Drumbeat: October 27, 2009

No bell curve in the jaws of peak oil

If levity were allowed in the serious matter of running out of cheap oil, one might say “A funny thing happened on the way to the peak.” The maximum rate of global output may be somewhat higher than the already reached ca. 87 million barrels per day, but world oil does not want to go there. Like a frightened horse in a dark forest, it has stopped; keeps neighing and shaking its sweaty head, letting the rider (global society) know that this is it. No further! A clear sense of direction has been lost and those mysterious lights that flicker here and there only make our mobility provider turn its insides out.

The notion that accelerated drawdown of a nonrenewable resource must reach a climactic bliss point of intensity beyond which market incentives move into high gear to substitute away from it is beyond debate. But oil is a resource like no other. The economy’s ever more evident inability to reduce dependence on it while retaining growth raises the strong possibility that the peak -- as rationally defined, rather than empirically experienced -- will never be reached.

Energy Market Reviews

As we've noted in previous article’s, Hubbert's "Peak Oil" theory appears to be valid. It is certainly supported by observation in that many cases can be cited where the production from an oil field or an entire oil-producing region has gone into decline exactly as predicted by this theory. However, we do not believe that geological limitations to oil supply constitute a major economic issue. There are vast untapped oil reserves in the world, and if the oil market were able to operate freely then these reserves would probably satisfy demand for generations to come. Furthermore, the free market would develop economically viable alternatives well before we reached the point where oil supply was limited by geology. In a nutshell, a sustained shortage of a commodity as useful as energy would never occur in a free market.

Which brings us to the root of the problem: the oil market is not free. This, and not any geological considerations, will potentially lead to troublesome constraints on oil supply in the future. In other words, if there is going to be an oil supply problem with grave economic consequences then the origin of the problem will be political, not geological.

What Adds Up to $80 a Barrel Oil

You would not know that we were in the midst of a modest economic recovery when examining the price of oil these days. At $80 a barrel, which we witnessed this past week, the price of the precious commodity is about $60 above its 20 year average.

The math adds up for the region’s producers who are part of what one seasoned energy consultant called the supply management club called OPEC. For all the back seat analysis in the cascade down from $147 to the mid-thirty level, this price recovery to a one year high speaks wonders about controlling supplies during a recession.

Qatar snubs US to slake China LNG thirst

Qatar is diverting around 10% of its liquefied natural gas exports to China from the US, Qatar's oil minister said today.

Energy-hungry China is paying more for the gas from the world's largest LNG exporter than the US, Abdullah al-Attiyah told Reuters at a press conference.

Ukraine 'won't fight new Russia gas war'

A Ukrainian deputy prime minister today claimed there would be no new end-of-year dispute with Russia over gas supplies, but conceded that paying the country's monthly gas bills was not easy.

Brazil Congress takes up proposed new oil laws

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's Congress on Tuesday will begin debating the government's proposal to overhaul oil laws governing vast new offshore reserves that could turn the country into a major oil exporter.

At stake is one of the country's largest industrial development projects ever, requiring an estimated $400 billion to develop vast new subsalt oil fields.

Fate of oil-rich Kirkuk stalls Iraq election law

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A long-sought political consensus in Iraq over how to conduct crucial upcoming elections fell apart Tuesday over the thorny issue of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, an Iraqi lawmaker said.

The new snag came as an al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility for the twin suicide bombings in the heart of Baghdad Sunday that killed at least 155 people.

World Bank May Fund Tri-Nation Pipeline, Uruguay Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia are in talks with the World Bank for a loan to finance a natural-gas pipeline shared by the three countries, Uruguay’s deputy minister for industries, energy and mining said.

India Allots Reliance Gas to Power Plants, Refineries

(Bloomberg) -- India selected fuel-starved power producers and oil refineries as customers for additional natural gas to be produced from a field operated by Reliance Industries Ltd., which is fighting a lawsuit over sales from the area.

Solar Industry Takes on Coal and Oil Lobbies

A solar industry leader smacked down the oil and coal industries on Tuesday, calling for renewable energy proponents to open their wallets to level the playing field in Washington.

“The full promise of solar power is being restrained by the tyranny of policies that protect our competitors, subsidize wealthy polluters and disadvantage green entrepreneurs,” said Rhone Resch, chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, according to prepared remarks for a speech he is to give at the opening of the Solar Power International conference.

Nuclear Industry ‘Restart’ Means More Loan Guarantees, Chu Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. should consider expanding its $18.5 billion loan guarantee program for developers of new nuclear power plants, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said today.

The Energy Department is still working to get the currently authorized loan guarantees “out the door” so as many as four new plants can be built, Chu told reporters on Capitol Hill. The Nuclear Energy Institute yesterday called the loan program “clearly inadequate” to make the construction of new nuclear reactors in the U.S. financially viable.

Former GM plant set to make electric cars

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Electric carmaker Fisker Automotive said Tuesday it is buying an old General Motors plant in Wilmington, Del., and plans on making up to 100,000 vehicles a year at the recently shuttered facility.

"This is a major step toward establishing America as a leader of advanced vehicle technology," Henrik Fisker, Fisker's chief executive, said in a statement. "Wilmington is perfect for high quality, low volume production and will soon be the proud builder of world-class, fuel-efficient Fisker plug-in hybrids."

Chevron, Exxon Would Lose Free Carbon Permits in Latest Plan

(Bloomberg) -- Major oil companies such as Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. would lose free carbon dioxide permits to smaller refiners under the latest version of a “cap- and-trade” program for U.S. greenhouse gases being pushed by Democrats.

Legislation that passed the U.S. House in June allocated 2 percent of the carbon permits created by a cap-and-trade program to the oil sector, for which all firms would be eligible, with an extra 0.25 percent set aside exclusively for small refiners.

Industry lashes oil-spill firm

AUSTRALIA'S peak oil and gas body has turned on one of its own, saying established safeguards exist to prevent oil-well blowouts and the disastrous West Atlas spill in the Timor Sea should never have happened.

It comes as the company at the heart of the environmental disaster, PTTEP Australasia, announced another technical delay as it prepared a fourth attempt to plug the leak.

logi Energy Determines Saudi Oil Production Has Peaked

New York (HedgeCo.net) – In a discussion with Jim Puplava, FS Radio, Jeffrey Brown described his analytical work with Dr. Samuel Foucher, also part of logi Energy, where they determined that annual production in Saudi Arabia has never exceeded the production in 2005 and believe it never will.

Jeffrey went on to discuss his land export model and the ramifications of depleting oil fields and increasing demands within exporting countries by their own citizens. He and Dr. Foucher have determined, through deep analytics, that the exports from the top 5 exporting countries has peaked and half of all oil ever to be exported after 2005 by these countries will be exported within 4 years, by 2013.

OPEC to Raise Output If There’s ‘Real’ Oil Shortage, Qatar Says

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC will raise oil output if there’s a “real” shortage in supply, Qatar’s oil minister said as the group prepares to review production levels in December.

“Sometimes the price of oil has no correlation to demand and supply,” Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said today in Ras Laffan, Qatar. “Now what we are seeing is that oil has a strong correlation with the dollar.”

Aramco names Manifa date

Saudi Arabian giant Saudi Aramco will bring the Manifa oilfield on stream in 2013, a company official said.

Aramco has slowed work at the 900,000 barrels per day development as it looks to save costs on oil and gas service contracts and as a slowdown in global oil demand makes capacity expansion less urgent.

E.ON plant plans raise fear of gas-dependent Britain

E.ON, the energy group that shelved plans for a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, Kent, is drawing up plans to build a new gas-fired plant of the same size in Nottinghamshire, leading to fears that Britain will be over-reliant on imported natural gas.

China considers new law to protect oil pipelines

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- Chinese legislators are discussing a draft law on the protection of oil and gas pipelines, which, they say, are facing growing problems due to rapid urbanization and the expansion of pipeline networks.

Those who steal from pipelines could face heavy fines of up to 10 times the value of the stolen oil or gas, according to the draft law tabled with the country's top legislature on Tuesday.

Russia anti-monopoly watchdog fines Rosneft $182 mln

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's anti-monopoly service fined the country's largest oil producer Rosneft 5.28 billion roubles ($182.4 million), the watchdog said on Tuesday.

Philippines: Big 3, others blink on oil EO

MALACAÑANG on Tuesday sought to soothe investor jitters possibly caused by Executive Order (EO) 839 and clarified that the government continues to honor its long-term commitments to the oil industry despite issuing the “temporary” presidential directive freezing prices to October 15 levels.

Sri Lanka: ‘Work to rule’ causes acute shortage of fuel – Port, electricity & water to join struggle if demands

There had been several minor clashes near fuel sheds and at certain places police had to be deployed to control the crowd. Despite the Minister of Petroleum & Petroleum Resources Development A.H.M. Fowzie stating over the media that fuel was available in outlets the public became aware that there was no fuel only when they went to the fuel sheds. At certain fuel sheds vehicle owners had to wait in queues for hours to get fuel.

Total to pull out of Zambian oil refinery

French multinational oil firm, Total, is in the process of selling its 50 per cent shareholding in Zambia’s sole oil refinery to the government this year.

For over two weeks now, the country has experienced severe shortage of fuel especially petrol because of the on-going maintenance works at the 36-year-old Indeni Oil Refinery in Ndola, about 300 kilometres north of the Zambian capital Lusaka.

Zambia Scraps Diesel, Gasoline Import Duty for Oil Companies

(Bloomberg) -- Zambia passed a law that will allow 12 companies, including Total SA and BP Plc, to import fuel without paying duties to avert a fuel crisis that threatens to cripple its mines.

The government will scrap the 25 percent duty imposed on diesel and gasoline imports until the law expires on Nov. 30, Finance and National Planning Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said in a so-called Statutory Instrument, a notice by government that is enacting an emergency law. The notice was distributed by the Zambia Revenue Authority in the capital, Lusaka, today.

