Drumbeat: September 14, 2009

Kjell Aleklett: Peak Oil is not a theory; Peak Oil is the reality of past and future oil production.

Over the past five years, Mr. Michael Lynch and I have debated future global oil production at meetings in Gothenburg (Sweden), Paris and Shanghai. We have also conducted the debate through an exchange of emails published in the British journal Science and Public Affairs in December 2008. The arguments that Mr. Lynch advances are, therefore, well known to me. The fact that he is an economist and I am a natural scientist means that we see the future of oil production from two different perspectives, but are in agreement that access to oil is of great importance to the world economy and our future.

What has prompted Mr. Lynch to write his recent opinion piece in the New York Times appears to be a statement from Dr. Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency (IEA) that Peak Oil is near. At the same time, Mr. Lynch attempts to discredit a number of dedicated and qualified people who work on the Peak Oil issue as well as ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil&Gas. To suggest that Dr. Birol would base his assertion on “anecdotal information” is astonishing. One wonders what secret information Mr. Lynch possesses and does not wish to share with the IEA.

The first peak oil recession: Interview with Steven Kopits

Question: When did you learn about the peak oil story?

Kopits: I was preparing investor documentation—a prospectus for a public offering. As part of my work, I was looking at oil supply and demand issues, in particular as they related to China. When I ran the numbers, I found that projected demand turned out to be considerably greater than what the EIA was stating. Just for the sake of completeness, I thought to confirm that the oil supply was adequate to meet Chinese demand growth. Now you should keep in mind that, at the time, I thought peak oil was pure fantasy. But when I checked, supply growth promised to be much less than the EIA was indicating. I became concerned because I couldn’t find the resources on paper.

Raymond J. Learsy: Chairman of Gazprom Predicts $100 Oil Because of Speculation. Speculation, Really?

This weekend, there was Alexei Miller, Chairman of Russia's major energy company, Gazprom, predicting that the price of oil would jump to $100 a barrel because of 'speculation'. Now there is a man who should know what he is talking about, or certainly what he shouldn't be talking about. And he should know when the fix is in. One little detail however. His language, one could surmise, is willfully misleading. 'Speculation' should not be the operative word. Rather 'manipulation' would be more to the point.

Same Old Hope: This Bubble Is Different

Economists also worry that commodity bubbles, which tend to be more cyclical, may strike again. Oil and gold prices are rising, and though both of those commodities have boomed and busted many times in the last century, investors may bet on unrealistically high growth once more. Gold prices, for example, have risen more than 30 percent from a year ago.

“With every commodity bubble, you see a whole new set of rationalizations,” Mr. Yergin said. “People find ways to shut out the reality of economic processes. If oil prices shoot up, investors are always surprised to see demand go down again.”

Crude awakening

Today’s regulators are fixated on banking reform, and rightfully so. Financial industries have buckled under fallout from the credit crisis. Although oil price gyrations also share blame for the recession, commodity futures markets are receiving less urgent attention than banking system repairs. Because crude oil prices have been relatively well-behaved in 2009, the dangers of spikes and squeezes seem less drastic now.

Yet authorities who postpone energy regulation may do so at their peril.

Resource nationalism

Opec left quotas unchanged last week, but $70 oil is still high enough to produce stirrings of resource nationalism, which had earlier waned as oil prices slumped. Brazil’s president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has proposed rules that would give government-controlled Petrobras a privileged role in developing its vast “pre-salt” offshore reserves. Petrobras is this week meeting international oil companies to reassure them they will not be squeezed out.

Recovery Drives Commodities ‘Hiring Boom,’ Lai Says

(Bloomberg) -- Global banks are engaged in a hiring boom for commodity traders as they add staff to benefit from surging metals and energy prices, offering $1 million packages for top employees, recruiters Robert Walters Plc said.

There’s “huge demand for physical traders,” Gary Lai, manager of financial services at Robert Walters in Singapore, said today in an interview. “For top traders, especially investment bank traders, $1 million is not unexpected, it’s easy to get,” Lai said, referring to salaries and bonuses combined.

Pertamina may retain oil supply rights - regulator

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's state oil firm Pertamina may retain its exclusive right to supply and distribute subsidised oil products next year, a regulator said Monday, beating out interest from several international oil firms.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Malaysia's Petronas [PETR.UL] were among the companies that have joined an Indonesian tender to distribute subsidised gasoline and diesel oil.

Libya's Peace Offering To Big Oil

A $10 billion oil fields upgrade is an attempt to pacify its foreign partners as political tensions escalate.

Venezuela’s Chavez Agrees to $2.2 Billion Russian Arms Pact

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Russia will provide a $2.2 billion credit line for weapons purchases and will jointly develop oil fields and nuclear energy.

Venezuela will buy 92 T-72S tanks, Smerch missiles with a range of 90 kilometers and an S-300 Antey-2500 anti-aircraft defense system including radar and missiles with a range of 400 kilometers, Chavez said yesterday during his weekly program “Alo Presidente” on state television.

Trinidad and Tobago: Oil, gas and the budget

T&T earned substantial revenues when energy prices were high. The collapse of the world economy and the demand and prices of petroleum are normally laid at the feet of the sub-prime mortgage issue. The large and rapidly increasing demand for oil and other commodities by, say, China and India coupled with the supply constraints (economic, geological and political-Peak Oil) drove the price of oil rapidly to US$147/bbl and gas US$7/mmcf. This forced countries to look towards renewables and with ethanol-driven land use the prices of food rose considerably. The world economy began to contract, destroying demand for fossil fuels while the financial crisis hastened the global economic collapse.

Kuwait, Saudi 'delivering Opec cuts'

Core Gulf Arab Opec members Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are delivering 98 per cent of the crude output cuts they have pledged under Opec deals, Kuwait's oil minister was reported as saying by state news agency Kuna.

The crude realities of diplomacy

‘Follow the money’ is the advice routinely offered to detectives in low-budget thrillers. For anyone attempting to understand the ebbs and flows of international politics, I offer a variant of that old line: “Follow the oil”. Any suggestion that the search for energy is fundamental to the foreign policy of Britain and the US is often treated as faintly indecent. In Britain, the government is currently angrily brushing off suggestions that the decision to release Adbelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, had anything to do with Libya’s oil and gas.

Russia and Turkmenistan fail to reach new gas deal

Russian and Turkmen leaders failed yesterday to set a timeframe for the return of Turkmen gas flows to Russia, halted since April after a pipeline blast that left the nation short of revenues.

The meeting between Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev and Turkmen leader Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov had been expected to generate a breakthrough and mend ties. Relations were hit after Turkmenistan accused Russia of suspending gas imports because Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom faced reduced demand in Europe.

Statoil: "open" on Shakh Deniz gas sales

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The president of StatoilHydro in Russia said on Monday gas sales from the second phase of the Shakh Deniz project in Azerbaijan was 'an open issue'.

Shakh Deniz has been courted by Russian gas giant Gazprom and an EU-sponsored consortium which is working on the Nabucco gas pipeline, which is expected to rival Russian plans to supply Europe with the fuel.

Total Executive: Gasoline Demand To Fall In US, Europe

BRUSSELS -(Dow Jones)- Gasoline demand in the U.S.and Europe is expected to fall through to 2020 due to the recession, climate change legislation and new refining capacity, a Total SA (TOT) executive said Monday.

"We are quite convinced at Total that in both regions the consumption will decrease very sharply," Andre Tricoire, senior vice president of refining, said.

Chevron, Exxon, Shell Agree to Build Gorgon LNG Plant

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. and its partners approved development of Australia’s Gorgon project, clearing the way for a venture forecast to earn A$300 billion ($258 billion) in gas sales to China, India and Japan in its first 20 years.

The project will cost A$43 billion in its first phase, with work on a liquefied natural gas plant to start immediately on Barrow Island, a nature reserve off the northwest coast, 50 percent-owner and operator Chevron said today. LNG exports from the 15-million-metric-ton-a-year venture are due to start 2014.

Repsol’s Venezuelan Find Will Need 5 Years to Develop

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, the Spanish oil company that announced one of the world’s largest natural-gas discoveries last week, said the field will take as many as five years to be developed.

“Four to five years is the time that is needed to develop a project of this quantity and quality,” Chief Executive Officer Antonio Brufau said in an interview in Madrid today. “The next five years will be an investment process.”

Reliance May Seek Oil Fields Overseas to Cut Risk

(Bloomberg) -- Reliance Industries Ltd. may buy oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil to hedge the risk of investing in India where a dispute over pricing of gas is shaving $100 million off monthly sales.

“We put too many eggs in one basket, we put too much time into one asset,” P.M.S. Prasad, president of the oil and gas business at India’s most valuable company, said in an interview at Reliance’s gas-processing terminal at Gadimoga in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. “We might change our strategy now and look to spread our geographical and geological risks.”

E.ON Sees EDF Capacity Swap Soon, Delays Russian, German Plants

(Bloomberg) -- E.ON AG, Germany’s largest utility, expects to reach an agreement with Electricite de France SA on swapping power-generating capacity soon, while putting projects in Russia and Germany on hold as the recession erodes demand.

Brazil and Mexico: Pitfalls of Protectionism

Brazil and Mexico are in danger of going down the path blazed by Venezuela: after years of opening up trade and improving their economies they are reintroducing protectionism in oil and gas.

This energy analyst describes how the real patriotic move would be to stimulate exploitation - and therefore employment and the economy - by welcoming foreign firms instead of favouring state-run and domestic firms.

Nigeria's Planned 500MW Power Plant To Cost $400 Million Official

IBADAN, Nigeria -(Dow Jones)- The first phase of an independent power project to be built in the industrial city of Aba in Nigeria's southeast Abia state is to cost $400 million, the state-run Bureau of Public Enterprises, or BPE, said Sunday.

Sasol’s Annual Profit Falls 39% on Oil Price Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Sasol Ltd., the world’s largest producer of motor fuels made from coal, said annual profit fell 39 percent after oil prices declined.

Net income fell to 13.6 billion rand ($1.8 billion) in the 12 months through June from 22.4 billion rand a year earlier, Johannesburg-based Sasol said in a statement to the JSE stock exchange’s news service today.

Long-term coal supply a threat

(Reuters) - South Africa's power utility Eskom faces considerable pressure to sustain long-term coal supplies, its chief executive said in remarks broadcast on Saturday.

"Now we are doing the long term. It is by no stretch of the imagination complete. It is still a big issue. The whole issue of the availability of coal long term. The price and the logistics," said Jacob Maroga.

The global economic crisis badly hit the utility's ability to borrow and Eskom was forced to buy coal on more expensive short-term contracts to boost supply during last year's crisis.

A new security paradigm is needed to protect critical US energy infrastructure from cyberwarfare

On the 8th anniversary week of 9/11, the US remains vulnerable to a devastating cyber attack directed at its critical infrastructure. Despite all the warning signs of this threat, policy makers continue to prepare for the last war, ignoring the major lesson of both 9/11 and Pearl Harbor–not to be prepared, but to understand the changing nature of warfare. US policy makers need to adopt a new security paradigm to defend its critical assets in cyberspace, especially energy infrastructure, from a devastating cyber strike.

District 719: Author is no 'Fossil Fool'

At 77 years old, Joe Shuster doesn’t have much of a personal stake in the impending depletion of fossil fuels, or the havoc such energy sources can wreak on the planet. But that didn’t stop him from penning a tome he hopes will steer future generations clear of an energy-fueled disaster.

In “Beyond Fossil Fools: The Roadmap to Energy Independence by 2040,” Shuster lays out a step-by-step plan to get the United States and the rest of the world off fossil fuels and onto a multi-sourced diet of renewable energy sources.

Is Sustainable Development an Oxymoron?

As modern society increasingly becomes a single, globalized civilization, the quality of life that post-industrial nations have come to expect is now is becoming achievable around the world. Living on a planet of finite resources, widespread development can only last so long; it’s not sustainable over the long-term. The Western ideals being spread to developing nations are material intensive and would be physically impossible to achieve.

