-down crash. Maybe that will happen multiple times. In any case, systems will become increasing fragile, and major ones will fail catastrophically just when they're needed most. Still, I imagine we'll do a lot of damage to the earth and all existing capital while we slide down, whether slow, stepped, or fast.

Once upon a time humans built stone bridges to last hundreds of years, and railroad right-of-ways to match. Then we built houses and buildings to last a century, and roads to match. Then we decided to build houses that last 25 years before major remodels, and roads and bridges that lasted 50, and cars and washing machines that lasted 10. Now we decide to have computers and cell-phones that are obsolete in 1 year, and cars and washing machines that have value for 5. I will be watching intently for an inflection point where "consumerism" shifts back to "durable-ism" and we start expecting 10 year warrantees again anything of value, and are willing to pay extra for heirloom quality assets.

I will be watching intently for an inflection point where "consumerism" shifts back to "durable-ism" ...

You'll see it just as soon as "profit" ceases to be the prime motive for making a product or providing a service.

I don't think we can have a slow collapse for long. Eventually a war, or a plague, or some other major event will blast through to cause a major step-down crash.

Good chance it will go like that.

Hello Leanan,

Your Quote: "I wonder. Seems to me like this has been going on for a long time, and with no fighting resulting."

When Europeans introduced new diseases into the Western Hemisphere: this is when they effectively gained easy title to N & S America. The resulting Dieoff took most of the fight out of the survivors. A few beads and trinkets for title to the future NYC, then broken treaties and a few gunfights resulting in a Trail of Tears effectively cleared the land of any effective native resistance. A simplification to be sure, but it seems to provide a general answer to your quote above.

The next level may be the Irish Famine: people starving as they watch the food go elsewhere, but some had the chance to migrate to a better place. Unfortunately, our now overcrowded little blue marble has mostly no more virgin territory for people to exploit; we have moved into the Zero Sum [or Negative Sum endgame if the ecosystem is going belly up].

IMO, #119198 Mercs supporting the land-grabbing Topdogs to keep the declining wealth moving upwards will be the norm going forward. If they are postPeak effective in reducing even more the feeble amounts of economic trickle down, then the poor won't have much of a chance..."with no fighting resulting." The old story of when elephants move: they don't notice nor care how many ants they trample.

Will Earthmarines arise to counter the Topdogs & Mercs who have no sense of planetary patriotism or biodiversity preservation concerns? Could some of the Topdogs awaken to Peak Outreach, then fund Earthmarines? Was the linked article's discussion of Madagascar's 'ants' rebelling against the Daewoo 'elephant' a sign of things to possible boost the chance of Earthmarines? I wish I knew so I wouldn't have to just speculate.

Nature generally evolves ways to help keep Apex predators in check such as lions vs lions, lions vs hyenas, lions vs crocs. Or wolves versus wolves, wolves versus bears, wolves versus mountain lions, etc. Are humans culturely smart enough to create some other human predators that would help equalize the 'ant versus elephant' battle on a diminishing playing field that could help all habitats and species? Could Hans Selye's GAS help leverage this further?

I don't have any answers. Maybe some other TODers might expand this discussion further.

To all farmers and policy wonks:
In preparation for a panel I will be moderating at this year's ASPO conference on policy conflicts, I would appreciate constructive examples of policy conflicts in the food/energy area--beyond the obvious food/fuel, food/water issues. What isn't on the radar screen of the agencies that oversee food/ag, what policies/changes would be helpful. What trends are you seeing in the farming community.

Debbie, consider checking out this organizations: www.iatp.org.

I would like to think about that.
Do you have an address?

shaman - As Leanan suggests, this has been going on a lot longer than 400 years - like at least since before the invention of writing, probably since before even the invention of agriculture - just under various guises and by various names.

But not to worry. As soon as the colonial powers become unable to support the armies it takes to enforce their "ownership," unfettered usage, at least, of the land will revert to those living on it. Those of us alive now may not live to see it, but it's coming, plain as a fence-post, and as inevitable as sunrise.

I doubt it was before the invention of agriculture. It probably came with agriculture. There's a reason Jared Diamond calls agriculture the worst mistake in the history of the human race.

Agriculture means the growing of grains and other foods that can be stored. That is what allows wealth accumulation. If you're growing, say, sweet potatoes, you can't really hoard them. They'll keep maybe a year at best. So there's little incentive to grow more than you can eat in that time, let alone force others to grow even more for you. It's smarter to grow just what you need, and share your surplus, if any, with the understanding that they'll share with you when the tables are turned.

I'm not sure that was what Leanan was referring to, but I'll let her answer for herself.

As for "this" going on for a lot longer... it depends on what you mean by "this." If all you're talking about is displacement of locals, yes that's been going on for millennia. But that would be a rather facile interpretation of of what is happening.

I am more interested in our relationship with the land, how that is expressed in control over the land and what that does to the people who live there and to the people who control it.

But, hey, if you're happy just sitting around waiting for the eventual collapse, that's fine. Me, I try to have some compassion for what all of this does to people now and in the meantime (and I'm talking about far more than just starvation of those who are displaced).

I think - correct me if I'm wrong - what you're talking about is the idea of "property" and how that affects the ways people think of and use what they claim to "own." It has taken me many re-readings of what you wrote to reach this (tentative) conclusion, and I could very well be wrong.

But, hey, if you're happy just sitting around waiting for the eventual collapse, that's fine. Me, I try to have some compassion for what all of this does to people now and in the meantime ...

Are you implying that I don't have any compassion for either the dispossessed or the new "owners"? Are you suggesting that I'm "just sitting around waiting" or that I'm happy to do so? Please enlighten me as to how you reached those conclusions. I really don't want to go ad hominem here, so I would ask that you refrain from making unwarranted assumptions, or to give your reasons for thinking they are warranted.

My first post on this up top specifically identified the development of the idea of property as the key issue.

My observation about your approach to the collapse came from your statement introducing it;

But not to worry.

If that is not an accurate reflection of your feelings, than I apologize for the inference.

You're right - my bad.

What I meant to imply was that this land-grabbing process will soon enough come to an end, despite all attempts to continue it. That end will come when the "owners," current and prospective, no longer have the resources to field the armies required to enforce their fiats, and it may well be within the lifetimes of many now alive. Whether it is coming or not is no longer a question.

Of course, that doesn't help those who have been, or are being, displaced in the here and now. But I submit that there is really very little or nothing useful that can be done to restore the dispossessed as long as those armies still exist. Do I like that? Hell no, I don't. But I can't do anything about it - alone, or with any likely number of other people intent on doing something. It's just not under my, or our, control, and I find it much more productive to work on changing what is under my control.

