Drumbeat: September 2, 2009

Time for a quick reality check

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- BP's announcement Wednesday of a "giant" oil field deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico is the kind of story that raises all sorts of breathless expectations and dire predictions.

Time to take a deep breath and look at what we've got.

First of all, BP's discovery, dubbed the Tiber prospect, does not prove or disprove the "peak oil" theory. For all those out there who still believe the center of the earth is full of crude oil, they should revisit a basic textbook on geology.

Oil reserves and fossil fuel consumption

Oil has been the world's fossil fuel of choice since the late 1960s and our taste for it doesn't seem likely to diminish in the short term. Oil companies are still keen to secure any undiscovered reserves while continuing to be a powerful lobbying presence.

You may think that with pressing concerns over peak oil and global warming, the world would be slowly weaning itself off the energy-rich liquid. But in the 28-year span covered by the BP data below, worldwide reserves fell only twice – in 1998, and a decade later in 2008.

Fear fuels the new global oil rush

New technology, higher oil prices and a renewed sense of urgency due to expected rising demand after the recession have all fed the new oil rush that has triggered a glut of discoveries.

Warnings from peak oil theorists may have encouraged many countries and companies to redouble their efforts, which could lead to the tipping point on oil supplies being put back.

Giant oil find by BP reopens debate about oil supplies

BP has reopened the debate on when the "peak oil" supply will be reached by announcing a big new discovery in the Gulf of Mexico which some believe could be as large as the Forties, the biggest field ever found in the North Sea.

The strike comes days after Iran unveiled an even larger find of 8.8bn barrels of crude oil, and the moves have encouraged sceptics of theories which say that peak production has been reached, or soon will be, to hail a new golden age of exploration and supply.

'Peak oil' theory takes another hit

We haven't run out of oil yet. Huge, recent offshore discoveries for Brazil have boosted that country's reserves to 12 billion barrels. That was already a blow against 'peak oil' theorists, who say the world is running out of petroleum.

Gazprom looks offshore for reserves

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom aims to add 5.6 trillion cubic metres of offshore reserves by 2020, more than doubling its resources and helping it expand into the liquefied natural gas market.

The company’s offshore reserves total 4.7 trillion cubic metres now, “a significant rise” from 2.5 trillion cubic meters in 2005, Gazprom executive Valery Golubev told reporters in Moscow today.

Development of offshore fields will help Gazprom develop exports of LNG and, potentially, compressed natural gas, in addition to traditional pipeline delivery, he said.

Russian oil trade king buys more gas assets

MOSCOW (Reuters) - One of Russia's most secretive businessmen, Gennady Timchenko, revealed on Wednesday he has built up an 18 percent stake in gas firm Novatek as he seeks to diversify his oil wealth into other industries.

'Hot' jobs? Health care, energy, many not requiring bachelor's

The hottest job areas from now to 2016 will be in health care, education, information technology and clean energy, a new report says.

And though some require bachelor's degrees or higher, many call for an associate's degree and sometimes additional vocational training.

Russia Increased Oil Output and Exports in August on New Fields

(Bloomberg) -- Russian August oil production rose 1.3 percent and exports 5.9 percent against the same period the previous year after Russia’s two largest oil producers introduced new fields.

Russian oil production rose year-on-year for the sixth straight month to 9.97 million barrels, after Russia’s largest oil producer OAO Rosneft produced 4.7 percent more crude in Russia and its second largest OAO Lukoil produced 1.3 percent more, the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit said in an e-mailed statement today.

Exports of oil from Russia rose to 5.42 million barrels a day in August as Russia produced more crude and Urals blend prices rose faster than Russia’s export duty.

What BP's New Oil Strike Means

BP has struggled recently, the result of highly publicized battles with its Russian partners and a series of accidents in the U.S. at its Texas refinery and on Alaska's North Slope. Now it is getting a huge shot in the arm from its gulf finds, which are just coming onstream with highly profitable oil. Tiber provides further confirmation of BP's vanguard status among companies probing the ancient geological zones far below the seabed of the gulf in water a mile deep.

The London company's two-decade commitment to the gulf has helped resurrect a region that was being dismissed as "the Dead Sea" in the 1990s, after companies hit a series of dry holes. "With respect to the Gulf of Mexico, BP has done very, very well," says Richard Gordon, president of Gordon Energy Solutions, an Overland Park (Kan.) oil and gas consultancy.

BP Makes "Giant" Oil Find in Gulf of Mexico

Iain Armstrong, analyst at Brewin Dolphin, said the discovery may have implications for long-term oil prices.

"It will ease concerns about peak oil because it shows there is life left in these mature areas," he said, adding that it could be the second half of the next decade before the find is producing.

BP’s Tiber Find Underscores Challenges of Deepwater Exploration

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc’s announcement of a “giant” discovery in the Gulf of Mexico underscores the technical challenges of deepwater exploration after Europe’s second- biggest oil company drilled to a depth that’s greater in height than Mount Everest.

Saudi Arabia Cuts October Crude Export Prices to U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia cut the official selling prices for all grades of crude oil exported to the U.S. in October, according to state-run oil company Saudi Aramco.

Turkmenistan plans military base in gas and oil hotspot

Debates over the inland Caspian Sea’s lucrative hydrocarbon resources may be intensified after the president of Turkmenistan announced the country will build a naval base there.

President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov made televised remarks to top security officials in which he said the base will be established to help “effectively fight smugglers, terrorists and any other forces”.

Elsevier Publishes Jiang Zemin's Book on China's Energy Policy in English

China's rapid economic expansion raises many questions about how it will acquire the energy it needs to sustain growth. In this unique collection of articles, Jiang asserts a pressing need for China to invest in science, technology, research and development to ensure the steady supply of energy crucial for driving development. In this book Research on Energy Issues in China Jiang outlines this energy strategy for China, "We need to steadfastly conserve energy, use it efficiently, diversify development, keep the environment clean, be technology driven and cooperate internationally in order to establish a system of energy production, distribution and consumption that is highly efficient, uses advanced technology, produces few pollutant, has minimal impact on the ecosystem, and provides a steady and secure energy supply."

Satellites and submarines give the skinny on sea ice thickness

While satellites provide accurate and expansive coverage of ice in the Arctic Ocean, the records are relatively new. Satellites have only monitored sea ice extent since 1973. NASA's Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) has been on the task since 2003, allowing researchers to estimate ice thickness as well.

To extend the record, Kwok and Drew Rothrock of the University of Washington, Seattle, recently combined the high spatial coverage from satellites with a longer record from Cold War submarines to piece together a history of ice thickness that spans close to 50 years.

Analysis of the new record shows that since a peak in 1980, sea ice thickness has declined 53 percent. "It's an astonishing number," Kwok said. The study, published online August 6 in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that the current thinning of Arctic sea ice has actually been going on for quite some time.

Humans causing erosion comparable to world’s largest rivers and glaciers

A new study finds that large-scale farming projects can erode the Earth's surface at rates comparable to those of the world's largest rivers and glaciers.

Published online in the journal Nature Geoscience, the research offers stark evidence of how humans are reshaping the planet. It also finds that - contrary to previous scholarship - rivers are as powerful as glaciers at eroding landscapes.

Sustainable fertilizer: Urine and wood ash produce large harvest

Results of the first study evaluating the use of human urine mixed with wood ash as a fertilizer for food crops has found that the combination can be substituted for costly synthetic fertilizers to produce bumper crops of tomatoes without introducing any risk of disease for consumers. The study appears in the current issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

A cordless future for electricity?

"The biggest effect of wireless power is attacking that huge energy wasting that goes on where people buy disposable batteries," he said.

It also will make electric cars more attractive to consumers, he said, because they will be able to power up their vehicles simply by driving into a garage that's fitted with a wireless power mat.

Electric cars are "absolutely gorgeous," he added, "but does anyone really want to plug them in?"

Oil speculators on the run

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Last year Andrew Hall, the head of Citigroup's energy trading unit, made over $100 million, making him one of the highest paid people on Wall Street.

That same year Alabama resident Corey Carter spent over a quarter of his $240 weekly income on gas. Carter lived in the county where residents spent a greater chunk of their income on gas than anyone else in the country.

Some people think Wall Street's increased interest in energy trading and the steadily rising price of gas is no coincidence.

Even the government is reassessing its opinion of speculation's impact on oil prices. In what could be a significant reversal, the U.S. may tighten the rules on energy trading.

Choking on Natural Gas, But Is It About to End?

The problem for the natural gas market has been that gas production continues to remain strong due to the continued development of new producing wells from the highly prolific gasshale plays sprouting up around the country. The increase in gas production volumes was thought to have been arrested by now as a result of the nearly 50% cutback in gas-oriented drilling since last fall. Unfortunately, E&P companies continue to drill highly prolific wells in the gas-shale basins due to their estimated lower finding and development cost allowing them to generate profits in a lowprice environment and in order to retain expensive mineral leases signed in recent years. The impact of these new prolific wells, coupled with the decline in domestic gas demand due to the weak economy, has been greater than expected weekly gas storage injections.

Expect Oil Prices to Rise: Three Major Oil Exporters Warn About Production

In the last two weeks alone, three of the world top oil exporters have warned that their oil production will decline faster than expected in the next one to three years.

Pump up the economy: Sealing off vast resources imperils recovery

Last year, amid worries of escalating energy costs, Congress and the president announced an end to the decades-long ban on offshore drilling on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). This bipartisan announcement opened the door to new American oil and gas production and the creation of new American jobs.

Unfortunately, shortly after the door was opened, the Obama administration slammed it shut again in February by imposing a six-month delay on the leasing plan needed to open and develop those new offshore areas.

Why Do Oil Prices Swing So Wildly?

One reason prices have been rising so strongly this year, for example, is that futures traders are doing what they are supposed to do — anticipating. Just as stock prices anticipate future returns, so do commodity prices. Specifically, traders are betting that the global economy will recover later this year, and that the supplies will therefore tighten. There is good reason to believe this is correct; world oil production last year was barely above 2004 levels, and there is little chance it is going to shoot up. Rather the opposite: Daniel Yergin, author of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, and head of IHS/CERA, an energy consultancy, told Newsweek in early July that “of the 15 million barrels of new net capacity that was supposed to come online between 2008 and 2014, over half of it is at risk of not happening.” Investment in new fields has not been robust; when the current overcapacity is sucked up, the gap between supply and consumption will narrow again, forcing prices up.

Asia Fuel Oil-Prices fall; cracks, timespreads firm

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asia fuel oil prices eased for the third straight session on Wednesday, but cracks and timespreads jumped, buoyed by robust bunker demand in Asia and the Middle East, and expectations of shrinking supplies ahead.

Fundamentals are well supported by tighter supplies for the rest of the year due to global refinery run cuts, and healthy demand from the Singapore bunkers market, fuel oil's largest outlet in Asia.

Is Venezuela's stagflation the beginning of the end for Hugo Chavez Frias?

It wasn't long ago that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' decision to nationalize state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) resulted in a failed coup that very nearly cost him his post.

Now, Chavez' aggressive economic policies are again being called into question, this time as the country slides into what could be a protracted period of stagflation, which is defined by the exasperating mixture of torpid economic growth and high inflation.

Nigeria: Fuel crisis looms as marketers are held down on account of debts

Another spectre of fuel scarcity is looming in the country owing to ongoing banking crisis which has made it difficult for banks to give loan facilities to oil companies. The suspension of credit facilities means that the burden of importation would fall on the Pipeline Product Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to finance majority of the fuel importation.

The problem, according to industry analysts, is that the organisation supplies more than 60 percent of the premium motor spirit needs of the nation while the major marketers and independent marketers provide the remaining 40 percent.

Britain faces a blackout and politicians are to blame

A "shortage" can only occur if prices are not permitted to rise sufficiently to price some users out of the market. In the case of electricity, a product considered essential to everyday living, no such price rise would be politically tolerable – or at least politicians and regulators would so conclude. So the power to allocate scarce supplies would pass from the market to – you got it – them.

North Korea: Squabble Leads to Murder Due to Firewood

The death of an elderly man in his 60s and the arrest of a man in his 40s involved in a fight over firewood has been reported in Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung Province.

Kim Chung Wan (67) in Wonsan-ri, Hoiryeong collected canes of corn from a freshly harvested field, and spread them out on his yard on the 21st of last month. In North Korea, corn is a key “winter item” used as fodder for cows on collective farms or as a source of heating by farmers during the winter season.

The field from which Kim had gathered the canes of corn was a “private patch” owned by Jang Kyung Il (43) in a neighboring People’s Unit. Jang, after discovering that canes of corn had disappeared from his field, went to other People’s Units looking for the culprit and ultimately found his corn canes in the front yard of Kim’s house.

Jang, who needed corn canes to use as firewood during the winter season, got into a quarrel with Kim, who is old enough to be his father.

'Reduce the asphalt,' Gehl says

When it snows in Copenhagen, the bike lanes are first to be cleared. Then the sidewalks. If there is money left over, the roads are next.

While it may be a radical concept for a winter city such as Saskatoon, Danish architect Jan Gehl is in favour of transforming Saskatoon into a pedestrian-oriented, bike-friendly city.

"Reduce the asphalt in Saskatoon," he said to strong audience applause at his presentation Monday night.

A Brief History Of The Light Bulb

Across Europe, it's just about lights out for the humble incandescent bulb. The European Union began phasing out incandescents on Aug. 31, banning stores from buying new stock. (See the best inventions of all-time.)

It's all part of an effort to drive consumers toward a better bulb: Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) that burn as much as 10 times longer while consuming less than a third of the electricity as incandescents. At as much as $10 each, CFL bulbs are more expensive, but experts say they pay for themselves in energy savings in just a few months. The European Union is even touting the switch as an economic stimulus, as experts estimate the swap to CFL will save customers €5 billion annually. Bucks-for-bulbs, anyone?

Severn Estuary could solve UK’s looming energy shortage

THE power of the Severn estuary must be harnessed to prevent millions of families being plunged into darkness through a lack of electricity, it was claimed yesterday.

The UK Government’s own figures predict energy demand will exceed supply from the national grid within eight years, leaving the country facing the prospect of widespread power cuts for the first time since the 1970s.

Mick Bates, Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesman on the environment and sustainability, said the Severn estuary’s tidal energy should be used to meet the shortfall.

Heinberg: Iowa's future shouldn't depend on fossil fuels

More than 70 percent of Iowa's electricity comes from coal. That's a much higher proportion than the national average of 50 percent. Not only does this imply a supersized statewide contribution to global, climate-changing, greenhouse-gas emissions, it also means vulnerability to higher coal prices.

Is This the End for Coal?

