Drumbeat: September 17, 2009

Ralhall, Salazar Find New Ways to Reinstate Moratorium

It's been nearly a year since the since the federal government responded to the will of the American people and retired its decades-old bans on responsible offshore energy exploration. Unfortunately, one year later, it seems as though that long overdue response was merely a gesture. In fact, not only are we no closer to tapping those "newly available" offshore areas, but the areas with the greatest potential off Alaska's coast, which were available last year, are now off the table until such time as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar sees fit to complete a court-ordered "sensitivity" analysis of information his department already has. Meanwhile, as Secretary Salazar continues to slow walk a plan to finally allow Americans to access the vast offshore energy supplies the government's held hostage for nearly 30 years, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall is holding hearings this week on sweeping legislation designed to add a few more hefty layers of bureaucratic red tape to the federal leasing process, and ultimately make it even more difficult and more expensive to put Americans to work producing American energy on what little land the government offers for lease both on and off our shores.

Andrés Duany Speaks on Urbanism: 'Urbanism Molts, it Evolves'

Three near-simultaneous “crises”—global warming, peak oil and the housing bubble—have recently jolted people from complacency, Duany said. And one culprit, according to Duany, is to blame for the current environmental crisis: the lifestyle of the American middle class. “It's how we consume land, how we transport ourselves, how we feed ourselves and what we do for pleasure," he said.

But why does he blame the middle class? The numbers of the wealthy are too few to make a difference, Duany said. While the wealthy can commission good design because they work directly with the architect, their numbers don’t add up in what he called a “game” of metrics. “The wealthy are very few,” he said.

Going 'coach' makes sense

The City of North Vancouver has bravely put forward the idea of allowing homeowners to build secondary residences, or coach houses, on their properties knowing full well the outcry that such a move would create within the community.

Sadly an impasse was reached during council on July 20 and the discussion has been put on hold for the moment. It's critical that talks begin again.

A Critique of Ecological Economics

Ecological economics is an academic field of study that merges ecology with standard economics. Here I outline its faulty historical vision as well as its errors with respect to value, cost, and capitalism. I also suggest that the field, by rejecting the necessary shift to a new mode of civilization, could be contributing to ecological collapse.

Sarkozy and Stiglitz: A New Way to Grow

The report recommends shifting economic emphasis from simply the production of goods to a broader measure of overall well-being, which would include the benefits of things like health, education, and security. It calls for greater focus on the effects on income inequality, as well as new ways to measure the economic impact of sustainability (climate change specialists like Nicolas Stern are members), and recommended ways to include the value of wealth to be passed on to the next generation into today's economic conversation. What it didn’t do is come up with a quick and easy new way to tabulate a new measure of wellbeing. Some of the necessary yardsticks already exist; others still need to be invented.

The Big Question: Should landowners be forced to give up space for allotments?

Why are we asking this now?

Because that's one of the more controversial suggestions from a think tank which is looking into how Britain can alleviate its rather desperate allotment shortage. According to the New Local Government Network, persuading councils to turn over vacant brownfield sites – and landowners to give up under-used parts of their private estates – would quickly free up huge tracts of land that could easily be turned over to growing food.

Carolyn Baker Interviews Robin Rucker

Initially, I thought I had the perfect career. I believed in the pharmaceutical industry and the good I thought it was doing. Then, four years into my career at my first job, the biotech startup I worked at was swallowed by a huge pharmaceutical company. I began interacting with this large company and quickly realized how naïve I had been. That was the first clue that I needed to make a change because my career lacked meaning for me as I was supporting an industry focused on making money. Six years later I was totally burned out, so I quit work and traveled for 15 months. Extended travel had been an unfulfilled dream of mine. I left the country with the idea that I might live somewhere else completely. While I was traveling, someone told me about a documentary they had seen on CNN about the possibility of the world running out of oil. I remember feeling frightened. It was 2000 and I was three months into my journey, and I decided I had better keep on traveling because it seemed likely that the ability to travel would become impossible in the future. Eventually, I went back to work because I still had a large mortgage, but I was still really unhappy.

Britain's first housing co-op leads the way in sustainable living

The unexpected stage for one of the most ambitious low-carbon developments in Britain today is not an executive estate in the Cotswolds or a pretty new eco-town, but a row of modest 1970s inner-city houses lived in by a 130-strong group of artists, students and others, just yards from where two French students were tortured and murdered last year.

Japan’s recession brings growing interest in fruit and vegetables

The soaring popularity of the sommelier course is part of a much wider explosion of interest among the Japanese in “treasures of the soil”. It is an interest driven partly by the grim realisation that Japan has the lowest level of agricultural self sufficiency in the developed world.

Financing set for Mont.-Alberta transmission line

HELENA, Mont. -- A Canadian energy company and an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy have reached a deal to finance a proposed 214-mile Montana-Alberta power transmission line that would carry power from the region's emerging wind industry.

Chesapeake Seeks to Change Climate Bill, Sell Congress on Gas

(Bloomberg) -- Chesapeake Energy Corp. and other natural-gas producers, unhappy with climate-change legislation they say favors competing fuels like coal, are teaming up to tout the benefits of their product to lawmakers in Washington.

Chavez: Gas find another reason to boost defense against USA

President Hugo Chavez said a recent huge natural gas find off Venezuela's Caribbean coast underscores the need to bolster the Andean nation's defenses against U.S. "imperialism."

Report: Iran To Build Tankers For Venezuela

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has begun building four oil tankers for Venezuela, the latest in strengthening ties between the U.S. rivals.

Energy security: prevent future disruption and expand gas storage capacity, say MEPs

More needs to be done to prevent future disruption and early-warning mechanisms (which proved ineffective in the 2009 Russia-Ukraine energy crisis) need to be reviewed, MEPs told the European Commission in a resolution adopted Thursday. MEPs also say that gas storage capacity needs to be expanded and interconnections improved.

KDB Spearheads Post-Crisis Green Growth Drive

"The green growth industry is a promising industry in the long term but it is still at an infant stage and it takes a long time to collect invested capital. In addition, its return is deemed not very high compared to its riskiness,'' a KDB executive said.

"Against this backdrop, the KDB, as a policy lender, seeks to play a leading role in supporting green industries in order to help overcome the economic crisis and secure a long-term, sustainable growth engine,'' he added. "In particular, the latest economic turmoil discouraged commercial lenders to actively support green industries, which has affected firms in the environmental and renewable energy fields."

Saudi Aramco sells fourth fuel oil lot in firm market

SINGAPORE: Saudi Aramco has sold a fourth straight cargo of fuel oil within the past two weeks at strong price levels, taking advantage of the tight Middle East and east Asian markets, traders said yesterday.

Would You Know How Survive After the Oil Crash?

Do you know how to make shoes? Can you build a house? How about grow food? Do you have a doctor and a dentist in your circle of friends?

These are the questions that Andre Angelantoni thinks you should be able to answer in order to plan for the next 10 to 15 years. Angelantoni believes there are radical changes ahead for our society -- and no, it's not the rapture he sees coming, but a post-peak-oil world.

Energy prices jump on expectations of recovery

NEW YORK - Energy prices jumped sharply Wednesday on new indications of economic activity that could renew demand for oil, gasoline, and natural gas.

Prices began to rise early Wednesday after the government reported a large drop in crude supplies.

Benchmark crude for October delivery settled up $1.58 at $72.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, the contract rose $2.07 to settle at $70.93.

Reliance Industries Raises $664 Million in Share Sale

(Bloomberg) -- Reliance Industries Ltd., India’s most valuable company, raised 31.9 billion rupees ($664 million) selling shares after saying it plans to buy oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil.

‘Never Go Bust’ Families Mean End of Easy Credit

Eighty banks, including BNP Paribas SA and Citigroup Inc., are owed at least $15.7 billion, sparking a flurry of litigation. The battle has increased pressure for more transparency among the region’s family-run firms and less reliance on name lending, or borrowing based on reputation.

“With Maan al-Sanea or the Algosaibi family, the perception was that they would never go bust or never default,” Yazan Abdeen, a Dubai fund manager at ING Investment Management, said. “Facts are showing that this can happen. The banks in Saudi, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will get a hit, and this will make the banks alter their own lending models. It’s like a ‘black swan’ event, something no one saw coming.”

Yemen’s Oil Revenue Falls 75% Through July as Price Drops

(Bloomberg) -- Yemen’s revenue from oil exports dropped 74 percent to $803 million in the first seven months from the year-earlier period amid tumbling oil prices and a decline in crude output, the Central Bank of Yemen said.

Oil Found Everywhere, But Still Not Enough Of It

Yesterday Carlos Ghosn, head of Nissan/Renault, said that oil needs to stay above $70 a barrel or no-one will end up buying his fab new Better Place-assisted electric cars. So he won’t be pleased to hear about the latest in a recent flurry of oil finds that seem destined to drive prices down, or at least not towards the $200 that might push electric cars into widespread popularity.

Three more oil firms seek Gulf of Thailand rights

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodia has received three more applications for oil exploration rights in a disputed area of the Gulf of Thailand, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

U.S giant Chevron and two Japanese firms, Inpec and Marubeni Oil and Gas, have submitted a bid for access to Block 4, following an application on Tuesday by Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, a unit of Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co Ltd (8031.T)., said Ieng Sophalleth.

Tullow Oil Says Ugandan Discovery Could Be Biggest in Region

(Bloomberg) -- Tullow Oil Plc, the U.K. explorer seeking partners to develop exploration projects in Uganda, said its latest discovery could be the biggest in the region.

Chavez Seeks to Boost Oil Production With China Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said China will invest $16 billion to boost oil production in the country, as part of a strategy to reduce dependence on the U.S. and strengthen oil ties with other nations.

Total’s Victoria Find May Hold Less Gas, Norway Says

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA’s Victoria, considered Norway’s biggest undeveloped natural gas find, may hold less fuel than originally estimated, possibly delaying development of areas in the Norwegian Sea, the Petroleum Directorate said.

Legislation for a 21st Century Transportation System Doesn't Come Easy

The road to reforming the nation's transportation systems looks to be a long and winding one.

Once lawmakers decide when to move forward with the sweeping overhauls they promise, they will need to find a way to pay for it. And once that difficult task is accomplished, the debate will only grow more complicated.

China's projected fossil fuel use 'shocking'

BEIJING - If China's economy continues to expand rapidly and rely heavily on coal and other fossil fuels until the middle of the century, its power consumption would be unsustainable, according to a study by government think tanks released Wednesday.

Cantwell Seeks Change in CFTC Standard for Market Manipulation

(Bloomberg) -- Senator Maria Cantwell wants to bring the legal standard the Commodity Futures Trading Commission must meet to prove market manipulation in line with other federal regulators.

Derivatives Bill May Raise Electric, Gas Rates, Industry Says

(Bloomberg) -- Utilities will raise gas and electric prices if Congress imposes higher capital and margin requirements on energy hedging as part of legislation meant to rein in over-the-counter derivatives, industry leaders said.

