Drumbeat: August 19, 2009

Opec’s greed will herald the end of the oil age

Proclamations of economic recovery in the past week in Japan, France and Germany, and soon in Britain and America too, may signal the end of the Great Recession of 2007-09, albeit bumpily. As things stand, though, this month may also signal the beginning of the end of something far more historic and significant: the age of oil.

Given how bleak the world looked as this year began, it feels remarkable to be seeing growth again so soon. But it is even more remarkable that the world is emerging from such a severe financial shock and slump with its most basic fuel, crude oil, priced at close to $70 a barrel, seven times its price of a little over a decade ago and double the level it was as recently as March.

So this must mean the rebound is even stronger than we think, with demand for oil soaring again? Not at all. Admittedly, this is a pretty opaque market, with many countries treating oil stocks as an official secret. Still, analysts at Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch reckon that global oil demand has been three million barrels a day lower in the second quarter of this year than in early 2008. They don’t expect it to get back above that until 2011 at the earliest.

No, the explanation for this potentially recovery-sapping (and certainly wallet-threatening) resurgence in the price of oil, and thus petrol at the pump, lies on the supply side. So, too, does the prospect of prices rising higher still, towards the extraordinary $147 a barrel reached in July 2008, or even beyond.

This point in the analysis is where the planetary gloomsters start citing a concept called “peak oil” (or, to the real oil nerds, “Hubbert’s peak”). This is the idea that the planet’s oil reserves are nearing (or, in some eyes, are past) a time at which the output from oilfields starts to decline. Don’t pay them any attention. The world is not running out of oil. What it is short of has been investment in oilfields and production. And the reason for that can be found in a different four-letter word: Opec.

Oil Surges to 2-Month High as Supply Drops Most in 15 Months

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose more than $3 a barrel after a government report showed that U.S. inventories declined the most in 15 months as imports tumbled and refineries increased operating rates.

Stockpiles dropped 8.4 million barrels last week, the most since the week ended May 23, 2008, the Energy Department report showed. Imports slipped 1.41 million barrels a day to 8.11 million, the biggest drop and lowest rate since September when hurricanes struck the Gulf of Mexico coast.

“Refiners were probably nervous about rising stockpiles and the outlook for lower gasoline demand in the months ahead, so they reduced purchases,” said Rick Mueller, a director of oil markets at Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts. “You can’t help but pay attention to the massive drop in imports.”

Crude Oil Market Disconnect: A Problem Emerging

Last week crude oil prices bounced back above $70 a barrel before closing at $67.51, down $3.01 on Friday. As the chart of oil prices for the past six months shows, there has been a strong recovery this year, especially following the correction in July. Last week, oil prices closed above $70 on three of the five days, and on Friday the week before, they nearly reached $73 a barrel. This price action came in the face of continued government reports of crude oil inventories building and Frontline (FRO-NYSE), a large oil tanker operator, saying that the volume of crude oil in ships being used as storage had increased from 80 million to 100 million barrels.

Pemex plans to drill 200 oil wells

Pemex is looking for contractors to drill 200 oil wells in the southern district as the state oil company struggles to stabilise plummeting oil production.

Drilling is scheduled to start in early October and last for three years, according to documents on Compranet, the government procurement website.

Pemex has ramped up investments despite the oil price crash late last year and early this year, providing opportunities for oil services companies such as Halliburton and Schlumberger at a time when activity has slowed in major markets such as the US and Canada, reported Dow Jones.

U.S. Gets $115 Million for Offshore Oil, Gas Leases

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, ConocoPhillips and Petroleo Brasileiro SA were the three highest bidders in a $115 million sale of new leases to drill for oil and natural gas in parts of the western Gulf of Mexico.

“We are demonstrating our continuing commitment to domestic energy production,” Liz Birnbaum, director of the department’s Minerals Management Service, said today in New Orleans, where the sealed bids were opened.

Canada, ultradeep water assure US Gulf oil supply

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Growing volumes of crude oil from Canada and the Gulf of Mexico should assure U.S. Gulf Coast refiners adequate supplies for years to come despite fast-declining imports from Mexico and Venezuela.

Imports from the two major Latin American suppliers have dwindled by 24 percent in the past four years, but the huge refining region they serve is unlikely to run short due to billions of dollars planned for new pipelines from Canada and exploration in the deepwater Gulf, analysts said.

Canadian oil sands production alone could make up for both losses, said analyst Martin King of Calgary-based FirstEnergy Capital Corp. "You're essentially switching to Canadian crude from Mexican and Venezuelan," King said.

Why oil won't return to triple-digits

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices have surged nearly 50% from the start of the year, but don't expect a return to triple digits anytime soon as worries about the pace of an economic recovery will continue to drive near-term volatility.

"The market is manic right now," said Phil Flynn, analyst at PFG Best. "This is more uncertainty than I've seen in a very long time: big rallies followed by big breaks, and that's reflective of feelings about the overall economy."

ANALYSIS - Angola's excess oil implies OPEC to hold steady

LONDON (Reuters) - Increased oil output to a year-high from OPEC's president Angola, flouting agreed limits, has helped stack the odds against any formal change when the producer group meets in September.

Dam Disaster May Push Up Electricity Prices

Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said Wednesday that electricity prices will have to increase after a disaster at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant knocked out a quarter of RusHydro’s power production.

Germany wants a million electric cars by 2020

BERLIN — The German government unveiled plans Wednesday to get one million electric cars zipping around the country by 2020, offering sweeteners to jump-start national giants like BMW and Volkswagen into action.

"It is the federal government's aim that by 2020, there will be a million electric cars on Germany's streets," said Berlin's "national electro-mobility plan" which was approved by the cabinet.

"In 2030, this could be over five million. By 2050, traffic in towns and cities could be predominantly without fossil fuels," the proposals added.

Laughs from the Energy Market

Oil and gas explorationists in the U.S. energy business have come from a long line of optimists that have populated the country. Give them more resources and they'll find more oil and gas.

95 killed on Iraq's deadliest day since U.S. handover

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A series of bombings rocked Iraq's capital within one hour Wednesday, killing at least 95 people and wounding 563 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

Ahmadinejad may face tough fight over oil minister

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will on Wednesday nominate a relative novice as oil minister and seek to bring women into the cabinet for the first time -- but he may face a hard fight to win approval from the conservative parliament.

The outcome will be a further signal as to how secure Ahmadinejad's grip is on power after political setbacks following his contested re-election in June that led to street protests and political turmoil.

West Australia Becoming the Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas

Western Australia is set to become the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas" as other deals follow the signing of a A$50 billion (US$41.315 billion) agreement to supply liquefied natural gas to China, Premier Colin Barnett says.

Petrobras pumps up home production

Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said today domestic oil production rose in July to 1.938 million barrels a day compared to 1.927 million barrels per day in June.

Production was up 3.8%, when compared to July 2008, the company said in a statement.

Kuwait oil min says unaware of U.S. refinery plan

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's oil minister said on Wednesday he was unaware of any plans to revive a refinery project in the U.S. state of Louisiana.

"I'm not aware of such a project," Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah told reporters at Kuwait's parliament.

Kuwait's Arabic language daily, Al Watan, citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter, reported on Wednesday the Louisiana refinery would be considered compensation for Washington after Kuwait cancelled a multi-billion petrochemical project with Dow Chemicals Co. (DOW.N) last year.

Kuwait scrapped the deal after some lawmakers voiced opposition.

UK Ettrick oilfield starts, to pump 20,000 bpd - Dana

"Over the next few months the field is expected to produce at rates of up to 20,000 bpd as the wells are tied into production," Dana Petroleum said in a statement.

The field will add to supplies from the UK North Sea, which have fallen to about 1.3 million bpd since peaking in 1999. The quality of Ettrick oil is similar to that of Brent, one of the benchmark UK crudes, Dana said.

Mexico's Fiscal Crisis Demands Action

Mexico's public finances have been heavily oil dependent since the late 1970s. Deep recession has caused non-oil revenues to plunge as oil production falls steeply. Urgent measures are required to address a fiscal crisis that erupted practically overnight. It is unclear whether Congress will agree to necessary tax increases and budget cuts.

Revenue shortfall. The combined fall in oil and non-oil revenues has proved lethal for public finances. The total, 480 billion pesos, is equivalent to 4.2% of gross domestic product. The amount partially is offset because fiscal transfers to states and municipal governments are tied to revenue, and have fallen. However, the fiscal gap still totals 421 billion pesos.

'Commodities super-cycle to last for 20 years'

In 2007, she claimed the current commodities super-cycle would last another 20 years. But given the economic implosion since that time, could it still be true? "Absolutely," says Carmel Daniele, founder, CEO and CIO of CD Capital. "The crisis that occurred last year after Lehman's collapse just interrupted the cycle," she explains, adding that it "is actually going to seal the next stage of the super-cycle. . .it will make it stronger and last even longer."

Recession Robs Spain's Youth of Jobs and Hope

Take Eva Reina López, for example. She's 20; her father's an electrician and a widower. Reina did everything right. After getting her secondary school degree, she no longer wanted to be a burden on her father, who had raised her alone since she was six. So, instead of enrolling at one of Madrid's universities -- which had been her father's dream for her -- Reina followed her boyfriend to a small city in León Province nestled in the mountains of northwestern Spain. And there -- in her mother's hometown and where Spain's socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero began his political career -- Reina learned how to weld. After six months of training at a company called Coiper, which manufactures towers for wind turbines, she secured an employment contract for six more months. The government in Madrid is promoting wind power as Spain's great industry of the future.

In January, it was all over. Coiper can no longer find buyers for its products. The government froze subsidies for sustainable-energy ventures after the economic crisis hit, which has caused wind-farm construction to stagnate. As a new employee, Reina wasn't entitled to claim unemployment benefits, and she only received welfare payments of €400 a month through June. Her boyfriend and other permanent employees have had their working hours reduced. Now they sweep the empty production rooms, waiting for the news that the company is shutting down for good. "There aren't a lot of choices here in Ponferrada," Reina says. "What will we do if everything here closes?"

More Coloradans Losing Utilities For Unpaid Bills

DENVER -- Xcel Energy cut off gas or electricity to nearly 30,000 delinquent customers in Colorado in the first five months of the year, 15 percent more than during the same period a year ago.

Tips for a lower power bill, from the source

This could be a great day to wait until tonight to turn the dishwasher on, or hold off on laundry until the later evening hours. Also turning off unnecessary appliances, like idle computers or TV chargers, and turning up the air conditioner by a few degrees, consistent with health and safety.

Turkey wants lower price on nuclear project

ANKARA (Reuters) - Ankara wants a lower price from a Russian-led consortium aiming to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant as the government prepares to finalise its decision on the project, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday.

Yildiz said talks over electricity prices from the planned nuclear power station were ongoing after a tender last year, in which a Russian-led consortium of Inter RAO, Atomstroiexport and Turkey's Park Teknik submitted the sole bid.

Thailand: New push for coal and nuclear

The government will put more effort into educating the public about the essential need for clean coal technology and nuclear power in order to balance fuel usage, says Energy Minister Wannarat Channukul.

Energy policymakers are again revising the 15-year power development plan (PDP) to place greater emphasis on coal, nuclear and renewable fuels and less emphasis on natural gas.

"Coal-fired power and nuclear power are the most preferred fuels, considering their low costs and emissions,'' Mr Wannarat said on Wednesday.

Thailand: Pipeline incidents a policy wake-up call

Thailand's power system is at risk of blackouts as policymakers have failed to manage the fuel balance, especially gas supplies, energy experts admit.

Russia tackles Siberia oil slick

Chemical pollution from Monday's explosion at Russia's largest hydro-electric power station has killed fish and spread down a major Siberian river.

Empty car parks to sprout vegetable plots

A London council is converting its disused spaces into areas for local people to grow produce in an attempt to make its food supply sustainable by 2050.

Hundreds of unused and abandoned spaces in Enfield are to be converted into fruit and vegetable plots in the hope of the area becoming "London's breadbasket".

Informal growing spaces around the borough, such as car parks, disused garages and empty spaces around blocks of flats, are to be converted into vegetable plots, while two of its rundown parks will become community orchards. The scheme is part of a borough-wide strategy announced today with the aim of reinvigorating food networks and improving sustainability.

"The potential Enfield has for helping to feed itself and London is huge," said council leader Mike Rye. "We have a great agricultural and market garden heritage to build on - in years to come Enfield could become known as the capital's breadbasket."

Powers line up to stir Afghanistan's pot

In his distinguished diplomatic career spanning four decades, there is not a trace of record to show that Richard Holbrooke, United States special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, dabbled in energy security issues. His current visit to Pakistan - en route to Afghanistan - has been officially projected as aimed at helping his host country find a way to overcome its electricity shortage.

...Holbrooke's "cover" has been blown and his real brief is exposed - evolving a joint approach with Pakistan apropos the next moves to be made on the Afghan political chessboard. Indeed, regional capitals are watching the next US-Pakistani move.

Heating Oil to Approach $2 by End of August: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Heating oil for October delivery is poised to approach $2 a gallon by the end of August after surging past a key resistance level yesterday, according to a technical analysis by Lind-Waldock & Co. in Chicago.

What Would High-Speed Rail Do to Suburban Sprawl?

Any transportation investment can create large economic ripples only if it significantly increases the speed at which an area with cheap real-estate gains access to a booming place that doesn’t have any comparable, closer available land area. For example, in Spain, the city of Ciudad Real seems to have gotten a big lift thanks to high-speed rail because people can now live in Ciudad Real, where housing is cheaper, and commute into Madrid.

This logic has led some to think that high-speed rail will do wonders transforming Buffalo into a back office for Manhattan. Buffalo is 376 miles from Manhattan, so a 150-mile-an-hour rail line will take two and a half hours, which is not going to be significantly faster than air. Moreover, vast amounts of low-cost space are closer to Manhattan than the shores of Lake Erie. Faster connections between Buffalo and Toronto might do more, but in that case speed is hampered by the burdens of border crossing.

Refreshing talk on rail

Thank goodness someone is crunching numbers on the Ottawa light-rail project. That person is Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson and his elves at Queen's Park who are putting some sanity into this rush for expensive rapid transit.

Watson, a former mayor, says there were public concerns about costs in the first cancelled light-rail plan, which weighed in at $884 million. He's right.

Report of Toyota Battery Deal Sends Sanyo Shares Up

TOKYO — Toyota Motor will buy batteries for hybrid cars from Sanyo Electric to keep pace with growing demand for cleaner vehicles, a person with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday. The news sent Sanyo shares up 17 percent at one point.

Nissan, Showa Shell to Develop Electric-Car Battery Chargers

(Bloomberg) -- Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s thrid- largest automaker, plans to develop an electric-car battery charging system with Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, a Japanese refining unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the companies said in a joint statement today.

Green power safer for workers than fossil fuels

As if helping to save the world from the worst effects of climate change were not enough, renewable energy may also curb workplace injuries and deaths.

That's because fossil fuels – as the term suggests – have to be dug or drained from underground, and mining is one of the deadliest of industries. Oil and gas extraction account for 100 deaths each year in the US alone, coal another 30, not to mention many more non-fatal injuries.

Economic Climate Opens Door for Small Wind Energy Projects

Very few large-scale wind projects are able to obtain financing under the current economic climate. But falling turbine, steel and labor prices have created the perfect environment for mid-scale wind energy projects to thrive. Although total new installed capacity in 2009 may not rival the impressive 8,900 MW installed in North America in 2008, a golden opportunity exists for smaller wind development.

A radically different greenhouse gas strategy

Go with the technologies that could enable a few advanced and wealthy countries to regulate the amount of solar radiation that reaches Earth.

Get The Colbert Nation behind 350

One of my biggest enviro-heroes was on The Colbert Report on Monday. Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy — a book I LOVE — talked with Colbert about WTF the number 350 stands for exactly, and what’s going down Oct. 24.

Honestly, as much as I heart Bill, I really came to appreciate, through this clip, how skillful hosts like Colbert really have to be to keep things funny and engaging when talking about doom and gloom subjects like the potential for climate catastrophe.

Smart Grids May Help U.S. Boost Power Capacity by 13%

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. may be able to increase power capacity by about 13 percent without adding plants by adopting “smart grids,” or energy networks that manage demand more efficiently, an engineering academic said.

The U.S. may need to build 250 power plants of 1,000 megawatts each, about 25 percent of the current capacity, to meet electricity demand by 2030, Saifur Rahman, a professor at Virginia Tech College of Engineering, said in an interview today. Electricity networks equipped with so-called intelligent meters may help to cut energy use and halve that need, he said.

“Power plants need water, land and access and the target cannot be achieved, and there’s pressure on utilities to keep capacity flat,” Rahman said. “Half of the new capacity can be achieved with energy efficiencies and managing demand.”

Oil prices sink, trailing global stock markets

Oil prices fell below $69 a barrel Wednesday after a selloff in world stock markets cast doubts on the speed with which global demand for energy might recover.

Comments by Kuwait's oil minister expressing satisfaction with present prices also appeared to keep the market in check. With an OPEC meeting coming up next month, the comments strengthened expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would not cut output.

Kuwait says OPEC should maintain output levels

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries should maintain output at its meeting next month because oil prices are satisfactory, the Kuwaiti oil minister said on Wednesday.

Asked if OPEC needs to increase or cut output, Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah al-Sabah said the cartel "should maintain output," adding that he hoped prices would remain between 70 and 80 dollars a barrel.

"Current oil prices are not bad at all," he told reporters, adding that he was optimistic that demand will pick up in the near future.

Oil firm says no Iraq payment yet

Norwegian oil company DNO, the first to drill in post-war Iraq, has said it has yet to receive payment for its oil exports from the country.

The payments have stalled as DNO's partner, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and Baghdad argue over how to share the oil revenue.