Momentum is building to block new coal-fired power plants and end mountaintop removal mining. Is there enough political will to make the break?

How Climate Change Gets a Target Number (And Why It’s 350)

Financial markets tend to create the capital for everything societies try to do, but they offer a misleading model for anyone thinking about how businesses can address climate change. A group of activists pushing to cap global carbon emissions at 350 parts per million offers a sounder business model.

BP Makes ‘Giant’ Oil Discovery in Gulf of Mexico

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, reported a “giant” discovery at the Tiber Prospect in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that may contain more than 3 billion barrels, sending its shares higher.

The well is located in Keathley Canyon block 102, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) south east of Houston, the London-based company said today in a statement. The Tiber well was drilled to a total depth of approximately 35,055 feet (10,685 meters), greater than the height of Mount Everest.

The latest discovery will help BP, already the biggest producer in the Gulf of Mexico, boost output in the region by 50 percent to 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day beyond 2020. It will also allay concerns over BP’s reluctance to invest heavily in unconventional projects, such as oil sands in Canada, to replenish reserves as maturing fields age.

Deep expectations

BP shares have popped higher on the news of the oil major’s ‘giant’ find in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday.

As analysts have already begun to note, the use of the word ‘giant’ to describe the well is almost unprecedented. But the indication is clear: BP thinks this will be a massive production asset, despite needing further appraisal to determine the exact size and commerciality of the discovery.

OPEC Likely to Keep Output Unchanged, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC is likely to leave oil production unchanged when it meets next week in Vienna, an official from a Persian Gulf member of the group said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries expects oil demand to recover and is unlikely to change production quotas, in order to avoid derailing the global economic recovery, said the official, who declined to be identified by name because a final decision hasn’t been made.

Oil Uptrend Intact Until a Drop Below $66: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil, which fell from a 10- month high of $75 a barrel in New York last week, remains in an uptrend and a sustained move lower isn’t likely unless prices settle below $66, National Australia Bank Ltd. said.

Oil may climb to its recent highs in coming weeks even as the volatility in prices reflected uncertainty among traders, according to Gordon Manning, a Sydney-based technical analyst. He correctly predicted Aug. 5 that the market wouldn’t settle below $66 a barrel on its way to a new high for 2009.

BP: Iraq Oil Deal is Start of Something Big

Iraq is counting on BP's modernization of the Rumaila oil field to nearly double its production and restore its power in OPEC.

Lula Oil Rules to Stir ‘Intense Debate’ as Lawmakers Vow Delays

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s proposal for increasing government control over oil reserves will stir debate in Congress that could delay approval, opposition leaders said.

Lula attached an urgency clause to the bills that would require a vote within 90 days. Opposition parties began a filibuster in the lower house and are demanding the clause be removed, Gustavo Fruet, a deputy with the Social Democracy Party, Brazil’s biggest opposition party, said in an interview.

Is Peak Oil a Waste of Energy?

That's the thesis of Michael Lynch, a former MIT energy expert turned consultant, in a lengthy New York Times op-ed published last week. "Like many Malthusian beliefs," he writes, "peak oil theory has been promoted by motivated groups of scientists and laymen who base their conclusions on poor analyses of data and misinterpretations of technical material." Lynch concludes that oil will come down to $30 a barrel as new supplies come online in the deep waters off Africa and Latin America, in East Africa, and "perhaps the Bakken oil shale fields of Montana and North Dakota."

Setting aside the pitfalls of oil shale, it's probably worth noting that Lynch is not your average oil supply forecaster. He's a frequent guest on talk shows who is famed for attacking Peak Oil with the same zeal that proponents defend it. Lynch is one of many disparate voices quoted in a 2005 Times piece, "On Oil Supply, Opinions Aren't Scarce." And way back in 1998, he wrote "Crying Wolf: Warnings About Oil Supply," where he made some of the same points as he did last week.

Oil industry marks 150 years since first well

TITUSVILLE, Pennsylvania (AFP) – One hundred and fifty years ago this week in a small Pennsylvania town an indefatigable businessman struck oil, changing the world forever.

Boring a pipe deep into the Titusville ground, Edwin Drake drew black crude to the surface, in a process that would be copied all over the world and mark the dawn of the Petroleum Age.

Forward Curve in Fuel Offers Relief to Shipowners

(Bloomberg) -- Shipowners may see relief from rising bunker costs, their biggest fixed expense, as prices for the fuel are leveling off after months of increases, E.A. Gibson Shipbrokers Ltd. said.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows the cost of bunker fuel in the benchmark Rotterdam market, tanker rates and an index of shipowners’ stock prices. The forward curve for bunkers is flat out through February 2010, indicating shippers’ fuel costs may stabilize.

Transneft Fights 27,000-Ton Oil Theft as Violence Surges

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Transneft, operator of the world’s largest pipeline network, is struggling to combat oil theft in Russia’s Caucasus as attacks on police strain security and federal funds fail to lift the region out of poverty.

Transneft opened an office in Dagestan, between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, and now has 700 guards along its 300-mile pipe after thieves stole 27,000 tons of oil last year, a record for the region, Jafar Nasirov, Transneft’s local chief, said in an interview.

Oil stirs conflict on Black Sea

While the European Union frets over Russian efforts to impose its energy diktat by building gas and oil pipelines on the bottom of the Black Sea, new conflicts are emerging - not over transit routes, but over rich hydrocarbon resources beneath its ancient waters.

An ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Vanco Energy Company is one example in which resource nationalism and a large dose of alleged corruption has combined to push out a legitimate American company from developing Prykerchynsky, a large underwater gas field in the Black Sea.

How Will China Handle The Yuan?

EU may have passed the US as China's biggest trading partner, but EU consumers are not in such great shape either. For a discussion of Europe and how it relates to this mess, please see Deflation Is A *****.

Indeed, consumers are tapped out everywhere, and arguably European and Chinese banks are in worse shape than US banks.

Moreover, there is also a not-so-little thing called peak oil that might be keeping oil firm. And it's hurricane season.

The critical issue however, is simple math.

The US runs a trade deficit with China. That means China must accumulate US assets. China does not have a choice in the matter; it is purely a mathematical function. When the US runs a deficit, mathematically someone must run a surplus.

Union fights refinery over layoffs

MARCUS HOOK --- The president of the steelworkers union that represents 425 employees at the Sunoco plant here said the company is pushing for additional layoffs and refusing to negotiate severance for 48 workers from the refinery's damaged ethylene unit.

"We haven't made any progress," said Tim Kolodi of Local 10-901 of the United Steelworkers Union.

The ethylene complex was damaged by a May 17 explosion and fire, and the company decided in July that it would be closed due to insufficient demand for product.

BP scraps offshore pay plan

BP has scrapped proposals to change conditions for hundreds of offshore workers, which unions claimed would have cut their pay.

Chevron Said to Be in Talks With China on Gorgon LNG

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. is in talks to sell more than 2 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas a year from the A$50 billion ($41 billion) Gorgon project off Western Australia to China, said two people with knowledge of the talks.

Chevron may be in negotiations with China National Offshore Oil Corp. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. to sell a part of an uncommitted 3 million tons a year of its share of Gorgon, the two people said, requesting not to be identified as the discussions are confidential. Chevron’s 50 percent stake in the 15 million ton-a-year venture entitles it to sell 7.5 million tons and the rest is equally divided between Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Derivatives Oversight Should Be Combined, Luthringshausen Says

(Bloomberg) -- Regulators should consolidate functions of agencies overseeing the $592 trillion over-the- counter derivatives market, Options Clearing Corp. Chief Executive Officer Wayne Luthringshausen said.

Certain roles of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission should be combined “under a new principles-based statute to ensure holistic oversight of all derivatives,” Luthringshausen said in prepared remarks to be delivered to a joint meeting of the agencies in Washington today.

Solar panels stolen from gas company well pads in western Garfield County

PARACHUTE, Colorado — The Garfield County Sheriff's Office is investigating a theft of 22 solar panels from natural gas well pads near Parachute.

Sharp, Kyocera Set to Gain From DPJ Emissions Plan

(Bloomberg) -- The new Japanese government’s pledge to accelerate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions may lead to higher subsidies for makers of solar cells such as Sharp Corp. and Kyocera Corp. while forcing utilities to pay premium prices for solar power generated by consumers.

The Democratic Party of Japan’s proposal to double the emissions cuts outlined by the ousted Liberal Democratic Party could lead to a carbon tax that has a severe impact on automakers, oil refiners and power producers, analysts and industry groups say.

When it comes to mpg, I'm buying the `hype'

LOS ANGELES – The crippling success of Cash for Clunkers, the sustained popularity of the Toyota Prius and splashy headlines afforded the 230-mpg Chevy Volt would seem to signal a fuel-efficiency awakening in the United States not seen since the energy crisis of the 1970s.

Tell that to the angry-faced guy riding my bumper as I coast up to a red light.

Zero-Emission Cars: A Battle Among Technologies

Auto-marketing gurus take note: the brave new world of ZE cars is here, ready or not, and please make them sexy.

The mystery of Chernobyl

A bitter dispute is raging over whether the fallout zone is a wasteland or wonderland. Now, a team of scientists is heading back into the contaminated area to find out the truth.

China’s Birthday Plans Marred by Pollution, Asset Sale Protests

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese workers are taking to the streets to demonstrate against pollution and job losses stemming from state-asset sales, highlighting social tensions weeks before the Communist Party celebrates 60 years of rule on Oct. 1.

About 10,000 villagers in Fengwei in southeastern Fujian province clashed on Aug. 31 with 2,000 riot police to protest industrial pollution, taking some local officials hostage, the South China Morning Post reported today, citing witnesses and authorities. In Hunan province, 5,000 coal workers at several mines in the past week struck to demand better treatment as their state-run company sought to privatize, the paper reported.

China detains 15 parents for lead poison unrest

BEIJING – Police in central China detained 15 parents for blocking roads and damaging government offices in a protest over factory pollution that left hundreds of local children with lead poisoning, villagers said Wednesday.

In a bizarre twist, police in Hunan province's Wenping township accused the parents involved in the Aug. 8 unrest of being either members of the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, or influenced by such members.

Great Barrier Reef May Face Catastrophic Damage, Report Says

(Bloomberg) -- Catastrophic damage to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s most extensive coral reef system, may be unavoidable if global warming continues unchecked, according to an Australian report published today.

Scientists Argue that Climate Change Mitigation Strategies Fall Short, Ignoring Significant Carbon Cycling Processes of Inland Waters

AVONDALE, Pa. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the paper, The Boundless Carbon Cycle, published in the September issue of Nature Geoscience, scientists from the University of Vienna, Uppsala University in Sweden, University of Antwerp, and the U.S.-based Stroud(TM) Water Research Center argue that current international strategies to mitigate manmade carbon emissions and address climate change have overlooked a critical player - inland waters. Streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands play an important role in the carbon cycle that is unaccounted for in conventional carbon cycling models.

People won't change lifestyle for planet-straw poll

LONDON (Reuters) - People want to save the planet but are unwilling to make radical lifestyle changes like giving up air travel or red meat to reduce the effects of climate change, a straw poll by Reuters showed.

EPA’s CO2 Rules Target Only Major U.S. Polluters, Groups Say

(Bloomberg) -- Only large industrial polluters would be subject to U.S. regulation of greenhouse gases under a proposal developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, environmental groups said.

In Geneva, Designing a Global Climate-Alert System

While the big picture on climate change has been virtually settled by decades of scientific work, the details of what exactly will happen in a warmer world are still fuzzy — and the climate devil will be in those details. Yet new updates on climate science come out only intermittently — the IPCC goes five or six years between releasing its massive assessments. That's far too infrequent for policymakers — especially as the world attempts to draft a successor to the Kyoto Protocol at the upcoming Copenhagen climate summit in December. "We all collectively have to share information about climate change in a way that will better inform ongoing decisions that people need to make," says Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "There's an urgent need for ongoing, relevant information about climate change — and there's no current mechanism for providing that."

UN chief urges leaders over climate change

LONGYEARBYEN, Norway (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged world leaders to act now to halt global warming, as he saw first-hand its effects in the Arctic ahead of a key climate change summit in December.

Ed Miliband warns of 'climate change poverty'

Millions will be condemned to poverty and homelessness if world leaders fail to reach an ambitious deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the climate change summit in Copenhagen later this year, Britain's Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, warned yesterday.

Govt says greenhouse gas pollution to jump

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India expects its greenhouse gas emissions to jump to between 4 billion tonnes and 7.3 billion tonnes in 2031, a report said on Wednesday.

Per capita emissions are estimated to rise to 2.1 tonnes by 2020 and 3.5 tonnes by 2030.

India's forestry plan in spotlight

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India has turned to its vast forest cover to absorb its growing greenhouse gas emissions and stem international pressure to sign on to binding carbon reduction targets.

Authorities pinned their hopes earlier this month on the concept of carbon capture in an effort to boost India's environmental credentials ahead of global talks in Copenhagen aimed at reaching a consensus on fighting climate change.

Poor nations need 'wartime' support against climate change: UN

GENEVA (AFP) – Developing nations need a 600-billion-dollar "Marshall Plan" annually to tackle climate change with support from rich nations on a scale not seen outside wartime recovery, a UN report said Tuesday.

Change is seen in Atlantic from climate, fishing

PORTLAND, Maine – The basic makeup of the ocean waters off the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic region has fundamentally changed in the past 40 years because of climate change, commercial fishing pressures and growing coastal populations, according to a new report.

Arctic thaw threatens much of world: WWF report

GENEVA (AFP) – Global warming in the Arctic could affect a quarter of the world's population through flooding and amplify the wider impact of climate change, a report by environmental group WWF said Wednesday.

Air temperatures in the region have risen by almost twice the global average over the past few decades, according to the peer-reviewed scientific report.

Study: 1.6 billion face water, food threat in Asia

KATMANDU, Nepal – Effects of climate change including the melting of Himalayan glaciers threaten water and food security for more than 1.6 billion people living in South Asia, according to a study released Wednesday.

India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Nepal will be most vulnerable to falling crop yields caused by glacier retreat, floods, droughts and erratic rainfall, said the study financed by the Asian Development Bank.

If these people who say PO is baloney also advise investors for a fee (directly or indirectly), then shouldn't their resource supply models be made public and open for examination? I mean, after Bernie Madoff's secrecy over how his "system" worked, wouldn't you expect the SEC to show some curiosity/interest?

"as a New York Post article reports, “Harry Markopolos – the whistleblower on Bernie Madoff who proved to be much smarter than the SEC.."


So 200,000 barrels per day in the brightest, most positive case possible, is considered a 'giant' nowadays?