Cumulus Tops Europe’s Energy Hedge Funds; Sword Shuts

(Bloomberg) -- The Cumulus Energy Fund gained 46 percent this year through July, beating the returns of 10 of its peers after anticipating rainy weather in Scandinavia would increase hydropower supplies and lower prices.

$20 Per Gallon Of Gasoline

It’s called “Peak Oil” hitting around 2010. Yes, we still enjoy half the world’s oil supply beneath the surface of the earth, but it’s farther down, harder and more costly to drill and it lies beneath the ground of many unstable countries. And, whether you like it or not, the fact is—as the USA burns 20 million barrels per day and the other countries burn another 64 million barrels of oil per DAY, the cost of oil will inevitably rise to $20 a gallon. It’s already $8.00 a gallon in Europe.

Expect everything to change: your life, your city, your state, your transportation means, your speed of life, your food intake, your housing and your way of life.

John Michael Greer: Daydreams of Destruction

Last week's post on The Archdruid Report got rather more than the usual number of responses. Most of the comment – no surprises there – focused on my suggestion that the hopes for a better future retailed so freely by all sides in today’s cultural conversations face certain disappointment. At first glance, this may not seem like a controversial statement; one of the crucial facts about the future, after all, is that the fossil fuels that prop up current lifestyles across the industrial world, and provide the basis for survival for hundreds of millions in the Third World, are depleting rapidly with no adequate replacements in sight.

That hard fact pretty much guarantees a future in which poverty, hunger, warfare, and early death will be vastly more common than their opposites, and in which a great many of the comforts and opportunities we now take for granted will no longer be available. That, in turn, would certainly seem to define the future ahead of us as worse than the present, in ways sweeping enough that any benefits to be gained from the changes in store could be considered consolation prizes at best. Still, so straightforward an assessment of our prospects is profoundly unwelcome in many circles these days.

Land use lessons of the past could help in future

The time-honoured tradition of coppicing could give offer best of both worlds, providing biofuel to cut carbon emissions and a helpful haven for wildlife, say researchers.

Cars running on ethanol can pollute too: Brazil study

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Cars running on sugarcane ethanol can produce as many harmful pollutants as those using ordinary petrol (gasoline), according a study published by Brazil's environment ministry.

World's key polluters start climate talks in US

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Representatives of the world's 17 biggest carbon polluters were due Thursday to kick off a week of high-level and high-stakes talks on climate change at a meeting in Washington.

The aim of the talks, which will be held for two days at the State Department before moving to New York next week and then to Pittsburgh, is to try to patch up differences and generate momentum for a much heralded meeting in Copenhagen in December, where a UN conference hopes to produce an ambitious new pact rolling back global warming.

Polar bears run riot as ice melts

You can almost hear Sarah Palin cocking her rifle. As climate change causes sea ice to shrink, the number of "problem" polar bears appears to be increasing.

"Hungry bears don't just lie down – they go looking for an alternate food source," says zoologist Ian Stirling at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. "In many cases this brings them into human settlements and hunting camps."

Greenland icesheet could melt faster than thought: study

PARIS (AFP) – The Greenland icesheet responded to global warming over the past 10,000 years more quickly than thought, according to a study released Wednesday.

As a result, a medium-sized temperature increase this century could cause the continent-sized ice block to start melting at an alarming rate, it suggests.

"It is entirely possible that a future temperature increase of a few degrees Celsius in Greenland will result in a icesheet mass loss and contribution to sea level rise larger than previously projected," it warns.

On Tuesday I attended an economics seminar in London given by a highly respected economics research firm. It would be unfair to name the company but suffice it to say they provide economic research and consulting to the largest investment funds and money managers around. Typically they charge $50,000 per year per client so you get the picture that they are not small fry.

The seminar was mainly focussed on the coming 'recovery' and how best to position the money under management to best profit from it. Also there was a long lecture about the state of China's economy. Two salient points caught my attention with regard to China: the firm echoed Richard Heinberg's 'Black Out' analysis of the state of China's coal production especially with regard to bottle necks in the transportation infrastructure resulting in insufficient coal reaching the coastal regions, hence the need to import. They also mention that although China had vast reserves of coal it was increasingly hard to get at. Secondly, the guy giving the lecture casually stated that China's middle class was buying their first cars at a rate of 800,000 per month.

Given this extraordinary growth in the number of new cars on the Chinese roads and given the rest of the seminar I was left utterly gob-smacked that not one of the speakers mentioned oil once. Not once. Come the Q/A section the members of the audience asked all the usual questions about GDP rates and currencies etc but no one even mentioned the price of oil. Let alone if there was enough to go around. It was like sitting in an absurd Alice in Wonderland world - here were the best money managers in London all displaying such slavish devotion to the free market. It was actually quite scary. One would have thought that at least one of them would ask about the price of oil!

It just goes to show how entrenched the popular assumption of endless growth and cheap abundant energy is. It was surreal. These guys had just been told that each month an additional 800,000 cars take to the roads of China and no one questioned if this was sustainable...

It just goes to show, how fast the Lemmings (stupid humans) are running toward the cliff.

It is sooooo too late, already.

From Jeff Masters at Weather Underground...............
For the third consecutive month, global Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) were the warmest on record, according to statistics released yesterday by the National Climatic Data Center. August SSTs were 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average, breaking the previous August record set in 1998. The record August SSTs were due in part to the continuation of El Niño conditions in the Eastern Pacific, which have substantially warmed a large stretch of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. El Niño conditions are expected to amplify during the coming months, and record or near-record global ocean temperatures will probably continue.......................

Sounds like a liberal plot to me--
I think Rush said it was that warm when Jesus was riding the dinosaurs around.

"Typically they charge $50,000 per year per client so you get the picture that they are not small fry."

And the Dow is currently up another 36 points and the blind follow the blind. Will it last thru Sept? I'm thinking we are very close to the middle of the W.

but suffice it to say they provide economic research and consulting to the largest investment funds and money managers around. Typically they charge $50,000 per year per client so you get the picture that they are not small fry.

Thanks for the post. Goes to show you though that maybe size does not matter - at least in this case.


Bernie Madoff was not small fry-or LTCM. Goldman would be kaput without the 13 billion from the USA taxpayer-they aren't small fry.

If that number were verified it is truly astonishing. I seem to recall reading that China has overtaken America as the world's largest purchaser of new cars (~ 14million/year?) so the numbers sort of tie. As to the lack of any incredulous questions - what can you say? Elsewhere we read glibly that car numbers will increase from 750 million to 3 billion by 2050. No mention of a fuel supply though....!

IMO, China is to our current predicament as the US was the Thirties. There were reportedly three million more cars on the road in the US in 1937 than in 1929. Difference today is that hundreds of millions of people want to drive a car for the first time.

I don't know exactly what was said, but there may be a different explanation to belief in endless growth (though no more flattering about human nature): these kind of money managers have at most a ten year (and more likely) sub-5-year horizon for trying to catch sudden spurts of growth before moving their money elsewhere. If they believe any energy crunch is 5 to 10 years away, then the goal would be to make the money out of China NOW even if the inflow of "investment" stokes demand for cars that there won't be enough fuel for 5-10 years later and those cars will be useless as transport. Another sad indictment of the human approach to the world.

(Of course it's unclear if even if this "at least 10 more years" belief were true that there's not dramatic fudging of growth statistics from China. But that's another story.)

What are these suits supposed to do besides act as if business as usual will continue for perpetuity? Move to the country & try to farm? They don't know how. They're worthless. They know on some level that they're doomed, but not quite yet so may as well keep drawing that salary & living the "good" life until they can't anymore, at which time they die. What else can they be expected to do?

"What else can they be expected to do?"

"First, do no harm." -Hippocrates

I personally know of at least one city suit who did precisely that, here in the UK. All things are possible, indeed inevitable in an infinite universe. (Just not on a finite planet).


This goes hand in hand with Morgan Downey's comments this morning.


Secondly, the guy giving the lecture casually stated that China's middle class was buying their first cars at a rate of 800,000 per month.

In China, a sale is counted from the point where the car leaves the factory. NOT when it is bought by a person at the car dealership. Most of the car firms should be state owned are simply producing as told by the government.

I wish I could say that I'm surprised.

It was like sitting in an absurd Alice in Wonderland world - here were the best money managers in London all displaying such slavish devotion to the free market. It was actually quite scary. One would have thought that at least one of them would ask about the price of oil!

Never mind the price, but as you state in your closing sentence...

no one questioned if this was sustainable...

If the audience was really "largest investment funds and money managers around", this seminar would be one tiny, tiny source of information them and probably not where they look for info on oil. Until recently, I worked for a firm that got millions, if not tens of millions in annual advisory fees from individual funds in London. In this instance, we, along with 5-10 competitors, supplied regular research and forecasts on energy as well as opportunities to speak directly with our global and regional energy teams.

If they seminar didn't talk about oil and the audience didn't ask questions, I would guess that they realize that they are getting better energy advisory elsewhere. You can say what you want about money managers, but it is highly inaccurate to imply that they are not aware of oil market dynamics and have views (across the spectrum) on long-term oil price and supply/demand issues.

Haven't you all heard that U.S.A, Europe and Japan will kindly reduce their crude oil consumption to allow China to continue its expansion.

Has this been discussed before?

Local firm's prism effect: cut solar cost. http://www.azstarnet.com/business/309371

"The holographic film redirects light to the solar cells, acting as a kind of concentrator," Rosenberg said. "What we see is that our module is able to produce more energy during the course of a day, and hence the year, than conventional modules."

While I don't know anything about the technology, other than what's in the article, the recent crash in the price of silicon may have killed what advantage they claim for their holographic film concentrators. The article does offer conflicting claims about the conversion efficiency of the panels, suggesting some improvement compared with the usual silicon PV panels. The older silicon PV are now available for at prices approaching $2.50 a peak watt and the cost of this system must include the cost of making the film and applying the film to the glass. There's no mention about the life expectancy for the holographic film, which is probably made of some clear plastic that would likely degrade after exposure to UV for a number of years.

E. Swanson

My guess is that polished metal mirrors will out-compete any plastic concentrator approaches, both for PV and for CSP, because of the short life expectancy (UV, scratches, etc.) of plastic. Solar thermal collectors with glass glazing still look fine after 20 years, but plastic glazing on older collectors around here is yellowed, warped, and translucent.

Right now my money is on high efficiency mono crystalline technology. Possibly not state of the art, but does the job now and has a 20+ year life expectancy.

This hour (10:00 a.m. EDT) on OnPoint:


Imagining $20 Per Gallon

Would Disney World shut down at ten-dollar-a-gallon gas? Chris Steiner says so. And a lot more changes, too, on the way to twenty-dollars-a-gallon.

Historically, every time petroleum consumption costs have reached 4% of GDP it has resulted in a recession. $20 a gallon gasoline would mean that crude would be over $500 a barrel, or approaching 30% of GDP. That would not mean a recession; it would mean a depression several times as great as The Great Depression.

