Drumbeat: October 18, 2009

Economist's advice to Big Food: Change or face fate of GM

Renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs warned the food industry that it risks disaster if it doesn't get behind changes that will deal with climate change, environmental degradation and global hunger.

Sachs, author of the "The End of Poverty" and a special adviser to the United Nations, said the food industry has lost the public's confidence in its ability to deliver healthful foods in an environmentally sustainable manner.

"This industry is a powerful lobby," but it could "lobby its way to GM's success," he said, referring to General Motors.

There Is Great Fear Upon The Land

North Korea has failed to cope with the food shortage situation over the Summer. The solution was supposed to be the "150 Day Battle" program, that put hundreds of thousands of urban people on the farms, in a vain attempt to save the harvest. It failed. Factories and construction projects are still stalled because of a lack of components, raw materials or building materials. So the government has declared a "100 Day Battle," and told the urban "volunteers" to just stay on the farms (where they can more effectively scrounge for food, and not disturb the people remaining in the cities, with the sight of more starving people.)

India's natural gas tied up in $17B family feud

MUMBAI, India -- An ashen Anil Ambani, one of the world's richest men, stood before a clutter of television cameras, close to tears.

"There is only pain, hurt and emotion," he said, his voice catching.

There is also, by some calculations, at least $17 billion at stake.

Anil and his brother Mukesh - ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's 34th and 7th richest individuals - are locked in an increasingly bitter fight over India's biggest natural gas deposit.

Analysis: Angola Rises As West Africa's Production Leader

The strength of West Africa's offshore developments, particularly in Nigeria and Angola, is propelling the region to grow faster than any other in the energy industry. Industry experts predict annual project spending will hit $13 billion by next year.

This is remarkable considering Nigeria's production has dropped off by 20% since 2006. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has attacked and kidnapped major industry employees, which has led to the production decrease. Nigeria currently produces about 1.7 MMb/d of oil, down from about 2.6 MMb/d in 2005. The country's natural gas production comes in around 185 tcf.

Zambia suspends import tax on fuel to avert crisis

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia has suspended a 25 percent duty on fuel imports to avert a fuel crisis after oil marketing companies (OMCs) said they would delay diesel and petrol imports until the tax was scrapped, a minister said on Saturday.

Energy minister Kenneth Konga told Reuters the government had decided to waive the duty during the period of the shutdown of Zambia's sole 24,000 barrels-per-day Indeni oil refinery.

Halliburton Sees Signs of Recovery in Oil Patch

Oil field services giant Halliburton Co. said third quarter earnings fell 61 percent amid weaker oil and gas activity compared with a year ago, particularly in North America, but was encouraged by improving conditions in international markets.

Venezuelan government ponders tax on high electricity consumption

Once again, President Hugo Chávez urged people to moderate their consumption of electricity. On this opportunity, he announced the implementation of a "set of measures" aimed at reducing high levels of energy demand.

The Head of State said he asked Rafael Ramírez, the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, to draft a resolution to levy a tax on high power consumption and subsidize low power consumption.

New duo spark price war in energy market

Energy Smart meters and clearer bills will help customers and keep costs low.

UK Report Warns of Oil Shortage

A new report by a prominent energy research firm warns that the world's oil supply could start to dry up over the next 10 years. In a report unveiled at an International Energy Agency meeting in Paris, the UK Energy Research Center said petroleum production is likely to peak by the year 2020 leading to global shortages as supplies taper off.

The world's demand for oil is unsustainable. That's the warning from a new report delivered at the International Energy Agency's ministerial meeting in Paris.

Julian Darley - Commentary: Response to "Energy Crisis is postponed as new gas rescues the world"

It is hard to know where to begin regarding Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's article entitled "Energy crisis is postponed as new gas rescues the world." But since the speculative world he invokes has more to with Alice In Wonderland than the hard reality of engineering and science, let us begin - at the end.

Evans-Pritchard caps his evangelistic encomium with this: "I am not qualified to judge where gas excitement crosses into hyperbole. I pass on the story because the claims of BP and Statoil are so extraordinary that we may need to rewrite the geo-strategy textbooks for the next half century."

He admits his lack of gas qualifications but surely he is enough of a journalist - and an economist - to ask some basic fact-checking questions. If he had, he would have discovered that people like Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, have been brazenly hyping shale gas - even employing well known gas expert Tommy Lee Jones to promote the stuff - in the hope of making a fortune. Given that Mr McClendon is reputed to have lost around $2bn in the recent financial debacle, his keenness is perhaps understandable (though he still managed to earn more than $100m last year).

