Drumbeat: October 22, 2009

China's push for oil in Gulf of Mexico puts U.S. in awkward spot

Reporting from Beijing - A Chinese company's gambit to drill for oil in U.S. territory demonstrates China's determination to lock up the raw materials it needs to sustain its rapid growth, wherever those resources lie.

The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp., or CNOOC, reportedly is negotiating the purchase of leases owned by the Norwegian StatoilHydro in U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the source of about a quarter of U.S. crude oil production.

China's push to enter U.S. turf comes four years after CNOOC's $18.5-billion bid to buy Unocal Corp. was scuttled by Congress on national security grounds. The El Segundo oil firm eventually merged with Chevron Corp. of San Ramon.

What Goldman Learned from a Trip to China

Goldman Sachs has been bullish about all things BRIC for years now. In a recent trip to China a number of Goldman analysts visited local and foreign oil and gas related companies as well as various equity investors in major Chinese cities. Their main takeaway from the trip was that their bullish thesis on the country was justified, China commodity demand would drive prices higher and they feel increasingly confident about their current $94 crude oil price target. Their micro takeaways from the trip included some focused ideas on the energy markets:

New York's natural gas battle

(Fortune Magazine) -- The farmland around the college town of Oneonta, N.Y., is punctuated by barns and cows. But the quiet setting belies a battle that is raging over the Marcellus Shale, a largely untapped deposit of natural gas that runs from West Virginia to New York.

Gas companies, environmentalists, and cash-strapped farmers have been squaring off over the lucrative commodity, whose fate could be decided soon.

Experts say Marcellus is the largest natural gas deposit in North America, even bigger than Texas's lucrative Barnett Shale. A Penn State study of the shale has placed the amount of recoverable gas there at 489 trillion cubic feet -- more than 20 times the amount that the United States uses each year.

US urging China, Japan to buy less oil from Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is urging China, Japan and other countries to scale down their Iranian petroleum purchases to put pressure on Iran while the U.S. and others consider toughening economic sanctions on the regime.

"We are telling them not to engage in business as usual," an administration official said Wednesday.

BP Said to Study Bid for Jubilee Stake, Hire Goldman

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe’s second-biggest oil company, may bid for Kosmos Energy LLC’s stake in the Jubilee field off Ghana’s coast and has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to advise it, two people familiar with the matter said.

BP has held talks with Ghana National Petroleum Corp. about a potential joint offer for Kosmos’s Ghanaian assets, though no decision has been made, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are confidential.

Analysts await signs that electricity demand is coming back when Exelon reports 3Q results

Like other utilities and power generators in the U.S., Exelon has been hurt by weak demand for power because of the recession and a cool summer in much of the country.

The Energy Information Administration has projected a 3.3 percent decline in electricity consumption this year with industrial demand especially weak. The agency says the rate of decline is expected to slow in the second half of 2009 and then pick up in 2010 as the economy improves.

Lester R. Brown: The Rising Tide of Environmental Refugees

Our early twenty-first century civilization is being squeezed between advancing deserts and rising seas. Measured by the biologically productive land area that can support human habitation, the earth is shrinking. Mounting population densities, once generated solely by population growth, are now also fueled by the relentless advance of deserts and may soon be affected by the projected rise in sea level. As overpumping depletes aquifers, millions more are forced to relocate in search of water.

Leaner and cheaper: The rise of thin-film solar power

THE modernist box that won this year’s Solar Decathlon, a contest for solar-powered houses sponsored by America’s Department of Energy, had solar panels of the conventional, crystalline sort on its roof. But the walls were covered in solar cells made with thin coatings of silicon and other materials in the place of expensive slices of crystal. Thin film, as this technology is known, is still less popular than crystalline cells and its move to the mainstream has been a year or two away for a decade. But its time may have come at last.

A Streetcar System Concept Plan to Desire? A Look at Portland’s

The project team, along with Portland Mayor Sam Adams, identified six goals for the project (three for the overall system and three for streetcar corridors). A successful streetcar system will help the city implement its peak oil and sustainability strategies; provide an organizing structure and catalyst for the city’s future growth along streetcar corridors; and integrate streetcar corridors into the city’s existing neighborhoods. A successful streetcar corridor will be a viable transit option with adequate ridership; have (re)development potential; and demonstrate community support.

‘The Violent Twilight of Oil,’ Part II

The following is the second part of a two-part interview with Peter Maass, a journalist and contributing writer for The New York Times magazine. His new book, “Crude World,” chronicles what he calls “the violent twilight of oil.”

Over the course of a decade, Mr. Maass traveled to more than a dozen countries where the existence of oil shapes, and often violently corrupts, the economic and political culture. Indeed, the world of oil painted by Mr. Maass is bleak, volatile and — punctuated by environmental degradation — ultimately unsustainable.

John Michael Greer: Strange Bright Banners

It’s not the “cornpone Hitler” James Howard Kunstler has predicted that we have to fear, much less the imaginary conspiracies that occupy so much space in today’s alternative discourse, but a suave, articulate, and charismatic figure who harnesses the widespread assumption that anything must be better than what we have today, and replaces a dysfunctional democracy with an all too functional tyranny.

Such a figure, it bears remembering, could as easily emerge from the left as from the right. One popular DVD that circulated widely in the peak oil scene a few years back was called The Power of Community, a documentary about how Cuba survived its own equivalent of peak oil when Soviet fuel subsidies stopped at the end of the Cold War. It’s a worthwhile case study of how a society can weather an extreme energy shortage, but it finessed one of the key points that enabled the Cuban response, namely, that Cuba is a dictatorship. To impose the draconian restrictions on energy use that got his country through its “Special Period,” Castro did not have to mobilize public opinion, placate powerful special interests, and shepherd legislation through a fractious Congress riven by ideological splits and determined to defend its prerogatives; he simply had to impose them, and those who disagreed were welcome to spend the next few years discussing the matter at length behind bars with their fellow political prisoners.

British Navy to Return to Iraq to Help Protect Oil Platforms

(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s Royal Navy will return to Iraq to help train Iraqi sailors and protect oil platforms, the U.K. armed forces minister said, following an agreement that had been held up by lawmakers in Baghdad for five months.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Iraqi counterpart, Nuri al-Maliki, announced in December that some British personnel would stay in Iraq after the end of U.K. combat operations on May 27 to help train Iraq’s navy.

Little Action for China's Oil Deals

It might sound as if Cnooc is busy vacuuming up the world's oil reserves. But neither the Nigerian nor Ghanaian situations look particularly promising for it. The Statoil deal is just talk for now. Another deal involving Cnooc, to buy Marathon Oil's stake in an Angolan field, appears to have been stymied by Sonangol, Angola's own national oil company (NOC).

Indeed, for all the talk and Western uneasiness, actual deal activity by China's oil majors remains surprisingly low. Neil Beveridge at Sanford Bernstein reckons Chinese and Indian NOCs have accounted for less than 5% of global energy mergers and acquisitions over the past five years.

Chevron secures gas for Australia LNG export plant

PERTH (Reuters) - Apache Energy (and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company have agreed to supply gas to Chevron's proposed Wheatstone gas export project in Australia, U.S. energy major Chevron Corp said on Thursday.

Canada August retail sales up 0.8 pct on gas, cars

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales increased by 0.8 percent in August from July on higher sales at gasoline stations and new car dealers, Statistics Canada said on Thursday. Excluding these retailers, sales were flat.

The increase was greater than the 0.4 percent rise predicted by market operators. In volume terms, retail sales grew by 0.4 percent from July.

Petrobras' Capital Increase Should Be Largest in History

The Director of Finance and Investor with of Petrobras, Almir Guilherme Barbassa, detailed, in a public hearing in the Brazilian Senate this Tuesday, October 20, the capitalization process of Petrobras. The officer stated that the company's capital increase should be the largest in the world's history. Nearly 20 senators attended the hearing.

Resilience Thinking: an article for the latest ‘Resurgence’

The term ‘resilience’ is appearing more frequently in discussions about environmental concerns, and it has a strong claim to actually being a more useful concept than that of sustainability. Sustainability and its oxymoronic offspring sustainable development are commonly held to be a sufficient response to the scale of the climate challenge we face: to reduce the inputs at one end of the globalised economic growth model (energy, resources, and so on) while reducing the outputs at the other end (pollution, carbon emissions, etc.). However, responses to climate change that do not also address the imminent, or quite possibly already passed, peak in world oil production do not adequately address the nature of the challenge we face.

Wind powered factories: history (and future) of industrial windmills

In the 1930s and 1940s, decades after steam engines had made wind power obsolete, Dutch researchers obstinately kept improving the – already very sophisticated – traditional windmill. The results were spectacular, and there is no doubt that today an army of ecogeeks could improve them even further. Would it make sense to revive the industrial windmill and again convert kinetic energy directly into mechanical energy?

Review: Power from the Sun by Dan Chiras, with Robert Aram and Kurt Nelson

For the average home- or small business-owner looking to purchase a solar PV array, there is much homework to be done—and truly good textbooks, amid the cacophony of voices on the subject, are a real find. Thankfully, Power from the Sun, the latest offering from green building guru Dan Chiras, is just such a book.

In eminently readable, informative, accessible prose, Power from the Sun describes the components and workings of a solar electric system, how to go about having one installed and some basic things to know in order to be an informed consumer and avoid common pitfalls. Solar PV buyers will still have a bit of legwork to do after reading the book, including finding local solar contractors and obtaining quotes. But once these steps are done, their learning curve will no doubt be greatly reduced.

Baffin Island reveals dramatic scale of Arctic climate change

A frozen lake on a remote island off Canada's northern coast has yielded remarkable insights into how the Arctic climate has changed dramatically over 50 years.

Muddy sediment from the bottom of the lake, some of it 200,000 years old, shows that Baffin Island, one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, has undergone an unprecedented warming over the past half-century. Scientists believe the temperature rise is probably due to human-induced warming. It has more than offset a natural cooling trend which began 8,000 years ago.

The Peak Oil Crisis: More Reports

The main conclusion of the British report is that there is a "significant risk" that conventional oil production will peak before 2020, and that forecasts which delay the event beyond 2030 are based on assumptions that are "at best optimistic and at worst implausible." This is a nice balance between warning of trouble just ahead and not seeming overly alarmist. One suspects that a lot of effort went into crafting the phrase.

A fair question to ask is whether reports of this type have any impact or change government policy? In recent years, two other major reports were issued in the U.S., one by the Government Accountability Office, and one by the National Petroleum Council at the request of the U.S. Secretary of Energy. While these extensive reports did a workman like job in weighing the pros and cons of imminent peak oil, they failed to reach any particularly alarming conclusions and were largely ignored by the media and the U.S. government. The general sentiment these days seems to be that anything that will not happen in days, weeks, or at most a few months can safely be ignored as over the horizon of concern.

Exploding U.S. National Debt Means Bye Bye Miss American Pie

We have had a Department of Energy since 1979. Over this time we have become more dependent on foreign oil. No nuclear power plants or oil refineries have been built in the U.S. in 30 years. Pipelines and energy infrastructure rusts away, while we twiddle our thumbs and agonize over the health of the planet. Doing nothing is a decision. It is a decision which will have dire consequences. Ethanol, solar, and wind will not save us now. It is too late. The United States depends on oil, natural gas, and coal to supply 87% of its energy, with nuclear power providing another 7%. The beloved solar, wind and geothermal sources supply 1.5% of our energy needs. The onset of peak oil will devastate the suburban American way of life.

The issue of our time

Whatever you think of President Obama's surprising Nobel Peace Prize, one thing is certain: It caused a great deal of debate about how his presidential success will be measured. Obama arguably faces a wider set of challenges than any president since FDR: Iraq, Afghanistan and the economy, to name just three. Yet whatever his success in the areas, his presidency may be viewed as a failure if it fails to make significant change on the most crucial issue of our time: how we obtain and use energy.

Whether we know it or not, virtually every facet of daily life in the United States is dependent upon oil. Not only our cars but also our computers, clothing, food and just about anything else you can think of is either made with or transported by fossil fuels.