Offshore Wind to Provide One-Fifth of EU Power, Producers Say

(Bloomberg) -- Offshore wind may provide as much as 17 percent of European Union electricity demand by 2030, surging from almost nothing now as the bloc promotes renewable energy, an industry group said.

Where have all the little cars gone?

But the shortage of cars out there in rental-land is also a function of the economy.

"It's the fallout from the credit crunch," Brown said, explaining that rental companies are suffering from high-interest rates and a decline in manufacturing because of the auto industry slump. As as result, car rental fleets have diminished.

Customers are also more educated about mileage. "After what happened last summer with gas at $4 a gallon, no one wants to upgrade," Brown said.

Repair Options for Ailing Electronics

Mr. Sanderson also repairs iPods and iPhones, and his business is booming.

“There’s definitely a huge surge in the amount of repairs” in this economic climate, he said, as people choose to keep what they have rather than spend twice as much on the newest model.

City life is a honey trap for France's beleaguered bees

"We notice that apiaries located in the heart of Paris get better results than those in the countryside," explained Nicolas Géant, the French bee-keeper who initiated the project at the Grand Palais in order to draw attention to the predicament of rural bees.

"Towns offer myriad small flowers in parks and on balconies, as well as a wide variety of trees along streets and in public gardens. By contrast, there is no longer enough food for bees in rural and cultivated areas. The mortality there is 30 to 50 per cent but very small in Paris."

Henri Clement, president of France's main apiarist union, Unaf, says changes in French agriculture have damaged the bees' habitat. "Both monoculture and the intensive use of pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers kill massive numbers of bees," he explained.

Climate bill politics are heating up

Reporting from Washington - After months of promoting President Obama's climate plan as a vehicle to create millions of clean-energy jobs, supporters of the legislation are increasingly pushing another strategy -- its benefits for national security.

It's a deliberate, anxiety-themed effort to press a handful of fence-sitting moderates to support a bill that will probably be the administration's next great legislative push after healthcare.

Sweden urges US Senate to pass climate bill

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Sweden's environment minister urged the U.S. Senate on Monday to pass legislation to control greenhouse gases, saying a delay in the vote is impeding negotiations on a new international climate treaty.

Minister Andreas Carlgren said America's complex debate over health care reforms is sidelining its vote on a climate bill that is needed to persuade other nations -- especially the fast-growing economies of India and China -- to commit to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions at the Copenhagen climate summit in December.

New Zealand floats new climate change policy to cut consumer costs

Wellington - New Zealand's centre-right government released details Monday of a new climate change policy that it said would halve forecast price rises for power and fuel as the country moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. The minority government which came to power in November said its plan would reduce the initial extra cost on the average household to 3 New Zealand dollars (2.10 US dollars) a week over the next three years.

It also gave New Zealand's farmers, whose animals' methane production account for about half the country's greenhouse gases, another two years before they have to start paying for their emissions.

Report predicts the severe economic cost of climate change

Climate change could cut gross domestic product in countries at risk from extreme weather by a fifth in little more than ten years, a report said on Monday.

Unless urgent action is taken to cut carbon emissions, countries prone to severe weather-events such as floods, droughts or hurriances could have up to 19% knocked off their annual GDP by 2030.

UK: Could rationing be back?

The Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), has published a report warning that 70 years after wartime rationing was introduced, the government may need to look to rationing again - this time of carbon rather than food - in the fight against climate change.

Putting cattle on a diet to curb climate change

(CNN) -- Much has been made of the problem of livestock emissions of methane -- a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 -- but a solution might be just around the corner.

"I really think it's a solvable problem," Professor Jamie Newbold of the Animal and Microbial Sciences Division, Aberystwyth University, Wales, told CNN.

JPMorgan Offers $203 Million for Carbon-Trader EcoSecurities

(Bloomberg) --A JPMorgan Chase & Co. subsidiary offered to buy EcoSecurities Group Plc, manager of the largest number of emission projects overseen by the United Nations, for 122.9 million pounds ($203 million).


The mystery of the Northeast Passage has been broken, but at a terrible price.

A new Dark Age?

We need to do more to prevent the world descending into a new Dark Age as a result of climate change, argues Professor Tim Flannery.

Re: (UK:) Could rationing be back?

Proposals for personal carbon trading aim to cut emissions by giving every person in the country a quota of free ‘carbon credits’ which would be needed to buy electricity and gas for our homes, petrol and diesel for our cars and aeroplane tickets for our holidays. Unlike food rations during the war, carbon credits would be tradable, so people with small carbon footprints could sell their spare credits while people with gas guzzlers and houses full of energy hungry gadgets would need to buy extra credits to cover their extra emissions. Over time the quotas would shrink, in line with the need to hit emissions reduction targets.

Hey, that's MY plan! I did pitch it as an energy rationing system, not a carbon rationing one, but the concept is the same. Looks like they think it's a good idea, but then Britain is on the front lines, so to speak, as their oil runs out.

There's no mention of my idea that the allocations should expire and revert to money after a period of time. I think that would forestall attempts to "game" the system or to hoard allocations for later use...

HERE'S a link to the report. The executive summary is a free PDF.

E. Swanson


Rationing of some sort other than by price will become a reality given present day politics without a doubt-even here in the US.

Tradeable rations look a lot more workable and realistic than anything else I am aware of.

It is not often acknowledged in the mainstrean but we are already in defacto rationing mode in many respects including human life even in the richest parts of the world.

If you strike up a conversation with a highway patrolman here in this country and ask him about fatal accidents and drunk drivers you will find that when just a few more cops are assigned exclusively to getting drunk drivers off the road the highway fatality rate drops noticeably.

I have no stastics and don't know if any good ones exist but knowing how much money is spent in many individual cases to save a chronically sick person such as my mother there is no doubt in my mind that as a society we would be better off spending that money on other aspects of our health problems-now i have probably managed to label my self as a health nazi too among all the other heresies I have committed.But I have lost a family member to a drunk driver-and one not yet even old enough to vote,not to mention a couple of friends over the years.

We cannot pay for everything ,or all the things that are morally desirable.

How many here have read Atlas Shrugged and can remember the meetings of the employees of the iirc Twentieth Century Motor Company? When they decided to cut one of the key employees salary until he could not afford phonograph records(his sole personal indulgence) any more in order to pay for something they considered more important-something worthy but I can't remember what- he too quit and went looking for John Galt.

(One thing that just totally blows me away it is the fact that so many people -even many members of the Oil Drum community-are not able to read a novel for the in sights contained in it rather than reading it as an engineering or architectural drawing-something(a society) to be built as specified.)

I haven't read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged", though I have wanted to do so. From what I've heard about her work, I think that the ideas she wrote about heavily influenced people with the ideas of free markets. Strange as it might seem, Alan Greenspan was one of her ardent disciples in his younger days. Note the comment that Greenspan read Atlas Shrugged as it was being written!

Here's just one note:

After earning his MA in 1950, Greenspan became a 20-year associate of famed philosopher Ayn Rand, author of books "The Virtue of Selfishness,""Atlas Shrugged" and more. Greenspan wrote for Rand’s newsletters and authored a chapter for a Rand book.

Understanding Ayn Rand is key to interpreting Greenspan. Rand espoused a radical philosophy of individualism and self-interest. She had a dislike for religion and compulsory charity, which she believed fostered resentment of individual success.

I think it's safe to say Rand's ideas have been throughly tested since Ronnie RayGun was elected President. I think that what we have today is the result, a result which isn't looking so good just now. Greed as an ultimate goal of life is not good...

E. Swanson

'famed philosopher Ayn Rand"
She was a novelist, and that is being kind.

I agree -but she was a better novelist than you or any one opposed to her world view will ever admit and like most of us "she "seen herchances and tookem" once she had a following.

I probably would have done the same.

Find one fictional character in her books who had a normal family and who continued to maintain normal relations with said family, and who was not one of the despised weaklings. Just one.

This is the woman whose sister came from Russia to live with her, could not stand it, and went back to Brezhnev's Russia.

She was a novelist. And that is being kind.

Well, there is fiction and then there is reality. In reality Einstein's personal life was not "normal", though he was married a couple of times and had a child. Still, his obvious genius makes me give him "a pass" on personal oddities. Patton was crazy as a bedbug in some ways, but a brilliant military leader. Obviously there are times when some character traits are valued more highly by society than others. We shouldn't have unfettered nukes or unfettered wars any more than unfettered capitalism....yet sometimes we seem to have loose reigns on all the above!

I re-read Atlas Shrugged not too long ago. It didn't read as compellingly as it did 25 years ago, but I still felt the urge to build and accomplish, and the chaffing at the bit of small-minded bureaucrats and politicians. I certainly value family more than the characters did though -- but fortunately none of my relatives are abject idiots or worse!

The human world needs competition...but not soul-crushing domination. It needs a pang of hunger...but not starvation. It needs periods of wanting and lack....but not of deprivation and confiscation. Neither does it need equalized outcomes, sloth-goading entitlements, nor public largess and favoritism. Much of what is great about humanity has a flip side which can be among the worst. Rational thought, constant vigil, spirited debate, true compromise, and small steps of deliberate change seems to me to be the true path to wisdom.

I find it amusing that many of the fans of Rand totally ignore the advice of the kind of guys who actually are trained in both science and philosophy - people like me!

I am John Galt. ;-)

OK I'll bite. What is your advice, again? I re-read most of your last 30 or so comments and didn't find a concise statement of it.

Actually, we need more sloth goading. I live amongst the non sloth goading who are busily destroying what is left of the semi natural world. While I think we need competition, we need a competition of sorts to see who can have the most benign impact on the planet. Oh, we have way too much public largess of the kind that is giving most of the largess to the rich, a large segment of which seems to have an infinite capacity for greed and will not be goaded to sloth regardless of the largess. Unfortunately, what they produce is of doubtful value. Rational thought. Oh, we can agree on that but what you think is rational may not comport with what I or others think is rational.

Actually, research indicates cooperation is more productive.




Rand was bitter over the Soviets having trashed her family's business. She wasn't a philosopher and wasn't even a decent author. All her works were just one big anti-Communist rant which got hyped in the West by the capitalist powers that be. I'd skip her and read something meaningful about the real world instead.

A lot of kids of my generation (I'm 63) read Ayn Rand as teenagers. Virtually all of us outgrew her by the time we left high school.

Yeah, I read her as a young adult. Then I read Michael Harrington and realized how full of shit she was. Bitter old cig huffing woman. She glorified air pollution, of all things. Not worth wading thru her looooong tedious novels. Lung cancer served her right.

Ayn Rand was a very good read when you were 16. Is it cool or what for being a hero for being a total asshole?
After one educates oneself a bit, it becomes apparent that only simpletons can take her seriously.

Just for argument's sake Greenspan isn't a simpleton. Very, very smart people can get caught in wishful thinking.

If I remember correctly she called her "philosophy" Objectivism. Very handy if you are talented and lacking a little in the social consciousness department.

I was in my late teens or early twenties when I read her books, all of them. They seemed trite to me.

It is ridiculous to blame Ayn Rand for a grifter like Alan Greenspan. She was never an advocate of crony capitalism or state assisted fraud.

Yeah, she was no blinder than the rest of the proselytizers for unbridled 'free market' capitalism to the inevitable tendency of this system to move to the crony and state-assisted fraud mode.

I doubt very seriously if you have actually read her work.Futhermore you and lots of others can't seem to recognize the difference between a novel and a blueprint.

It has been a very ling time since I read Atlas shrugged but if I remember correctly she had quite a bit to say about capitalist /fascist /socialist corporate cronyism-and what she said was not nice ,no sir, not nice at all.

Was that a response to my comment? I didn't blame her for Greenspan. I simply pointed out that even smart people can trick themselves into believeing whatever makes them feel good.