Kjell Aleklett - ASPO-8: The 2009 International Peak Oil Conference in Denver

This year’s international ASPO conference in Denver was organized in collaboration with ASPO-USA and coincided with their national annual conference. Sunday’s parallel sessions held before the formal start of the conference offered interested Denver residents the opportunity to inform themselves about Peak Oil. Meanwhile, Peak Oil identities from around the world were given the opportunity to give presentations on their various activities and research results.

I was very happy to open the international proceedings on Sunday with a presentation on "The Peak of the Oil Age". Then we discussed renewable energy in Spain, methods to reduce Canada's CO2 footprint and Venezuela and the economic crisis. My Ph.D. student, Bengt Söderberg was given the opportunity to present part of his doctoral work concerning the future natural gas crisis in Europe. Professor Lee’s presentation on "Peak Oil in China" was an interesting run-through of the significance of this question at various levels. The international symposium concluded with a presentation based in Switzerland. It concerned EROI, i.e. how much energy is returned on invested energy. All the contributions were very interesting and I can only say that there are amazingly many areas where energy is high up on the agenda.

Musings: Peak Oil Will Influence The Shape of Our Future World

The two authors have the same theme -- how Americans will have to give up traveling, abandon eating foods that come from great distances away and find new ways to work. These books, listed on the non-fiction book lists, amaze me because they truly are fictional works. Admittedly they are based on reasonable premises, but they are largely speculation about how the world of the future will unfold.

Author writes about how life will different with more expensive oil

Rubin starts off his book by explaining “Hubbert’s Peak,” basically an explanation of why oil production is destined to decline over time. Eisenhower was still in the White House when M. King Hubbert made his prediction and Nixon occupied the White House when it started to come true as the production of oil in the State of Texas began to supply a diminishing proportion of U.S. needs.

Hubbert never predicted that oil production would collapse or oil would become impossible to find, but he did suggest it would become ever more costly to extract from the earth, Rubin notes.

Oil in a Culture of Control

Oil is a global commodity, although, to be sure, it’s whereabouts are distributed unequally across the globe. Nevertheless, a disruption in supply anywhere in the world has ramifications for consumers everywhere. The damage caused by such a disruption in any given country depends upon that particular countries dependence on oil, and benefits and losses upon the ratio between “imported” and “exported” quantities. In the oil markets, seemingly minor disruptions in the supply of oil can result in a drastic spike in prices; for instance, in Oil ShockWave, a crisis simulation by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), an approximate four percent drop in global supply resulted in a 177% increase in the price of oil (from $58 a barrel to $161 a barrel).

Washington state project could charge up electric car corridors

WASHINGTON -- A year from now, roughly 1,000 all-electric vehicles will be whispering around Washington state's Puget Sound as part of a federally funded project that eventually may lead to an electronic corridor stretching from Eugene, Ore. , to Vancouver, B.C. , where drivers could swipe a credit card and receive a 15-minute charge to speed them on their way.

Washington is one of five states with metro markets selected to participate in the 36-month study, funded by a $100 million grant from the Department of Energy under the economic recovery program.

Texas site to harness ocean for power, water

Renew Blue's Seadog pump, which uses wave and tidal power to produce electricity and can be harnessed for desalination, is about to be put to the commercial test off the coast of Texas.

A Real Stimulus Plan: Meeting The Challenges Not Yet Met

The only reason the U.S. has not experienced major, recurring power blackouts in the last two years is because of the Great Recession. When the economy recovers, the inadequacy of our antiquated grid will be obvious. Again, nothing is being done.

Frustrated Liberal Lawmaker Balances Beliefs and Politics

Instead of forging ahead, Mr. Blumenauer, 61, finds himself fighting to retain one of the touchstones for liberals this year, a public insurance option in the health care overhaul, and is watching his hopes of curbing global warming grow cold in the Senate. Mr. Blumenauer, a seven-term congressman, is bracing for a tough vote on sending more troops to Afghanistan while he frets about the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay remaining open.

“It has been a hard landing for a lot of the people that I represent,” Mr. Blumenauer, referring to his largely liberal constituency, said as he assessed the first months of the Obama administration.

California appears poised to be first to ban power-guzzling big-screen TVs

Industry lobbying efforts appear to elicit little sympathy from the state Energy Commission, which may vote as soon as Nov. 4.

Activists push for cleaner Northwest energy

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The final public hearing on the latest Northwest regional power plan drew a much larger crowd than in the past, as activists continued their push for cleaner energy in the coming decades.

About 130 people came to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council hearing Wednesday in Portland, many with anti-coal signs or T-shirts.

It’s Fish vs. Lawns, Not North vs. South

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have been haggling behind closed doors for months seeking a historic agreement to make California’s water supply more reliable while restoring and preserving the Delta and its wildlife habitat. Some in the Bay Area fear that the true aim of these talks is to allow construction of a new canal to send still more water south for farmers to grow crops in the desert and Angelenos to fill their pools and wash their BMWs.