Coal linkages to cos to be delayed on fuel scarcity

Power, steel and cement firms seeking coal supply arrangements with state-owned Coal India will have to wait for some more time as the meeting of the apex committee, which grants coal linkages to them has been delayed on account of shortage of the fuel with the producer.

"Coal India (CIL) has hardly any coal to distribute at present. The meeting of the Standing Linkage Committee (SLC), which was due in October-November has been delayed due to that. Schedule of the new meet is still to be worked out," a top coal ministry official told PTI.

Record of Decision Clears Way for Deepwater LNG Port in Florida

Port Dolphin Energy, LLC, reported that a Record of Decision has been signed in its application for a license to build a deepwater liquefied natural gas (LNG) port off the West Coast of Florida.

The Record of Decision paves the way to the awarding of a deepwater port license to be issued by the U.S. Maritime Administration. The signing marks the successful completion of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement directed by the U.S. Coast Guard and formal approval last month by Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

Nation must use oil from unconventional sources

All but ardent environmentalists who have a perverse antipathy toward science seem to recognize that continued use of fossil fuels is inevitable. What is not inevitable is a costly energy crisis that results from an over-emphasis on unreliable energy sources and neglect of oil, natural gas and coal.

Promise of drilling is vastly overblown

First, the near-shore waters off Florida's western Panhandle contain not oil but deep natural gas, and not so very much of that. The U.S. Minerals Management Service estimates that, as of Dec. 31, 2005, the entire Eastern Planning Area of the Gulf of Mexico contained 454 billion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves. If this natural gas were to be produced over a 10-year period, it would provide approximately 125 million cubic feet per day, but this would provide only 5 percent of Florida's daily natural gas consumption.

Whether this deep offshore gas will be economically recoverable when natural gas is currently being sold for a dirt-cheap $3.50 per thousand cubic feet remains to be seen. It will take billions of dollars of investment and five to seven years before any of this gas ever reaches shore. What is sure in the meantime is that low natural gas prices have caused the number of U.S. drilling rigs exploring for natural gas to fall from 1,600 one year ago to less than 700 today.

Palin Successor Focuses on Energy Agenda

Mr. Parnell has been focusing on how to rebuild Alaska's energy-dependent economy, which has been battered by falling oil prices, and jump-starting a proposed natural-gas pipeline project. While Alaska has only 700,000 residents, the governor's role is nationally significant because the state is home to some of the country's biggest deposits of mineral riches such as oil and gold.

Is America Ready For a New 'Power Trip?'

Most books about energy should be classified, along with Valerian and Excedrin PM, as over-the-counter sleeping aids.

If they’re not wonky or technical, they’re gloomy and depressing.

That may help explain why so many Americans are asleep at the wheel as we barrel toward a radical and imminent shift in our energy landscape – toward the U-turn leading to our post-petroleum future.

100% Renewables by 2030 for Less Than Fossil Power: A Case is Made

Can the whole planet really get 100 percent of its energy from renewables in just two decades?

Yes, according to new research, and for cheaper than coal.

But how exactly? The answer lies in scaling up three categories of existing clean energy technologies – wind, solar and water – and global political will.

Scientists plan to make artificial sun in 2018

ITER is designed to produce approximately 500 MW of fusion power sustained for up to 1,000 seconds through the fusion of about 0.5 g of deuterium mixture in its approximately 840 m3 reactor chamber.

Fusion has many potential attractions. As a "clean nuclear stove" it is considered an abundant fuel, intrinsically safe, no production of CO2 or atmospheric pollutants, and producing relatively short-lived waste. It may be the best hope to break the world's oil dependence and restrict climate-change damage.

Armenia approves expansion of nuclear plant

Lawmakers voted in favour of plans to build a new 1,200-megawatt unit with a projected cost of four to five billion dollars (2.7 to 3.4 billion euros). Officials have said they expect the new reactor to be completed by 2017.

Energy Minister Armen Movsisian told lawmakers the new reactor would allow Armenia to increase electricity exports, a key source of revenues for the landlocked and resource-poor country.

Millions of homes to get smart meters

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Some 18 million smart meters are set to make their way into American homes as part of the economic stimulus plan focusing on energy efficiency, Energy Department officials said Tuesday.

The meters, which are designed to more effectively communicate with utilities and appliances, and help consumers manage their electricity more efficiently, are being distributed by utilities around the country with partial funding from the federal government that was allocated under the stimulus plan.

Chart: How the ‘Darpa for Energy’ Is Slicing Its $150-Million Pie

The lion’s share of the grant money went to energy-storage projects followed by biomass-energy technologies and then renewable power like wind and solar. That said, the money was spread pretty evenly among the agency’s areas of interest. Of the 10 technological categories, seven of them received more than $10 million, and none received more than $30 million. Oil and gas received the least money with a sole project garnering $1 million.

Prices at the pump near summer peak

NEW YORK - Retail gas prices are spiking to levels last seen in the heat of summer driving season, raising fears that consumers could cut back on holiday spending.

But the crude rally propelling the jump at the pump hit the brakes Monday, as a barrel of oil tumbled more than 2 percent and the dollar strengthened after hitting a 14-month low.

Michael T. Klare: Where The CIA Got It Wrong About The U.S.

Okay, now for the serious version of the above: In November 2008, the National Intelligence Council (NIC), an affiliate of the Central Intelligence Agency, issued the latest in a series of futuristic publications intended to guide the incoming Obama administration.

Peering into its analytic crystal ball in a report entitled Global Trends 2025, it predicted that America's global preeminence would gradually disappear over the next 15 years -- in conjunction with the rise of new global powerhouses, especially China and India. The report examined many facets of the future strategic environment, but its most startling, and news-making, finding concerned the projected long-term erosion of American dominance and the emergence of new global competitors. "Although the United States is likely to remain the single most powerful actor [in 2025]," it stated definitively, the country's "relative strength -- even in the military realm -- will decline and U.S. leverage will become more constrained."

Understanding Energy: Professional Money Management and Peak Oil

Over the past two weeks I’ve taken the time to read over a new, 68 page Peak Oil report from Paul Sankey at Deutsche Bank, entitled, The Peak Oil Market. What’s notable about this report is its holistic, comprehensive treatment of the global oil system as a moving and dynamic interplay between supply, demand, and technological mitigation.

The case for oil

For several years, and when prices were booming in the sector, our analytical team operated without a resources analyst. Since then, the oil price has fallen and we've now added a new resources analyst to the team. Is oil still a worthy investment?

Nigeria Delta Truce Depends on Progress in Talks

(Bloomberg) -- The current truce in Nigeria’s southern oil region will last as long as the government and rebels make progress in peace talks, the leader of the main militant group in the Niger River delta said.

Henry Okah, the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, said President Umaru Yar’Adua assured him at a meeting last week that his government will talk to all groups in the region. MEND announced an “indefinite cease-fire” on Oct. 25 after the meeting.

China says investment overseas up sharply

BEIJING—China's investments overseas nearly tripled from a year earlier to $20.5 billion in the third quarter as companies snapped up mining and oil assets, government data showed Tuesday.

Beijing is encouraging its companies to invest abroad to diversity an economy driven by exports and investment and to take advantage of sharp declines in asset prices due to the global economic crisis.

Profits slump at Russian-British oil major TNK-BP

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian-British oil major TNK-BP on Tuesday announced a sharp drop in its net profits for the first nine months of the year due to a fall in crude prices.

For the nine months to September, net profit at Russia's third largest oil producer plunged 43.7 percent from a year earlier to 3.69 billion dollars, it said in a statement.

BP net profit falls 34%

LONDON (AFP) – Energy giant BP said on Tuesday its third quarter net profit fell 34 percent from a year earlier to 5.34 billion dollars (326 billion pounds), hit by falling product prices and tighter refinery margins.

SemGroup Bankruptcy Reorganization Approved, Disputes Settled

(Bloomberg) -- SemGroup LP won approval of a reorganization plan that will make the bankrupt oil trader a public company owned mainly by its lenders when it leaves court protection next month.

260 Chemicals in Secret Energy Cocktail

The chemicals used by companies in proprietary mixtures for "natural gas fracking," the nation's biggest energy rush in decades, have for the first time been disclosed.

U.S. bid to curb oil sands imports may violate WTO

CALGARY - Attempts by U.S. politicians to curb imports of oil sands and "dirty" energy from Canada could face a challenge under World Trade Organization rules, the author of a survey into U.S. protectionism said yesterday.

Climate change protesters target power station

LONDON (AFP) – Ten protesters were arrested Monday as environmental campaigners prepared to spend the night at a coal-fired power station as part of a climate change rally, police said.

Protesters cut through security gates at the Didcot power station in Oxfordshire early Monday, and some climbed to the top of the emissions chimney, police said.

Utah bidder asserts oil auction was illegal

SALT LAKE CITY – Defense lawyers for a college student who disrupted the auction of oil and gas drilling leases on land around some of Utah's national parks outlined in court papers Monday a plan to put global warming on trial instead of their client.

The lawyers for Tim DeChristopher want to call some of the nation's pre-eminent climate scientists to testify about what they said are the dangers that heat-trapping gases have in store for the planet. Prosecutors have objected to widening the scope of the trial into a publicized philosophical discussion over global warming and environmental damage — points they said are irrelevant to the charges.

Chamber files suit to protect against pranksters

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a civil complaint on Monday against members of a liberal activist group who staged a news conference to falsely announce that the 3 million-member business federation had reversed its stance on climate change legislation.

"The defendants are not merry pranksters tweaking the establishment," said Steven Law, general counsel for the chamber. "Instead, they deliberately broke the law in order to further commercial interest in their books, movies and other merchandise."

Electric-Car Makers Grab U.S. Cash to Blunt Risks in New Market

(Bloomberg) -- Electric-car makers ranging from Ford Motor Co. to California startups are using $11 billion in taxpayer funds to supply a market that does not yet exist.

Our view on coal production: Mountaintop mining leaves giant scars in Appalachia

Buried underneath Appalachia is some of the best coal in the USA, and for years it was mined the traditional underground way, which can be difficult, dangerous and expensive. In the 1970s, however, mining companies figured out a cheaper and more productive way to get at much of that coal: Use explosives to blow the tops off mountains and take the coal directly out of the ground.