Byron King: An Update on Peak Oil (Yes, It’s Still a Problem)

It was clear from the reaction of many in the ASPO audience that Marcio hit nerves. If his analyses of the South American, African and GOM petroleum systems are right, then in the future the world has access to much more conventional oil than people previously believed. But it’s not the same as saying the nothing has to change in modern habits of energy use. Getting this oil will require a trillion-dollar level of offshore, deepwater investment. It’s a 50 to 100 year project.

The new thinking about deep petroleum systems may allow the world’s energy thinkers to back off from raw geologic concerns about the wheres and how-muches of resources. But like a game of “whack-a-mole,” the reduced worry about geology now translates into a new emphasis on exploration and development technology, as well as capital, skilled personnel, political issues, environmental safety and climate alteration.

What is Peak Oil Theory? A Thorough Look at This heavily Debated Topic

Currently there is a lot of debate going on regarding Peak Oil and precisely what we need to be doing about it, both now and in the near future.

The term "peak oil" refers to that specific point in time when the Earth's oil supply will finally reach that theoretical "maximum rate" of global petroleum extraction and will then signal the start of a progressive decline, where our thirst for oil will finally exceed our available supply of oil!

"Peak Oil Theory" is a concept originally derived from the measured postulates and predictions of M. King Hubbert, who in the year 1956, set out to scientifically formulate a method to prognosticate peak oil production within the United States between the years 1965 and 1970.

Surging oil has petro companies drilling again

NEW YORK — With oil prices surging, petroleum drillers have dusted off idled rigs and kick-started a global production network that thrives on high energy prices.

Some oil executives have declared the yearlong slump in petroleum over, pointing to an uptick in exploration and drilling operations around the world. At $82 per barrel and growing, oil prices are finally at a level that gets drillers excited.

Shale Gas Will Tip The Scale

A seismic shock wave is coursing through the global energy industry. Based on American innovation, a new way of extracting natural gas from prehistoric clay called shale is unbalancing the global energy equation. The traditional rulers of the fossil fuels industry – Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia -- are watching in horror as independent wildcatters in unlikely places like Poland and Pennsylvania are finding gigantic new natural gas reserves.

Shale gas supply debate heats up

Just as the rest of the world begins to get excited about prospects for shale gas reserves, a skirmish is growing over just how much shale gas is actually recoverable in the US.

Matt Simmons has said a few times this year that he doesn’t see evidence that the big shale plays such as Barnett are actually providing big increases in natural gas production, despite the number of wells being sunk. He also pointed to the environmental problems with the hydraulic fracturing used to extract shale gas.

Oil Falls Below $81 as Rising Dollar Crimps Commodities Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil declined as the dollar strengthened against the euro, reducing demand for commodities as an alternative investment.

Oil retreated from a one-year high as the dollar advanced after China’s economic growth missed some analysts’ forecasts. Investors buy dollar-priced commodities to hedge against a weaker U.S. currency.

“The dollar was a key driver yesterday for the crude market,” Frank Schallenberger, head of commodities research at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, said by phone from Stuttgart. “The dollar is stronger today, that’s why crude is down.”

Norway bank boss keen on $75 oil

Norway's Central bank governor Svein Gjedrem said $75 per barrel oil was not only good for the Norwegian economy, it was also good for players operating on the Norwegian continental shelf.

OPEC Says It May Raise Oil Output at December Meeting

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, supplier of 40 percent of the world’s oil, may decide to increase production at its meeting in December, the group’s Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said.

An increase will depend on prices remaining at $75 to $80 a barrel, as well as on stockpiles returning to the five-year average and the elimination of floating storage, El-Badri told reporters today in London.

U.S. companies 'entitled' to some of Iraq's crude oil, Pickens tells Congress

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens told the U.S. Congress in Washington yesterday that U.S. energy companies are "entitled" to some of Iraq's crude oil because of the large number of U.S. troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq.

Nigerian rebels want peace talks before ceasefire

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria's main militant group will consider reinstating a ceasefire in the oil-producing Niger Delta if the government is willing to begin serious peace talks, the group said on Wednesday. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) lifted a three-month old ceasefire last week and threatened to resume its campaign of violence, which has kept OPEC member Nigeria from pumping above two thirds of its capacity for years.

"MEND will consider the option after we are convinced the government is serious and sincere about engaging our team of negotiators in constructive dialogue on the root issues that has led to years of agitations and armed rebellion," the group's spokesman said in a statement.

Ahmadinejad sets up 'oil task force'

Iran's government has set up a special task force of top officials to decide on oil-related affairs on behalf of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to local media reports.

The move appears to be a bid by Ahmadinejad to strengthen his control of and influence over the industry in Iran.

China National Offshore Starts Construction of Ningbo LNG Plant

(Bloomberg) -- China National Offshore Oil Corp., the biggest offshore oil producer in the country, started construction work on the nation’s fourth liquefied natural gas import terminal, the company’s president, Fu Chengyu, told reporters in Beijing today.

CNPC to Sell 20 Billion Yuan of Short-Term Commercial Paper

(Bloomberg) -- China National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s biggest oil company, plans to sell 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) of short-term commercial paper starting Oct. 29.

China National, or CNPC, will use the money raised to supplement working capital, the state-owned company said in a statement on the Chinabond Website today.

South Korean Oil Company Buys Canadian Producer

Korea National Oil Corp., the state-owned oil and gas company of South Korea, said it would buy Harvest Energy Trust in a deal worth 4.1 billion Canadian dollars, or $3.9 billion. The transaction represents a major coup for Seoul as it seeks a steady supply of oil from overseas.

Harvest, an oil producer and refiner based in Calgary, said late Wednesday that K.N.O.C. would pay about 1.8 billion dollars in cash and assume 2.3 billion dollars in debt to acquire its reserves in western Canada and its refining operations on the country’s eastern seaboard.

Fla. House panel discusses offshore drilling

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Texas and Alabama get far less money every year from offshore drilling in their state waters than advocates say Florida can expect, the state's environmental chief told a House panel Wednesday.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole said Texas gets about $45 million and Alabama anywhere from $50 million to $300 million. That compares to an estimate by the pro-drilling group Florida Energy Associates that Florida's treasury can expect to rake in $2.25 billion a year from oil and natural gas production.

'Kazakhs may fill Samsun-Ceyhan link'

Kazakhstan may supply oil for the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline linking Turkey's Black Sea and Mediterranean coasts, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan today.

DECC: 'Fuel poverty on the increase'

Fuel poverty is on the increase, according to the latest government figures.

The annual report on fuel poverty statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) revealed there were around 4m fuel poor households in the UK in 2007, up from 3.5m in 2006, while in England there were around 2.8m fuel poor households, up from 2.4m in 2006. Projections for England suggest substantial increases are on the way, with around 3.6m fuel poor households in 2008 and 4.6m in 2009.

Venezuela to Ration Water, Save Power as El Nino Reduces Rain

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela will impose conservation measures for water and electricity because the El Nino weather pattern has reduced rainfall, affecting hydroelectric stations and drinking-water reservoirs.

The country will distribute 50 million energy-saving light bulbs, ban the import of products that use excessive amounts of electricity and increase electricity charges for heavy users, President Hugo Chavez said late yesterday on state television. He decreed the creation of a new electricity ministry and promised to speed up the construction of power plants.

Utah's 4-day workweek brings some dividends

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman made the switch for Utah in August 2008, largely to cut energy costs.

Utah, however, achieved only a sixth of the $3 million it expected to trim on energy costs.

The state couldn't shut down as many state buildings as it planned on Fridays, officials said, and it didn't save much by closing the smaller buildings.

Also, the state assumed gasoline for state fleet car use and building utility costs would soar, and it would save as much.

Both expenditures actually fell over the past year, however. Utah has some of the lowest utility rates in the country.

Change of view for Houston among mayoral hopefuls

HOUSTON – The nation's fourth-largest city, once dominated by Big Oil, is warming to greener options as it chooses a new mayor.

Voters in sprawling Houston, a city crisscrossed by clogged freeways and freewheeling development, are picking from a low-key field of mayoral candidates who are focused on public transit, regulated development and environmentally friendly policies.

Veteran Journalist Predicts Industrial Crash, Says Sustainable Living Could Save Us

In his new book Brace for Impact: Surviving the Crash of the Industrial Age by Sustainable Living, Thomas A. Lewis analyzes the gathering threats to our society's life-support systems, and the inability of our political and economic institutions to save us. With chapters on food, water, oil, electricity, politics and finance, he makes a convincing case that we can't win the race against catastrophe. What sets Brace for Impact apart is that after it faces the conclusion from which others shrink -- that industrial society cannot survive -- it then shows how easily individual families and communities can weather the coming collapse through sustainable living.

Family gardens may hold answer to world's well-being

There are ample reasons why the integration of food production into our modern urban and suburban environments can help build resilience, value and an improved sense of community.

Even in the dry Mojave, I believe we can achieve this. We already use about 70 percent of our water on irrigation. We're just not irrigating edible plants. Education about the value of local food can help us shift our appreciation from simple ornamental gardens to those that are truly life sustaining. It can improve our local economy and hedge against the effects of peak oil while helping to address the issue of climate change.

Meeting of minds for the good of food

Linked to the Sydney International Food Festival “Hungry for Change” is a gathering for food lovers but not wholly about food. The summit has been organised by the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance, which is calling for urgent and robust conversation about our food future in the face of local and global threats to food security through climate change, urban development, peak oil and more.

Here's the dirt on how to compost

(Real Simple) -- Composting upgrades garden soil, keeps plants healthy, and can even lessen planet-unfriendly greenhouse gases. Here's how to do it.

Environmental impact: back to the future

We sold that little company tens of thousands of used boxes over the years, and I was greatly disappointed a few years later -- after I'd joined the family business full time -- when its buyer informed me they couldn't ship in used boxes anymore. Apparently, the sales folks had gained the upper hand at Columbia and they'd convinced management that the company's new image required new boxes with company advertising on the side.

My protests that used boxes advertised an effort to keep costs down, and customers preferred sensible economies on the part of their suppliers, not fancy branding, fell on deaf ears.

"A box is a box! Why cut trees down unnecessarily?" I asked.

They ignored me.

Alaska Files Lawsuit Challenging Federal Polar Bear Protections

(Bloomberg) -- The state of Alaska filed suit in federal court asking that the U.S. government’s designation of the polar bear as a threatened species because of climate change be overturned.

Timor Sea Oil Spill May Have Reached 63,000 Barrels, Greens Say

(Bloomberg) -- An oil spill from a leaking well off Western Australia may have polluted the Timor Sea with 10 million liters, about 63,000 barrels, of oil, making it among the three worst in the country’s history, the Greens said today.

The Montara well may be spilling as much as 3,000 barrels of oil a day, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said in a statement, citing information sourced by the party. That’s up to 10 times higher than the estimate from field operator PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, which puts the flow at about 300 to 400 barrels a day, spokesman Mike Groves said by phone today.

Big oil stains the Amazon in the documentary film 'Crude'

For the indigenous people of Ecuador's blemished Amazon, it doesn't matter whether Chevron is to blame, or Texaco, or the state-owned company Petroecuador. All that matters is that the kids have rashes, the chickens are dying, the people have cancer and the earth around many of their villages is soaked with oil.

And that, in the end, is what persuaded documentary maker Joe Berlinger to take on the complex battle now playing out in an Ecuadoran court. After returning from a trip to the Amazon he took a drink of clean, clear tap water at his suburban New York home in Westchester County and realized he had to make a movie. The result is "Crude," which opens Friday at Landmark's E Street Cinema.

Fuel (movie review)

Tickell tends to see the collapse of the biodiesel market as a conspiracy—perhaps even the continuation of a century-old conspiracy. He recounts the mysterious death of Rudolph Diesel, who invented what remains the world’s most popular engine a century ago with the idea that it would run on plant-based fuels, not oil. The description of Diesel’s 1913 drowning while taking a steamer to London was followed by an insidious-looking photo of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller—also a major proponent of Prohibition, which pretty well destroyed the competing biofuels market in the early days of the car industry.