Them giants are like Alice after finding the "Drink Me" potion...

..and it won't be fully flow-tested and in production for many years to come. Still, all counts to those six new Saudi Arabias doesn't it!

You just have to wait and Go ask Alice when she's TEN feet tall!

We're all of us mad here..

“Belladonna.” The Mad Hatter stated, still grinning, “Such a pretty name, don’t you think? And yet something named so nicely could’ve been the death of you.”

Alice slammed her cup down, fists clenching, “Why have you done this?”

“Because you were taking the insanity out of this place, sucking it dry until it was sensible like you’d always wanted.” He narrowed his eyes, “This place should be mad.”

“But I don’t want to be among mad people.” She replied, keeping a facade of calm.

“Oh, but you can never escape yourself, dear.” The Hatter smiled pleasantly, this smile being the maddest sight in all of Wonderland.

Slight OT, but Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are releasing their version of Alice in Wonderland next year:

I recall reading somewhere (probably from TOD) that about the only metric by which today's young generation in the U.S. is better off than their parents is the quality and diversity of entertainment sources & diversions.

So.... 3,000,000,000 barrels divided by 20,680,000 barrels of oil consumed a day works out to about 145 days of oil... or about 4.8 months worth of US supply.

Yup, no problems here folks. Move along, move along...

...or ~6 weeks of World supply, not just the US in the market these days...


When I impose a trend line on the profile of US production since it peaked again in the late 80s the closest fit is around 145 kb/d decline per year. I think of huge projects like this as just aiming the plane at a different spot on the ground after the engines have all died.

Of course we can just import more. Our children can pay off all this debt we're racking up, too.

or about 10 days world supply if the recoverable only oil is considered...i heard the talking heads say only 300million- 900 million barrels will be "recoverable"...almost laughable if not so frightening...

..i heard the talking heads say only 300million- 900 million barrels will be "recoverable"

A hah! It had been hearing the press chirping on about 3 billion barrells, and presumed they were getting fooled by some sort of original oil in place guestimate -or something else just as grossly optimistic. Given that 3GB would be about 1MB/day for 8 years, and then they talk about .2MB/day, makes me think the 3GB figure is bogus.

What is a "giant" field?

BP in 'giant' new oil discovery

The industry-wide definition for a "giant" discovery is at least 250 million barrels of oil "in place", or in other words, the likely total amount, BP spokeswoman Sheila Williams said.

But usually, only as much as 30% is extracted from the ground in practice, she said.

So a little over a days world supply ( 75 millions recoverable from 250 million ) would count as a "giant".

"Industry-wide" really?

Because I wouldn't use the word 'giant' for any find that couldn't be thought of as producing >1Mbpd (in marketing world; that would be less in reality)

200Kbpd of hard to get, expensive, oil counts as a 'meh' field in my classification.

There have been a few posts lately about violence against cyclists. If you don't think cyclists are considered sub-human in the US, try this one:

Attempted murder charge dropped in cyclist shooting

So, the guy *a firefighter* - someone who's supposed to protect life, becomes enraged, tries to shoot this guy in head in front of his wife and his child - and the jury dropped the attempted murder charge instead opting for a slap on the wrist. Try shooting anyone else that isn't riding a bike in the head and see what happens.

Please don't post entire articles. It's not just bandwidth, it's copyright.

I think it's more about a view that for some people, what in their rhetoric is the "ultimate sanction against physical threat" is in reality the "sanction for anyone who behaves badly when I'm having a bad day".


(Note that I'm not defending the noisy guy: he should have been physically marched out by movie theater security and thrown down on the sidewalk. But to take upon oneself the right to decide which annoying people to end the life of is playing God too much for my tastes. But then I tend to subscribe to the view that almost all people are irrational in personal ways and that society is a damping influence rather than viewing myself as a "noble savage" who's got to deal with the corrupting effects of other people.)

About the "Is Peak Oil a Waste of Energy?" story.
Is this Michael Lynch guy serious? Anybody who adds the Bakken oil shale fields to the equation is missing the point. I can't afford it!!!!

Yes, he has been at it for several years and shows no signs of changing his tune.

I did a similar makeover on a CERA graph last night at peakoil.com:

Danny and the Boyz were off 4.98 mb/d for 2006 - they published the graph in November of that year! - one month after cumulative production for that year was 84524.71kb/d. Maybe they knew something we didn't? OK, maybe not. OK - not.

Amusing that S Foucher had to extrapolate what their forecast was from their graph. These guys are so tight they won't even let us know the basic numbers of their forecasts are without our coughing up $499?

How's CERA stock doing over the years, anyway?

Forget these top dollar analyses, what you need to do is listen to the radio!

An oldie - sorry for the pun - but a goodie: US oil production vs number of songs in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time:

Bush II's approval rating vs US gasoline price:

If each the new BP discoveries in the Gulf are good for a billion barrels recoverable that's still a lot less than we use every six months but by Sunday there will be plenty of hype about the new bonanzas waiting for Jed Clampett.

Not more than one in a hundred will mention how long it's been since there has been a comparable discovery,and not more than a third or a fourth will mention that the break even price of this oil will be at least five or six times the going price less than ten tears ago.

They seem to be talking about a peak flow around 200,000 barrels per day from this prospect. That's about one day's supply for the world in a year. So as the existing giant fields follow the Cantarell path, we need to find a field like this somewhere in the world every day. Wikipedia's list of oil fields greater than one billion barrels only includes five discovered this decade. We really need to pick up the pace of exploration.

Then there's the question of development costs. This well is in over 4,100 feet (1260m) of water, 250 miles (400km) offshore, and probably 100 miles (160km) from the nearest pipeline. Furthermore, the discovery well was drilled to over 35,000 feet (over 10,600m). This is among the deepest wells ever drilled. Drilling to this depth is not routine, and probably never will be. Installing production facilities at below 4,000 feet is not routine, though it may become so. Laying pipelines in this water depth is not routine. In fact, there is so much about this field that is not routine, I can see it being several years before BP even has the first draft of a development plan. This would fit in with the mention of "the second half of the next decade."

I can't imagine this field being commercial at current oil prices. BP's optimistic press release strongly suggests the company expects the selling price of the oil from this field to be much higher (in real dollars) than the current price.

If this field is ever developed, the real bonanza will go to the Federal government, which will be in even worse financial shape in the second half of the next decade than it is today. I'm sure someone will come up with a windfall profits tax to support politicians' favorite causes once there are profits. The risk of this is one which BP will weigh when deciding whether to develop.

the real bonanza will go to the Federal government

sorry, but no! I have it on good authority that when this new field is online BP will be pumping the oil through a new pipe line out of the Gulf of Mexico and across the Atlantic, up the Bay of Biscay, round the corner into the English Channel, through the Solent finally arriving at Fawley Refinery. This new oil ain't going to the US!

HA --it doesn't matter if the pump the oil to the moon: the Feds still collect the royalty (1/6 out there I believe). If the 3 billion BO is correct then that's $30 billion to the feds @ $60/BO. Additionally the feds always have the option to take the royakty in actual barrels and can thus direct it to what ever refineries it chooses.

I'm sure someone will come up with a windfall profits tax to support politicians' favorite causes once there are profits.

While I am very pessimistic that this field will ever produce a barrel of oil as long as oil stays under $100 a barrel, I find the above quote nothing but pure cynicism. From Wikipedia:

A windfall profits tax is a higher tax rate on profits that ensue from a sudden windfall gain to a particular company or industry.

A field that takes well over half a decade to bring into production at perhaps the highest cost per barrel of any oil ever produced, could by no stretch of the imagination be considered either "sudden" or a "windfall".

A far more likely scenario would be that BP decides, that because of the extreme cost of producing oil from their field, they decided to abandon it. The US in turn promises some sort of a "tax holiday" to companies who develop oil from extremely expensive and difficult fields. BP then, in turn, decides to go ahead with production from this field but only because profits from this field, if any ever exists, would be tax free.

Anyway, because unlike many other countries, the US taxes only profits, not barrels, BP would pay no taxes for years because it would take several years for the field to show a profit.

Ron P.

unlike many other countries,the US taxes only profits...

Ron - Don't we know it. Learning how to not show a profit is the foundation of business both large and small.

Appointment with Accountant:
Taxpayer: "Let's see...I can write off the BMW lease, take a mileage write-off, cell phone, computer, trip to the Bahamas (I did attend that seminar), depreciation on my income property etc. etc. etc. The way I see it I think the govt owes me money this year"
Accountant: "But you haven't paid any taxes for this year yet."
Taxpayer: "Does that mean I can't get a refund?"

Thank goodness for wage earners.

Joe ;=)

Approaches to corporate taxation around the world have become very uniform, thanks in part to competition amongst them to attract and retain companies. In virtually every case I have seen, the rate is 20-35% of profits. Other countries may have VAT or other taxes, but corporate taxes are, as far as I know, always on profits.

But there is a very big difference between the rate and what is actually paid:

But of the 275 Fortune 500 companies that made a profit each year from 2001 to 2003 and for which adequate information to draw conclusions is publicly available, only a small proportion paid federal income taxes anywhere near that statutory 35 percent tax rate. The vast majority paid considerably less.

In fact, in 2002 and 2003, the average effective tax rate for all of these 275 companies was less than half the statutory 35 percent rate. Over the 2001-2003 period, effective tax rates ranged from a low of -59.6 percent for Pepco Holdings to a high of 34.5 percent for CVS.


id -- just a guess but if there's 3 billion BO then they'll make money. Another wild ass guess: total development cost around $2-4 billion. The time delay to get it on production also greatly reduces the net value. Doesn't change the clock on PO by any meaningful degree but it generate $30 billion on royalty for the Feds (1/6) and lessens our import imbalance by $180 billion.

As somelese just pointed out we need to find one of these every week or so inorder to change the future. Certainly not holding my breath on that bet.

If this well's total depth is 35,000 feet below the seabed is all the "oil" really oil or are we talking natural gas and some very light condensates ... or it it the shallower reserviors that contain the oil ... or [and I don't think this is true] is the "oil window" concept broken [pun intended].

A lot of questions, with not too many answers.

Care to speculate? Thanks.

All articles I have seen referencing this find clearly state BOE (barrels of oil equivalent). In other words, it may not even be oil and instead be gas. Many of the big oil companies do this now that they have significant natural gas holdings. It doesn't change the fact that it's a nice little chunk of change for BP, but it's so small in the wider scheme of things that it won't have any significant impact. Given that we've seen a couple peaks so far (2005 and 2008) and are now mired in a global recession (depression?) that is holding down demand slightly, we may hover on this plateau for a a number of years into the future. In other words, the global peak, if we assume we've hit it, may not in itself turn out to be significant directly in society due to other factors, like the economic recession.

However, if we have indeed hit the peak, then future growth, including economic growth, is clearly constrained unless we can make significant progress in replacing fossil fuels as our civilization's primary energy source. Given that we've been having this discussion since 2005 here on TOD and that there has been no real noticeable change in those four years, I don't see any reason to expect change to suddenly and miraculously occur when fossil fuel availability becomes a more serious problem. If we can't do it when we're relatively wealthy and flush with capital, we're going to have a pretty hard time doing it when we're capital poor.

RW -- I was on well in the same area last fall that made it to 34,000'. The oil window is valid but it's not really depth specific. It's temperature related. But the deeper you go the hotter it gets of course. You're right: at high temps oil will crack to NG. But that's the amazing thing about the Deep Water GOM temp gradient. It's much less then you find in shallower waters or onshore. A 14,000' bottom hole temperature on the La. shoreline could easily exceed that seen at 34,000' in the Deep Gulf. Also, remember that depth also includes the water depth. Depth is typically based on distance below mean sea level.

But as mentioned elsewhere we need to pay attention if it's oil or "barrels equivalent". If it's NG and they are stating the reserves in barrels equivalent it should clearly say so (at least in the official public statement and not from some talking TV head). The SEC would fine BP to death if they ever made such a missstatement.

Depth in a well - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Illustrates TVD (Total Vertical Depth), i.e., how far down into the earth the deepest point is, as opposed to MD (Mean Depth), which is the complete length of the bore. BP are throwing out the MD figure, to seem impressive I suppose.

This article has charts of GOM TVDs achieved 2003-2005: Sustaining the Gulf of Mexico; exploration and development below 15,000 ft TVD. One of these graphs was used by an abiotic proponent, blogger "OilIsMastery," WhoLaidDownHisRap at peakoil.com with AmpleAmountsOfBluster for months on end - he'd have lasted about a week here, where standards for behavior are upheld. Quite the wingnut.

Tell us more about that temp gradient, ROCK, if you have the time. I hope Heading Out will have a post about this, too. Interesting phenomenon.

"Tell us more about that temp gradient, ROCK, if you have the time. "
Yes please do.

There's a map here:


There do seem to be freakishly low geothermal gradients there; I'm guessing that we have rapid deposition on top of very old oceanic crust (Early Cretaceous- older?). So this is a pretty unusual situation; the parts of the basin nearer the center would also have had longer to cool before getting a coating of sediment to insulate them.

fluffy it the nail on the head. We all know temp increases with depth. The reason some gradients are so low in the GOM is the rapid deposition in some areas. I don't have numbers at hand but I imagine some older areas in the mid-continet hit temps at less then 10,000' which are much higher then you find at 20,000' in the GOM. There is an area just south of New Orleans which has an unsually thick and young sediment dump. A well 15,000' would have a BH temp as low as one at 9,000' just a 100 miles away.

The low temps found in the Deep Water plays in the GOm were the really big surprise. Once companies realized that the temp window for oil had not been breached they really got after it. While there were some NG pipelines relatively close to the DW plays on the eats side no such easy tie-ins existed to the west. Thus only oil potential would work out there. In general, this is a good example of why we need to take all predictions (both low and high) with a big grain of salt. Probabaly no more then 10 or 12 years ago any geologist predicting such low temps (and the oil potential) in this DW area would have been laughed out of the room.

H U H!
So let me get this straight.
High temps at extreme depths (at least in the GOM) are caused by the accumulating pressure of the above material?
I would have thought it was from the radiant heat from the mantle and core.

First time poster, so apologies if I mess up this reference. Business Insider has a good piece pouring cold water on the BP discovery:


I particularly like:

That prompted these pithy tweets from energy analyst/writer Gregor Macdonald: "Yes it's very exciting $BP has found oil 7 miles deep (deeper than the Jack Field) that will be more expensive than Oil Sands to develop," and "An irony of Oil Sands is there is virtually no exploration risk. In ultra-deep, you have that ongoing, + cost inflation."