But Bay Area interests have been fighting as hard as anyone to protect their right to pull water from the Delta and the rivers that feed it.

Drying up of lightbulbs has German in a lather

As a European Union ban on making or importing certain incandescent lightbulbs takes hold, Ulf Erdmann Ziegler has hoarded 3,000 to last a lifetime -- he hopes. The ban aims to slow global warming.

Going green on the cheap

"Going green at home can cost a lot if you want it to, but it doesn't have to," said Glenn Croston, author of "75 Green Businesses" and "Starting Green."

"There are plenty of eco-luxuries available that are quite costly, but there are plenty of green choices you can make that cost little or save you money."

Beijing’s Air Is Cleaner, but Far From Clean

BEIJING — This city’s network of arterials, five ring roads bisected by nine more freeways, is barely two decades old, but it already is sclerotic. Roughly four million vehicles clog Beijing roads, seven times the number about 15 years ago. On any given day, another 1,500 new vehicles join the crush.

So it is no surprise that Beijing has some of the worst air pollution of any big city on earth.

No, the surprise is this: Beijing’s air is actually getting cleaner.

Population is not to blame for climate change

We are shocked and angered that the ACF has supported Labor MP Kelvin Thomson’s calls to cut Australia’s migration rates.

These proposals pander to racism and offer no solution to environmental degradation. They divert attention away from the real cause of environmental disaster — government inaction and corporate polluters.

Cooling the Hysteria: Time to Ask the "Nasty Questions"

"Climate change is a reality; the debate is over," Tom Strickland, Assistant Secretary of Interior, recently told reporters before releasing a plan intended to mitigate warming's effect on natural resources.

Well the fat lady's not singing yet. Debate on the science of climate change is heating up as scientists forecast the climate is now cooling down.

Illusions on the edge of a precipice

The climate crisis is not a negotiable issue and politicians must start paying attention to science.

World's 17 biggest polluters hold summit to seek breakthrough on global warming deal

LONDON (AP) — Representatives of the world's 17 biggest and most polluting nations were holding talks Sunday to search for a breakthrough on financing efforts to contain climate change and reduce gas emissions causing global warming.

Pressure has been mounting for the United States to finalize its position before a decisive December conference in Denmark meant to cap two years of negotiations on a global climate change treaty.

Global warming blamed for aspen die-off across the West

Reporting from Paonia, Colo. - From the hillsides of extinct volcanoes in Arizona to the jagged peaks of Idaho, aspen trees are falling by the tens of thousands, the latest example of how climate change is dramatically altering the American West.

Starting seven years ago, foresters noticed massive aspen die-offs caused by parasitical insects, one of them so rare it is hardly even written about in scientific literature. But with warming temperatures and the effects of a brutal drought still lingering, the parasites are flourishing at the expense of the tree, beloved for its slender branches and heart-shaped leaves that turn a brilliant yellow in autumn.

JODI Data for August was released today: On-line Database

Saudi Arabia's oil consumption rose to 2.379 mbpd - up 0.410 mbpd YoY (up 1.025 mbpd from Jan 2009).

Also, see comment by ace (on July 19, 2009)

It appears that Saudi Arabia has less oil to export as internal oil consumption increases at high rates. Saudi Arabia's oil consumption increased by 40% from 1.44 mbd in March to 2.01 mbd in May 2009.

I believe that August is the peak consumption month for Saudi Arabia. Here is the EIA data base showing production, consumption and net oil exports on an annual basis through 2008:


We looked at seven net oil exporters that showed a production peak in 2005 or later (may or may not be a final production peak). Saudi Arabia was the median near term case history, with a net export decline rate of 2.7%/year, from 2005-2008, within a range from 1.5%/year (Equatorial Guinea) to 6.9%/year (Nigeria). Argentina was the median case history for the intermediate term decline group (a production peak in 2004 or earlier), with a net export decline rate of 8.6%/year, within a range from 3.8%/year (Gabon) to 46%/year (Vietnam).


Your hard work combined with other creative hard working thinkers are the closed thing i can imagine for the term:

*infinite value* for society.

ELM explains what our western world faces.

Highest regards

Net Export Math would seem to be simultaneously the most obvious--yet most overlooked--threat to the world economy that we have ever seen.

Why Dallas needs streetcars

ZURICH – Zurich's city center is what downtown Dallas wants to be. The streets here buzz with life day and night. Bars and restaurants abound. Zurich is walkable and livable.

What does this city have that Big D doesn't? Well, other than the Alps, streetcars. Or, as the Europeans call them, trams.

I'm not talking about old, antique streetcars. These things are sleek, modern and adored by folks here. "Trams are fast, clean and efficient," boasted Andreas Uhl, chief of staff for Zurich Public Transit.