Russia eases back on Ukraine flow

Russian gas exports to Europe via Ukraine fell by 36.9%, year-on-year, in the January to July period, according to data released by Ukraine's Energy Ministry.

South America: U.S. Military Bases in Colombia and the Dispute over Resources

The imminent agreement between the United States and Colombia over the use of seven military bases by the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) forms part of the major dispute over commonly held resources throughout the South American region.

First, a few recent updates:

• Venezuela has become the number one country in the world in potential oil reserves, following the announcement by the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company PDVSA that locates an estimated 314 billion barrels in the Orinoco Heavy Oil belt. According to PDVSA, the findings show Venezuela knocking Saudi Arabia down to number two in the world with 264 billion barrels.1

• Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), affirms that the oil crisis will hit much sooner than previously expected. "The world is heading for a catastrophic energy crunch that could cripple a global economic recovery, as most of the world's major oil fields have passed their peak production." Birol maintains that the figures the IEA had previously used were incorrect and he predicts that peak oil production will be reached in 10 years (2020 rather than 2030).

Iran commerce minister may move to oil

TEHRAN - An Iranian government newspaper said that current Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi may be nominated as the new oil minister replacing Gholamhossein Nozari.

Mirkazemi, an industrial engineer who has little known experience of the oil sector, would be a surprise choice for one of the cabinet’s most high-profile positions.

Yemen output takes a dip

Yemen is producing 287,000 barrels of oil per day, down from an average of about 300,000 bpd last year, Oil Minister Amir Aidarous said today.

Canada inflation rate hits 56-year-low

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada's annual inflation rate hit a 56-year-low in July, when prices fell by 0.9 percent from a year earlier on sharply lower energy prices, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.

Analysts had on average expected an annual decline of 0.8 percent. July's figure -- the lowest since the 1.4 percent drop recorded in July 1953 -- is far weaker than the Bank of Canada's target range of around 2 percent annual inflation.

Venture Expects North Sea Field Sales to Accelerate

(Bloomberg) -- Venture Production Plc, the Scottish oil and natural-gas explorer fighting a takeover bid by Centrica Plc, is considering buying North Sea fields on expectations disposals will accelerate.

“There is certainly evidence at the moment that there is going to be more activity, mostly oil assets to date rather than gas,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Wagstaff said today by telephone. “It’s always an important part of our business.”

Japan's Chubu seeks 2-3 spot LNG cargoes for Sept

SINGAPORE/TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's third-largest utility, Chubu Electric Power Co, is seeking two to three spot cargoes of liquefied natural gas for September, in the aftermath of a strong earthquake last week, traders said on Wednesday.

Liberian oil tanker, British ship collide

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian rescuers scrambled on Wednesday to search for survivors and contain a major oil spill after a Liberian oil tanker burst into flames in the Malacca Strait, officials said.

The tanker collided with a British bulk carrier late Tuesday, resulting in a massive explosion and flames visible from the beach town of Port Dickson in the southern state of Negeri Sembilan.

13 dead, 61 missing in Siberia plant explosion

MOSCOW – Rescue workers found a body Wednesday in the destroyed engine room of Russia's largest hydroelectric plant, raising the accident's death toll to 13, an emergency official said.

Sixty-one other workers are still missing at the massive Sayano-Shushenskaya power station in southern Siberia after an explosion Monday blew out walls and caused the turbine room to flood.

Three of the plant's 10 turbines were destroyed, and three were damaged, the plant's owner said. The giant plant has been idle since.

Stray voltage drains Hydro budget

Toronto Hydro revealed yesterday that its stray-voltage scare last winter cost it $14.3-million, and said two trucks have begun patrolling the city's streets each night as the utility shifts its attitude to its aging infrastructure.

Woodside Values Its PetroChina Accord at A$45 Billion

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd., operator of the Browse liquefied natural gas export project in Australia, said an initial agreement to sell the fuel to PetroChina Co. from the venture is valued at about A$45 billion ($37 billion).

PetroChina will buy as much as 3 million metric tons of LNG annually over 20 years under an agreement struck in 2007, Chief Executive Officer Don Voelte said today. The deal size rivals the $41 billion PetroChina will pay Exxon Mobil Corp. over two decades for gas from the Chevron Corp.-led Gorgon project under a contract signed in Beijing yesterday.

Record $50bn gas deal was our work - Coalition

Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne criticised the Government for selling the gas from Gorgon too cheaply.

"These deals have been shown time and time again to have been done in a way that is very cheap and in the long term not in the best interests of the country," she said in Canberra on Wednesday.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson needed to tell Australia what his plan for peak oil was, given that gas was needed as a transition fuel to cleaner energy, she said.

"We need to have gas.

"If Martin Ferguson thinks we're going to liquefy coal to run our transport fleet while selling gas to China then clearly he doesn't understand climate change."

Act Now on the Right FIT for California

California is on the brink of passing into law a game-changing Feed-In Tariff (FIT) policy that will unleash the tremendous potential of renewable energy and provide a massive economic boost in the state.

FCJ Interview with CA-10 Candidate Anthony Woods

CA-10 is a vast geographical District that encompasses Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda and Sacramento counties. It is currently serviced by BART, which connects three lines to San Francisco. However, interconnectability within the District via light rail systems does not exist, a typical problem that American suburbs must address to avoid a mass exodus from the hinterlands to urban areas when oil prices return to unaffordable levels.

He said there’s a very real need to expand regional light rail and high-speed rail to help deal with the onset of peak oil, the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline.

Woods said building more freeways is not forward thinking and would create “a bigger parking lot.”

“We need to get out of the mindset of our transportation issues being solved just by laying more pavement,” he said.

Going green helps Letchworth GC become a Transition Town

THE green, green grass of home is flourishing in one North Herts town.

Letchworth GC has now qualified as an official Transition Town and joined over 200 other like-minded communities in their quest to live greener lives and be recognised as part of the Transition Network.

Transition Town Letchworth (TTL) are a group of volunteers who are keen to work with individuals and local organisations to inspire and encourage changes in attitudes to food, transport, and waste and energy consumption.

The Unstoppable Delusion Train

Imagine you are riding comfortably on a sleek train. You look out the window and see that the tracks end abruptly not too far ahead ... The train will derail if it continues. You suggest the train stop immediately and the passengers go forward on foot. This will require a major shift in everyone’s way of traveling, of course, but you see it as the only realistic option.

To continue barreling forward is to court catastrophic consequences. But when you propose this course of action, others – who have grown comfortable riding on the train – say, “We like the train, and arguing that we should get off is not realistic.”

In the contemporary United States, we are trapped in a similar delusion. We are told that it is “realistic” to yield to the absurd idea that the systems we live in are the only systems possible or acceptable based on the fact that some people like them and wish them to continue. But what if our current level of first world consumption is exhausting the ecological basis for life? Too bad. The only “realistic” options are those that view this lifestyle as nonnegotiable. What if real democracy is not possible in a nation-state with 300 million people? Too bad. The only “realistic” options are those that view this way of organizing a polity as immutable. What if the hierarchies our lives are based on are producing extreme material deprivation for the oppressed and dull misery among the privileged? Too bad. The only “realistic” options are those that view hierarchy as inevitable.

Tesla Roadster turns 12.64 sec. at Pacific Raceways dragstrip

A Tesla Roadster Sport turned in a 12.64 1/4 mile time at Pacific Raceway near Seattle; that’s 102 mph at the far end! James Morrison's Roadster was one of four on the track at Pacific Raceways, Friday night, August 7th; here's the action on YouTube.

Ruling leaves North Georgia with water crisis

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue calls the ruling "a game changer." Says his spokesman, Bert Brantley: "It was unexpected. The fact he (the judge) would set the level back to a specific date was certainly very surprising."

Charles Bannister, county commission chairman in Gwinnett, a growth powerhouse that gets all of its drinking water from Lake Lanier, says: "It's devastating, or could be," he says. "Gwinnett would become a desert, perhaps."

If U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson's July 17 ruling set off trepidation here, it ignited celebrations downstream in Alabama and Florida. Those states have long eyed Atlanta's unchecked growth with concern, alleging that Georgia had no right to take unlimited drinking water from Lake Lanier.

Seattle voters reject 20-cent grocery bag fee

City leaders had passed an ordinance to charge the bag fee, which was to start in January. But the plastics industry bankrolled a referendum to put the question to voters in Tuesday's election.

Plastic bag makers have lobbied hard to defeat the fee, outspending opponents about 15 to 1.

Coca-Cola, Pepsi on Beijing's worst polluter list: govt

BEIJING (AFP) – The Beijing plants of US soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been listed as among the top 12 factories causing major water pollution in China's capital, the city government has announced.

Are Chinese Citizens Ready for A Green Revolution?

For China, a country with plenty of environmental laws but far too little enforcement, the news was a minor revelation. Two chemical factory officials convicted of releasing carbolic acid into a river - tainting a water source for 200,000 residents of coastal Jiangsu province - were sentenced on Aug. 14 to prison terms of 6 and 11 years. In the past such acts might result in little more than a fine. The state-run Xinhua news service noted it was the first time defendants who "caused environmental pollution were jailed on charges of spreading poison."

Climate plan calls for forest expansion

WASHINGTON — New forests would spread across the American landscape, replacing both pasture and farm fields, under a congressional plan to confront climate change, an Environmental Protection Agency analysis shows.

About 18 million acres of new trees — roughly the size of West Virginia — would be planted by 2020, according to an EPA analysis of a climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in June.

That's because the House bill gives financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to plant trees, which suck in large amounts of the key global-warming gas: carbon dioxide.

US unions, green groups to stump for climate change bill

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US labor unions and environmental groups on Tuesday announced plans for a nationwide campaign to boost support for legislation to promote "clean energy" and battle climate change.

To truly help the environment, try 'cash for cluckers'

If we are serious about wanting to put the brakes on climate change, we should be offering "cash for cluckers." Encouraging meat-eaters to trade in their chicken for chickpeas and their pork chops for "fib ribs" is the best way to help the environment.

Study: Global warming sparked by ancient farming methods

(CNN) -- Ancient man may have started global warming through massive deforestation and burning that could have permanently altered the Earth's climate, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

The study, published in the scientific journal Quaternary Science Reviews and reported on the University of Virginia's Web site, says over thousands of years, farmers burned down so many forests on such a large scale that huge amounts of carbon dioxide were pumped into the atmosphere. That possibly caused the Earth to warm up and forever changed the climate.

Deserts Expand Faster as Earth Brightens

As the world warms over the next century, global deserts could expand by as much as 34 percent, according to a new study, swallowing an area roughly the size of the United States.

Oil Industry Backs Protests of Emissions Bill

HOUSTON — Hard on the heels of the health care protests, another citizen movement seems to have sprung up, this one to oppose Washington’s attempts to tackle climate change. But behind the scenes, an industry with much at stake — Big Oil — is pulling the strings.

Hundreds of people packed a downtown theater here on Tuesday for a lunchtime rally that was as much a celebration of oil’s traditional role in the Texas way of life as it was a political protest against Washington’s energy policies, which many here fear will raise energy prices.

I would be very interested in what the techies here think of the claim that a smart grid could save 13% of electric energy. This would be a pretty large "wedge."

Smart grids may save electricity, but they will further reduce the grid resilience if, as intended, they squeeze out the last drop of excess capacity from the system.

I would think that cutting peak load would be dipping into the excess capacity less.

Correct, as regards excess power plant generating capacity. As I took it, Nelsone is referring to transmission capacity, as opposed to generating capacity.

Exactly. Here in the Pacific NW we already have excess generating capacity, especially in the Spring, without sufficient transmission capacity to send it East. So we sell it cheap or even give it away to California.

Not unlike the oil net-export problem, we in the NW would prefer to keep our own lights on over "spreading the pain" if and when rolling blackouts begin - An insufficient grid will help keep our electrons closer to home.

Levelling us all out to one all-encompassing network will simply guarantee that when the blackouts come, no place will be spared.

Hello Nelsone,
I agree
"we in the NW would prefer to keep our own lights on over spreading the pain if and when rolling blackouts begin-An insufficient grid will help keep our electrons closer to home.", but honestly I had never thought of it quite that way until you wrote that.
My whole "Plan B" is predicated on having a functional grid here, even if we are otherwise picking with the chickens.
One thing that concerns me is the fact that Idaho has some of the lowest electricity and NG prices in the nation and the big states are always looking at the Bonneville Power Admin. with evil intent, at least when prices were up during the Bush years.
When prices do start going back up we may yet get our BPA taken away and broken up.
Let's hope not.

The better the grid, the easier to share cheap power, and the less likely those who are near it are to get the benefit of it. The rates of those currently with cheap power may go up because of the sharing (also, because of their share of the new transmission lines).

The better the grid, the less reason to build a new power plant close by. So NIMBY goes up even more than now.

The better the grid, the more likely expensive power is to be completely bypassed, The organizations selling it are likely to go bankrupt, removing one piece of capacity.

The better the grid, the easier to get coal fired electricity from Wyoming (or wherever).

There are a huge number of ramifications of a better grid. I seriously doubt more than little bits of one will be built. There are too many losers who will fight it. Also, no one will want to pay the cost.

No to mention making the grid all the more vulnerable to an EMP, whether man made or possibly solar in origin.

What do the main strean astronomers have to say aout solar emp?

I don't know that the word EMP is appropriate, but geomagnetic storms have caused problems in the past. The best example of that was the storm that was responsible for taking out part of the power grid in Quebec in 1989.

Perhaps you would prefer CME a coronal mass ejection or solar flare, either way it is an eletromagnetic pulse that would probably fry any smart grid in its path. The point is the so called smart grid would be very vulnerable.

From WIKI ......Impact of a CME
""When the ejection reaches the Earth as an ICME (Interplanetary CME), it may disrupt the Earth's magnetosphere, compressing it on the day side and extending the night-side tail. When the magnetosphere reconnects on the nightside, it creates trillions of watts of power which is directed back toward the Earth's upper atmosphere. This process can cause particularly strong aurora also known as the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis (in the Northern Hemisphere), and the Southern Lights, or aurora australis (in the Southern Hemisphere). CME events, along with solar flares, can disrupt radio transmissions, cause power outages (blackouts), and cause damage to satellites and electrical transmission lines.""

Had the Carrington Event happened yesterday, you would not be reading this. And probably would never be again.....

Let's see, the Hydro-Quebec event of 1989 occured after a major CME, during a solar maximum which occurs about every 11 years. The next solar maximum will be in 2011-2012. Get ready!

But this isn't the same as an EMP. I sure hope we don't have to worry about an EMP for it suggests a much larger (and nearer) threat...

13% savings is certainly achievable versus the current BAU. We need to keep Jevons' Paradox in the back of our minds however. The most likely vector for the Jevons effect is that if wildly successful savings are achieved, they will be soaked up with electrified transportation. So the grid will remain stressed and likely less resilient, as nelsone notes above.

If we build out small wind, solar pv, small chp at the residential/small commercial level it might mitigate the grid resiliency issues. It's a costly transformation, however, and ironically success in saving energy via a smart grid would undermine the cost/benefit analysis of adding new (even clean) generation.

"If we build out small wind, solar pv, small chp at the residential/small commercial level it might mitigate the grid resiliency issues."

Thanks. That was my thought, too.

I think the intermittency would make the problem worse, not better.

This is exactly the issue I was hoping someone with more expertise than I have could resolve.

As I understand it, the (or a central) point of having a smart grid is to better handle varying sources, users, and storage capacities while increasing the awareness of availability and price to all concerned.

I would have thought that all of those things would make the whole more robust, but perhaps it makes the system actually more fragile? How expensive would it be to protect the smart grid against this fragility?

I believe that a lot more than 13pct could be saved by cutting back on usage. Fans could replace a lot of AC at minimum cost in discomfort. AC in one room instead of the whole house when it's unbearable. LED lites for reading (I use in restaurants at nite because I don't see so well in dark). There's so much waste that a whole lot more that could be done.

Hi Dave,

As you no doubt appreciate, there are other forces that will likely pull us in the opposite direction. For example, more than 80 per cent of the new homes in this province are electrically heated and more than 90 per cent are equipped with electric water heaters. I don't expect these numbers to change appreciably within the foreseeable future; if anything, I expect electricity to grow share going forward.

In these parts, we're also far from saturation with respect to air conditioning. Yesterday, it was muggy 31C and, today, as I type this, its 30C. As much as I resisted the urge, I finally gave in and turned mine on last night because I was miserable and couldn't sleep. Those without a/c but who have the financial means to plunk down $99.00 for a window shaker at Wally World will likely do so if our summers continue on this path (all it takes is a couple hot spells to tip the balance). And if heat pumps become as popular as I imagine, these cooling loads will grow even more rapidly.

So, I agree, there will be some cut-back in usage, especially if rates escalate higher, but I suspect other factors will negate a portion of the savings; by how much, I don't honestly know.


Won't going from resistance heating to year round heating and cooling with heat pumps more than save the extra A/C being used in those very very short Canadian summers ?

Hi Neil,

It would, but the vast majority of homes built east of Ontario employ baseboard strips or, in some cases, electric thermal storage -- the former due to its low installed cost and simplified installation, and the latter because of NSP's attractive off-peak rates which are available exclusively to ETS customers. Relatively few homes at this stage utilize heat pumps, with the exception of a higher end home where central air is desired.

In Atlantic Canada, the growth in electric resistance will always out pace that of heat pumps due to its lower first cost, but a/c loads will likewise grow because the number of window units and central systems will increase over time, just not at the same rate.


From the NYT today:

More Fake Letters to Congress on Energy Bill

E. Swanson

Jack Bonner, the lobbying firm’s founder, has said a temporary employee was responsible for the fake letters and has been fired.

Sounds like a bunch of crock to me, climate change denialism is purely ideologically driven. The folks behind it need to fought tooth and nail!