"Mountaintop removal" mining became widespread in the 1990s and now accounts for about 10% of U.S. coal production. It employs thousands of workers in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Ohio. But it often comes at a grievous environmental cost that will leave its mark long after the coal is burned.

Opposing view: Preserve high-wage jobs

There are several ways to see mountaintop mining in Appalachia, but critics see only one — it's the picture of big shovels extracting coal in rugged terrain. What they don't see are the 80,000-plus jobs in a half-dozen states throughout Appalachia that are tied to surface coal mining.

Thousands of these miners, their families and friends rallied this month in Kentucky, West Virginia and other coal communities to save their jobs from federal regulators in Washington who have imposed a creeping moratorium on the region's coal mining. These are high-wage jobs capable of supporting families, paying up to twice the average wage in Appalachia, a region that like most of rural America has struggled to create high-wage employment.

Australia Coal Mines Can Bear Proposed Carbon Cost

(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s coal-mining industry can afford the cost of carbon reduction proposed by the government’s climate change legislation, Greg Combet, the minister assisting the minister for climate change, said today.

The cost may amount to about 80 Australian cents per metric ton of coal produced, assuming a carbon permit cost of A$25 ($23) per ton, Combet told a conference on the Gold Coast, Australia.

Senate Climate Bill Revives Complaints of Coal-Dependent States

(Bloomberg) -- Climate change legislation proposed in the U.S. Senate has revived a fight over the cost of combating global warming between coal-dependent states and those that get energy from cleaner sources.

Emissions Cut to Cost 3% of Global GDP, Pachauri Says

(Bloomberg) -- The cost of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the impact of climate change may amount to 3 percent of the world’s economic output, said Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“The cost to the global economy in 2030, so that’s 21 years from now, will be no more than 3 percent of the global GDP,” he told the CarbonExpo Australasia conference on the Gold Coast, Australia today via video link.

UN signals delay in climate change treaty

UNITED NATIONS – Just weeks before an international conference on climate change, the United Nations signaled it was scaling back expectations of reaching agreement on a new treaty to slow global warning.

Senate panel kicks off climate bill drive

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Senate committee on Tuesday launches three long days of hearings on a Democratic climate bill in a bid to further convince an international summit in December that Washington is serious about tackling global warming.

Deal-Breaker for Climate-Change Treaty May Be Obama’s Congress

(Bloomberg) -- When Barack Obama was elected president, he was heralded as a possible savior for climate- treaty talks that had dragged on for years while George W. Bush rejected limits on U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions.

“America is back” at the United Nations negotiating table, Democratic Senator John Kerry declared after the November election. Danish climate minister Connie Hedegaard said U.S. emissions policy moved forward 35 years overnight.

Instead, Obama may send empty-handed envoys in December to the table in Copenhagen where 192 countries will try to assign emissions reductions because Congress has given him no mandate. With the European Union, Japan and Australia ready to pledge cuts of more than 20 percent only if other nations follow suit, the stage is set for promises to collapse.

Asia, Africa Are ‘More Vulnerable’ to Climate Change

(Bloomberg) -- Developing nations in South Asia and Africa including India may face greater threats from heat- trapping pollution if nations fail to reach a new climate agreement at Copenhagen, a United Nations official said.

“The unfortunate coincidence is that developing countries are located in the tropical belt and are more vulnerable to the impact of climate change,” said Marcel Alers, a climate change mitigation adviser to the United Nations Development Program.

Freaking out

FOOLS rush in where climatologists fear to tread. That, at least, is what critics are saying about a book called “SuperFreakonomics”, which was published on October 20th. Its authors are self-proclaimed “rogue economist” Steven Levitt, of the University of Chicago, and his swashbuckling sidekick Stephen Dubner, a journalist. The internet is now alight with controversy about a chapter in the book that examines climate change.

More than 1 way to cool Earth

Why, then, are so few people willing to talk about such "geoengineering" solutions? There could be a fear of unintended environmental consequences, although the lack of significant side effects from Pinatubo is encouraging. It might be that this solution just seems too good to be true. Could it really be so simple and cheap?

Modern society is in love with costly, complicated solutions. (Governments in particular seem to like them.) But we tend to forget how many hard problems in the past were solved simply. Instead of the long-feared mass starvation, the worldwide population has instead charged forward to nearly 7 billion people, thanks in large part to the simple breakthrough of high-yielding crops. Polio and many other horrible diseases were essentially wiped out by simple vaccines. The automobile seat belt – a simple strap of nylon! – has saved roughly 250,000 lives in the USA alone since 1975.

Vegetarian diet is better for the planet, says Lord Stern

Eating meat could become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving because of the impact it has on global warming, according to a senior authority on climate change.

Lord Stern of Brentford, former adviser to the government on the economics of climate change, said people will have to consider turning vegetarian to help reduce global carbon emissions.

"Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better," Stern said.

Climate report warns coastal residents

The vulnerability of Australia's coastline to rising sea levels has prompted calls for drastic measures, including stopping developments in danger zones and allowing governments to force people from their homes.

A parliamentary report has warned most of the Australian coast stands to be impacted by climate change through a rise in sea levels, more frequent storms, flooding and coastal erosion.

With 80 per cent of Australians living on the coast, it has sparked calls for an urgent national response from all three levels of government to deal with the impending danger.

Ailing planet seen as bad for human health

Climate change will make Americans more vulnerable to diseases, disasters and heat waves, but governments have done little to plan for the added burden on the health system, according to a new study by a nonprofit group.

The study, released Monday by the Trust for America's Health, an advocacy group focused on disease prevention, examines the public-health implications of climate change. In addition to pushing up sea levels and shrinking Arctic ice, the report says, a warming planet is likely to leave more people sick, short of breath or underfed.

This is really a notice for citizens and residents of the UK. There is a petition asking the Government to read and respond to UKERC Report on Oil Depletion. Please stop by and sign the petition. One doesn't have to agree with any particular philosophy--this is just asking the Government to read and respond to the report.

And don't stop there!

Ask your MP to address the UK's sharp decrease in energy production from all sources as evidenced in this graph from the Energy Export Databrowser:

You all have some serious rethinking to do regarding energy!

-- Jon

...and then ask why the lousy corrupt expense-fiddling b'stards in parliament believe they have the right of re-election. None of them should be allowed to stand again; after next election we should have a completely new parliament. Get rid of the thieving, useless, arrogant scum who couldn't organise a party in a brewery - of all parties.

"Sorry. The Number 10 e-petitions site is currently down for maintenance. Service will be resumed shortly"

Can I ask why?

Civil servants can craft a paragraph response to this petition/report in their sleep. It will hold them to nothing, commit them to nothing and be guaranteed to have no effect whatsoever. That's a core competency for the role, its easy.

So what action are you looking for?

What do you want to see done?

As I see it you'd do better to petition for something meaningful, maybe a strategy robust against the range of envisaged threats; maybe a release of the data basis behind government predictions of 'no problem'; maybe a combined 2020 policy that will deliver 20% CO2 reduction AND 20% fossil fuel reduction (two birds, one stone).

Hell, prompting them with a policy option that they could put in their manifesto is a workable, actionable, item.

But 'read and respond' seems pointless?

Garyp - I agree, but Gail is only passing on the link, is all.

These sort of petitions are there to make us all feel as though we are part of the political process. In reality we are not... except if you get involved with one of the minority parties. The main three (Tory, Liebour, Lib-useless-Dems) are 100% the same.

John Hemming, MP has been doing what he can to inform other MPs and the government about Peak Oil, he is responsible for the APPGOPO (All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas). It is easy and dangerous to say that they are “all the same”. Michael Meacher for the Labour party is also well aware of Peak Oil.

A great cause of concern for UK citizens is the fact that the BNP (far right, racist party) understands perfectly well the seriousness of Peak Oil (especially Nick Griffin) and is focusing its mid/long-term strategy on it…

Natural Gas to Liquids in Qatar

The facility is expected to use 1.6 Bcf/d of natural gas feedstock to produce 140,000 bbl/d of GTL products as well as 120,000 bbl/d of associated condensate and LPG. The Pearl GTL project will be developed in phases, with 70,000 bbl/d of GTL product capacity expected by 2010 and a second phase expected in 2011.

Originally estimated at $4bn, industry sources believe the Pearl facility will now cost between $12bn and $18bn, said the EIA.

And more


Saudi Arabia is burning crude oil to make electricity while Qatar is converting NG to liquid fuels.

Best Hopes for a pipeline from Qatar to Saudi Arabia,


I assume that the condensate and NGL's would be produced without the GTL plant (which I believe primarily produce a diesel equivalent), so the upper end capital cost of the GTL plant, $18 billion, would be a capital cost of about $130,000 per bpd of diesel equivalent production. This is comparable to Shell's early 2009 estimate for their tar sands expansion program in Canada.

The existing GTL plant (30,000 b/day) produced "aviation fuel" recently. Used in specially modified Rolls Royce engines. But yes, I think diesel (aka heating oil) is the main product.


Alan,If the diesel is worth a hundred dollars a barrel and the natural gas is worth next to nothing-for the time being due to lack of market and transportation to get it there -then the diesel would pay for the plant in somewhere around five or six years probably after accounting for financing and other costs.I'm assuming condensates, etc,being easy to ship, are worth enough to offset a good part of the local value of the natural gas.

If the natural gas is really going to flow here in the states from the new nonconventional fields this leads me to speculate that such plants are likely to be built here too in the not so distant future as crude prices keep rising.

Is the cost of such a plant likely to come down due to better design faster than it goes up increasng costs of materials consumed in building it in your opinion?

Or maybe it would be cheaper to start converting to cng fueled trucks ?That would be enough to get the cng fueling infrastructure well started along all the major highways in parts of the country with ng pipelines imo and it could grow from that base without having to convert the entire country over a short time frame-with the pressure off in the diesel market some places well away from existing ng infrastructure might just stick with diesel for several more decades as the ng lines creep out in thier direction.