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of The Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with THE real world. The other, OF course, involves orcs.

I read Lord of The Rings by candle light in a cabin in back country Alaska in 1968.
It really set the mood.


I seldom fall victim to envy but I envy you that experience.How old were you at the time?

Late teens--
I hitchhiked from Marin to Seattle, got a one way student standby to Juno, and let it emerge.
That was Alaska before the North Slope (just discovered), a wide open place, where you could walk in and have a drink with the Governor, and before all those Texas and Louisiana Oil people lowered and changed the social dynamic.
It was a summer I will always remember---

I read The Hobbit, and then the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, to my daughters at bedtimes for a year or two, including a camping trip down the coasts of Washington, Oregon, N. California when they were maybe 8-10 years old. In the tent, read the book by flashlight. One of my sweetest memories of being a father. A few years later they picked up the books themselves and read them all the way through again. (They seem to be well-adjusted now...)

Dick L

Thanks - I snarfed my tea.

" Ash nazg durbatulúk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul."

The change in the wizard's voice was astounding. Suddenly it became
menacing, powerful, harsh as stone. A shadow seemed to pass over the high
sun, and the porch for a moment grew dark. All trembled, and the Elves
stopped their ears. "Never before has any voice dared to utter the words
of that tongue in Imladris, Gandalf the Grey," said Elrond, as the shadow
passed and the company breathed once more. "And let us hope that none will
ever speak it here again," answered Gandalf.

It amazes me how a little piece of text can transport a person into an entirely different focus. Like seeing an actor who is truly in character or one who isn't, you quickly know that there's something going on, and you are being carried by an artist to another part of our realm.

'Art is the lie that tells the truth' - Picasso

(..And when it fails to find a truth, I would say it is simply not art.)

'Art is the lie that tells the truth' - Picasso

(..And when it fails to find a truth, I would say it is simply not art.)

Which is why it often suffers the brunt of censorship.

Wharf Rat, that was good! Pity poor Greenspan, a good pair of breasts pull more than a pair of oxen-drawn wagons.

Found the best comment on Rand ever linked from here:

Kung-fu Monkey, via Lance Mannion:

Two novels can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other involves orcs.

Perhaps if you had some close contact with real 3 dimemsional communisn in those days you would use words other than "one big anticommunist rant".

The one thing that really kept me from being a liberal for most of my life was the simply astounding blindness of the intellectual left in regard to the USSR and communism..By comparison people like "Ronnie Raygun" and Tricky Dick were intellectual giants.

Well that and the fact that they rejected all the good parts of religion and kept the intellectual hypocrisy up by insisting on the blind slate interpretation of the mind.

The left then was not in this respect any less ignorant and easily led than any congregation of fundamentalists led by a sixth grade dropout preacher who can't even read all the words in his own bible.

It's enough to make a preacher cuss his Momma.

Why don't you take time to read a little Solzhenitsyn?

I've read Solzhenitsyn. What I got from him was that Russia under Stalin was a pretty nasty place. Did you ever wonder what Soviet Russia might have been like if the U.S., France and Britain had not fought on the sides of the Whites in 1918 and 1919? Hve you ever wondered about the Palmer raids in the U.S. about the same time?

The left was overly sympathetic to Soviet Russia for a long time after Stalin took over. Considering the blatent anti-socialist propoganda in this country it is not suprising that many did not believe what they heard. But the United States government was a major factor in turning Soviet Russia into what it was.

They should have fought harder and won as the whites did in Finland.
Stalin were one of the worst dictators of all time but Lenin is on the
same list when it comems to ruthlessness and mass murder.

"Perhaps if you had some close contact with real 3 dimemsional communisn"

OK, I'll bite. Do tell, what exactly was your close contact with real 3D communists/ism?

Dude, Ayn Rand's sister came over from Russia to live with her, and was so put off by the experience that she went back to Russia. Brezhnev's Russia.

One can be anticommunist and not be unhinged. Ayn Rand failed at it.

Crazy people can think new intersting thoughts, why else should I be on ToD? ;-)

In the 1950s the world needed a compelling long big anti-communist rant. The Soviet Union was horrible. Yet huge numbers of Western intellectuals liked it and hated capitalism.

I have some reservations about your politics but you make some good points.I certainly do not advocate an unbridled free market economy or economic system as it is perfectly obvious to those such as this community that down that an unbridled freemarket is the proverbial well paved high road to hell.

But there is no reason why we should expect Reagen to have understood this.More than likely for every spoonful of input he got along such lines he got a truckload of the opposite.I don't notice you ranting about the self same failures on the part of the democratic administrations since Reagen's time.

Please go ahead and read Altas Shrugged for the INSIGHTS to be gained from it.Notice that I said it is a NOVEL.

(Only the intellectually challenged read novels as blueprints,and those who read but little simply miss the point most of the time and wind up way out in left or rioght field someplace.)

I gaurantee that you will possess a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the history of the modern world afterward.

If your have time Rand's short works of the antiutopian stripe ( We, Anthem) will impress you as being equally as good as anything Orwell wrote.She knew one hell of a lot about human nature and her work needs and deserves to be read as a counterbalance to the literature of the left.

Well said sir. Her ideology was run of the mill wordist tripe, but then again all ideology is bunk. The Galt speech was 50 some pages of wasted space that was all but unreadable and nearly killed the book. Her younger critics must realize that part of her popularity was her being in the right place at the right time, as my older friends have told me Rand was the only thing going for the anti-communists of the day. Back in the 50s the political continuum was Center-Left, where even Joe Stalin had defenders in America, so Ayn was a welcome respite.



A page of Rand at the time was like a drink of water to a man dying of thirst if you didn't want to be baptized into the church of ideological socialism .

When you're dying of thirst even hot nasty brackish water tastes damn good.A crust of dry bread is manna to a starving man.

There WAS nothing else.Not that I ran across at the time anyway.But I will admit she shold have run her book past a good editor-it could have stood a good editing w/o losing anything .

I thought she could write a good descriptive scene, a friend of mine constantly describes Eddie's madness as the train's light fades out, and how haunting it is. But I think America is much more dystopic as it fails, as the center fades like the train light. The two political parties are frauds from an era of 20 dollar oil, two opposing gangs of cutthroats and plunderers, phonies and demagogues. The other 300 million residents of this landmass, weary and frustrated from the obviously false premises of the day's political correctness, cagily eyeing those who look to different demagogues and "politics." Our dystopia is much meaner than Ayn's from the middle class tea party anger to the Bellville, Il sociopathy, this is not 1940s America by a long shot.

Indeed, her visions of collapse in Atlas Shrugged look downright prescient in light of events of the past few years.

That she and her followers merrily trounced off at right angles to the message I got out of that particular novel is one of the things that still baffles me.

Maybe the real message wasn't meant for people who think like I do.

Funny you should all be talking about Ayn Rand. There is a very long review of a new book about her that just went up over at The New Republic.

I guess she had a point: People do respond to incentives, and it is possible to take so much from the productive that they cease being motivated to produce. It is not necessary to swallow her whole philosophy (if you want to call it that) to concede that one point. She did tend to overly belabor her one valid point, and to surround it with far too much claptrap and rather pedestrian prose. The amazing thing is that her novels sold as well as they did; they really aren't all that good.

A final note: As a Rand disciple (and that is not too strong a word to use), Greenspan used to be in favor of a gold standard (Rand was a strong gold standard advocate). He actually wrote an essay in favor of it that was included in one of her books. As the saying goes, times change, and people change. . .

Objectivism, gold standard, capitalism, free markets, unfettering -- what's it all mean?

Three thoughts, none profound: I too read Atlas Shrugged, and LotR, and they both affected me memorably. I became a life-long conservative, but not a life-long Republican; a life-long free-market advocate, but not a proponent of unfettered capitalism; an advocate for rationlism, but not for greed; a strong supporter of individual rights but not of individual entitlements; and a proponent of heavy charity but very limited welfare. I see perfectly why free-enterprise aligns nicely with human nature, and for that matter why greed can align with capitalism, but I can't see at all why there can't be free-enterprise nicely bounded with respect for the individual and solid stewardship for the Earth's resources.

I think a good book is like a mirror and a lens -- it focuses what we see within ourselves, and we read into it what we want to see. Though I'm a moderate Christian, I know a LOT of people who read into the Bible wisdom I do not see. For that matter you also see people who read what they want, for good or ill, into every Obama speech as well. I never understood how Atlas Shrugged could supposedly lead logically to disdain for the world, natural and human, but many seems to take it that way.

It's hard to have a system that meets in the middle -- halfway big, centralized gov't with high taxes and lots of centrally run programs with safety nets galore, and halfway small, decentralized with seething masses of small businesses scrapping to do a little better and providing efficient opportunity for any with ambition and strong shoulders or a strong mind. Unfettered capitalism (as distinct from rationally bounded free-enterprise) seems to combine some of the worst of both -- the rules are for sale yet only the scheming and lucky get the rewards. It has been said that communism works best close to home....perhaps a corollary is that capitalism works only too well at the national level?

I think the fundamental problem is that too many humans gravitate towards a dicotomy. Government based upon hard core leftish principles is a disaster, so therefore the cure is to go to the opposite extreme. The key is to find the rational center. But that is never a fixed position, its location may change based upon the times. And one cannot simply cling to some simplistic ideology as a guide, but has to continually study the situation, and be prepared to change ones position as the changing world -and our understanding of it changes. That takes a lot of effort, and often leads to lost frienships as you find you must disagree with your former colleges. Far easier to simply join up with one of the extremes, then the decisions become easy ones, simply go along with the crowd you've joined.

In my opinion Alan Greenspan is(was)John Galt. In what way you ask? Again in my opinion, history will judge his policies as leading to the destruction of the financial system as we know it.

How many here have read Atlas Shrugged and can remember the meetings of the employees of the iirc Twentieth Century Motor Company? When they decided to cut one of the key employees salary until he could not afford phonograph records(his sole personal indulgence) any more in order to pay for something they considered more important-something worthy but I can't remember what- he too quit and went looking for John Galt.

Who is John Galt?


OK, I'll bite...

Who is John Galt? A fictional character. You know, like The Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus.

(Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting to use that line?)

Pete Deer

Yes, but the tooth Fairy and Santa Claus actually spread a lot of joy. John Galt was a killjoy and a scold. You know the type. He probably went around constantly correcting everyone's grammar, too.

Maybe a better question is: Just who the hell does John Galt think he is?

All this talk of Communism vs Capitalism reminds me of something a friend of mine once said when comparing the two;
Communism is where man oppresses man. Capitalism is the the exact opposite.

Pete Deer

I believe the original is: In Business, it's dog eat dog. In politics, it's just the opposite.

Mac -- I can't varify the number but I read that 85% of the average person's med expenses occurs during the last 18 months of life. GAO numbers...maybe???? Even if that number is off a good bit it does seem to offer a glimpse as to where big potential "savings' might lay. Obviously it easy to vote no on a very expensive treatment for someone elses mom or spouse because it has a low probability of success. But when it comes to someone you love how much is too much. Not my area but we all know how expensive cancer treatment can be and, depending upon the type, can be promising or a hail Mary pass. Who makes the decision as to whether it's a good "investment" or not? Is it right to spend $500,000 on a treatment that has a 50% chance of extending someone's life 5+ years? Is it right to spend $500,000 when there's only a 10% chance of extended life 5+ years? A 1 in 200 chance? A 1 in 1000 chance?

Who would you want to have the power to make that decision? I, for one, don't have a very good answer myself.

Rockman I don't have the answers either.

ut of it were left up to me not one thin dime of public money would be spent on baseball stadiums or orchestras or such claptrap while somebody who has worked all thier life for nothing more than a bare living lies sick.

Yep Mac -- and there's the problem: when it's personal and right in front of you most can summon the compassion. But when it's a nameless/faceless someone on the other side of the country/globe, it's a lot easier to enjoy those sideline seats.