Costs of plug-in cars key to broad consumer acceptance

DETROIT, Mich. — A University of Michigan survey released today shows widespread consumer interest in buying plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). But the cost of the cars is much more influential than environmental and other non-economic factors as a predictor of purchase probabilities.

GMs Volt, Electric BMWs May Boost South Korean Battery Makers

(Bloomberg) -- Electric cars developed by General Motors Co. and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG may help South Korean battery makers grab market share from Japanese rivals tying up with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Vermont Senate chief questions Entergy spinoff

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's future as a provider of a third of the state's electricity could be in jeopardy if the plant's owner spins it off to a newly created company, the head of the state Senate said Wednesday.

Thinking solar power? It's never been cheaper

NEW YORK – Jillian Lung says she's no environmentalist. Still, she couldn't pass up a chance to install a carpet of solar panels atop her co-op in Queens.

"At these prices, why not?" Lung said.

The government has plowed so much cash into the solar industry that it's effectively pulled the luxury tag off of home solar systems. Combined with local incentives, buyers can save up to 90 percent on a system, whether it's for a single-family home or a 75-unit condo in the city.

Partners in solar research break ground in Colo.

AURORA, Colo. – The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is joining the development of a research center in Aurora to promote commercial solar energy technologies.

The announcement was made Wednesday at the site for the groundbreaking of facilities at the Solar Technology Acceleration Center, or SolarTAC.

OSU experts discuss sweet sorghum use in ethanol

CHICKASHA, Okla. – With demand growing for ethanol produced from sources other than corn, researchers at Oklahoma State University said Wednesday that state agriculture producers could someday grow sweet sorghum or switchgrass as cash crops.

Division scientists and engineers from OSU's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources spoke during a "biofuels field day" at the university's South Central Research Station in Chickasha about the potential of crops that could be grown by Oklahoma farmers for use in ethanol production.

Algae may be secret weapon in climate change war

MIAMI (AFP) – Driven by fluctuations in oil prices, and seduced by the prospect of easing climate change, experts are ramping up efforts to squeeze fuel out of a promising new organism: pond scum.

As it turns out, algae -- slimy, fast-growing and full of fat -- is gaining ground as a potential renewable energy source.

Are oil sands in crosshairs of Obama plan?

The Obama administration is determined to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions - with or without passage of the climate-change legislation now before Congress - and the Canadian oil sands could be in the crosshairs, a prominent Democratic adviser says.

Maine Coast Could Soon Be Inundated by Rising Seas, Scientists Warn

Sea levels are likely to rise at least three feet across the globe in the next 90 years, which is a lot more than previous estimates -- and Maine will probably get the worst of it. That was the message delivered by two climate change experts who just returned from the Arctic Circle and are on a tour of the East Coast to highlight their research and discuss possible policy solutions.

Katrina victims get OK to sue polluters over global warming

A federal appeals court in New Orleans has given the go-ahead for a groundbreaking class-action lawsuit over global warming to proceed.

China hopeful about Copenhagen climate talks

BEIJING – China wants to increase cooperation with the U.S. and other nations to reach a deal at global climate talks in December, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday.

Li's comments come less than two months ahead of the global climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, that seeks an international agreement on a treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. It would replace the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

China, India Forge Alternative to UN Climate Treaty

(Bloomberg) -- China and India’s joint plan to cut greenhouse-gas emissions gives the developing world an alternative to the climate treaty that wealthier nations want them to sign in Copenhagen, analysts said.

Maldivians face life as 'climate refugees': president

NEW DELHI (AFP) – The people of the Maldives face the prospect of life in a "climate refugee camp," President Mohamed Nasheed warned Thursday as he urged rich countries to clinch an effective global warming treaty.

Calling the South Asian island chain a "frontline state" in the fight against climate change, Nasheed said global warming threatened to submerge his low-lying country and "kill our people" unless action was taken urgently.

"We have a written history of more than 2,000 years and we don't want to trade our paradise for a climate refugee camp," he told a climate change summit in New Delhi.

India: Climate deal can't sacrifice poor nations

NEW DELHI – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday that the world's poor nations will not sacrifice their development in negotiations for a new climate change deal.

The issue of how to share the burden of fighting global warming has divided the developing and industrialized worlds as they prepare to negotiate a replacement to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol at a December summit in Copenhagen.

UN: For 7th year, warming emissions grew again

BONN, Germany – The industrialized world again in 2007 boosted, rather than reduced, its emissions of global-warming gases, the U.N. reported Wednesday, as international negotiators looked ahead to crucial climate talks in December.

Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases rose by 1 percent between 2006 and 2007 among 40 nations classified as industrialized under the 1992 U.N. climate treaty, the treaty secretariat reported, detailing data for the latest available reporting period.

It was the seventh consecutive year of an upward trend, it said.

Britain publishes doomsday climate change vision

LONDON – Two British Cabinet ministers showed off a doomsday vision of disappearing cities and rising seas on Thursday, part of an effort to push nations to strike a new pact on curbing emissions of global warming gasses.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his brother, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, published an online map detailing the predicted impact of a 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in global temperatures.

"If you're not for this...you are for foreign oil," McClendon said. "That's one of Boone's best lines, I think"

I think Iraq is entitled to a large chunk in US oil productions revenues, to rebuild some infrastructure for example. It's not going to bring back 1,300,000 death Iraqi's , but still........

havent seen this one posted(about kurdistan oil discovery):


I dislike 'me too' comments

However - Me too.

Me too to both.

I think the Iraqis are not going to be very positive about T. Boone's comments. The US still has not repaired the water and electrical systems it bombed to pieces in the two Iraqi wars, despite repeated promises to do so. And it did kill a few hundred thousand Iragis, which makes their next-of-kin pretty negative.

Remember the rest of the Arab world is watching and taking notes, and they're sitting on most of the world's oil reserves.

I think the 1,300,000 is only the count from 2003 til now. The sanctions period resulted in 500,000 children dying. How many adults I foget. Then there was Gulf War I, and its slaughter. Saddam was snookered into the attack on Kuwait -- his "reward" for warring against the Iranians. The US was actively instigating the Iran-Iraq 8 year war and I don't recall the figures from that one. And of course there's the DU, the gift that keeps on giving - death. So it's a least a few million out out of something like a 25 million population. This is one country. What are we doing in AfPak, Somalia, etc?

So yes, me too.

Pickens surely reaches a new level in US hypocrisy. How could any thinking person with an IQ above room temperature (Celsius, not Fahrenheit) believe that the US is entitled to anything from the Iraq Nation.

A few days ago, I quietly celebrated my 60th birthday. During the whole of my life, the US has been the most violent, destructive, interfering nation on the globe. The US Military forces and other US Government agencies such as the CIA, are probably responsible for more deaths and destruction in foreign nations than all other peoples combined.

Far from having any "Entitlement" to Iraqi oil, the US owes a multi-Trillion dollar debt to the Iraqi nation and its people.

When will the Goddamn Yanks finally realise that they are the greatest curse in the modern world??

Is it allowed for me to post one more piece?

This one is about why I came here.

After that I can draw my conclusions.

Every location is fine by me.

This is the DB. If it's relevant I think you can. Or start your own blog? You can wait till it's well underway so it appears way below .

Katrina victims get OK to sue polluters over global warming

And thus we make a magic wand and obtain a judgement. How exactly will that get CO2 to drop so that the waves stop rising?

And why should 'katrina victims' be 1st in line over the effects of CO2?

Seriously? You don't see that putting a huge financial disincentive on emitting CO2 will mean less CO2 will be emitted? It's not a "magic wand", but economics 101. (Oh, sorry--I used the dirty e-word, which we all know can't possibly lead to anything positive.)

And why not Katrina victims first? If it were citizens of the Maldives or Venice or who knows where, would it be any better or any worse?

I think this is one time when legal action is not only helpful, but it might be one of the few ways we start to (finally!) put a price on those externalities we're always talking about, at least as they pertain to US companies.

It seems to me that Katrina victims are Americans, and therefore some of the most culpable people on the planet in regards to CO2 emissions (along with me and you of course). Are they suing themselves?

Perhaps the should consider suing LaSalle (or his heirs). I beleive it was he who decided to locate the city on a spot below sea level.

Maybe they should sue their politicians. I grew up in NOLA and watched them use Fed levee money for everything but building levees. The state had recieved more then enough tax payer money to build levees which would have saved the city from the worst storms. For instance, the $600 million for the convention center was levee money. The justification: the convention center was built on top of the levee. Thus is was a "levee project".

Well, I think the problem is not so much that the ocean is rising, it is that most of New Orleans was below sea level in the first place and is rapidly sinking further below sea level as a result of running the pumps that keep the city dry. Also, building a city near the sea in a hurricane zone is a bad idea under the best of circumstances.

Or to quote a song that kept running through my head as I listened to the reports of Katrina bearing down on New Orleans,

Bourbon blues on the street loose and complete
Under skies all smoky blue-green
I can Forksake the dixie dead shake
So we dance the sidewalk clean
My memory is muddy what's this river I'm in
New Orleans is sinking and I don't want to swim

"New Orleans Is Sinking" by the Tragically Hip

So, why not sue the French for establishing the city in a sea-level swamp in a hurricane zone in the first place? Or the engineers for installing the pumps that allowed people to live below sea level. (Until the hurricane hit, the levees broke, and the power failed.)

agreed. New Orleans is located in a terrible spot. Meanwhile, blaming global warming for Katrina is absurd. Hurricanes existed long before man ever had any effect on this planet. It was a major hurricane, by no means one of the biggest. It happened to hit in *just* the right place. Throw in poor preparedness, and a worse response, and you have a disaster.

The legend when i live in new orleans was that new orleans was destroyed 3 times in first 7 years by hurricanes. Global warming was at most a minor part of this disaster.

Katrina actually missed New Orleans. The "value engineered" levees designed and built by the US Army failed FAR below their supposed design limits.

By 2011 is we are supposed to get what was promised in 1968 (which more clearly defined what was promised in 1928).


agreed. New Orleans is located in a terrible spot. Meanwhile, blaming global warming for Katrina is absurd. Hurricanes existed long before man ever had any effect on this planet. It was a major hurricane, by no means one of the biggest. It happened to hit in *just* the right place. Throw in poor preparedness, and a worse response, and you have a disaster.

Where to start.
NO in a terrible spot. A poor spot flood vulnerability wise, but a great spot for a commercial port. And it is possible to build structures in a flood prone area, but make them insensitive to flood damage -i.e. using stilts, and water resistant materials for lower floors etc. Of course all this would cost more, but if the location is valuable enough it would make sense. As sea levels rise, we are going to have to face the choice, retreat from low lying areas, or engineer our structures so that the occasional flood is no big deal.

You can only statistically attribute a storm like Katrina to global warming. We are seeing more big ones, and at least some of this is due to higher sea temperatures, but even if that hadn't happened there is still some chance of storms of that magnitude. Its like if I smoke enough to double my risk of lung cancer, then when I get it, is it the fault of my smoking -or my genetics? Unanswerable in the specific case, but amenable to statistical analysis if the sample size is large enough. But, Katrina was one of the big ones, fortunately it lost a lot of strength (Cat 5 down to Cat 3) in the hours before landfall.

Statistically speaking, New Orleans gets brushed or hit by a hurricane every 3.73 years and takes a direct hit from a hurricane every 12.55 years, according to this site: http://www.hurricanecity.com/city/neworleans.htm

Katrina was not the biggest hurricane every to hit New Orleans, nor will it be the last. It is a statistical certainty that eventually New Orleans will be hit by a much bigger hurricane than Katrina - one that no flood-control system can handle.

However the problem is exacerbated by the fact that New Orleans is actually sinking - just like the song says. Most of this is caused by man-made changes. The flood control measures are actually causing the city to sink into the ocean.

New Orleans is sinking two inches per decade, and it is anticipated that it will sink roughly one meter in the next 100 years relative to mean sea level. The ocean is also rising. During the last century, the ocean rose one to two millimeters per year.