The public generally doesn't appreciate that you can disconnect the tractor from the trailer and reconnect with a dirrerent tractor(either of which could run on ng rather than diesel) in about five minutes and be hooked up again and ready to go in another five.Of course some tractors might also be dual fuel capable and run on ng when they can get it and diesel at other times-but I don't see a lot of conversions being done unless diesel becomes hard to find and even harder to pay for-trucking companies will most likely just buy new ng trucks and trade thier older diesel trucks to operators in places where there is no ng fueling infrastructure available.

There are quite a few diesel buses powered by CNG running around in the U.S. Atlanta began to use them for the 1996 Olympics. Better yet, there are diesel-hybrid buses available and in service, which provide even better fuel economy and thus much lower emissions of CO2. New York City has been the leader, with their diesel-hybrid busses both saving money on fuel and producing less emissions of particulates and NOx.

If the U.S. had a stiff tax on transport fuels, many more of these buses would be placed in service. Too bad we live in the U.S., where the politicians wouldn't think of the most obvious solutions to the problem. Again I suggest that we need either a stiff tax on transport fuels or direct rationing.

If the U.S. were to set the amount of the tax high enough to pay for half of our military budget, increasing the IRS Standard Exemption in the process, people might get the message. Cap-and-trade will appear as a tax to the man on the street anyway, so why go to all the trouble? Better yet would be a direct rationing system with a white market for trading allocations. This would not cost the average consumer much to start, but would instantly get the message out that it's time for a change. One way or another, we are all going to get a kick in the pants and the longer we wait, the harder the kick will be...

E. Swanson

Too bad we live in the U.S., where the politicians wouldn't think of the most obvious solutions to the problem.

Black Dog, U.S. politicians accurately represent the wishes of their constituencies. Ask whomever you know if they are willing to give up their TV and cars and you'll soon conclude that BAU is the wishes of "the People".

As an effort to alter my lifestyle I have been living in San Francisco for the last two months. No car (I take the Muni-bus (electric) or walk). I stopped eating meat (I really miss steak burritos), no TV (I miss Sunday Football) no heat (it never freezes here but it can get cold so I put on an extra blanket). I'm not ready to give up toilet paper, warm showers or bottled beer however.

The dirty secret about San Francisco however is it is one of the most elitist class-divided cities I've ever seen. Housing is hyper-expensive and the wealthy extract a pound of flesh monthly from the serfs who live and work here. Homelessness is a criminal offense (bad for tourism).

Best Hopes for a paradigm shift.


Black Dog, U.S. politicians accurately represent the wishes of their constituencies.

That is only true is you consider "their constituencies" to be the people that pay for them, not the people that vote.

For most voters, most of the time, the choice isn't between bad and good, it is between bad and bad.

WNC - Be honest. If a politician was running on a platform of dismantling the military industrial complex, creating an equitable and fair society and halting the burning of fossil fuels would you vote for that person? I don't even know if I would.


It depends to a great extent on who they are running against. If they were running against someone who wanted to massively expand the MIC even further, even more massively favor the rich and well-connected against the common people, and wanted to "drill, baby, drill", then your example might look pretty attractive indeed. On the other hand, if they were running against someone else whose heart was in a very similar place, but who had some very carefully thought out and nuanced differences, and had the intelligence and practical experience to be more likely to actually accomplish something, then I might indeed be more inclined to vote for that other candidate.

For most voters, most of the time, the choice isn't between bad and good, it is between bad and bad.

I beg to differ. There are a lot of such people but they don't usually bother to vote. The vast majority of voters are quite enthusiastic about their candidate.

And politicians do represent the will of their constituencies. They must or else they will not get reelected. If they do not tell the people what they want to hear the people will vote for someone who does.

Politicians always represent the will....and ignorance....of the people.

Ron P.

Your reply assumes that voters are well informed, actually know their candidate's position on issues, actually have thought through the issues for themselves, and have made a rational choice based upon which candidate most closely matches their own views. Try randomly interviewing a few sometime. You'll be shocked to discover how invalid your assumption actually is. Voter's decisions often only have very little to do with where their candidate actually stands on the issues. They have a little more to do with the voter's PERCEPTION of where the candidate stands, which might be something quite different. To a very large extent though, I suspect that much voter choice is as much of a tribal thing as anything. There are plenty of "yellow dog" democrats - and republicans - who will not even consider voting for someone of the other party, no matter what, even if they would be shocked to actually discover that the other candidate more closely matched their actual views than did "their" candidate. Their enthusiam is a tribal enthusiasm, pretty much the exact same phenomenon as what you'll see at just about any football game.

Your reply assumes that voters are well informed, actually know their candidate's position on issues, actually have thought through the issues for themselves, and have made a rational choice based upon which candidate most closely matches their own views.

No it does not. That is why I said that a politician must represent the will and ignorance of the people. No one knows what is in a politicians mind but they do know what he says and how he behaves in office. As far as senators and congressmen go, every paper and news organization in their district announce their vote on every issue. And if they make a vote that someone believes does not represent the will of the people, some other politician will use it to try to unseat him or her.

You'll be shocked to discover how invalid your assumption actually is. Voter's decisions often only have very little to do with where their candidate actually stands on the issues.

Again, how a candidate really stands on an issue is not worth a bucket of warm spit. What counts is how a candidate actually votes when he is on the floor of the House or Senate, or what issues he pushes if he is President or some other elected office. People pay attention to what a politician does because they cannot possibly know what is in his heart.

Remember, a politician seldom, if ever, votes his own mind, he/she votes the way that he/she thinks will get them the most votes come election time.

There are plenty of "yellow dog" democrats - and republicans - who will not even consider voting for someone of the other party,

Sure there are, but do not forget the primary system. There are usually many candidates that run for their party's nomination. The one who represents the majority opinion of the democrats, or republicans, during the primary will get the nomination. Yellow dogs do not win primaries.

Ron P.

Ron: As an exercise, ask the next ten people you meet to name one member of Congress from their district. Then ask them how that member voted on the last three pieces of legislation which went in front of them. Report back on your well informed neighbors. Thanks but as all politicians know the memory of the average voter is 30 days so anything you want the voter to forget schedule the vote 31 days befor the election.

Ha! The people might forget but their opponents will not forget. Their vote will be printed on every piece of campaign literature his opponent prints. Do you actually believe that their opponents have such a short memory?

If it is a major issue, like gay rights, pro choice or pro life, the war or such, you can bet your bottom dollar that your congressman's vote will be printed and remembered and repeated over and over during the campaign if his opponent thinks the majority of voters oppose it.

Whatever gave you the idea that a congressman's vote would be forgotten come election time? Don't you know anything about politics? ;-)

Ron P.

Like Lieberman in this video calling for healhcare reform during his 2006 re-election campaign that consisted of universal coverage and a government run program?

Yes, that is a problem with the system. When a politician becomes a lame duck, and they know they are a lame duck, they will then do what anything they wish. Lieberman supported McCain hoping he would get the Vice President nomination. Failing this he hoped for some other high cabinet post like Secretary of State. Of course he got nothing because he bet on a losing horse.

Liberman, if he chooses, can run again in 2012. He will be 70 that year. I doubt that he will run again but if he does he will not be a lame duck but a dead duck.

Ron P.

So true Ron. When I lived in La I was a registered Dem. Which Dem won the primary won the general since there was seldom a Repub running. Same reason I register as a Repub in Texas....but just the opposite. Voting your conviction is fine but if the "good" candidate has no chance of winning then you can at least feel you helping to elect the lesser of two bad choices.

Saudi Arabia is burning crude oil to make electricity

I remember seeing ads talking about the leadership in Iran was buying nuke reactors back in the 1970's.
Perhaps they should follow Iran's example and get fission power?

What could go wrong?

"Vegetarian Diet is better for the planet, says Lord Stern".

A similar topic was posted on yesterday's drumbeat, without comment, so I figured I'd wade into this one. Excerpt from the article :-

"I think it's important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating," he (Lord Stern) told the Times. "I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food."

I read somewhere that 18% of global emissions are caused by the meat industry. IIRC, 75% of soybean production, and something like 30% of corn production, goes to feed livestock, as well as the deforestation that occurs from pasturing cattle, and growing these grains for animal feed. Not to mention the disgusting conditions inflicted by feedlots.

I can't call myself vegetarian, by any stretch, since I do eat animal products, eggs, cheese and milk, and will eat meat or fish if I'm out at dinner, and it's on the menu, but try to restrict my meat intake when at home. It's really not very difficult to adapt to eating less meat and more vegetables.

The question is how to overcome the ubiquitous marketing of meat products. I recall seeing a Hummer commercial a couple of years back, where they contrasted the large, heavily muscled guy at the supermarket checkout, with his pile of beefsteaks, with a smaller, thinner guy purchasing spinach and tofu.

The meat industry makes heavy use of "machismo" to say that meat eating is good. There is as much back-and-forth over whether meat-eating is good or bad for you any any other issue in the public debate. The meat industry, of course, like any other industry, has it's own interests at the forefront.

I wonder how we will ever get folks wanting to eat less meat until it, once again, just becomes too expensive for the average person.

Grass-fed beef and free range chicken and pork can be a healthy climate-friendly source of meet and dairy products. Its the feed lots that are so bad. I was a vegetarian for 12 years back when I thought maybe the planet could be saved by behaviour changes. These days I just consume whatever seems appealing. Meat will soon become unavailable to most as industrial agriculture collapses. But there's always cannibalism.

I think this is something the market might well take care of. Meat is expensive, and people are being forced to cut back.

And I suspect there are ways to raise meat more sustainably. It may even be necessary to keep some animals. Traditionally, animals were used to store food over the winter or dry season.

Feeding them grains is what is unsustainable (and grains keep through the winter just fine without being fed to animals first). It may even be healthier.