But that cannot possibly happen because as oil consumption reached 6, 7, or 8 percent of GDP a severe recession would kick in and knock oil prices right back down.

All this talk of $20 a gallon gasoline is sheer nonsense.

Oil prices mean perpetual recession

The US has experienced six recessions since 1972. At least five of these were associated with oil prices. In every case, when oil consumption in the US reached 4% percent of GDP, the U.S. went into recession. Right now, 4% of GDP is US$80 a barrel oil.

Ron P.

I think the best way to measure a rise in the price of petrol at the pump is relative to gold. In an inflationary environment $20 oil is a real possibility if a loaf of bread costs $10.

Agreed that the untaxed price could never hit $20/gallon, but the UK pump price is already $8/gallon, and we are driving as much as ever. High taxation has buffered Europe from last year's oil price shock, and it would mean that the driving public would be able to absorb $20 oil, at least in the short term. However, we also spend about 4% of GDP on oil imports, and at $20/gallon (if it was the same level of tax) would increase oil import costs unsustainably. Our currency would collapse, before we stopped driving as individuals. The government would be forced to introduce rationing, or raise taxes to the point where demand was curtailed drastically.

Does this high taxation make Europe more or less resilient to oil shortages? It is hard to say. We have a more fuel efficient fleet, more public transport, shorter travel distances. We are just as much bankrupt as the US. We will both be outbid for oil by Chindia, (especially China) but how will we cope relative to each other? More oil consumption in the US is unnecessary in the long term, and the US still has huge NG and coal and 5Mbpd oil production. The North Sea is almost empty. However, in the short term Europe is probably better prepared to cut back psychologically.

You say that $500/barrel oil cannot happen because it would cause an extreme depression (thereby reducing demand and reducing the price).

I personally think you are overly optimistic.

Firstly: markets are loosly coupled systems. Effect can follow cause by months in some cases.
Secondly: post-peak oil supplies will be reduced in any event, so it is inevitable that agents will need to be priced out of the market.
Thirdly: even in an extreme depression there will be people and industries capable of paying and in need of oil even at very high prices relative to current.

The implication of your %GDP math is that for the US to function "normally" at $500/barrel we would need to reduce our oil consumption per $GDP by 80%-90%.

I can well see why you conclude that it is impossible, certainly a transition of that magnitude would be highly disruptive. Yet the consequence of restricted volume means that either we will make that transition or we will find ourselves in a permanent depression. both cases are possible and neither one rules out very expensive crude oil.

I would even go so far as to say that in the next few years (sometime between 5-10 years from now) we are likely to see a price in that vicinity as a brief spike, but that a sustained average price at that level is likely to be decades away.

I may be overly optimistic, also.

Firstly: markets are loosly coupled systems. Effect can follow cause by months in some cases.

Of course they can. Oil consumption reached 4% of GDP in the fall of 2007. Prices continued to rise and reached $147 a barrel, nine months later, or about 7% of GDP before they collapsed.

Secondly: post-peak oil supplies will be reduced in any event, so it is inevitable that agents will need to be priced out of the market.

Exactly! This is what causes recessions. Agents priced out of the market means less oil is purchased, driving down prices. It also means people lose their jobs. And the recession rages on.

Thirdly: even in an extreme depression there will be people and industries capable of paying and in need of oil even at very high prices relative to current.

Of course there will be people capable of paying. The point is they will not need to pay very much. In extreme depression oil consumption will be down perhaps 50%. This will create an oil glut! Oil prices cannot rise very high if we are truly in a perpetual recession. And if we go into a perpetual depression, as I expect we eventually will, oil producers will go begging for buyers. A few very rich people among a starving population cannot possibly drive up oil prices.

You can dream up all the silly scenarios you wish but none of them will ever get gasoline prices to $20 a gallon. What does it take to get people to understand prosperity drives prices up and recession drives prices down.

And please people, every time we have this argument we are forced to point out, again, that we are always talking about dollars adjusted for inflation. That should simply go without saying. Any fool knows that if a ham sandwich costs $500 then a barrel of oil will be many times that amount.

Ron P.

I have always assumed that when things get bad enough, the FedGov will intervene in some way to assure that the military gets the liquid fuels it needs, then other government and public service operations, then essential freight and passenger transport, agriculture, and a few other high priority users. Private motorists will be at the bottom of the pecking order, and will get whatever is left over after these higher priority needs have been met. This means that when the shortfall becomes severe, ALL of the shortfall is going to fall on the motorists. I don't know if the FedGov will try to spread around the pain through some sort of rationing system, or if it will simply let the market ration through pricing. If it is the latter, I can indeed see gasoline going for as much as $500/gal; $20/gal is nothing, and we'll certainly see that.

ALL of the shortfall is going to fall on the motorists

ELM2 if you live in a country importing a large % of it's oil. Quite a large proportion of private motoring is non-discretionary so if oil is rationed by price expect the discretionary side of the world's economy to crash with ELM3!

I have always assumed that when things get bad enough, the FedGov will intervene in some way to assure that the military gets the liquid fuels it needs, then other government and public service operation

The interesting part of that matrix will be the effect on roads. The road matrix to private homes will be maintained so long as each private home looks like it benefits. But if home owners in a city are limited to public transport - what's their incentive to have a road? And how about rural areas - what's the incentive to do nothing more than making sure the local bridges stay fixed? What about the load rating on the rural bridges - can they take the load of materials to get it to market?

Watch airplanes and their infrastructure as a clue.

I think it is relevant to point out that my assumption is that as we progress there will be less available supply to go along with the lower demand.

Your statement is making the assumption that the reduction in demand wil always outstrip the reduction in supply at $500/barrel.

I think that there is insufficient evidence to support that assumption.

While I will grant you that we could not possibly support current usage patterns at that price level, how long do you expect that we would try to? Gasoline may never be $20/gallon for a sustained period. Indeed, at $500/barrel gasoline is likely to be considered too low-margin a product for the refineries to optimize production for it. Industrial feedstocks are more likely to be the cash cows at that point, with lower volume being made up for by higher margin.

Your statement is making the assumption that the reduction in demand wil always outstrip the reduction in supply at $500/barrel.

I think that there is insufficient evidence to support that assumption.

Geeze, at $500 a barrel demand would still outstrip supply? I am speechless. I simply have no reply to anyone who truly believes such a scenario.

Have a nice day.

Ron P.

Usage patterns will change as supply declines. There is no choice in that. The sorts of usages we put oil to with 84m barrels/day available are a lot different than what we will do with 40m barrels/day when everyone knows it's on the downhill side.

What is it with all the BAU assumptions?

If you assume that people will not adapt, all sorts of things are impossible.

Okay, I swore to myself that I was not going to reply. But I lied to myself.

You have it exactly backwards! Total absolute collapse is NOT business as usual. It is the opposite of BAU. You are the one assuming BAU. You are assuming that there will be pockets of BAU if oil reaches $500 a barrel. No, that is impossible.

"What is it with all the BAU assumptions?" No, that's my question. When anarchy reigns, when the vast majority of people have no jobs and no hope of ever getting one, you assume that there will still be some very rich people who carry on with their business as usual even though the oil to do so cost them $500 a barrel. $500 a barrel oil would cause a total collapse of the economy. Hell oul over $125 caused the economy to go on life support last year. Did we not learn anything from that experience?

You are ignoring the economy as a whole. We must have either growth of collapse, there is no in between. Well, not for very long anyway. We must have growth in the economy because the population is growing. We must have growth because technoloy means more work is done by fewer people and these people must have new work. And we must have growth to pay the interest on money borrowed by businesses.

We cannot have constant growth for several reasons, so a collapse MUST happen at some point in time. But a shrinking oil supply means that growth stops now. That means that collapse starts now.

To assume that there will be demand for oil if the price is $500 a barrel in a totally collapsed society is absurd, truly, totally, absolutely absurd.

And I am not lying to myself anymore. I will not respond to any posts on this thread anymore.....today. ;-)

Ron P.

This is my last response (for today, at least) as well.

Shrinking oil supply is inevitable. Fortunately it is not our only energy source, just the current top dog.

And as I have been saying for months now, the way we do things now is not the only way they can be done. It isn't the only way they have been done, and it isn't the only way they will be done.
PrinceHamlet nailed this philosophy WRT wind power below.

You illustrate beautifully in your post what I mean by BAU thinking: if we cannot continue to function as we are today, collapse and anarchy!

That is inflexible thinking.

We must have either growth of collapse,

LOL! I think that typo is actually right on the money, we will have GROWTH OF COLLAPSE

Geeze, at $500 a barrel demand would still outstrip supply?

Sure - hyperinflation and a controlled distribution via rationing.

Inflation is happening and rationing has happened in the past, so its not like there is some kind of conspiracy here to disbelieve.

You say that $500/barrel oil cannot happen because it would cause an extreme depression

A $500 a barrel price can happen - just inflate the currency.

I agree with you Ron. IMO after the last 12 months the connection between oil price spikes and recession should be clearly seen even by a blind man. We're buying into FF drilling deal as fast as possible. But at the same time we're developing a divestature structure so we can liquidate these assets just as soon as prices spike again. It's clear to us: the next price spike will be of limited duration. The last one flattened the economy before you could blink. Granted there were other factors (subprimes, derivatives) that slammed us about the same time. But the world will be watching over it's shoulder as recovery begins for the next collapse IMO. All those who held onto the equities, etc thinking things couldn't get any worse and then watched as it got much worse probably won't make that mistake twice. I suspect folks who are now reinvesting are keeping their fingers on the bailout trigger at the same time.

For the average worker, gas price won't be the problem. I look at my life, and commute, as as long as I'm making a decent salary it will cost-justify a gallon per day for an average commute. $20 of gas against a $200 job is expensive, but readily justified.

The real problem is the recession, and loss of jobs, caused by that $20 getting factored into everything else. Chances are that if I can't afford gas, I'll have no job to no longer get to as well. If I have the job, I'll probably be able to afford gas -- I'll just ratchet up to a 60mpg hybrid or something, and then an EV.

To me, jobs are the key. Nothing the gov't is doing now really helps -- it all hurts, long term.

I agree with Darwinian that $20 gas is sheer nonsense, at least in the foreseeable future. Should gas go to $20, recession and gas for the car will be the least of our problems.

$20 gas implies ethanol would be priced at about $16/gallon retail. At that price all corn would go to ethanol production if the market is allowed to function. Diesel would likely be priced higher than gas meaning that biodiesel would take all the soy oil for itself.

This would mean that the only animals that could survive would be the grazing kind like sheep, cattle and horses. The implications are for a massive disruption of the food supply which will not be allowed to happen for obvious reasons.

Even at current grain consumption, ethanol and biodiesel find fierce resistance even though the effect on food prices is marginal at worst. Should $16 ethanol happen expect corn prices in the range of $30-40/bu. and soybean prices about 3 times that or around $100/bu..

It won't happen.

There are just not enough stills to convert all of the corn crop to ethanol.