My question is:

The $500K is at $5K/day for a glorified hotel room, another $5K/day for a doctor's call to verify the temperature the nurse took, $10K/day for medicine you can buy in Canada for $50, etc. etc.

IMHO: That's the reason for the $500K and the reason we need to overhaul the health care but not the way the present congress intends to do it. To date I haven't heard much about stopping the rip-off because AMA, pharma and hospital lobbies are in control.

When I first came to Nevada 20 years ago I programmed a database for the local congress critter. It was my first insight to how the system worked. It's the golden rule above everything else. This congress critter essentially owned the media because the manager could spend twenty times the money as the opponent.

A very interesting discussion... I found myself in the middle of it 2 years ago.

My wife was (at age 29) diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. We have two children (ages 2 and 4 at the time) and she was finishing up her nursing degree.

In reality, any attempt of curing of stage 4 cancer likely won't work, but in her case- her young age, her possible long term contribution to society- she was given all treatments possible. This included a lung removal, chemotherapy, radiation therapy... And finally, when it didn't work, hospice. It took $300,000... I was insured, yes, but this is money out of everyone else's pocket. And it only extended her life by one year.

Was the $300,000 worth it to society? I actually don't know. It definitely was to me and my family, but on a pure economic basis it was a big money loser.

Sorry to hear your story. Almost identical story happened to good friends of mine. Their boys were 4 and 6. Ironically she was a medical researcher into cancer treatment.

Sorry to hear your story as well. Ironically just last night there was a program on NPR with two young cancer survivors on the show. One of them who had insurance by the way, told her story that it was still cheaper for her to fly back to the Czech Republic to take advantage of the so called socialized medicine provided there for free.

I work with a fellow from India. He has the same fools-gold plated insurance I do. He figures if he gets seriously ill he can fly back to India. Better to pay 100% of Indian medical prices, then whatever portion of care the US insurance won't cover.

Your wife did not run up a $300,000 bill, and let me explain why. There's a famous story of the engineer Charles Steinmetz. (Urban legend, but explains the point.) He got brought to a company to consult about a malfunctioning generator. He listened to the problem being described, pulled out a chalk, placed one mark on the generator and told them to open there and replace one part. It worked, and he submitted a bill for $10K. When the company accountants asked for an itemized bill, he submitted a bill for $1 for a chalk mark, and $9999 for knowing where to put it. They paid up.

The doctors who treated your wife, the places she was treated in, the equipment she was treated with, all that would have been there with or without her coming in and seeking treatment. But it all had to be paid for, so you and your insurer got to draw that short straw under our current system. Nevertheless, she was not the one who imposed that expense. That decision was made elsewhere, mostly in the medical academic establishment that decides what size medical specialty training programs should be.

That decision was made elsewhere, mostly in the medical academic establishment that decides what size medical specialty training programs should be.

First a disclaimer, I have a few close relatives in the medical profession and they are also involved in the medical academic establishment.

I agree that the decisions are made elsewhere but the bulk of them are not coming from the academic establishment.

They are coming from the bureaucrats who are part of the corporate capitalist system whose goal it is to provide their shareholders a profit.

Well, this particular case is a good counterexample. If the insurers had their way, there might not be any oncologists. Oncologists are quite a cost center. :-)

Of course, the people in the public-health academic establishment are always going to feel they aren't pushing back enough against the corporate side. And often they're right, but that's very subjective.

I think it's possible to make such decisions scientifically. As this article argues:

Kidney doctors question dialysis guidelines

When Medicare first started paying for dialysis in 1973, though, Aronson says, patients with other serious diseases were excluded. The thought was that the End Stage Renal Disease Program, which covers kidney transplants as well as dialysis, would be limited to patients for whom treatment would extend high-quality life, he and Knauf write.

Today, though, "physicians are often willing to provide dialysis care to patients with greatly diminished quality of life," they write. One survey of nephrologists, or kidney doctors, found that nearly half would be willing to continue dialysis in a patient who develops permanent severe dementia.

Yet research suggests that dialysis provides little benefit to the oldest, sickest patients, the doctors write. Its main effect: increasing the chance that the patients will die in a hospital instead of at home or in a hospice.

At first blush, it sounds horrible. Rationing dialysis? But when you're clearly at the end of your life, is it worth it, just so you can die in the hospital instead of at home? I wouldn't want that kind of treatment, if it was me.

When hemodialysis machines were newly invented, expensive and scarce, access to them was rationed by age, overall health, whether one was a parent or not, etc. Now they are sufficiently common that, along with the availability of peritoneal dialysis, no one need go undialyzed unless they choose to. The same is true of kidney allografts. The only criteria for ranking access to a donor kidney is supposed to be histocompatibility.

My wife was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile onset diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, at age 15. When I married her, her doctor told me that at some time between ages 35 & 45 she would suffer kidney failure and die. This came to pass just as he said except that in the meanwhile, dialysis & transplant technology had been perfected. So rather than dying she went on peritoneal dialysis for three years while waiting on a kidney. She received a transplant 17 years ago and has done well with it until recently. Currently the allograph is only functioning at about 35% of normal human kidney capacity. When it reaches 10% she will go back on dialysis and back on the waiting list. When she was on dialysis she met a young male Navajo dialysis patient who decided not to continue with dialysis treatment. He died. My wife is older now and our kids are grown. I hope that she doesn't decide to go this fellow's route but if she does, I'll support her decision.

Hello DD,

I wish your family the best. If more people were organ donors: a lot of this agony could be spared, and the lucrative black market would vanish. I have given lots of blood over the years and I am signed up to be an organ donor. I can think of no better way to recycle my meat when it suddenly goes cold...

If a person has the option to spend their life's savings on healthcare, they may make the choice to fight for every minute with every dime, or to choose an earlier end but leave money to heirs. It's their choice, and except for perhaps a greedy heir who would question their choice?

If a person has insurance but little savings, there is no benefit to "taking the short path" out. There is no savings to them, and a net cost to society, if they choose to fight to the last. It's a tragedy of the commons -- costs borne by the many with (questionable) benefits to the few.

Perhaps if critical-care were more like "Deal or No Deal" and at each stage of terminal care an actuary came out and made the patient a cash offer for hospice, more people would take the shorter path?

From a personal perspective, there is also value in crisis care that provides time for the family to work through unexpected events, like heart attacks and car wrecks -- I'm not sure I would have pulled the plug any earlier on my dad after his wreck if the $100K in ICU care had come out of the estate versus from medical insurance. It is one of the hardest decisions a person can make, yet I am thankful to have had the option of making it.

Maybe the point should be to better allow people to approach death with dignity, empowered yet guided. As resources dwindle and over-population becomes more evident, such will likely become necessary.

It's their choice, and except for perhaps a greedy heir who would question their choice?

If you read the article...they aren't talking about people who have a choice. The example given is people who are suffering severe and incurable dementia.

And of course, if someone has the money and wants to spend it on healthcare, they can. But should the taxpayers pay for a treatment like dialysis for a person who will not see any benefit from it? Now, that is what we are doing. I would rather see young, healthy people get more frequent dialysis than start people on it who won't see any benefit from it.

Agreed. It's the equivalent point at which a car is "totaled" by the insurance company -- there is no value in fixing the vehicle anymore, and even if you do, the owner probably won't appreciate it anyway.

It is not easy to draw the line, though. Many will fail to be able to make the necessary decision for their loved ones, and will denigrate any who might be designated to do so for them. Any such solution would have mistakes occasionally, which would be ripe for testimonials and lawsuits. Maybe instead of a gov't committee it needs to be more a jury of peers -- a hospice jury who decides when sustaining life is of minimal benefit and is no longer worth the cost.

Who would you want to have the power to make that decision? I, for one, don't have a very good answer myself.

And here we have the justification and motive for bureaucracies, with their rules and policies, debated at excruciating length.

A much more visible (and so, fair) way of allocating scarce resources efficiently (according to general sentiment) than any other to date.

Like democracy, bureaucracy is the worst system possible - except for all the others that have been tried.

From personal experience, I know that the last years can be quite expensive.

My father passed away from cancer earlier this year.

It is my understanding the medical bills for treatment for his last two years was about one million $US. I say that without exaggration.

And, if my understanding is correct, cancer is now the #1 US cause of death.

it occurs to me that cancer won't be cured as long as cancer treatment is so damn profitable. just as war(s) won't end as long as war(s) are so damn profitable.

Many cancers are cured -- many of these treatments have evolved over the last thirty years. Read up about the efficacy of testicular cancer treatments for an example.

Loving the comments on Atlas Shrugged.

1. I am obviously not as smart as most of you (despite whatever academic and personal successes to which I may lay claim). I am a simpleton. I found, and still find, the core concept of her book to be genius.

2. I love that many of you have noted that she is "barely" a novelist. Or that you're being "kind" by calling her a novelist!! Wonderful! Perhaps all of you Internet critics can post links to the Amazon page where your books are being offered for sale so we can all appreciate a REAL novelist, without having to be kind to do so.

3. The animosity toward Rand is truly impressive. It's not enough to simply state that you didn't like her books or that you did not find her philosophy compelling. Oh no! Post after post ventures to personal attacks on the author. In my brief stint on this planet I have noted a particular human phenomenon with regularity - when somebody personally attacks the author of an idea they are typically frightened of the idea.

4. I have yet to meet somebody on the left of center who didn't harbor a personal animosity toward Rand after reading one of her books.

5. In the end, I think it's all about association. Those who see more Galt in themselves tend to either have no strong opinion or have a positive opinion of Rand and her books.

The Ellsworth Tooeys of the world, on the other hand and as predicted perfectly by her books, seek to attack her personally ("barely a novelist"!!) because they believe that if they can injure her personally, they can diminish the idea.

They can't.


I personally find that her most ardent supporters are the ones who most closely resemble some member of her cast of antagonists (by character and actions).

I enjoyed the book, she had a fine vision of how BAU would turn out even before the Club of Rome put their hand in the pot. Her conclusions from that vision played right into the patterns she sought to avoid.

Perhaps if her vision had been clearer she would have seen that herself, but I doubt it.

I'm not sure what you mean.

I suppose it's because I'm a dimwit.

What vision? My guess is that she based A.S. on what she saw as the biological and cultural imperative of humans to be gulled into believing that it is possible, in perpetuity, to depend on others for that which you should do yourself. My guess is that the point of her book was to say that it is not possible.

I found her book, like relatively theory and the initial WandC elucidation of the structure of B-DNA, rather simple, but, none the less, elegant. Her philosophy is equally simple.

I hardly think that she was attempting to predict the future by supplying her "vision."

She probably recognized that the rise of socialism as the easy answer for the failed masses would recur throughout time.

She was right.

The USSR had their turn.

Now it's ours.

Even after the U.S. collapses and some other entity rises in its place, socialism will not be gone.

Socialism is, to adults, like candy is to a two year old - there is no use in warning of the long-term damage and impossibility of depending on a flawed system, because the attraction to the easy pleasure is too strong.


Socialism happens

... all the time.

One example is family life. Everybody pitches in without evalue-ating their contributions on a nickel and dime basis. It has been observed many times that our social fabric would collapse if stay-at-home moms submitted their bills for services rendered: child care, cooking, cleaning, overtime, event planning, CEO, CFO, etc., etc.

Another example of "socialism" is when capitalist corporations privatize the profits but happily share out the burdens. Of course, they also brain wash you into believing that their form of 'what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine' is not "socialism".

Another example of "socialism" is when Uncle Sam wants you to "be all that you can be" and wants you to make the "ultimate sacrifice" over there (so we don't fight them "over here") while GWB and friends stay home and mind the cavalry. Heck, to each according to his needs. And from each according to his privileged status. But that too is not "socialism". /sarcasm

All pigs are equal. But some pigs are more equal than others.