They also greatly enhance quality of life.

The real tragedy for Dallas is that we had about 200 miles of electrified streetcar lines at one time. The McKinney Avenue system is all that is left of it, although I understand that a good deal of the rail system was paved over. Ironically enough, Dallas--like many other cities--started shutting down their streetcar systems around 1948, the year that the US became a net oil importer. Imagine how much of an asset 200 miles of functioning streetcar lines would be today. 

comparison with some city other than Zurich might be a bit more apropos. Zurich
is quite a small city, with under 400k people in the city proper and less than 1.5 million
in the canton. Zurich is much more compact. Density is _much_ higher, in the city as well as the surrounding towns and suburbs. Also, even Dallas, famous for its affluence, does not float on as enormous a sea of other peoples' money as Zurich does. Zurich can afford a lot of things (incredible public transit is just one of them) that other cities simply cannot consider.. perhaps a comparison to a bigger, more economically typical city might be more
believable! Zurich is indeed a very pleasant place, and sure the trams play some role in that,
but the surreal density of money, better than average transparency of government, low taxes, high democratic participation, oh and did i mention surreal density of money, i suspect also
have something to do with it.

(yes, the tram network in zuri is very dense. so dense, in fact, that city sometimes feels like a model train layout designed by someone who tried to jam as much track onto the board
as possible, and reluctantly stuffed scenery between the rail lines.. one tram stop is
usually within sight or a couple hundred yards of the next stop on the line, and they stop so frequently that for any trip shorter than a kilometer or so, unless it's pouring down rain or the tram is _right_ there the moment you happen to walk past the stop, it is even more convenient to walk!) (and bicycles are hands down more conveient than the tram)

And, despite zurich (and switzerland in general) having about the best public transportation
networks anywhere in the world AND discouraging car use enormously, still the streets
are packed with cars, still the friday afternoon rush hour is an enormous traffic jam,
still you can go onto the autobahn and see 2 or 3 lanes totally full of cars. IIRC
still more passenger-miles by car than by train in CH. If people even HERE still drive
that much... good luck changing that situation anywhere else! (it will change itself soon
enough anyway :)

city sometimes feels like a model train layout designed by someone who tried to jam as much track onto the board
as possible, and reluctantly stuffed scenery between the rail lines

My type of city ! :-)

But this was common before existing lines were torn up. New Orleans had 222 miles (355 km) of streetcars lines for example. The Swis just added new tracks instead of tearing them up.

Best Hopes,


Not everywhere. In Geneva all the tram lines save one were torn up, from about 1950 - 1970. The one left standing was also the oldest - the 12 tram, 147 years old (it started life as horse-drawn but was quickly electrified.) Now, much of the lines, partly along the same routes, partly new routes, have been/are being rebuilt.

The list in the middle of this page gives ongoing projects....which shows that the whole town is being re-formatted. It doesn’t include the lines already completed, in 95-05...


With potentially a 10°c temperature increase by 2050 in parts of North America, perhaps what Dallas needs is abandoning. I wonder how many cities there are that have a utility close to zero in a resource constrained world of financial collapse and climate chaos?

A case of pulling back and channelling remaining resources to centres with a higher probability of success in the new environment. If there is some kind of systemic response to changing circumstances then certain cities will no doubt be deprived of financial support and their "raison d'etre".

Dallas with its roots in oil and cotton; its new economy based on banking, commerce, telecommunications, computer technology, energy, and transportation; and its penchant for high summer temperatures don't seem to lend it a high probability of existing in the future. Perhaps it will have no need of street cars.

Please, the latest, wildest claim is that global temperature might rise 4oC by 2060. That's not 10oC, only about 7oF. It's enough trouble as it is trying to get that message thru the fog of denialist disinformation. Please don't exaggerate and give them more ammunition. Unless, of course, you are willing to back up your comment with a solid reference...

E. Swanson

Hi Black_Dog,

In the book "Six Degrees", the author does not dwell much on a 6 degree C rise because most higher life forms on the planet would become extinct at that point.

Of course I'm willing to back up my comment with a solid reference. The UK Government-funded study from the Met Office Hadley Centre, which set the potential temperature rise at 4°c in 2060, also mentions the potential rise in parts of North America as 10°c.

Met Office: catastrophic climate change could happen with 50 years

Catastrophic climate change could happen with 50 years, five decades earlier than previously predicted, according to a Met Office report.

An average global temperature rise of 7.2F (4C), considered a dangerous tipping point, could happen by 2060, causing droughts around the world, sea level rises and the collapse of important ecosystems, it warns.

The Arctic could see an increase in temperatures of 28.8F (16C), while parts of sub Saharan Africa and North America would be devastated by an increase in temperature of up to 18F (10C).