For a complete analysis from the USGS see: http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/hurricane/Sea-Level-Rise.pdf

Despite all the commotion about global warming, sea level rise is nothing new - the oceans have been rising since the end of the last ice age and have risen several hundred feet in that time.

Also - and here is another really nasty bit of news for people that haven't heard it - there is a statistical certainty that at some point in the not terribly distant future, the Mississippi River will change course and strand New Orleans, leaving it with no river and no port. The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to prevent it, but like preventing floods, there are some things that are beyond human control.

Like I said, it's a really bad place to put a city.


You are undoubtedly familiar with the saying to the effect that you don't really know where you are unless you know where you have been.

Imo anyone who wants to undrestand the Mississippi must study it the way it was before the ACE started building levees.

Twain's the man for the layman.

I have no doubt whatsover that one day she will reassert herself and devour about half of everything in her old flood plain.

I can't remember the title right of the bat but Faulkner wrote a book about the river in flood too-every body who lives in that part of the world should read them.

It xxxxxx me off no end that just because fools in large numbers choose to live on that flood plain that I will have to pay for thier rescue one of these days, whereas a prudent person living in a low risk area gets little or no help in the event of a local disaster.

The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise...
Mark Twain in "Eruption"

The Mississippi changes its course to the ocean about every 1000 years (which I think Twain knew), but men have managed to accelerate the process. It's hard to stop the Mississippi but it's easy to reroute it someplace you don't want it to go.

In 1831 Captain Henry Shreve cut a loop out of the Mississippi to improve navigation, and inadvertently created a shortcut between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers. Initially the Atchafalaya was blocked by a big logjam, but in 1839 locals burned the log jam to create a route through, which allowed more of the Mississippi to flow into the Atchafalaya. In 1850 less than 10% of the Mississippi flowed into the Atchafalaya, but by 1920 it was 20%, and by 1950 it was 30%.

At that point the Army Corps of Engineers build a control structure to limit the diversion to 30%. However, the big flood of 1973 almost took out the control structure and the diversion increased to 35%. They have since got it back down to 30%, but eventually a 100-year or 300-year flood is going to take out the control structures for good.

Most of the Mississippi would then be permanently flowing down the Atchafalaya, which would be a bad experience for the cities on both rivers.

An explanation of what is happening is here: http://users.stlcc.edu/jangert/oldriver/oldriver.html

and also here: http://www.americaswetlandresources.com/background_facts/detailedstory/L...

The sediment dropped in the Atchafalaya Basin in the last 100+ years has raised that basin enough so that is no longer the preferred route, absent ACE, for the Mississippi River to flow.


The Atchafalaya follows a much shorter and steeper route to the ocean than the Mississippi, which makes it the preferred route for the water to take. A steeper route makes for much more water erosion.

If a huge flood on the Mississippi went down the Atchafalaya, the unaccustomed volume of water would rapidly scour the bed of the Atchafalaya much deeper than it currently is, until the Atchafalaya River became deep and wide enough to handle all the extra water flow. That would make it a much different river than it currently is, and the situation would be hard to undo.

Food Recycling Law A Hit In San Francisco

That's because none of the wet garbage, the food waste, goes down there anymore, Corso says. Instead, food scraps go into sealed compost bins that get picked up by the city. Corso says the program has significantly trimmed the building's garbage costs.

"We used to have two bins picked up every day," she says. "Now we're down to one bin every day. So we've cut that in half."

Looks like Seattle was the first city to implement such a law but it excluded businesses. Next up: human manure!

A nice thing about the San Francisco program is that they'll take meat products,including bones, in the compost. About the only thing you have to throw away these days in the trash in San Francisco is plastic wrap, styrofoam, and items with multiple layers of disparate materials, like juice boxes. (I've heard some other communities recycle styrofoam now, so I'm not sure why San Francisco doesn't as well.)

Only 28% of San Francisco's waste stream currently goes to landfill. I think we can get down to under 10%. The next step will be to lessen how much has to be recycled by convincing people to drink predominantly tap water and reducing the rather extraordinary amounts of packaging most store-bought products are encased in.

Our local UPS store takes styrofoam for recycling. Eases the associated guilt of internet wine shipments delivered by UPS.:)

Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but it seems that recycling programs like S.F.'s and Seattle's would not only reduce waste, but increase awareness. When you are routinely recycling 90% of your 'waste', it seems likely that you would soon start to wonder why everything isn't recyclable, and both take steps to eliminate that final 10% by altering purchasing decisions, and/or applying politically pressure to ban the manufacture of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable items entirely.

Best hopes for a cradle to cradle future.

From The Truth About Cars (TTAC) China To Sell 20m Cars In 2015


Yesterday, China’s auto production officially exceeded the 10m mark. You’ve seen nothing yet, opined Dongfeng Motor Co. vice president Ren Yong at the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show (which had been mostly shunned by foreign makers.) Peak oil theorists, take a Valium before reading further.+

China’s annual auto sales will likely reach 20 million units by 2015, Dongfeng’s VP reckons, as demand will be growing with rising family income. . . . .

TTAC is my other favorite site and the only other site I comment on besides TOD.

But today I want to comment on Bye Bye Miss American Pie, up top, that leads off with a Bertrand Russell quote:

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” - Bertrand Russell

It was partly reading Bertrand Russell that changed me from a "Fundie" to an atheist. I had been taught that faith was the way ever since I could remember and that doubt was sin. About 40 years ago at age around 28 after finally figuring out faith causes more problems than it solves, I began to see the beauty of doubt and questioning. I have resolved to question everything ever since and life has been a lot easier.

Too bad the article, while beginning with doubt seems to stray into apocalyptic almost religious faith in its vision of the future and our energy dilemma.

The beginning of the article hits home for me. Buddy Holly died a few miles from my house. The pictures show the site north of Clear Lake where I cross Buddy Holly Drive every time I take Highway 9 to Mason City. He had played at the Surf Ballroom there and they still hold commemorative performances for him.

I can vaguely remember when the Big Bopper died, but at the time I was not into music like I am now. Being only 17 and dealing with all the conflicts of puberty and a fundamentalist religious upbringing that even then was all I could handle. But I clearly remember Don McLean's "When the Music Died".

I knew it meant Buddy Holly and a way of life that had died due partly to th Viet Nam disaster. I knew that the old religious me had died and I was not going back. Kent State followed and the impeachment of Nixon.

But the article's concentration on debt without considering assets is a false dilemma. An increase in debt can be handled if assets are also increasing. How does the author know what assets will be in the future when the debt is due? I doubt he does.

The debt is due in large part not to the profligacy of Americans so much as the profligacy of government with it's perpetual wars for oil security and idiotic tax cuts for the wealthy. It was mostly under control at the end of Clinton's last term.

Then the Republicans went nuts and still are. They feared that surpluses would be used for social programs to help the less well off. The strategy was to the spend the revenue so that it never could be, as Reagan's budget guy David Stockman has written. It is still the strategy. And that is one reason they favor perpetual wars for oil security and tax cuts.

As Cheney says "Deficits don't matter." What matters is control of the agenda. And deficits mean control of the agenda if they can be used as a stick to beat down any aspirations of the opposition.

Obama's stategy should be spend, spend, spend until the economy recovers. Spend it on social programs. And stop the wars for oil security. When the Republicans get back in office the miraculous will happen and deficits will again not matter. So don't sweat it.

You should re-read that quote until you understand it. Better yet, read The Automatic Earth on the Teflon Guy and try to understand that.

How very true. One should always be wary of thinking they know what is going to happen, in any walk of life. The facts surrounding peak oil are very convincing, but the future outcome is so influenced by emotional biases and personality characteristics that no-one is able to accurately predict it.

Almost every prophetic comment of the past 500 years has followed a similar path, excellent information, very intelligent debate, completely wrong outcome due to something they hadn't thought of.

Russell seems pretty certain of that.

Not to worry those cars are all like Doc's car in "Back To The Future" and they all have flux capacitors installed so they can travel back in time and get refueled with all the oil that was available in the past. Of course that means that the Chinese will use up all the oil before the Americans develop their car culture warping the time continuum so that when they come back to the present the Americans are pedaling bicycles and using rickshaws. See, I always knew the Chinese had a plan...

Can you imagine a Hummer in the 1950's? How about 200 million cars running on fossil fuel in China in 2020, I can't either.

It takes 1.21 gigawatts to run a flux capacitor... EROEI will prevent that, fortunately.

The flux capacitors run on cold fusion...

The average family in China has official joined the middle class (according to the Economist magazine) and now wants all the perqs that go with it, like the house in the suburbs, the nice lawn, the high-quality schools, and of course the car to drive to work in the big city. This is a huge change from a generation ago when most of them were rural peasants.

The problem from the American perspective is that Americans would like to continue to have all these things, too. They would not like to revert back to being rural peasants.

The problem from my perspective is - No, wait there is no problem. I'll just sit here in my house high in the Canadian Rockies and let the various companies and governments collect American and/or Chinese money. Whoever bids the most for our vast oil resources which naturally I've invested in.

Something I am learning fast: Never trust your accountant/investment firm...

Did the accountant murder Patricia Cornwell's nest egg?

It's a mystery Kay Scarpetta, the fictional medical examiner and heroine of the hugely successful mystery novels written by Patricia Cornwell, would love to tackle. However, in a plot twist that Cornwell wouldn't dare to conjure up, this mystery is real.

Gone missing is the $40 million personal fortune of Cornwell and her spouse, Staci Gruber, a Harvard neuroscientist...

In a complaint filed in the Federal Court in Boston on October 13, the two claim that they are victims of their New York-based accounting and financial advisory firm, Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP, which they hired to provide "traditional and non-traditional advisory services." Among those "non-traditional" services, the two claim the firm said it "would do everything for its clients including buying and delivering their toilet paper." At least that would have been value added.

And then there is The Doff playing Santa in the office:

Suit: Madoff offices were 'North Pole' of cocaine

A new lawsuit alleges that convicted swindler Bernie Madoff financed a cocaine-fueled work environment and a "culture of sexual deviance," and he diverted money to his London, England, office when he believed federal authorities were closing in at home...

Among the allegations in the 264-page lawsuit are that during the mid-1970s, Madoff began sending employees to buy drugs for company use.

The complaint alleges that some employees and investors were aware of the drug purchases, and that BMIS [Bernard Madoff Investment Services] was known by insiders as the "North Pole" in reference to the excessive amount of cocaine use in the work place.

I call it "Phase One Of The Collapse: The Accountants Take What They Can Before They Can't"

In that Frontline video linked yesterday it is alleged that Greenspan told her that he felt that fraud should not be prosecuted by the US government-in his opinion it is a useful part of the capitalist system. This is a guy who rose right to the top of the USA society, based in large parts on his views and core values. He is still a very highly paid employee (because of his connections) and catered to even now by the MSM.

If Greenspan really said that, then he's just getting honest in his old age, getting ready for a self-aggrandizing autobiography to cement his legacy.

Capitalism is a fraud. A very successful fraud, in which the victims believe that they are winners until it is absolutely clear to them that are losers -- and then they blame themselves for their failure. It's a lot like religion.

Most economic approaches seem more like religions than they should -- especially Communism, which tends to push out other religions more aggressively than most.

I had a similar thought about The American Dream: one reason we're so complacent about our situations is that it's easy to believe the next rung up is just an almost-attainable step away. And sometimes, so it is. And when instead you slip back a rung or two, it's easy enough to redouble the climbing effort, especially since there are some who've zipped up to the top, and there are plenty up there having a cold one while looking down at you.

I look at my life, and how relatively easy it's been to "do well", and how close I've been to "doing much better", and it is indeed seductive to assume that EVERYBODY could do it, and that I still might make it up a few more rungs. The worrisome part is that I find myself distracted by the falling climbers near me, and before long I'm afraid they'll grab hold of me as they fly by. I'm also sorely tempted to kick a few near me in the face, as there really isn't enough ladder room for all of us.

In reality though, this isn't so much Capitalism or Americanism as simple human nature. Capitalism just creates a structure where human nature can play its games quite aggressively.