Forget Ayn Rand, just figure out which animal you are inside the Animal Farm.

She totally missed that people taking from others because they can (and thereby "doing for themselves") would worship her.

The message I got from Atlas Shrugged was very much in the Economize, Localize, Produce vein. Perhaps because I was 30-ish in the 90's when I first read it so I actually had a mature viewpoint, *finished the book to see where she was headed*, and thought about it.

Globalization and efficiency in profit-taking as done by the modern corporation, the wasteful ways of the MI complex, government taking from everyone and giving to the ones with influence. These things were all evils. If individual welfare was mentioned at all it was only in passing. The bankster bailout championed by Bernanke and Greenspan would be classed as High-Octane Evil.

The final and ultimate good was attained by a bunch of people working together in a quiet place separate from everyone else.

A rather extreme example, mind you, but a good-enough metaphor for the sort of quiet, self-supplied society we should be striving for.

I can see the daily telegraph headlines in a few years:

"Man pimps off wife for carbon credits, while children do homework by candle light"

"Pensions payed out in carbon credits as money runs out"


Rationing is my idea as well - it is the only fair system, proven to work, for countries like mine that think all legitimate citizens have equal rights.

But this time using 'smart cards' that can be accessed wirelessly (like we use on the London underground) that can access and update a Government data base every time a legitimate purchase of fossil fuel is made. To make this work though, so people don't have multiple aliases, I think we would need national ID cards - the UK has just said they are going to scrap the idea - sigh!

I don't know if it has been mentioned recently on TOD but the New Scientist is doing a 4 part series of articles on a 'Blueprint for a Better World'. UK MSM and journals like the New Scientist have definitely changed tack in a coordinated way in the last month or so.

A quote from last week's New Scientist front page editorial:

"As the global population soars, we are starting to bump up against key resources, such as oil, water and phosphorus ... climate change ... we face a perfect storm of problems."

"As the global population soars, we are starting to bump up against key resources, such as oil, water and phosphorus ... climate change ... we face a perfect storm of problems."


Exercise Prometheus

Document type: Guidance
Author: Health Protection Agency for Department of Health
Published date: 10 September 2009
Publication format: Electronic only
Gateway reference: 12582
Copyright holder: Crown

Exercise Prometheus is a Department of Health funded exercise for the social care sector to assess and develop its resilience planning in readiness for a second wave of the pandemic swine flu. Designed as an 'off the shelf' package primarily for use by local authorities in partnership with their local providers of social care, the exercise has been developed by the Health Protection Agency from experience gained in previous pandemic influenza exercises.

But remember these are plans not predictions. Maybe it won't be so bad (although that doesn't look likely at the moment to me). Maybe it will be worse.

The package includes a spreadsheet model which you can plug in values for your local population and work out when you're going to die. Oops I mean get flu. Who says the UK doesn't prepare for things ;-)

Minor detail--if you make an image of something with sharp lines (a document, as above, or a graph for example) please use a PNG type of file. If you make an image of a photo or something without clean lines, use a JPG instead.

The image above is a JPG. If it were a PNG, it would be a lot clearer.

That's good default advice I agree but I manually fiddle with jpeg compression and usually pre-sharpen things to optimise the file down to a size I hoped Leanan would be ok with but would still be readable. A same size PNG looks pretty much the same to me in this case as I took a screenshot from a PDF reader scaled down to fit on the screen and that's where I lost some of the original resolution in the source PDF in the first place.

I agree though in general if you don't fiddle PNG will beat jpeg for this type of thing.

EDIT: Ok, I got off my behind and redid it as a PNG. This is maybe a little bit clearer so if you want to edit it into my original post that's fine by me!


So why not just cut out the middle man and have carbon taxes on fuel/energy, together with a tax credit/allowance. Like we already have. No new systems required and it amounts to the same thing.

Point is we already have it with the tax on petrol, and it doesn't really change behaviours.

I think that increased taxes on carbon based fuels is a bad idea.

Such a tax is extremely regressive, since folks with higher incomes spend a smaller portion of their income directly on energy. The richer folks would just continue to use the energy as before, leaving the poorer masses out in the cold, in a quite literal sense. If one plots energy use vs. income, one finds that at the curve does not go to zero at the lowest end, which shows that some energy is needed just to stay alive. If those folks are priced out of the market by the rich few, the result would be massive social unrest. The U.S. would be especially hard hit if the level of taxes were great enough to actually impact usage, given the larger houses and greater commute distances we have become to take for granted.

Then too, by rationing carbon emissions, the message that it's important to limit such emissions would be clearly seen by everybody. Those with enough funds could go to the effort to cut their emissions, while others who were frugal could trade their allocations for money. Increasing prices thru taxation would not deliver the same message, IMHO. If everyone was given the same periodic allocation, I think that there would be a sense that the burden was equally shared and those who continued to consume more would pay a growing penalty for their continued excess, not to mention social pressure to conserve.

Actually, I think that as Peak Oil becomes an undeniable problem, the situation would present an opportunity to begin just such an allocation process, as a means of dealing with the social and economic disruptions due to the declining supply. Thus, the first level could be allocations of oil and it's products. Later, the allocations could be changed to include all CO2 emissions, to restrict the natural tendency to switch to coal as a primary energy source as oil production declines.

E. Swanson

Judging by the lack of adhering to targets by people like OPEC with a common cause, I doubt we will get a world agreement on anything. So we have to act locally in our own interest. Rationing means we have to change, raising tax just damages our non-discretionary economy more than needed.

BAU, failure to restrict Fossil Fuel use, is not a sustainable option. We are in a new non-growth paradigm, new rules will have to be learned, quickly.

So why not just cut out the middle man and have carbon taxes on fuel/energy, together with a tax credit/allowance. Like we already have. No new systems required and it amounts to the same thing.

Point is we already have it with the tax on petrol, and it doesn't really change behaviours.

Well, in a sense you answered your own question, Gary. Keep on doing what we've always done, and we'll keep on getting what we've always got. So we could try something else...

The 'universal carbon credit' is advocated by social-justice proponents, who see it as a small redistributional mechanism to help alleviate poverty.

They think it works like this. Someone who wants to keep driving a Hummer can buy the needed credits from people who are too poor to be able to use them. Those people can buy healthcare, shoes, farming implements, etc., with the proceeds.

It could work like that where the rule of law is strong. I think that in most places, traditional strong-arm tactics would be used to enforce current social inequalities.

It's another misguided attempt to achieve two objectives at once. (I almost wrote "kill two birds with one windmill". ;-P )

It's another misguided attempt to achieve two objectives at once.

The problem is that without coupling some kinds of programs with distributional changes, the losers from the first proposal will become enemies of the program. Then all progress is stopped. Economies speek of a Pareto optimal solution, by which they mean some program is a net win for all members of society, rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul. When a proposed change produces net good, but its direct implementation is good for some, and bad for others, then some sort of distribution corrective is needed. Now the distributional change doesn't have to be direct transfer of money, but could be a targetted tax cut, or programs to help the losers. Subsidized insulation for the poor, say, to offset the costs of the carbon taxes they would be forced to pay. Because of the inelestic nature of fossil fuel prices/demand/supply, such a program could in principle help all economic classes (though not the owners of the fossil fuel resources).

Being able to profit from conserving energy -- imagine that. Also, there would be a built in subsidy for investing in alternatives.

RE up top: Kjell Aleklett: Peak Oil is not a theory; Peak Oil is the reality of past and future oil production.

One wonders what secret information Mr. Lynch possesses and does not wish to share with the IEA.

The secret information; that the elite in the world want to keep the status quo until the very last moment when they know their world will come crashing down. Once the fact of "Peak oil" is fully accepted in the public domain, Lynch et al know this will be the end of growth economics so must work very hard to keep this lie going.


One wonders where these guys will go after TSHTF. Do they all have "Bug Out" spots previously prepared in countries where they (and their children) might survive the economic and population crash? Can I go there too? Will I need a Big Gun to survive against their hired killers from Xe Corp? Some tropical island paradise would seem to be a nice choice, were it not for the problem of sea level rise. Inquiring minds want to know, (so we can get there too)...

E. Swanson

It's not that useful to keep playing with these fearful scenarios.

Find the road less taken, and figure out what you can build, and don't keep yourself and us (in these threads) dwelling on boogeymen. The LAST thing in the world I would consider doing is being anywhere near such a compound and it's infectious mental state, as it clings fearfully to the past, and protects it with rusting firearms and claymors..

"Vergie, if you want to learn how to use a gun, I say ex-perience is the best teacher. Here's your 22, and them there is some rabbit tracks, and at the end of em' is your breakfast, now go to it, Vergie!" - Marshall Dodge


Inquiring minds want to know

From US Navy’s Title X War Game, "Global ’08"; 4-8 August 2008, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island (p. 66)

Economic: In this future situation, trade will be down overall, but the remaining trade
will be critical. The competition for resources between blocs may not translate to
competition or conflict over the trade of finished goods. (The moderator cited historic
examples where there was significant friction between blocs where trade continued. The
cell came to the consensus that trade in finished goods would continue albeit at a lower
volume due to generally weak economic activity and high transportation costs.)
Competition for resources occurs while trade in finished goods continues.
Because of the cost of fuel, there will be a drastic drop in global trade, with goods being
made closer to the point of consumption. Consumerism is driven down.
This reduces the flow through SLOCs. Trade is more important, though there is less of it.
There will be a revival of national merchant fleets; the U.S. will have to develop its ship
building industry.

Social: Mass humanitarian crises and social unrest occur. U.S. cities become more
centralized (and society as a whole becomes more city-based) due to high fuel costs. We
no longer have an industrial economy. Day-to-day life may be very different.

Interesting factoid is that a goodly number of the participating countries' officials and military people raised as criticisms to the wargame scenarios that there was no inclusion of sea-level rises and climate change.

oops. LINK (PDF)

For some, the fearful scenarios are already way past playtime.

Pakistan stampede kills up to 20 women, children

Up to 20 women and children were killed on Monday in a stampede which broke out as charity workers were handing out free flour to the poor in a crowded neighbourhood of Pakistan's financial capital Karachi, officials said.

"The deaths were caused by suffocation and the stampede in one of the most congested localities of Khori Garden, where a charity was distributing free flour among hundreds of women and children during Ramadan," he added.

Injured women and children lay on beds in a crowded hospital, where panicked relatives rushed around trying to find their loved ones and dead bodies lay covered in white sheets, television footage showed.


I'm all for a positive and flexible approach to an uncertain future - together with a healthy dose of realism in my risk-mitigation plans. It's not an either/or choice, and working toward one goal does not dilute or divert my efforts toward the other.

But I would say that, especially in the face of such turmoil, it becomes more important than ever to make sure we don't enable these to be vicious cycles.

They run their course and tire out, to some degree, but we also have to consciously interrupt a situation that is spiralling.

That mad rush in Karachi is not a predictor of 'our fate'.. it has happened many times before, and will happen again. The question is, 'what is your response?' Do you go to a gun show, or do you buy some wood for a new batch of planting boxes, do you volunteer as a math tutor, do you create a 'bike path' campaign at town hall meetings.. well, ok, there's a lot of 'open-carry' at those town halls, right now, that might actually be feeding the beast..

.. Which wolf will you feed?

As I said, I 'feed' all my wolves. None is a digital function, and there's no reason for any value in the multiverse of options to be exactly zero. Or unity. Where one falls on the continuum is all that we're discussing here. It varies across time as well as space, so the whole point of planning is to realistically allocate resources to mitigate risk, as well as to grow a shiny new future.

What will be necessary to our future? In my world, the answer to that question arose out of a backpacker's need to minimize his baggage, quite literally. I ended up with a figure of merit that's a product of three terms:
1) Burden of carrying it - weight, volume, cost, lifetime, worry;
2) Probability of 'needing' it, in quotes because most aren't primary needs; and
3) Consequences of needing it and not having it.