Still, Stern is probably right that we'll need social pressure, not just financial pressure. Note that all the major world religions have restrictions on eating meat. Even though these religions formed at a time when many could not afford meat, they still had to make rules against eating it.

and grains keep through the winter just fine without being fed to animals first
The problem with eating grains, you are eating oil (unless you live in some microclimates in Western Europe or Japan).
Grass fed meat, you are not. Plus, grains are a lot of work for poor nutrition.

Unless you "grow your own", and kill/clean it, you are eating oil as well. Never saw a cow walk to the slaughter house, butcher itself and have the meat show up at the store by magic.

Grass fed beef, is, and will be for the few very wealthy, or farmers willing to kill and butcher it themselves. Few in the near future will get to eat it. Many more will make do with chicken, pigeon and rat.

Your government, that is the USDA, will frown very heavily ( read that STOP) on any farmer selling uninspected beef. Only when this government collapses and the ties to big Ag fall by the wayside, will one be able to go directly to the farmer. As it should be.

It's not hard to find pasture-raised animals, the ones we get are butchered at legal facilities.

This isn't some country-club deal, and these kinds of growers/ranchers are popping up all over the place, as the stink about feedlots gets louder. It's more like homesteaders and back-to-landers, and conscious Soccer-moms.. not bankers.

I routinely buy free-range, pasture-fed, locally-produced beef (and lamb, and chicken, and pork, and eggs and dairy products). It is getting less difficult to find. I refuse to eat any other, not just because of the ecological impacts, but also because I'm afraid of the junk that they input into the poor feedlot animals.

Same story here. In fact, I just stocked our basement chest freezer with the latest installment this Saturday, a "quarter-cow" (we split the steers with three other families) that was raised at a friend's brother's dairy farm one county to the west. The farmer keeps the male calves, raises them on pasture, and sells them off when they get to a marketable size. Grass fed, local, blah blah blah, and we're paying the same price that you would pay for feedlot beef. It's nothing exotic, one may just have to look around a little bit.

It won't solve the ecological footprint problem but nearly anywhere in the US at least you can buy butchred meat wholesale -meaning in quantity- legally if you are willing to look for a supplier and save a lot of money in the process.

You can buy a live animal very easily in farm country and have it legally slaughtered if you wish.We do this a lot in my part of the country-the butcher will pick up your cow and you pick up your meat wrapped and frozen a few days later-the cost savings can run easily to fifty percent and more-most folks share an animal with family and friends to make this practical.

Not where I live--
I buy grass fed beef, goats, lamb raised within miles of where it was butchered and sold, all within the county I live.
I also forage for a significant amount of my food.
Can anyone say mushrooms!
But a point well taken- one is not going to feed 7 billion people on grass fed beef---
They will be eating oil until we run out, then they (we) will starve.
It is nat a problem, it is a predicament.

hightrekker is correct! When the oil runs out you starve. Tell me please, those among you who find it so easy to get it, how many grass fed cows, does it take to make, 28 BILLION,,,,yes BILLION.....pounds of beef? And that's just in the US. Don't think the world beef industry runs on oil? What planet are you on.

The few that cite how easy it is to get, are a very fortunate few, and are very wealthy in the eyes of the rest of the world. The folks here in the US are in for a very rude awakening.

U.S. Cattle and Beef Industry, 2002-2008
•Retail equivalent value of U.S. beef industry:
2002: $60 billion
2003: $63 billion
2004: $70 billion
2005: $71 billion
2006: $71 billion
2007: $74 billion
2008: $76 billion

•Total U.S. beef consumption:
2002: 27.9 billion pounds
2003: 27.0 billion pounds
2004: 27.8 billion pounds
2005: 27.8 billion pounds
2006: 28.0 billion pounds
2007: 28.1 billion pounds

First, who says that this 28 billion lbs has to remain that way? I'm not anti-meat, but I also accept that we eat far too much of it, and the cost IS subsidized by cheap oil.

I'm sure the numbers will all go down, of barrels produced, of cattle and other stock raised, of humans on the planet. 'Tis a mathmatical certainty', as Mr. Andrews said. People will starve, and regions will all too likely be decimated.. but pasture raised animals still make sense, and I believe will still be part of the mix, just as I so often say that we will still have roads of some sort, and wheeled, powered vehicles running over them. I don't claim there will be any where near as many as today.. but neither of these pieces is fundamentally 'the problem'.. their numbers ARE.

I started slaughtering my own grass-fed beef this year. Its quite a job!

Grass fed beef, is, and will be for the few very wealthy, or farmers willing to kill and butcher it themselves

And how is that different than the days of yore?

The incredibly cheap oil and therefore the cheap products is spawned are clouding your preception.

Spring Tides,

Obviously we cannot feed the world an American style high meat diet.

We may not even be able to feed America such a diet not too far in the future.

As far as changing dietary habits voluntarily goes my personal guess is that change will be very slow.

People in my experience don't react positively to messages that tell them they are wrong morally or materially but instead tend to ridicule the messenger and continue merrily on thier current paths.

So maybe he PETA message resonates with a smallish number of young folks and a very small number of older folks-Joe Sixpack may actually be getting the wrong kind of reinforcement,lumping all environmental messages into the "tree huggers" and "save the whales" camp which in his mind is out to deprive him of his Godgiven right to a muscle car or big truck,an emerald green lawn devoid of life except for the grass,and all the goodies at the mall.

Never in his wildest dream does he consider the idea that the vegetarians are any more credible than the Jehovah's witnesses who show up at his door occasionally.( Now the fact that the Witness sect is but a branch of his own Protestant faith-observed mostly in the breach-never occurs to him either but that's a thiught for another day)

So may be the way to change people most effectively is thru indirection-A straight message that you will feel and look better if you eat less meat-without demonizing meat consumption-could(might ) get better results.

I once knew a housefull of free spirited self sufficient young women who enjoyed a drink and a smoke and a barbecue at the lake as well as the guys but when they started having trouble keeping thier wieght down one of them put up a poster that showed young shapely young babes in skimpy bikinis enjoying beer on the left-and middle aged women in stretch pants with yard wide butts drinking beer on the right.

Thereafter they drank noticeably less beer and the menus at the cookouts starting featuring a lot more chicken breasts and a lot less steak.

My take is that unless the message hits home individually it is more than likely to be wasted effort.Maybe a message targeting moms and dads showing thier kids growing up to be fat and unattractive(after all the whole message of modern consumer life is to be good looking and prosperous so as to be an attractive high status catch) would hit home better than an appeal to environmentalism.

I don't know if such a strategy might work of course but it would appeal to the piblic at a far more visceral level.

Obviously we cannot feed the world an American style high meat diet.

Absolutely. Trends over recent years, however, show most of the increase in cereals production world wide has gone to support increased meat consumption. Most increase in NPK fertilizer use similarly has been to support the meat sector along with the biofuel and up-market horticultural sectors. Like the car sector (until the recent road-bump), agribusiness has been keeping its foot to the floor. We will see.
Meanwhile, the majority of folk in the world must eat what is grown within their own borders, that is if they can still grow it themselves or can afford to buy it.
I agree also with you that visual images of a future-self might help a change in lifestyle. Smoking ages skin visibly as well as taking the ends off telomeres and I would like to see more pics on those lines. Australia must be doing something right because young people are turning away from smoking. I hope they can also get their act together regarding diet and reduce the enormous burden of prostate cancer.

The animal cruelty argument has limited appeal, but it's a compelling reason for people who accept the premise. Resource consumption of meat is another altruistic argument with limited appeal.

I think you have the right ideal about visceral appeal. In marketing, emotions matter more than logic. I'm not above appealing to people's vanity, fear and other base instincts, but I doubt people will be nagged into a healthy diet. Decades of nonstop slender, attractive images in media haven't done it.

One possible appeal to self-interest and fear is food safety. Feedlots breed disease. Strong food safety rules will make meat more expensive and reduce demand.

I've had some tangential contact with the beef feedlot business, and resulting animal health issues. While it is obvious that the condition in a feedlot promote disease transmission, the interesting aspect is that the sanitized industry view seems to be that beef are "stressed" primarily by transport and changes in their environment, as that's where illness rapidly shows up.

Some feedlots have very high illness incidence, with illness rates of as much as 20% per day, which is an incredible number. Then of course you have culling and treatment regimens, which adds a bunch of antibiotics and such to the mix as well.

Probably we'd all be a lot better off if the cows were grown and slaughtered at the same locale, without the feedlot step at all.

After thinking about it more, the great thing about marketing is that you don't have to "prove" anything about disease because emotions matter more than logic. The conditions at a feedlot or high volume slaughterhouse are just naturally disgusting* which I suspect is the reason meat processors keep such a tight lid on pictures.

* Disgust is a natural human emotion distinct from fear, and it's associated with brain activity in the insula. http://mentalhealth.about.com/library/sci/0203/bleww203.htm

Here's one marketing attempt that tries to combine a number of approaches, including humor:


The use of antibiotics is one of the most troubling areas for me--it seems a very good way to be sure our best lines of defense against a wide array of microbes is being thrown out the window so industry can save a little money and push ever-cheaper burgers and steaks.

sure, but where does that leave any room for the profitable conversion of cheap corn at ten cents (or a lot less) a pound into (lousy) meat at a dollar or two a pound? where does that leave any room for some big corporation to
'invest' and 'develop' and control the meat business in entire countries? this preoccupation with healthy food
and clean environment is blocking PROGRESS!


The part that concerns me a lot, living in the city, is that the cheapest, and sometimes the most readily available, food, especially in the less affluent areas, is more of the processed, fast-food variety rather than fresh, home-grown or farm-produced food.

There's also the habit of eating on the run, or in the car. Few folks, apparently, know how to put a meal together from scratch. Last thing, I imagine, on the radar, is how to kill and dress any kind of animal - I suspect most would recoil in horror at the very idea, but don't find it at all troublesome to remove shrink-wrap from the parts, or eat the meat between bits of bread.

We started a community garden in my neighborhood, which is pretty average working-to-middle class (if I had to define it), and lots of people showed up for the basic cooking classes (oh, *that's* what a squash plant looks like...).