As for your general argument, I agree wholeheartedly that we will have to change our minds about "property," and "ownership," and a whole slew of other delusions we labor under in our relationship to the world. Hoo, boy, you don't even want to know the delusions we got ...

I think we are essentially in agreement. The one thing we have at least some limited control over is our own thoughts. By changing ourselves, we change those around us.

So while there really isn't any hope that we can, say, convince our legislatures to repeal laws allowing for incorporation (what a change that would be!) or get the UN to support indigenous rights vis a vis corporations, we can begin the change that will make a difference in many lives. Those personal changes are bandied about on this site all the time and almost any of them are good. One thing they must do is reject the separation between self and nature.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending August 7, 2009

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 14.4 million barrels per day during the week ending August 7, 69 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 83.5 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 3.8 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.5 million barrels per day last week, up 243 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.5 million barrels per day, 642 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged nearly 1.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 162 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 2.5 million barrels from the previous week. At 352.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.0 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.5 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 1.1 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 18.9 million barrels per day, down by 3.0 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline demand has averaged about 9.1 million barrels per day, unchanged from the same period last year. Distillate fuel demand has averaged 3.3 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 9.4 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel demand is 12.6 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Piracy fears as cargo ship vanishes off England

Piracy in European waters?

I confess, I thought Kunstler was kind of nutty with his piracy predictions, but it's looking like what looked like his craziest prediction might turn out to be one of his best.

Leanan -- I'm with you there! If someone thought it economically worthwhile to hijack a freighter of timber with all of that crude oil shipping out of the fish-in-a-barrel known as the Middle East, piracy is going to a whole new level.

How long, I wonder, before we start renting out the US Navy to escort precious cargo?

This is truly bizarre. I mean,

The Finnish shipping line operating the ship reportedly said it was boarded by up to 10 armed men claiming to be anti-drugs police as it sailed through the Baltic Sea on 24 July.

But the intruders are reported to have left the vessel 12 hours later on an inflatable boat, and it is unclear who is in current command of the ship.


Piracy in the Baltic Sea is even more unthinkable than elsewhere in Europe... And the cargo was supposed to be just timber (plausible for a ship leaving a Finnish port), worth $1.5m.

I really cannot make any sense of this at all.

Recall my earlier post where Barbary pirates found it quite profitable to raid European shores for women to sell in their slave markets. No different than raiding Africa to sell slaves in the New World,IMO.

The Barbary Corsairs, sometimes called Ottoman Corsairs or Barbary Pirates, were Muslim pirates and privateers who operated from North Africa from the time of the Crusades (11th century) until the early 19th century..

..From the 16th to 19th century, pirates captured an estimated 800,000 to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves,[2] mainly from seaside villages in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, but also from France, England, the Netherlands, Ireland and as far away as Iceland and North America...

Why do you say "women"? They wanted people to do work, and men would do just as well as women, if not better.

"They wanted people to do work, and men would do just as well as women, if not better."

Oh, for sure they took males for slaves too, but it is impossible to get a male pregnant to leverage your investment.

But that wasn't what they wanted. They just wanted money.

This link describes the American Slave Market, but I think it generally applies to any slave market:

Slavery in the United States:

Determinants of Slave Prices

The prices paid for slaves reflected two economic factors: the characteristics of the slave and the conditions of the market. Important individual features included age, sex, childbearing capacity (for females), physical condition, temperament, and skill level. In addition, the supply of slaves, demand for products produced by slaves, and seasonal factors helped determine market conditions and therefore prices.

Age and Price

Prices for both male and female slaves tended to follow similar life-cycle patterns. In the U.S. South, infant slaves sold for a positive price because masters expected them to live long enough to make the initial costs of raising them worthwhile. Prices rose through puberty as productivity and experience increased. In nineteenth-century New Orleans, for example, prices peaked at about age 22 for females and age 25 for males. Girls cost more than boys up to their mid-teens. The genders then switched places in terms of value. In the Old South, boys aged 14 sold for 71 percent of the price of 27-year-old men, whereas girls aged 14 sold for 65 percent of the price of 27-year-old men. After the peak age, prices declined slowly for a time, then fell off rapidly as the aging process caused productivity to fall. Compared to full-grown men, women were worth 80 to 90 percent as much. One characteristic in particular set some females apart: their ability to bear children. Fertile females commanded a premium. The mother-child link also proved important for pricing in a different way: people sometimes paid more for intact families...

Yup. Note that men are still more valuable than women, at least once they are full grown and able to work.

This is why most of the people sent to the Americas as slaves were men. Many of the women who were captured were sold in Africa, because the price for female slaves was higher there. Not higher than for males, but higher than they could get in the New World. Males were considered more valuable than females in both Africa and the US, but the differential was larger in the US.

from the link: "Fertile females commanded a premium."

How the heck could they tell what made one women more fertile than the next if they were the same age, weight to height ratio, and health? hip to waist ratio? bigger boobs versus smaller for breastfeeding? Remember, medical and genetic knowledge was very sparse back in those days.

My guess is the determining factor was the male arousal level, not any medical info, but I could be wrong.

How the heck could they tell what made one women more fertile than the next if they were the same age, weight to height ratio, and health?

By having had previous children, of course. That's why the next line in the article is about the value of family units.

Note that even at prime female fertility, though, males commanded a higher price. It was labor that was the important thing.

There were some areas and times when females were more expensive than males - when slave trading was banned, usually. But for the most part, slave owners preferred males.

Men, unless castrated, tend to be less tractable as slaves than women. Also, women, at least in those days, tended to have skills in textile or pottery making that could enrich their masters thru the production of trade goods, whereas male slaves only provided labor. And the buyers of slaves were mostly heterosexual.

But most of the slaves taken were men. The women taken to Muslim countries were not used to produce trade goods. Most of the female slaves were purchased by the pasha; a few might be added to his harem, but most ended up as harem attendants, doing housework until they were ransomed. Slavery wasn't hereditary; their children, if any, were raised Muslim. So there was no benefit to breeding female slaves, as there was in the US.

You know your history of the Barbary coast slave trade better than I do, Leanan. Sounds like the victims are better described as "captives held for ransom" rather than as "slaves." My comments pertained more to the phenomenon of slavery in general than to any particular case.

Not quite, though ransoms were a big part of it.

It's really interesting, and not unrelated to peak oil.

IMO, you and Bob are looking at slavery through fossil fuel goggles. Of course you would be more interested in a lovely young slave girl than in the labor you could get from a male slave.