I didn't really mean to exclude any other system of thought -- all "isms are frauds in the sense that human society is really like a coral reef or a tropical rain forest. Everyone lives and dies by deception.

What is "human nature" except a very highly refined form of dissimulation. People can be loving or brutal or cooperative or self-involved -- the same people at the same or different times -- and they have stories to explain to themselves or others just why they are that way. Everything under the sun is "human nature." The term encompasses all, explains all, predicts nothing. Very poetic, and so very unscientific.

It should be no surprise that a fraud thinks that fraud is unimportant and shouldn't be regulated.

I don't think the fraudsters mind being regulated its just bribes are already expensive and cut into profits. More regulation means more money wasted on bribing the regulators and less going into the concentration of wealth. In effect all regulation is to them is a hidden tax on the wealthy that has to be paid. Regulation in and of itself is not the big issue because for a fixed cost any onerous regulation can be avoided by moving shop elsewhere to a more amicable environment. However this of course has its own costs and generally its cheaper to simply bribe.

Its all priced in :)

Greenspan told her that he felt that fraud should not be prosecuted by the US government-in his opinion it is a useful part of the capitalist system.

I think that is inaccurate concerning his motivations. What I understood from watching the show, was that Greenspan, because of his unshakable belief in the Efficient Market Hypothesis, thought the market would take care of fraud, and not need the government to do that for him. So his intent was not to let fraud flourish, but to let his hypothetical perfect marketplace do the job for him. The result is the same, but the intent is different. Acting on bad ideology, is not the same thing as acting in bad faith. Although if I were able to make/enforce the rules, examining one's working assumptions critically would be a manditory part of due dilegence.

How familiar are you with the subject of Alan Greenspan? The guy had the hutzpah to go on the Daily Show and brag about how, when questioned about his dealings by politicians, he would feed them a few lines of incomprehensible bull and watch them back down (except for guys like Paul). He feels that Madoff's punishment should be a loss of future clients, nothing more (and he gets to keep all his loot). He doesn't feel that the government should interfere with white collar crime, EVER and he was controlling the USA guv for a long time. His cronies are still running the show-that was even mentioned on the show.

I still think that is consistient with a man who has total confidence in the Efficient Market Hyposthesis. Since the market is always infinitely well informed, it is impossible for fraudsters to ply their trade. So the presense of fraudsters, just does not compute, ergo they don't exist.

But, no I haven't followed the man that closely, never believed in his godhood (and up until the meltdown, he really was treated like one). Now, the important question is whether the group of economists that used to surround him have learned their lesson? The one on the show that seemed to have, was retired (so he doesn't count). In any case with the politicians being totally dependent on financial lobbiest money for re-election, I think the greater problem is that we will get the regulation desired by the financial industry, as opposed to regulation designed to prevent future meltdowns.

Livestock and Climate Change, by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang

This may have already been posted somewhere but I just found out about it yesterday, and couldn't find it in yesterday's Drumbeat.

Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs, and chickens? A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry. But recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

If this is accurate, it really would totally change the focus of the global warming debate. The fact that it's being published by WorldWatch is significant.

Hello Keith.

In your block quote, the report mentiones first Green House Gasses, and continues to claim the lifestocks' Carbon Dioxide emissions as being 51% of ww emissions. Methane is a GHG, CO2 is, as well as, for example, water vapor, and there are more. It is off course extremely difficult to calculate the exact CO2 emissions from whatever source, lifestock, industrial, transportation or whatever. Different GHG's have different life spans in the atmosphere, and all have a certain severity in effect.

Climate change is happening, it's happening faster then we thought, it's worse then we thought, but it is not possible to claim that if lifestock emits 32.6 bt of CO2, that this is 51% of GHG emissions. In general the world would be much better off if we all were vegetarians, so much is clear. Unfortunately humans are omnivores(proven by the type of teeth we have), which is part of the reason we are so succesfull. At the moment.

Beyond that, these animals do not live very long. All the carbon in their bodies and all they release while they live came from somewhere in the very recent past. The carbon that came from the atmosphere during that time has no net impact on atmospheric carbon on longer time scales - it is the part that comes from fossil fuels that is causing the problem. If the animal were raised only on organically grown feeds with no FF inputs, then it has no direct impact on the atmospheric carbon.

I'd suggest that we all take a deep breath and actually read the article. I am not necessarily defending it, but I do think it is major news. WorldWatch is not a vegetarian organization and that they are publishing this is significant. Robert Goodland is an ecological economist.

I am not sure I understand their argument. Best guess: plants pull carbon from the ground, the cow eats it, and then exhales CO2. The plants then partially metabolize CO2 from the air, but not entirely, so what agriculture does is promote carbon sequestration in reverse. The problem is that grassland takes up a lot less CO2 than forest land. I'm just throwing this out; you should refer to the article, not this summary, and this opinion is subject to change without notice.

And people worry about robots self-replicating! Apparently cows do it much better! Damn them for their CO2! Why did we ever breed the murderous thugs into existence? Let this be a lesson to the geoengineering crowd: if we've already lost control of cows and their man-god given right to procreate, how can we hope to contain far more dangerous fare?

It's NOT us! WE'RE not to blame!!!

I'm not defending the article (yet); just got my copy of WorldWatch and am reading it. You have to read the article to understand their claims. They're talking CO2 equivalents, I think. You should read the article rather than rely on the summary, even though I lifted it from WorldWatch. This probably deserves a separate Oil Drum post just to discuss it.

Whether we are omnivores depends on definition of "omnivore." Certainly not like classic omnivores, such as bears and raccoons. Teeth indicates we are like the great apes and chimpanzees, who are mostly vegetarian. Hominids were mostly vegetarian until we got tools. There are billions of human vegetarians or near-vegetarians in the world. I've been vegan for 31 years and haven't died yet.


I looked at the article, and it is definitely CO2 equivalents they are talking about, so the 51% they claim is of GHGs in total.

I would like to see a second analysis before I believe this one. (I eat very little meat myself, although I do eat some fish.)

There is so much BS in the press about global warming.

But recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year

The cow is carbon neutral. It maybe some of the things we do with the cow, like transporting it in a truck, or using coal powered electricity to milk it are not carbon neutral, but the cow is.

Methane is a GHG. A much more powerful GHG than CO2, but, is is not CO2.

Silly reports like this one just switch me off from paying any attention to AGW.

The production of food generates GHG, no doubt (I beleive that 10 calories of FF energy input are required to make 1 calorie of food). The consumption of food does as well- anecdotal proof: McDonal's Drive Thru.

Supersize your CO2 output

The production of food generates GHG, no doubt

So what do you suggest we do? Stop eating?

If you eat at the place shown in your picture, that's probably a sensible thing to do!

The production of food generates GHG, no doubt

So what do you suggest we do? Stop eating?

The usual thought and discussion killing dicotomy. We can simply eat differently. And I don't mean we have to become vegans and locavores. But instead of eating two or three times the optimal amount of meat, we can cut the amount down. The goal should be a large number of people living sensibly. Not a few hardcore hermits living in caves, and giving conservation and sensible living choices bad PR.

God, I can't stand those drive-throughs! It makes me sick watching a row of idling SUV's lined up in front of one, and it's not just because of the food served.

At least that's a Fit in that picture. A hybrid that turn off at a stop isn't bad at all, relatively speaking, compared to a 3500 truck.

In reality though this a side-effect of "time is money". The cost of the gas is small compared to the time or inconvenience of walking inside. If gas cost $100 per gallon the situation would reverse.

Disclaimer, this is anecdotal evidence: and I do not usually eat food served by the fast food franchises.

I have done this experiment more than a few times, I live in the greater Miami area but I assume it wouldn't matter which metropolitan area it is. I pick a typical weekday lunch hour and visually mark the last car in line in the drive through. Then I go inside and and see how long it takes the last person in line at the counter to order and get his food, Invariably he or she is sitting down and eating before the car in line gets to the window..

BTW there is usually only one person taking orders at the drive through window while there are numerous people taking orders behind the counter with more than one cashier. So the line inside is being served much more efficiently at the counter than at the window.

Note: in most cases while this is going on there are plenty of empty parking spaces in the parking lot while the traffic to the drive through is backed up into the street.

I assume that people are thinking the drive through saves them time because they can eat in their cars while they are stuck in traffic on their way back to the office.

The first part, that agricultural methane is 18 percent of the current contribution to greenhouse warming is at least credible. Mainly because methane is a powerful (but short lived greenhouse gas). Another impotant GHG is nitrous oxide, and agriculture is the big culprit here. They are probably not a very big player in CO2 though -certainly not anything like 51percent.

Now it is probably true that is disproportionate amount of the low hanging fruit in terms of greenhose gases is in the agricultural sector. It makes sense to go after this. But that doesn't mean we can simply ignore the industrial sectors CO2.

.. methane is a powerful (but short lived greenhouse gas)

but doesn't methane oxidize in the atmosphere to form .........drum roll.......co2.

;we are in a brief period of balance between depletion from existing fields and production starting from new fields;

By using the word balance, I presume they are implying a plateau? Ahh, the balance point, the plateau. Hmm, that couldn't in any way suggest we are nearing the precipice of a sharp decline?

Don't be fooled. A brief period of balance indeed, as we are now slowly but surely sliding from the plateau, that started 2004-2005. Here and now we leave behind this "undulating: plateau, heading for the cliff.

I do wish you had posted your source for that quote Earl because I would dearly love to read the article. I could not find it with the "find" function.

Edit: Never mind, I found it by copying and pasting your quote into News.Google. It turned out to be "The Peak Oil Crisis: More Reports from Leanan's links above.

However I find your partial quote a bit misleading. Your part of the quote is exactly what is happening right now. The author, Tom Whipple, is saying that the world's leading specialists in peak oi are sayinga that: "we are in a brief period of balance between depletion from existing fields and production starting from new fields: The rest of the quote tells the full story.

this balance is likely to last for another two to five years before world production starts to fall inexorably; depletion rates from fields that are past peak are worse than believed and are likely to get still worse; exporters are using more and more of their own oil so that the ability of the U.S. to import oil will fall faster than world production; whenever an economy spends more than four percent of its GDP on oil it goes into recession.

Tom is quotingt us, the peak oil folks. You make it look like he is quoting a bunch of blooming idiots.

Ron P.

Earl -- reminds me of that very old joke: It's not the fall that hurts you but that sudden stop when you hit the ground. Silly for sure but sadly may represent an accurate view of the position of our current political leadership: everything is OK...we haven't hit the ground. Yet, of course

The way I heard it is an optimist falls off a 50 story building. After 40 stories, he says, "Well, so far so good."

Amazingly enough you managed to describe US policy in a nutshell.

What I can't quite figure out is where the magic comes from ?
Where is superman. Rather obviously we are going to have massive deficits and state and local governments are teetering and drowned in debt and we are building a huge deficit.

Wages are stagnant.

Either we finally manage to ignite some serious inflation which means real wage growth or there is no solution. With the globalization theme and the need to export how on earth can we see real wage growth ?

Hmm maybe the rest of the worlds wages grow in real terms to match ours so we are competitive again this is the warped theory of globalization is eventually everyone is rich and selling to each other is equals as one big happy family.

But before this happens of course the US has to become a large net exporter to not only reverse the flow of capitol but pay down all the debt so we need a golden age of exports to happen before the big happy family event. Which means global wages have to rise high enough to buy our stuff without exporting to much to us but buying all our imports ...

Like I said I can't even figure out how we are supposed to get to this pot of gold at the end of the rainbow there simply does not seem to be any exit strategy.

Articles like this simply don't seem to address the imbalances.


Moving plants to a region which could easily be classed as second world is not balancing. And generally if you look its premium products with a large local market that cause relocation of assembly plants.

Regardless I've never quite even figured out what the payout is i.e how all of this is supposed to work to cause a glorious future.
As far as I can tell no one even really attempts to fabricate a bigger picture happy ending. Its difficult to explain how wrong things are if no one even attempts to defend our current situation :)


Bernanke claims it reduces global poverty but is that a balanced economy and at what cost ?