"Imagine you are riding comfortably on a sleek train. You look out the window and see that the tracks end abruptly not too far ahead ... The train will derail if it continues. You suggest the train stop immediately and the passengers go forward on foot. This will require a major shift in everyone’s way of traveling, of course, but you see it as the only realistic option.

To continue barreling forward is to court catastrophic consequences. But when you propose this course of action, others – who have grown comfortable riding on the train – say, “We like the train, and arguing that we should get off is not realistic.” "

This is, of course, a well worn analogy, but quite a nice expression of it here.

By the time you see (have a concrete observation) the tracks ending up ahead, the train will have too much momentum to stop in time. The engineer must be able to and actually read the map well in advance and correctly determine his location along the track to stop in time. Generally the untrained passengers are too stupid to do what is necessary.

Moreover, the other passengers will look at you and say:

"Who are you? We don't know you. You are not a celebrity. Why should we trust you? For all we know, you are an escapee from a local mental asylum."

So your insistence that the train should be stopped will go nowhere.

Remember that episode from Twilight Zone (original series) where plane passenger is sure he sees a monster sitting on the wing tearing away at the plane's engine?

Stewardess, come quickly. There's a monster out there.

"The engineer must be able to and actually read the map well in advance and correctly determine his location along the track to stop in time."

The problem is that the engineer long ago decided that track always magically appears whenever it is needed so no map-reading or even concrete observation is needed.

Consider IEA's use of economists to determine future oil reserves--they just said that there will always be reserves sufficient to cover demand because that is what their economics text books (ideological limitless-growth propaganda) told them. It is only last year that the actual geologists did a careful field by field assessment that they started pointing out that without massive investment, track would soon run out.

Your point, though, is well taken. The train now has too much momentum. We needed to start taking measures at least twenty to thirty years ago for the transition.

We now just all need to assume crash positions (aka bend over and kiss your *ss goodbye).

Generally the untrained passengers are too stupid to do what is necessary.

Generally the untrained passengers [on this run-away train] are too stupid to do what is necessary.

Let's not get too smug about how smart and indispensable "we" are and how dumb and useless the other passengers on the train are.

One of the allegedly dumb others sitting on the train near you is a dentist. Next time you get a toothache post-peak, you may find out she is not as dumb & useless as you thought.

One of the allegedly dumb others sitting on the train near you is a plumber. Next time your pipes back post-peak, you may find out ...

We all need each other.

The article on "ancient farming" methods is truly an unfortunate "academic" essay to reach the mainstream media. It lacks in some very basic areas

I'm not saying that slash and burn agriculture isn't a poor practice. I've seen some pathetic contemporary examples where hillsides were cleared by burning and then plowed up and down! But the notion that "ancients" burnt enough to impact climate is absurd.

The crux of his argument is that the ancients required 10 times the acreage per person. Not only is it not clear where he got this number, but his assumption that every one of those acres was forested is clearly a stretch.

He further disregards the dynamism of ecosystems in the short term (something many archeologists are also frequently guilty of). Yes, a tribe using slash and burn will move plots frequently, but those abandoned plots don't sit fallow, and what grows there will take up carbon. And this is the fundamental flaw I see in his argument - carbon levels in the atmosphere are part of a flow - it is not a cumulative effect. Only when the maximum flow that the ecosystem can handle is exceeded to we run into problems.

And frankly, I'd have to doubt that early farmers were burning anything close to the number of acres that were burning naturally each year.

But the kicker that demonstrates this guy, Ruddiman, is loony tunes is his suggestion that the Younger Dryas did not become a full fledged ice age because a few ancient farmers started clearing fields with fire. At the end of the YD the number of farmers in the world probably was limited to a few thousand spread across the area encircled by the Taurus and Zagros mountains. That was some job they did preventing an ice age.

I generally agree with the thrust of your argument; blaming slash-and-burn horticulturists for such massive (planetary) environmental destruction seems far-fetched, but I wouldn't be quite so dismissive of the idea. Here, and in many previous posts, I fear you cling too strongly to an XVIII century noble savage view of humanity.

There's some archaeological evidence that pre-contact Amazonia was much more populated, and therefore deforested, even away from the varzea floodplain of the main stem Amazon and lower reaches of the major tributaries, than many researchers had assumed. And there's very good evidence of widespread pre- and early-contact burning of forests here in western Oregon. The authors of this article raise a provocative question worth exploring.

On the other hand, a recent article on Madagascar argues “The long-held assumption that Madagascar has lost 90 percent of its forest cover due to fire and slash-and-burn agriculture may be overstated, argues new research published in Conservation Letters.

Analyzing 6000-year pollen records in four sites, Malika Virah-Sawmy of Oxford University found evidence that vegetation in southeast Madagascar has for millennia been a mosaic of forests, woodlands and savannas, rather than continuous forests as generally believed.”


Fair enough. I may indeed sometimes be guilty of over promoting a simple life style, but much of that is due to my perception that most here seem to think our current life style is somehow better. The acceptance of "progress" even among those proposing "sustainable" solutions is overwhelming.

What I'd like to get across is that the value of a lifestyle is not found in its material wealth or ease, but in other more important aspects of our existence. Accepting that our current material wealth is "better" than past comparably poor eras ignores the rather extensive damage the concentration on material wealth has done those more important aspects of life.

Thanks for giving me the impetus and reason to clarify that.

Our forebears were not naive natives living in some Eden like paradise. They lived hard scramble lives requiring constant effort to provide for themselves and their loved ones. But neither were they child like intellectually. They explained the world to themselves in much the same way we do - though no doubt using different language and concepts.

The primary difference I see is that they filled their world with meaning. We fill our world with "entertainment."

Okay - I'll get off the soapbox now.

Thanks for the Madagascar reference. The advances is sediment core analysis over the last couple of decades is literally rewriting our knowledge of prehistory. I've been reading Steven Mithen's "After the Ice" recently and am finding it very informative and enjoyable. Worth the read for those interested in pre-civilization human life.

shaman - Michael Williams in 2006 published Deforesting The Earth - From Pre-history to Global Crisis.

Fire became embedded in human cognition. It is a maddening amalgam of human and ecological history.

Fire became the foundation of civilization. It was a source of heat and light, warning off predators as well as facilitating territorial expansion and population increases.

Human fire use preceded the Ice Age and are well attested by examples of vegetation changes from around the world in the deep past of pre-history.

Sometime during the late Paleolithic/early Mesolithic, between 16,000 and 10,000 BP, there was a massive decline in large mammals, such as mammoths, mastodons, woolly rhinoceros, giant deer and cave bears. The decline during this period was most noticeable in North America, where some 33 out of 45 genera disappeared between 11,500 and 11,000 BP.

Although there are numerous hypothesis related to the "Pleistocene Overkill" a more likely explanation is that as humans struggled to maintain open habitats for hunting in the face of forest advance they severely modified the structure and stability of the ecosystems by Fire.

Fire was the first wide-spread technology of humans so it reasons that not only did early farming groups use it widely so did hunter-gatherer clans.



I believe there is a substantial amount of evidence pointing to the use of fire to keep large tracts of land open and more productive of large grazing animals.

Fire has been used to clear very large acreages for actual crop production but maybe the evidence is not so clear in this respect as to the acreage.

Some where in the work of Nanthaniel Hawthorne there is a fine description of a large fire set by Indians to keep thier lands open and easily hunted. Only a small portion of the burned over land was used for crops if I've got my facts straight regarding native Americans.

Got any good book titles handy?

OFM - Just started reading Jerry Mander's In The absence Of The Sacred

" . . . We have lost the understanding that existed in all civilizations prior to ours, and that continues to exist on Earth today in societies that live side by side with our own; we have lost a sense of the sacredness of the natural world." (p. 187)"

Mander took 10 years to write this book, and a lot longer thinking about it. It is a critical analysis of the impact of technology upon our culture and upon the way we have chosen to live--as well as the way we have had choices unilaterally made for us without our consent.

He doesn't invoke God or theism but he makes a strong case that we should individually begin the process of questioning our personal lifestyle choices.


Highly Recommended.

It really changed my thinking, I still remember it well (> 10 years ago...).

Thanks for the interesting reference, Joe. I'll add it to my list of books to check in to.

To be clear, I'm not questioning the role of fire in neo and paleolithic societies. I'm questioning the, to me, absurd notion that slash and burn farmers were responsible for global warming.

The role of humans in the disappearance of the North American megafauna is one of those prehistory mysteries that we may never have a convincing answer to. The biggest problem with the human oriented kill off theories is that there simply weren't very many humans in North America at the time. Indeed, some argue that it wasn't until the Younger Dryas reopened the land passage between Siberia and North America that the ancestors of the "Native Americans" came over (the earlier migration being supplanted by the late comers).

Anyway, interesting stuff.

I don't consider myself well informed on this topic, but I did find Brian Fagan's books on climate history to be very interesting--recommended, as long as you're compiling a reading list!

thanks jeff - Looking through his bibliography it appears that most directly related is "The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization" - is that the one you were thinking of?

On the reading list; I'm apparently not very selective because my list is already longer than I will have time for in this life time. My wife makes fun of me because I frequently have half a dozen or more books "in process." But I continue to add books to the list and the priority changes all the time. I feel sorry for today's kids who are not being taught the value of a book - everything these days is 140 characters or less.

To be clear, I'm not questioning the role of fire in neo and paleolithic societies. I'm questioning the, to me, absurd notion that slash and burn farmers were responsible for global warming.

I don't have much of an opinion about how much arming such activity could have caused. However, you have to recognize that the longer lived GHG are cumulative (and the needed changes much smaller than the recent industrialized changes), so that a small level of emissions operating over several hundred or a few thousand years could still have a significant effect.

a small level of emissions operating over several hundred or a few thousand years could still have a significant effect.

While true from a chemistry perspective - is this true for the global ecosystem as a whole? (that is a serious question).

My understanding was that carbon is regularly cycled out of the atmosphere via plant absorption and gravity (so-called carbon sinks).

When I originally read Ruddiman's paper in Climatic Change a few years ago I found him pretty persuasive. It wasn't just farmers as you understand it but also hunter gatherers like the Australian Aborigines who were modifying the environment with fire.

China is buying up oil fields in South America, Africa, and IRAQ!
So, the US is fighting the wars and spending billions in IRAQ so that China can have more oil.
WHen the US needs more oil, China will say its going to cost you dearly!
When the US goes broke from debt, then China will rule the world.....

What portion of Chinese oil consumption do you suppose actually ends up indirectly as U.S. oil consumption (i.e. without American demand for Chinese-produced goods, how much oil would China use?).

To answer one of your questions: Yes, the US attacked Iraq to ensure global oil flows that facilitate greater global consumption and BAU in our country. To many, this was obvious from the get go. To others, we attacked Iraq because of aluminum tubes or some such nonsense.

Good point, and when China sucks the US dry of all money from goods sales, they will sell to other countries who still have some money left.
The US is the one who will fall/fail due to lack of strategic planning.
Unless the US is planning to convert countries in the Middle East into US States?

Provinces and territoirs more likely-couldn't go upsetting all the poltical applecarts so carefully balanced by a few generations of gerry manders.

There may be a few well meaning liberals who will insist on statehood but I expext the "bizness democrats"(a term I haven't heard for a while) to give them a very sharp elbow in the ribs if they say it very loud or often.

Yes, the US attacked Iraq to ensure global oil flows that facilitate greater global consumption and BAU in our country.

Which once more shows that there is no acceptance or understanding of PO. A few extra million barrels a day in the short term makes things worse later.

Yes, the US attacked Iraq to ensure global oil flows that facilitate greater global consumption and BAU in our country. To many, this was obvious from the get go. To others, we attacked Iraq because of aluminum tubes or some such nonsense.

Liberal nonsense.

The current war started when Iraq attacked and invaded Kuwait. The price of oil was an issue. And also Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing it's oil in the border region. The US responded because it has a security agreement with Kuwait. I suppose liberals think the world would be safer and more secure if the US abandoned all of it's security agreements.

Sorry, that was the '91 war, not the current war. No security agreements involved. Nice try at rewriting history.

Always remember..... Bush2 killed more Americans and Iraqi's than Saddam ever did while he lived.

But they hung Saddam......Bush2 is in Texas living the high life.

That ranks pretty closely to the most dismally uninformed statement I have seen on TOD.

"Liberal nonsense" is just frosting on the cake.

Liberal nonsense.

This is a lie. Ask any liberal in a position of power why the US bombed Iraq, and they will say that the cities were bombed first to stop WMD, then the cities were bombed to empower Iraqis with Democracy*. They will then say that no WMD was found.

They won't say that this killed 1,000,000 Iraqis and made 3,000,000 into refugees.

The US responded because it has a security agreement with Kuwait. I suppose liberals think the world would be safer and more secure if the US abandoned all of it's security agreements.

Ask any liberal in power, and they will say exactly what you just said about Kuwait.

Obama, who you may agree is liberal, is now escalating wars against Pakistan and Afghanistan. While claiming to withdraw from Iraq, he is leaving roughly as many troops there as we left in South Korea after the Korean War.

If you look at the actions of liberals in power, they will not seem much different from those of conservatives. The liberals sure do talk pretty sometimes, though.

*Japanese war museums claim that Japan bombed Chinese cities to empower Chinese with Democracy

Ask any liberal in a position of power why the US bombed Iraq, and they will say that the cities were bombed first to stop WMD, then the cities were bombed to empower Iraqis with Democracy*.

When the US goes broke from debt, then China will rule the world

Maybe. China is certainly rising but I think the 'China rules the world' meme is overblown. Anybody remember Japan, Inc. in the 1980s? 'They're buying our golf courses! They bought Rockefeller Center!' Japan's reign was short, as it turns out.

China is not Japan (they would bristle at the suggestion). China's rush to acquire basic resources looks shrewd. But I think they will have just as difficult a time perfecting their rights to these resources as US multinational companies have had with oil and gas resources (or invading US forces, for that matter). When a deal goes against a host country with resources, they will fight tooth and nail to recalibrate the deal. China played this game in its salad days, and it will be a delicious irony when they are on the other end, IMO.

Unlike Japan at its peak, China already is the #1 customer of many of these countries (which is the most reliable means of control).

China faces some extraordinary environmental challenges. These could severely constrain its economic growth.

China also faces extraordinary population and cultural problems.

China faces extraordinary economic and political problems.

China is a bubble economy that hasn't burst yet. Their people are restive.

I think China is in even worse shape than the US, economically. It' a poor (3d world) country with very low wage earnings. This wage problem in the US morphed into a large piece of our current crisis. How can it fail to do otherwise in China?

How long with the foreign currency reserves last when the Chinese banks start to fail and the government needs to come up with a lot of cash to cover losses?

If the banks don't fail, (because the government successfully pumps up the cash) how will the Chinese avoid hyperinflation?

If the China economy crashes, (When the China economy crashes) will the unemployed and desperate tear the country apart?

IMHO In my lifetime, China will become the economic powerhouse of the world.

...a far more dangerous, debased, depleted and corrupt world...

Now that resources are dwindling permanently, even the faux morality of the West will become an impediment to maximizing consumption and production. China can step in and provide economic activity without safety and environmental regulations.

The USA did the same thing to "Old Europe" in the last century. Europe today has a stronger social contract than America (e.g. everyone has a right to healthcare and retirement) but Europe has little power.

Likewise, in our future the USA will have a stronger social contract than China - but little power.

The USA has huge natural resources, but the limiting resource is fuel, and within five years the USA will become a net importer of all fuels by BTU.

Those who believe that natural resources confer political power should think of the Native Americans, who were annihilated despite having awesome resources.

Those who believe that natural resources confer political power should think of the Native Americans, who were annihilated despite having awesome resources.

They didn't really have "awesome resources." The continent did, but the Native Americans were not a country.

And of course, it's not just a matter of sitting on top of resources. You have to use them.

I think peak oil means it will become a lot harder to be a global power. In fact, I'm wondering if there will ever be a true global power again.

Yes, there were global powers before oil. But the driving engine there was expansion. I think we're past "peak expansion."

A major difference is that China is determined to be the #1 economy. The main goal of the USA is to benefit the economic success of a relatively small elite, even at the expense of the overall economy. Every third world economy or declining country operates like this. In China, the financial sector is used by the government to promote its agenda, in the USA the government is used by the financial elite to promote its agenda.

Damn Brian, we agree on something. ;-)

Ron P.

BrianT: A very good way of putting it. . . and a very good reason for all patriotic Americans to weap for their country!

There is only one thing left for us to do: Starve the Beast! Liquidate personal indebtedness, don't take on more, live within our means, boycot the commercial banks (try credit unions instead), and in general dry up the cash flow that keeps these moneyed elites on top.

Forget about mass protests in the streets. The nation with the largest military establishment and budget in the world, and the largest prison system in the world, has no fear of those. They are utterly powerless to force us to spend our money, however.

Everybody on Three.
One, two, Three stop paying taxes!!!!!!
That will cripple them immediately.
But it takes <3.
Does anyone think that taking back a country is easy and without risk??

If no one paid any taxes then there would be no police or fire protection. No protection from swindlers, robbers, killers or anything else. No roads except dirt paths would exist. No schools would exist. No government would exist therefore there would be no base currency. It would be a barter economy.

In the words of Thomas Hobbs "the life of man, (would be), solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short".

Ron P.

OK ,I will qualify my statement.
NO Federal tax.
Property taxes fund local services.

I am not even going to argue this because you know that criminals are in control and the only solution will be to challenge the criminals.
Nothing worth having comes free including FREEdom.

I am not even going to argue this because...

I don't blame you for not arguing this point because it is indefensible. If there were no federal government then there would be local governments except thugs and warlords. And other countries would still have strong central governments. If we had no federal government in 1941 we would have one today anyway. And we would all be speaking German.

Ron P.