Ex: a BandAid or spare shoelace is so cheap, light, long-lived and robust that the liklihood of a getting a cut or a shoe failure is almost irrelevant - there's no reason not to carry either one.

A can of bear spray is bulky, expensive, and unlikely to be needed. BUT - the consequences of needing-and-not-having are severe enough to override the inconvenience and probable waste of carrying it. Depending, of course, on where you're camping, what food you're going to cook, and so on. If your friend has just returned from a trip with a harrowing story of an ursine close encounter, wouldn't you be more likely to carry that bear spray the next time out?

So I don't want this discussion of preparations to devolve into a debate on the morality of ecotopia versus MadMax future visions. It's not about the rectitude of attitude, it's about what we compute to be the figure of merit for each of the Things That They Carried. No FOM is zero or unity, in my estimation.

I've been driving for 37 years, and have never needed a seat belt. You'd surely agree that my history is no reason to decide that it's an unnecessary inconvenience - No matter how low the probability of a bad crash, the severity of the consequences compared to the inconvenience of use leads to the obvious conclusion.

To me, thinking about and preparing for a more crime-ridden world is akin to wearing another kind of safety belt, in that as unlikely as it may be that I'll need it, I take great comfort in knowing that when my loved ones venture out into the world, they're firmly belted in.

Remember, in a real conflict everyone has the "will to win." What differentiates us is who has the will to prepare to win, because there we're battling human nature, which may hold that it's unchristian to be armed, or unpatriotic to short the markets. But no matter how high-minded our intentions or lofty our goals, those nagging survival priorities are still lurking just below the thin veneer that is civilization.

Congress to empower a council of regulators to monitor large firms for systemic risk.

Why not additionally empower regulators to monitor large systems for firm risk ?

They may actually stop part of the ponzi game, and gum up the smooth function economic model.

Congress to empower a council of regulators to monitor large firms for systemic risk.

Why not additionally empower regulators to monitor large systems for firm risk ?

This, folks, is the Nate Hagen's Ponzi Scheme!

(Clap. Clap. Clap.)

More Export Stuff, as we work on the updated graphs

Export Land Model (ELM): Consumption = 50% of production at final peak; production decline rate of -5%/year, consumption rate of increase if +2.5%/year. Net exports go from a peak to zero in 9 years.

The ELM can be broken down into three groups of three years each. Let's look at the midpoint of each group: Years 2, 5 & 8 (decline rates relative to peak production, in Year Zero):

Year 2:
Production Decline Rate: -5%/year
Net Export Decline Rate: -13.7%/year

Year 5:
Production Decline Rate: -5%/year
Net Export Decline Rate: -16.9%/year

Year 8:
Production Decline Rate: -5%/year
Net Export Decline Rate: -26.5%/year

What we are doing, regarding 20 actual case histories, is looking at three groups of exporters:

6 Current Exporters showing a peak* in 2005 or later
(Saudi Arabia, et al)
Median Production Decline Rate: -1.2%/year
Median Net Export Decline Rate (production peak to 2008): -3.0%/year

11 Current Exporters showing a peak* in 2004 or earlier (median peak of 2001):
(Mexico, et al)
Median Production Decline Rate: -3.7%/year
Median Net Export Decline Rate (production peak to 2008): -8.3%/year

3 Former Exporters (peaks from 1996 to 1999):
(Indonesia, UK, Egypt)
Median Production Decline Rate: -3.9%/year
Median Net Export Decline Rate (production peak to last year of net oil exports): -37.1%/year

*May or may not be a final production peak

Notice the similarities between the actual case histories and the ELM, as the model and the actual exporters get farther away from production peaks.

Hello WT,

As usual, thxs for the ELM info. Let's hope that the Iron Triangle's MSM will someday, somehow sound the alarm far and wide. Also, notice that Simmons' opposition, the Gang of Four [Yergin, Lynch,et al], is largely silent on this ELM-topic as you & Sam appear to be building a bulletproof, statistical argument using historical data.

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

Additional thoughts on ELM:

Your model has Net exports go from a peak to zero in a mere 9 years. So even if we very optimistically double that timeframe to 18 years==>that is still very little time to massively redesign and re-align the global supply chains for I-NPKS, foodstuffs, and local O-NPK recycling and water-pumping. Not to mention the massive shift of Kunstlerization required.

Nine years seems like a perfect Overshoot recipe for machete' moshpits, or worse, and is in keeping with Jay's Thermo/Gene fast-crash and Duncan's Olduvai Re-equalizing.

If I was a long-range,strategic manager at GM, I would be screaming forget building any kind of personal vehicles, ICE or BATT. They need to totally re-tool for Alan's standard gauge [spine & limbs] and narrow gauge SpiderWebs [local ribcages], plus lots of bicycles and wheelbarrows.

Recall my prior posts on a small 15-21HP ICE or BATT loco moving 10-20 people, and how that compared to a Cadillac Hybrid Escalade with approx. 350HP. Then, when we can't even get the energy to run mini-locos==>the next logical migration step is pedal railbikes on the same tracks.

IMO, we should be doing all we can to avert a quick reversion to Tlameme backpacking, which didn't work anyway as the effective radius was way too small.

The point at which a specific exporter will approach zero net oil exports is a function of: (1) Consumption as a percentage of production at final peak; (2) Rate of change in production; (3) Rate of change in consumption. For example, if we assume no increase in consumption, Export Land goes to zero net oil exports in 14 years, instead of 9 years.

Based on the ELM, the three key characteristics of net export declines are:

(1) The net export decline rate tends to exceed the production decline rate;

(2) The net export decline rate tends to accelerate with time;

(3) The bulk of post-peak cumulative net oil exports are shipped early in the decline phase.

If we sum Indonesia, UK & Egypt, it turns out that they went from a final production peak to zero net oil exports in 9 years, just like the ELM, but their consumption as a percentage of production was high, about 59% at final peak.

Sam's middle case to high case for the top five collectively approaching zero net oil exports is from about 2029 to 2035, i.e., 24 to 30 years after their apparent 2005 combined peak. (Their consumption as a percentage of production in 2005 was about 25%).

But the bottom line is that the 20 actual examples all show that their net export decline rate exceeds the production decline rate, and the tendency is for the net export decline rate to accelerate with time:

Recent peaks (2005 or later) median net export decline rate: -3%/year

Peaks a little farther back (2004 or earlier), median net export decline rate: -8.3%/year

Three former net oil exporters: median net export decline rate of -37%/year

When it comes to Net Oil Exports we often mention Mexico, UK, Indonesia but I haven´t seen much discussion about Nigeria.

Nigeria was producing around 2,5 Mb/day in July 2005 and now produces 1,7 Mb/d (in July 2009). That´s a very steep decline, even not including probably steeper decline in exports.

I posted a list of virtually all current net oil exporters showing a recent production decline on the Mexico thread:


Nigeria is on the list, and they are one of the six current exporters showing a production peak in 2005 or later. From 2005-2008, their observed production decline rate was -6.4%/year, and their net export decline rate was -6.9%/year.

Yes, thanks for the info.

But it´s definitely worth noting that Nigeria (on that list) has the second highest decline rate after Denmark (which is a much smaller producer).

The list is ranked by net export decline rate, which I think is the key metric, and there are six net oil exporters with higher net export decline rates. But the key point about the production decline rates is that the bulk of them are relatively low, below -5%/year in most cases. The median production decline rate for the 2005 and later group is about -1.2%/year, for the 2004 & earlier group, -3.7%/year, and for the former net oil exporters, -3.9%/year. But note that the median net export decline rate for the former net exporter group is -37.1%/year.

WT: Thanks for all your work on stats. I have just one minor nit to pick.

"6.4%/year, and their net export decline rate was -6.9%/year."

A minus decline rate is an increase. It should be:

'6.4%/year, and their net export rate was -6.9%/year.' OR '6.4%/year, and their net export decline rate was 6.9%/year.'

Now if I can get Rockman to understand the difference between "then" and "than", who knows what evil we might find behind the curtain. :-)

I guess you are right. The net export rate of change is -6.9%/year, or the net export decline rate is 6.9%/year.

It's a New Orleans thing Lyn. We have a similar problem with "take" and "bring".

Good luck on your new graphs WT- better with graphs than matrices of numbers and alot of 'headbanging from your customers' ... aka me' !

Just a suggestion - IF you made this kind of graphs - where the startingpoints (Y-axis) for all Export Lands were at the same upper-left 100%-point(max-production/export) AND a 0%-line expressing the reach of Zero export. It would be quite self-explainatory and self-evident, IMHO. X-axis 'number of years' .... from max-export to nil export.

My 5 nickles.


BP has stated that the US will produce 25% of all gasoline from biofuels by 2030.

Just how practical is this? Is it even remotely possible?

Sure it's possible. Just maintain the present rate of biofuel production and reduce the share of gasoline made from crude oil...

..true, mathematically. But I think they expect it to be 25% of current gasoline production.

Is it doable? How much land?

With a couple assumptions:

- that one gal of ethanol goes as far as a gallon of gas (not a great assumption)
- that US gas demand is constant at about 9.2M barrels/day year-round
- last week it was claimed US farms could produce about 500 gal of ethanol per acre - equiv to 187 bu of corn/ac, a relatively high number.

With these assumptions, 9.2Mb/d x 365 x 42 gal/barrel / 500 gal/ac => 282.1 M acres.

25% of this would be 70 M acres.

The US has 2.3B acres with 18% arable land (about 415M acres) from which 80M acres are used to grow all of our exportable grains, 70M lays fallow, and the rest is used to grow the nation's food. (source: dieoff.org, wikipedia, etc)

Sure, we could cease exporting all grains and instead replace 25% of our gasoline with ethanol, if the weather is favorable and we have enough water. Water? ....

Anyone want to refine these numbers a bit?

HA -- It's either very practical or completely impractical depending on your assumption base. I think a more relevent question for BP is whether they've budgeted the 100's of billions of $'s needed to make their projection come true. And if they haven't committed the capital exactly who are they speaking for that has put those bucks up? My guees is the answer are "No' and "We don't know".

It's always so easy to predict something will happen when it's up to someone else to spend the money. I've yet to see any scheme for anything not work...at least on paper. Why would anyone ever propose a plan that their model says won't work?

From an article in Scientific American, October 2008, Michael Webber writes:

Whether proponents realize it or not, any
plan to switch from gasoline to electricity or biofuels is a strategic decision to switch our dependence from foreign oil to domestic water. Although that choice might seem more appealing than reducing energy consumption, we would be wise to first make sure we have the necessary water.

For the sake of full disclosure: Michael is my niece's husband

"whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting"
"water flows uphill to money"

IMO: the two most worrisome quotes ever.

It will never happen as biofuels and gasoline are NOT the same thing. Biofuels might displace 25% of gasoline use by 2030. They might even supply more than 50% of fuels used for non-rail and -air transportation by 2030 given the likely direction of gasoline price and availability.

RE: A New Dark Age

Humanity is now suspended between a tipping point and a point of no return. We still have a few years before we reach the point of no return, but there is not a second to waste. This is our greatest challenge: to draw the pollution out of the air and save ourselves from Lovelock's new Dark Age.

Hyperbole or Action? Hmmm...Which one allows me to watch sports and eat cheeseburgers?

I wonder how many of these scientists rode to a conference on an ox drawn cart. My guess is that they probably rode coach (unless they were the keynote speaker they might have been upgraded to 1st class). It's hard not to be cynical but the facts are that over a decade after Kyoto CO2 emissions are not only not decreasing but they are rising exponentially. This is the proverbial freight train rushing downhill. We might as well pray for Extra-terrestrial intervention.


As frightening as climate change is, I am more worried about the stupid things we may try in an attempt to "fix" it and to allow infinite growth to resume. Any attempt to remove the CO2 will run afoul of entropy. Attempts to cool the planet in spite of the greenhouse gasses are likely to be catastrophic.