But the Barbary pirates didn't see it that way. What they needed was labor. Specifically, galley slaves. Men who could power ships.

"Men who could power ships."

Reminds me of the tv ad for Gatorade? where the captain is handing out juice to all the galley slaves chained to the oars. They are surprised by this new treat and ask why. He replies: "Drink it up--The king wants to go waterskiing!" LOL!

A different version of this seems to be happening around the world, in Mexico. There was a major article in the WSJ called U.S. Firms Probed in Mexico Oil Scam (You may have to search on title, since behind a pay wall).

The article is about theft of Mexican oil from pipelines.

Oil theft has been common on both sides of the border for decades. But the breadth of the smuggling operation, extending from Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico's state oil company, to U.S. companies, is a troubling sign of the growing reach of cross-border organized crime, as well as the efforts by Mexican drug cartels to diversify their business. . .

"The cartels are fighting for pieces of a shrinking pie. When you have no pie left...then you have to look for another illegal business to pay your people," said Ariel Moutsatsos, adviser for international affairs for the attorney general of Mexico.

Industry experts warned of the risks to Mexico from unchecked oil-smuggling.

"You could eventually end up in the same situation that you have in Africa," said Wayne Wilson, managing director with Protiviti, a risk-management consulting firm.

Re: Mexican smuggling.

Is this a fare trade?

A local ethanol plant which ships dried distillers grains to Mexico received a return shipment of pot Tuesday:


From 'Peak Oil Changes Everything' linked in DB above:

One barrel of oil's gasoline content -- 42 gallons -- equals a staff of 12 full-time servants working for one year. Nothing beats this but uranium, and best estimates show the world sitting on less than a 50-year supply of that, if it could all be mined! We've been past the peak uranium curve for decades.

This is the first time I've seen a claim for 'peak uranium'. While I have no doubt that the peaking phenomenon can apply to nuclear fuels I don't think fuel availability is an issue. Controlling the reaction to ensure safety in operation and managing the waste have been more limiting factors.

The peak uranium assertion feels a little bizarre (the article is fine otherwise). Has anyone seen evidence of peak uranium availability?

This link takes you to the uranium report from the Energy Watch Group. It contains some nice peak uranium graphics.

RA -

Thanks for the link! I'll admit to being a little skeptical since the sponsors are plainly renewables advocates, but at the same time it looks like a serious study.

It is definitely difficult to see where our uranium supply will come from, once our contract with the Soviet Union for down-blended nuclear bombs ends in 2013. Uranium production from current mines is definitely inadequate, but there may still be some stockpiles for a while. I wrote a post about this back in February.

All metals and elements have a peak value and an expected date.....Gold, Silver, Lead, etc. all have peaks in less than 50 years.

What is more important than metal is Fresh WATER!

Has anyone calculated PEAK WATER?

I don't think we will reach peak-uranium for a while as the price and hence energy that can be expended in mining for it can go way up [meaning ore grade can go way down releasing much more ore resources] and it is still economically viable as a fuel.

In addition 'used' Uranium is not really used -only a small fraction of the Energy in it has been converted. So all those 'waste deposits' become mineable tailings to be used as the input for more efficient newer reactors.

...then there's Thorium and Breeder reactors...


I don't think we will reach peak-uranium for a while as the price and hence energy that can be expended in mining for it can go way up [meaning ore grade can go way down releasing much more ore resources] and it is still economically viable as a fuel.

Read a pretty good review on the subject recently. It was probably here on TOD, but I don't remember the particulars. The bottom line is we may be headed for a short term shortage, as new sources are slow to get going, and advanced cycle reactors, which clearly make sense in a fuel constrained world are not far enough along to take up the slack.

Civilization lived with 100 percent renewable solar energy from the dawn of time until the beginning of the industrial age in 1750. Human population of the planet during that time never exceeded about 500 million people. This was the carrying capacity of a totally solar-powered world.

That 500 million figure came late in population history, after cereal grains and livestock had been domesticated, extensive irrigation infrastructure was in place in major river valleys, seafaring & metallurgical technology was relatively advanced, and sociopolitical systems relatively sophisticated. Such a census number could not have been supported with the lithic technology and foraging/scavenging lifestyle that supported Homo for most of its population history. During that time, the last glacial maximum occurred and the Earth entered into the currently ongoing interpluvial. Biodiversity was at a peak and ecosystems, while adapting slowly to the warmer and drier conditions, were robust and resilient to perturbation. In other words, the carrying capacity of the biosphere was high which allowed the slow expansion of human population as this African ape species expanded its range around the world. The invention of agriculture and other innovations listed above allowed this ape to achieve its eventual pre-FF population of half a billion people.

Today, the situation is radically different:

Oil has allowed the human population to exceed 6 billion, far more than a solar-powered, green, renewable energy planet ever took care of. Oil and gas based fertilizers, pharmacuticals and energy intensive farming and public health systems have increased the planet's capability to support the human experiment.

Human population is vastly inflated over and above the carrying capacity of the biosphere sans fossil fuels. Furthermore, we are in the midst of a mass extinction episode in which biodiversity is in free fall decline. We have poisoned our atmosphere and surface oceans with oxidized carbon, a high heat capacity gas that dissolves in water in the form of carbonic acid. The result is rampant climatic warming and oceanic acidification. Multiple anthropogenic stressors have rendered ecosystems worldwide vulnerable to sudden collapse. When populations exceed carrying capacity they crash, and in the process carrying capacity itself is often severely degraded. The consequences of peak oil and anthropogenic climatic warming & mass extinction will lead with a certainty bordering on inevitability to human population collapse in a time scale of years to decades. Along with this collapse comes the certain degradation of carrying capacity to a level that will hardly support any survivors of collapse, if there are any. A few relict populations, in the southern hemisphere, may hang on for a century or two but inbreeding depression and environmental degradation will probably cause these isolated populations to go extinct one by one over the ensuing few hundred years. There is no hope that the biosphere can support half a billion people post-PO, even if it was capable of doing so prior to the fossil fueled population bubble. Technocopians get your heads out of the sand and wake up to these realities. There is nothing that can be done to avoid or even mitigate what's coming to a planet near & dear to us all, very soon.

World population projected to reach 7 billion next year

The world's population is forecast to hit 7 billion next year, the vast majority of its growth coming in developing and, in many cases, the poorest nations, a report released Wednesday said.

A staggering 97 percent of global growth over the next 40 years will happen in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Population Reference Bureau's 2009 World Population Data Sheet.

"The great bulk of today's 1.2 billion youth -- nearly 90 percent -- are in developing countries," said Carl Haub, a co-author of the report. Eight in 10 of those youth live in Africa and Asia.