States formed National Guards to provide the Republic with a military.
They still do. Do you really believe that nonsense statement about the Germans being able to take America?
It is not an all or nothing deal.
The States can easily provide for National defense with a much, much smaller and focused "Federal" government.
Everything could be and should be brought back to as local a level as possible.
There, I argued the points.

Absurd! Yes Germany and Japan could have easily taken the US if we had only local national guardsmen to protect the country. They would be only local troops with no government to supply them with planes, tanks and other weaponery.

If we had only local governments there would be little to no cooperation between them. Would the National Guard of Nebraska have landed at Normandy? With what and commanded by whom? There would have been no Pearl Harbor because there would have been no Navy to have been bombed. The Japanese would have ruled the Pacific with no losses whatsoever. And you think the California National Guard would have protected the West Coast from the mighty Japanese Army? Good God man, think!

Your argument is truly absurd. The only reason you believe it yourself is you have really not put any deep thought into it.

Ron P.

Ron: The USA couldn't even handle Vietnam. There is no way Germany or Japan could have taken the USA-at best they could have controlled some major cities. The place would never have been conquered-outside interests/countries would have continuously supported the rebels causing trouble.

I started writing another comment and then realized that he just wants to argue.
The idea that either could have supported an invasion across an ocean is ridiculous and Germany and Japan both knew that.
Also most of the American military machine was built after the Pearl Harbor attack as a result of factory re-tooling.
I was not saying that a national Defense is unnecessary but that the organization should include more say from the individual States so in the future the Feds can't just run rampant and do what ever they please with the military power.
The more local the decisions are the more likely the people will pay attention to them.

I started writing another comment and then realized that he just wants to argue.

No, what you want is no rebuttal from your ridiculous claim that we do not need any federal taxes, meaning of course no Federal Government.

I was not saying that a national Defense is unnecessary but that the organization should include more say from the individual States so in the future the Feds can't just run rampant and do what ever they please with the military power.

But under your system there would be no feds, only individual states. And if there were no federal government there would be no United States, only states. And if the federal government dissolved today there would be no military, no social secuerity, no medical care for people over 65. The mess of states would be nothing but a total mess.

If you are arguing for no federal taxes then you are arguing for no federal government pure and simple. And that is the case you must make.

And I dearly would love to here that one but I seriously doubt that I will.

Ron P.

The tax protest is to get the attention of the Feds.
Under my system the Feds would be accountable to the States and hence one level closer to the people.
Where did you read that I said no federal taxes and hence no federal government?
Please, give me some credit.
Don't you see that the Feds have gone off the reservation?
On the points you bring up I mostly agree with you but they are not the points that I brought up.

First you said:

Everybody on Three.
One, two, Three stop paying taxes!!!!!!

Then you backed off from that:

OK ,I will qualify my statement.
NO Federal tax.

Then you backed off a little further.

Where did you read that I said no federal taxes and hence no federal government?

Well, common sense will tell you that without some kind of federal tax there can be no federal government. Perhaps you think everyone in the government will work for free and that will make them more accountable to the people.

Yeah right! You don’t pay them and they don’t work. There would be no federal government without money, tax money, to support them.

Methinks you still have a little backing to do.

Ron P.

OK, you got me on wording.
What I wanted to communicate was tax protest but as that goes since the Feds basically are unaccountable they will just add more digits via keystroke and pay the gov workers. The whole thing is out of control.
You win this one but I will remember.

And next time I will be more precise.
Can't afford to be sloppy on this site.

Thanks for the concession Porge. Please bring up your "Tax Protest" thread some time in the future. I have a good reply for that one to. But not now.

Take care, Ron P.

Oh NO!

Oh and it is not polite to gloat!

A major difference is that China is determined to be the #1 economy.

I don't think that's true. Or at least, I don't think it will necessarily hold true in the future.

In particular, I think China may eventually see disengaging from the rest of the world as more advantageous than dominating it.

I agree that they are more interested in building and running a closed economy.
They have used the Chimerica relationship to motivate their peasants to work as industrializing slaves to build a modern economy.
This seems obvious to me.

Also, the west will eventually have to fight with them over resources.

China is already the #1 customer of many countries, which means they indirectly control politically many countries. The Chinese control is a lot more subtle than the US version.

The Lechworth TT article got me thinking about the difference between the GB & the US.

The Community Thing

It looks like no one can post here without making at least one positive reference to community. If I didn’t know better it seems to have religious overtones. The other day one TOD person guaranteed that I would die a terrible death at the hands of some unknown malignant force because he perceived me as a “loner” and not a community member. I guess if I believed that the case I would “gun up” and form my own militia community for mutual protection. If you can’t beat em join em.

I am a social person but I have no idea of how community relates to knowing how the gory details of the future play out. I guess I am a loner as far as thinking about family, food, water and shelter. Those seem an individual effort. I grow vegetables for neighbors and am prepared to raise lots of spring time plants for everyone if we get to that point. My plow and tiller can make gardens galore. Renting a hall and showing a Return to or Death of Suburbia DVD doesn’t strike me as helpful.

My local community: 30% don’t give a hoot (loners) or will be opposed to anything for political reasons. 25% are addicted to legal/illegal substances – no help there. 5% are just plain crazy. 10% are religious nuts who have no need for outside community in this world. 5% are thieves – don’t need them. 10% are control freaks/megalomaniacs – should be avoided in groups.10% are wheeler dealers and are just looking for an edge. There are overlaps as it is possible to have crazy alcoholic Republicans who are megalomaniacs and thieves.

The 5% or so who might be interested in my community are mad at me because of my “Too many people in the world – COMMIT SUICIDE” sign in my front yard. (Really - I’m just kidding).

Really thoughtful people are wondering if it is best to let the whole thing crash or attempt some small bottom up moderation. Others argue for techno fixes. I sure don’t have the answer but I don’t think random community will play a large part in the timing or outcome. Lady luck, rate of decline and locale will probably mean more. The Shakers had the last US community that seemed to work out in the medium haul. The Amish are being assimilated. Community might be helpful so I’m looking for some guidance or thought on how it might work and not just some slogan du jour.

There are overlaps as it is possible to have crazy alcoholic Republicans who are megalomaniacs and thieves.

And I thought those were actually prerequisite qualifications for being a Repubulican. Of course let's not forget that you have to be a right wing religious fundamentalist as well.

A true gentleman who appreciates my humor.

Maybe propose an energy efficiency project to a local college. Great if you can find a researcher who marches to their own drummer... if not, there might be some student groups that haven't "bought in" to big-time consumerism. The young (an vocationally uncommitted) seem to be more openminded.

Personally, I've found that the people who work at sustainability-based businesses (even the small, low-tech ones) seem to know way more about green-tech than many of the educated acquaintances that I know. Most are happy to talk with like-minded folk.

""The other day one TOD person guaranteed that I would die a terrible death at the hands of some unknown malignant force because he perceived me as a “loner” and not a community member. I guess if I believed that the case I would “gun up” and form my own militia community for mutual protection. If you can’t beat em join em.""

Noooo, what I said was...........
"" The community is what you are after. The attitude of the Lone Gunman, trying to survive with a Tractor and a few tanks of fuel will not cut it. You will lose all you have worked for in a matter of minutes, should a bad guy come knocking.""

And I still stand by that. Anyone, and I mean anyone, that thinks they can survive what is coming by dropping a few seeds in the ground, stocking up on a few tanks of gas for a small tractor and living high on the Hog, are in for a very rude awakening.

A "terrible death", more likely wil befall your family, after the bad guys get rid of the alpha male and his little tractor. They will take their time with the rest.

SECURITY,,,will be numero uno. The only way to get that is thru a comunity banding together. If that requires a Militia, so be it.

From your lips to Zoltar's ears, Tekno.

You don't know that any better than anyone, and I suspect that there will be hermits and wee clans out there that 'get away with it' just as well as organized larger groups. Variety is more than just a spice in life.

Your little movie scene is touching.. but narrow.

"There's no safety in numbers, or in anything else.." James Thurber

Sorry, but I do, know better than most everyone. You seem, as do so many, to put on the blinders of the MERIKAN, and live in a Pablum world of niceties. I would suggest you live in a third world country for a while, as I have done for many years. Then maybe, you would see the violence and death that is coming first hand.

I doubt many here on TOD would survive more than a few hours in a place like Somalia.

I think you would be shocked. There's a lot more experience on this board than you recognize with this statement.

Of course, most of the people here wouldn't do well in Somalia in particular due to being obvious outsiders, but should similar events transpire in their stomping grounds they won't be as helpless as you claim.

"There's no safety in numbers, or in anything else.." James Thurber

Wrong, wrong, dead wrong. There is a grain of truth in that today but the world of tomorrow will in no way resemble the world of today. If you have a small farm with cows, chickens and a garden but no protection from the community you will not last past the first wave of desperate hunger that sweeps the land. They will kill you, rape your wife and daughters and take anything from your farm that they can carry off.

What a dream world you live in.

Ron P.

SECURITY,,,will be numero uno. The only way to get that is thru a comunity banding together. If that requires a Militia, so be it.

That is exactly what I have been advocating for many years. How can anyone believe that when law enforcement disappears that everyone will still be kind to those who have a lot more than they, when their children are starving. No, they will do anything to survive even if that means killing someone in order to survive themselves.

Ron .


A militia there will be,maybe even an ordinary sheriff too.Whether his authority is recognized farther than a days walk may be open to question.

I myself have discussed this matter with a few close friends,very quietly, and although no plans have been made,we agree that there is a possibility that law enforcement as we know it may fail us if the economy continues to decline.The political will to organize a militia is there,no question,if it becomes necessary.

Most likely such a militia would be organized along traditonal lines,with the blessing of whatever local govt remains -in this area,at least.

Or it might take the form of a vastly expanded sheriff's department,with hundreds of
"on call" deputies.That seems a likely outcome in my sort of community.

Any place without such a militia within the reach of a mob will be in deep doodoo indeed if tshtf for real.

Denninger posted an addendum to yesterday's rant, which lays out his case in a more temperate manner.

He is still worried about deflation:

If you think this outcome is impossible, you haven't looked at the math and you don't understand how debt-based monetary systems work.

If you think this outcome is improbable, then explain why two years after the government allegedly "had it all under control" nothing has worked to restore prosperity, the PPI reported yesterday recorded crude good price contraction of 44.8% annualized and intermediate goods at the PPI level recorded a 15.1% decrease - all records on a 2008 to 2009 basis.

This is the mark of a severe deflationary spiral - the collapse of actual commercial credit and thus economic activity - in its formative period.

Having tried to understand our problem, I wouldn't say that Denninger is "worried about deflation". I think he is pointing to that data as an indication that the western financial system with it's debt based fiat money can not recover and return to the "growth" paradigm that so many economic pundits claim to be happening. About 70% of the U.S. economy is consumer spending and that has been blown way out of proportion by the creation of fiat money thru the issuance of new debt. But, with so many people out of work and many more worried about whether they will have a job tomorrow, the consumer isn't likely to be able to take on more new debt. Many people can't pay their debts now and it's been said that perhaps half of the outstanding mortgages will be "under water" by 2011.

If Denninger (and others) are correct, our government has simply pushed the disaster into the future and made it worse by taking on a large fraction of the bad debts accumulated during the bubble years (decades?). Now, add in Peak Oil, exploding medical costs for retiring Baby Boomers and Social Security outlays exceeding the income that has paid for SS so far and it's difficult to see an economic future that looks anything like a recovery.

My WAG is that we are in a situation where the exhaust valves on the boiler in the basement are being closed and the pressure is rising. The output appears lower and the prices are dropping. But, at some point, the pressure inside the boiler exceeds the strength of the containment vessel and the boiler explodes (i.e., inflation?), making a horrible mess...

E. Swanson

I'll leave what's actually happening separate and just talk about Denninger's views. My understanding is that he doesn't think that growth can't be restarted, he just takes the view that building up debts above a certain level means that there's a feedback loop that means that debts inevitably grow faster than any possible "paying them down" by the rest of the economy. If, in his world view, various people (bondholders, some foreign creditors, etc) "took their losses" then there'd be some individuals and corporations wiped out, and probably a period of slow growth due to number of people who'd lost previous spending power, but basically it'd all be great and we'd be back to growth. In his view, fiat money is not inherently a problem, just having debt above certain levels. My understanding is that his view on deflation is sort of an inverse of the "debt being too high problem": deflation causes incoming revenues to drop faster and faster until there's no way debt obligations can be serviced. He seems to be one of these people for whom the ingenuity of the nebulous "humanity" will apply its ingenuity to solve all the resource/energy issues motivated by economic incentives.

He's undoubtedly got a point about debt levels being far too high, and maybe about to enter a danagerous feedback level, but even if "all loses were recognised" tomorrow my view is that there'd still be problems for the global economy from resource and fuel issues (above and beyond any "speculation" in prices, which would be removed).

My take of the deflationists is that they are talking about how we are deflating our savers. Meaning that money (along with selected assets i.e. McMansions, auto's, commercial real estate, T-bills) are losing value so that those saving there surplus incomes are in effect getting back less buying power if they are investing in these assets. Thus punishing those in our economy that have not consumed above their incomes. I view this as a potential time bomb as many will figure out they are getting screwed and adopt a more proactive stance by converting their paper to real assets.(whether that be food,clothing, metals,tools,etc) Thus exacerbating the cost of the pools of capital required by the gubmint to finance the on going financial asset pillage by the Fed. Eventually raising the interest rates so that a real return is again available to the saver. The rub is at what point will that occur? Before or after the shat overwhelms the fan?
Aside from PPI deflation and the inventory adjustments taking place on the wholesale level I see little actual price retail deflation outside of gasoline. As my profession allows me to look at at the wholesale food markets its true we have and are continuing to see prices declining. This is mostly the function of excess inventory due to the reduced food demand. It is a temporary event. As of right now we are seeing a drastic deflationary market in Pork prices. Live hog prices have sunk to the low $30/cwt. price range as the combination of "swine flu mania", and a supply pipeline built to service last years demand further depresses prices. This is causing sweeping breeding stock reductions by the integrated and mom and pop producers. Which of course is now making the current pricing situation even worse. Net is that we will enter 2010 with a greatly reduced ability to provide supply. Meanwhile, only token sales are being offered to the retail consumer. The food service channel is using this windfall to strengthen margins weakend by minimum wage increases and significant increases in produce prices resulting from the California water rationing among others. While I'm not discounting the possibility of seeing some temporary retail deflation in these prices I predict we will see pretty significant upwards price pressure next year in a lot of prices. I think this will be repeated across a lot of markets next year. I continue to believe a strategy that focuses on real assets (outside of the McMansions and Commercial Real Estate) remains the most prudent strategy. The Chinese are very aggressively pursuing this program as they are fighting the monetization of the U.S. Treasury/Fed program by converting their dollars into real assets. The effect on our interest rates is now unfolding.

I don't think it's all that temporary. There's a reason it's called a deflationary spiral. Demand will continue to drop as people's ability to pay continues to drop. Once people catch on that prices are dropping, even those who can afford it will hold off, because whatever they want, it's going to be cheaper tomorrow. Which means more people losing their jobs, and even less ability to pay for stuff.

Low interest rates are rough for savers, but in the long run they're better off, because the cost of living is dropping. If deflation rules the land, you want to be a saver, not a borrower.

I think that view ignores the marketplaces ability to cut supply production whether as a business decision or thru an enterprise failure. Businesses lay off people to reduce costs and their ability to produce. The drop in inventories each month shows this is happening. The price Deflationists assume that businesses will never get in front of this curve and that supply will continue inspite of the asset producers losing $. I call that naive (but will agree with the deflation exceptions of the preverted asset classes noted previously as much of that is sunk cost). What do you think is getting cheaper? My real estate and sales taxes, utilities, insurance, medical, mail, and food costs have all increased in the last 6-9 months. The only things I have noticed as cheaper is gasoline and closeout items at stores that are adjusting inventories. What is the incentive to keep stocking those items that are being sold at a loss? Meanwhile profits at businesses continue to decline. Unless you think the gubmint is going to shut down the money machines then (which they can't unless they want their gubmint TEOTWAWKI) they are going to have to eventually have to pay up for borrowing the money. Once interest rates start significantly increasing then the deflationist are going to burn in their own hell an upwards price spiral. We are closer to Zimbabwe than Japan. Remember the rationale given for the extended Great Depression was lack of money supply/liquidity. We don't have that issue at anywhere near that level today. How much would you like us to print this week $250 billion sound good. Couple that with the looming scarcities of raw materials and unless you assume the dark ages prices will head higher. Deflation is not going to carry the day just a few moments.

I think that view ignores the marketplaces ability to cut supply production whether as a business decision or thru an enterprise failure. Businesses lay off people to reduce costs and their ability to produce.

Not at all. That is very much part of the deflationary spiral. What happens when a business fails or cuts back? People lose their jobs, and hence their purchasing power, pushing prices down further.

We've been printing money like there's no tomorrow, so where's the inflation? Unless there's a way to get that money into the hands of people who will spend it, it might as well not exist. Without wage increases, there can't be price increases. The consumer can no longer put it on plastic or use their house as an ATM.

But as Denninger points out, it won't work out for us like it has for Japan, because they're an exporting nation, while we're an importing one.

Without wage increases, there can't be price increases

You have hit the nail firmly on the head. This is exactly correct, even if no one is talking about it.

In a specialized economy (where each person 'specializes' in a given task) there are only two ways to increase the total real value of all the transactions in the economy - the GDP:

1. increase the number of participants in the system - get people back to work
2. increase the value of the transactions, by increasing the amount of desposable income - wage increases above and beyond inflation.

Real wages in the US (and here in the UK) have been stagnant at best for almost a generation. This should not be confused with an individual's personal career whereby he is rewarded with higher pay through promotion. It is the real wage of a given job/position which is all important.

Real wages in the US (and here in the UK) have been stagnant at best for almost a generation.