The other curious thing was watching people slowly understand that tomatoes come in July, not in February, and you get them when you get them, not anytime you want.

We, sadly, live in a freezer-to-microwave environment, where food preparation is about as far from most people's minds as a trip to the moon.

I wonder, when meat products and processed foods start becoming expensive due to the long supply chains and oil content, what people will do next.

Not to mention that people who eat a primarily vegetarian diet seem to live longer and are healthier throughout their later lives. http://www.okicent.org/
That is reason enough for me.

Such a broad statement is opening a can of worms, the problem being that vegetarians typically have a lot of other behaviours (they tend to choose less stressful lifestyles, are careful about consumption of other substances like refined sugar, tend to have more "emotionally demonstrative" relationships, etc) and I'm not aware of any longitudinal study where these factors have been convincingly controlled for. (For instance, there have been claims by caloric restriction advocates that the Okinawa effect is reduced calorie consumption. There doesn't seem to be any statistic particularly decides whether it's this, the high level of vegetables, or both.)

I'm not saying that it's wrong that vegetarianism is more healthy, just that none of the studies that purports do show this are convincing.

Such a broad statement is opening a can of worms,

Worms are actually edible sources of protein ;-) Insects are good too!

opening a can of worms,

1st of all, the canning process is rough on the worms.

But once you have a can of worms, once they are in the light, the worms at the top try to go to the bottom and you end up with worms all trying not to be the top worm.

I've never understood why 'a can of worms' is considered a bad thing. Imagine opening a a can of cockroaches. Or Mosquetoes. Or Yergins.

I've never understood why 'a can of worms' is considered a bad thing.

Because it wasn't worms that was supposed to be in the can. Worm eggs were in the can and hatched and ate whatever was supposed to be in the can. Thus the bad part is in not getting what you were expecting.

embyonic said:

"I'm not saying that it's wrong that vegetarianism is more healthy, just that none of the studies that purports do show this are convincing."

Have you looked at this recent review of studies?


It sounds as though they tried to control for some of the variables you were concerned about.

The discrepancy in colo-rectal cancers between British and American studies is interesting.

I do think that someone who chooses to be vegetarian is likely to make other healthy choices. That to me is a pretty good reason to be vegetarian right there.

Why not just make the other healthy choices?

Content-restricted diets trend to calorie restricted diets in the absence of the corporate marketing machine.

How did that book title go recently? Something like "Eat. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Those are Michael Pollan's words, one's I've quoted to others, too (though I'm not always successful at limiting myself to the "not too much" part :-).

I'm not aware that it's a book title, though, but it should be.

I think a lot of people get very sensitive about suggestions that they forgo or cut back on meat. Meat eating is obviously tied up with their identity. I think this has to do with machismo in some men, but more often it simply is tied to status. Meat eating, and beef eating in particular, was mostly restricted to the upper classes in most countries up till quite recently (and still in many).

On the other hand, Eskimos, Icelanders and a number of other cultures have long had traditions of diets with very high levels of meat and fish without having many negative health consequences.

Look, I'm all for saving the world and all that jazz but if a Vegie still drives a car then what good are they really doing?!

I quit owning a car and now walk every where or take the train/bus. So I'll be damned if I am going to give up my steak, roast lamb and fried bacon just so some hippy-chick, self-righteous, airy-fairy, cloven-hoofed vegie religion can claim another pale-faced, anemic acolyte.

My carbon footprint is a thousand times less then any vegie who still owns a car! I've earned my red meat, and I am going to enjoy it!


A thousand times? Now who's airy-fairy?
The best guesstimates that I've seen say that switching from an average American diet to vegan reduces your carbon footprint more than switching from an average American car to a Toyota Pious.

;-) back atcha.

.. I don't even have a Toyota Pious! Nip, Nought, Nada.. no car whatsoever. So what's the calculation going from an average car to public transport?!

(edit: and as an enlightened European my carbon footprint was always a thousand times less than the 'average Joe in the States anyway!)


What was the old quote: "... but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath"? ;)

I betcha yer 'wine & cheese' footprint is eee-normos, though.

The only thing that really counts is the number of children you have.


Why do so many people on this forum insist that there's ONE thing that is the 'problem'? Population is a huge factor, eating Industry-Raised meat has enormous implications and problems attached.. etc, etc.

This is a COMPLEX, COMPOUND Predicament.. there is not ONE challenge to beat, nor just ONE tool that will get us out of it. These arguments are pleas to become idealogues.

Overpopulation is the root of ALL our current problems.
Ask yourself this:

1. Would Peak Oil have come so quickly --and the inevitable declines happen so quickly-- if the world's poulation had hit a ceiling of, say 500 million, and stayed there?

2. Would global warming *still* be a problem at the 500 million mark?

3. Would world hunger or poverty still be a problem today at 500 million?

4. Would pollution and ecosystem degradation be such an enormous problem at that level --even assuming everyone consumed like an American?

5. Would deforestation, desertification, and anthropogenic extinctions still be rampant with a much smaller population?

You don't see the feedback loop, do you?

1. random variation in behavior that accidentally stumbles into something like agriculture -> increase in availability of storable, high density food/calories.
(now we start to drift into the attractor, where we cycle in a positive feedback loop until it breaks)
2. Increased production of storable, high density food/calories -> population growth
3. population growth -> increase of both available labor and potential demand
4. increase in available labor and potential demand allow increase in production -> increased production of storable, high density food/calories.
see #2.

population growth is one part of the feedback loop. It is not the root cause, and it is wearisome to see so
many otherwise smart people getting stuck on the inability to see past this one issue.
not only that, population will solve itself _very quickly_ when the feedback loop comes apart, and not a moment
sooner! Not only that, population growth is the most difficult part of the feedback loop (greatly simplified above)
to try to stop the cycle. Not only do people very basically not work that way (it's simple biology), but any
attempt to force them to do otherwise involves totalitarian nightmare scenarios that quite frankly most folks
simply do not feel any inclination to put up with. A few control freaks who like to 'manage' the entire world
of course see this as maybe a great opportunity to control something more, or perahps a great professional
challenge to conquer something very difficult to control, or perhaps a perverse opportunity to really exercise
power against the desire of as many people as possible. but if you're looking to interrupt this feedback
loop, you will immediately ignore population or reproduction control as a red herring and focus on other parts of
the feedback loop.

Availability of cheap energy is one of the numero uno enabling factors for the continuation of this cycle.
Cheap energy has made it profitable to destroy an enormous and growing share of the earth's surface to exploit
ever more marginal prospects for yield. Expensive energy makes most of those plays simply not an option. If you
want to envision the world today having 6 billion or so of us useless eaters wiped out so that 500 million or
so of the chosen people could continue living the industrial, high tech good life, then you would indeed
envision energy remaining cheap for a long while yet- and even the most absurd or trivial destruction of the
planet to proceed with even fewer limitations because the cheap energy makes it profitable to do so!
You'll find that that population will still grow exponentially (absent some draconian controls) and as long as
it has cheap energy it will devour the world. It will manage to get further in the ecosystem destruction than
7 billion of us would because 7 billion will crash faster than 500 million will. 500 million might keep
this game going for 50 or even a hundred years, long enough to really kill any life on this planet more
complex than a cockroach. 7 billion crashing within a generation, the world will recover from before too long,
and even humans will most likely make it.

But talking about 'overpopulation' being 'the problem' is a demonstration of failure to understand feedback loops and their role in exponential growth.

Now to briefly address your questions: deforestation, desertification, etc, were just as easily perpetrated by
populations well below 500 million. What was necessary was the means to translate actions that ended up ruining
the environment into profit, and the energy to use those means. If cutting down trees allows you to plant more
fields and increase food production (and allows you to make a few bucks selling the timber on the side), then
you will cut down as many trees as your technology and your available energy allow you to do.
With stone axes, you won't get very far. With bronze axes, you will manage to deforest any region within 20 miles or
so of the mediterranean coast, plus any easily reached area further inland. population under 30-50 million.
With iron axes and the less tightly integrated economy that iron affords, even isolated pockets of iron using
people can profitable deforest most of europe and the near east (population 200-300 million), and get a pretty good handle in deforesting eastern parts of north america (population close to 500 million).
With steel axes, saws, steam engines, trains, and transoceanic cargo ships, only a few million people can manage
to clearcut entire continents (population about 1 billion).

with petroleum? you don't need 500 million people, much less 7 billion, armed with petroleum and modern technology
they can strip the planet down to poisoned desert in just a few decades. oh, wait, that's what we're doing.

random variation in behavior that accidentally stumbles into something like agriculture

It wasn't a random discovery. People were forced into it by overpopulation.

Agriculture is a much tougher life than foraging. People only do it when they have to.

I have spent a lot of time reading about primitive societies and hunter gatherers and the early stages of agriculture.

It seems to be a fairly well established fact that foraging was not excessively stressful at least under opitmum circumstances-meaning a good sized territory and a small population.

But is seems to be an equally well established fact that the populations were kept small by constant low level raiding and warfare.

The noble savage living in peace and harmony with nature never existed.

That is why agriculture eventually took over the world. Agricultural societies also had their populations kept down by warfare, famine, and disease. (The latter two being far more of a problem to agricultural societies.) But they were able to maintain higher populations, and therefore won the "arms race" with the foragers.

I don't think anyone here is arguing in favor of the noble savage, but foraging was a better life, at least as measured in things like health and lifespan. And leisure.

you want to envision the world today having 6 billion or so of us useless eaters wiped out so that 500 million or so of the chosen people could continue living the industrial, high tech good life

You are building a straw man here. Read my previous posts and you will not find me advocating *in favor* of a natural die off, much less mass murder. I would much prefer that the various world governments pull their collective heads out of their asses and institute strict birth control programs right now --with an aim of slowly reversing population growth before it causes an unavoidable die-off, and brings all the chaos and misery likely to accompany it. There is no need to start killing people. All we have to do is lower the global birth rate below the global death rate, and viola! Problem solved.

then you would indeed envision energy remaining cheap for a long while yet- and even the most absurd or trivial destruction of the planet to proceed with even fewer limitations because the cheap energy makes it profitable to do so! You'll find that that population will still grow exponentially (absent some draconian controls) and as long as it has cheap energy it will devour the world. It will manage to get further in the ecosystem destruction than 7 billion of us would because 7 billion will crash faster than 500 million will. 500 million might keep this game going for 50 or even a hundred years, long enough to really kill any life on this planet more complex than a cockroach. 7 billion crashing within a generation, the world will recover from before too long, and even humans will most likely make it.