"During the next few decades, these young people will most likely continue the current trend of moving from rural areas to cities in search of education and training opportunities, gainful employment, and adequate health care," Haub continued, calling it one of the major social questions of the next few decades.

Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch 'Every Sperm Is Sacred'...

dd - I pretty much agree with your assessment of the near future ... except (you knew that was coming, right? ;>)

Along with this collapse comes the certain degradation of carrying capacity to a level that will hardly support any survivors of collapse ...

IF we get a 90+% reduction in human population (as looks certain to me), that will take a lot of pressure off the biosphere in general, and where degraded ecosystems are left undisturbed, they show a remarkable capacity to heal, often much more quickly than expected. I don't mean to suggest that we'll be going back to Eden, by any means; what I'm trying to say is that, post-collapse, the survivors might have a little more wiggle room than your scenario allows for.

But who really knows? I, too, might have my head in the sand about what might be possible. In any case, it's the ONLY basis for any hope that I can muster about what's coming.

Younger Dryas?

Not to be obtuse, but ... what about the Younger Dryas? Talk out loud - what are you trying to say?

Perhaps the younger dryas is a place to look for lessons about what we will see?

The scale will certainly be larger this time. And true, the direction of temp change is opposite. But the human population dropped significantly in the younger dryas - on the upside, some significant innovations came from the experience.

Thanks for the sciencedaily link.

As for possible lessons, I dunno ... especially if it was, in fact, due to a cosmic impact event. I think it might be good to note just how quickly and drastically climate can change, though, in view of the increase in warnings that changes are happening right now that far exceed even worst-case scenarios.

As the Wisconsin Ice Sheet melted a vast glacial lake formed behind an ice dam in what's now central Canada. This lake was considerably larger than the five extant Laurentide "Great Lakes" combined. 11K yrs bp this lake floated its ice dam resulting in the sudden release of fresh water into the north Atlantic. This influx of less dense fresh water briefly shut down the thermohaline "Great Conveyor" current system, of which the Gulf Stream is the surface component. This disruption of oceanic circulation, by means of which warm surface water is transported towards the pole and dense cold bottom water is displaced southward, is what caused the so-called "Younger Dryas" cold spell. A bolide impact had nothing to do with it, even if a minor strike was concurrent. And the North American megafauna were driven to extinction within about 2K yrs of the arrival of big game hunting specialists equipped with a sophisticated fluted point technology via Beringia.

"A bolide impact had nothing to do with it, even if a minor strike was concurrent. And the North American megafauna were driven to extinction within about 2K yrs of the arrival of big game hunting specialists equipped with a sophisticated fluted point technology via Beringia."

That is one theory

Papers are being presented to contest that theory


Yeah, and "papers are being presented" in Springfield, Missouri, to contest anthropogenic global warming, too. (See discussion thread below.) The evidence on all of this has been argued to death for decades. Scientific consensus has congealed pretty much as I've outlined it.

Speaking of picturesque stories:

I remember a Poul Anderson story about time travelers visiting the giant waterfall created about 7- or 10,000 bce when the rising Atlantic broke through the Straits of Gibraltar and began to fill the dry Mediterranean basin. When the Mediterranean Sea was full, the process was repeated as the waters overflowed the Dardenelles and topped off the Black Sea, displacing the early agriculturists at the north end, dispersing them into Europe. (And giving rise to Great Flood stories like Noah's.)

I think it's established that the ocean level recently was much lower, leaving a land bridge between Asia and North America, and that the Mediterranean has been a dry valley below sea level. But what about the Gibraltar torrent? Was there one, and when? I've always wanted some solid information on that. (The Poul Anderson story was pretty flimsy, IIRC.)

The Wisconsinian sea level minimum was about 130m lower than today's. (Minority opinion places it closer to 85m lower.) Since the depth of the Strait of Gibraltar is 900m, the Mediterranean was never cut off from the Atlantic during the Pleistocene.

There was some study work done of the subsurface of both the Mediterranean and the Black Sea

http://people.cornellcollege.edu/MRegel08/geo105/images/mediterraneanflo... This is an interesting area of study.

5.9 mys bp - long before the Pleistocene - the Mediterranean connected to the Atlantic via the Baltic, not thru the Straits of Gibraltar. When this connection closed the Med completely evaporated in only about 1K yrs. It remained dry for 500 - 600K yrs. The basin refilled upon the opening of the Straits of Gibraltar and has never dried up since. I don't know the rate of refill but even if it was rapid & catastrophic, this happened ~5 mys bp. There was no one around 5 mys bp to have witnessed the event. How, then, could the event have inspired legends of Noah's flood?

I keep hearing the story (on the History Channel, no less!) that the Mediterranean was dry at the end of the last ice age, and the Gibraltar deluge happened about 10,000 years ago.

Don't tell me that I can't believe everything I see on the History Channel!

The event suspected to be Noah's Flood is the flooding of the Black Sea plains, not the Med.


I'll let other folks argue the likelyhood, I just wanted to make sure you were on the right event.

Thanks, people, for the research and comments. Way off topic, but fills a gap in my thinking. (I meant to say that the Black Sea rise inspired tales of a great flood, but seem to have been too concise.)

Back to oil and and social collapse. (My daughter just bought a house in Oakland CA!)

Whether or not the black sea flooding event gave rise to the various flood myths we will probably never know. I thought the scientific evidence that puts it about 8200bp is pretty good however.

IF we get a 90+% reduction in human population (as looks certain to me), that will take a lot of pressure off the biosphere in general..

Even if every human dropped dead this instant pressure on the biosphere would continue for millenia. Positive feedback mechanisms have been set in motion that will lead to increased environmental degradation for a long time to come. No significant "healing" will take place in any time scale pertinent to human concerns. It takes about 10 mys, for instance, for biodiversity to recover following a mass extinction episode of the magnitude of the ongoing anthropogenic death fest. The mean time span from speciation to extinction is 1 my for vertebrates. Humans have been around for about .2 mys. We won't make it to anywhere near this mean and will go down in the fossil record as an "unsuccessful" species, the end of our lineage.

Plus, the Sun is an aging star, and we probably had our best shot at diversity in the last 100 million yeast, even with that K/T event.
It saddens me, but I know that it is my anthropocentric bias.

Sol is a middle aged yellow star. It still has another good 4 bys to go. More pertinent so far as biodiversity is concerned is that the Ocean Planet's radiogenic heat is in decline as isotopes in the core & mantle decay down their series. Already this heat is only 1/8 to 1/4 what it was in the Hadean eon. Since it's this heat that causes convection plumes in the mantle that drive tectonic activity & continental drift, the potential for vicariant speciation is slowly declining. If the Crib planet was the size of Mars, this heat source would be all but gone & tectonic activity ceased.