Some chicken will still be feed due to the efficiency of conversion (3 lbs corn = 1 lb chicken), but the political goal/promise of "A chicken in every Sunday pot" may again ring true (i.e. chicken as a special treat, perhaps once/week).

And the rich may eat MORE corn feed beef (status food).

Given the energy density of ethanol (60% of gasoline) and the energy cost to distill it, I think you overstate the value of corn.


I wouldn't dismiss x's argument so fast.
The market is telling us that the fuel of choice for ethanol distillation, natural gas, is plentiful and cheap.
Turning gold into lead isn't silly if lead fetches a better price, EROEI or not.
Actually range fed beef will probably be higher on the status list.

From the WSJ (through Google News)

The Stimulus Didn't Work

The data show government transfers and rebates have not increased consumption at all.

The nearby chart reviews income and consumption through July, the latest month this data is available for the U.S. economy as a whole.

Consider first the part of the chart pertaining to the spring of this year and observe that disposable personal income (DPI)--the total amount of income people have left to spend after they pay taxes and receive transfers from the government--jumped. The increase is due to the transfer and rebate payments in the 2009 stimulus package. However, as the chart also shows, there was no noticeable impact on personal consumption expenditures. Because the boost to income is temporary, at best only a very small fraction was consumed.

In other words, expect a dismal holiday shopping season, a wave of store closures and retailer bankruptcies in January, and a bunch of empty, closed shopping malls by spring. Yeah, there will be "green shoots" all right - grass growing through pavement cracks in empty retailer parking lots.

And by the way, the US has SIX TIMES the amount of retail space as does a country like Sweden. A major shakeout and retrenchment in retail is long overdue. We can make do with only a small fraction of these stores, most of them really do need to go out of business.

The USA (2006) has TEN TIMES as much retail space/capita as the USA (1950).

I often wonder if this is being driven in part by social isolation, people object to being TOO CLOSE to strangers since they live their lives in isolation.


>> 90% of all infrastructure on this planet has been buildt after 1950 - and strangely enough; about 90% of all fossil fuels ever extracted was consumed after . ehh ... 1950.
(from top of my head, but just have a look at old photos from the 50's from your city ..)

I think it's just a reflection of our sprawl. Our population is larger and much more spread out now.

New stores are much bigger than old ones, but I think the drive behind that is convenience, not concern about being too close to strangers.

The only time you get close to strangers is in the checkout line, and those are crowded as ever. But stores are larger, because people want everything in one place. Aisles are wider, because people are in a rush, and it's a real pain if two carts can't pass in the aisle. Many grocery stores are open 24 hours now, so the cleaning, stocking, etc., goes on while customers are in the store, and there has to be room for carts to get around the dollies and such.

I think the huge increase in retail is matched by a huge increase in consumption. Shopping for recreation is a big part of US life. Don't have the URL right now, but I just read the average US consumer buys a new piece of clothing every 7 days. That is a lot of clothing and a lot of retail over each consumer's life span.
Clearly unsustainable, but it can go on for a while longer.

One reason why there was not as much need for stores a half century or a century ago is that a HUGE amount of shopping was done through the Sears, Wards, and other mail order catalogs. Those were the Internet of their day. Most people lived in towns too small to support very many stores, and those just carried the most commonly needed items. Even in the big cities, while there were more specialty and department stores with a wider range of merchandise available, it could still be hard to find some specialized items. Furthermore, many people just didn't have the time to track something uncommon down. It was easier just to browse the catalog in the evening after supper, and then fill out and mail an order form.

I remember when I was growing up back in the 1950s and 60s in small town America, we would be ordering stuff from the Sears catalog quite frequently. Other than the usual consumables you get at the grocery store or pharmacy, there just wasn't that much available in town.

Most small towns didn't even have any clothing stores. They might have a fabric store, and almost every woman had a sewing machine, knew how to sew, and made a lot of her own clothes (and for the kids as well). The menfolk tended to either buy heavy-duty work clothing (again, likely from the Sears catalog, although some towns might just have someplace carrying some of this) if they were blue-collar, or business dress clothing if they were white-collar (from the Sears catalog if they were low on the totem pole, maybe from a department store or specialty store during an occasional trip to the big city if they were higher up). What you were more likely to find even in many small towns would be a shoe store. People were more inclined to want to try on the shoes before they bought them, so local shoe stores fared pretty well against the mail order companies.

Most people just didn't have that many shopping options, and didn't go shopping for recreation. Most stores were not open during times they were not at work (or, for the housewives, busy at home with housework), except for a few hours on Saturday; people were too busy with regular weekly shopping and other chores to spend much time just browsing. They would go to specific stores (if there were any they could get to) for specific items when and if they actually needed and could afford them, or they ordered out of a catalog. People did other things for recreation - read a book or magazine or newspaper, listened to the radio or records or watched TV, played board or card games around the table, visited with family or friends in the living room or front porch, or maybe worked on some sort of craft or hobby.

At least that's how I remember it, and those small town patterns of the 1950s still echoed the way it was in most of America during at least the half century before that.

There's a lot to what you say about small towns ,country people,and catalogs.

I might add that I can remember well when old catalogs were not only ersatz toilet paper but also young boys only substitute for dirty magazines-very convenient that they were stored in the outhouse where we could ogle the underwear models with no danger of being interrrupted!

Seriously there was no "need" for a lot of stores when there was not a lot of money and liesure time.

As incomes grew by leaps and bounds it became profitable to open stores that might not move a lot of merchandise but enjoyed high markups-so called convenienve stores.A positive feedback loop came into being involving more discretionary money,more free time as lifestyles changed,easier credit,ever cheaper goods in real terms,and plenty of advertising combined with the loss of lots of recreational opportunities as the outdoors vanished.
Television destroyed more than just people's ability to think-it also largely drew every body inside and contributed mightily to the loss of contact with our nieghbors and community.of course when you did get outside you wanted to get in that car,which meant even less interaction with the nieghbors.

And of course anyone who has a shiny car and spends a fortune on it every month WANTS to take it someplace exciting-how about that shiny new shopping center with all that neon?

Once people started getting softer and fatter as a result of less hard work and play and watching more tv...well even though I personally am not a shopaholic I enjoy browsing a fleamarket nowadays better than strenous exercise which USED to be fun..

People go shopping nowadays because they are bored and cannot think of anything better to do.

Positive feedback loops one right after another...

Zara's Grocery (now 5 blocks away) is in the second generation with 3rd in training. Opened in late 1940s as corner grocery store (with a superb deli :-)

Narrow aisles, you DO bump (physically) into people all the time, and catch up on neighborhood gossip, etc. as well.

MUCH more convenient (except hours) than WalMart (7 blocks away). Despite shorter hours, several times the sales/sq ft at Zara's vs. WalMart. Competitive prices on many items at Zara's.

I do think it is, to put it politely, a personal space issue that prefers big boxes. *NO WAY* can WalMart be considered "convenient".


Aisles are wider,..Many grocery stores are open 24 hours now,

Aisles have widened - the stores want to look full. But look at the shelving stocking depth - what used to be stocked to the back of the shelf only have 1-2 items at the front. And, get this - the local store has shelves with empty boxes with their branding on the shelf. A whole 2 aisles with empty totes. That area is now partially restocked with 1 gallon water jugs stacked 1 deep with their branding.

And the 24 hour stores have cut back hours in my area.

I haven't noticed the stocking thing,

But I have noticed the widened aisles, because I go to an older grocery store. (Mainly because it's the only one that doesn't run those creepy loyalty card programs.)

The narrower aisles are very striking, compared to newer stores in the area. You can barely get past another cart, and it's a right pain. When they're stocking shelves, forget it.

If I go past an aisle and it's blocked, I usually just don't go down it. I imagine this is a real hit to the bottom line of grocery stores. They do everything they can to get you to go through the aisles, hoping you'll see something you didn't know you wanted, so having physical barriers is probably highly undesirable.

Some stores also have much larger carts...which probably encourages purchases. There have been times when I didn't buy things because I was running out of room in the cart.

I got buried under junk mail after getting one of those cards.

In 1996 a friend of mine got married in St.Petersburg in Russia. It was bizarre to go to somewhere that had almost NO retail space per capita - everybody was supposed to shop at the government store GUM. New shops were in fact springing up, but they were almost all wooden shacks on the pavement - there was no 'shopping space' in the existing buildings.

New bars were opening up where people could go out to drink, instead of taking a crate of vodka back home.

Do you have any figures on the US pub/bar space per capita for 1950 and now?

Where I live in London has a sufficient supply in walkable distance for me to go and meet people. I certainly wouldn't go to the local shopping mall to meet them.


Do you have any figures on the US pub/bar space per capita for 1950 and now?

In New Orleans, we are still close to our historic highs :-)


Another view from the same publication.
From the WSJ Sept 11 " Stimulus boosted jobs by 1 million - White House"


The "Stimulus Failed" article suffers from the familiar sample of one problem in economics.
It is impossible to say what personal consumption expenditure would have been without the stimulus, so the economists claiming that the stimulus failed or succeeded are merely expressing their preconceptions.

Indeed an author of the "Stimulus Failed" article is also the author of "Getting Off Track: How Government Actions and Interventions Caused, Prolonged and Worsened the Financial Crisis". Just from the title alone, we can assume the author is a free-market ideologue who believes markets are perfect and that government alone is the source of all economic problems.

This belief can be sustained only by willfully ignoring the extensive history of market bubbles, booms, crashes, etc. that have occurred many times without government intervention. Oscillations are an inherent feature of markets, as anyone with common sense must acknowledge, and do not require a government "cause" to occur.

I'm not a free market ideologue, but I nevertheless have serious doubts about current government policy. Keynesian counter-cyclical deficit spending might indeed be somewhat stimulative in the case of ordinary, mild business cycle downturns, IF government finances are normally balanced through the business cycle (which means running surpluses during the booms). That is by no means the same thing as believing that government can just run up deficits forever without limit and without consequence, or that deficit spending is a magic potion that will work under any and all circumstances, and the more the merrier.

The reality of the situation is that our government implemented the wrong policies during the good years, and these have had consequences that have made the economy worse than it might otherwise have had to be. They have also boxed in the government and severely constrained what it can do, as the normal tools in their toolbox have been rendered mostly ineffective. This is not what anyone wants to hear, but it is the truth. Add to that the reality that what we are going through now is not just your garden-variety cyclical downturn, but the first step down the staircase of energy and economic descent, and it is clear to me that just about everything the government has tried to do for the economy over the past year or more has been exactly the wrong thing. I have no trouble believing that the "stimulus" has not in fact resulted in any real stimulus at all.

Economic ideologies aside, common sense would indicate that deficits have eventual negative consequences. Garden-variety Keynesians would advocate surplus in good years to balance deficits in down years for counter-cyclical effect, but we cannot rewrite the past.

Personally, I believe that any US government, R or D, would have implemented the stimulus spending and bailouts like Obama did, in the face of economic downturn. Indeed, Bush implemented bailouts and stimulus before he left office. Almost every indutstrialized nation has implemented some form of stimulus (on a per capita per GNP-basis, China's stimulus dwarfs US efforts).