Hello Sid Dukes,

Welcome to TOD! A corollary to your blockquoted comment above is that OPEC Tarmats have no exploration risk either, especially when they are 500 feet thick and many miles long & wide like Ghawar's tarmat under Uthmaniyah [See Simmons' graphic]--it would take a damn poor driller doing a damn poor job to miss something so humongous.

Of course, OPEC developing a cost-effective extraction method to get fluids to flow from these tarmats may be difficult or impossible. My guess is '..parting the Red Sea' with ARAMCO drill-bits is their backup plan. But then, you are back to your quote of "In ultra-deep, you have that exploration risk ongoing, + cost inflation."

I was watching a BBC documentary last night about food and it shed a completely different light on the Export Land Model.

Kenya is in the final stages of negotiating a long term lease of vast parts of its fertile rift valley to Quatar.. in exchange for oil. Quatar has no (little) food production, Kenya has fertile land currently used by the indigenous tribes who are peasants and so don't matter. So the Kenyan government is prepared to export the land to Quatar for oil! Never mind that millions of Kenyans are starving and that the tribes people who will be evicted will end up swelling the slums around Niarobi.

Funny old world, eh?

I understand that parts of North-East Kenya are having a very prolonged drought and that many people have already left.

Correct. I visited Lodwar (a town in North Western Kenya) in 1995 and there was bugger all water around even then. Lake Turkana (Rudolf) was the main source. The Ethiopians wanted to damn the river flowing into it for hydro. Not sure what came of it but the Kenyas were not happy.

I also remember visiting a fish freezing plant on the shores of the Lake. Now, bare in mind that we are talking about a completely empty undeveloped area of the world where a camel is preferable to a car and here was a fish freezing plant, built by the Italians to free fish caught in the lake ready for onward shipment to Nairobi and further. The plant was to be solar powered (I kid you not!). It was the biggest manifestation of boondogledry and corruption one could attempt to find. The Italian government had an aid budget. It asked the Kenyans if they would like a fish freezing plant. The Kenyan government said yup, but leave us 10% here in Nairobi as our 'fee'. The Italians then said 'sure, but the plant will be built by Italian engineers and components'. The plant was duly built...and then abandoned never actually freezing a single fish!! Quite how they were going to move the frozen fish the 400 miles to the nearest commercial freezer without them thawing out in the 45 degree (c) heat is anyone's guess!! About a year after the plant was abandoned it was looted and reduced to junk.


Your story reminded me of this radio interview with a young Kenyan journalist (that I recently heard) on why many foreign aid project don't work in Africa.

Very interesing:

You might want to check out the documentary "Darwin's Nightmare"


A striking parallel to what you are describing except the plant in Tanzania is functional. Definitely worth the watch.

There never was a cichlid radiation in Lake Turkana, presumably because Lates spp were endemic.

many people have already left.

Nice euphemism...

Hunger Kills in Kenya's North as Drought Takes Toll

... and you think it will be any different in the UK? ... it wasn't mentioned explicity but IMO that is the inference you were supposed to make.

The UK farmers have food they can ship to the UK cities or ... they could ship it to a mid-eastern country in exchange (barter not cash)for energy ... Never mind that millions of Kenyans British are starving.

Watch out for an East Anglian breakaway from the union. :-)

nah! East Anglia will be under water in a few years time. The civilized parts of the country will have to cope with all the refugees...gawd!

Pakistan is offering 7m acres of farmland for long-term investment to foreigners and an Emirates Investment Group. The list of countries involved in the global land grab is growing almost daily. The failed attempt by a Korean multi-national to acquire almost 50% of Madagascar's arable land secretly was particularly bold move. Britain's Landkom is farming nearly a 100 square miles of the Ukraine.

Other countries selling off the citizens family silver on the quite are Moldova, Mozambique, Russia, Uganda, Brazil, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Sudan, Kazakhstan, Israel, Scotland (?) and many more. This neo-colonialism or neo-feudalism has even been given a new name; agrocolonialism.

Its classic overshoot remediation by finding a temporary or phantom carrying capacity. It will probably give a tremendous boost to the evolution of a global insurgency.

The desert kingdoms, seeing the writing on the wall, are of course attempting to secure their future food allotment.

By allowing the democracies to continue to engineer a perception of BAU they also condemn themselves to the similar fate of economic collapse and population crash.

I've said it several times in the past that IMO there is no engineering solution for the energy crisis.
Why do we pander to the engineers, they are worse than the the Wall Steet ponzi scheme scammers.

The scammers kill dreams and lifestyles, the engineers have killed the planet.

Bicycling, Safety in Numbers

Some worthwhile data & charts on this link to a slide.

Bottom line, when more people bicycle, fewer people get hurt. In total, not just per capita.


Best Hopes for More Bicyclists,


Alan - You are the eternal optimist. I live in North County San Diego and by statute they have to provide bike lanes. Last year I started riding my bike to the gym and the college. Parts of my travels I would have to ride in car lanes next to parked cars on my right and passing cars on my left. During this time I've had a couple of big gulps thrown out of windows of passing vehicles, verbal insults and one-finger salutes. A month ago I was in a "protected" bike lane and a car turned right in front of me (I was going straight) and ran me off the road. My de-railer was broken and my front rim was bent. There were dozens of witnesses but when they saw that I was not seriously injured the motorists just moved on. I think I was more disgusted with that than the guy who ran me off the road.

This "cash for clunkers" program should tell everyone with eyes open that we're not going to shift our car-centric culture any time soon. I've got the title for a new book: Let Me Free You From The Burden Of Your Personal Optimism

Best hopes for $10.00 a gallon gasoline.


Some days I have more respect for SoCal than others. Parts of your driving culture there make me actually yearn for good old Boston traffic!

Maybe his house is on fire today..?

I live in Boston and commute 6 miles by bike. I only see this kind of behavior in September, when parents drop their kids off to college and then start driving back, forgetting that they are in Massachusetts, where violence against bicyclists is not condoned, and where U-lock justice against the sideview mirrors of out of town cars driven by sociopaths, however, is winked at.

I'm taking Kunstler's advice an sticking to the Northeast.

joemichaels, Sorry to hear about your experiences - just plain rotten. I bike a lot in Silicon Valley and the car/bike relations are generally pretty good by contrast. And then there's this non-critical, fun-loving monthly event in San Jose (last Friday it was 21 miles with about 3,000 riders!)


re "Best hopes for $10.00 gas" - yup. Me to :*)

Sorry, had to replace the image with a text link. That photo is bloody huge. (File-size wise.) PNG is a very poor choice for a photograph. It results in huge file sizes, even for seemingly small images.

JPG is what you want for photos that will be posted on the web. PNGs are good for charts and graphs - images that have large areas of a single color.

PNGs are good for charts and graphs - images that have large areas of a single color.

And also for cases where you need loss-less storage. Which I didn't need in this case :*)


Video Shows Lawmaker Hitting Cyclist

to be honest people who ride their bicycles on the pavement (in Amero-speak, that is the sidewalk) should be shot. I nearly got knocked over yesterday by a malevolent bicyclist fascist. Plenty of road for him to be on, but oh no, he had to come onto my patch.

It's often an impossible situation. Bikes sometimes HAVE to use the pavement, but should, of course treat it like they are guests and the bipeds have first right-of-way..

I don't forgive cyclists who bully pedestrians, NOR peds who abuse drivers by crossing a street unpredictably, etc.. but ultimately, it's a broken system, and people are trying to survive within it.

Instead of attacking each other, we need to redesign the system. Shoot the old blueprints, if you're going to shoot something.

City streets and their grid pattern evolved when the only way that people could get around was on foot or by beast of burden. The pace of traffic was slow, people could see where other people were, and had time to react and thus avoid collisions. No doubt horses and people bumped into each other once in a great while, and maybe even a few people got hurt. For the most part, though, it worked pretty good.

Then came bicycles. They move a little faster, but not much. Collisions might be a bit more dangerous, but there still were not all that many of them, and most of them did not cause all that much harm.

Then came the automobile. We have tried to make the old city street grid work for them, too. It doesn't work very well at all; never did, never will. Automobiles are just too large, move too fast, and are too dangerous. If an automobile collides with a pedestrian, a bicycle, or even another automobile, there is a very considerable possibility that someone will be killed, or at least permanently disabled.

Of course, there is also the issue of traffic congestion, which was never a problem in the pre-automobile days.

The only sensible answer that I can see is to ban automobiles altogether from central business districts, and to require everyone to get around in them on foot, on bicycle, or on public transit.

Or make the automobiles slow when they are driven in urban areas.

"Of course, there is also the issue of traffic congestion, which was never a problem in the pre-automobile days."

not quite

a quick google search


"In the middle of the street" Lichtenberg tells us "roll chaises, carriages and drays in an unending stream. Above this din and the hum and clatter of ten thousand of tongues and feet, one hears the chimes from church towers, the bells of the postmen, the organs, fiddles and hurdy-gurdies and tambourines of English mountebanks, and the cries of those who sell hot and cold viands in the open at the street corners.

I also remember my dad telling me about horse pollution - aleast you could put it on yer roses ;)


Good points, WNC;
But (even if the Dutch will take me up on this,) I do feel that the Bike/Pedestrian mix is possibly as challenging as the Bike/Auto one.

Bikes' timing and motion is tough to reconcile with walking, jogging and strollers,etc.. Trying to coexist on Bike/Hike trails and in CentralPark has made this issue real for me a number of times.

Not unsolvable, but we have a ways to go..

Common sense and comity go a LONG WAY to resolve these issues.

At a recent board meeting of the New Orleans Metro Bicycle Coalition. I asked if there was any biker harassment. Stupidity and thoughtlessness, but not malice was the answer.

The St. Charles Streetcar Line is for walkers and joggers, the CBD section of the Canal Streetcar Line is for bicycles (pes walk along the edges.

An 8' wide sidewalk across the street from my house is, de facto, for combined use, with peds getting ROW. Bicylcists usually take the major one way street in one direction and the sidewalk in the other direction.

Best Hopes for Comity and Common Sense,


The use of sidewalks can be very confusing in the US. In some places, bicycles are banned from the sidewalk, and riding your bike there will get you a ticket. In others, the sidewalk is where bikes are supposed to be. It's a designated bike lane, and drivers are rightfully annoyed when cyclists ride on the road instead.

This is confusing: I though cyclists have equal rights with cars (under the law) on city roads. I have not heard of places where the bicycle is supposed to be on the sidewalk.

I know sidewalk cycling is against the law in some places. Many cyclists are simply afraid of the cars - who can blame them.

I heard that the law in Colorado now states you can be charged for throwing something at a cyclist, even if you don't hit the cyclist. I'm amazed that wasn't the case before!

I am wondering whether the attitudes towards cyclists have changed. I used to commute by bicycle, for 20 years, in Montreal, Boston, Providence R.I., and San Francisco. I used to tour by bike and have been to Vermont, Nova Scotia, Cape Cod and much of Northern California. I have never had anyone throw something at me, or insult me. Some people back in 1983 would make fun of my helmet, but that's about it for the comments. I did sometimes get the sense it was better for me to ride in the back, so I was more visible to cars than my boyfriend. He would report cars driving too close to him. I think drivers might have somehow assumed I was too uncoordinated to harass, or something else somehow decreased the aggressiveness factor.

This is confusing: I though cyclists have equal rights with cars (under the law) on city roads. I have not heard of places where the bicycle is supposed to be on the sidewalk.

It all depends on where you are. That's why I said it was "very confusing."

There are roads where bicycles are not permitted. Usually high speed highways where it's not safe.

And there are roads where the sidewalk is designed as a bike route. It's made extra-wide (8' or so) to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists, though often these are along roads where there are few to no pedestrians. It's posted as a bike route.

Cyclists often don't like to use them, though, and bike in the road until they hear a car. Then they get back on the sidewalk.

Some cyclists just dislike going up and down the curb cuts. Some are rightfully concerned about safety. Several studies have shown that it's dangerous to ride on the sidewalk; you are safer in the street.

"Several studies have shown that it's dangerous to ride on the sidewalk; you are safer in the street."

I've heard this many times before but after watching people drive through busy intersections while texting with no hands on the wheel and knowing my wife's story of being run over by a drunk driver I just can't convince myself that I'm not better off on the sidewalk/bikeway.

Supposedly, a big reason why riding in the street is safer is that the cyclist is more wary. There is a tendency for drivers not to see people or bikes on the sidewalk, and run over them at driveways and intersections, but that doesn't explain why bike paths are also more dangerous than riding in the street. The reason for that appears to be that cyclists let down their guard and take more risks in the apparent safety of a bike path.

I have to say, that's a big reason I don't bike more often. Who wants to have to constantly look over their shoulder?

The only reason to look over your shoulder is if you are about to make a move into the traffic lane. Otherwise you need to pay attention to what is in front of you, including persons in parked cars and the state of the road. Most cycling crashes involving motorized vehicles occur at intersections, usually involving the cyclist or motorist turning, so pay special attention there.

The most important defense to protect your rear is to be visible, retro-reflectively visible. It is also very important to be frontally visible. In general the cyclist who survives is visible and predictable. Signal your intent, grab the whole lane when your safety is otherwise compromised (after looking over your shoulder--and when looking over your left shoulder drop your right shoulder slightly).

In Canada, cyclists can take the CAN-BIKE courses, and I believe similar courses are available in the US.

There is nothing particularly unsafe about cycling in traffic if cycling properly. Aggressive motorists are a problem for everybody, including other motorists and pedestrians. Support local organizations that support education (share the road) and enforcement (of traffic rules).

This has been studied to death for decades. Part of the problem is that street or sidewalk, you still have to cross through those intersections if you intend to get anywhere. If it's truly a busy intersection, the traffic never clears. And the sidewalk will often force you to pop into the intersection where you're least expected. Now, if the bikeway has overpasses, that can be a different story.

Also, beware of intuition - crashes are rare enough that intuition doesn't work properly. It's just as hard to believe that removing all the traffic signs, lane markings, etc., can make things safer - if it's done in the right place and all the paraphernalia are removed. But that's now also known to be true.

Curious that you mention intuition.
The hardest thing in utilizing intuition is being quick enough to grasp the opportunity it presents.

Another thing that's just as hard is leaving the opportunity on the table when it's not a good one...

Thats not the way it works with me.
Sometimes I can reach a certain state of awareness where I can literally "intuit" my way to work.
Less succesful of course in the supermarket checkout line and since you mention it I'll give it a try next time I go out for chinese food. :)

When I rode around the Phoenix area on a bicycle back in the early '80s I used to wear a .38 revolver on my belt, which was perfectly legal so long as it wasn't concealed. I figured that perhaps a motorist would be more reluctant to hit me if he or she thought that I might shoot them in the back of the head with my dying breath as they sped away. I guess it worked since I'm still alive.