"Sol is a middle aged yellow star. It still has another good 4 bys to go." Perhaps, but the operative date is when it becomes to large and hot for significant life on earth. Any stats handy on that?

Thanks for the point about continental drift and speciation. I hadn't heard of that.

Last 10% of a stars life is when the star goes from primary fuels to secondary fuels. So 2.5 to 3.0 billion years from now is a good guess.

In all actuality, the earth's core will probably solidify well before the sun expands.

"earth's core will probably solidify well before the sun expands."

Interesting. And this will mean no more magnetic field to protect the surface from charged particles? Would that pretty much spell the end of life? Is there a prediction for about when this is supposed to happen?

Sort of seems like the show said 600m to 1000m years from now. But this is a vague memory.

Earth will be in trouble long before the giant phase begins. The sun is currently brightening about 1% per hundred million years. It is already bright enough that we need circa 300ppm CO2 or less to have a decent climate, in another few hundred million years we will need such a low amount of CO2 to keep from overheating (it is thought the silicate weathering process will manage to do this) will be too little to support plant life. I think the end time for the sun is more like 5.5by out. There is a good chance the cinder that was once the earth will be engulfed by the giant star before is turns into a planetary nebula.

I too was schooled when I was young that Sol was about halfway through its 'life-friendly' stage. However, for several years now, at least, the scientific consensus is that the Sun has been brightening since it entered the Main Sequence, and as a consequence, the Earth's oceans will boil away about 1 billion years from now. Granted, the decrease in radiogenic/fossil accretion heat energy heat will slowly decrease the activity of the geological thermostat, which will result in a decrease in Carbon Dioxide below levels necessary for plant life. Unclear to me whether this will occur before Sol become too bright. Well beyond our personal time horizons...

Interesting. I'm a biologist not an astronomer and it was my understanding that it would be about 4 bys before Sol became a red giant and expanded its circumference to beyond the orbit of Mars. My understanding may well be outdated. Your mention of CO2 brings to mind another factor in global heat balance other than orbital forcing, which I've never seen mentioned on TOD: The ratio of carbonate to silicate rock being subducted at any given time. When the preponderance of subducted rock is carbonate a warming trend prevails, due to increased volcanic outgassing of CO2, and when it is silicate a cooling trend results, all else being equal. Of course, orbital forcing can swamp this effect.

Combining this with your earlier observation about long term reduction in tectonic movement: Less tectonic movement should also mean less mountain range formation. This will minimize the amount of new rock to absorb CO2, the major long-term negative feedback to CO2 build up in the atmosphere.

This does not bode well for the earth recovering from the current anthropogenic global warming event.

You are correct, darwinsdog. The total lifetime of Sun is ~10 billion years, it is currently ~5 billion years old and it will become a red giant in about 4 billion years. The estimated times have not changed since I learned them 30 years ago.

Based on the discovery channel, the sun heat output increase 10% per 1 billion years.

All humans dropping dead would have many benefits to animals. Whales and many large ocean fishes would recover within 1000 years. Struggling population of animals like tigers or bears would have a much brighter future. If the population was stable to increasing for the first 10 years after people disappered, they would be in good shape.

As to speciation, all the animals we have transported might be come distinct species much faster than in the evolutionary background. From antelope on texas game farms to buffalo in austrialia, these animals should evoluve to new species relatively fast due to the different environment from their origin.

yes, it is a fun show to watch.

Large mammals such as cetaceans, felids & ursids, along with the so-called "great apes," whose populations have been fragmented and greatly reduced, are the living dead. Small isolated populations lack sufficient genetic diversity for them to be robust to parasitism, disease, natural disaster, etc. Generation times for large organisms are too long for selection to adapt them to great and novel stressors. They are too dependent on large tracts of undisturbed habitat. Their extinction is inevitable.

Speciation may occur among displaced invasive exotics, or it may not - Bereft of the selective pressures of the endemic habitat invasive exotics may drift about randomly, with no clear selective vector(s) pushing them towards reproductive isolation from their conspecifics back home. And even if speciation does occur, then you have two species of closely related antelope or buffalo rather than one. So what? It isn't species diversity that matters much. Rather, it's the diversity of more inclusive clades (families, orders, classes) that really matters. As I've said before, so what if cichlids manage to re-radiate in the African rift lakes following human extinction, if we lose polypterids or lungfish or the coelacanth?

...that will take a lot of pressure off the biosphere in general, and where degraded ecosystems are left undisturbed...

For one example, think rampant deforestation since ff based heating would no longer exist. Would there be a tree left standing as people were being bitten by the cold of winter?

If I remember right, coal was mined starting at about the time of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Large stone structures, such as castles and monasteries, were often heated with coal, as wood heating would have led to serious deforestation.

Re: Conference to question climate change notion

Looks like the climate denialist community is having another disinformation love fest in Missouri today. Looking at the article, we find that:

One of Thursday's speakers, Marc Morano, runs ClimateDepot.com, a skeptic Web site and news service.

Morano has moved on from his post as chief climate denialist under Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). Morano has no educational background in the sciences, having received a BA in Political Science, yet he claims to be a "climate researcher". On Morano's web site, one finds that:

Morano served as the television reporter/producer for the nationally syndicated “Rush Limbaugh, the Television Show,” during the show’s four-year run (1992-1996)

The lead speaker is Dennis Avery of The Hudson Institute formed by Herman Kahn, who worked with S. Fred Singer to write "Unstoppable Global Warming-Every 1,500 Years". Avery "studied agricultural economics at Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin" according to his bio at the Hudson Institute. The other speakers are also representative of the anti-science community, including Craig Loehle, who wrote a badly flawed report claiming that there was a strong Medieval Warm Period. I personally debunked that one.

The only thing "unstoppable" appears to be the hot air of disinformation and blatant lies that the denialist continue to emit...

E. Swanson

And in a truly Orwellian fashion, they call themselves Scientists for Truth!

What was it that they said about the Holy Roman Empire? Not holy, not Roman, not an empire...

In many cases.... If you really, REALLY push the discussion far enough (as I've lately done) you WILL get them to admit that there really is some truth to it, but they'll quickly jump to the fall-back conclusion that "but we'll both be gone and buried before that day comes."

In short, they really don't care about anyone else.... But they have to make up a denial story (where they pretend that they believe something else) so that they don't lose what little respect they do receive from the few people that think that they really do care about others.