A lot of unproven assumtions here. Why are you so certain that any well educated, well fed, technologically advanced global society would *always* choose to keep on increasing the rate of consumption, pollution and destruction, even when the consequences are obvious and awful? Much of the Western world has already woken up to the long-term havok that our way of life is wreaking on our environment and trying to do something about it (this blog should be proof of that). Yes, there are a lot of Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins in the world, but thankfully, they are not always in the majority everywhere.

But talking about 'overpopulation' being 'the problem' is a demonstration of failure to understand feedback loops and their role in exponential growth.

On the contrary, Ehrlich (among many others) long ago demonstrated overpopulation as a ROOT cause of many other problems --which can best be thought of as *symptoms* of that root problem.

I intend to continue to enjoy a good bit of meat in my own diet-and although we are in a position to eat about as much as we want, being small farmers producing our own(our costs are mostly in our own labor as we raise and butcher nearly all of our own consumption and salt, freeze, or can it) we are still making a serious effort to cut our consumption.

There is no doubt whatsoever that one TOO MUCH meat is bad for you,and two, that a moderate amount is very good for you,especially if you eat your fruit and veggies and get plenty of exercise.All of my known (four generations) ancestors have eaten about as much pork and chicken as they wanted, and some beef as well as plenty of fruit and veggies, worked hard tough physical jobs-and died no younger than thier late eighties, except for an accident.

The most ridiculous aspect of the whole dietary thing is that as our food delivery system works right now,I can buy whole chickens ready to cook this week at any chain market for around a dollar a pound and leg quarters for sixty five cents at Walmart.

The cheapest apples were sixty nine cents and most were considerably more.Meat, which is protien and calorie dense,although short on many important nutrients, is actually much cheaper than vegetables in many cases!Cabbage , onions, and bananas are the only veggies that are big consistent local sellers thay are always cheaper than meat-even potatos sometimes cost more!

I guess the problem will solve itself to some extent when the system crashes-right now you can buy a bushel of decent local apples for twenty five cents per pound-evuivalent apples in the supermarkets are ninety cents and up.At that point maybe I can sell our production direct to the consumer again , if we're still in business.Poverty has a way of focusing a shoppers attention sometimes.

Given all of the conversation on this topic of eating your veggies, etc. you might enjoy listening to this most recent "Fitness Rocks" podcast by Dr. Monty Ladner that discusses some of this stuff and includes an interview with Yale's Dr. David Katz. http://www.fitnessrocks.org/

He also touches on the topic of humanity's propensity to ignore scientific evidence in decision making.

He also talks about overshoot, in that, for most of our history we spent too much energy chasing too few calories. "Calories were scarce and hard to get, physical activity unavoidable".
Now we spend too little energy chasing too many calories.
His comments regarding fast food restaurants on every corner and the messaging of advertising, as a means to sell something, not to support health, are spot on.

Would you be willing to do one day a week with no meat ? Just curious...
I'd ask a car driver the same thing - would they be willing to do a day a week with no car?
I just wonder where the boundaries are for people, in terms of the perceived need to "give up" something they enjoy.

the fuel you decline to burn in your car on daily errands is now available (at a lower price, even, thanks to lower demand) to be burnt in a bulldozer ripping down forests. Cheap energy = even the most marginal venture for destroying the earth and turning it into money is viable. Expensive energy = it simply isn't worth it to destroy the earth as
completely as we are now. You will never get the exploitative, abusive psycopaths who make these decisions to listen
to anything but the bottom line. Nor will you get the millions of consumers (the word describes something rather short of a complete human being) to ever rescind their role in the murderous business. Fuel conservation gets an A for intent but F for meaningful results to the world. Put the effort into trying to direct the use of our remaining fuel into the least overall destructive activity, maybe you'll accomplish something- because every drop we can burn
we will, be sure of that. The sooner we run out, the sooner the ecological destruction will stop.

The sooner we run out, the sooner the ecological destruction will stop.

On the flipside, an uncontrolled/unplanned 'running out' may well lead to effective chaos, as people partake in a kind of scorched earth policy to sate their percieved needs.

The idea we can save the planet by simply not eating meat is pure folly. But maybe we can save the planet by not eating meat and using those new flourescent bulbs? Ha ha.

It seems as though many people are leaping from the fact that large quantities of grain are being fed to cattle to the conclusion that eliminating meat consumption would free an equivalent amount of food. This is not so because humans can't eat grass. Most feedlot cattle spend 2/3rds of their lives in pasture.

A 10,000 km stretch of the world's surface, from the Sahel and N. Africa to the Asian steppes has supplied humans with sustenance from herding livestock for several thousand years. For many of the people in this region, 90% of their caloric intake comes from livestock, along with just about everything else they use.

Since the middle of the 19th century, livestock ranching has arisen in the Great Plains region of North America, Australia, and the Pampas in S. America, as well as parts of Europe. Livestock (cattle being but one variety) are favored in these regions because there is too little rain to grow much else. North America west of the 100th meridian is dominated by cattle raising, except in irrigated areas, for this reason.

What has happened with the growth of industrial agriculture and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the post WWII era is, in essence, the conversion of oil into animal feed. Industrial corn production is one way to efficiently do this.

I not endorsing any of this, by the way. I just thought it important to point out that cattle are not exclusively eating grain that people would eat; rather, they are for most of their lives eating grass grown in environments not suitable for crops (due to lack of rainfall).

Saudi Arabian giant Saudi Aramco will bring the Manifa oilfield on stream in 2013

Aramco has slowed work at the 900,000 barrels per day development as it looks to save costs on oil and gas service contracts and as a slowdown in global oil demand makes capacity expansion less urgent.

"Sometime in 2013, it is on schedule" Aramco's vice president of Northern area oil operations Fahad al-Moosa told Reuters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Bahrain.

Aramco delayed the start-date for the multi-billion dollar project earlier this year to 2013 from the initial schedule of 2011.

Early work on building a causeway to offshore facilities was near completion, and site preparation work was under way, he added.

Saudi Arabia reached crude capacity of 12.5 million bpd this year. It is developing Moneefa to compensate for declining capacity at other fields rather than to boost total Saudi capacity.

Saudi Arabia reached crude capacity of 12.5 million bpd this year.

Just once I wish that one of these writers would talk about the decline in Saudi net oil exports in 2006-2008 inclusive, relative to their 2005 rate--as US oil prices went from an annual average of $56 in 2005 to $100 in 2008. If they had simply maintained their 2005 net export rate, their 2006-2008 cumulative net oil exports would have been about 10 Gb, whereas it was actually about 9.2 Gb.

westexas, if someone would question them about it, then the answer would be that they started to work on raising their production capacity in 2006, but that it takes a few years.
Of course, if their production from mature fields goes down 500 kbd-1 mbd every year the answer has no value.

The Register has long been a favorite tech news site. Today, they turn their attention to an upcoming Scientific American cover story:

Globo-renewables all electric future touted again
Still requires population freeze + universal poverty

To begin with, Jacobson and Delucchi assert that shifting everything onto electricity - electric cars and trucks, electric trains, electric heating and hot water and industry, electric ships etc etc - would reduce the amount of energy the human race required, by a matter of 32 per cent. This is about the only new thing the two bring to the global energy debate.


There's no way in the world that Jacobson and Delucci can stand up their assertion that a renewables-powered electric world is cheaper than going nuclear, unless we make the same assumption as we just did with fossil fuel - that nuclear is evil and will destroy the world. It seems pretty plain that the two professors made that assumption about nuclear and fossil long ago, before they ever began their careers.

Their plan isn't science or engineering or even (spit) economics - it's just wishful thinking.

More than 1 way to cool the earth

The second set of scientists returned with a very different answer. Their solution cost less than one-thousandth as much to implement and did not require anyone to change his behavior

and that is why we're doomed
edit: damn, wrong parent :(

renewables-powered electric world is cheaper than going nuclear

Really? What's the cost for the fission plants in Iran? What was the cost of the fission plant in Iraq?

BNFL, the U.S. subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., will use document and configuration management technology to support a clean up a $6.9 billion cleanup project of radioactive waste.

$6.9 billion seems expensive.

The UK has some of the world's oldest nuclear sites. Fourteen plants have closed and are being decommissioned, the estimate cost of this operation will be £73bn by 2010

That seems expensive too.

But hey, them British and thier cost cutting:

NUCLEAR waste from UK tests at Maralinga in the 1950s may have been dumped at sea despite the Federal Government ordering a proper clean-up.

However, declassified British Government documents to be released publicly today under the 30-year rule reveal for the first time the plutonium's final resting place was probably the ocean floor.

U.S. official resigns over Afghan war
Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting

8 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan

There are some good reasons we are fighting there. Rebuilding the nation is not 1 of them, and neither is democracy. Nor fighting terrorists over there so we don't have to fight 'em here. It's not about eradicating the heroin industry, and it's not about a former, death, CIA asset.

Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting

That makes two of us (and probably a pretty substantial number more than that). The really scary thing is that it is not really evident that the top brass, and even the top civilian leadership, actually know either.

The really scary thing is that it is not really evident that the top brass, and even the top civilian leadership, actually know either.

But for such folks, or even the political pundirty whose employment depends upon being considered to be one of the serious people, admitting it would be a career limiting move.

Afghan Officer’s Resignation a Warning

You can read a lot of columns about Afghanistan by stateside blowhards who don't know what they're talking about or you can read about why Foreign Service Officer Matt Hoh resigned.