If Obama hoped to retain any political capital to pass health care reform, climate change legislation, energy-efficiency/renewable standards, etc., he had no choice except stimulus/bailouts. Of course I wish that he had proposed a more progressive bailout, with more public ownership of failed companies and more financial consequences for speculators and the Wall Street elite. But what chance would such a program have had in Congress? The very same people who cry about deficits now, would have cried about "nationalization" in that case, even as it reduced the eventual national debt.

If you think that stimulus/bailout was "exactly the wrong thing", what do you think would have been the "right thing"? Hoover style balanced budgets, with millions losing Medicare/Medicaid/food stamps/unemployment just when they need them the most?

I agree that we are in the midst of inevitable long-term US economic decline, but managing the descent so that the worst elements of US political demagogues do not seize power is even more important in that context. Widespread bank failure and 30 % unemployment would likely lead to a Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, or Ron Paul running the US even deeper into the dirt.

I have to agree tommy. While Keynsian stimulus isn't what it used to be (we are beyond being able to stimulate real growth), we may just be preventing the worst effects of a permanently contracting economy. The irony is that a lot of the reactionaries attacking the "socialist Obama" might be eating out of trash cans right now were it not for the feds' spending spree. Do we know that? Of course not, but who's to say? The Right seems bent on blaming Obama for the death of capitalism, but the truth is that the capitalists hardly needed any help. R.I.P.

I think the right thing would have been to cut back on lower priority expenditures in order to free up funds to be targeted on higher priority and more urgent things. Overseas interventions and imperial overstretch would be at the top of my "to cut" list.

I also think that the interventions in the financial sector were very poorly conceived and executed; instead of bailouts we needed to just take over failed institutions and then wind them down in a orderly way.

I believe that we would have been much better served if a lot of the so-called "stimulus" funds had instead gone into an updated version of FDR's CCC. Put people to work doing things that need doing and that benefit the general public interest. Retrofitting low-income houses for energy efficiency would be one thing they could be put to work doing, building out urban electrified streetcar lines would be another. We could have done a lot with the money that has mostly been wasted.

As for health care, we have a problem because it is too expensive, and thus unaffordable for too many people. Cut off the gravy train that the trial lawyers have created for themselves if anyone wants to be serious about actually doing anything to solve the problem, instead of just partisan political posturing. Banning advertisements of prescription drugs would be another big one. Doing something to beef up public health clinics and diverting the uninsured from hospital emergency rooms to those would eliminate most of the hospital cost shifting. Allow employers and individual citizens in each community to combine together and mandate that insurance companies do business with them if they are going to do business at all. Those four things would accomplish most of what needs to be done.

Cut off the gravy train that the trial lawyers have created for themselves if anyone wants to be serious about actually doing anything to solve the problem..

Malpractice insurance & "defensive medicine" only add between 1 & 2% to the cost of American health care. A commonly cited figure is 10% but there is no data supporting such a high figure. Apparently, that figure was just pulled from the air. If a medical mistake is made and a person is injured & this injury reduces the person's ability to earn a living, then the physician who made the mistake deserves to be sued for the lost income of the injured party, and for whatever pain & suffering they caused.

Suing someone who tried to help you is the most amoral thing that I can think of. Especially if you needed emergency care.
It's like suing your mother for not raising you smart enough, thus reducing your ability to earn a living. Consumerisation of human relations.

"Suing someone who tried to help you is the most amoral thing that I can think of."

where the "helpers" get in trouble is when they forget the "do no harm" oath.

an example: the doctor orders a treatment "designed" to help and because of inadequate monitoring the patient dies from dioxgen toxicity.

If you suspect criminal intentions or criminal neglect then start a criminal prosecution. But for god's sake don't turn suing of hospitals/doctors into a profitable business. It's just so wrong!

i did not say or imply any criminal intent.
malpractice should not be a profitable business either.

Yes, but if someone amputates the wrong leg, for example (and it has happened), then clearly that is malpractice, the patient is entitled to some compensation, and the health care providers responsible need to be held accountable and subject to some discipline.

There was a Tulane professor with cancer in one eye. They removed the other eye in error. And then the correct eye still had to be removed.

I think the damages exceed simply lost wages.


What the hell is "health care providers"? What a soulless term!
You see, if you're lucky and after collapse there'll be a doctor with trauma experience in your community, he'll be your god. You'll pray to his image, you'll try to marry your daughter to him. Because he'll make a difference for so many.
And if he once in a while amputates you the wrong leg, you'll blame yourself.

Notice I had four things on my list, I wasn't suggesting that malpractice reform by itself could accomplish all the cost savings. My guess is that your 1-2% figure is the direct costs of legal fees, malpractice insurance, etc., while the 10% figure is the full cost of "defensive medicine" extras. Some of the latter might still be done anyway, even with malpractice reform, so I am guessing that somewhere in the range of 5-6% might be getting close to the real number. That is still enough to be worth tackling. I am not suggesting that patients have no remedy for malpractice. However, we could have some system of mandatory mediation initially, with standard compensation guidelines; people would only go to court for the few exceptional cases that just can't be mediated. There also needs to be some tougher regulations. Health care providers who are guilty of malpractice need to be disciplined and closely monitored, and if they don't shape up, they need to have their licenses revoked.

I agree with everything you said. And I bet there are people in the govt who would even agree with you too.

But the people who win in the US are not the people who think as you do.

"Life is a complex thermodynamic system not a paragon of virtue." from Into the Cool (one of the coolest books I`ve ever read!)

They may not think as I do, and they might win elections, but I still see through them.

The WSJ article you cited says that a lot of people (Republicans) say the statistics are smoke and mirrors.

I don't believe the stats in either article because they (WSJ) have a record of falsehoods.

I believe my potato plants are starting to die even without a frost so I will be digging yukon gold potatos next week. Hopefully I will get a hundred pounds or more to go into storage.

Enjoy our interesting times.

I believe my potato plants are starting to die even without a frost so I will be digging yukon gold potatos next week.

Good timing, Lynford. I find that leaving the vines to completely wither away makes it tough to locate the tubers. This can result in considerably more field loss as it is hard to know where to stick that potato fork.

While on the subject, I bought a broadfork from Johnny's Select Seeds in Maine, this summer and it made harvesting my root crops much easier. I still had to get down on my hands and knees to harvest my potatoes but having loosened the soil with the broadfork made it go much more quickly.

Potatoes were one of the few bright spots in my garden this year, in spite of the wet, cool, blight-y weather which played havoc with tomatoes in this part of the world (northern New England).

Carrots were good, too.

I just go down the edges of the beds loosening things up with a spade, then it's hands'n'knees with a trowel to help. It's sort of like an archeological dig :-)

The Russets are my faves, and they keep forever.

Tarzen, thanks for the link. I use a heavy tined fork like Johnny's 'root and potato fork'. All 400 sq feet of our garden is in raised beds (3' or 4' X 12' made of 2 X 6's) with 2' walkways so I won't have much trouble finding the spuds. This is our prototype garden with 15 veggie varieties. This winter I will build 50 raised beds (48sq ft each) in an unused 1/2 acre for a community victory garden. We will have two wells supplying water so the cost for each of us will be minimal. I might even have a solar well pump by then.

This week the noise of jets and prop fighters is intense here as the Reno Air Races started yesterday and I live only a couple miles from the runway. I'm sure they are having a great time out there. I went to the races about 20 years ago and I understand the benches are still just as hard, heat just as hot and drinks just as much. No sense going again when I can see the Blue Angels from our back yard.

OK boys and girls, go ahead and bitch about the waste of gas but it won't stop these rich guys with their airplanes and the spectators from all over the world so you might just have to get over it till TSHTF. I really think most are out there just to see someone smear their body all over the desert which happens once in a while.

We all might just as well enjoy these interesting times.

Last weekend was the air show at our local airport. I live right below the airport which is located up on a mesa. There was this jet that would fly straight up in the air directly above my house until it stalled, then roll over & come straight back down like it was going to crash directly into the house, then pull up at the last minute to go screaming back over the heads of the air show attendees. It was so damn loud that it terrified my dog & chickens. There was also a twin engine prop plane that did the same thing, except that it had twin streams of smoke coming off its wings. The wasted fuel, noise & air pollution, danger of a crash over residential areas, and disturbance of the peace really had me pissed off. Yet the newspaper proclaimed the air show a "success," in that it had higher attendance & more vendors than ever. I called the FAA to file a complaint. I think that the Second Amendment ought to cover surface to air missiles.

I have to say DD, that I'm with you on this one. What gives them the right to just terrorize the neighborhood?

In fact, general aviation makes a lot of noise. I've got some a**hole dentist around here who bought a helicopter and thinks it's his right to come in low and hover around my place.

Well, to quote the song, "if I had a rocket launcher, I'd make somebody pay".

Just because you can afford a helicopter does not give you the right to disturb the peace.

Reminds me of the time I was falling timber in Arizona's White Mountains. I was just about to drop this large ponderosa when this strange whirlwind started kicking up the duff all around me. Over the noise of the saw I didn't realize what was causing it until I looked up & saw this yellow helicopter hovering directly above the tree I was in the process of cutting down. Now, it's hard enuf to ensure that a tree is going to fall in the direction you want it to, without a damn helicopter's downdraft affecting it. I stepped back from the trunk, shook my saw at the chopper & flipped it the finger. When I told this story in camp that evening I was told that that yellow helicopter belonged to the president of the logging company I was working for. Oops..

"I think that the Second Amendment ought to cover surface to air missiles."

That would be interesting. I wonder if the Blue Angles have their defences up and running for an air show? If so, we might get to see a flare angel.


Since I am an ex-fighter-jock, I love the sound of an afterburner in the morning. Oh yes, Moonwatcher, I also flew BUFs out of Minot '69-'70 after O-1&2s in Vietnam and that was a serious transition.

Looks like the 'flare angel' video mostly puts [P]hosphorus straight into the ocean. I wonder how many tons of foodstuffs could have been grown instead; Grim Reaping vs Veggie-Heaping, especially if this was an AC-130 Spectre Gunship "Death from Above".


Did Mindrot have the annual EW Party back then?

70 knots...Now! Nav's timing...

I don't recall an EW party. I do recall a 4th of July wing party at Devil's Lake that was called off for spitting freezing rain and sleet.

From VN we were supposed to get a choice of assignments. I applied for Nellis (Las Vegas) or Luke (Toto's asphaltistan) and got Minot which essentially signed my retirement papers but I actually finished up at SAC Hq in '72 which was a nice place from which to say goodbye (KMAGYOYO).

To get back on topic: Propane here for a winter's prebuy is $2.25/gal which is 80 cents less than last year. We are set through March 2010.

For our civilian friends: KMAGYOYO = Kiss my a$$ general, your on your own

I think that the Second Amendment ought to cover surface to air missiles.

You mean it doesn't?

rf -- But in Texas you can get a permit for a SAM. But just for recreational use, of course.