It seems to me that a reduction in global poverty requires that the lowest levels of society are both raised and reduced to the same income level on a global basis i.e the worlds poor are forced into direct competition with each other over equivalent wages. Obviously this is problematic as costs for goods in a particular country are not controlled by the purchasing power of the lowest rungs of society but by those with disposable wealth higher up the chain and the relative percentages of the population in each group.

Therefore to end global poverty the worlds population need to move to a sort of similar economic pyramid to balance all the economies.

This of course on a global basis is massively weighted to a huge poverty stricken class with a small middle class and almost all the wealth concentrated at the top this is after decades if not a century of relatively free trade not in the current sense but in the sense of open trade between nations except during the World Wars. If we where to balance to a different level naturally then even with slightly unfair trade one would think if the world was going to have a different income distribution then it would already have moved in that direction.

Free trade would then need only address a few minor imbalances assuming of course the natural balance was a equitable distribution of wealth.

However the natural balance seems to be with most of the wealth concentrated at the top and trade is not even the issue its completely irrelevant and the problem persists regardless of the nature of international trade. Indeed countries like France more protective of their internal workers have a much better balance in their demographics.

Thus one can only conclude we have been living the red herring economy designed to help hide the real problem of concentration of wealth through expansion of total wealth most if not all completely fake and driven by ever growing debt.

Large U.S. based corporations are internationally dispersed and do not have the interest of the U.S. citizenry in mind. A great gyre of profits was opened when China allowed utilization of their citizenry and environment by capitalists searching for low-cost and relatively unregulated business environment. The wealth flowed to the East where profits were extravagant. Much of the money flowed back to the U.S. government to buy agency and Treasury paper. Wealth was liberated from paychecks, savings and homes as Chinese consumables flooded the market even as the jobs were leaving U.S. shores. Even as wages are falling because of globalization, what better way to get money into the consumer's hands than the HELOC and a housing bubble. What better way to keep "Made in China" products flowing through Wal-Mart's doors and the profits flowing for both international manufacturing corporations in China and U.S. than a nice big housing bubble.

At the same time petrodollars were flowing back into the U.S. stock market and government debt from the Middle East.

The machine was well-lubed until Wall Street, unable to profit substantially from existing growth, decided to boost profits by lending a great wads of money to anyone able to put an "X" on a piece of paper. Then oil hit unprecedented highs and the big borrowers could no longer afford their loans. The great gyre slows. No more HELOCS on houses that no longer appreciate in value. A great fall in purchasing power for the U.S. consumer. Chinese exports fell as did treasury purchases. Will the gyre ever operate in the opposite direction with U.S. goods flowing to China and the U.S. government buying Yuan bonds with their extra cash? No. Most of the state of the art manufacturing infrastructure the world needs is already in China and they're building more. The U.S. has lots of nice McMansions and garages full of stuff "Made in China", unfortunately these cannot be used to create wealth and cannot be exported.

The U.S. has now borrowed so much without investing in productivity (how could they with a business model like China's) that now they are toast. Exports will not save the day, manufacturing is taking place somewhere else, tax revenues will fall just as the great gyres of support for the Treasury (China and the Middle East) are turning off the spigot.

Remember seeing those poor people from the second and third worlds just scraping by on the national news. I think you'll will soon seeing more of that but it will be on the local news. I don't think I've even mentioned Peak Oil yet.

What you are observing is what I've been saying for a couple of years. We are not nearly as rich a country as we thought, and as our recent unsustainable living standards have made us think. The adjustment is that our living standards must drop, and our dollar must drop until our exports expand enough to arrest the decline. I think those two things are already happening. You only get inflation if the people are empowered to resist the drop in living standards by demanding higher wages (and busineesses gettinh higher prices etc). But certainly relative to average wages prices of imported goods will rise. That doesn't have to mean that dollar prices of domestically produced stuff has to go up. And despite all the off shoring we still have a lot of manufacturing capability. IIRC our manufacturing capability has not declined in absolute terms, its just declined in terms of what we consume.

The sun slowly sets on the West's oil men

That is until John B Hess, the man whose father founded the $120bn oil-exploring Hess Corporation 76 years ago, shook up the room with his apocalyptic outlook .........

...Oil demand growth will be unrelenting, increasing 1m barrels per day each year. But non-OPEC production is in the process of, if not peaking, reaching a plateau. And 73 pc of the countries that produce oil have already peaked.

Pipelines and energy infrastructure rusts away...

At least the pipeline part of this seems exaggerated. The big pipeline companies regularly announce expansions and upgrades. New or expanded gas pipelines from the Mountain West are opened every few years. I have to admit that personally, I would prefer that those Mountain West lines weren't getting built: every time a new one opens or an existing one expands, the local price for natural gas goes up because we have to bid against the people in Ohio or California...

The pipelines are not rusting away, they're just being reversed.

Rather than carrying Texas oil north to Midwestern oil refineries, they're now carrying Canadian oil south to Texas oil refineries.

My, how the world has changed these last few years.

The NG sector is involved so I gues it's appropriate.

Why do I get the notion, that some people think I'm here to destroy our world?

I've spend the last three years of my live figuring out what was going on. 17hours a day, 7 days a week, no more holidays because wherever I go this livetreatening event can't be ignored. My brains kept collecting data from allover the world.
It all started when I switched from making salt to processing NG, here my thinking really took off.
A colleague (thanks a lot Aljan;( ) pointed tod out for some more information about this sector. Well I learned a lot, not only about energy, but more importantly the general thinking within the sector.

But I got scared and many others with me, the DISCUSSIONS on tod were stunning and I kept searching for all the missing links. After a while, I thought switching from small NG breakdown company, to a big ioc could protect me and my familie better for the difficult time ahead. But soon I learned that their thinking was based on protecting what they have, and who can blame them, that's how these organisations are designed.

I have followed as a hobby the financial sector for 20 years now, not for money. Only for my natural urge to comprehend complex systems and how they work. After 2001 I learned that only in downturns the CB doors open up far enough to get some more insights about this mysterious money system we have. The doors are wide open now and this gave me the opportunity to connect all the things I had learned in the past years. thousands of opinions, facts, halffacts, clever insights, pie in the sky's. The list is endless. yet it didn't give me what I wanted; How does the proces, we use to run our daily lives, work.

The picture I saw got clearer and by exstending my view to the beginning of our civlisation. I could change from teotwawki without a clue, to the same thing with a clue.

Tod asked a few weeks back what they should do and how. I saw it as an invitation to broaden our thinking in general.
Tod again helped me to connect more dots by the the feedback I got but also the lack of feedback gave me more thinking to do.

My search trough history pointed out that every big change that ever happened always started with something small. But it always lead to a change in general thinking.

The biggest treat now is our thinking that we can't change. By trying to keep what we have, we will loose it all. Once knowlage is lost we can never come back to the level we have achieved. All we did was collecting knowlage in the last couple of thousand years and money was used to distribute all the forms of energy we found. Our own practical thinking leveraged the energy into all the things we posses today.

The depression is taking hold and the downspiral has started. We can keep using numbers coming out of computers which are designed to tell us what we wanne hear. And ignore the real things that become more visible every day.

But for me that's not an option anymore, if we can't start changing within a few weeks time. All that is left for me is damage control' but getting the message threw when more and more people start thinkig teotwawki without a clue.....
We haven't lost anything yet, Only a "small" group of people got dished sofar.

We just need every human soul with a positive view to run this puppy we call earth.

I'm only interested in the proces we use to run our daily lives. All I do is pointing out some flaws....

Most of the knowlage we posses is based on our history. All books that has been written were always based on past knowlage + some clever thinking. At this point this knowlage can't help us anymore. We can't rely on our ancesters for the answers we need.
Only our present day thinking and actions will determen what our proces, we use to run our daily lives, will look like.

the end

My 2¢ worth from almost three years ago (the ELP Plan):


I would now be inclined to recommend EELP--Emergency ELP

And a suggested guidebook:


I saw somebody on YouTube altered your ELP into H.E.L.P.
- Humanize, Economize, Localize, Produce


The biggest treat now is our thinking that we can't change...

We just need every human soul with a positive view to run this puppy we call earth.

Yes, all we need to do is change human nature. We need to convince, with our arguments, every human soul that they must take action now or perhaps all will be lost.

Lotsa luck fella!

For the umpteenth time, the masses are not convinced by arguments, they respond only to events. When things happen, very bad things, then and only then will the masses take action to try to fix the situation and not before. Of course by then it will be too late. Well hell, it was too late half a century ago.

We are deep, deep into overshoot. At some point it must collapse.

- Nature must, in the not far distant future, institute bankruptcy proceedings against industrial civilization, and perhaps against the standing crop of human flesh, just as nature had done many times to other detritus-consuming species following their exuberant expansion in response to the savings deposits their ecosystems had accumulated before they got the opportunity to begin the drawdown.
- William Catton, Overshoot

Ron P.

Ron, when the Happy talk and the resulting cognitive dissonance is more than I can stand, I come over to TOD, and there you are, and my mind settles down. Thanks. :)

Oh, and today's TOD log-in quote from Ben Franklin:
To be thrown upon one's own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible.

When AGW and PO hit full force, the human race is going to look like a friggin ants nest that got kicked by a horse!

To be thrown upon one's own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible.

From his school days on, Benjamin Franklin wanted to be a sailor. His father did not want this because an older son, Josiah, had gone to sea and never returned. Reading was Ben's favorite pastime so his father made the connection to the trade of printing and sent Ben to learn in his brother's printing shop. Ben continued this learning in Philadelphia and England eventually set up his own printing business in Philadelphia.

www.earlyamerica.com/lives/franklin/chapt1/index.html (autobiography)

He of all people should have understood that when your boat sinks out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean it doesn't matter how resourceful you are, you aren't going to be able to make it back to shore on your own.

I had a novel idea I'd like feedback on,

Create a centrist political party with a platform consisting of two parts. One small group of goals that are broadly supported, but not politically viable, like campaign finance reform, financial reform, and a build out of mass transit. Everything else gets decided by polling the electorate in depth. By depth I mean that when a random selection of the electorate gets tapped to decide an issue, or a bill, they are notified and sent all of the relevant material, statistics, GAO reports, lists of experts, etc. Then they are given some time to reach a decision and report back.

The reasons I like this idea:

No spoiler effect, the party would in theory take votes equally from the two main parties. It is a third party that could conceivably compete in our two party system.

Perceived fairness, it eliminates excessive control by special interests and guarantees that representatives are in fact representative. It would also significantly reduce structural corruption in congress by taking the decision out of the congressman's hands.

Incentivises quality over partisanship, some percentage of the random sample will of course automatically default to their partisan or ideological position on any given issue. But, the all important moderate, undecided, swing voters will have a strong incentive to research the issue and produce a high quality decision because their decision has such great weight. For example: A random group of 1,000 people is selected, 20% automatically go with the democrat's position and 20% with the republican's. That leaves 600 people to decide how a vote in congress will be cast. That is a very strong incentive to look at it from multiple perspectives, call college professors, read up on the literature, see how it works in other nations, etc.

Problems with the idea:

Cost, it will doubtless be expensive to perform the polling.

Nonstarter, the idea might not have any traction. It might never get off the ground and thus no one would ever be elected to try it.

Lack of trust, people may not believe that their peers can make good decisions when given a chance. Of course that implies that the whole idea of democracy and trial by jury are also bunk.

What do you think? Does the idea have any merit? Is it conceptually sound? Will it work in practice?


As far as cost goes, it will likely save money. I'm sure such a system could have been implemented for the same price as Star Wars & other faith based missile defense systems, except it would work.

A key piece that you're missing is how to manage the funding. I like the idea of prioritizing programs and then funding to the level of income, with a "watermark" at the anticipated revenue line. Those programs below the line must either be "championed" by someone and argued up the list, or the items at higher priority must be fiscally slimmed down to provide funding for more programs. Those that can't be funded, aren't. Suck it up and deal with it.

If during the year there is a shortfall or windfall, the line can move. Everybody already knows what's at risk, and what might happen to get some cash unexpectedly.