EDIT: Does anyone have any information about what happened at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary to cause CO2 to be reduced in the atmosphere (as a grossly oversimplified question)?

Does anyone have any information about what happened at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary to cause CO2 to be reduced in the atmosphere?

An excellent question, but I don't think there's a consensus. The sudden drop in temperature kicked off the formation of the Antarctic ice sheet, and it caused a pretty widespread marine mass extinction. The previous several million years were marked by the "Azolla Event," in which a bloom of Azolla ferns drew down large quantities of atmospheric carbon.

Instead of a single catastrophic event (comet strike; flood basalt), I'd suspect some critical threshold of ocean chemistry/temperature was crossed, which caused the oceans to reorganize in a profound way, over a geologically brief time period.

Barrettt _ I posted this yesterday about Peter Ward's H2S poisoning theory. I'd really be interested in your opinion.


Funny, I just saw Peter Ward give a presentation on his Medea hypothesis. In general, I think the H2S poisoning theory is very powerful, although I can't say if it's the smoking gun for the E-O boundary. There's no clear cause for widespread ocean anoxia then, but maybe there's a large flood basalt somewhere, still waiting to be discovered.

I definitely had Ward's idea in mind when I mentioned sudden changes in ocean chemistry/temperature, but I expect that there are other modes of catastrophic reorganization that can wipe out ocean life. At least we got the Antarctic ice sheet out of the deal.

Apparently, during the Paleocene & Eocene, the calcium carbonate compensation depth (CCCD) in the equatorial Pacific was relatively shallow. As crust cooled and sunk the CCCD deepened and CaCO3 deposition increased. Coring reveals that minimal CaCO3 dissolution correlates with the formation & expansion of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet at the Eocene/Oligocene transition.

So the CO2 in the atmosphere was absorbed in the oceans creating CaCO3?


Which I suppose means that someday in the future the dead, acidic oceans will have absorbed enough CO2 out of the atmosphere that temperatures will begin to drop again. Oh joy.

Which I suppose means that someday in the future the dead, acidic oceans will have absorbed enough CO2 out of the atmosphere that temperatures will begin to drop again. Oh joy.

Yeah, as you can see, despite all the cliche arguments to the contrary, the global climate is a lot like the weather.

I'm sure most people are quite familiar with the common saying "If you don't like the weather right now just wait a few hours" I've heard it used all over the world.

Now climate is the pretty much the same if you don't like it now just wait a couple hundred thousand years, its guaranteed to change.

The amount of CO2 the ocean can store is limited, though. If memory serves, the Revelle factor is about 10, which means, for instance, a 100% rise in atmospheric fCO2 would only result in a 10% rise in oceanic [H2CO3*] (at equilibrium). The ocean is by no means a bottomless sink. Although the calcium carbonate that forms is generally buried as limestone and subducted, removing that CO2 to the mantle until it is outgassed volcanically in the future.

Unfortunately, the oceans will get acidic enough to kill off most of my favorite creatures long before taking up as much CO2 as you're envisioning. :/

From the same article:

But in the summer of 2005, a dramatic change occurred. The rate of melt accelerated, so that around four times as much ice melted as compared with previous summers.

I have heard many deniers say that actually the Arctic ice is expanding in recent years and there is now more than ever. The problem is, no one to my notice has countered this argument. What exactly is the bloody situation with the Arctic ice?

The perspective is the problem. If you are in the business of predicting the weather it is difficult to nigh impossible as evidenced by the haphazard probability of weather forecasts. Predicting climate is another thing entirely. It can be very accurate, however the problem is it takes years or decades to document or predict climate.

How do you predict climate when we're in the middle of a massive climate change? Sea ice is a symptom of an overall change in climate patterns, therefore looking at ice fossil records of what type of climate existed with various levels of CO2 are suddenly relevant. The Farmers Almanac is an anachronism.


Well, take a look at the weekly graph at www.nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews. I don't see how anyone could come to the conclusion that there is an increasing sea ice minimum during the last few summers.

In addition, while the sea ice minimum this year and last probably won't beat the record set in 2007, the ice is apparently thinner, on average.

Has anyone bothered to put out a press release about this? Probably not, since we haven't reached the 2009 minimum yet.

Of course Arctic sea ice is increasing, and here's how you show it:

Arctic Sea Ice: Staggering Growth

I badly needed a laugh today. Thanks for that link!

Now that's a useful trend line. ;-)

LOL! Absolutely wonderful graph.

That was precious. Thank you!

Yes, that Dr. Inferno is a card. Here's how he describes the graph methodology:

Remember to apply your blog science skills and question everything. Question, for example, the conventional "wisdom" that says y-axes must go vertically and x-axes horizonally. Why should time go horizontally and extent go vertically? Remember that actual ice extent is a measure of the horizontal spread of sea ice, so in many respects by making the Y-axis more horizontal I have displayed the data in a more correct manner than so-called "phd scientists" do.

The scary part is that this blogger is dead-earnest. He really thinks he has cracked the code ... he's cracked something, for sure.

You need to read the rest of his site

The scary part is that this blogger is dead-earnest.

I thought so, too, until I read this post from May:

But worse we find out these satellites are using microwaves to measure ice! As an experiment I took a glass of ice and put it in a microwave oven. This of course proves nothing, but it does raise some questions. I figured that 30 seconds in the microwave oven would be at least equivalent to 30 years of satellite microwaving. Well my microwave didn’t tell me how thick the ice was (of course immune from Team Science I never thought it would), but I did observe the microwaves melting ice.

So is in fact arctic ice decline being caused by sustained subjection of arctic ice by microwave radiation emitted from NASA satellites? Is NASA literally cooking the books (ie ice)? Is it a coincidence that satellite “measurements” of sea ice and temperature both began in 1979, the year in which Jimmy Carter resumed diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China?

Only then did I figure it out...nobody is that stupid.

Only then did I figure it out...nobody is that stupid.

It seems to me that he has figured out some clever ways to game denialist funding schemes. He's probably laughing all the way to the bank.

It's deadpan satire, is what it is. :)

I wonder if someone like Jerome Corsi has that racket going. DenialDepot is obviously a satire site, but Corsi really looks like he believes the stuff he writes about.

His name wouldn't be 'Dr. Science' would it?

What exactly is the bloody situation with the Arctic ice?

I think this says it all : German ships sailing through North East Passage

Found this in a companion article dated Aug. 2008:

Now, however, experts believe that climate change is melting polar ice at such a fast rate that the North West Passage could become navigable within a couple of decades.

Oh how short the last 2 decades were :(

Oh how short the last 2 decades were :(

Now just imagine how much shorter the next 2 decades will be if the arrival of the future continues to speed up at the same, or an accelerating exponential rate, based the on the last year being equal to two decades...I think that's what they mean when they say TSHTF!

BTW, make sure you read the "H" as past tense.

I don't think the North West passage is commercially navigable yet, although I'm sure the 2 decade estimate will turn out to be way too conservative. Your linked article, though, references the North East passage. Russia must be licking its chops at the thought of no longer being a 'landlocked' country, with oil and gas to sell, to boot.

Charts used to navigate close to Greenland's coast line are no longer useful as so much ice has melted from the coast that the now exposed sea's floor is unknown, which is a definate hazard for mariners. And the rapidity with which some of Greenland's glaciers are moving is amazing.

As noted in the linked item, Greenland annually now loses more ice than it gains. At some point, the massive sheet will become destabilized to the point where it fractures into multiple chunks and rapidly moves into the ocean over just a few years-time--and prior to the end of the 21st century, which is my hypothesis. My curiosity says I'd like witness events 100 years hence, but my practical side says why live through all that turmoil and chaos.

Arctic ice extent is decreasing a lot. There is lots of evidence for that.

Antarctic ice extent is increasing a little. This has to do with the fact that nearly all of the Antarctic sea ice melts every summer. The pole is in the middle of the continent rather than the middle of the sea in the Arctic. As the ice shelves and land ice thin, the salinity of the water around the land decreases and thus the winter freeze up is slightly larger. But it all melts again next summer, and ice shelves are breaking up.

The problem is while ice extent is an OK measurement for change in the Arctic, it is not for the Antarctic, which the deniers use to their advantage.

Antarctic ice is expanding. I suspect this is what they are referring to.

It is easy for the Seasonal, very THIN Antarctic floating ice sheet to expand when the Really THICK iceshelves in the WAIS shrink. Billions of bergie bits and growlers can help the thin icesheets grow.

It's easy to find current info on sea ice area or extent (2 similar metrics of the sea-ice surface) at NSIDC or The Cryosphere Today. Looking at the last few decades the trend of shrinking summer ice is pretty clear. The deniers like to cherry pick data and talk about things like winter ice of '08 and '09 being greater than that of '05-'07. But that's noise.

And what's rarely mentioned is thickness and total mass. But as I've mentioned in detail before on TOD, when you look at the decline in thickness, from 10 ft. 50 years ago to about 3 ft today, together with the declining extent, especially in summer, it's clear that we've lost perhaps 80% of the total summer ice mass. That's undeniably huge.

Isn't "a point of no return" by definition a "tipping point"?

If you didn't understand me the first time let me be redundant! ;-)


some dots to join here;

"This weekend, there was Alexei Miller, Chairman of Russia's major energy company, Gazprom, predicting that the price of oil would jump to $100 a barrel because of 'speculation'. "


"Economists also worry that commodity bubbles, which tend to be more cyclical, may strike again..."


"Global banks are engaged in a hiring boom for commodity traders as they add staff to benefit from surging metals and energy prices, offering $1 million packages for top employees, recruiters Robert Walters Plc said."


...from the Kjell Aleklett article he states that 5 of the last 6 US Recession where caused by high oil prices and that oil > ~4% US GDP causes it giving current 'over the edge' price of $80...

Now with a bit of Quantitative Easing and general loose money we can probably boost that to $100+ in no time but it's not that far off is it?? In other words within a year or two of any 'recovery' -say 2011/12- the US might plunge back into Recession 2.0...


That was Steven Kopits, not Kjell Aleklett. From the interview he struck me as a thoroughly moderate, reality-based sort of bloke.

They're getting ready for the price of crude oil to head upward in Spring 2010.

The South Africa article caught my eye this morning: Long-term coal supply a threat.

Using information from the Wikipedia Eskom page and graphs from the Energy Export Databrowser a pretty compelling story can be told:

Coal is South Africa's only indigenous energy resource (nuclear, wind and hydro account for < %5). Imported oil makes up about %20 of total energy consumed and is used for transportation. Electricity from coal accounts for essentially all of the rest of the energy that powers South Africa.

In South Africa, electricity is provided by Eskom, the public utility founded in 1923. From the wikipedia page:

The utility is the largest producer of electricity in Africa, is among the top seven utilities in the world in terms of generation capacity and among the top nine in terms of sales.

Eskom operates a number of notable power stations, including Kendal Power Station, and Koeberg nuclear power station in the Cape Province, the only nuclear power plant in Africa. The company is divided into Generation, Transmission and Distribution divisions and together Eskom generates approximately 95% of electricity used in South Africa.

Due to the South African government's attempted privatisation of Eskom in the late 1990s, Eskom's requests for budget to build new stations were denied. President Thabo Mbeki admitted in December 2007 that this was an error, and it is now adversely affecting the South African economy.

In January 2008 Eskom introduced "load shedding", planned rolling blackouts based on a rotating schedule, in periods where short supply threatens the integrity of the grid. Demand-side management has focussed on encouraging consumers to conserve power during peak periods in order to reduce the incidence of load shedding.

Needless to say, load shedding is bad for the economy and Eskom is restarting mothballed plants and building new ones to get back on track. South African coal will be used to power these new plants but the article mentioned at top describes the need to open up new coal mines to guarantee supplies.

I have no doubt that South Africa will be able to support its growing appetite for coal in the near term future. But what of exports? South Africa is currently one of the leading coal exporters but that could change going forward.