Yes. We managed to maintain our standard of living, first by sending women into the workplace - two breadwinners per family instead of one - and then by increased use of credit. Then came the dot-com boom and the housing boom.

I think the bursting of those bubbles - the collapse of insane amounts of leverage - means that this recession will be very different. It won't be just a matter of adjusting production to demand. It's going to take years, maybe decades to work out. Even discounting peak oil.

I saw a very interesting lecture by (I think) a law prof who specialized in divorce/family law. I haven't got the you-tube link but it was good. one of things she mentioned was that back in the 50s/60s the 'traditional' family had a lot of stretch - or spare capacity. If the husband lost his job - or there was a need for a boost to their income such as medical bills or another emergency - then the wife could take a part time job. (i think the example given was that she could take in laundry!). Now that most households are two income there is no give. If either one is made redundant or hours are cut then there is no way of plugging the gap. It is a very good lecture, really intelligent stuff and dare I say given a lot of credence by virtue that the lecturer is a woman.

I bet that was Elizabeth Warren, who wrote The Two-Income Trap.

She is now the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel (in charge of the TARP program).

Denninger is a fan.

Should have read down to the reply.
beat me. She tells it like it is and is predicting another debacle in the near future.

You sure that wasn't Elizabeth Warren author of the 2 income trap?
You know what else she does?

one of things she mentioned was that back in the 50s/60s the 'traditional' family had a lot of stretch - or spare capacity.

That is to say, a two-income family is less resilient to crisis. This is a widespread problem with efficiency - whenever we efficiently use every last drop of a resource, we become less resilient to a shortage of the resource.

This logic applies to gasoline. If we drive gas-guzzlers, then if oil becomes too expensive, we can switch to a hybrid. If we drive hybrids, then if oil becomes too expensive, we're screwed.

I am still struggling with the moral implications of this fact. It seems that wastefulness is a buffer against hardship. Therefore, a society should be as wasteful as possible, in order to create the largest buffer against hardship? On the other hand, a frugal individual embedded in a wasteful society can buffer even more against hardship. Should one be wasteful for society's sake, or be frugal to save one's self at the expense of society?

I'm frugal - my grocery bill is about 30% of everyone I know, and most of it goes to fresh green leafy vegetables. I troll coupon websites - did you know that Smithfield bacon is effectively free this week?

But I can't help but wonder if I'm being too selfish. At least I never get the urge to blame an SUV driver for selfishness. :)

It's not an argument for waste [which once used can never be recovered] - it's an argument for storage capacity which allows you time to make changes as required.

Unfortunately, the most cost effective form of inventory storage is generally on a slow boat from China...


What is more, if we go from the typical two-earner household, each with a more or less median wage, to one of them losing their full time job and only being able to find part-time work, then that equates to at least a 25% decline in per capita income - and probably more than that, because the part-time job certainly pays less than the full-time job did. This, without the wage schedules that are being paid being adjusted downward at all.


Yeah, the party is truly over. There will be no "recovery" - at least no real one. I'm sure there will be a bogus one for a quarter or two, until the statistics are revised back down to reality. They'll keep trying to fool us over and over, but only a fool would believe them.

The US is set to decline. Given that we simply don't have the resource base (and that is more than just oil) to support anything close to our present per capita GDP on anything close to a sustainable basis, we cannot possibly do otherwise. This basic fact will be denied by those in charge, the media, and most Americans all the way down, but that won't change the fact that we ARE headed downhill.

You forgot option #3:

3. give the banksters trillions of newly printed dollars, and let them drive up wages as they spend all that new money buying up assets. Once they've bid up the assets high enough, the average Underwater Joe will no longer be underwater.

That's the Fed's brilliant strategery. too bad the market instantly recognizes and prices the devaluation of the currency. So we get nearly instantaneous increases in energy and other commodities key to recovery. But of course the banksters knew damn well that would happen, which makes all this nothing more than a racket, a scam, a flim-flam, a heist, etc.

We've been printing money like there's no tomorrow, so where's the inflation? Unless there's a way to get that money into the hands of people who will spend it, it might as well not exist.

What if the federal government mails every unemployed person a $500 debit card or voucher every month to be used for rent or mortgage and utilities? The money can be created by Federal Reserve out of thin air. Ergo, lots of money in people's hands and lots of inflation.

That's not enough. They would have to give people more money than they would have been making at their jobs. I don't see that happening.

I think that view ignores the marketplaces ability to cut supply production whether as a business decision or thru an enterprise failure. Businesses lay off people to reduce costs and their ability to produce.

Not at all. That is very much part of the deflationary spiral. What happens when a business fails or cuts back? People lose their jobs, and hence their purchasing power, pushing prices down further.

We've been printing money like there's no tomorrow, so where's the inflation? Unless there's a way to get that money into the hands of people who will spend it, it might as well not exist. Without wage increases, there can't be price increases. The consumer can no longer put it on plastic or use their house as an ATM.

But as Denninger points out, it won't work out for us like it has for Japan, because they're an exporting nation, while we're an importing one.

You assume we (meaning the U.S.) is a closed system. We are part of the world economy and thus must compete for goods. Assuming the conditions in the U.S. will dictate the price of tea in China is to limited. We have 7 billion consumers of which we are a mere 300 million albeit we consume like +2 billion. The deflationary spiral can only exist until you go below the cost of production.(In the shorterm this is not necessarily always true) If your imput costs are increasing due to the depreciation of your currency, and or the increasing cost or your imputs due to scarcity and the cost to get them then you are not going to continue supplying them. Unless the price goes up so in real and nominal terms the price must increase. Monetary inflation is the expansion of the money supply and even with a slower velocity of money we are still increasing the supply. Several analysts are pointing out the money sloshing around now in both the Chinese and U.S. equity markets is and has raised prices. Look at Ron's chart downthread and eyeball the gap between expenditures and receipts. How long can that dance continue without increasing interest rates and currency depreciation spawning inflation?
The comment that prices can't increase if income doesn't increase is not cogent. True total expenditures cannot increase forever if incomes don't but prices can certainly increase. Bottom line is there is less total consumption but less consumption does not always imply lower prices. In this case it means you get less to consume. In fact ask the Germans or Zimbabwains about income, expenditure, and prices.

Better yet check this out

German Hyperinflation


You're right, but I see that as a big reason why we won't be Zimbabwe or Weimar Germany. The world economy will not keep on chugging along if the US collapses.

In particular, I think China is in much worse shape than they appear. Debt-wise, they're as bad off as we are, when you consider all the money the government is pumping into the system.

Stoneleigh thinks China will end up the new world power...decades from now.

I'm not so sure. I don't think they have the natural resources. In any case, I don't think it's something that's going to be a concern any time soon.

I see that as a big reason why we won't be Zimbabwe or Weimar Germany. The world economy will not keep on chugging along if the US collapses.

In particular, I think China is in much worse shape than they appear. Debt-wise, they're as bad off as we are, when you consider all the money the government is pumping into the system.

So how does the world economy failing lower prices? To me that increases scarcity, hoarding and then prices once all the going out of business sales are over. China has spent its 2 trillion surplus a few times over in my book. I would like to see an accounting of their books as much as ours. I think they are also guilty of printing money like mad dogs maybe not as much so as we although I have not an ounce of proof.
I totally agreee with you on China's future as does Diamond, Catton, and Kunstler. They are a bit of an eco disaster waiting to happen but how long they can defy nature is anyones guess. They are a formidable competitor and have a lot of momentum but they too can fail. They are racing hard against the worlds constraints and to a great deal their successes will constrain ours. Not that we continue to deserve our share of the goodies.

So how does the world economy failing lower prices?

Most of the stuff we buy are things we don't need. No job = much less consumption.

To bring it back to China...they've made it clear that they want to go back to BAU, where they make the stuff and we buy it. They need that, because they haven't reached the point where they can be their own customers. Our drop in consumption has closed over 100,000 factories in China last year alone. Half the toy factories in China closed last year. All those workers have lost their jobs. Are they going to buy the toys we can't? No. They're going home, to take up subsistence farming again.

I think they are also guilty of printing money like mad dogs maybe not as much so as we although I have not an ounce of proof.

China's hidden debt problem

When all are thrown into the pot, analysts estimate that China's debt may be closer to 60% of GDP, putting it in virtually the same league as the United States, which was at 70% at the end of 2008 before it launched its massive economic stimulus program.

To be sure, Washington is now set on a path of exploding debt that Beijing will largely avoid. The United States budgeted for a federal deficit of 12.9% of GDP this year, whereas China is aiming for just 2.9%.

But China's finances are deteriorating more quickly than the government expected, fueling a rise in the stock of both explicit and disguised debt that will constrict its wriggle room.

"It is serious because, one, much of it is hidden and, two, local governments are currently doubling down on their bets," said Stephen Green, economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai. "As with all fiscal deficits, it limits space for further stimulus."

I think the combination of peak oil and the financial crisis will end globalization. Not overnight, but, as you say, it may cause hoarding, tariffs, etc. Or actual wars. But that will take awhile. And we may actually fare pretty well. We're a large country, rich in natural resources. We are far better off than most when it comes to self-sufficiency.

FWIW I agree with you those living off of savings are pretty screwed. Look for AARP to freak out once the trend is seen clearly. I think the best course of action is as you suggested, convert paper into tangible assets and get out of debt if possible.

I think they might do okay, because the cost of living will drop. Stoneleigh argues that cash will be king for a long time.

Retirees who have their money parked in stocks and such are the ones who will be screwed, IMO.

Did you see Mish's article, crunching the numbers and finding out that so called "buy and hold" investors are better off putting their money in CDs rather than in the stock market?

Speaking of Denninger, he is also worried that we are going to take a big hit from H1N1 this fall.

I wonder what a massive pandemic will do to this year's holiday shopping season? (Rhetorical question, I already know the answer, and it isn't pretty.)

Tangentially speaking of H1N1 (I get around to it at the end), here is something I have been wondering about since getting some recent bloodwork back. Last year, my bloodwork showed a high LDL level (184), and the doctor, a couple of nurses, and some drug reps in the waiting room immediately tried to force feed me large doses of statins. I successfully resisted, citing the Triglycerides/HDL ratio which suggested, based on what I have read, that my LDL particles were predominantly the "good" LDL type (larger type).

In any case, by boosting my fish oil intake and monosaturated fat intake and some other changes, I succeeded in dropping my LDL to 142. However, I was stunned that the 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test showed that my Vitamin D level dropped from 59 ng/mL last year to 37, even though I had recently boosted my Vitamin D3 intake from 1,200 units per day to 2,400 units per day.

There is apparently a strong correlation between lower LDL levels and higher cancer rates, especially very low LDL levels (cancer also increases at very high LDL levels). I wondered if there might be a correlation between lower LDL levels and lower Vitamin D levels, contributing to the increased cancer rates. Just about the only thing that I could find on this topic was the following blog post by a research scientist, Stephanie Seneff:


One might think that most medical researchers don't want to touch this topic with a ten foot pole, because of the obviously negative implications for the statin medical-industrial complex. BTW, Ms. Seneff is no fan of statins.

In any case is it possible that the rush to lower LDL's is contributing to lower Vitamin D levels, thus making us more susceptible to infections, especially the flu? (Told you I would get around to the flu).

A good Vitamin D website:


Research references related to LDL/HDL levels. Anything lower than 5 is considered good. Dr. Ken Cooper did a lot of research into that (he developed the physical fitness standards for astronauts and the current military PT standards are based on his work).

Can't remember reference, but some research indicates that over-doing supplements can cause body to eliminate excess vitamin stores (I believe too much vitamin D (fat-soluable) can be TOXIC!) I believe (I could be mistaken) that Dr. Andrew Weir doesn't recommend high doses of vitamins for that reason (body eliminates excess by using excess inefficently).

LDL & cancer? LDL levels seem to be related to mental state/stress. No direct proof, but many medical professionals have anecdotally noticed a relation between mental state & cancer. Is correlation between LDL & cancer a cause or an effect?

Regarding low LDL levels and cancer, Ms. Seneff addresses the topic in the following post, and there is quite a bit of info on this topic on the web.


Incidentally, LDL levels are not commonly measured. They are calculated, and virtually all doctors fail to tell you that there are two types of LDL cholesterol, a "good" and a "bad" type, based on particle size; the smaller particles are the bad ones. The triglycerides/HDL ratio appears to be an indirect indicator of which type predominates in your blood (you apparently want to be below 3.5, and ideally below 2.0). The actual test to differentiate the two LDL types is quite expensive.

Triglycerides/HDL Ratio articles:



As noted above, there is almost nothing on low LDL levels being linked to low Vitamin D levels on the web, but as Ms. Seneff points out, it seems plausible, since cholesterol is a required ingredient for the body to synthesize Vitamin D from sunshine. BTW, most of the Vitamin D docs assert that 10,000 plus units per day are required for a long period of time, before toxic effects begin to appear, but the maximum therapeutic dosage recommendation I have seen is for 5,000 units. The Vitamin D docs are arguing that most infections and most cancers are symptoms of Vitamin D deficiencies:


You don't state whether you're a meat eater or vegetarian. With a LDL level of 184 I'd guess the former. If so, cut back on meat consumption. I'm no longer a strict vegetarian as I was when younger when I ran competitively and was into high altitude mountaineering, but I eat very little meat (altho I've been enjoying fresh eggs from our hens). I eat no nitrite preserved meats and haven't since I was a young adult. I really wish you wouldn't consume fish oils. Fisheries are in collapse around the world and consuming fish & fish products contributes to this decline in fish populations. Also, many fish are contaminated with mercury and other toxins. There are excellent plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids, such as green leafy vegetables, canola and flaxseed oils.

As for vitamin D, my opinion is that many Americans are marginally deficient because they spend too much time indoors and/or use too much sunscreen out of fear of skin cancers. Early in the summer I will use a 15 SPF sunscreen until I develop my tan, then quit applying it. I haven't worn sunscreen since June and even on days when I'm out in the sun all day I don't burn. A depressed immune response due to nutritional deficiencies is possible, but the hype is that such are rare in the developed nations. With the crappy diets most Americans eat, however, I'm not so sure but what sub-clinical deficiencies aren't becoming increasingly common and this could be a potential contributor to flu susceptibility.

Before Leanan posts it (I read it because of her recommendation), here is a link to "Good Calories, Bad Calories"


I first read about the two "Good" and "Bad" types of LDL in this book.

Regarding fish oil, it is a safe assumption that I am careful to select brands that are as free of heavy metals as possible. One problem with the non-fish oil sources of Omega Threes, from what I have read, is they tend not to have the long chain Omega Threes that are better for you.

Thanks for the link. I read the book review and couldn't agree more that refined sucrose, white flour and white rice are not wholesome foodstuffs. I haven't consumed them in decades. I don't much like sweets and when I do use a sweetener it's honey or molasses. We buy whole wheat flour and organically grown brown rice (long & short grain) in 50 lb. bags. On the other hand, there's no getting around the fact that lipids provide about 9 Kcals per gram whereas carbohydrates provide about 4, the Atkins rap notwithstanding.

there's no getting around the fact that lipids provide about 9 Kcals per gram whereas carbohydrates provide about 4, the Atkins rap notwithstanding.

That is covered in the book. It's that basic fact that led to the recommendation that people consume less fat. There's little or no research that supports it.

The problem is the effect carbohydrates have on metabolism. It's complicated, but the short version is that they make you hungrier, while fat sates hunger. After the government started recommending a low-fat diet, the American people did cut back on fat, and ate more carbs - and that is when the obesity epidemic exploded. There was no corresponding change in activity levels.

Refined carbs are definitely worse than complex carbs, but Taubes suggests that for some people, even complex carbs just aren't good for them.

The problem I see is that we use two extremely incomplete instruments: one is observations and correlations, showing for example that Swedes are healthier (Is it the fish in the diet???), and the other is reductionist science in the form of randomized controlled trials showing that at risk people on statins have fewer heart attacks than high risk people off them.

Our data on Vitamin D is also pretty crude so far: people with higher levels fare better. How did they get these levels? Sun exposure, genetics, something in the diet? We're just guessing. It seems prudent (with the flu season approaching) to take a little supplement, especially where winter is noticeable), but this is by no means well-understood.

Similarly with Atkins and Ornish - clearly, tweaking the diet is important. Some of Ornish's patients reversed their coronary lesions on a low-fat diet. So I would NOT say "little to no research" supporting a low-fat diet. Actually, what you need is a low-fat whole grain diet. Not that complicated to deduce this from the fact that both Ornish and Atkins have had success.

In the end, whole grains may be the most important (show me an average American that consumes half their wheat as bulghur or whole berries, and you can argue about how "carbs" aren't good for some people). Most people just don't consider whole carbs to be FOOD. And then of course, the nutritional content of wheat is altered by breeding and now by CO2 levels.

Here's another approach: eliminate (within reason) whatever is unnatural. This includes (in my mind) factory raised animals eating unnatural foods, food substances that really aren't food, that contain harmful chemicals (dyes, flavors, high fructose corn syrup, weird derivatives of fats), and most things made by people who don't necessarily wish you well (bakery goods with fake old-timey names, for example. Another approach is to eat a few meals from what you grow - you get a sense that the foods that are a lot of trouble (cheese, juice, bread, pasta, desserts) would naturally be limited in quantity - this is probably in the right direction.

One thing Ornish says I think will pan out, is that HDL is like a "garbage truck". Your level will rise to protect you, but not unless you actually need protecting. I'm not sure what WT eats, but in the case of the average American, it's factory farmed - i.e. Garbage.

To Old Farmer Mac: I realize that if you want to survive as a farmer, you can't ignore the tastes and preference of the average American, and I don't have a solution for that... I enthusiastically support my local CSA farmer in growing good quality food and hope there are enough Boulderites like me for her to thrive - so far, so good!!

Actually, what you need is a low-fat whole grain diet.