Taxes should be tiered and allocated the same way, and both income and outgo would be voted on every year. Every tax sunsets if it's not renewed, as does every expense. You might need to provide some hysteresis mechanism to eliminate thrashing year-to-year for big programs, but maybe that's a benefit -- you don't really want many big programs.

Hey hey Paleocon,

Seattle has a ballot initiative process where the voters directly decide some policy issues. They consistently vote to cut taxes and expand programs and outlays. The problem is that the two are not linked. They vote to increase teacher salaries in one initiative and to cut automobile registration fees in another which results in a lack of funding for the teacher's raise.

Clearly their must be a linkage of some kind or the system won't work, somewhat like it's not working now. Your suggestion of a prioritized automatic funding system is interesting. My personal concern with that method is that it's pro-cyclic. The funding issue is interesting and a method of linkage would need to be crafted somehow, but it is a secondary issue. One that should be decided by the electorate not the party.

The point of the random centrist party isn't to stake out a particular agenda. The point is to break the partisan gridlock, mend the crippling polarization in the country, take power away from nondemocratic players and return it to the people, and overcome structural hurdles endemic to electoral systems like campaign finance reform which a majority of people want but politicians are unwilling to pass.

Edit: I forgot to say thank you. I hadn't thought of the funding and expenditures problem when I made the first post. Also, rereading what I wrote my tone seems more combative than I meant. That is, I think the issue should be decided by the method in order to maintain the integrity of the model rather than preordained.

Seattle has a ballot initiative process where the voters directly decide some policy issues. They consistently vote to cut taxes and expand programs and outlays. The problem is that the two are not linked. They vote to increase teacher salaries in one initiative and to cut automobile registration fees in another which results in a lack of funding for the teacher's raise.

Sounds like California. The proposition process has dome exactly that, cut taxes, and increase obligations to spend. The end point looks to be government meltdown.

So change the law to not allow any initiatives that are unfunded rather than complaining about participation in the process.

I like the idea of prioritizing programs and then funding to the level of income, with a "watermark" at the anticipated revenue line.

That is a little too much of a binary thing with respect to the individual programs for me. You either have your favorite program -or not. I'd prefer that we only be allowed to fund programs with a share of the available funds. Lets say there is %1T available, and the congress has voted 1000 shares to all the programs, then a program budgeted at 100 shares gets $100B. If someone comes along and gets another new program funded at say 50 shares, then the divisor is not 1050, so the budget will always balance, and it will be obvious to all players that it is a zero sum game, upping the share of one program means taking something away from all the others.

Of course our current system of fixed prices written into contracts wouldn't work too smoothly with this. We would have to find other ways of organizing promises.

One problem I see: suppose this gets off the ground. Then suppose you've got an issue which is both empirically not very certain and for which there are many possible governmental actions and ideas-for-a-component-of-an-overall-law. (Eg, do you want to encourage activity X with grants or tax-credits or laws-punishing-violation or ...) I think most issues fall into that category.

Then even if every non-partisan representative is motivated, there's the question of precisely what they think they should be proposing and voting for. Then you'll get many "what we'll actually enact" votes which, even if the majority agree on the broad thrust, are very close so there may not be overall coherence (and maybe even get deadlocked on details). If you believe, as I do, in the motto "The wrong course of action pursued vigorously is better than randomly oscillating around what the right thing to do is", then this is a a problem. (I genuinely believe this: even if you think some people's actions will hasten the demise of humanity on the planet, at least the current generation will have a good time which is IMO better than a experiencing depression over the future on the planet but never actually agreeing on actions to deal with it.)

So what you need is some way to get efficient negotiation so that some coherent concrete actions end up at the point of being voted on relatively quickly without this system reverting to the existing horsetrading and power-bloc based system.

A lot of time politics creates gridlock and consensus where it's least needed, often by pretending there are only one or two options available which are polar opposites. Of course in the real world any major issue can be addressed from many directions, and generally there is no hard (except political capital) in trying several approaches at once.

While getting stuck in the mud of indecision is a concern, I have used a technique called Brainstorming Prioritization Technique (I think that's accurate) to build consensus on quite complex and varied topics. Done correctly it helps keep almost everybody involved and motivated, and naturally priortizes the topics at hand. Few Congressmen ever like to take a stand on anything controversial, but perhaps a BPT approach fed by the random-center masses would prevent them from hiding in a cloak of indecision and inaction.

Anyway, BPT works by an iterative brainstorming (option generating), voting, and culling process which lets issue-champions have their say and gives everybody some weighting in the decision process. With a decent process, you can pretty quickly get down to a handful of widely-supported options, and it's easy to insert research efforts and/or sub-group work into the decision tree.

For an example, let's consider the "Whither TOD?" post from a week or two ago -- it's basically an open brainstorming forum. A nice qualitative start, but little quantitative substance. Now, consider if all the ideas were put into a list, and each reader got 5 votes to bestow on their favorite items (one vote per idea only, though). Some might vote only 1 or 2 votes -- they just don't care about anything else. Most would quickly pick 2 or 3 and then hem and haw between a bunch of others, but they'd eventually prioritize their thoughts and vote.

Tally it up and you'd have some sort of 90/10 or 80/20 distribution, and there will almost certainly be an obvious break between "great ideas", "good ideas", and "dumb ideas". Divvy up the 'great' topics to staffers, create a new thread to refine the idea and maybe come up with thoughts on how it might work, and in a week or so come back and have a new poll/vote as to the best implementation approaches for the "great ideas". Tally up again and see what the "great approaches for great ideas" would be. Maybe add a budget or resourcing step, another culling pass, or whatever makes sense. Pretty soon you have the basis for a real plan.

Everything else gets decided by polling the electorate in depth.

Sounds like a real democracy!
You know, where 51% of the population can vote to have the other 49% killed.


Oil Bull vs. Bear Michael Lynch CNBC Video

Michael Lynch was on CNBC this morning. He is saying oil may go up in the short run but by next Spring, at the latest, we are going to see a lot of downward pressure on oil prices. A lot of new production, he says, is coming on line. He is banking on Nigeria adding half a million barrels per day, (peace breaking out?), and a lot of Iraqi production plus a lot of production coming on line around the world and, he says, demand will not expand fast enough to absorbe all this new production.

Seems like that is the exact same song he has been singing for the last five years, that is a lot more production coming on line, far faster than demand can expand to absorve it.

Ron P.

And after the interview, Mike climbed on to his unicorn and rode home to the special place where he lives.

Since Yergin has been somewhat reticent of late regarding specific price predictions, we may have to use Lynch as an indicator of future prices. He is saying that prices may hit $90 in the short term, and then fall dramatically by the spring, so I guess that we should expect to see short term weakness and much higher prices next spring.

Ron -- And sooner or later he will be right...but only for a period of time. If demand is still down and new production comes on line as anticipated of course there will be downward pressure on prices. But, IMHO, that has nothing to do with the PO issue. At this point it's hard to imagine the (price spike up/economic downturn/price spike down) cycle not continuing on for decades. I have no doubt that in 20XX there will be low oil prices when total production capacity is far less than then we have today. And those low prices will be a result of a severe global recession. And then in year 20XX+Y years prices will spike up when enough portions of the global economy expand sufficiently to suck up all the available crude. For me the big unknown is which economies will be able to ride this roller coaster.

That is quite possible Rockman but I think Lynch is simply wrong about next year. I don't know what kind of new OPEC production we might see but OPEC will keep quotas low enough to keep prices up above $60 a barrel, in my opinion anyway.

However he is dead wrong about non OPEC. Wikipedia has non OPEC new projects pretty well flat next year but they were wrong about Russia this year, and from what I read they will be wrong next year. They had too little new oil this year and they have too many Russian megaprojects next year.

Russia 2010 oil output to fall -Bernstein analysts (Bold mine.)

Senior oil analyst Clint Oswald at Bernstein Research wrote that 0.6 percent year on year growth in the year to the end of September, in a year when eight projects added 640,000 bpd of new production, 'does not sound like a great achievement or the start of an up trend.,'

'With only one significant field due to come on stream in 2010 and reduced drilling activity, we continue to expect declining oil output in Russia in the near term,' Oswald wrote in a research note.

640 thousand barrels per day of new oil came on line this year, so far, and 2009 production is still below 2007 levels. That is because the depletion rate is extremely high in Russia's old fields. They have been drilling 5,000 to 6,000 new wells in these old fields in a vain attempt to keep production in these old fields flat, and failing to do that. Now they are cutting back on drilling next year and have only one new project coming on line next year.

However all the projects that came on line this year are not yet ramped up to full production so Russian oil production next year will fall but not very far.

Note: Russia may have a couple of months that break the monthly high of 2007, (August, September or October, but average production for 2009 will still be below that of 2007.

What Michael Lynch continually forgets is depletion. He looks at all that new production coming on line and apparently just adds that to the current production. But the Russian experience shows that cannot be done.

Ron P

When confronted with examples of post-peak regions like Texas and the North Sea, he basically pretends that they don't exist, by simply asserting that those are clearly not places in which he would drill (they accounted for about 9% of total cumulative world crude oil production through 2005).

Ron -- I wasn't so much voting with him but just that if you say "X" often enough you'll eventually be right. Personally, I don't think of oil prices in such short tems. If I ever ponder future oil prices it's in term of 4 or 5 years out. And even at that I don't take my self too serious.

I agree....I haven't much indication that these "experts" utilize all the factors (depletion, ELM, etc) to cast their judgements. Seems as though they just point out the "facts" that support their predictions.

So, with the working assumption we're always talking inflation/deflation adjusted dollars, and taking a US-centric view on things, I'm still not sure that oil in the long term will ever be "cheap" again for more than a few months at a pop. Even with heavy demand destruction we will eventually reach a point where world demand (much lower in the US, maybe somewhat higher in China, surely higher in India, etc.) even for non-personal-driving use exceeds easy supply, and the marginal cost of production will determine price and therefore available supply. Maybe you're right that in 2020 there will still be some "cheap" oil from S.A. or Russia, but surely by 2030 or sooner that will be gone and we'll only have $100-plus deepwater oil in any significant supply, plus some cheap stripper-well stuff that will still turn nice profits but not in enough quantity to set a floor.

I personally think the next stable plateau (versus the boom/bust oscillations of late) will be when we've done a first pass at personal transportation like we did for electricity in the 70's -- diversifying and moving off imported oil as much as possible. That'll be after the dollar crash, and after most personal vehicles have shifted to nat gas or E.V., and the rest are full-up carpools and so forth. By then we'll also be building new nukes and lots of windmills, and we'll all be a lot poorer than we are now. We also won't have a "service economy" where half the people do busy-work for the other half, and we'll eat more rice and beans and a lot less steak.

I'm not one that sees suburbia dying very quickly. I've seen the teeming hordes of three-wheel chariots in India which are used for personal transit and taxis, and can envision those powered by shale gas, batteries, and diesel at an overall consumption of 1/5th what we use today. Right now we're all too proud to sell the Escalade and drive a Kia, but when the kids are hungry and the wife is crying a man will suck it up and do what he needs to do, and most of us will. Riding a motorcycle or riding a bus with 50 other guys to go work building a new nuke plant or wiring a train track won't be pleasant, but it will pay the bills for some.

Obviously I'm also not one who sees a crash destroying our civilization. I think we'll have various partial crashes which destroy banks, companies, and gov'ts, but clever and hungry people will come up with workable solutions for a lot of it pretty quickly. There may be riots and there will be wars, but most will muddle through.

I wish I had enough money to buy into a few stripper wells myself. What's the cheapest way to get into ownership of a producing well?

Denninger mentioned something about a FED orchestrated test of repo of cash from the primary dealers which took place this week, and purportedly it was a boondoggle of sorts. What I infer is that the FED and other CB's are a player in prices as well as supply/demand factors between wellhead and gas pump.

Goldman and other players are now borrowing money from you at basically 0% interest so they have to do something with it. This is the new dollar carry trade-fun for the connected.

Oil Spike Threatens Recovery: Is $80 the New $100?


I've mentioned this article about Jean Pain a few times now,

well there's also a You Tube Video of his BIO-GAS Digester project that I thought others here might appreciate.