The higher latitudes are expected to warm faster than what will appear in the overall global average, but I doubt the amplification would turn out to be 2.5 times as great within the Lower 48. Alaska is much closer to the Arctic and could well experience such a large amplification.

I've tried to find a link to the UK Hadley Centre report, but have been unsuccessful so far. The "4 Degrees and Beyond" conference at which it was released has links to both the slides and an audio of the presentation by Richard Betts, but not a link to the actual report. There's so much bad information out there, I think one should be able to go to the original material, not a news story. The British are a bit stingy about access to their scientific reports, IMHO, but then, maybe I've been "spoiled" living here in the U.S.A., the "Land of the Free".

Anyway, a news release from the UK Met Office suggests that global average temperature might reach +4oC by 2099, not 2060. Still, in geological terms, that's like next week...

E. Swanson

As E.O. Wilson once quipped about communism: "Wonderful theory, wrong species"
Dallas has the wrong species to deal with their coming demise.

Not only is metropolitan rail needed in many cities, but also freight rail West of Texas' border with Louisiana. The National Academy of Engineering has a good review of American freight rail with a national map of all freight rail at http://sn.im/usrailmap

Re: Population is not to blame for climate change, up top:

An anthropological study sees benefits in large population for humans:


"The parallel to humans is obvious: The human population has grown from a few million people 10,000 years ago to about 200 million people at A.D. 0, to 600 million people in the year 1700, to more than 6.5 billion today. Prior to these times, the population was so small for so long that positive selection occurred at a glacial pace, Hawks says.

"What's really amazing about humans," Hawks continued, "that is not true with most other species, is that for a long time we were just a little ape species in one corner of Africa, and weren't genetically sampling anything like the potential we have now."

The recent changes are especially striking.

"Five thousand years is such a small sliver of time - it's 100 to 200 generations ago. That's how long it's been since some of these genes originated, and today they are in 30 or 40 percent of people because they've had such an advantage. It's like 'invasion of the body snatchers.'"

It seems exponential to me.
That's how things evolve. we are at our peak and our decisions can only influence the outcome.

In my view things started something like this:

Ancient familie got annoyed with cold feet, invented fire to solve that problem. The train started at that point, money comes in at a later point so it must be a derivate of energy.

Symplifying things makes it easier to comprehand. Staring at numbers only complicates it.

Knowing how we got here can prevent us from making the same mistakes previous local civilisations made.
This is the first time we build a global village.

We have to toss out some "smart" things we invented, to preserve
the better parts which can help us avoiding and making to much mistakes.

Saying we can't has left my mindset some time ago.

Hawk's blog is here:


I find it an interesting read.

Hi X,

As a Wisconsin resident, the tone of the linked article really annoys me. One one hand, the conclusion that large populations enhance the evolutionary process is OK. However, the total lack of consideration for the negative consequenes of population overshoot is a real issue.

Kind of sounds like an article that advocates global warming because it will be easier to get oil out of the arctic areas.

I live in New York, and there has been a lot of discussion about shale gas drilling. I plan on sending this to my state senator, who I actually interned with this summer. Please give me anything on this letter that comes to mind. Here it is:

What I think should be done about gas shale in New York:

Right now, this is seen as a way to create some economic activity, lower energy prices, and raise tax revenues to hell plug in the gap in state tax dollars. However, this really won’t have an effect on drilling activity for decent amount of time for the following reasons:
1) Pipelines need to be changed, so this puts there will be a delay before companies would be able to drill anyway.
a. And this is even if environmental permits processing was expedited.
b. This ignores even the bureaucratic process in both the local and state governments and corporate governance.
2) Despite Wall St projections, current natural gas prices don’t warrant new effort to drill for shale gas. This is true even in many of the states that already have well developed shale gas infrastructure. Much of the shale gas development that is currently done is from companies with hedged prices from when gas prices were higher and many of these are on land that leases were already signed and which would be lost were they to not drill.
a. Many of these projections are fueled by the nature of shale gas production. While initial production numbers are extraordinarily high compared with conventional wells, their production declines are extraordinarily high. There are suspicions that questionable accounting practices to cover up massive losses and prop up already depressed stock prices.
b. Because of low prices that will likely stay low for a while due to maxed out storage and recession driven demand cuts. Consequently, any near term royalties contracts will likely be lower than what is available in the future, and desperate mineral rights holders, local governments, and the state governments could be shortchanged.
c. Much of the euphoria over shale gas may indeed be the result of group think, as it reinforces their vision of a natural gas economy helped along by “Pickens Plan”. This is a vision that would be very profitable if individuals, corporations, and governments buy into. Such group think is not unlike that which lead up to the Iraq War.
For these reasons, even if there is economic justification for gas development, it isn’t an answer for near term economic difficulties and indeed the primary beneficiaries could be shortchanged.