Agreed. Along with fresh vegetables & fruit. Diet low in fat and especially low in saturated fat. Brown rice, potatos, barley, whole wheat &/or whole rye bread & pasta, etc., as primary calorie sources. Very little, if any, meat; instead, beans. No sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. Skim milk or soy milk, unsweetened fruit juice, for beverages. This is how I eat. I'm in my mid 50s and am perfectly healthy. I can work many guys in their 30s into the ground. My weight is ideal. Beer is my only vice. I've studied biochemistry & physiology and go for wholesome whole foods, not fad diets.

Beer is my only vice

Reasons Why Beer is Better Than Religion

10. No one will kill you for not drinking Beer.

9. Beer doesn't tell you how to have sex.

8. Beer has never caused a major war.

7. They don't force Beer on minors who can't think for themselves.

6. When you have a Beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.

5. Nobody's ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured over his brand of Beer.

4. You don't have to wait 2000+ years for a second Beer.

3. There are laws saying Beer labels can't lie to you.

2. You can prove you have a Beer.

1. If you've devoted your life to Beer, there are groups to help you stop.

Beer, or the 'Nectar of the Gods', is excellent for the half-glass Peakoil Shoutout because:

1. Listen to the freshly-released bubbling [yet muffled] screams of long-dead yeast shouting from their graveyard, "Don't let your Little Blue Marble get worse than the Hellish habitat that we made for ourselves".

2. Crying in your Beer shows the futility of trying to refill it by any alternative method.

3. Consider during imbibing what Earthmarine-yeast could have done to roll back the clock on exponential growth rates. Recall Dr. David Suzuki's quote, "We are on a suicidal path....we are in the 59th minute...we need to start throwing our bodies into the fray".

Other thoughts on the Peakoil Shoutout?

The problem I see is that we use two extremely incomplete instruments: one is observations and correlations, showing for example that Swedes are healthier (Is it the fish in the diet???), and the other is reductionist science in the form of randomized controlled trials showing that at risk people on statins have fewer heart attacks than high risk people off them.

That is pretty much Taubes' main argument. You just cannot do the kind of research on humans that you could on molecules or mice.

Cross-cultural studies are a minefield; the ones supporting a low-fat diet were cherry-picked to exclude countries that didn't support the premise. Indeed, it's looking like what those studies actually showed was the caloric restriction effect. Poor people don't eat a lot of meat. They don't eat a lot, period.

Correlation is not causation, and with human nutrition, it's pretty hard to separate individual effects. Consumption of sugar and of calories in general tends to go up with meat and fat consumption, so how to tell which is the problem?

Some of Ornish's patients reversed their coronary lesions on a low-fat diet.

But did that actually prolong their lives?

So I would NOT say "little to no research" supporting a low-fat diet.

Actually, what Taubes claims is that there's so much contradictory research that in sum, it doesn't mean anything that could be considered scientific.

In the end, whole grains may be the most important (show me an average American that consumes half their wheat as bulghur or whole berries, and you can argue about how "carbs" aren't good for some people).

I suspect that eating grains is not particularly natural for humans. At least, not the extent most of us do today. It's not something stone age people ate a lot of.

Here's another approach: eliminate (within reason) whatever is unnatural.

Some people argue that that would be grains. Agriculture is a fairly recent development in human history, and for most of that time, too much food was never a problem.


The average working farmer is trapped within a system he did not create and cannot change,just like any other small businessman.

The system itself is not the creation of any cabal of big biz guys,although they are in control these days.It just created itself,as it were,because the methods work just fine so long as the inputs are available.

Low costs of production and the power of the supermarket chains and the advertising industry to convince people to eat crappy foods all perfectly suited to mass merchandising and value added processing created the system.

If a way can be found to convince the general public to buy the old time food at the old time prices-which were higher in real terms-every farmer I know would be glad to go back to the old days and the old ways,excepting the hand labor.

Only a very few people are willing to go out of thier way to get that kind of food,and finding real world customers for it is nearly impossible for the typical farmer.I'm happy for the few that can sell some home grown old time produce at retail for a premium but it's just not an option at this time for many growers.

A typical one horse grower around here might have ten thousand bushels of apples that have to go into cold storage or into a store somewhere over a period of six weeks.How many apples can you sell at a farmers market,retail?

There is a very nice one right on the interstate where it can catch a lot of tourist near here,and lots of locals too.In a good day maybe fifty to a hundred bushels of apples are sold there.

We have to sell by the truck load to stay in business.If ONE local grower could monopilize that market,he might be able to sell HALF of his crop there.

And we can't just go out and plant some of this and some of that,because the existing marketing system only BUYS in quantity,and the market is already oversupplied by volume growers.

I have followed this debate on The Oil Drum from time to time. If even complex carbs aren't good for some people, what are the recommendations (for those that espouse this view) for the division of carbs, fat, and protein among an individual's calories? I have read that breast milk (with some variability) calories are 52% fats, 40% carbs, and 8% protein. Are proponents of "carbs are bad" advocating calories from protein three times as high as a newborn? If so, are there any consequences from excessive protein? If the fat recommendation is greater than 52%, what about those consequences? You know, kidney problems, heart disease.

As an alternative, how about eating a lot of fiber? That fills you up pretty fast and satiates hunger.

Disclosure: I am vegetarian, although am considering eating a fish if I slay it.

I don't think we know the answers to these questions, and the answers for one person might not be the same for someone else. This is really what Taubes is writing about. Read his book, and you will be astounded at how thin the evidence is for what we all thought was "proven" scientific knowledge on nutrition. It's mind-boggling. But much of the early research was done by doctors, not by scientists. They didn't really know how to design truly scientific experiments, and they were so eager to help people that they got way ahead of the evidence.

There are cultures that lived off mostly fat (Inuit) or protein (Masai). That suggests that eating a lot of fat or protein won't necessarily kill your kidneys or heart.

In fact, Taubes argues that fat, even saturated fat, is not bad for your heart. Or at least, there's no proof of it. He thinks it's refined carbs that cause heart disease, not fat. (And the American Heart Association is slowly coming around on this.)

The whole cholesterol causes heart attacks model may be faulty. Some people have a genetic defect that causes high cholesterol and early heart attacks, but that doesn't necessarily mean that cholesterol causes heart attacks in normal people. Correlation is not causation. Taubes points to studies that found that high cholesterol was not associated with heart disease, but low cholesterol was associated with cancer. This was seen as so unexpected that the results were assumed to be faulty and ignored...even when the study was very large and well-designed.

I don't remember too much about what Taubes said on fiber. Certainly, complex carbs are better than refined carbs. However, he says that the scientific evidence doesn't support the fiber preventing colon cancer thing.

I don't think we know the answers to these questions, and the answers for one person might not be the same for someone else.

And the 'answers' by the 'professionals' depends on what/when the professional was taught.

My mother when she was in nursing school was taught that 'vitamins just make for expensive urine'. Scoffed at me for taking 'em. 20 years later (and via different indoctrination) she's asking me what to take/telling me what should be taken.

Taubes was great reading. I also ran into an interesting book a few weeks ago pointing to sugar and HFCS as a major culprit -- The Sugar Fix by Richard Johnson MD, who argues that metabolic syndrome (the big 5 - CV disease, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, obesity) is largely due to overconsumption of fructose from both table sugar and HFCS. Johnson suggests there is evidence that fructose inhibits satiation response, lowers HDL, and does something to the way fats are stored in cells. He doesn't go as far as Taubes' vindication of saturated fat, but there's a thing or two worth reading here.

We've been avoiding HFCS for two years now - it's amazing how ubiquitous this "Frankensyrup" is in American processed foods. But our sugar use as a whole is astounding. Did you know the average American consumes a half pound of sugar every day? That's around 1000 Kcal. I don't think any other culture comes close.

Humans are great apes-as a starting point, our diet would be very similar to what they feed the gorillas or chimps at the zoo. IMO most people know what they should eat, they just don't care-which is understandable.

Disagree. We're closely related, but different species. I suspect our "natural" environments are different, and hence, so are our natural diets.

Chimps are omnivores. And it appears they eat a lot more meat than originally thought.

Bonobos are fruit-eaters.

Gorillas are folivores - they eat leaves that we cannot even digest.

Yes, but if humans were kept in a zoo you wouldn't be feeding them high fructose corn syrup or McDonalds fare or nitrate loaded hot dogs or cookies, etc. IMO most people know what to eat, they just don't care.

Our tooth structure and long intestines seem, to me, to suggest maybe a little meat eating but mostly plant-based. I will eschew the bowl of sugar I was going to have for dinner tonight.

I wonder about excessive protein. I'll look up the Masai and their intake. I read the Governor Schwarzengger (in body building days), although no expert, recommended 1 g of protein per day for 1 kg of body weight. So a 75 kg (165 lb) person intakes 75 g of protein. At 4 calories/gram, that's 300 calories. For a 2000 calorie diet, only 15% of calories from protein. Unless you eat almost exclusively refined carbs, you'll get there--although intake of different amino acids is another issue. The debate continues...

We don't have long intestines. Our intestines are medium - not short, not long. Typical of an omnivore, as is our tooth structure.

Though some human societies have lived almost exclusively off animal foods, I don't think anyone's suggesting that we all do that. Taubes says we need more research, but he thinks eating lots of non-starchy vegetables is probably very healthy for everyone.

I dunno that I'd take Governor Schwarzengger's nutrition advice. Most of us aren't body-builders, even if he's right.

You are smart to focus "substitution" - that is, what we eat instead if we cut back on fat, or carbs, or whatever. Taubes points to that as something many researchers overlook. It may not be that protein and fat are good for us, but that refined carbs are bad. And if you eat less protein and fat, you end up eating more carbs by default.

There was a recent large study that found women who ate the most complex carbs lived longest. Proof that carbs are good for you? Not necessarily. It might just be that complex carbs are less bad than refined carbs. The study also found that women who ate processed meat lived longer than those who didn't. I doubt anyone thinks processed meat is good for you. But maybe it's "less bad" than Twinkies and Chips Ahoy. If you eat one thing, it pushes something else out of your diet.

I think the bottom line is that if you cut back on the percentage of your diet that is from carbs, and the percentage that is from fats, and the percentage that is from protein, you should be fine.


A friend of ours was diagnosed with severe gout in both feet. He was in hospital for three weeks and at home for a month. He'd been unable to walk without weakness and pain in both legs and had been declared handicapped. Fortunately, he finally saw a new physician who told him to stop taking Lipitor immediately, as that was the probable cause of his problems. He got off the drug, which he'd had been taking for fifteen years, and within a week the pain was gone and he was walking again. He declares, "No more statin drugs for me!"

Excellent Discover Magazine article to send your friend:


There is always a risk any time you are dealing with a quack (physician). I was in Hawaii a couple years ago-got a rash after swimming-the doctor diagnosed shingles and wanted me to take prednisone (which I have seen mess up people real good). I went to another guy who properly diagnosed swimmer's itch, which went away relatively quickly. Thank God for Google-these guys do their best but usually it isn't much.

BTW, the statin discussion is on Page 4 of the Discover Magazine article. My favorite quote:

You can lower cholesterol levels with a drug, yet provide no health benefits whatsoever,” Abramson says. “And dying with a corrected cholesterol level is not a successful outcome in my book.”

I believe that Vytorin did a great job at lowering LDL's, but I believe that the cancer rate among patients on Vytorin was something like two-thirds higher than the control group:


Lowering cholesterol to the absurdly low Vytorin-induced levels in this study cripples the natural production of selenoproteins and isoprenoids – key natural defense mechanisms against cancer.  These are generalized cancer defense mechanisms, so of course any type of cancer could manifest based on an individual’s potential weaknesses.

Which brings me back to my original question. Is anyone aware of any work correlating low LDL levels with reduced Vitamin D levels?

Found something else, but unfortunately, he is basically asking the same question I am:

Vitamin D Deficiency: Do Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs Inhibit Vitamin D Synthesis? (5/06)
by Chris Masterjohn

Researchers know that vitamin D synthesis declines with age -- and so does the concentration of 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin. Without 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin, sunlight has nothing to turn into vitamin D. The researchers consider it likely, then, that the decreased synthesis of 7-dehydrocholesterol is responsible for the decreased synthesis of vitamin D that comes with age.2 It follows then, that the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, or HMG CoA reductase-inhibitors, which inhibit the synthesis of 7-dehydrocholesterol, also inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D.

As of May 25, 2006, there are no studies indexed for Medline that tested the effect of statins on vitamin D levels for longer than three months, and only one, single study out of three that tested the effect of statins on vitamin D levels for longer than one month -- conducted a whopping fifteen years ago. The small handful of short-term studies found no effect.13

By contrast, researchers who showed that statins induce dramatic deficiencies of coenzyme Q10 in humans first retested coenzyme Q10 levels after six months of administering the statin. They further found that coenzyme Q10 levels kept decreasing over time for over 18 months before settling.14 We would expect statins to take even longer to cause a drop in vitamin D levels, because, whereas coenzyme Q10 is measured directly in the blood, the 7-dehydrocholesterol takes time to migrate to the surface of the skin and accumulate there. So what is the effect of statins on vitamin D levels one year down the road? Two years? Five? Ten?

The truth is we have no idea, because no one has bothered to study it.

Wow! I have been reading all this information about levels of various different types of fats and Carbs. It is my humble opinion that way too much energy is wasted worrying about death and dying, let's face it this IS what all this is about! Life is, get over it! eat well grow some food in your back garden, new potatoes out of the ground, what a delight. Beer thats good! I have to agree with that. I live in a passive solar house that I designed and built with my own hands, I spent a hour or so today chopping wood for next year and some for this year, to supplement the sun. I have some aches and pains, it is part of getting older, it is the nature of humanity to get older and then we die. Enjoy the journey whatever that journey is. In the words of a famous singer "dont worry be happy"
Cheers Mike

"Is anyone aware of any work correlating low LDL levels with reduced Vitamin D levels? "
No, but since cholesterol is the precursor to vitamin D I would have thought there was a good link:-) It's almost impossible to overdose on Vitamin D from sunshine.

People who take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol as much as possible may have a higher risk of cancer, according to a meta-analysis of over 41,000 patient records from 23 statin drug trials. Journal of the American College of Cardiology July 31, 2007; 50:409-418

Unless you have a fairly rare genetic makeup your cholesterol should be fine if you exercise regularly, cut out sugar (including as much processed food as possible which often contains lots of sugar {corn syrup} and salt), take a high-quality source of omega-3 fats and cut out trans fats. i know this is almost un-american.

It's amazing how things that should be patently obvious can escape you. Vitamin D is produced in the skin from a form of cholesterol. Therefore the statement "It follows then, the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, or HMG CoA reductase-inhibitors, which inhibit the synthesis of 7-dehydrocholesterol, also inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D." is sort of stating the obvious. If you believe as I do that a fairly high level of vitamin D in the body is necessary for optimum immune system performance then, in the case of statins, you could be expected to conclude that, the cure may be worse than the disease. Considering the profitability of the statin business, I wouldn't expect to see any more studies showing that people who take statins for an extended period show reduced immune system performance and are more likely to develop other illnesses such as cancer.

Westexas, you might find the musing of Bill Sardi interesting. He used to have his own website with tons of links to resources on all sorts of stuff but, it's bee replaced with a page that links to a site that sells his books. Fortunately, a lot of his stuff is archived at lewrockwell.com. Since this discussion is about cholesterol and most people associate high cholesterol with heart problems, you might find the article "How Much Longer Can Modern Medicine Ignore Evidence That Vitamin C Prevents Heart and Blood Vessel Disease?" particularly interesting. Warning, in general Bill Sardi tends to imply (if not stating outright) that vested interests are suppressing information about alternatives to pharmaceuticals and in some cases accuses them of spreading misinformation. Now....Where else have I heard this kind of stuff?

Alan from the islands


"the PPI reported yesterday recorded crude good price contraction of 44.8% annualized and intermediate goods at the PPI level recorded a 15.1% decrease - all records on a 2008 to 2009 basis."

This is cherry picked data. Last year this time was the peak of the commodity bubble. Oil was peaking around $140 and corn around $7. Markets generally fall faster than they rise. When the commodity bubble popped in would be normal for prices to fall by half.

What is not normal is that oil is back up to around $70 in the mist of supposedly the greatest recession since the Depression. And corn is still trading over $3 despite a bumper crop on the way. Also soybeans are still over $9 which is usually considered a high price.
And sugar recently made a 28 year high.

I see very little evidence of deflation in my every day experiences which I trust more than cherry picked or otherwise manipulated data.

The long term trend in prices is still up.

I see very little evidence of deflation in my every day experiences

What about real estate deflation?

Average real estate prices began to rise, while median real estate prices continued to fall. This means there are more houses in the cheap category than before. The number of deliquent loans has continued to rise. There are potential problems with Alt-A (non-agency) and Option ARM-5yr loans looming.

One thing that rose was the S&P 500 PE average recorded at over 140 on July 31, 2009 (ttm including companies with negative earnings):

S&P 500 Fact Sheet (may need to register to access some S&P 500 website pages)

Other statisticians used operating earnings not including companies showing losses, ten year average earnings, etc. when showing S&P 500 market average PE ratio data.

According to the Sperling's website, home prices where I live have appreciated .7% over the past year. Not much of an increase compared to years past but still positive.

@ Frugal,

My long term view is - deflation in the things we want e.g. SUV, granite countertop, and inflation in the things we need e.g. cereal and gasoline


If you haven't read this discussion between Stoneleigh of TAE and Aaron of The Mortgage Implode-O-Meter, it's worth a look.

Inflation is an increase in the supply of money AND CREDIT relative to available goods and services, and deflation is the opposite. The contraction of credit, as credit loses 'moneyness', is a contraction of the effective money supply relative to available goods and services, which is deflation. Inflation and deflation are always and everywhere monetary phenomena. There is no difference between debt deflation and monetary deflation.