It's really sad and pathetic....

hello BD
I tend to skip over gw stuff here on TOD, but this little ditty popped up on my ipod a few weeks back and I'd like this communities take on it. I found it eye opening, I had no idea that Hanson didn't release his data.
something to chew on

Just wanted to say that I and many of my fellow Missourians wish these knuckleheads would take their conference far, far away.

Like maybe out to the scenic edge of a crumbling ice shelf...

House prices are falling... At a record pace...

Home prices fall a record 15.6%

Median home prices fell a record 15.6% during the three months ended June 30, compared to the same period in 2008, according to an industry report.

There is good news though: The survey from the National Association of Realtors reported the median home price rose 4% compared to the first quarter of 2009 -- to $174,100 from $167,300.

The increase in median price was not a surprise, representing, as it did, the traditionally strong spring selling season. But the jump did offer the prospect that the worst of the price declines may be behind us.

"With low interest rates, lower home prices and a first-time buyer tax credit, we've been seeing healthy increases in home sales, which are a hopeful sign for the economy," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist...

And Denninger is all over it...

...we haven't seen seen a decline in the second derivative. In fact, housing prices dropped by a RECORD 15.6% in the second quarter.

Record - you know, never dropped this fast year-over-year before? Yeah...

For the market to bottom it must stop going down in price. There is no indication that the rate of acceleration is even slowing...

Cue Ben Stein, and how CDSs are safe because housing would never drop 15%...

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren warns that toxic assets still festering.

I don't dispute the broader issue (mainly because I don't have enough data to come to a conclusion), but I worry about the way this statistic is used. Median home price doesn't necessarily reflect that the prices of individual homes are dropping, but rather that the homes that are being sold are of lower price. These are often, but not necessarily, the same thing. Here, I think there's at least annecdotal evidence that people who own more expensive homes are holding on to them because they 1) are less likely to be moving up to a bigger house, and 2) are less likely to be leaving secured employment for a new job elsewhere. This may provide an alternative explanation for the home price data.

Anyone who's worked with a (competent) realtor knows that when you look at homes, you can get a printout of the past prices for which that same home sold, when it sold, etc. I'd like to see a statistic on same home sales, as I think this would be a much more accurate indicator of what we're trying to read from the median home price data. Admittedly, it would be a more difficult statistic to compile--does anyone know if something like this exists?

Zillow does a lot of analysis based on this type of info, but I don't know the specifics. Here's their take on the current state of things:

After peaking in the second quarter of 2006 and reporting its first year-over-year decline in January of 2007, the US Zillow Home Value Index turned in 27 consecutive months of increasingly larger annual depreciation rates between 2007 and the end of the first quarter 2009. That all changed in the second quarter of 2009 when the annual depreciation rate of the national ZHVI changed direction for the first time since turning negative back in 2007.
There are, unfortunately, some markets that still show no signs yet of slowing depreciation, such as Las Vegas (-34.6%), Phoenix (-26%) and Fort Myers (-29.4%). And these are hard-hit markets too, with peak-to-current value declines of 45.8%, 53.8% and 57.9% respectively (see accompanying table). Of course, all of these peak-to-current value declines pale in comparison to that seen in Stockton where values have dropped from a high of $411,227 in February 2006 to a current value of $160,794 – a decline in real estate values of 61%.

"Slowing depreciation". God bless the second derivative.

Edit: Remember that, when the market is going up, you have the same problem in that only those that go on the market and sell are reflected in the data. But every homeowner believes their house is increasing in value, while individual home turnover is so low that the feedback from the market only exists when comparing to similar houses that have sold. Local governments use some kind of data to revalue properties for taxation. Seattle (King County) recently downvalued everybody -- which will kill revenue next year. The fuse has been lit.

I have found Zillow's valuations to be out to lunch for houses in Albuquerque.

High or low?
(curious, as I grew up there...)

Certainly in my market home sales turns are much faster for smaller homes, and much slower for larger homes. Price reductions are much more significant on the larger homes too. So, most likely, there is two-order effect here -- cheaper houses sell faster (and first-time buyer incentives help those more), while bigger homes are not selling quickly but when they do it is at a loss.

This is just anecdotal data, though. Hard facts would be nice.

i here a train a'coming,

UPDATE 1-Qatar's RasGas says Train 6 starts LNG output



I am stuck in an airport waiting for my ride home...and am stuck watching the inane banter that calls itself news on CNN. A News talker just mentioned the 7 Billion population story, and reported with mock shock that some group out there claims that having children is a huge carbon footprint and that (gasp) they recommend that people should have fewer children. The News talking head actually put that out for question in a CNN poll..."SHould people have fewer children to save the planet' or some such. I can't wait to see the comments that will flood in. I looked around at the faces in the crowd and realized, once again, that most folks don't have clue one about what's going on around them.

Wait...first callers reporting in...first guy rambled on about how people who come from large families tend to have large families, and that is OK, and they shouldn't be made to feel ashamed about it...then a caller from Louisiana spoke eloquently about Earth;s carrying capacity (She sounded like one of the brighter TOD posters)...then a lady called from CA and ranted about how the Earth was made for people, not the other way around, and how she didn't want the government in her bedroom (I wonder how she feels about gay folks?), doesn't want the government to tell her what car to drive, you get the picture...

The poorly educated masses speaketh, and tell us our future. And a lot of these 'poorly educated masses' have college degrees, for whatever that is worth.

There appears to be another unintended consequence of servicing our fossil fuel habit with 'plant-based' biodiesel.

U of Minnesota researchers discover high levels of estrogens in some industrial wastewater

Civil engineering associate professor Paige Novak and her graduate student researcher Mark Lundgren studied wastewater streams from 19 different industrial sites in Minnesota and Iowa and analyzed them for six phytoestrogens. They found very high concentrations of these hormone-mimicking phytoestrogens -- up to 250 times higher than the level at which feminization of fish has been seen in other research -- in the wastewater discharged from eight industrial sites, including biodiesel plants, a soy milk factory, a barbecue meat processing facility and a dairy. They also detected high concentrations of phytoestrogens in the water discharged by some municipal wastewater treatment plants.

... Plant-based phytoestrogens are naturally occurring but have been shown to function as hormone mimics and alter development and reproductive patterns in fish. These effects include decreased aggression, immunosuppression, and decreased testosterone production. Other estrogens that cause similar effects have been linked to population-level collapse in fish, Novak said.

... Novak pointed out that some of these industrial facilities are in small towns without sophisticated wastewater treatment plants. In these locations, there is potential for impacts on fish and wildlife, she said.