Environmentally, the issue of water has been discussed at great length, and there is plausible evidence that water tables could indeed be compromised. However, not enough evidence for or against the dangers of drilling have surfaced, and it would likely be premature to make a definitive decision for vital watersheds. In some areas, the risks may be justified, but for others with high populations would be imprudent. Any decisions on this should certainly be made cautiously and independent of vested interests, especially considering if anything were to go wrong, harsh judgment of enablers of these actions, including and especially politicians.

While there may be justification to allow more gas shale drilling in New York, there are many things such an action would not be. It would not be a short term economic stimulus or a fix for state or local government deficits. It would not be certain to be safe enough in the most sensitive watersheds. Finally, it would not prudent to make such decisions before more is learned about the risks associated with the drilling.

I hope you take this into consideration in your decisions.

Daniel Achstatter

Can he understand what you're talking about?

These people are hired/chosen to keep our world going as long as possible. That's their job.

All drillings/energy extraction from the energy point of view must continue.

We just can't stop doing what we have done for a long long time on a dime.

Changing mindset comes first. You are on the right track, please help others to get the same view. Scaring them must be avoided, pointing out things that can be done is a better way.

dax -- I think you hit all the pertinent aspects right on the money. My advice to minerals owners has always been the same: don't let your asset be produced during a low price period unless you need to do so to prevent starvation. You only get the royalty once...wait for better times.

Worth of Rent VS Capital.
Classic Ricardo.

Once the lease is signed, isn't the decision on whether to produce or not out of their hands ?

BTW, send me an eMail (link in my profile) if you get a chance.

Best Hopes,


Alan -- Most mineral leases have very limited options for breaking them. As long as obligations are met and regulations are followed they have little choice. But given the state of th NG market and the capital constraints of many operators they could offer to return the money and void the leases. I'll let you hold your breath while we wait for politicians to give money back. I'm already short winded.

true'r words could not have been better spoken. you are right on!

A forestry PHD told me the greatest loss of trees was due to invasive species not global warming.

We have burned trees from the beginning, so they must resemble some kind of infinite. At least in our timeframe. Or have we run out of trees?

Trees will be used until the last (wo)man leaves.

He meant "besides deforestation by humans". Unless he's including humans as an invasive species.

Typical can't see the forest because of the trees kind of thinking!

Have you looked at all the research that connects the dots between invasive species benefiting from climate change? Or considered the fact that the combination of warming and invasive species could each have a multiplier affect on the other and that the whole effect would be greater than the sum of the parts? How about the cascading effects throughout the affected ecosystems?

Have people like you ever heard of systems dynamics?

The real world is not linear you can't understand it unless you think synergistically.

The warm temperatures cause increased dryness overall (read: drought), which is ideal conditions for the insect pests, which are the invasives you talk about.

Western Forest Decline

The aspen die-off is a part of a massive change in western forest ecosystems that is affecting most forest species.

Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States Science 323(5913):521-524

Persistent changes in tree mortality rates can alter forest structure, composition, and ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration. Our analyses of longitudinal data from unmanaged old forests in the western United States showed that background (noncatastrophic) mortality rates have increased rapidly in recent decades, with doubling periods ranging from 17 to 29 years among regions. Increases were also pervasive across elevations, tree sizes, dominant genera, and past fire histories. Forest density and basal area declined slightly, which suggests that increasing mortality was not caused by endogenous increases in competition. Because mortality increased in small trees, the overall increase in mortality rates cannot be attributed solely to aging of large trees. Regional warming and consequent increases in water deficits are likely contributors to the increases in tree mortality rates.

(bolding mine)

Twentieth-century decline of large-diameter trees in Yosemite National Park,
California, USA
Forest Ecology and Management 257 (2009) 2296–2307

A huge outbreak of the Mountain Bark Beetle is currently underway in western forests. Forests in British Columbia have been hit particularly hard.

During early stages of an outbreak, attacks are limited largely to trees under stress from injury, poor site conditions, fire damage, overcrowding, root disease or old age. As beetle populations increase, the beetles attack the largest trees in the outbreak area.

(Because these beetles signal each other to cooperate on attacking a target tree, large beetle populations are able to kill trees that are resistant to lesser attacks. The change in the timing and frequency of hard fall freezes is believed to allowed larger beetle populations to overwinter.)

Western Bark Beetle Assessment - 2009 Update

edited to add quotes and Assessment

Also see the 60 Minutes report, The Age Of Megafires.

"You know, I was always taught that Ponderosas were big, robust trees that were built to withstand fire," Pelley remarks. "And that when everything else burned off, the Ponderosas were still standing. But look at them."