Price collapses will in no way be limited to financialized assets, although these should suffer greater losses than material goods. Illiquid securities could go to zero for instance, while oil certainly will not, but the price of oil nevertheless has further to go to the downside than we have seen so far as a result of the coming demand destruction. One would not expect price movements to be equal for different goods, services or financialized assets, but one would expect deflation to decrease price support across the board. Other price drivers, in one direction or the other, in combination with the effects of deflation, will determine the net effect on prices for each item.

Thank you for the link. From time to time I have run across these informative pieces on various sites e.g. Minyanville and Denninger. To clarify I guess, my point of view is that of a layman i.e. one sees the price of goods and services relative to his income.


Thank you, Leanan, for posting this simple truth yet again. Let's see if it sinks in this time:
Inflation/deflation are descriptions of the money supply, period.
Prices are merely an indicator - a lagging indicator - of the changes in money supply.
And of course, DEBT = MONEY.

Another post from Denninger:

So what is it that these big primary dealers see happening (or more importantly, have been told and thus know will happen) in the next two months that leads them to think parking $22 billion of money with Treasury at zero interest will provide them with the best possible return on their investment? Oh, and they bid for nearly 5x as many bonds as were sold too.....

I know, I know, its "a new bull market", and you should buy stocks, right? We're going to the mooooooon!

Care to re-examine that thesis given that these huge banks, all of whom make a lot of money trading equities (and commodities) are falling all over themselves to park their money with Treasury at zero interest for the next two months?


Buying groceries is just more expensive now. It used to be a rather trivial sum, the same as a round trip bus fare to work---about 10 dollars for a few people.

It is no longer trivial. It is 30 to 40 dollars, including some nice fruit for dessert.

As for meat, we`re eating FAR LESS. It is really possible to cut the amount of meat in a diet way down. (I eat almost none anyway but others in family like it). I have to tell them "no more meat! eat your rice!"

So no more new clothes! Only the "deflation" specials. Clothes have become very cheap in some cases as shops struggle to stay open and maintain cash flow.

I wanted to buy a new bicycle but it`s getting harder to see that becoming a reality.

Tainter explains that as energy becomes more scare, the proportion of the economy devoted to food production goes up. Definitely. I`m working almost all the time (PT job) just to pay for FOOD. Luckily a few years ago I did buy some long-lasting items (a pair of shoes, my watch) that are now not needing replacement. I couldn`t afford to replace them anyway now.

"I wanted to buy a new bicycle but it`s getting harder to see that becoming a reality."

Did you want to buy a new bicycle because the old one was worn out(tough to do to a bicycle) or because the new bicycles are "better"? I have recently picked up nine bicycles from the local landfill(transfer station) one of them a perfectly good feather light touring one.

Bikes will be in demand down the road mark my words especially when the "walmarts" of the world no longer can import them. because of shipping costs.


Good bicycles cost a lot of money. In the UK think $1000 for something to last 10 years. That said, you can spend $1000 that will fall apart next year, and pick up a bike from the tip with years of useful life in it (after spending $50 fixing it up)

In the last 15 years I have spent almost as much buying bicycles for me and my family as I have buying cars.

Denninger is just a daily dose of sunshine, isn't he? ;-) Unfortunately I find myself agreeing with him! His rant on 2nd amendment rights yesterday surprised me though.

so what did he say about the second-briefly?

Looks like some whacky numbers from the EIA weekly. Refinery utilization at 84% and gasoline inventories down -2.1 mb.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending August 14, 2009

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.5 million barrels per day during
the week ending August 14, 139 thousand barrels per day above the previous
week's average. Refineries operated at 84.0 percent of their operable capacity
last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 8.9 million
barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 3.8
million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.1 million barrels per day last week, down 1.4
million barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude
oil imports have averaged 9.2 million barrels per day, 968 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 942 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 179
thousand barrels per day last week.

EIA weekly

Strange indeed, crude imports were down about 1.2 Mb/day for the week, neatly matching the 8Mb drop in crude stocks. But demand is up? No particularly bad weather in the GOM. I wonder whats up...

Crude oil imports were down 1.417 mb/d or 9.9 million barrels for the entire week. That is a 1.5 million barrel further drop than stocks dropped. But that is nothing to get excited about because we often see such fluctuations form week to week. You have to look at several weeks to get any kind of trend.

One place that I have noticed a trend is in US crude oil production. The 10 week moving average of US production is down 219 thousand barrels per day since it peaked back in April. Looks like depletion has overtaken all those new megaprojects in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ron P.

U.S. oil imports drop as more crude stored at sea

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A steep premium for long-dated crude oil futures has temporarily prompted traders to park more barrels off the U.S. Gulf Coast, spurring a dramatic drop in U.S. imports last week.

U.S. crude imports fell by more than 1.4 million barrels per day in the week through Aug. 14 to 8.11 million bpd, their lowest level in more than 11 months, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy released on Wednesday.

The discount for prompt barrels of U.S. benchmark crude West Texas Intermediate against later months, a market structure called a contango, has created an incentive for refiners to draw down plump inventories while traders sought to keep oil out of physical markets in anticipation of prices rising later.

Oil prices jump on surprise draw of crude

Oil prices jumped above $71 a barrel Wednesday after the government reported a huge draw of crude oil from U.S. stockpiles.

The report was surprising because the demand for energy has been knocked down so badly by the recession, and storage levels have been on the rise.

Benchmark crude for September delivery added $2.43 to $71.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract ends Thursday. Most of the trading already shifted to the October contract, which climbed $2.16 to $73.25.

That led to a pretty fast jump in oil markets. This shows that a LOT of traders seem to be clued into how thin a supply/demand margin we are living off of.

This Friday, Nova Scotia Power will be holding its third Customer Energy Forum. Past forums have been instrumental in moving this utility in a whole new direction, one that places far greater emphasis on energy conservation and renewables. I've been extremely critical of NSP and its policies in the past, but I've seen this organization re-invent itself in ways I never thought possible. There's still much work to be done and there have been some missteps along the way (e.g., the recent proposal to slash and burn provincial forests to generate electricity), but I'm truly proud of what has been accomplished to date. So onward we go.

See: http://www.nspower.ca/site-nsp/media/nspower/NSPI_CustomerEnergyForumBoo... (PDF format)

Best hopes for smarter strategies and no more coal-fired power plants !


OT, but I note that the latest forecast for Bill shows a storm track zinging by Nova Scotia late in the weekend, still at hurricane strength. Good luck to you on Sunday - I hope the real action stays safely off shore.


Hi StClair,

Thanks; me too! Having taken a direct hit from Hurricane Juan in 2003 (Cat 2) and then being battered and bruised by Noel in 2007 and Kyle in 2008, it's a tad unnerving. However, with each new update, the projected paths are continuing to shift eastward, so that's a good sign (unfortunately, our neighbours in Newfoundland may not be so lucky).

For now, all we can do is watch and wait. At this point, both vehicles have full tanks; I've topped up the jerry cans and tested the generator; the main propane tank is at the three-quarter mark and the smaller BBQ size tanks are full; and there are plenty of candles, batteries, tin goods and ready to serve meals in the cupboards. If there's reason for concern as Bill draws closer (and I don't anticipate there will be), then I'll start filling jugs with drinking water, freeze large blocks of ice, move the patio furniture into the garage and do all the other last minute stuff.


Well, again, a lot can change over the next 24 to 48 hours, but in this most recent refresh, the projected paths of Hurricane Bill have shifted it closer to Halifax and not further away. That's definitely a break from past updates that up to now had Bill moving progressively eastward and further out to sea.

Click on the Forecast Models option of http://www.examiner.com/x-11224-Baltimore-Weather-Examiner~y2009m5d28-In... for more details.


Here's one of the last visible images of the day (always a good time because of the sun angle). I've brightened it and added a bit of colour and contrast to the image to highlight features.

Holly crapolla! That's one mean looking SOB!

Thanks for sharing that with us, Undertow... I better go through my checklist again before I lose all my finger nails. =:O


Before the models shifted back westwards a little, one of the models a day or so ago had it missing all land until it hit Scotland at Cat 1. However the experts say the jet-stream would tear it apart and it would be well below Cat 1 in reality before it hit the UK. Still amusing to see the track come pretty much over my house - never seen a hurricane do that on a model track before. Hope it misses you.

Thanks, Undertow. I better tell my step-mom who lives in northern Wales that she might expect some company!

Our street hugs the shoreline and Hurricane Juan kicked us where it hurts. Friends who live further down from us had this boat and part of a wharf smash through their living room (window and wall). [There's a second boat that landed next door and others that came to rest at various points around the cove.] We were largely sheltered by a large rock face directly behind us, so we lost just over a dozen trees on our property but, thankfully, none hit the house.


Since more people are using canvas bags for groceries, there isn't enough for Cocoa exports? This potential blowback from PO was not on my radar.

Nigeria Cocoa Exports May Fall on ’Massive’ Jute-Bag Shortage

If Nigeria, the world’s fourth-biggest producer of cocoa, fails to procure food-grade jute bags for cocoa-bean exports, farmers could be forced to “lay hands on what is have readily available -- old or infested bags,” which may see the beans being rejected, said Ebai.

Buffett: We're Going to Be Crushed Under Mountain of Debt


Wheat gets worse as CO2 rises

You may have thought that the silver lining of rising carbon dioxide levels would be a boost in crop yields. But evidence is mounting that we may trade quantity for quality.

The discovery that staple crops like wheat have less protein when grown in high concentrations of CO2 has already caused concern, but the bad news doesn't stop there.

Ramping up CO2 also changes the balance of amino acids and several trace elements, says Petra Högy from the University of Hohenheim in Germany.

The poor nutritional value of our industrially produced foods is already a hidden health threat and there seems to be no end in sight to its degradation. I wonder what the real nutritional quality is of food grown in greenhouses with additional CO2 pumped in to create lush growth?

...our industrially produced foods is already a hidden health threat..."

It's not hidden. By law they now have to publish nutrition information. What good does this do for an illiterate population?

Jack In the Box favorites menu:
Size (g)/Calories per Serving/ Calories from Fat/ Total Fat/ Saturated Fat/ Sodium/
Potassium (mg)Dietary Fiber (g) Sugars (g)

Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger 315 980 600 67 27 3 135 1880 490 52 2 11 43
Big Cheeseburger 213 650 360 40 15 1.5 70 1170 280 50 2 9 24
Hamburger 106 280 100 12 4.5 0.5 30 540 210 29 1 5 14
Hamburger (with cheese) 118 320 140 15 7 1 45 730 230 30 1 5 16
Hamburger Deluxe (with cheese) 180 430 230 25 10 1 65 920 320 33 2 7 19
Jumbo Jack® 249 580 300 33 11 1 50 920 350 51 2 10 20
Jumbo Jack® – bunless 147 230 180 19 9 1 40 270 250 2 1 2 12
Jumbo Jack® – no sauce 239 470 210 23 10 1 40 790 320 47 2 8 20
Jumbo Jack® (with cheese) 274 670 360 40 15 1.5 75 1290 380 53 2 11 24
Junior Bacon Cheeseburger 122 400 210 23 8 1 55 800 240 30 1 6 18
Sirloin Cheeseburger 381 950 540 60 19 2 145 1920 660 61 4 10 41
Sirloin Cheeseburger (with bacon) 392 1010 580 65 20 2 155 2270 710 62 4 11 46
Sirloin Swiss & Grilled Onions Burger 380 930 530 59 18 2 140 1880 650 60 4 10 42
Sirloin Swiss & Grilled Onions Burger (with bacon) 392 990 570 64 20 2 150 2230 700 61 4 10 47
Sourdough Steak Melt 228 650 360 40 14 2 95 1500 420 34 3 4 37
Sourdough Jack® 228 680 410 46 17 1.5 75 1200 390 41 2 6 26
Ultimate Cheeseburger 304 920 560 63 26 2.5 120 1530 440 52 2 11 38

In America It's what's for Dinner.


I've read about these studies before. It's your typical disgusting transparently obvious intellect-insulting bankster pro-carbon-tax propaganda.

Increased CO2 causes an increase in starch and fiber components, leaving the protein component (as a %) reduced. There isnt really anything wrong with this. The total protein content, per acre of cropland, is not decreasing. All CO2 breathing plants will see decreased percentage of protein as you increase the CO2 levels, because the increased CO2 yields more biomass. The actual amount of protein produced does not decrease. The total amount of biomass is increased, but the amount of protein produced is dependent on other factors (fertilizer, water, and genetics) rather than CO2.

Increased biomass density per acre is a good thing! And they offer no evidence that protein content, per acre, decreases in a higher-CO2 environment. The propagandists (who think you're retarded) try to spin it into sounding like a bad thing so they can convince you to accept a tax on breathing.

Who are you working for Iconoclast? If you think your spin is not blatantly obvious, you must think we're all retarded.

What blows my buffer is how effortlessly the AGW deniers are able to morph from "it isn't happening" through "it's not anthropogenic" to settle finally on "it's a good thing."

"All CO2 breathing plants will see decreased percentage of protein as you increase the CO2 levels, because the increased CO2 yields more biomass"

The problem with increasingly lower nutritional value per unit of food is that to maintain healthy levels of nutrients a person needs to consume ever more food (plus calories). Hardly surprising we have an epidemic of obesity, the lower the nutritional value of the food the more of it we must eat.

Ah! But that's good! Yield per acre goes up (the metric that = good, no questions asked), more volume in the system means more economic activity, higher sales growth and a bonus of poor health to be treated by the medical establishment. If we take the planet's ecosystems and humans out of the equation then there is nothing but good that can come from higher CO2 concentrations.

Yup! Win-win situation.

Amish see the recession as a challenge and a blessing

An estimated 53 percent of the area’s Amish men under age 65 were working in factories as of 2002, according to Steven Nolt and Thomas J. Meyers, academics at nearby Goshen College who have written extensively about the Amish.

Now, a severe downturn in the RV industry has pushed hundreds of Amish people out of the factories, forcing some to pursue more traditional — but often less lucrative — work such as baking, woodworking, making jam and selling homegrown produce.

Of course, Amish businesses aren't immune to the downturn.

The drop in both home-based and factory work also has been hard for many Amish families, who like many other Americans are struggling to pay their mortgages, feed their children and provide for basic needs amid the worst recession in decades.

Some in this northern Indiana community, one of the nation’s largest Amish settlements, have even accepted unemployment benefits, a big step for a sect that traditionally has shunned public benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The Amish community also has a tradition of helping each other with medical and other expenses, but that can be a challenge when so many families are struggling at once.

Some in this northern Indiana community, one of the nation’s largest Amish settlements, have even accepted unemployment benefits, a big step for a sect that traditionally has shunned public benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Their big mistake was not recognizing that the factory jobs were public benefit programs in disguise. They probably have some idea that the public benefit programs are really around to allow the rich to get richer.

Why bother not being plugged in at home if you are going to be plugged in at work? I suppose they are better prepared than most for hard times, but those who didn't become dependent on factory work will likely suffer less.

The Amish certainly seem to have been seduced by the Devil's work. They also seem to have a liking for his mutated seed too (GMO's) :(

I guess it just goes to show how totalitarian our economic system really is, everyone has to participate in it, no one has any choice. In the free-world no one is free.

The problem the Amish are facing is that their way of life is not sustainable. Notably, because of their large family sizes. If you have eight kids, you cannot divide the farm among them - at least not for more than a generation or two. That is why more than half the Amish worked in factories. There simply wasn't enough farmland for them all.

With the housing market collapsing, that may free up more farmland, but in the long run, they can't continue to have so many kids while preserving their traditional way of life.

Dear Leanan

You are quite right about the unsustainable high birthrate in the Amish and Mennonites communities. Many Mennonites now use birth control although it is not discussed openly. Most of the Russian-origin Mennonites do as they ran out of land in Russia which led to social problems which are remembered. Old Colony types, both Amish and Mennonite, tend not to and have a real problem of not enough land. For a long time the excess population was absorbed by taking over indigenous land in Canada, the US, Paraguay, Mexico, with the okay of oppressive governments. I have earned popularity points within the Mennonite community by pointing this out ;^). This is done much less now as people seek work outside the community among the English.

Yes, there used to be ways of dealing with the problem. Not allowing a man to marry unless he had a farm that could support a family. Primogeniture, where the oldest son gets everything and the others have to become priests or nuns or join the army. Now, that seems horribly unfair.

But can they (at least the ones who eschew tractors and such) preserve their traditional way of life without having lots of kids?

It seems to me that the sheer physicality and sheer non-productivity (with respect to labor input) of 18th-century draft-animal farming makes it a young man's game, and one generating little surplus. The thing is, that's now maladaptive, with the times having changed drastically since the 18th century.

If you seek employment at a labor exchange in a place like the Philippines or Indonesia, you can expect to be shunted aside summarily if your ID says you're 50 or older. Why bother, when the hard-labor career is typically done for well before 50. And these days, the over-50 population is enormous almost everywhere, save for obscenely mismanaged places like Zimbabwe. But that population was tiny (with the really frail portion essentially nonexistent) in the 18th century, making it just possible for it to squeak by on the minimal surpluses of the day.

Maybe a normative 21st century population - much less a hypothetical population that's fully stable and therefore older still - simply can't support itself by living in the 18th century. Except, perhaps, temporarily, and then only with generous 21st-century subsidies. After all, the Amish are well-subsidized indirectly, in the sense that they can play around at 18th century life and yet be bailed out as needed by 21st century medicine (as in your 18th-century career at hard labor will be kaput for ever, should an untreated infection weaken your heart), transportation (as in you may well starve to death from persistent regional crop failure with only 18th-century freight transportation), and other technology.

Maybe those West-European TOD commenters who scorn fatuous American-style frontier-mythology-driven fantasies of survivalism in the outer asteroid belts of the boondocks are on to something. (Though the utter lack of anything North Americans would understand as boondocks might help in a perverse way to keep them grounded in reality.)