I don't remember ever having anything thrown at me from a car while cycling but it did happen to me when on horseback as a kid. A car went by and a large paper cup of beverage & ice was thrown from the car window. It missed but it was quite a rodeo for a few seconds, much to the amusement of the asshole who threw the drink at me & my horse, I suppose.

That would explain why I had no trouble getting streams of vituperation about the newcomers whenever I stopped at a diner in the Southwest and chatted up a rancher.

Talk about all-hat-no-cattle. To harass a horse rider?? In Arizona?? WTF?

This is confusing: I though cyclists have equal rights with cars (under the law) on city roads. I have not heard of places where the bicycle is supposed to be on the sidewalk.

Back in the 1970's, when the City of Palo Alto implemented bike lanes, in certain places they required bikes to go on the sidewalk since there wasn't enough room on the street for designated lanes.

The original signage said "Bicycles MUST use sidewalk". An avid cyclist took the city to court, and won - the signs were changed to say "Bicycles MAY use sidewalk".

Generally, the rule is that bicycles enjoy all the rights of other vehicles on the roadway, and have all the same responsibilities plus one additional one: to stay as far to the right as is safe and practical.

Well, I've been called a "bike nazi". By my friends 8-)

I never ride on the sidewalk if it is at all possible to avoid it. Not bothering the pedestrians is only one of many reasons for that... Perhaps the most important one is that joemichaels' experience, above, is all to familiar to me. I long ago concluded that to avoid situations like that, a bicyclist that is going straight ahead where there is an opportunity to turn right must move to the center of the car lane so as to be maximally visible and predictable. If you stay on the right, the car driver is justified in thinking you're about to turn right. (Obviously, I also think that the correct way to make bike lanes is to "meld" them with the car lane before crossings).

Of course, to avoid annoying the motorists too much, this tactic requires that you move fast enough that you don't slow down traffic. If you're content to roll along at jogging speed or slower, and defer to both pedestrians and crossing motor traffic, the sidewalk is the best choice.

Bicyclists who ride slow in the road or fast on the sidewalk are, IMO, simply inexperienced... at least as much a danger to themselves as to others.

The problem is visibility. Here in Toronto, you need to wear a helmet but the real issue is that a driver cannot see a bike that has snuck up quietly on the passenger side, just waiting to blow straight through an intersection while the car he is hiding beside has its right turn indicator flashing. I am not even including all the bicyclists that blow right through red lights here (stop signs are totally ignored).

Yes, visibility and predictability.

I try to wear brightly colored clothing, preferably fluorescent green... but red or orange will do. Why, oh why is so much designated bike-wear black? That's like urban camouflage; the exact opposite of what you want.

Blowing through red lights... Yes, I see a lot of that, and from apparently old hands (like bike messengers) too. Personally, I think they're suicidal; and that they give bicyclists everywhere a bad name. I have heard some justify it by saying they feel that stopping would slow down traffic and cause irritation among drivers... Well, I know how they feel; it's not a comfortable feeling, being first in line, waiting for the green light, hearing growling engines behind you... you feel... small. Naked. Hunted. But with proper technique and a bit of effort, a bike accelerates from a standstill to about 20 km/h very quickly, and will be through the intersection and over on the right-hand side before the cars get up to speed.

And moving up to the right of the foremost vehicle in a line... now that is not a very bright thing to do. I will move up to the right of a line of waiting cars, but try to move into a gap behind one of the foremost vehicles. If I can't find a gap I just stop slightly forward of the first car in line that doesn't indicate a right turn.

Hi Kode,

As I bicycle about 4,000 miles a year I've made a few observations:

- In the US and many other western countries, cycling on public roads is usually (some nice exceptions) a dangerous activity that requires considerable experience and no small amount of courage (or insanity). At this point in time, we have a massive delusion that private cars are the preferred mode of transit - regardless of all the health, saftey, environment, etc issues. Our "car culture" is totally dominant and pushes utility type cyclists to the fringes.

- It starts with children - most parents are afraid to let their kids bike several miles to school through city traffic (and I don't blame them). Consequently, schools and law enforcement agencies don't take the whole issue of utility cycling seriously - few schools teach kids the rules and techniques for riding on public streets (although there is plenty of ed material for this). Few cities seriously adopt all the guidlines for the "Complete Steets" safety program. Almost universally, kids are obsessed with getting their drivers license and a car.

- Adults who are competent automobile drivers will often get on a bicycle and act like a total jerks - ignoring traffic lights and stop signs, failing to signal when turning, passing on the right, etc. I think someone could do a PHD disseration on this behavior.

- In WI the law is that only "small children" can cycle on sidewalks unless the sidewalk is also designated as a bike path. I frequently see young teenagers cycling 10+ mph on busy downtown sidewalks and they are never stopped by the police. If cycling were taken seriously, these kids would be getting warnings and perhaps even tickets for repeat offenders - but, this never happens because the police really don't want the kids in the street either.

- I have a theory regarding motorists and safety on public roads - especially rural roads: 15 to 25 percent of the motorists will always treat a cyclists in a safe manner (not passing on blind hills, not crowding the cyclist off the road, etc); a very small percent (less than 1%) hate cyclists and will take every opporunity to "teach us a lesson" - which sometimes involves death; the remaining 75% or so of the motorists will treat a cyclists in a truly safe manner if it is "convenient" - but when really safe behaviour might cause a few seconds delay - all bets are off and the cyclist really needs to understand "defensive" cycling if he/she wants to stay alive.

- I could go on....

Some thoughts:
Children biking to school.
Many parents stopped their kids locally when a serial child predator used his Jeep to bump a kid off his bike and abduct him in broad daylight and on a busy stretch of road a number of years ago. Even with the liscense plate number police were unable to react in time to save the kid.

Bike paths.
Most of the dedicated bike paths here connect to the Metroparks and are mostly used recreationally. Groups of Rollerbladers pretty much dominate traffic and can really attain some impressive speeds, walkers are entirely intimidated by them as are most bikers.

Safety on public roads.
Some roads do not have adequate width to accommodate both autos and bikes simultaneously yet seemingly these are the same roads that attract a certain defiant element of bikers for whatever reason.
Most times not a huge problem but during the rush hours or in darkness these folks can cause huge traffic issues and IMO should be prohibited from those roads.

Another hazard I encounter while biking are Ipod wearing skateboarders who seem totally oblivious to their surroundings.

Hi Spaceman,

I have resolved to listen carefully and respond politely....

bikers ..... should be prohibited from those roads.

Why do you assume that the debate should be cast in terms of the auto driver's convenience? In the long run, is this the most rational POV for the planet and the human species? From my POV, any motorist that harms a cyclist (under almost all circumstances) should be horse whipped in the public square before being sent to prison for life.

I agree about the ipod sub-species, whether skater, biker or walker.

Happy motoring and all you can eat.

"Why do you assume that the debate should be cast in terms of the auto driver's convenience?"

Funny what will set some folks off.
Maybe the fact that the roads I mention were designed to handle automobiles only might.
Or the fact that a few bikers, regardless of their intentions, would so jeopardize their safety and the safety of thousands of motorists by riding on roads that are plainly not dual purpose might as well.

I also rode my bike to work for two Summers but on a extra wide road, 1-1/2 lanes each way, in a residential area w/a posted 25mph speed limit, NOT on a narrow two lane, rough shouldered, 50mph roadway that handles 10's of thousands of autos at the rush hours each day.
And I found my route too dangerous to continue.
But what the hell, if you want to ride roads like the one I described, go right ahead!
However be aware that if I had to make a split second decision whether or not to swerve my vehicle carrying my family into the path of an oncoming fuel tanker in the opposing lane or collide with a bicyclist you might not feel so justified in your puerile POV.

Why anyone would aspire to become a hood ornament is beyond my ken.

Hi Spaceman,

Other than your "Childish POV" remark, I do respect your comment. I am also very conservative in selecting my routes. As much as I would like to make a bike tour from Atlantic to Pacific, the reality of being forced, at least on occassion, to use the type of road you describe has kept me from ever undertaking this adventure.

But, I still can envision a different reality. I have biked in Ireland and France on much worse roads and the motorists seldom (almost never) even began to endangered our lives because they really did have a different attitude towards cyclists than we do in the US. Notice, however, that I used the words "did have" - sadly, the last bike trip in Ireland was beginning to feel like the US. The younger generation of drivers have little experience with cycling on public roads and therefore don't treat cyclist with the same respect as most of the older generations who biked a lot before they ever owned a car.

You are right, the reality of riding a bike on public roads here in the US today is a very dangerous activity - my wishing aside - that still does not mean that our motoring mentality is the best way to live and prepare for the future.

My philosophy is that pedestrians always have the right of way, followed by bikes, then buses, then cars.

That is standard protocol for air traffic. The least maneuverable has the right of way.

Some roads do not have adequate width to accommodate both autos and bikes simultaneously

Then why not make them bicycle only ?

Or one side two way bike lanes, the other a one way car lane.

One contradiction is that reduced road space reduces road congestion over time, as people adapt.


HACland, let us know when cyclists riding on the pavement come near to killing the 900,000 or so killed annually in motor vehicle accidents (many of which are cyclists and pedestrians).

Hope springs eternal:

REAL ESTATE: Investors pluck deals from housing crash wreckage
As Southern California's homebuilders stumble through the wreckage of the worst bust in their industry's history, investors are collecting the pieces in anticipation of the next boom.

Most of the purchases amount to a bet that a rebounding economy will support a new wave of homebuyers by 2015 or so. The investors reason that job markets will be stronger, savings accounts and credit histories will have been rebuilt by then, and that a growing population will have filled up the tens of thousands of houses now sitting vacant.

"The futures so bright I think I'll need sunglasses." (Don't remember who said that originally)


Earliest reference I can find is


from 2003. Might be an original quote.


I'm wrong

15. The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades (Timbuk 3)
Husband/wife team of Pat and Barbara MacDonald; song featured on "My Best Friend is a Vampire."
" Fifty thou a year buys a lot of beer "


No way. Timbuk-3, back in the mid-80s.

early 80s

1986 is "early '80s"?


You right

This is the equivalent of picking up dropped items on the beach from the first people to be swept away by a Tsunami wave...

...problem is that this 'recovery' is being framed as all past recoveries where -might take a bit longer but soon we will be back on track. The massive debt burdon of the West and impending resource shortages of everything from corn-cob to Neodynium will put paid to a 'normal recovery'. People just don't get it yet.


Here's hoping the investor locusts will be well and truly crushed under the financial burden this time.

They don't learn a thing after witnessing the whole debacle play out in real time before their very eyes... it's not like this was a generation ago with the memories of the hardship slowly fading away. This is STILL occurring and they are already lining up to do exactly the same thing that got us into this in the first place.

I hope their "great deals" bury them.

Last year, when I checked the numbers, the U.S. had more bedrooms than people, more cars than drivers, and the square footage per occupant of houses built after 2000 averaged double that of the 1950's. We have a tremendous amount of slack.

We are more likely to bump up against the limits of water in California than pressure for more housing space in far flung suburbs. Those speculators may pick a good spot with actual prospects for a stable, employed population as the economy reorganizes. Or they may just lose their shirts, like the original owners. My guess is that on average and on the whole, the places where housing boomed without ports, industry, or the economic functions of a town are going back to desert. A lot of the land was sold for development because there isn't enough water for irrigated agriculture now.

So, I would not recommend investing in great deals in California residential property unless the property is already in the right place. In which case, it is probably less of a deal.


If I had the time, I would write an article "Is Rebutting Peak Oil Deniers a Waste of Energy". Ultimately no matter what we say, the deniers aren't going to back down an inch, so all of the back and forth essentially just amounts to words. It will only be the events of the future that will either cause one of two outcomes - they will either change their mind, or they will stubbornly cling to their theories and keep repeating them to an ever shrinking audience.

This kind of comes back to a question we had in the campfire a few weeks back having to do with outreach. What is the point of the outreach? What is the point of convincing others? What would you have people do if you convince them of the correctness of the arguments for peak oil? The answer to this is going to depend upon each of our own ideas as to the future of oil. For example, if you think the terminal decline will start in 2010 the action plan would be different than if the decline starts in 2020.

"If I had the time, I would write an article "Is Rebutting Peak Oil Deniers a Waste of Energy". ... What is the point of the outreach?"

Several reasons. First, all that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing (attrib. Edmund Burke, circa 1700s). Secondly, the occasional convert can be made (I don't think any of us were born Peak Oilers). Thirdly, introducing an element of doubt into the sheeples' minds may not wake them up but it may start one or two of them wondering.

Quite commonly, people will deny a truth when first exposed to it, but if it is constantly repeated, then it will gradually enter public consciousness. Eventually everyone will say "I knew it all along" and it will be the deniers who are left out on the fringe. Although blogs such as this can be considered as preaching to the choir, they do serve as a source of knowledge (I had no idea of the Land Export Model until I read it here), and a source of support and morale (particularly if you live in a small town, you may think you are alone and it is a hopeless fight).

I don't preach Peak Oil to my family and friends but whenever the subject of oil comes up (as it often does here in Cowtown), I try to sneak in at least one tidbit about Peak Oil. Subtlety seems to work better than haranguing.

There are now around 7 billion people on the planet, which is a direct result of our rapid use of fossil fuels. At it's heart, peak oil is about there not being enough energy resources for all of us to live - a big portion of that population will have to "leave". If tomorrow everyone accepted the idea of PO, and understood the implications of that, what would we do with the information? Could we, would we do anything useful to ease the transition? If we did, would that mean accommodating a larger population for a longer time, increasing the damage we're doing to world ecosystems and climate?

There isn't any way out of the box. The basic problem is that there are too many of us, energy from FF is the reason, and PO means less available. There is no way to fix this, beyond the obvious. I believe it is moral to tell people the truth, but it is widely available for those who want to know it. Lynch is telling people what they desperately want to hear, and what the corporatocracy wants them to hear - and trumpeting it through all the coordinated propaganda outlets. Beyond that, the PO message is a minor part of the real message, which is mainly about the the economic situation and trying to create a feeling of optimism so that people will somehow magically start spending money they don't have again.

The collapse of human population is inevitable. Even if fossil fuel energy was still in abundant supply, overpopulation induced environmental degradation would bring about collapse. In fact, if energy from any source (fusion, for instance) was abundant, human population would grow that much larger only to crash that much harder. It doesn't matter what lies public figures tell or what people believe. There is no way to mitigate population collapse. It will occur whether or not people see it coming or are blindsided by it. So forget about liars like Lynch and his ilk. Perhaps he is performing a public service by keeping people ignorant of the situation. Why not let people just party on as if the party would go on forever? Humanity has no future, eyes open or closed.