"The Ponderosas are able to withstand the low severity fires where you get flames of maybe one to two or three feet high. But now the behavior of these fires is off the scale," Swetnam says.

Asked how much things have changed, Swetnam tells Pelley, "Well, we're seeing century-old forests that had never sustained these kinds of fires before, being razed to the ground."

Prof MacKay reviews Challenged by Carbon: The Oil Industry and Climate Change by Bryan Lovell

...how a large natural rapid release of carbon into the atmosphere, 55 million years ago, led to an enormous global warming event, raising the temperature of the water at the bottom of the ocean by more than 4 degrees C within roughly 10,000 years.
The younger, rapidly-moving story is the `insider's view' of how the oil industry, in the last 15 years, changed its mind about human-caused climate change. ...

Robert, I think you provided the wrong address. MacKay's review is here:


More proof that the Devil never sleeps:

Britain will starve without GM crops, says major report

Environmental campaigners are suspicious that the Royal Society report is part of a renewed attempt to force GM crops on to the British public

D'ya think? What with Bill Gates throwing his weight into the fray as well. The snake oil salesmen have been trying hard to get their quackery accepted in Europe for years. I remember a friend of mine was wined and dined by the head of a top US foundation (possibly the Rockefeller Foundation IIRC) and thoroughly brainwashed with the notion that his career prospects would be much improved if he supported GMO's.

One of the themes I see going forward is the gradual loss of legitimacy of once esteemed pillars of the establishment. The Royal Society seems to have sold out for a few pieces of silver, a trend which is gaining pace along with the loss of legitimacy. What they don't seem to get is that people don't want GMO's in Europe, regardless of what the science or the increasingly discredited scientists say.

I really wonder how long it will be before people erupt against the corporatizing of every element of their life with the connivance of a wholly corrupt political elite? Anyone promoting GMO's is basically promoting the monopoly of the most important commodity on the planet to a primitive organism that is governed by an abstract metric of profit.

We will starve here in the UK if the +40% of our food doesn't get to us from overseas. GM or no GM we are at the mercy of the boats/planes arriving to feed us our high-calory diets. Anyone who thinks a sprinkling of GM crops will save us is an idiot. Our farmers are producing all they can - even if the dumb ass'd EU common agricultural policy was abolished - and there was a bumper harvest in every field, every year and every chicken in every hen house grew fat at twice the speed, every cow lactated twice as efficiently and every pig fattened twice as expediently we would still find it tough to stock the supermarket shelves high enough to satisfy our "developed" world calorific diet without shipping in frozen lamb from new zealand and salad from kenya.

I hear a lot of Americans here on TOD getting worried about the coming resource collapse.. All I can say is thank your lucky stars you have a Big Country with lots of space and that you can still feed yourselves. For almost 1000 years Britain has been well served being an island - and yet somehow we have managed to sleep walk into such a perilous position that we find ourselves in now: we are not able to feed ourselves or provide even half of our energy requirements within 5 years. To think we used to 'own' a third of the planet only 100 years ago!!

The US has problems, for sure. But also space - a lot of space! We have one fifth the US population squashed onto an island whose land area is less than New England - and we are surrounded by sea!

The funny thing is, most people in Britain still think we are a strong country. Yeah, a real strong country that has to buy in its gas, its petrol, its home-heating and most of it's food. And all the while the population of the UK continues to rise... As our American cousins would say: "Go figure"

I hear a lot of Americans here on TOD getting worried about the coming resource collapse.. All I can say is thank your lucky stars you have a Big Country with lots of space and that you can still feed yourselves.

The ability to capture and process photons will be important. Doing that on land is eaiser for land-based creatures. With the rise of jellyfish in the sea, that will shift the ability from gathering calories from the sea to inland. Now land should be able to be improved by moving sea weed inland, but that is a rather limited proposition due to miles traveled.

or almost 1000 years Britain has been well served being an island - and yet somehow we have managed to sleep walk into such a perilous position that we find ourselves in now

Japan isn't in a good place either.

Eric - japan has always been screwed. Japan had 'resource ambitions' in Manchuria long before Adolf could even spell swastika, let alone draw it on one of his postcards.

Japan's demographics are even worse than ours, it is a basket case as we are, without resources.

If history teaches anything, it is that when people need things so badly then they go and take them. No one ever just sat down on the curb and said " oh well, bugger. He has food and shelter and warmth and I don't. Never mind, such is life! I'll just curl up here and die"

do they heck! Men will always fight for the best resources. The Japanese did in Manchuria, the Jerries did in Poland, General Custard did at Big Little Horn and, heck even we used to!

So sit back and enjoy the fireworks!

I came across this photo sometime ago and I think it captures the world's predicament:


What about the right-hand side of the Hubert curve?