I am no expert on South African coal reserves or the cost of bringing them to the surface, but I have seen the consequences of increased consumption in the face of peaking production in several oil exporting nations: Indonesia, Mexico, Egypt.

In each case, the ability of the nation to export the energy resource decreases dramatically until the exporter becomes an importer of energy. (Mexico still has a couple of years before this happens.) It appears that South Africa has started down this slippery slope with respect to coal.

You can peruse these and many other graphs at the Energy Export Databrowser.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

RE: Where have all the little cars gone?

I have had pretty much the same experience, at least with one of the companies mentioned in the article. I used to have very good results with them, but something changed a couple of years ago, and it started to be a routine thing of their not actually having the reserved car on hand when I arrived to pick it up. The best I could make out, they had cut their inventory of rental cars considerably, and were operating on a "just in time" system - meaning that they were hoping that renters would return their cars just in time to be picked up by the next renter. Of course, real life doesn't work that way, so neither did their "reservation" system. Two or three times of this - the last time being left absolutely in the lurch without a car or any hope of one - was enough to convince me to not do business with that particular rental car company again.

Now, every time we want to rent a car we have to drive an extra dozen miles to the airport, where there are several rental car companies at the terminal. I figure if the one we have a reservation with lets us down, there is at least a chance that maybe one of their competitors will have a car.

I have been thinking that it would make a good deal of sense for people to transition to small, short-range EVs and PHEVs for everyday local use, and to rent conventional ICE cars for the occasional longer range trip, if passenger rail is not available. However, this presumes that there actually is a functioning and more-or-less reliable car rental system. These experiences are starting to cast doubt on that assumption. That is not a good thing. If people start deciding that they need to drive around larger and more powerful cars than they really need for daily local driving, just on the off-chance that they will need to take a longer trip and not be able to get a rental car, then that will be as counterproductive as things can possibly get.


Denninger seems to agree with the "You lie" congressman. All up, an excellent rant and say what you want about Beck et al, they are well posted there. I have never felt the public anger that I feel now toward TPTB. Even the '60s and Kent State were not this universal nor this bad.

"Houston, we have a problem."

Right, because at Kent State all we had were US National Guard troops killing college students, which is a walk in the park compared to today, when we face the looming threat of *gasp* universal health care. The humanity!

Please remember that there were young men--no young women in those days-- no older than the Kent State students who were in the National guard to AVOID being sent to Vietnam. They were afraid of being killed in action, too, and maybe weren't supportive of the war. Some of the guys in the national guards were fearful of the campus crowds who looked like they could be pretty violent even if they didn't have the firearms.

Just what I heard from someone who was a student there but not involved in the demonstrations in those days.

Peace to all,

Charles Durning in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Having read Denninger's post and watched some of the coverage on C-SPAN, I can no longer credit Karl as a numerate person.

At best, KD is sloppy. At worst, he's unconcerned with the quantitative accuracy of his rants.

Not that I disagree with his opined theses - but some display a nonzero content of bovine feces.

Guys: Can everyone agree, that generally speaking, USA politicians are absolute crap (every bit as purchased and useless as a few years ago)? The USA public doesn't feel that there has been the obvious improvement in quality that is touted on this blog. What quantifiable improvement are Denninger and Co. missing?

We have an executive branch head now that understands and can use diplomacy.

That alone is a huge improvement.

As to the rest, I do believe that I said I'd reconsider my opinion if he renominated Bernanke, so my opinion is officially being reconsidered.

Cspan vs Denninger, and Cspan comes off on top? What about the CNN vs Fox coverage?

Edit: apparently many of the pics circulating on the net are indeed fakes. 75K? 2M? What's the real number?

Like KSA oil, we need to rely on perceptions and induced effects. Was D.C. basically shut down on Saturday due to the crushing throngs of 1.5 to 2 million people? Was traffic all screwed up? Hotel rooms totally gone? How many porta-potties were in place, and what volume of usage did they see? Who fed these millions of people?

If, OTOH, the effects were similar to an NFL football game (some parking issues, busy but functioning mass transit, some vacancy at the inn), the crowd was probably closer to 60,000.

Hello TODers,

Trade Protectionism can really setoff Liebig Minimums. Having a car but no affordable tires obviously limits one's mobility options.

US "confident" tires action on China WTO legal-aide

..Beijing has reacted angrily to Obama's decision to impose a 35 percent tariff on Chinese-made tires after the United Steelworkers union complained that imports tripled between 2004 and 2008 to about 46 million tires.
I am assuming this tariff is mostly impacting on personal vehicle tires for that remarkable volume increase of 46 million. That is also where most of the profits are concentrated.

If I was China: I would counter the US tariff move by forbidding Chinese specialty tire exports of bicycle, wheelbarrow, forklift, and other utility tires such as the giant tires for heavy equipment. Picture lots of US big-rigs, transit buses, and mining equipment up on blocks, then imagine the economic ripple effect. Besides, China could probably use these specialty tires at home to further ramp their strategic reserve stockpiles.

You wrote:

Having a car but no affordable tires obviously limits one's mobility options.

Suppose one drives a gas guzzler SUV that only delivers 18 mph. Now, assume the cost of fuel is $2.50 per gallon, thus the cost of fuel is about $0.14 per mile. Now, if a set of tires costs $500 and lasts 40,000 miles, that works out to $0.013 per mile, or about 1/10 the cost of fuel. One could add in an estimate of the per-mile depreciation of a new car as well. This little calculation shows that the notion of "affordable tires" isn't the problem, since the cost of fuel is a much larger cost of driving the vehicle. Even were the cost of tires to increase 50%, the cost per mile would still be small compared to the out of pocket expense of the fuel. If one can't afford tires, it's likely that one can't pay for the fuel either...

E. Swanson

I think Toto means that without tires, the car is useless.

Kinda like without electricity, LCD monitors are useless...

A Dangerous Game of Trade 'Chicken'
The U.S.-China spat could have global consequences.

..Each action by either side simply invites an equal and opposite reaction, leaving everyone worse off, except for a small group of domestic producers in each country who are happy to have to face less foreign competition. But the collateral damage might be broader. An escalating trade war between these two large economies has the potential to disrupt the world trading system and set back the fragile global economic recovery that has just gotten started...
Once this global pissing match gets started postPeak, it will be very hard [impossible?] to stop. Picture a brutal trade war between the US and other food exporters versus the last OPEC exporters on what is the fair value of trading oil for grain and other foodstuffs. Or ratchet it up to the really scary level of FFs versus desalination equipment& supplies. Yikes!

A single bombing run over the MidEast desal-plants would instantly alter the negotiations. Would the US, China, or Europe be able to resist such highly profitable temptation when severe FF-scarcity hits? Would Iran do it just so they could then sell their FFs at a much higher price to get their vital imported supplies?

Debtor's Revolt: Woman Refuses To Pay Off Bank Of America Credit Card (VIDEO)

For years, Ann Minch of Red Bluff, Calif., has carried a balance of several thousand dollars on her Bank of America credit card, making minimum monthly payments of about $130, sometimes paying an extra $50 or $100. She says she's never missed a payment.

Bank of America rewarded her loyalty this year by repeatedly raising her interest rate, which reached 30 percent in July. Fed up, the 46-year-old stepmother of two turned to YouTube.

Meanwhile, more on the Wells Fargo Malibu party house story (filed under your bailout dollars at work).

Wells Fargo Malibu house scandal sparks outcry

MALIBU/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Reports that a Wells Fargo & Co executive used a bank-owned, beachfront Malibu home as her own private party pad reignited outrage over unbridled excesses at firms that received U.S. bailouts.

Check out the pics of the house (wow):

I'm not sure if this is the same house, but last week I heard something similar, but with a different bank name being used. The owners lost their money to Madoff's ponzi game, had a buyer (with cash) for the house but the bank blocked the sale, then the bank's foreclosure officer moved in with her 2 kids.

I hope I just heard the bank name incorrectly and that this isn't becoming an accepted policy.

From : The first peak oil recession: Interview with Steven Kopits

He says "secular increases in decline rates, for example—are one reason that I think peak oil is upon us already."

Can someone explain to me in plain English what he means by "Secular increases" ?

Thanks !

'Secular' in this context means 'structural' as opposed to 'cyclical'. If they were tracking monthly changes in production they might have a view that seasonal demand or the business cycle accounted for some observed changes. Mr. Kopits is saying that after these factors are accounted for, they still see a rate of decline that is accelerating.

A secular change, is a long term gradual change. For instance climate change could be thought of as a secular change -say .1C per decade, whereas year to year variation that is superimposed on top of that is not. In the oil case (I'm simply making up numbers here), is may be that decline rates have been gradually increasing (say from 4% per year to 6%).

Thank you! I understand now.

In mathematics, "secular" means "never reversing direction". So a line on a graph that is "secular upwards" might be flat sometimes, but never points down.

This is a little stronger than just a "general direction of movement", which might have (temporary) reversals in it.

When "secular" is used in general talk, it's usually implicit that one is talking about the trend in a data series after the random variation (a.k.a. noise) has been smoothed out.

Getting back to Steven Kopits, though - just because decline rates have been increasing secularly, that does not mean secularity will continue. After a sudden large drop in production (a spike in the decline rate), the decline rate may decrease for a while, returning to trend.

Hello TODers,

This might be a huge boost to Nate's ecological & behavioral economics:

G.D.P. Seen as Inadequate Measure of Economic Health

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy told the French national statistics agency Monday to take greater account of factors like quality of life and the environment when measuring the country’s economic health...
Hopefully they back up this idea with well-deserved awards to pioneers like Daly, Pimental, Odum, and others.

EDIT: I hope Krugman uses his NYT podium to spread the word. In his earlier 8-page text last week: he didn't even mention it.

from the linked article:

“What we measure affects what we do; and if our measurements are flawed, decisions may be distorted,” they wrote. “Policies should be aimed at increasing societal welfare, not G.D.P.”

"What we measure affects what we do" ... economists learn a basic rule of engineering craft? Let's hope so!

On the other hand, there have been initiatives like this in every recession I can remember. They all seemed to evaporate when the "good times" came back. Let's hope "this time is different."

I liked the piece linked to a couple of days ago, about having a "National Balance Sheet", showing long-term assets and liabilities, to go along with GDP, which is the bottom line on a national income statement.

I don't know how to do the economic analysis, but it would seem renting a gen-trailer to constantly recharge the batteries would be cheaper and more driver convenient when you wish to go more than the normal 100 mile battery range. But I assume Renault & Nissan must have their reasons--trying to lock up early a captive consumer batt-swap monopoly?

I'd expect an active aftermarket in chargers if they try that.

Of course, I drive a VW so I know what control freaks the European carmakers can be.

The idea is that something comes up suddenly and you need to go more miles than the usual range. You can't snap up a gen trailer, but you can go to the same charging station you usually go to, and get swapped.

What I like about this idea is that it institutionalizes a battery recycling setup. Much better for the environment.

Re: Chevron, Exxon, Shell Agree to Build Gorgon LNG Plant

Hmmm. Didn't our esteemed Environment Minister Peter Garrett once do a demonstration outside the Exxon HQ, when he was fronting Midnight Oil? How things change...

Hmmm... makes you wonder if the beds in a hosipital near you will be full soon. I don't think I will have a problem but the possibility is there.

Hospitals let H1N1 flu patients die

El Niño, Global Warming Link Questioned; Possible Link Between 1918 El Niño And Flu Pandemic?

Notes to mentally file on 1918 flu:

"We know that there is a connection between El Niño and drought in India," Giese notes.

"It seems probable that mortality from influenza was high in India because of famine associated with drought, so it is likely that El Niño contributed to the high mortality from influenza in India."

80 Dollars!

Well, obviously, you are referring to the price of July 2013 oil futures. I don't think the exclamation point is well used in the construction of your run-on sentence ;)