Yes, that is always where I come out too - even if we came up with a new, non-polluting energy source it still does not solve the problem. However, I believe that it was FF that allowed our present population level - we could not have "achieved" that level otherwise. FF caused the population spike, as well as the atmospheric CO2 spike and the ecosystem damage spike - rapidly accelerating the process. From the present view at the top of the spike, the background level of human caused damage is a lot less of an issue. I'm not entirely convinced that small populations cannot live in a reasonably sustainable manner, but sure as hell 7 billion cannot.

I believe that it was FF that allowed our present population level - we could not have "achieved" that level otherwise.

You're quite correct but my point is that population overshoot of carrying capacity would have occurred whatever cheap & abundant energy source had been developed. Suppose that fossil fuels had been scarce and humans had developed fission instead. The details of the infrastructure buildout would have differed but the outcome would have been the same: overpopulation leading to environmental degradation resulting in population collapse to extinction.

I'm not entirely convinced that small populations cannot live in a reasonably sustainable manner..

Perhaps this could have at one time been accomplished but carrying capacity has been so severely degraded that it is no longer possible. And I'm not convinced that it was ever possible. Even foraging/scavenging cultures with neolithic technology initiated mass extinction and ecosystem collapse on continent wide scales. Homo hit the Americas like an asteroid impact. Australia, Madagascar, New Zealand, the Hawaiian Archipelago.. even harder. Perhaps the capacity for symbolic language and cultural (memetic) evolution coupled with an opposable thumb is inherently unsustainable.

Just thinking about this further - I don't think that any other energy source would have been possible. FF are simple - almost no knowledge or technology are needed to use them. All of the significant technology has come after FF, due to the ability of societies to support a large number of people who do not spend all their time producing or gathering food. Without FF, no energy source requiring technology would have been developed, as technology development would have been very slow.

- I don't think that any other energy source would have been possible. FF are simple - ..Without FF, no energy source requiring technology would have been developed..

I won't dispute this. I was being hypothetical when I bid readers consider fission being developed instead of fossil fuels, to make the point that whatever the energy source humans would have used it to fuel their own population increase to the detriment of the biosphere.

OK, I get that. I was just pointing out that the whole FF thing really was unique - a one time shot. I realize humans have been very destructive even without FF, but with FF our ability to cause damage has been vastly multiplied in scale and especially in time frame. Oh well - I think tonight I will hang out around the barn at dusk and see if we still have any bats left.

Hydropower, first hydromechanical and then hydroelectric, could have been developed with charcoal and Roman era technology.

Wind (see Dutch windmills to grind grain) is another possibility.


Hydromechanical and wind were well developed before FF. It didn't result in the kind of population explosion that FF did.

It wasn't FF as such, but rather the inventions that came alongside it.

Sanitation, for instance.

The points where we use FF for energy, such as tractors, had other possibilities as well.

What if the electric motor/generator had been invented before the steam engine? There was no reason they had to be invented in the order they were, just a matter of the right people observing the effects that lead to them. Water-powered electric furnaces could have been the birthplace of high grade steel. The first tractors could have been electric instead of steam powered, with iron-nickel piles. If the steam engine had been invented in such an environment, the nasty tendency they had of exploding would have probably kept them from being refined as quickly as they were.

Without decades of experience with steam engines, the IC engine would have also been harder to develop. Gasoline-fueled car culture might never have happened on such a path.

There has always been the possibility for more than one path. Just because it actually happened one way doesn't mean that another series of events couldn't have gotten us to a similar place.

It also means that this isn't the last chance.

"So forget about liars like Lynch and his ilk." DD

Climate trouble may be bubbling up in Arctic Experts study soil, seafloors for methane released by thawing permafrost.
"On a calm day, you can see 20 or more 'seeps' out across this lake," said Canadian researcher Rob Bowen, sidling his small rubber boat up beside one of them. A tossed match would have set it ablaze.

Those experts...wadda they know?


A tossed match would have set it ablaze.

Should've done it. Oxidize that CH4. CO2 has a considerably lower heat capacity than methane.

Trivia question: What is the most common flammable gas in farts?

Wouldn't that be the CH4?

Further trivia of Global farts:

In the global perspective, the chemistry of flatus doesn't seem to be worth a fart -- provided, however, that you are not a ruminating cow or moose, in which case your bad manners are contributing to global warming.

The objectionable part of the fart are Sulphurous odors:

The actual amounts of the gases responsible for the objectionable odor of farts are very small, but unfortunately most noticeable to the olfactory organs. The following data (Suarez, F. L., et al) is based on subjects who were fed pinto beans and lactulose:

in flatus gas
Hydrogen sulphide 0.2 mmol/l
Methanethiol 0.04 mmol/l
Dimethyl sulphide 0.01 mmol/l

The higher the hydrogen sulphide concentration, the more objectionable the odor of farts seems to be perceived.

Particularly malodorous flatulence may be an indicator of more serious problems associated with dietary infections. If you're clearing the room get to a doctor...Quick!


Thanks for this detailed and timely information while I'm enjoying my egg salad sandwich and lentil soup

Wouldn't that be the CH4?

Nope. H2

Behold! The birth of the Hydrogen Economy!


At 7 billion the population is too high but how long did it take to get from 3 billion to 7?

From a middle aged persons perspective the population of the earth has doubled in my life time, and I aint that old!

So allow the death rate to significantly exceed the birth rate for the next 25 years and calculate the numbers.

Just by delaying having children from < 20 years of age until mid 30's has a huge impact on replacement. Couple that with 1-2 chldren rather than 3+ and populations drop quickly in a just 1-2 decades as people >40 years of age die more or less naturally. Throw in a bit more mortality for eveyone but much higher for 60+ and the world can empty out pretty quickly.

My point is that I think if you run the numbers this way you will see that population can drop relatively quickly without a mass human die off in only 1-5 years and many people would still beable to have offspring just not as many. Clearly some of the northern European countries are already doing this and without immigration would already have lower population than 10 years ago.

I am not saying this is how a die off will happen I am saying it is one possible way population can be reduced. Lastly what is the average age (Mean, median and mode) of the 7 billion today and how does that impact future population?

Libraries are being swamped by jobseekers, just as their funding is being cut. People drop their home Internet service to save money, and have to use the library's computers to look for work.

And schools are dropping everything from sports to proms due to the financial crisis. It's simply not possible to raise taxes in this environment.

One would think it would be a good time to be opening up internet cafes. Demand up, supply at libraries down, lots of vacant retail space available as stores close. Something maybe a few folks here should be thinking about?

But the library is free.

Yes, the library is free as long as it is open. Shut it down, or cut the hours way back, and that creates an opportunity for someone.

Perhaps. I doubt it, myself. The people who are going to the library are people who can't afford Internet service or computers at home. They aren't going to have a lot of money to spend at Internet cafes.

I think it's more likely that the price for home Internet service will be forced down.

However, I did read an article about homeless people in Japan who sleep in Internet cafes. Paying per hour for a cubicle is cheaper than a hotel or rent.

I'm really disgusted at what our libraries have become. I love libraries. I would literally defend them in the event someone came to do them deliberate harm.

But now they are the homeless folks' hangouts. Public space has been privatized and these folks have few places to go. They risk harassment and arrest outside. In the Winter it's cold out. So they spend hours in the bathrooms washing, wander around displaying their various mental illnesses, and just hang out. They scare the kids and the moms.

It's sad and troubling. High energy costs (among other things) lead to service cuts, leads to homeless in the library, leads to increasing ignorance as people no longer want to go to the library...

some of this is the lack of community mental health funding/programs. i have done programs in homeless shelters, & several participants should have been in a mental facility instead.

I think this is a very interesting comment. My first reaction is that it's so true of the library here in Boulder. The shelter is closed all summer and during the day in the colder months. Homeless folks hang out on the benches in front of the library doors, smoking, sometimes squabbling with each other, and inside on the computers, on benches between the stacks. They also hang out on the couches at Barnes and Nobles, you know, wherever they can! Also downtown on the pedestrian mall.

Then I thought - one of the things I do is scan these faces in case one of my former patients is there. I used to work at the community health center in town, and some homeless folks are frequent visitors at the clinic. Cumulatively, I have spent hours chatting with some of these people. They know I quit work to stay home and raise my three kids. When I run into them, they are eager to meet my kids, and other than being a little strange (mentally ill, you are right) it's a lot like running into a neighbor or an old acquaintance.

I'm thinking the problem is not that we have too many homeless people at the library, it's that too few of us have had conversations with them.


Thanks for sharing that. We're all just people and full of humanity. I'll try engaging a little more. But they still hog the bathrooms...

"But now they are the homeless folks' hangouts."

got2surf, Have you ever been homeless? Me neither. But my oldest son was for a time (almost 6 months) and I never knew as we weren't speaking at the time. Even now years later I tear up when I think about it. Now every time I see a homeless man or woman panhandling in public I smile and reach in my wallet and give them a couple of bucks. I don't care what they do with the money...that's their choice.

I have no ire for those at the bottom. I save it up for those at the top wearing $2,000 suits.


Hi Joe

I definitely have greater ire for those at the top.

I've been pretty close to homeless, pretty much by choice though, but not quite. In the effort to avoid a 9 to 5, 40 hr. week I've certainly chosen to live cheap at times in the past.

One time my plan was to kayak to various local beaches each evening, carrying a guitar, sleeping bag and beach chair and coffee technology. Kayak back each morning, where there happened to be a shower. I didn't even know how to play the guitar, but I figured I'd have time sitting on the beach, in my chair.

I was days away from this but then got to live on multi-thousand acre beef ranch. I was the closest one to the surf! Got to ride horses, too.

Where's fleam when you need him?

Been thinking about Fleam.

Hope he drops in sometime. Hope he's doing ok.

Toto, you hear from him?

I can tell you that the ISP business is booming. People that never had DSL are getting it for the first time, precisely because it is becoming a necessity in hard times.

Nice to be in a fairly recession proof industry when times get hard.

Cutting out the sports and other activities is not an altogether bad thing. For far too long, these have been the tail wagging the dog. You just don't see this stuff in other countries - countries whose students are performing much better than ours on comparable standardized tests.

Yeah but who won the Little League World Series?

In most places, as far as I know, Little League is not a school-sponsored activity. In most communities you will find a number of organized youth sports - baseball, soccer (association football), swimming, martial arts, etc. - that are outside the umbrella of the public school system. Some of these are organized by the municipal parks and recreation system, and some are just organized by local non-profit civic groups. In all cases, this IMHO is a preferable way to organize and operate sporting activities for young people.

There was an article in the McPaper a few months ago, about how Little League is being impacted by the recession. One league in California saw their corporate sponsorships drop from $45,000 to only $3,000. Many parents could no longer afford the fees, so some were working as grounds crew instead. They also set up systems to encourage families to donate outgrown shoes and such.

I predict the future main sport for kids will be desperately trying to become the next "Rock Star Of Corn", wheat, tomatoes, chickens, etc...as IMO, eating contests to see who can pack in the most mud cookies won't be very popular:

304-bushel corn — in 1955?

He was the Rock Star of Corn.

..A state record corn yield of 179 bushels in 1950 for his first 4-H project, when he was just 10-1/2 years old...
"Remember when the music..[Harry Chapin]
Was the best of what we dreamed of for our children's time
And as we sang we worked, for time was just a line,
It was a gift we saved, a gift the future gave..."

How's this for funny:


The world is swimming on a sea of oil, natural gas is being found in increasing abundance, there is more coal in the ground than the world can ever consume, and nuclear energy has been proved a safe and reliable, if expensive, source of power. For those who live in windy and sunny places, throw in a bit of wind and solar power, and you have more energy than can ever be needed by businesses and consumers.

"more coal in the ground than the world can ever consume" ROFL!! Mr Stelzer, go speak with Prof Bartlett...or a shrink.

Once upon a time in a far far away world swimming on a sea of oil, where natural gas was being found in increasing abundance, there was more coal in the ground than the world could ever have consumed, and nuclear energy had been proven safe and reliable, though a somewhat expensive, source of power. For those who lived in windy and sunny places, they threw in a bit of wind and solar power, and they had more energy than could ever be needed by businesses and consumers.

Good night my little one, sweet dreams...

No, no. "Wake up my little one, you're having a nightmare."

RE: Why do oil prices swing so widely?

There are four major factors that determine oil prices — supply, consumption, financial markets, and government policies. What has happened is that what have historically been the fundamental factors in pricing the barrel — supply and consumption — are no longer in the driver’s seat. So this year, for example, there has been abundant supply and slowing demand, but prices have doubled. Economics 101 says that shouldn’t happen. But it has.

Actually, there is a fifth factor that was not mentioned anywhere in this article: inventories.

In the short term, there are relatively fixed upper and lower limits to global inventories of oil. At the lower limit is the MOL - the stuff that literally must be "in the pipeline" to keep the pipeline in operation. At the upper limit is the total storage space available in tank farms, ocean tankers, etc. The upper limit is not as "hard" as the lower limit MOL, especially if there are national SPRs that have not yet been totally filled; nevertheless, only so much of that additional storage capacity can be brought quickly on line.

As long as global inventories are sitting comfortably between these two limits, they serve nicely as a buffer to sudden shifts in supply and demand, and thus serve to buffer price movements as well. However, as inventories approach one of the limits, the global oil market begins to become hypersensitive to shifts in supply and demand. It is at these times that we see sudden and wild price swings.

This, at any rate, is my theory on the subject. I am not an expert on the oil industry, and am open to being proven to be totally wrong. However, I very much suspect that inventories DO have something to do with it, and the author of the article was mistaken to not mention them.

You have described well the mechanism for the linakage between the bounding limits and the price swings. The philosophical underpinning is that societies running into resource limits always have wild price swings of food, energy and transportation. The second spike is the big crunch. In past collapses, people rode out the first spike but the second one caused widespread havoc.

We seem to be executing a catastrophic collapse in slow motion, as each recovery spikes up the price of oil near $80/barrel. $80 seems to be the trigger for economic reorganization, as whole industries are brought under pressure. Then we lose capacity, shed functions and businesses and employees, and the price of oil subsides for a while.

Past waves inform us that each low from the previous spike corresponds to a level of overall lower economic activity.

Just fasten your seat belt and prepare for turbulent weather.


Slow motion??

Seen from a distance of a few hundred years, this collapse won't look "slow motion" at all.

Time telescopes. People think of Aristotle and Ptolemy as near-contemporaries, but they lived five hundred years apart. This collapse will be remembered as almost instantaneous, if it's remembered at all.