I know that other people have thrown accusations that there is no PO theory and that this is just retrospective curve fitting, but from what I have seen here I don't buy that.

Can someone explain to me what the right-hand side of the skewed(?) bell-curve looks like from one oil-field? Can this be generalised to one country? Or the whole planet? Do we have a curve shape based on geology and physics or is it mainly economics? Certainly I get the message that 'it's the ROI stupid!' but this can only modulate the real curve not produce something amazingly different.

Any takers?

NCS --With respect to an individual field's decline curve they fall into two general categories. Variations in each, of course, but the generalities do carry to most. In a pressure depletion reservoir as one unit of oil/NG is produced there is a proportional drop in pressure. Reduce the pressure and the production rate declines. In such fields you might have a short period of "flush production" with a flat rate but quickly it will reduce to a constantly declining slope. Typically a straight line when plotted on a log-normal scale. This character is one reason it's much easier to predict ultimate recovery for such fields: just extend the line to near zero production rate. The area under this curve represents the volume.

The second class of fields are water-drive reservoirs. In a strong water drive the movement of the water maintains a more nearly constant reservoir pressure. Thus production might begin at 5,000 bopd and hold fairly flat for years. But eventually the water level reaches the perforations in the producing wells ("the water hits") and the percentage of production stream from oil decreases. The field might still be producing 5,000 bbls of FLUID per day but an ever decreasing amount of that fluid is oil.

These are the two end members. Some pressure depletion reservoirs can have a little water drive present. Some water drive reservoirs can have a little NG in solution to help the process. But these are pretty good representations. But here's where it gets complicated when we start lumping fields together into trends, countries, regions, the whole world. Consider just the simple case of just two fields starting production at the same time: one strong water drive and the other a perfect pressure depletion. Draw the combined decline curve. Not flat because the pressure depletion field begins declining immediately. Not a strong downward decline because the water drive reservoir maintains rate. Now change the timing. The WD field begins producing and eventually the water hits and decline nose dives. But at this point the PD field comes on line and thus the combined decline doesn't appears as steep. I think you get the idea how complex a potential combined curve from just two fields might look.

Now imagine the combined curve of thousands of fields coming on line over the span of 40 years. One can try to extrapolate such a curve. But that assumes the mix of fields has been, and will continue to be the same. What if newer fields are more commonly water drive then they have been in the past. What if prices decrease for an extended period and those expensive to produce fields are permanently abandoned? The solution is faily simple: find the decline curve of each well in every reservoir in every field in every region of the world. Then project how they will change in the future. Now add them into one chart and you have a very accurate picture of the future. Assuming, of course, your forward projections for each well is correct.

As I say, an easy answer to compute. Getting the data...not so easy.

This explains a lot. Useless without comprehensive data and even then may be not that informative after all. I guess we let the experiment unfold real-time then.

Thanks RM.

Some problem with link to this article:

Economist's advice to Big Food: Change or face fate of GM

Renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs warned the food industry that it risks disaster if it doesn't get behind changes that will deal with climate change, environmental degradation and global hunger.

Working link:

Green Fields: Economist's advice to Big Food: Change or face fate of GM


Thanks. I fixed it. The DesMoines Register is one of those papers that changes their links once the story is a few hours old.

Re the Energy Tribune piece:

They predict North America and Europe are entering—and likely already have been in—a period of cooling caused largely by the naturally occurring drop in ocean surface temperatures in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific Oceans.

It's a peculiar "period of cooling" that looks like this:

The combined global land and ocean surface temperatures for September 2009 ranked as the second warmest September on record since records began in 1880. The combined global land and ocean temperature anomaly was 0.62°C (1.12°F), falling only 0.04°C (0.07°F) short of tying the record set in 2005. Similar to the combined global land and ocean temperatures, the worldwide land surface temperature was the second warmest September on record, behind 2005, with a temperature anomaly of 0.97°C (1.75°F) above the 20th Century average. During the month of September, warmer-than-average temperatures were present across Canada, Europe, the northern and western contiguous U.S., eastern Brazil, and most of Asia and Australia. The warmest anomalies occurred in Canada, the northern and western contiguous U.S., western Russia, and parts of Australia, where temperature anomalies ranged from 3-5°C (5-9°F) above the 1961-1990 average.

Graph of the Day: Global Temperature Anomalies, September 2009

Please, that does not fit into my simple story and myth of what is happening.
Global Warming is a liberal conspiracy to deny me my divine right to prosperity, and promote communism.

Greetings, TODers,

For anyone who might like to share a bit of "peak oil" warning, the benefits of "ELP," or any other words of wisdom with the "Commission on the Future of the University of California," they are accepting comments at this site:

You might mention the desirability of a UC "Peak Oil Task Force." Or, let them know about TOD. Or...etc.