I just have to say that draft horse technology did not stop at the 18th Century. Horses were virtually all we had for agricultural motive power until the early 20th Century, and the tech developed all through the 19th Century - you'd be amazed. Look at the Amish, for that matter.

As far as the physicality, the hard part is getting the team harnessed, unharnessed, groomed, fed, watered, shod, etc. When I worked with my horse (mostly logging), the actual "work" part seemed a nice break from all that work!

I wonder what that 40-tonne Siberian "oil" slick is composed of - pure PCB's? I'd expect nothing less from a Russian facility.

I just came across the most amazing chart. It shows the budget deficit expanding three fold in one year and six or seven times in the last two years. This is scary.

Why Budget Deficits Matter: Government at a $1.26 Trillion Budget Deficit for the 2009 Fiscal Year. Three Times as Large as Last Year and we still have Two More Months of Data.


This is my first time to post an image. Hope it works. It looked great in "Preview" mode.

Ron P.

Hi Ron

Looks good! I mean, looks really bad! I mean, you know what I mean, right?

What will it be? Inflation or deflation? Damned if we do, damned if we don't? Oil at $10 or $100?

I like the idea of a gallery of charts like this one. In addition to this, we could show oil prices, natural gas prices, co2 concentrations, faunal extinctions, home prices, foreclosures the list could go on, I bet. Title it: 'World Out of Balance'.

Oil at $10 or $100?

Speculators are storing ever more oil in tankers - now they are storing oil in open water 12 miles offshore the UK in the southern North Sea - so I guess they think the price of oil is going up, as of today they are correct, Brent is up almost 6% today, sure beats US government bonds! :-)


Looks like more and more of the VOCC storage is in finished product rather than crude:

While crude sea storage has declined from its peak earlier this year, clean products are floating out there is ever larger amounts.

Re: Stray voltage drains Hydro budget

For as far back as I can recall, Toronto Hydro has been under enormous political pressure to minimize capital spending in an effort to keep electricity rates low. As a result, its distribution system is old, shaky and grossly inefficient (e.g., some overhead services operate at just 4.16 kV). Now, as everything teeters on the edge of collapse, the utility faces an expensive and time-consuming task to bring it up to present standards.

What's listed here is just one step on the long road that lies ahead. Ratepayers are going to be in for another nasty "shock" soon enough.

See: http://www.torontohydro.com/electricsystem/projectrebuild/project_rebuil...


It seems like most of the 1billion cost is to replace poorly designed underground cables. Next to the 20Billion planned nuclear reactor program that was canceled 1Billion is small change. ONT should buy in clean and green hydro from MAN and QUE and expand wind power.

Hi Neil,

That billion dollars covers the complementary bread sticks and our glass of water; we haven't even ordered our drinks, let alone the appetizer, main course and desert. We're talking many years of chronic underinvestment.


U.S. Commercial Property Values Fall as Rent Declines Forecast


CNN - "Why oil won't return to triple digits
Worries about hurricane season, the pace of economic recovery and a volatile stock market will keep prices in check."

Funny that they should publish this article on the day oil went up $3.23 to $72.42/barrel.
If anything, oil will go up if a hurricane hits the US gulf coast.

Who will guess when we will see oil over $100 per barrel?

@ nowhere,

For the last seven months or so, since I've been observing and most here too, WTI price has been tracking the greater stock market. Like you said, hurricanes are a big factor in the short term. I think for awhile yet, oil prices will continue to track stocks whether it be up or down. I also believe that it will deviate from stocks at some point when ELM (Foucher and Brown) is the de facto driving force (perhaps the only force determining price in the future).


Well I would say we'll go to $90 per barrel consistently (with excursions over $100) as soon as oil sands and deepwater become major sources of incremental supply (per the story linked in DB up top). I give it about 2 years. US consumers will be stretched to the point of breaking, yet these suppliers and their associated refiners will say (not untruthfully) that their margins suck.

In the same story, I liked this quote from an IHS CERA Analyst:

"It's likely that demand may actually have peaked in the United States,"

Old CERA: 'Peak Oil is garbage' New CERA: 'Peak Oil Demand, now that may not be garbage....'

I predict that the Saudis will continue to argue that they are meeting current demand, via a long term decline in their net oil exports, as oil prices rise. I have frequently explained that the Texas Railroad Commission has similarly cut Texas oil production for 37 years, because of a lack of demand for Texas oil.

Hello WT,

Agreed. I would also like OPEC to explain why they are becoming increasingly enamored of their ongoing research into trying to convert their tarmats into a production flowrate.

A simple explanation for newbies, or for those with no oil-patch experience like me:

Tarmat Layer Geo-mechanical Behavior under Producing Oilfield
By Mohammed AlAbbad
Obviously, OPEC could save lots of money if they can find ways to enhance natural water drive as opposed to energetically pumping processed seawater from afar. Other speculative concepts for exploiting the top, middle, or bottom tarmat layers were briefly detailed by me in an earlier posting.

My guess [maybe wrong] is that OPEC tarmats contain much more FF-energy/cubic meter than North American [NA] tarsands, shales, or NA marlrock. Yet, NA is going whole hog to get the Barnett and other areas going by MRCs and fracing to just get natgas. OPEC, if they can get their tech developed: might get BOTH crude and natgas from their very thick tarmats plus enhanced super-K sealing and better overall water-drive for the total reservoir payzone and the bypassed areas of the initial reservoir sweep.

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

Some more random thoughts on possible OPEC tarmat exploitation:

1. I hope this becomes an exploratory topic for ASPO's topdogs. Could Simmons, Kjell, and/or Dave Cohen + others flog this dog this upcoming October in Denver?

IMO, it would be fascinating to read some expert analysis and comment here on TOD afterwards. Could TopTODers F_F, Euan, Rockman, WT, PluckyUnderdog, JoulesBurn, Elwoodelmore, GaryP, and Peakoil's Rockdoc weigh in their thoughts on why OPEC is heading for the barrel dregs?

2. Recall Gail's keypost on steam extraction in the Cali Kern oilfield. Would it be cost effective for ARAMCO to drill down real deep below Ghawar to release super-hot geo-thermal flows for powering super-heated natural saltwater aquifer drive plus injecting huge amounts of highly chem-reactive exothermic sulphur for asphaltene chem-transformation and mobility? Can Khuff reservoir [far below the ARAB-D payzone] be further leveraged into this speculation? Recall in a prior posting that there are 31 pages of possible sulfur chem-compounds.

3. Recall the previous discussion on Ghawar's Shedgum leak area. What water-cut savings could be derived if tarmat migration could be induced to plug these super-K fractures? Uthmaniyah [UTMH] has dual fractured ridgelines in the overall anticline plus a problematic area in the SE portion of UTMH [Recall Voelker 594-page PDF Motherlode]--could tarmat sealing of super-Ks help sweep efficiency? If Simmons is correct: the tarmat is 500 feet thick, 85 miles long, and 10-15 miles wide beneath UTMN.

..Asphaltenes are today widely recognised as soluble, chemically altered fragments of kerogen which migrated out of the source rock for the oil, during oil catagenesis. Asphaltenes had been thought to be held in solution in oil by resins (similar structure and chemistry, but smaller) but recent data shows this is incorrect.

Indeed it has recently been suggested that asphaltenes are nanocolloidally suspended in crude oil and in toluene solutions of sufficient concentrations. In any event for low surface tension liquids such as alkanes and toluene, surfactants are not necessary to maintain nanocolloidal suspensions of asphaltenes.
Thus one could argue that, due to the extreme subterranean pressure and heat, that OPEC tarmats are already naturally chem-processed. Compare to Colorado marl or Alberta tarsands that need much human-directed surface processing to reach this chemical state.

From 2005 [but it seems to address some of the issues I have raised in the postings above]:

Successful Treatment to Enhance the Performance of Horizontal Wells Drilling Near Tar-Mat Areas


Tar-mat zones have been characterized at the base of oil columns in some of Saudi Arabia carbonate reservoirs. These zones form a barrier which physically isolates the producing zones and the injection water. As a result of this barrier, the reservoir pressure will decrease, which will require other means to produce these wells. This paper addresses two strategies to overcome potential problems resulted from tarmat zones.

The first strategy was to drill a tunnel well. The tunnel well works as a conduit that connects the high pressure area to the low pressure area through the tar zone of the reservoir. Field data indicated that this well enhanced production rate of nearby wells and livened two dead wells.

The second technique to address tar-mat present in another field is to use peripheral water injection. Water injectors with extended reach (ER) were completed horizontally at the bottom of the producing zones and just above the tar-mat zones. Challenges were faced in drilling these wells in a populated area in the northern area of Saudi Arabia and being stratified, tar-mat was encountered in open-hole sections of these wells. Tar content varies inconsistently around these injectors and more near wellbore and obviously in the tar layer. This limits the injection rate of these injectors initially to as low as 600 BWD at 2,400 psig.

The low injectivity is attributed to the damage induced by the drilling mud (water-based mud) and the presence of tar and asphaltene in the injection zone. Acid stimulation treatments of these wells were needed to reach the target injection rate. A tailored acid treatment was designed to address these challengers. This treatment included pumping aromatic solvent, a regular acid, an emulsified acid and a viscoelastic surfactant-based acid for diversion.

Because of environmental concerns, high H2S content, the spent acid was not lifted following the acid treatments. However, the injectivity index of horizontal injectors increased by several folds.

The paper describes the efforts of a multi-disciplinary team to enhance the performance of these wells by using the latest technologies in drilling, logging, and well treatment.
My feeble guess is that the plentiful vugs and voids found in typical MidEast carbonate reservoirs make this a more viable tech than the tight sandstones that require heavy fracing, such as in the Barnett. Any comments by those with expertise in lithofacies would be appreciated here.

Hello TODers,

A 1-page PDF from 2002:

El Furrial Field Tar-Mat in Venezuela

El Furrial field, in the Eastern Venezuelan Basin, is a giant reservoir of light-medium gravity oil producing 380 MBOPD from Tertiary and Cretaceous sandstones. During the delineation stage, a tar-mat layer was detected at the base of the reservoir with depths
between -14772 and -15550 feet..

..Eight cores have penetrated the tar-mat section and a detailed geochemical study has been undertaken. The tar-mat layer is characterized by a notorious increase on the measured content of asphaltene (25%) in the bitumen extracts, which is not vertically
constant. Organic petrography shows a preferential location of the asphaltene phase adhered to the inner part of the pores, on the quartz grains. This results in an underevaluation of the porosity and permeability in the core-plugs. However, as in other tarmats
in the world, the El Furrial tar-mat, occurs in good-reservoir quality sands.

..Because of its great thickness and lateral extension, the El Furrial tar-mat is probably the largest in the world and further scientific studies should be performed in order to evaluate the technology for recovery.

Tar mats and residual oil distribution in a giant oil field offshore Abu Dhabi [2007]

..In terms of lateral and vertical distribution, the tar mats are found at the crestal area of the Present-day structure and are located at the base of the reservoir unit above a tight limestone which plays a role of being a vertical permeability barrier. The tar mats seem to be independent of the Present-day OWC and are not related to biodegradation processes..

..Numerical modeling of such a geological scenario leads to a distribution of fluids (water, movable oil and residual oil) very close to the one observed at Present-day time in the field. This modeling allows a prediction of the extension and distribution of the residual heavy oil within the studied reservoir and can be used to better define an optimal production scheme..

The article about Dana Petroleum is sad really. They say they will be on course to get production up to possibly 20,000 bpd from the field and that the quality is as good as Brent. Whoop-bloody-do! A whole 20,000 bpd - possibly. good luck to them, I say. Still doesn't begin to plug the 350,000 bpd the UK needs to import now since North Sea went into decline.

It is annecdotal evidence such as this which really hammers home that we are at Peak.

In the UK the BBC TV network is starting to point out our predicament to the mostly unsuspecting population - what we can expect, by as soon as 2020, a converging worldwide mess for importers of energy and producers of food.

I'm not sure if streaming mainstream TV works outside the UK, but this is slowly, slowly, preparing the sheeple for major change:


Still, all the bad things happen to other nations not the Brits! MSM just can't help themselves.

You beat me to it! I wanted to post this! Spoil sport!

this is actually well worth a watching if you are in the UK. Unfortunately I don't think it does work outside the UK. There are some STAGGERING statistics presented which made me keep on rewinding. The amount of water to grow a lettuce!! The fact that the Indian Punjab 'bread basket' has been yielding significantly less over the last decade. The farmer who started off with a well depth of 30 feet, then 60 feet, then 125 feet, now 300 feet (I might have the number wrong, but the progression isn't).

Perhaps the most sobering statistic was that last year the average Briton's grocery bill increased by £750 just for staples! Given that and the hike in the oil/petrol/gas/electric prices is it any wonder that the world was plunged into recession? Not really. Just shows how perilous a consumer based economy is. When real wages don't increase, credit dries up and the basic cost of living rockets there is no more in the wallet for discretionary spending to keep the economy ticking along. Quite how this is going to reverse is anyone's guess. In mind the game is well and truly up. We can only get poorer from here on in.

Flippin' worrying actually.

Heavily compressed (85MB) version suitable for research viewing at http://rapidshare.de/files/48158918/bbcfood1.avi.html

Well worth watching (yes it is peak oil aware).

This point in the analysis is where the planetary gloomsters start citing a concept called “peak oil” (or, to the real oil nerds, “Hubbert’s peak”). This is the idea that the planet’s oil reserves are nearing (or, in some eyes, are past) a time at which the output from oilfields starts to decline. Don’t pay them any attention. The world is not running out of oil. What it is short of has been investment in oilfields and production. And the reason for that can be found in a different four-letter word: Opec.

There really are some dumb people out there. What the heck does he mean? There has been MASSIVE investment in oilfields and advanced production techniques. Not to mention exploration and discovery. And most of the planet's oil fields ARE in decline. God, it is almost as though he lives on a different planet! What sort of journalism is this supposed to be? And he used to be editor of the economist!!! Priceless!

Reply to HAcland (article by Economist editor):

He was Editor when the magazine made the $5 oil prediction. What ba**s!

The following was taken from the article:
Opec’s greed will herald the end of the oil age

"This point in the analysis is where the planetary gloomsters start citing a concept called “peak oil” (or, to the real oil nerds, “Hubbert’s peak”). This is the idea that the planet’s oil reserves are nearing (or, in some eyes, are past) a time at which the output from oilfields starts to decline. Don’t pay them any attention. The world is not running out of oil. What it is short of has been investment in oilfields and production. And the reason for that can be found in a different four-letter word: Opec."

Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain - he is a gloomster, an oil nerd that has gotten the wrong idea that oil fields will decline. He claims the world will run out of oil, but the 4 letter word to remember is: OPEC!

I've never read or heard anyone versed in peak oil claim we would run out of oil, but I hear that statement so often repeated its making me sick. Why is the idea of a finite resource peaking, then declining (but not running out) so hard to get? A rung even higher that people don't seem to get, is we could be producing 85 mbd in a year or two and it won't be enough to meet demand, so the price will go so high the economy will dump again. This kind of information is not hard to understand, so I don't follow the inability to keep the facts straight. Was Hubbert wrong about US production peaking? No, he was correct, and the same thing will or already has happened to World oil production.

Agreed. The problem is that people like the author of this article in the Times do not feel the need to do any research into the current state of the world's oil production because they just resort to the efficient 'free market' theory which will always solve any scarcity issue. The idea goes something like this:

1. Oh no! The oil field is in decline!
2. Don't worry, the free market will kick the engineers up the backside and they will develop new ways to extract even more oil.
3. Excellent! You see production is back up again... oh, hang on. No its not.
4. Ahhhh! What are we going to do!
5. Don't worry, the free market will kick the geologists up the backside and they will disperse around the world and discover more oil fields!
6. Excellent! You see: "Brazil has discovered a huge new offshore oilfield". See told you we were ok!
7. ooops, the new oil field is not actually that big after all, is going to be hellish expensive to produce, take decades and ultimately be enough just for Brazil.
8. Ahhhh! what are we going to do??
9. Don't worry, the free market will kick the politicans up the backside and we will just go take what we need!
10. There! Peak Oil is a myth. Free market rocks!

True. Got to love all those end around deflective responses, like 2, 5 & 9. Conveniently, they deflect the responsibility for magically conjuring up more oil to other people.


Yes, I don't quite get the logic here..

On one hand, the world is meant to have vast amounts of oil left.

On the other hand, we are completely dependent on a small group of fields in the middle east (run by OPEC).

These statements cannot both be true.

On one hand, the world is meant to have vast amounts of oil left.

We do have vast amounts of oil left, but that isn't what peak oil is about so ignore it. If you read any article that tells you about the size of reserves to refute peaking you know the writer doesn't have anything relevant to say. How do we stop these people spreading false information, it is very dangerous.

On the other hand, we are completely dependent on a small group of fields in the middle east (run by OPEC).

Sadly, if you live in an oil importer nation, if we want affordable BAU this is true. Up until world peak the economists are correct, if there is a decline in say North Sea oil there are other areas of the world that can supply the fungible product with little change in price. After world peak the rules suddenly change, the economists are wrong, the oil exporters (a large percentage are OPEC, but not all) suddenly get control of supply - there is no reason for them to supply what the consumers demand, it is not in their interests as like all oil producers they are trying to maximise profits. Expect ELM to kick in with a vengance!

It is the TIMING of world peak that is caused by lack of PROFITABLE investment not the inevitable peaking itself.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the DB toplink: "Refreshing talk on rail". Too bad nobody is discussing narrow gauge, cheap, light, and very quick to install SpiderWebRiding. Are they even discussing building strategic reserves of bicycles and wheelbarrows? My guess is they will wait until they are sadly forced to the Tlameme Backpacking scheme. Such is life...