Excellent point. Oh, how we get caught in our own fleeting perceived reality.

this year, for example, there has been abundant supply and slowing demand, but prices have doubled. Economics 101 says that shouldn’t happen. But it has.

Actually, economics 101 rules don't cope with a resource like food or oil that is in short supply with no adequate alternates - alternates are always assumed to exist - if they don't exist then the price will rise.

The fact that OPEC can very easily control the price by quite small changes in supply is IMO a symptom of Peak Oil.

Actually supply = demand and supply of affordable oil is not abundant (but productive capacity may be?) and has been constrained deliberately and easily as we would now expect!

Economics 101 rules apply just fine.

If there is no substitute or only partial substitutes then the substitution impact on the demand curve is reduced or eliminated.

The simple fact of it is that too many people don't like what Econ 101 tells them about fossil fuel prices and distribution in an environment of declining production and supply so they come up with all sorts of elegant theories about how Econ 101 rules don't apply here.

Hello Xeriod,

Yup, economists always assume that alternates exist and the substitution process goes very smoothly and painlessly with a simple wave of the Supply & Demand magic hand.

IF I was King: Economists and their families would enjoy 'Haitian Mud Cookies' as their only foodstuff until they saw the error of their beliefs.

H2O is obvious: But many people don't realize that there are NO SUBSTITUTES to the ELEMENTS NPKS to leverage photosynthesis above a Liebig Minimum. It's industrial [I-NPKS] or organic [O-NPK] fertilizers, nothing else will do.

Of course, economists are free to substitute for NPKS in their gardens whatever volumes of uranium, cadmium, selenium, cesium, lead, etc, that they think will make their plants grow. But IMO, I think their kids will prefer the mud cookies.

EDIT:I wonder how many economists have hugged their bag of NPKS today?

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

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending August 28, 2009

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged nearly 15.0 million barrels per day during the week ending August 28, 468 thousand barrels per day above the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 87.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.1 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.6 million barrels per day last week, up 351 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.1 million barrels per day, 1.2 million 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 878 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 156 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 0.4 million barrels from the previous week. At 343.4 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 3.0 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Both gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.2 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.6 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 4.5 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Everytime this weekly petroleum report comes out, oil prices react by jumping up or down. I personally think the numbers are just noise -- the time range is too short to draw any real conclusions about production or consumption. A moving avererage of refinery inputs, crude imports, invetory, etc. would be more useful.

It's about this time last year that demand started its decline.

What're the odds we'll soon start seeing dim-witted MSM pieces crowing about how oil demand is increasing, so the recession must reely, trooly be over.

Don't miss the terrific graph of the reach and depth of oil drilling in the "Deep Expectations" article linked above.

When it comes to public tansportation there's a huge misconception. Most people think that the primary way to get people out of their cars and onto public transporation is to make the public transportation easier, however, being a resident of the New York Metropolitan area, the biggest reason why my friends and I take public transportation into Manhattan isn't that the public transportation is either cheap or necessarily easy, but that driving is MORE of a hassle. To drive into Manhattan, you have to deal with constant traffic, often pay tolls depending on your destination, struggle to find a parking spot or pay and/or pay a lot of money which may be far away from your intended destination. Unless you have a full car, it's usually cheaper to take public transporation, even though a round trip on the Long Island Rail Road from my town is $15.50, plus $2.25 for a single subway ride.

The most effective way to increase public transportaion use is to make driving more difficult and expensive, not make public transportation easier.

Actually, I think making driving more difficult and expensive, AND making public transportation easier is the most effective solution.

When I lived on Long Island I would drive through Manhattan on the way to elsewhere, but would always take the train in to Manhattan. It was impossible to find a place to park that wasn't prohibitively expensive. Cars should simply be banned from Manhattan altogether. The place would be much more pleasant without the insane traffic.

Dax: Yes-oil depletion will do nothing to stop the growth in urban auto congestion-the current trend is declining, emptying outer suburbs and auto jammed inner suburbs and cities (those cities that survive).

I know that conspiracy theories aren't popular but Los Angeles has the most pathetic public transportation system in the country. If you live there you have to own a car, buy auto insurance and gasoline. Most of CA is the same way and I believe its' by design.

Are people aware that 80% of American drivers have been a victim of Road Rage and people have a greater fear of the aggressive driver than the drunk driver? In LA if you drive you are subjected to road rage on a daily basis.

Years ago I read a piece in the LA Times about people who commute long-distance. What they discovered was that for the first six months commuters were likely to experience severe depressive episodes and panic attacks. However after that six month period there was an emotional adaptation.

Horrible became normal.


It's partly design of a sort, but dark conspiracy was not really needed. As I said yesterday, there was no shortage of Angelenos to dance on the grave of the Pacific Electric (aka Red Cars) when that extensive rail-based system went under as the freeways were built. The city was nothing like as crowded as it is now, and the planners could get freeways built because they were seen as a liberation. People felt that they could finally live where they wanted, instead of being forced to live (expensively) only where the Pacific Electric lines happened to run.

Joe –

This reference of yours to panic attacks is all too familiar to me – I actually went through a rough stretch with this condition that I attribute directly to changing my commute. I considered myself a relatively adaptable person… pretty much able to just go with the flow. That is until I changed jobs and started having to drive around a major city (it’s no LA but it still has its share of traffic) – the sheer savagery (the best descriptive word I can think of for this) of people on a daily basis shocked me to an extent my fragile (?) psyche wasn’t prepared for…

To some extent this exposure led me to PO and TOD – I was trying to find some insight into what was going on that was making people so damn crazy - why the everyday world that I hadn't been exposed to was apparently spinning out of control for so many people and contributing to such aggressive, angry behavior. Almost four years later I’ve now been introduced to so, so many explanations thru TOD for why and how people have been reduced to a “life on the treadmill” existence. But I still find the behavior of people on the road shocking – I’ve said it before on here – it is one of the reasons I do not have high hopes for a good outcome on the PO downslope. People are crazy as it is now and would apparently be willing to run over their own grandmother to gain a couple extra spots in traffic or save a couple minutes of travel – I can’t imagine (well, yes I can) how they would react when they are unemployed, no longer well fed, and disenfranchised from their “formerly well off” life.

Hello Catskill,

Your Quote: "I was trying to find some insight into what was going on that was making people so damn crazy..."

Google Hans Selye + Genetic Adaptation Syndrome [GAS]. All life, including us, has a genetic component to make us act like too many cats in a sack as stress levels rise. It is an evolved efficiency measure to accelerate Overshoot Decline in any species, so that rapid re-equilibration with the ecosystem can occur ASAP.

All these people taking calming medications are only making things worse when the fast-crash gets rolling along. TODers: You may want to get a locking gas-cap for your car as road rage levels rise:


EDIT: OOPS--change Genetic to General to be correct.

Catskill - Sorry to hear about your trauma with commuting. But if it led to a higher awareness then maybe it was a gift.

I have cut my driving to the bone but I still find it necessary to drive. One of the things I do is hyper-mile. I keep my tires over-inflated, coast to red lights, accelerate very gradually and never go over 66 MPH. I try to move out of people's way but refuse to modify my driving habits. There is a payoff though. In an SUV rated at 17 MPG I consistently get 28 to 30 MPG.

But there isn't a week goes by when somebody doesn't blow a gasket because I drive too slow for their pleasure. Got a bumper sticker though: "Mean People Suck!" All those nasty trolls riding my tail get a few moments to dwell on that thought.


"However after that six month period there was an emotional adaptation. "

One thing I have not been able to adapt to are the slow drivers who "enter the path of oncoming traffic", illegal in my state but ought to be a felony.

   I remember hearing a while back that the tire companies bought out the LA rail lines and shut them down to sell more tires.

   Here's a take on it. - Not just the tire companies I guess...


"The most effective way to increase public transportaion use is to make driving more difficult and expensive."

Yeah, it's strange how people can't follow the logic, though. A few years ago (1989 iirc) when workmates were complaining about traffic congestion, I said to them "Want to fix congestion on the roads? Get rid of the roads."

I just got funny looks.

Needs a touch of nuance. When you put it that way it comes off a bit like, "Want to fix problems people have in life? Shoot everybody."

"Shoot everybody." Now there's an idea worth considering.

Hold your fire; there's no need. See Darwinsdog above: "The collapse of human population is inevitable."

Yes, it does come across that way. It's intended to jolt people into getting some perspective, and into thinking about their problems a bit more laterally.

Dang, there's that "T" word (think). Now I know why I got the blank looks. ;-)

I hate the logic........."Want to change behavior?............tax the crap out of the undesired activity and let them figure it out."
It's like putting up artificial boundaries............it operates from an initial negative condition.
It would be much better to educate the people that you want the behavior change from and once enlightened they will voluntarily change because their desires changed with the new perspective.

You can't teach people who don't want to learn.

You can tax people who don't want to be taxed, especially if it is indirect.

Put a price signal on something, even a relatively mild one, and people teach themselves.

The $20 round trip into Manhattan with a presumably car ride to the LIRR station, two train rides, and then a walk to work is an argument for not commuting into Manhattan from Long Island at all.

If you make driving more expensive in New York you'll convince some people to move some place more pleasant. I'm already convinced I do not want to live there.

Speedy asked, on a thread that was for suggestions only:

At what point will decline reduce spare capacity to zero?

Tipping Point Says April 2012. I would say 2012 as well would I would not narrow it down to a particular month.

However this only applies if we keep producing at the current rate, dumping OPEC spare capacity on the market at the same rate that non-OPEC preduction declines. That might not happen. If the recession gets deeper OPEC could continue to hold more production off line, increasing quotas as price tends to drop as the recession deepens.

In other words as non-OPEC production continues to decline OPEC could cut their production even further. This would keep us guessing as to how much spare capacity they actually have.

Ron P.

Maybe. It does look like 2012 is shaping up to be a very "interesting" year, who knows in how many ways?

I used to think that 2010 was the year of interest, however, with the recession and fall in demand that has been pushed back a couple of years. Now, I think I will be thinking the same in 2012, the economic distress will be worse and the demand will be lower -- then folks will be looking at 2014 as the year of the supply crunch, so on and so on until the internet goes poof and we just talk to ourselves about the coming supply crunch :)

I'll add one more opinion for the 2012 time frame. The owner of my new company has made his fortune in the commodity biz. He anticipates a FF price crunch in the 2012-2014 time frame. It's an opinion he's backing up with a $300 million cover. That's how much we're planning to spend with the drill bit. Same old basic model: buy low...sell high. The oil industry is suffering from the worse capital drought I've seen in my 34 years. We're buying into great drilling prospects at bargain basement prices at a time when drilling costs are falling daily.

Why are we flush with cash? He had anticipated the crash last year and liquidated all assets a few months before. Lucky or smart but he called that one right.

Tipping Point's graph is for world crude oil production and does not consider world crude oil exports as per the Export Land Model. Their graphs shows an average production capacity of ~72.88 Mb/d in 2010 compared to a consumption of ~72 Mb/d, a mere 1.2% gap which is within the range of an ELM effect. I am still thinking the price will start rising due to a limited supply of exports in Spring 2010. There may even be another oil price shock (price spike to ~$200 / barrel followed by collapse) coincident with the peak in Alt-A and option ARM defaults looming for Fall 2011.

BBC: Bangladesh suit ban to save power

The prime minister of Bangladesh has ordered male government employees to stop wearing suits, jackets and ties to save electricity. Sheikh Hasina told officials that doing so would minimise their use of air-conditioners. Bangladesh suffers from daily power cuts as power plants are unable to meet the country's demand. A senior official told the BBC the government would soon encourage businesses to follow its example. Bangladesh's official dress code has been rewritten - after Sheikh Hasina ordered government employees to do more to ease the country's energy shortage. (snip) During the hot months between March and November, men have been ordered to wear trousers and shirts instead, and these do not have to be tucked in any more.

Officials and ministers have also been told not to turn their air-conditioners below 24C. [=78.8F]

We have not talked much here about clothing wrt energy efficiency, but obviously, as the above story illustrates, there is a connection.

When it is hot, wearing light, loose-fitting clothing, and not in layers, does help keep one feeling more comfortable, and thus minimizing the need for a/c. Hopefully, this is just the start, and will eventually (and probably inevitably) become a global trend.

On the other hand, when it is cold, one wants to wear layers of insulating clothing, thus minimizing the need for heating. Suits work a little better for that, but sweaters work a lot better.

Undoubtedly, there is another angle to this as well. Those who are rich and powerful enough to be able to afford all the energy they want for all the a/c and heating they want don't need to worry about such things, and can wear their "power suits" regardless of the outdoor temperatures. "Power suits" thus become status symbols even more than they already are. The world is increasingly evolving into "the suits" vs. everyone else.

The flip side of that, of course, is that wearing a suit could become just about the same thing as wearing a bull's-eye target. It marks the wearer out in more ways than one.

Freman Stillsuit anyone?


As a sort of side remark to this, we did some work at the executive offices of a local firm where the thermostat for the electric baseboard heaters was controlled by the president's administrative assistant; this person was always cold and kept it set at "max" (she also had a portable electric heater tucked under her desk). Unfortunately for everyone else, this one thermostat controlled all of the baseboard units along the full length of the outside wall, most being inside private offices that became virtual saunas even with the doors left open. In the dead of winter, windows were cracked open all along the front of the building because everyone else was dying from the heat but didn't want to say anything for fear of ruffling feathers.

We couldn't physically disconnect or remove the strips within these enclosed offices as some heat was still required to offset the chill of the glass, so we replaced the 240-volt elements with lower density elements designed to run at 347-volts. With the under voltage and lower density, her strips continued to operate at full power whilst everyone else received roughly one-fifth that. Much happier workplace and big savings on their utility bill.


Yeah, those portable heaters under the desks always cracked me up - heating the air that the a/c had cooled, because it had been heated by the heaters, because the a/c had cooled it, because the heaters had heated it, etc., etc., etc. Endless feedback loop.

I once worked in a large office building in downtown Montréal that was air conditioned all year round but had a re-heat system that kicked on electric resistance strips within the ducts if the thermostat in particular zone called for heat. As far as I could tell, everything was chilled to 10C, then re-heated to 20C as and where required. Horrifically wasteful and the air was so dry you'd lose your voice by day's end. [It's stupidly like this that drives me to the edge.]


Ten minutes ago: Fire official: Big LA forest fire human caused

Finally concrete proof of AGW.


TrimTabs' CEO Charles Biderman Discusses Massive Insider Selling Video on page

"Insider selling is 30x insider buying, while corporate stock buybacks are non-existent. Companies are saying they don't want to touch their own stocks."