He used chipped/shredded wood mass from underproducing scrub forest and created both Gas and Heated Water to take care of his home energy and transport needs, ending up with volumes of healthy mulch as another byproduct to improve his soil quality. Some good 'Win/Win' combinations in this. (English Subtitles, German VoiceOver)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHRvwNJRNag (part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGCj7NA0OIs (part 2)


Hello TODers,

Yet again, we must assume that insufficient numbers are reading, comprehending, then taking early and proactive, mitigative full-on Peak Outreach action on Malthusian population principles to help promulgate Optimal Overshoot Decline strategies.

Instead, IMO, poor global leadership continues to stupidly accelerate the power of cascading blowbacks, thus default-leveraging us ever faster into assertion of Jay's fast-crash Thermo/Gene Collision:

A combination of the food crisis and the global economic downturn has pushed more than 1 billion people into hunger in 2009, U.N. agencies said on Wednesday, confirming a grim forecast released earlier this year.

The Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program said 1.02 billion people -- about 100 million people more than last year -- are undernourished in 2009, the highest number in four decades.

..Even before the recent twin crises of food and recession, the number of undernourished people had risen steadily for a decade, reversing progress made in the 1980s and early 1990s.

[World Food Program--WFP]...and has had to cut food rations or scale back operations in places like Kenya and Bangladesh.
Jay has written that the best adaption strategies evolutionary require "..dying with our boots on"; being mentally and physically fit enough to cope with the future machete' moshpit battles between ourselves and with the coming onslaught of an uncaring Mother Nature. But even this does not appear to be happening:

Modern man a wimp says anthropologist

Many prehistoric Australian aboriginals could have outrun world 100 and 200 meters record holder Usain Bolt in modern conditions.

..Any Neanderthal woman could have beaten former bodybuilder and current California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in an arm wrestle.

These and other eye-catching claims are detailed in a book by Australian anthropologist Peter McAllister entitled "Manthropology" and provocatively sub-titled "The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male."

"No ifs, no buts -- the worst man, period...As a class we are in fact the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet."
IMO, we will be lucky if we can even crawl back to Olduvai Gorge because as Jay says, "..trapped in obsolete belief systems, Americans won't even know why their society disintegrated."

Requiem by Jay Hanson

..If there is any hope at all, it is that people will come to understand the key systems in their world and then find the courage to make the hard decisions necessary for survival..

Constrained by the laws of thermodynamics, the availability of life-supporting resources will go into a permanent, steep decline.

In many ways, the next hundred years will be the inverse of the last hundred. As fossil fuels dwindle, supply lines collapse, and societies disintegrate, muscle will gradually replace machinery...

How could it be otherwise?
EDIT: Consider if we had built extensive SpiderWebriding Networks early on so that every person from an early age would be well-fed and Extremely Physically Fit. You could ask any young man to railbike pedal 200lbs of cargo 100, 200? miles in any radius direction from the urban core, then pedal the same weight back of different cargo in just one day. Much more efficient than this method:

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

It truly will be a sorry sight to see: millions of overweight, diabetic Americans trying to chop firewood, haul water, and dig garden beds. I anticipate many will keel over from heart attacks within weeks.

McAllister said a Neanderthal woman had 10 percent more muscle bulk than modern European man. Trained to capacity she would have reached 90 percent of Schwarzenegger's bulk at his peak in the 1970s.

"But because of the quirk of her physiology, with a much shorter lower arm, she would slam him to the table without a problem," he said.

I don't really get his point. So basically if a Neanderthal woman took 50mg Dianabol per day + 500mg Test etc...then after a decade of intense lifting she'd be able to beat Arnold in an arm wrestling contest...because her arm bones had different proportions? That's a stupid comparison. Hey I would be way faster than any modern human if only my lower leg bones were a foot longer. But they're not...soooo.

A chimpanzee can beat the crap out of you. That doesn't mean they're the "superior" ape, except in the crap-beating sense. A grossly overweight sumo wrestler can fall on a small person and beat them in sumo every time. So the premise of that book is a bit silly, except of course as a way to sell books, for which it's clever.

Similarly, we can't breathe underwater or swim nearly as well as a lobe-finned fish such as we evolved from. So what? Evolution doesn't have a direction. If modern humans are more gracile and evolving smaller brains (they are), that's just the way it goes.

Agreed. Thinking about it more, isn't the Neanderthal a different species anyway? If so, that's like saying cheetahs today are weak compared to the saber tooth tiger. But whatever, I'd be interested in seeing any female with the muscle mass of Arnold, would be entertaining.

Don't get too excited-she is one hot mama http://sports.webshots.com/photo/1286543757013967410pIDEEm

OMG. Not as big as Arnold but getting close. I think I threw up a little.

Hello Greenish,

Thxs for your reply, but I was trying to make the point that if our global supply chains eventually break down postPeak, but IF we already have many pre-built narrow gauge Webs [plus multi-millions of fit adults to pedal the loads], then the effective bi-directional dispersive radius of the local webs is much, much larger than the ancient, and very much smaller radius of the Tlameme Scheme [from memory: about a 25 mile radius from the urban core with a much smaller weight backpacked or balanced on heads].

As mentioned before: Alan's standard gauge 'spine & limbs' RR & TOD ideas then facilitate trading between Webs [the many 'ribcages']. Think of Alan's ideas as the sticks supporting the web in this photo below:


Falling back to this method of hunter-gathering won't work:


I'm afraid the Chinese understand the power of Webs better than the USA, and will build out their future Web networks much faster than us WTSHTF. It wasn't that long ago when they built massive projects by hand labor:


They realized a very long time ago the strategic logistical power of rickshaws and wheelbarrows:

Marshal Chen Yi once noted, "Huaihai Battle was won with millions of wheelbarrows (referring to the great significance of wheelbarrows for the logistics of that war)".
Moving cargo over muddy roads becomes much more efficient when moved ASAP to smooth railtracks. How do you want to get your fresh, fragile eggs quickly to the market? YMMV.

I'm a big fan of your posts. My comment was just about the premise for that book, which struck me as a little silly.

For humans, the more rails the better as far as I'm concerned.

So a Neanderthal woman could beat Arnold Schwarzenegger in an arm wrestle. Big deal. Homo Erectus could pick him up and throw him across the room. Australopithecus Robustus could tear a fender off his Hummer and beat him to death with it.

It's true that our prehistoric relatives were much stronger than us. So what? We're here and they're extinct. All it demonstrates is that if you have brains, you don't need brawn to survive.

Apropos nothing in particular, a popular UK TV presenter was made up and given prosthetics to look like a Neanderthal. He was then given a
hair cut and dressed and walked down a busy high street. Nobody even looked at him.

They weren't that different to look at.

@Bob Shaw in Phx,Az

I'm ignorant of what spider web riding is, by my sense from your posts is that it is simply light gauge rail lines with human powered vehicles on them. If so, how does one pass slower traffic?

By pushing them

Does anyone know what the current industrial technology for extracting metals (eg Vanadium, Titanium) from aqueous systems is? I'm thinking specifically about proposals for reclaiming these metals from tailings ponds of oil sands/shale oil/whatever operations. Are people talking about running the water through resin columns or what? Thanks in advance if anyone has any information on this!

Wow. the LowTech Magazine is my kind of place~!

This article might fall somewhere between TOTONIELA and ALANfrom BIG EASY..



Lower Tech, around 1910, and in authentic color.

Peter M. De Lorenzo over at autoextremist.com tells us that the California Air Resources Board is about to save energy by mandating "cool cars". Near the bottom of his rant:

And finally, from “The Blithering Idiots” File comes word that the California Air Resources Board, those blithering idiots who are absolutely relentless in their “we know what’s good for you and you will do what we say and like it” attitude, are pushing a proposal for “cool cars” – but not the kind of “cool” that the average automotive enthusiast would understand, mind you – but a proposal that would limit solar energy entering vehicles beginning in 2012 (requiring new vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less to prevent 45 percent of the energy from the sun from entering a vehicle by 2014, and 60 percent by 2016), which would in turn require less use of air conditioning, which would in turn reduce greenhouse gas emissions, etc., etc.


Having witnessed their lack of scientific rigor in the including Indirect Land Use Change in their ethanol green house gas emissions calculations, I tend to agree.

I liked this paragraph:

The same thought balloons that suggest that only they have the vision and wherewithal to save the United States – and the planet in its entirety for that matter - from certain environmental death. This, of course, while developing nations like China and India embrace rampant pollution at such a prodigious rate that C.A.R.B. could order the citizens of California to immediately switch to Shiny Happy pedal-powered rickshaws and it wouldn’t make one iota of difference in the big picture of things.

X --Intersting...thanks. Did they happen to mention an exception for convertables?

China is doing a heck of a lot more than the USA to deal with Climate Change & energy "independence".

1) 16 new nukes under construction, 6 started last year, 5 so far this year.

2) A new hydroelectric program that has more MW but fewer MWh than their "nuke by 2020" program.

3) They installed only slightly less wind than the USA in 2008.

4) They ordered the largest solar PV plant (2 GW) last month.

5) They are electrifying 20,000 km of existing rail lines, and building another 20,000 km (some to be electrified, some diesel).

6) Shanghai will be the #1 subway city in the world by every metric by 2022. Beijing will be in the running for #2. Many others in other Chinese cities.

7) No ethanol from food.

Best Hopes for the USA catching up with China,


So, the Chinese will have plenty of power and energy, but not enough food to feed all their people?

Peak Oil is not a "Theory", how to feed all the Chinese is a "Theory".

Since China has 4 times the population of the US, they will run out of food first.

This will be especially important as the climate systems which bring rains to the Chinese plains fail (this is already starting to happen).

"Since China has 4 times the population of the US, they will run out of food first."

Not if the Chinese have sufficient wealth to outbid the US on food products, plus also export the USA-grown foodstuffs that the average 'Murkan usually eats. The US is pretty close to being a net food importer:


EDIT: you just gotta love the irony of the 'FATUS' in the link above.

The Next Crisis will be over Food

.."But outsourcing your supply of food and water... depending on unfriendly or unreliable trading partners to keep sending fresh fruit and poultry... or thinking the global system of trade will forever expand and never again contract... these are all dangerous assumptions that could leave you with an empty national stomach at night."

Our Daily Reckoning suggestion: plant a garden.
Have you hugged your bag of I-NPKS or O-NPK today?

Consider the agro-effect in the US if our current 48% nitrogen import reliance started being diverted elsewhere vs showing up in our seaports for the far in-land and altitude dispersive movement to the final topsoil square foot:


Import Sources (2004-07): Trinidad and Tobago, 56%; Canada, 15%; Russia, 12%; Ukraine, 10%; and other, 7%.

Not if the Chinese have sufficient wealth to outbid the US on food products, plus also export the USA-grown foodstuffs that the average 'Murkan usually eats.

The only problem is that the Chinese don't have much wealth. All they have are treasury bonds (paper) and the ability to make cheap goods. What if the US defaults on its foreign obligations? Then other governments will also default in retaliation, currencies will not be accepted outside their national boundaries and trade will boil down to bartering for essential goods. The US has food to export; some middle-eastern countries have energy to export; lucky Canada has both. What will China export?

With its international debt written off and international trade reduced to a small fraction of its current value, the US can start rebuilding its domestic industrial base again. Peak oil will not be an issue for quite some time because the international depression caused by sovereign defaults will cause demand to collapse.

When will the US default? My guess is when the yield on treasury bonds starts spiking up and interest on debt becomes a large part of the budget.

According to zFacts.com, the US Federal Debt will reach $11.98 trillion in about 40 minutes. Thereafter, it will take about 100 hours to reach $12 trillion. The socialization of bank debt and assuming the risk of residential mortgage defaults adds trillions to the effective Federal Debt according to many who follow conservative accounting principals. The failure of the US Government to deal purposely with the Federal debt means that those who deal with US Federal debt and currency must protect their interests.

China has huge numbers of young men that can be trained to be soldiers. It is hard to see a starving china not attacking neighbors to take land and reduce surplus chinese population.

Great interview with William Black on the mortgage mess.