I bet that if you even just had a couple of model rockets and shot them off just as they were in their dive over your house, you'd more than just rattle the pilots a bit! So much so that I bet they'd pick a different flight path in the future.

I'm going to my city's city council meeting next week, this will be the first time I ever go to one. I was wondering if anyone here has already done this where they go and during the question period, already have ready a succinct question that can be asked of the council as to what plans they have to deal with imminent fossil fuel price hikes followed by shortages down the road.

Perhaps in creating this post I have come up with the question already...

Have you ever asked, or heard someone ask a question to their city council? What was the question, or what would you ask?

Just ask them if they have any post peak oil contingency plans. They will probably look at you as though you just escaped from the asylum but it should at the very least be a bit of fun seeing their reaction.

Someone asked my city council that question about a year or two ago. My city is very small (pop of about 2500) and they just said that they didnt know what it meant exactly but would look into it....

What about that giant sink hole on Main street? "Were looking into it".

I'm glad you are going.. I would say try to listen far more than you are focusing on talking about PO, etc.. I know several of the City Councilors in my city, and three of them would probably agree with me immediately that we are facing peak oil. But what they confront in city planning amounts far more to putting out fires. To bring up 'basic structural issues', like our relationship to oil is essentially an academic conversation to them, and not a question of 'policy issues on the table that must be decided upon' .. Even if you get a blank nod and smile, it's probably only because it doesn't help them figure out how to keep the whole Police force paid this month.

This sounds glib, but isn't meant to be. Write a bill. Write out a policy idea that you believe would be a reasonable plan of attack for the city to consider as part of its emergency preparedness policies, and then introduce it carefully, with a real sense of what these people are able to take on in this forum.


That's what I figure - kind of like dealing with Climate Change - the city council will be more concerned with the rezoning requests and funding requests and not have the time to manage bigger questions like these.

As for the policy statement I've found a few online from different towns that are actually making plans with respect to peak oil, perhaps I'll capture one of those. Thanks for the tip.

You might consider something like this:

"Do you have or know the breakdown of energy use by and for providing public services like water, sewer, lighting, police, fire and other emergency services?"

I think there was a real intersting wake up call in our little town (with lots of realy smart people in it) when they looked at how much energy (and GHG footprint) were associated with just providing water and sewer to a community of about 75,000 people plus the nearly 30,000 students that show up each fall. Of course, two historic droughts within the same decade have added an intereting wrinkle as well.

One bit of good news: ever since "we" provided free public transportation (buses) in town and began limiting parking lots, bus ridership has continued to grow. Rising gasoline prices also helped.

I'm happy to advise anyone on how to go about engaging local government regarding peak oil/energy issues. Just drop me an email.

Randy Udall was in out little burg a few months back, here's how he phrased the question:
"You have a great community. It developed nicely over the last 150 years thanks in large part to inexpensive fossil fuels. Society is now at a point in history when fossil fuels are becoming more scarce and more expensive. The decisions you make will have impacts for the next 150 years: how do you envision 'fueling' your community for the next 150 years? What needs to be done in the near-term so that your community is still thriving in 50, 100, 150 years?"

Another perspective he added was to point out that most community facilities (city hall, schools, hospitals) are themselves "on life support"- they are hooked up a bunch of cords in order to function. Is that sustainable? Should our buildings be on permanent life support, or should be look into ways to make them more independent and able to meet their own needs (solar hot water, solar PV, solar lighting, geothermal, etc.)?

Good luck.

I would advise you to start writing letters to the editor on the subject. I did that for a while, and then the paper asked if I'd like to write a column. I've been doing that for a while, and now the local chamber of commerce has asked me to sit on their energy committee.

What to do when the wind is blowing

Almost every time the subject of wind energy is comming up you hear the expression:
-but we can't store it....therefore we can't depend upon it.....so we might as well give it up
-Fossil fuel, that we can store!
Exactly. -Fossil fuel- that is our storage of energy. Not solar energy, not wind energy - but fossil fuel.

I would like to change our focus. Away from storage of wind energy, and towards....

use of wind energy

when the wind is blowing......

use it.
take a hot bath in it
heat you home with it

but for god's sake use it to replace those fossil fuels, that you othervise would have used.
Personally I have started to turn down my central heating at night, and then turn on an electric heater. When the wind is blowing I simply switch to electric heating.
Keep those deposits of oil and coal in the ground, we migth need them on a later day.

And may the wind be with you.

I wonder if anyone has tried a windpump-hydro project? Use the wind only to pump water (then speed of the rotors doesnt matter) and the lake is the storage device. Its like a pumped hydro project only you get more energy out of it (more than the flow of the river you dam).

Put the turbines on the hills surrounding the lake (or in the middle of the lake if its big enough) and using some large pipes to syphon the water up to the pumps (from the river way below) to the base of the turbines and back down to the reservoir.

Theres lots of man made lakes around with dams which dont produce power because they have insufficient flow, but with the windpumps providing the flow and the lake storing the energy you get everything you need to make lots of power and store it to match your load.

The problem with the above idea is that wind turbine EROI is many times better in a windy environment, like the Great Plains, and reservoirs with sufficient head for pumped storage are not usually in locations with a good wind resource.

So generating electricity directly at the turbine and transmitting that energy to a pumped-storage facility just gives a better return on both energy and dollars invested.

Also larger turbines have much better EROI and the power transmission linkages to mechanically run a pump from a 1.8 MW turbine would be crazy expensive and huge (I was a mechanical engineer for 20 years before I became a software geek).

Thank you.

You are much more eloquent than I am in making this point, and it doesn't just apply to wind.

Distributed constant-baseload power isn't a necessity. It's an indulgence, a luxury.

We've decoupled from the natural world's rhythms. It isn't permanent, and it may not even be a good idea temporarily.

Sailboats are elegant technology. When the wind stops, you stop. But on average, you get where you're going in a reasonable time.

20 "box" a gallon gaz o leen? i been job hunting for quite some time. i see lots and lots of low paying jobs. $9, $10, $11, $12 an hour, in my state new jersey. and the job descriptions! must lift 75 pounds, extremes of heat and cold, long periods of standing and bending. and the 8 hour day? gone. now it's 10 or 12 hours and changing shifts on short notice. getting paid to work in a gulag. what is 20 "box" a gallon gaz o leen goan to do to doze fokes? or $5 a gallon? hmmmm? looks like the collapse is already starting. i read there are 6.5 people for every job opening. so wages go down, health and safety go out the window. the lower standard of living is already here for many wage slaves. i guess the the promised leisure society that will never be heralds the decline of uhmerika the great. where is our 21st century spartucus?

Don't worry-you have a charming diplomat in the White House instead of a tactless lout. That should make your job situation much easier to bear. Camelot has returned.

At least the charming diplomat killed the Polish missile shield today.

Whether the US has a charming diplomat or tactless lout in the White House, the issue of wealth distribution will not be avoided as overall wealth declines.
Tax breaks for the top 1% or 0.1%, as enacted by the tactless lout, are the past but not likely the future.
The bottom half of the US income distribution has been remarkably passive as wealth was re-distributed upwards from the many to the few. As the economic decline grinds on, I don't expect that passivity to continue, but the anger and frustration of the dispossessed make take some frightening and irrational forms.

You are correct.
The only question is what story and myth they believe is the problem and the solution.
We could see Beck as "the Supreme Leader," and Brown Shirts beating up anyone thinking critically.

Trolling is as trolling does.

Brain, these endless attempts to distort each and every socioeconomic discussion of the current state of the nation with partisan mudslinging are, in a word, pathetic. Another word that comes to mind is tiresome. A third, dim.

The good people who lead TOD are donating their time and energy to bring the ignorant like me and you up to speed on the energy, economy, and environment issue. Y'know, reality? Let's try getting grounded in physics.

Einstein: Calling the current guy charming and the former guy a lout is partisan mudslinging? One thing we can agree on is that you are obviously correct in self-labelling yourself as generally ignorant. Thanks for the input.

I yam what I yam. At least I know it.

For pete's sake, man! Your contribution was the kind of non sequitur worthy of a bot!

Fact is, your pithy ad hominem contains nothing and contributes nothing. We've heard it before - we all get it - every problem looks like the same kind of nail to you, judging by the predictable message that you so tirelessly hammer home.

Partisanship is exactly the tool that is being exploited so successfully by the plutocracy right now, when in fact there is (IMO) no effect that our choice of elected officials has on our national economic outcomes.

You are almost a caricature of psychological projection. You are not partisan-you feel both Dems and Repubs are generally crap-good for you.

I don't think I promised a leisure society. My advice in recent years and months:

The ELP Plan (April, 2007)

In my opinion, the unfortunate new reality is that we are going to see a growing labor surplus--against the backdrop of deflation in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflation in food and energy prices. By reducing your expenses now, while you can do it voluntarily, you will at least be better prepared for whatever the future may bring.

“We had everything but money,” A Suggested Guidebook for the “Greater Depression” (March, 2009)

“We had everything but money” is a collection of first person accounts of the Great Depression in the United States. Although, it appears to be out of print (it's now back in print), it is widely available online. I recommend it as a very good guidebook for our present circumstances, what many are calling the “Greater Depression.”

From the CDC:

I posted am email yesterday from Dr. Cannell, regarding an unintentional experiment where the HIN1 virus was introduced into an institutional setting in Wisconsin where the residents, but not the staff, were monitored for Vitamin D level:


Here is a followup email from Dr. Cannell along the same lines:

1:30 PM PST, Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dear Dr. Cannell:

Thanks for your update about the hospital in Wisconsin. I have had similar anecdotal evidence from my medical practice here in Georgia. We are one of the 5 states with widespread H1N1 outbreaks.

I share an office with another family physician. I aggressively measure and replete vitamin D. He does not.

He is seeing one to 10 cases per week of influenza-like illness.

In my practice-- I have had zero cases. My patients are universally on 2000-5000 IU to maintain serum levels 50-80 ng/ml.

Ellie Campbell, DO
Campbell Family Medicine
3925 Johns Creek Court Ste A
Suwannee GA 30024

Dear Dr. Campbell:
That’s good news. Now, if we just had a way for the CDC and the NIH to pay attention.
Critics say we should not recommend vitamin D to prevent influenza until it is proven to do so (It has not been).
The critics are thus saying, although they seem not to know it, you should be vitamin D deficient this winter until science proves being vitamin D sufficient is better than being Vitamin D deficient. Such advice is clearly unethical and has never ever been the standard of care.
This is not rocket science. If I am wrong, and Vitamin D does not prevent influenza, what is lost? A few dollars. If they are wrong, and it does prevent influenza, what is lost? So far, the CDC says 41 kids are dead from H1N1, and the flu season has not yet started.
Please contact your senators and congresspersons.  Ask them to have hearings on vitamin D and H1N1:

John Cannell, MD
Vitamin D Council
585 Leff Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93422

I share an office with another family physician. I aggressively measure and replete vitamin D. He does not.
He is seeing one to 10 cases per week of influenza-like illness.
In my practice-- I have had zero cases. My patients are universally on 2000-5000 IU to maintain serum levels 50-80 ng/ml.