... maybe there is potential for impacts on humans too. Ya think?

Remember the chemical industry ad tag line from years ago: 'Better living through chemistry'...then there is GE..'We bring good things to life'...

Very good article on the Barnett Shale:


Operators often state that shale plays have about a 30 to 40-year production life, but I found that the average commercial life for horizontal wells is about 7.5 years, although the mode is four years. There are many wells that should have 8-12 years of production but few that will extend beyond 15 years. About 75 percent of predicted EUR in horizontal Barnett wells has been produced by Year 5. In the control group, the first wells were drilled in 2003, and already 15% have reached their economic limit five to six years into their production life cycle.

The average EUR for all horizontal Barnett wells is 0.81 Bcf (the mode is 0.5 Bcf/well). This is about one-third of the 2.5 Bcf/well average predicted by many operators. My decline projections indicate that only about 300 horizontal wells in the play (4% of total) will reach or exceed a 2.5 Bcf threshold. This seems consistent with the average to-date cumulative production of 0.46 Bcf/well.

declining eur with time suggests that these wells are being drilled too close together. looking at the haynseville, we find that the vast majority of wells are on 640 ac. yet, public traded companies are almost universally claiming 6.5 bcf/ 80 ac spacing . more realistically maybe 4 - 5 bcf/640 ac spacing unit, 1/10th the 250 tcf resource base or maybe 25 tcf, imo. wiki claims that the haynesville has reserves, yes reserves, of 250 tcf, 2nd largest in the world and 3 times as large as hugoton.

petrohawk and their jv partner are doing some experimentation with 320's but these wells are all commingled and tstt(too soon to tell).

i concur with much of what berman is saying, i.e. a poor correlation between ip and eur. the haynesville does show an increasing eur with time, since about sept '08, but this is principally because of the developement of elm grove plantation.

Let's talk about the stock market, which has been the source of wealth - together with housing - during the last 20+ years.

- The S&P 500 is currently around 1'011.
- On peak it was around 1'400.
- on the bottom it was around 680.
- the P/E on reported earnings is 144.

Source: http://market-ticker.denninger.net/archives/P2.html

Smart people are buying stocks NOW! Because they know, that GROWTH will be in the area of 5 to 6 % within the next 4 quarters. Peak oil is not of interest here. Who cares about 150$ again. We already had that.

Smart people are not buying stocks now, because they never sold them at the bottom of the market lows. Most have held onto their shares for the last 20 or more years, some inheriting from parents or grandparents. Most of these shares have increased X10-50 fold since then.

I think you are right about $147 no longer being a big deal for oil price, certainly most can afford $4 gasoline or at least afford a more fuel efficient vehicle. The lucky ones in the next few years will be those who manage to get PHEV's such as the Volt or EV's as they drive pass $10 gasoline prices.

And when the S&P drops to 500, they'll still be smart people?

BIG NEWS, 2005 is still the peak year. Crude oil production peaked in 2005!

Hear that Robert Rapier?

The EIA International Petroleum Monthly is just out with revisions. Oil Production. Click on spreadsheet 4.d. The figures are average production for the entire year in thousands of barrels per day.

2005 73,728
2006 73,446
2007 72,989
2008 73,709
2009 71,847 First five months average.

Actually I am not too excited about this because I have always maintained that the peak plateau was 2005 thru 2008. Actually it is mid 2004 thru mid 2008. The peak month is still July of 2008.

Ron P.

I suspect that the current decline in demand is masking an accelerating decline rate in production. Based on the HL models, world conventional production in 2005 was at about the same stage of depletion as the US Lower 48 in 1970 and as the North Sea in 1999. And the initial three year declines in the Lower 48 and North Sea were quite low, then accelerating in the fourth year.

I suspect that the current decline in demand is masking an accelerating decline rate in production.

Spare-capacity could have been almost gone ?

BIG NEWS, 2005 is still the peak year.

If you average Jan-Nov 2008, production was 73.805 MBPD, which is above the full year 2005's 73.728 MBPD. Add in December 2008, and 2008's average per day drops to 73.709 MBPD. So 2008's average remained above 2005's average until about the last week of December.

The average production for the 12 month period 12/1/07 through 11/30/08 is 73.806 MBPD, well above 2005.

The highest 12 month period ever is 9/07 through 8/08 - 73.828 MBPD

I believe 2008 production could have exceeded 2005 if the demand was there during the 4th quarter.

However, postponed investment in new production during the recession may mean that peak oil is past us now.

We can if until the cows come home but 2005 was the peak year for crude oil. But as I stated the peak was 2005 thru 2008. Everything in between is within the margin of error. We are definitely post peak.

By the way, non-OPEC, which currently produces 58% of the world's crude oil, peaked in 2004. Non-OPEC production dropped in 2005, dropped further in 2006, even further in 2007 and because of hurricanes in the GOM and sour gas leaks in Azerbaijan the bottom dropped out in 2008. So I think 2009 non-OPEC production will be slightly higher in 2009 than in 2008 but still lower than 2007. The data so far is proving this to be correct.

The point is that non-OPEC has obviously peaked. In 2008 only the addition of Angola managed to move OPEC production above their 2008 production level. Last summer every OPEC nation was producing flat out and except for Angola, they still did not reach 2005 levels. I don't think they will ever reach 2005 levels again. And for damn sure non-OPEC will never reach 2004 levels again. And neither will breach peak year 2005.

Ron P.

And Sam's best case is that by the end of 2014, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE will have shipped half of their combined post-2005 cumulative net oil exports, with the other half being shipped from about 2015 to 2035 or so.

Hear that Robert Rapier?

The EIA International Petroleum Monthly is just out with revisions. Oil Production. Click on spreadsheet 4.d. The figures are average production for the entire year in thousands of barrels per day.

Ron, I am moving to Hawaii today, and probably about to be without Internet access for a week. So no time to get into a long discussion on this. But a couple of points.

First, you also came out and said peak occurred in 2008. Remember?

Second, as we had already discussed, the previously reported 2008 record only occurred by a small amount and was certainly subject to revision - but only because of the collapse in prices. The peak month happened in 2008 when prices peaked, and production collapsed when prices did. Therefore, I think you and everyone else would agree that it was the free fall in prices that caused 2008 to fall 0.026% short of 2005. If you break up 2008 into halfs - rising oil prices for the first half and falling oil prices for the 2nd half - I suspect you will see no other time period matched that production.

Finally, for someone who has consistently maintained that Peak 2005 versus Peak 2008 was no big deal (when peak looked like 2008), I find the first line of your post quite odd.