"I don't know where the money is coming from to keep the markets from not plunging."

I have remarked before that insiders are almost always right and almost always early. Are they early this time? Well, they very well have been since insiders have been dumping stock for months a plunge is due about now.

Ron P.

IMHO, "insiders" who sell their own company's stock should be required to pack up their personal items and vacate their office the same day. If they don't have confidence in the future prospects of their employer, then the shareholders (i.e., those stuck still holding shares after the "insider" has made their trade) should insist in the company being placed in the hands of people who are confident enough about the competence of themselves and their management team to stick it out.

Well, there's "committed" and then there is "dumb" - if they force the execs who intelligently cash out to leave, they'll have to water down the stock some more to give more to the next set.

For most small-time "insiders" like employees or junior execs with stock options, the ONLY way to "cash out" other than quitting is to sell some. You don't have to sell all, but you'd be silly not to sell a bunch if most of your wealth is tied up in your company.

Look at it this way: you're a manager pulling down $100K, you have a 401K of which you have the option of putting some of your $75K balance in company stock, you have say $300K of equity in your house and other investments, and you're sitting on $2M of vested options -- your one shot to "make it".

Why on earth would you NOT diversify as soon as you could? Pay off the house and cars, put back cash for the kids' college, and drop your stress level 40db. Seems like a plan to me!

or most small-time "insiders" like employees or junior execs with stock options, the ONLY way to "cash out" other than quitting is to sell some. You don't have to sell all, but you'd be silly not to sell a bunch if most of your wealth is tied up in your company.

Been there, done that! Was a high level technical guy, and the local economy was dominated by the compant I worked for. So your job depends upon the co. Your house is worthless if the company fails, your options likewise. Now you want me to have the bulk of my investments in that same kettle of fish!

And well, my last few years with that outfit I had no confidence in the company. I can remember cashing out $11 stock options for stock worth a mere $12 (and that turned out to be the last opportunity to make even a nickle from them).

See my post above. It is a common mistake that most people make, relying too much on company stock (or options) rather than making their own independent investments. People should make exactly the same sort of diversified investment plans regardless of whether they are working for an employer that includes stock in the compensation package or for one that does not. Essentially, I suggest that employees implicitly discount any stock or options received to zero, and then be pleasantly surprised if it ends up actually being worth anything.

This in turn implies that one had better focus on the value of the the remainder of the compensation package when it comes to deciding whether to work (or to remain working) for a particular employer. And this implies that if an employer is giving out stock or options as a substitute for reasonable pay in cash and tangible benefits, then one had better have a very good stomach for risk - and be able to afford it!

Oh, I agree that it is very stupid not to diversify. My advice to anyone working for a company that includes stock in the compensation package is to view the stock strictly as icing on the cake. Maybe it will be worth something when you leave, maybe not; to some extent, that depends on how well you and your fellow employees perform, but there is also a large element of risk that is beyond your control. However, when it comes for planning for one's own financial security, investing in the stock of one's own company is foolhardy in the extreme. Just because your employer is giving you some stock in the company does not mean that you can dispense with your own independent financial plans. That is a huge mistake that we have seen so very many people make.

Reality outdoes satire yet again - you just can't make this stuff up.

Bill targets pungent riders of Honolulu's transit system

Councilman Rod Tam, a co-sponsor of the bill, explained why it is needed:

"As we become more inundated with people from all over the world, their way of taking care of their health is different. Some people, quite frankly, do not take a bath every day and therefore they may be offensive in terms of their odor."

I can only wonder what it must be like in July in the sauna that is Alan's Big Easy...? ;)

Incredible BO is common on the TTC-most are just happy as long as the rider doesn't set fires http://www.vancouversun.com/large+after+Toronto+fire/1954598/story.html

"There's the whole issue about at what point does it become illegal," Okino said, noting that city attorneys are researching the matter. "How smelly does a person have to be? Just to base things on smell, I just don't feel good about that."

I smell a business opportunity here

Odor Meter

Even on the un-air conditioned St. Charles streetcars, not that bad. The homeless do not have that many places to go so they rarely ride.

Sweaty tourists with too much to drink are often the worst.


Sustainable fertilizer: Urine and wood ash.

Great news! Old Knowledge becomes New Science - it's now Burn and Slash.

it's now Burn and SPlash.

I saw this quote today by the CEO of Synopsys (an EDA software company) in an EETimes commentary (http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=219100545):

De Geus waxed philosophical about the downturn: "I think this recession is one [in which] nobody has any idea how it will end. I do think that we are at a major 'reset' of living standards on Earth."

If anyone was wondering whether the captains of industry were aware of resource limits, I think this answers the question. I can't remember the last time I heard a major CEO use the words "living standard" and "earth" in the same sentence.

from Energy & Capital: Renewable Energy overtakes Nuclear

How Nuclear Just Got Bum-rushed
By Nick Hodge | Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

For the second month in a row, renewable energy has provided more energy than all nuclear reactors in the country combined.

The [EIA]Monthly Energy Review chronicles energy production and consumption data through May 2009.

From January to May, production from coal fell from 1.968 quadrillion Btu (QBTU) to 1.722 QBTU — a 13% decline.

The use of natural gas fell 0.6%, from 1.845 QBTU to 1.834 QBTU.

And nuclear went from .771 QBTU .684 QBTU, falling 11.2%.

Can you guess what happened to renewables?

They grew from .650 QBTU to .707 QBTU — a rise of 8.7% — and clearly the only grower of the bunch.

Sorry for the numbers and figures, but there would be more than a handful of doubters if I simply claimed renewable energy production growth outpaced coal and natural gas, while its total production was greater than nuclear for the first five months of 2009.

- Dick Lawrence

What is included in renewables?

"nuclear went from .771 QBTU .684 QBTU, falling 11.2%."

Dick - that isn't encouraging. At a time when we should be ramping up nuclear power in order to phase out coal-fired power plants that's pretty distressing. People need to get over their childish fear of nuclear power. We have far more to fear from CO-2 emissions. For chis-sake France has most of their grid powered with nuclear. The thought of massive wind and solar farms blighting my country from sea to shining sea is an abomination.

Is it something in the water that makes Americans stupid?


Speaking of nuclear and water, more than 20% of Frances nuclear plants are idled right now, many because the heat wave is causing water levels in river to be too low to use for cooling. I wonder if that is same case in US? (I doubt it, but I don't know).

There's a report on US nuclear power that comes out every day, if not several times a day. I see it sometimes in my news trawls. Indian Point has been shut down because of some kind of problem, which was a pretty big hit.

As for water...there was an article about how the drought affected nuclear power plants out west...4-5 years ago, I think. They didn't shut any down, but they did have to make the intake pipe 100' longer in one case.

How could you think that? Is it because:

-We voted for a Bush to be president 3 times?
-We have the shortest number of school days in the industrial world?
-46% of us thought Palin was qualified to be president?
-Over 50% doubt that evolution is a better "theory" than intelligent design?
-We have the most religious population in the industrialized world?
-We think universal health care is socialism?
-We think socialism is inherently evil?

Or is it because if we don't like you we may send an aircraft carrier to visit you?

In the water - how about the average time spent watching commercial tv. Always suspected this was the number one reason so many people in the US have not a clue. Found this info. We are tied with the Brits.


Rank Countries Amount
= 1 United Kingdom: 28 hours per person per wee
= 1 United States: 28 hours per person per wee
# 3 Italy: 27 hours per person per wee
= 4 Ireland: 23 hours per person per wee
= 4 France: 23 hours per person per wee
= 4 Germany: 23 hours per person per wee
# 7 Australia: 22 hours per person per wee
= 8 Denmark: 20 hours per person per wee
= 8 Netherlands: 20 hours per person per wee
# 10 Belgium: 19 hours per person per wee
= 11 Finland: 18 hours per person per wee
= 11 Norway: 18 hours per person per wee
= 11 Sweden: 18 hours per person per wee

"Is it something in the water that makes Americans stupid?"

OR, it could be that industrial consumption is down which would drop the use of both coal AND nuclear since nat gas plants react faster and are used more for residential and commercial uses which fluctuate more and faster than industrial. Both coal and nuke respond slower. The fact that coal was down more than nuke seems to have been missed. It also could be that since energy at this level can't be stored, yet, that renewable energy, which is subsidized by the gubermint is being used first since after all the kickbacks, rebates, and bribes it is cheaper to generate at the moment.

I am sure there are other cause/affect attributes that can be figured out by the MANY not stupid Americans that post on this site.

I suspect there is at least some marginal vs fixed conflation going on in these numbers. If wind/solar installations were paid for, approved and built from 2005-2008 we are going to be using those, adding them to system - in recession, esp with deflated fossil fuel prices, there is going to be less natty and coal burned at margin.

There has to be something fishy in the Btu accounting.

Nuclear generated nearly twice the MWh of all renewables ytd 2009, even if you count conventional hydro, per EIA's electric power monthly (328,984 for nukes vs. 174,231 for hydro + renewables). I'm not as familiar with the Monthly Energy Review, but would want to understand the accounting better.

Electric Power Monthly:


EDIT: 'Biomass' is a big component of the MER's renewable energy estimate. I suspect ethanol is a big piece of that, but I can't confirm.

How much of the total renewable is imported hydro-electricity? It's not clear to me if you're referencing production or consumption.

Quick Swine Flu update

This is probably nothing but just in case...

Multiple reports + denials + denials of denials + denials...etc coming out of Egypt at the moment of patients in isolation with both swine flu and bird flu. It seems something unusual is going on but hopefully the reports are mistaken. WHO is "awaiting results of tests". CDC suggests it may actually be co-infection with swine and human H3N2 (a concern but not as great as H5N1).

Co-transmission of H5N1 with Pandemic H1N1 in Egypt?

Co-transmission of H5N1 with Pandemic H1N1 in Egypt? Recombinomics Commentary 18:16
September 2, 2009

A 35 year-old Italian tourist is one of three people believed to have been infected with A(H1N1) virus, or swine flu, as well as the H5N1 virus, known as avian flu. The patients are recovering in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada, said Mohammed Rifai, director general of preventive medicine.

Rifai also spoke of a 28-year-old man who tested positive for both viruses, after arriving at the port of Safaga after a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

"We are waiting the results of the tests that have already been carried out in some patients suspected of having been infected by the H5N1 and the A(H1N1)," said World Health Organisation spokesman Gregory Hartl in an interview with Adnkronos Salute.

...The presence of both viruses in multiple individuals identified over a brief time period suggests the viruses are efficiently co-transmitting, which creates serious concerns due to co-infections, or exchanges of genetic information via reassortment or recombination. Mammalian polymorphisms have been noted in prior H5N1 isolates, and pandemic H1N1 has H5N1 polymorphisms, indicating exchanges via recombination have happened previously.

However- co-infection and co-transmission would significantly increase the frequency and efficiency of recombination, which would be serious cause for concerns.

Confirmation that these three patients have co-infections of H5N1 and H1N1 (or swine and seasonal H1N1) would be useful.

I had a physical today. I have had the same doctor for over 10 years. He is aware of "peak most everything". I asked him straight out if he would take the swine flu shot. He said "No, not until the test results are in for at least 90 days". He said some effects would take that long to show up. He said they had some Tamiflu but didn't know if it would be completely effective. It must be taken within 24-48 hours of first symptoms. So for me, I will sweat swine flu vaccine out till mid December. YMMV.

Combo flu strains are really bad news, especially if the patients are essentially untreatable and die from the combo-desease.

Tamiflu resistance is increasing rapidly and is now regularly popping up even in US published sequences (2 out of 5 sequences tested in Texas in the last few weeks were just confirmed as Tamiflu resistant). The window for effective use of Tamiflu to treat swine H1N1 is closing fast.

My main worry about the vaccine is more that swine will have also escaped the vaccine by the time it is ready (or I will have caught it by then anyway). There are key polymorphisms available to it in other circulating flu strains which will help it do that. Once the vaccine is introduced it will also place selection pressure on swine flu to take these polymorphisms out of its back pocket.

My own feeling at the moment is to take the vaccine if offered but that will change if the vaccine is no longer a good match with circulating swine H1N1. The swine vaccine at the moment is basically just exactly the same thing as the seasonal vaccine but with a different seed strain. All other variables are kept constant although that could also change in the future.

Tamiflu will only shorten the time you have flu for by about 24 hours so IMHO should only be used where a very serious risk is present. Assuming you are "normally healthy" you would IMHO be better off by improving your general health, take probiotics, get exposure to sunlight (vitamin D), exercise and sleep well, cut out sugar and processed food.

Re Egypt, Science Insider has a report saying this is incorrect


I would be very reluctant to take any new vaccine, remember this will have been rushed out.

US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has not only given immunity to the makers of Tamiflu and Relenza for injuries stemming from their use against swine flu, she has granted immunity to future swine flu vaccines and “any associated adjuvants”.

Once the PREP Act is invoked to shield manufacturers from liability, the pharmaceutical firms have no financial incentive to make the safest product, and in fact have a negative incentive to test it for safety. As long as they do not deliberately harm consumers of the product, they will not be liable for damages. So better (for them) to do no tests and not know!

Re Egypt, Science Insider has a report saying this is incorrect

The denials only address one case. Not one word of authoritative denial has been issued of the several other reported/suspected cases - yet anyway. Also the denial confirms co-infection with H3N2. Whether the other cases are co-transmissions of the dual infections or something else (such as H5N1/swine) is currently left hanging in the air.

As of now there are no current plans to use any additional adjuvants as far as I've read. My guess is that will only change if swine flu starts killing people in large numbers. In any case if that happens people will be queuing up for any kind of vaccine - experimental or not. Although it might be too late by then.

And vaccine tests are being done. It's happening in many places right now.

None of this of course excludes the possibility that something unexpected slips through in the rush.

Map Characterizes Active Lakes Below Antarctic Ice

..Most of the 124 newly observed active lakes turned up in coastal areas, at the head of large drainage systems, which have the largest potential to contribute to sea level change.

"The survey identified quite a few more subglacial lakes, but the locations are the intriguing part," Bindschadler said. "The survey shows that most active subglacial lakes are located where the ice is moving fast, which implies a relationship."
Please see the included graphic. As discussed in my prior postings: The Ross Ice Shelf and Bentley Subglacial Trench are key to what will happen in the WAIS. IMO, all it takes is a large caldera to erupt in this giant rift valley the size of Mexico, then it is bye,bye for all this ice. Then, once the floating ice breaks up and is gone: the rest of the above sealevel ice in the WAIS, like glaciers on the Vinson Massif, comes down quickly like the glaciers in Greenland. Timing uncertain, of course.