In other words, the doctor who is doing the right thing is making less money (fewer patient visits) whereas the doctor who is not doing the right thing is making more money (more patient visits). Do you see why the medical establishment has no interest in using cheap nutritional supplements to prevent or treat diseases?

For what it is worth, in my family we all take 4000 IU of vitamin D3 and 4g of vitamin C everyday. I also take fish oil capsules and vitamin B complex. Ever since I started taking mega doses of vitamin C 4.5 years ago, I have never been sick with cold or flu (except for a mild case of cold last week).

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.

Do you see why the medical establishment has no interest in using cheap nutritional supplements to prevent or treat diseases?

Dr. Cannell has made the same point.

I remember reading a physician's recommendation of 4000mg/day a couple of years ago when symptoms of flu develop to reduce the effects of the flu. Anyway, I searched the NIH through Pubmed and this meta-analysis research done two months ago is the latest on the subject:

Vitamin D for treatment and prevention of infectious diseases: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.

Yamshchikov AV, Desai NS, Blumberg HM, Ziegler TR, Tangpricha V.

Serious adverse events attributable to vitamin D supplementation were rare across all studies. On the basis of studies reviewed to date, the strongest evidence supports further research into adjunctive vitamin D therapy for tuberculosis, influenza, and viral upper respiratory tract illnesses. In the selected studies, certain aspects of study design are highlighted to help guide future clinical research in the field. CONCLUSION: More rigorously designed clinical trials are needed for further evaluation of the relationship between vitamin D status and the immune response to infection as well as for delineation of necessary changes in clinical practice and medical care of patients with vitamin D deficiency in infectious disease settings.

Personally, I would be leery about taking 4000mg/day for prevention but with a pandemic flu with little immunity in the population, I will probably start the dose once folks start coughing around me...

It is not 4000 mg/day. It is 4000 IU/day. Big difference.

Thanks! I remember now, the 4000 mg/day was for Vitamin C.

Anyway, I don't spend much time indoors so I should be fine on Vitamin D levels:

A single, twenty-minute, full body exposure to summer sun will trigger the delivery of 20,000 units of vitamin D into the circulation of most people within 48 hours.

Here some research on Vitamin C:

The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections.

Gorton HC, Jarvis K.

Those in the control population reporting symptoms were treated with pain relievers and decongestants, whereas those in the test population reporting symptoms were treated with hourly doses of 1000 mg of Vitamin C for the first 6 hours and then 3 times daily thereafter. Those not reporting symptoms in the test group were also administered 1000-mg doses 3 times daily. RESULTS: Overall, reported flu and cold symptoms in the test group decreased 85% compared with the control group after the administration of megadose Vitamin C. CONCLUSION: Vitamin C in megadoses administered before or after the appearance of cold and flu symptoms relieved and prevented the symptoms in the test population compared with the control group.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the DB toplink: "Legislation for a 21st Century Transportation System Doesn't Come Easy".
[last 4 paragraphs]..Single national goal

Many in the transportation community fear the varying individual goals cloud the overall picture, making it difficult to craft a public pitch for what it is they are truly trying to accomplish.

"This question of goals is critical, it's the key missing agreement," Heminger said. "When you look back at the Interstate program, it was just beautiful in terms of laying out a national vision, goal, objective, whatever term you want to call it. The vision was simple and coherent, it was something everyone could understand and rally around, from members of the public to members of Congress -- and we're never going to have that back, and that's the sad truth facing our profession."

Still, other stakeholders are unwilling to give up hope of crafting a message that can rival that of the Interstate Highway System, in part because it was the product of long-term consensus building. The system was built in the 1950s during the Eisenhower administration, but federal officials began studying its feasibility in the late 1930s.

"There was a national consensus about it but it didn't just happen, it didn't leap out of the mind of Dwight Eisenhower and suddenly happen," said Frankel, who now serves as the director of transportation for the Bipartisan Policy Center. "There was a gestation period of 30 years, give or take."
Again, I refer TODers to the archives for my SpiderWebRiding posting series as the 'ribcage' to the 'spine & limbs' of Alan's RR & TOD. IMO, "the vision is simple and coherent, it is something everyone can understand and rally around, from members of the public to members of Congress".


Consider how you want to deliver your fresh, fragile eggs to market in the postPeak with WT's ELM & Duncan's Re-equalizing hammering us from all sides. Consider what method is best for moving urban O-NPK back out to the suburbs and nearby rural areas, with Alan's standard gauge doing most of the heavy volume lifting, then narrow gauge next, with bicycles or wheelbarrows filling in the non-webbed gaps as required.

IMO, we won't have time for "a gestation period of 30 years, give or take" to build this out==>we will nearly all be Tlameme backpacking long before 2040, with rubber, inflated tires of almost any description being mostly Unobtainium.

Yet, SpiderWebRiding has a strong plus in that in can start locally, then, as acceptance rapidly builds==>it can be quickly implemented elsewhere. A single set of steel wheels on steel rails can last a lifetime if the owner maintains the integrity of the ball-bearing races.

Quick success, even with Boy Scouts laying lightweight, narrow gauge track, will make a strong public outcry for more track plus lots of Alan's standard gauge too. Alan Drake has posted many pictures of heavy, standard gauge track being hand-installed in the olden days.

As posted by other TODers upthread: there will be no shortage of defunct retail establishments, chock full of structural steel that can be easily dis-assembled, then mildly re-worked to provide narrow rail.

Again, I ask you to consider/gestate what some people have accomplished in their spare time just following a hobby:


The photo gallery has the pictures of Boy Scouts building and laying track.

Remember too, that having a personal, pedal railbike would never mean having to station wait along with the sick, the weak elderly, the unfortunately handicapped, parents w/toddlers, or shoppers w/packages, cargo loading, etc. For those on a tight time schedule: just slap your railbike down on the tracks, then just go for it.

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

Daydreams of Destruction
by John MichaeL Greer

The difficulty here is that faith in the prospect of a better future has been so deeply ingrained in all of us that trying to argue against it is a bit like trying to tell a medieval peasant that heaven with all its saints and angels isn’t there any more.

Why I believe The Druid has coined a new euphemism, medieval peasant can be substituted for "conservative fundamentalist christian".


Unfortunately even the sane among us are still delusional about our future.

Yeah, we'd be in much better shape if only the Antichrist wasn't occupying the Oval Office:

The Public Policy Polling firm decided to poll New Jersey residents, asking if they think President Obama is the anti-Christ, to gage the level of extreme hate exhibited towards President Obama by some conservatives, as recently evidenced by the many offensive signs carried at the DC tea party rally.

The results were astonishing, with one in three conservatives in the garden state believing President Obama is indeed the anti-Christ.


Einstein: Did you even read the article and see the question presented to those polled? When George Bush was at his popularity nadir, he would have easily pulled a 50% anti-christ rating with this question framing. Try to read past the headline next time.

It is a very straightforward question, and I don't think GW qualified.

Nowhere near charming enough.

The headline didn't misrepresent anything, Newton.

Brain, I read the article. Really!
Sorry I made you so sore - but I'm not the one responsible for your feelings.

No, I didn't see the previous polls that you refer to, which showed a 50% affirmative response to the question of whether GWB was the Antichrist. Could you provide a link, please?

My contribution contains newly available, statistically significant DATA that goes beyond mere bluster and bombast. However imperfect my interpretations may be - and they often are - you are free to seek out your own conclusions from the included link.

BTW, my Deutsch genes are seriously flattered by your moniker for me, but I always held Tesla as a personal idol.

I guess your consistent "Brain" moniker is just as flattering. Look, read something like an adult-the poll was designed to get a result (obviously)-what % would have responded in the affirmative to the question "In your opinion, does Barack Obama beat his wife". Probably just as high or higher-I shouldn't have to explain something this simple to you. Look, I don't disagree if your point is that the USA public is pretty frigging stupid overall-but this poll doesn't illustrate it-all it does is identify dislike of the current leader. No need to respond-thanks.

Any REAL fundamentalist Christian believes that the end of the world is imminent and that it will be announced by "wars and rumors of wars".plagues,famine chaos,earthquakes and worse.

I will not dispute that quite a few people -maybe as many as eighty or ninety percent of such "Christians "are only nominally christians and often believe in eternal growth,etc.

Just about every body I ever met suffers from one or another cognitive dissonance.

This country is not nearly so full of practicing fundamentalists as most people think or as surveys indicate.

If you put a person on the spot and paint them into a corner that essentially leaves them admitting that they and thier parents and grandparents are superstitious backwards hicks by questionong evolution ....well what other answer would you expect to get except the in YOUR FACE response that YOU ARE an eeevil evolutionist.Of course the closest the interviewee can get(since there is no option privided for calling the interviewer an athiestic lost soul or evolutionist) is to proclaim his allegiance to the values of his community,regardless of his or her actual beliefs.

Finding out what people really believe is a little tricky and takes time and sophistication on the part of the researcher.If the belief is contrary to the norms of the community it will not be expressed until the interviewee has established a strong rapport with some one whom he believes holds similar beliefs.

Many a functionally illiterate Baptist farmer will tell you that there might be a little something to "that evolution stuff" if he trusts you not to mention it.I mean REALLY TRUSTS you-his social standing is on the line.

(He has after all seen it in action ( by selective breeding ,hybridization,pests becoming resistant to formerly deady insecticides,etc,) during his working life.)

I appreciate the nuance in your observations, ofmac. While it's true that an overwhelming majority of Americans self-report as Christian, undoubtedly with some degree of social pressure behind them, I think this question is altogether different.

I see no reason why "I don't know" wouldn't be an acceptable answer to the Antichrist question, and that's what really bothers me. Facing a stranger with a clipboard, this sizable minority openly declared that they had DECIDED that the Current Occupant is the incarnation of some invisible, supernatural Evil.

What chance do we as a nation have when our discourse is circumscribed by the KISS principle and the desire by elected representatives to offend as few voting blocks as possible? The kind of national proposals that we're seeing now might turn out in the same way as the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are described: 'Veto by Nutcase.'

It wasn't even a stranger with a clipboard.

Telephone survey, I could see 8% just hitting the wrong button.

Again well said sir. Some of the ironies of life are the religious inclinations of those that practice stock breeding of one type or another, and those that preach Evolution like they are in fact the burning bush but then preach the old time gospel of the "Blank Slate."

Why I believe The Druid has coined a new euphemism, medieval peasant can be substituted for "conservative fundamentalist christian"....Unfortunately even the sane among us are still delusional about our future.

Good job!
You demonstrated your superiority over those foolish, backward bible thumpers!
Though it seems to me that many TODer's have some common ground with "conservative fundamentalist christians".
WTSHTF is pretty synonymous with "the end of days" to me.

I just completed a lighting audit of a former elementary school that is now dedicated to serving special needs children from grades P through 12. Walking through this facility is one of those profoundly moving experiences I don't think any of us would soon forget -- I'm in total awe. The school is privately funded and staff are quite energy and cost conscious (the gymnasium was vacant at the time I took this picture and the lights had been shut off between classes).