That's all. Aloha.

Has anyone considered entering July 11, 2008 into Wikipedia as "Probable Peak Oil" or "Peak Oil as of Aug. 2009" or something like that?

BTW I added TOD as an external link to Peak Oil Surprised it's still there considering they keep a tight reign on Ext. links.

It will probably be deleted soon. Wikipedia doesn't like links to blogs.

Brian Kaller is giving a talk tonight titled, The Beginning is Near: Energy, Climate Change, and Self-Reliance.

It is scheduled for Wednesday, August 12, from 6:15 -8:00 p.m. in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Campus Center at Macalester College.

Here is how Brian is framing the lecture:

I hope to cover a lot of ground in my talk, which I think puts everything in perspective – the basics of peak energy and climate change, how energy consumption has shaped society, how much less energy we used even a few decades ago, and how much we can afford to cut back and still be prosperous. With that context, I can go into how various groups – us, Transition Towns, others – are organizing their communities to be self-sufficient – to go “off-globalisation” as individuals go “off-grid.” I can expand on the various things we are doing, TT Kildare are doing, Rob and Karl did in Kinsale, and so on, projects that can be undertaken by groups in the Twin Cities, which require no money or experience. I think you’ll be pleased with the result.

I want to emphasize that, while we are only seeing the beginning of difficulties like peak energy and climate change, our communities can not only cope with them, but become more resilient and long-lasting, and actually be much better as a result.


I bought a copy of The Atlantic at the airport and about fell out of my chair reading this short and utterly unrealistic article:


When you sum up all the food production/possible food production bar graphs for the various countries listed, we can clearly see that the World is only producing about 50% of the food that it could, if only we fully employed Bill Gates' Foundation's digital soil maps, empowered poor farmers, rebuild infrastructure, and get busy with bio char.

9 billion people to feed, can do easy if we apply ourselves...just increase the yields by being cleverer apes!

Oh, the author did mention the irksome possibility of negative effects of global climate change, but assures us that 'researchers are already at work on drought-resistant plants that will help keep the World fed'

There...all better...now back to your regularly scheduled program.

I used to think that The Atlantic was a magazine with largely thoughtful articles...

One of the reasons Paul Ehrlich's prediction in 1968 of mass starvation in his book "The population bomb" was wrong is that yields per acre has been increasing by >2% per year, more than doubling since 1968, and should double again by 2050. Meanwhile in the US, fuel use/acre has halved, using less energy per tonne of food, even accounting for higher nitrogen fertilizer use.

Do you predict that this trend will continue through 2050 and beyond?

How about some figures to back up the claim of fuel use attribuatable to food production fell by Half? I believe it fell, but not by half.

I used to do engineering consulting work for an oil company that distributed fuel to farmers/agribusinesses and was the largest ethanol distributor in the region of E. Dakotas & N. Minnesota. President of the company said that fuel use by farms has decreased for two reasons: Use of diesel tractors/harvesters and reduction in tilling because of herbicides.

I doubt this trend of higher yields with less energy consumed will continue. In fact it may be reversed as drought has hit much of western US. Have you read about 10 to 20% decline in San Joaquin valley production due to water allocations being 25% less this year?

and, uh, oops. There are more undernourished people in the world today than there were in 1968. This is progress?

the World is only producing about 50% of the food that it could, if only we fully employed Bill Gates' Foundation's digital soil maps, empowered poor farmers, rebuild infrastructure, and get busy with bio char.

Interesting ... I came to the same conclusion after a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

However, that's the "technically possible" maximum.

Can you see the rich world donating millions of km of irrigation pipe and hundreds of millions of cubic metres of reservoirs, giving poor-world farmers (i.e., the women) no-interest loans for equipment, preventing local elites from pillaging their own, and, most of all, can you see the rich world agreeing to withdraw subsidies from their own farmers, so poor-world farmers can compete on a less-tilted playing field?

No, I thought not.

Trade deficit, this is Bloomburg's slant
"The gap increased 4 percent to $27 billion from $26 billion in May, which was the lowest level in almost a decade, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Exports gained 2 percent, helped by stronger demand for goods such as semiconductors and aircraft engines, while imports rose 2.3 percent, led by a higher cost for oil. Increases in both exports and imports signal the worst global slump in the post-World War II era is coming to an end, helping the U.S. pull out of the recession. Federal Reserve policy makers today committed to keeping rates low to secure an economic recovery after wrapping up a two-day meeting"


So Much For That; EPA Won't Back Up GM's 230 MPG Claim- Early this morning, CEO Fritz Henderson claimed thatthe Chevy Volt, a gas-electric plug-in hybrid would earn an EPA-estimated rating of 230 MPG.

But according to Green Car Advisor, the EPA has said no such thing.

The EPA had this to say in response to GM's 230 MPG claim:

EPA has not tested a Chevy Volt and therefore cannot confirm the fuel economy values claimed by GM.


OK, now that is funny. GM is still GM apparently. On the other hand, it probably was effective - lying usually is.

Hello TODers,

Any guesses when this is considered common here in the US? I suspect about 2030, but it might be earlier:

In Haiti, abandonment of disabled babies a growing problem

In Haiti, a growing number of disabled children are left for dead along roadsides, hospital courtyards and sewers -- abandoned by parents who cannot cope.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Her frail body lies almost motionless inside a rusted metal crib. Her diaper is soiled, but she doesn't cry. At 9 months old, she weighs just five pounds.

... Tucked away in the pediatric ward behind a frosted glass door, the unit is a cramped 30 feet by 15 feet box. Amid a faint ``mama, mama'' and the screams of malnourished babies with matchstick legs and oversized heads, older children sit and stare in an almost catatonic state.

Geraldine, 13, dressed in a light pink dress, rocks in her crib. Suffering from epileptic seizures, she arrived at the unit eight years ago. Her mother left her at the hospital during a doctor's visit.

Then there is Nena, the oldest. She's either 14 or 16; no one knows for sure. Unable to walk, she's confined to the crib. She eats her own feces and bites the nurses who try to clean her. Once a vibrant child, she's slowly losing her mind...
Recall a similar weblink from a few years ago where Zimbabwe does the same thing. Some sewage overflows are caused by dead newborns clogging the piping.

Is Northwestern India's Breadbasket Running Out of Water?
A new study using satellite data suggests the region is using more groundwater than is being replenished by rainfall

The fields of barley, rice and wheat that feed much of India are running out of water, according to a new study based on satellite data and published online in Nature today. The heartland of last century's Green Revolution lost 109 cubic kilometers of water from its Indus River plain aquifer between August 2002 and October 2008.