So imagine my surprise when I discovered the nine T12 fixtures in the boiler/electrical room are never turned off because the switch is located on the wall opposite the doorway and can't be reached in the dark(*); the room is basically vacant except for one or two minutes each month when Nova Scotia Power reads the meter (how's that for irony?). We'll be replacing these nine fixtures with two TW industrials, dropping this load from 720 to 188-watts and, most importantly, installing an occupancy sensor that will kick the lights on when the door opens and off 30-seconds after it closes. The savings for this one room alone: some 6,300 kWh/yr or approximately $800.00. Our firm will be donating occupancy/light harvesting sensors for installation in other areas at no charge as our way of saying "thanks!".


(*) The entrance was moved to the opposite wall when the school was remodelled a dozen or so years ago, but no one bothered to relocate the switch; that decision has resulted in several thousands of dollars of needlessly wasted energy.

This is by no means a criticism. Your regular examples of how much waste can be ferreted out of poor design and unanalyzed habits are inspiring and enviable. But every time I see one of your pix of an industrial ceiling space, I wonder what it would take to add some skylights here and there as well.

Just tossing in some expansion ideas for your business, in case you're getting bored!

Bob Fiske

Thanks, Bob, for your kind words. I love buildings that make extensive use of daylighting (the first thing I do when I enter a room with windows is turn off the overhead lights). Unfortunately, sky lights can be a tad tricky to implement. Landlords and tenants are often nervous about water leaks and anytime you cut through a roof membrane, you mentally cross your fingers and toes. Installation costs can be shockingly high and you sometimes run into condensation problems, excessively high heat gain/loss and issues related to glare. Done right, the results are truly outstanding, but if something goes wrong, your worst nightmare.

Lamps and ballasts are merely child's play. Skylights? Now that's something best left to the professionals!


I know a very good contractor who refuses to touch skylights. He guarantees his work, but can't guarantee skylights. They always leak eventually.

I suspect it's more of an issue in the north, where it snows. Skylights are common in Hawaii, and leaking seems to be much less of a problem,

However, they often end up looking ugly, because bird poop and the like falls on them, and it's hard to clean them.

Working on 5+ years in the SW in three different houses, all with skylights. Had some roof leaks in two houses, from bathroom exhaust pipe roof penetration and from cracked parapets...not yet from skylights.

Darn flat roof are the problem.

Don't care what they look like wrt dirt/bird poop...so far haven't seen any bird poop...don't expect them to be clear to observe the stars, just want them to let in natural light.

The southwest is a different beast entirely from the northeast. I would imagine that's one of the best places in the world for skylights (at least as far leaks go).


the room is basically vacant except for one or two minutes each month when Nova Scotia Power reads the meter (how's that for irony?). We'll be replacing these nine fixtures with two TW industrials, dropping this load from 720 to 188-watts and, most importantly, installing an occupancy sensor that will kick the lights on when the door opens and off 30-seconds after it closes. The savings for this one room alone: some 6,300 kWh/yr or approximately $800.00. Our firm will be donating occupancy/light harvesting sensors for installation in other areas at no charge as our way of saying "thanks!".

That's great and all! However how difficult would it be for the meter reader to just have a high powered LED light, just a couple of watts worth of consumption, to read the meter? Or maybe an LED flashlight for a cost of about 20 bucks?

Hi Fred,

I was shocked to discover that this problem hadn't been resolved years ago given how diligent they are about turning off lights elsewhere (as our programme administrator joked "we thank you for ensuring safe access to our meter and for the additional business"). The lighting in this one room alone accounts for just over seven per cent of the school's total electrical demand and their domestic hot water is heated electrically. Fortunately for us, the switch is well positioned to "see" the door, so all we have to do is swap out the switch for the new wall sensor -- five minutes and a screwdriver and our work is done.


It would be 300% of my family of four's entire domestic electricity consumption - and I am working on cutting that back.

I hope to put up some PV and run some 12V LED lighting. Refrigeration is the big consumer - almost 1KWh a day!

Is a TW a fixture made in Taiwan?
Direct or Indirect lighting - Good indirect fixtures are
hard to find at reasonable prices. -
would love to see a picture when done?
Any recommendations on light occupancy sensors.
The ones at the Home Depot don't last.
It's hard to find good sources of lighting
fixtures (online). I was in an office Today
with over 70% - 96" T12 dead from old age.
The workers think they experience a stroke with each flicker.
Thanks for bringing attention to such waste.
Donald Long

Hi Donald,

Sorry, "TW" is short-hand for "tandem wire". In this case, a Cooper 8 ft. "industrial" fixture containing four 4 F32T8 lamps, one pair butting against a second end to end. This is our standard workhorse, although we also use 4 and 6-lamp T8 high bays and on the odd occasion T5s.

Here's an example of an older, dirty and poorly maintained F96T12 lighting system that we upgraded to new TW industrials with occupancy sensors (the lighting load was cut by more than half and foot candle readings increased five to ten fold):

The wall occupancy sensor we will be using in the school's electrical room is a Cooper 6119W. I'm not sure if they're available at Home Depot; an electrical distributor might be your best option.



Many hits on Cooper 6119W with a google. About 80 USD + shipping.

Hi Lynford,

I bought sixty of these sensors on ebay last year at an average cost of just over $20.00. The guy must have picked them up at a liquidation sale and was auctioning them off in lots of ten; luckily for me, there were no other bidders. If I see an opportunity to help a client save a few extra kWh, especially a non-profit organization such as this, I throw in a couple at no charge.

I have six or seven hundred 60-watt halogen-IR PAR38s that I had salvaged from a retail store that we had upgraded to ceramic metal halide in March. I couldn't bear to trash them, so they get redeployed on our other jobs where appropriate. I brought a couple cases to the school, grabbed a step ladder and replaced the 75 and 150-watt R30 and R40 incandescent reflectors above the gymnasium stage. Ten minutes of my time is all it cost, but I gained a tremendous amount of good will in return.


Hey Paul, thanks for the testimonial. I always like seeing your real-world savings.

Any view on the Cooper versus Pass and Seymour occupancy sensors? I just tried the P&S with good results, and a cheaper Leviton that I will not use again. I'm thinking of going with P&S vacancy sensors for some of my hall and closet lights that my kids leave on. I've decided they'll pay themselves back before the kids go to college, and my blood pressure will do better in the meantime, with a positive ROI versus medical alternatives!

Thanks, Paleocon. I've never imagined that occupancy sensors could be beneficial to one's physical and metal wellbeing, but now that you mention it it makes perfect sense!

I'm not familiar with the Pass and Seymour line of sensors so, unfortunately, I can't offer a fair comparison. The designated materials vendor for our work with NSP carries WattStopper™. We've had a surprisingly high percentage of their external power packs and ceiling sensors fail in relatively short order, so my personal experience with this brand hasn't been wholly satisfactory. My business partner seems to like sensorswitch™ and I don't recall him speaking of any failures to date. They offer single and double pole decorator wall switch sensors that employ both passive infra-red and microphonic coverage, so even when the sensor can no longer "see" you, it might still be able to "hear" your presence (supposedly it can filter out background noise, but I've never investigated how well this works). FWIW, none of the Coopers I've installed have given me an ounce of trouble thus far.


Hello TODers,

Since the USA is still generally trending towards obesity and less disposable income for most: will skateboard parks now close like golf courses?

Purely anecdotal, of course, but I seem to see lots of fewer kids skateboarding or rollerblading nowadays down my Phx streets compared to ten years ago.

Skating to an end

With high hopes, the city built a skate park eight years ago. Low turnout, no more money and unsafe equipment, however, has forced it to close..
I would imagine that many of the 46 million uninsured that are parents would rather see their uninsured children playing safer activities [cellphones & video games instead?]. My guess is that skateboarding has a very high frequency of injuries requiring surgery for cuts, sprains, broken bones, or worse.

Skateboarding any distance never made sense to me when compared to the greater efficiency, comfort, cargo capacity, and safety of a pedal-bike. Do schoolteachers even teach simple, rudimentary science stuff like this at schools anymore?

For example, from 11-16 years old, I had a large, early morning paper route covering many miles. There was no way I would even remotely consider delivering the newpapers on a skateboard.

Purely anecdotal, of course, but I seem to see lots of fewer kids skateboarding or rollerblading nowadays down my Phx streets compared to ten years ago.

Also anecdotal but I'm seeing the exact opposite here where I live. It might have something to do with the fact that I live next to a park that looks like it was specifically designed for skating and skateboarding. Ironically it has no skating and skateboarding signs posted all over, that seems to have worked as an incentive instead of a deterrent :-)

LOL! My guess is your area's doctors all want to upgrade to newer, hi-bling vehicles while they still can before TSHTF. Youtube has lots of videos of skateboarders getting hurt with all the crazy stunts they attempt to complete.

I've noticed a lot more kids biking and skating recently, too. I'm afraid one of them will be run over, because the traffic is kinda crazy here, and they tend to dart out into the road unexpectedly.

It might be because we have a new "rail to trail" - they paved over an old railroad. It makes for very nice biking and skating. I haven't skateboarded for years, but I dusted off my old board because I couldn't resist that long, smooth piece of asphalt. It would have been heaven for me as a kid.

Hello TODers,

Golf courses as health & fire hazards when they go belly up?

Palm Desert city officials said Sept. 10 they will keep a close eye on Palm Desert Country Club to ensure the bankrupt golf course — which closed Sept. 7 — does not become a public health or safety hazard.

..“It's not being maintained,” Okren said of the club's grounds. “All the water features on the course are stagnant. It stinks.”

On June 19, Palm Desert Country Club filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Central District Court in Riverside, California.

The bankruptcy petition states the owners' land and property assets are $6,488,760, while their liabilities are $18,690,841.
IMO, the better plan is to invite Tiger Woods & Justin Timberlake [love those eco-names!] to plow the course and fill in the water features so the people don't have to worry about mosquito swarms when there are no bats and birds around to harvest them. Inviting people to harvest the trees for firewood would also eliminate the fire hazard to area homeowners, besides allowing more sunshine to hit the veggie plots.

Makes sense to me, but what will probably happen next is the city will attempt to tax the poor to provide a bailout to the next politically connected owner, so the well-to-do can still hit the greens. Recall my prior postings where this has been done before.

Take a mulligan at Sharp Park

It's time for San Francisco to take a mulligan at Sharp Park: Let's take another shot and build a better public park, a park that will protect the environment and create a recreational space that everyone can enjoy.

..But golf advocacy groups have categorically rejected anything but 18 holes of golf at Sharp Park, and instead have proposed reducing costs by getting rid of the unionized workforce, privatizing course management, and creating an elite golf course that charges $80 to $120 per round to play, as compared to the $19 to $31 now charged. And they want to do this by re-creating MacKenzie's original design, the design that created the problems in the first place.
Sounds like a good place for an initial skirmish of future Earthmarines versus golfers, IMO.