Thanks for the link Jeff. From your link there is a link to Matthew P. Hoh's resignation letter. It is a revealing read.

Matthew P. Hoh Resignation Letter

I fail to see the value or worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war.

I hope it is read by every politician in Washington.

Ron P.

Good read indeed. Now if only our political and corporate leaders could be as honest and forthcoming in their acknowledgment of the embarrassing truth that the emperor is indeed butt naked.

Looks like someone is leaking info to the NY Times-this didn't start yesterday. I guess you could make the argument that if the USA taxpayers have to support Wall Street grifters who get million dollar bonuses,they might as well support heroin drug lords http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/asia/28intel.html?_r=1

I hope it is read by every politician in Washington.

Wanda: But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?
Otto: [superior smile] Apes don't read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don't understand it! Let me correct you on a few things; Aristotle was not Belgian! The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself!" And the London Underground is not a political movement! Those are all mistakes. I looked them up.

They might read it, but won't understand.

Though I respect the man and think he is sincere, (unlike most politicians) I still think he is wrong! Case in point:


McCain: Why we can -- and must -- win the war in Afghanistan
By John McCain

The biggest problem is defining what we actually mean by "win". I would furthermore submit that if that is such a big issue, then that is already an indication of what a foolhardy venture the whole thing is. When nations go to war and ask their young people (still men, mostly) to put their lives on the line, there should be absolutely no question in anyone's mind as to why. To do otherwise is sheer folly, and bound to end badly.

Re: logi Energy Determines Saudi Oil Production Has Peaked

I tried, apparently too late, to make this statement more nuanced. My personal opinion is that 2005 was probably the final Saudi production peak, but the question of whether Saudi Arabia has seen their final production peak is increasingly irrelevant, since I think that it is extremely unlikely that Saudi Arabia will ever again exceed their 2005 annual net export rate.

Sam, being the more intelligent of the two of us, does take a more nuanced view. I think that his opinion is that there is a 95% probability that actual Saudi production rates will fall between his low case and high case estimates for future production.

I listened to that podcast on FSN, very informative. Thanks...


At the EIA's current estimate of the three year rate of increase in Saudi consumption (5.2%/year, which is down somewhat from prior numbers), Saudi Arabia would have to have a total liquids production rate of 13.0 mbpd in 2018, if they wanted to match their 2005 net export rate (when their total liquids production rate was 11.1 mbpd).

Did I read this right? Grossly simplified: a peak/plateau in 2005 and then a halving in oil exported in 8 years (2013)? That's a 9% decline rate by rule of 72. That's the exact timing for the thread playing out the worst case downslope in my novel. Fiction, of course. I better hurry up and finish it.

cfm, the growlery, gray, me

Did I read this right?

Nope. Sam's best case is that by the end of 2013, four years hence, the (2005) top five net oil exporters will have shipped 52% of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports (CNOE). His best case is that their combined net export rate in 2013 will be down by about 25% from their 2005 rate.

This is Characteristic #3 of Net Export declines, i.e., the bulk of post-peak CNOE are shipped early in the decline phase. This is what the ELM predicted, and it is exactly what we saw with the Indonesia, UK and Egypt (IUKE) case histories.

IUKE showed a combined production peak in 1996. In 1999, their combined annual net oil exports were down by only 9% from their 1996 rate, but by the end of 1999--three years after their combined production peak--they had shipped 52% of post-1996 CNOE.

This forum is all over the map on Saudi oil.
Colin Campbell said that Saudi Arabia has 25% of world conventional oil a while ago. That should be 250 Gb (1000 Gb left x 25%)
Saudi produces ~3.4 Gb/a.
Euan Mears in 2007 said they had 120 Gb left(35 year at current rates). Others said 73 Gb(21 year).
The bad news is not evidently bad enough. 'Decline rate theorists'
say that once a country hits peak production falls exponentially.
If Saudi Arabia peaks/plateau ends in 2014 and declines at say 4% it will be down to 6 Gb by 2023, producing only 43 Gb of oil;

3.4 Gb/a x 5 +3.4 Gb/a x ((1-exp(-.04 x 9)/.04).

This leaves too much oil in the ground. Russia might go over a production cliff (eventually-80 Gb) but Saudi?

What's the real scenario for Saudi oil?

I can't answer for anyone else, but I haven't changed my position since I did my first post in January, 2006 on the top three net oil exporters at the time--Saudi Arabia; Russia and Norway.

After conferring with Sam, my (1/06) opinion--based on the logistic (HL) models--was that Saudi Arabia was on the verge of a long term production decline, irreversible in the sense that I thought that they would never again match their 2005 annual production rate, and we subsequently, in May, 2006, did a paper lining up the 1972 Texas production peak with 2005 Saudi production. In January, 2006, I concluded that Russia would probably resume their production decline within one to two years. And I thought that Norway's production would continue to decline.

And here is what has happened since January, 2006:

Saudi Arabia's 2005-2008 production decline rate was 1.0%/year and their net export decline rate was 2.7%/year (EIA, Total Liquids).

Russia's 2007-2008 production decline rate was 0.9%/year and their net export decline rate was 2.4%/year.

Norway has continued their production and net export decline, with production and net exports respectively down at 4.7%/year & 5.1%/year from 2001-2008.

What's the real scenario for Saudi oil?

To answer this question directly, what really counts is net oil exports, and I think that Sam and I both concur that is is extremely unlikely that Saudi Arabia will ever again match their 2005 annual net export rate.

Incidentally, regarding Sam's best case projection for the (2005) top five net oil exporters (post-2005 CNOE 52% depleted at the end of 2013), the actual 2007 & 2008 data points fell between his Sam's middle case and high case, and the best case model assumes an increase in Saudi production, with 2013 production being about the same level as 2008. In other words, the actual recent data points suggest that the best case projection may be too optimistic.

'Decline rate theorists' say that once a country hits peak production falls exponentially.

How would you characterize the Texas production decline?


I can't answer for anyone else, but I haven't changed my position since I did my first post in January, 2006 on the top three net oil exporters at the time--Saudi Arabia; Russia and Norway.

Couldn't find that comment or maybe you could just TELL me what your position is on those three( recoverable reserves)?
In a July 2006 story it says either 284 Gb or 186 Gb by HL for Saudi.

I agree that the ~19 Gb/a world export trade in oil is the most important factor. The collapse of international trade due to rapid depletion would cause a mega-depression.

How would you characterize the Texas production decline?

Downward. Eyeballing an curve as exponential is dumb.

Hook in his paper doesn't give a reason for assuming an exponential decline except that CERA also uses an exponential decline(pg 13).


How's that for reasoning.

In the May, 2006 paper, Sam came up with a (C+C) estimate of 186 Gb for the URR for Saudi Arabia. I'm guessing this would be about 215 Gb total liquids:


He has since modified his approach, providing 95% confidence intervals. The following paper from 2007 has his URR estimates for the (2005) top five net oil exporters. He gave Saudi Arabia URR of 224 Gb plus or minus 24 Gb (Total Liquids).


Regarding Texas, I'm confused as to what your point is. Decline rates almost always vary from year to year, but this is a classic case of an overall exponential decline curve, with a 36 year overall exponential decline rate of 3.6%/year.

Don't read Hook's paper, but instead read his thesis. It is a much more comprehensive view of the data and you can choose to ignore the implications that he draws from the data.

When I look at his data, there are very consistent views to a constant depletion rate over a range of reservoirs. This is very good supporting evidence for the validity of the oil shock model.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with assuming an exponentially damped decrease. It is a maximally disordered function that maximizes the entropy of a physical process. This gives rise to the Maximum Entropy Principle in that if the average rate is all you know you should assume an exponential, as that maximizes the entropy over that constraint.

My hypothesis is that people are so all over the place wrt the KSA because the Saudis are doing something unusual: deliberately holding back and conserving their reserves for the future. They have pretty much said as much in public, so that is not just a guess. Because this is not usually done, at least to this extent, the models that analysts use do not map so reliably to the Saudi situation. Plus, since it is such a big pool of oil and the data is so lacking, the range of error is rather substantial.

If there is any validity to my hypothesis (and there may not be, I have little real expertise here), then the flows we are seeing coming out of the KSA now are not likely to be much bigger, no matter how much we might speculate about how much more they have in the ground. The only question thus becomes: how long they can sustain it before depletion really kicks in. The Saudis seem to be saying "many decades in the future", while some analysts here seem to be saying "any day now". I have no way of knowing who is right, but I do suspect that by deliberately not maxing out and producing as much as they can, as fast as they can, they have actually bought themselves some time.

My $0.02 anyway, could be entirely wrong.

majorian, a high decline rate could slow down after some (5-10) years. What then follows with KSA is that they could produce light crude oil in the 4-6 mbd range and a few mbd of heavy oil for many decades to come.

What's the real scenario for Saudi oil?

that oil production won't stop in 2023 ?

Saudi Arabia had a little over 3 million people in 1950. They now have over 23 million. Every one of those people lives off the proceeds of oil exports, via either direct employment, spinoff, or for the vast majority, direct subsidy.

If their exports continue to decline, and I think westexas has made a compelling argument that exports will decline quickly, then the risks of social upheaval grow quickly. I think geologically you would be quite correct, they could probably still be pumping a million bpd 50 years from now. Whether the infrastructure or personnel to run it will exist in even 15 years is much more doubtful.

Their HNER (Human Net Export Rate) will have to increase dramatically to keep pace with their net export decline rate in Petroleum.

Thank you.

will have shipped 52% of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports (CNOE). His best case is that their combined net export rate in 2013 will be down by about 25%

Plateau meet cliff.

I mentioned yesterday I expected the Year over Year price of gasoline to turn positive within a day or two. I knew CNBC wouldn't cover the story, but I'm surprised it's not front page news on TOD.

Today, for the first time in a year, gasoline is more expensive than last year. 267.5 vs 266.8

And the velocity of change is still running at close to 4 cents a day. And all coming with the current economic background. If you'll recall, the economy was still running 6% faster and 3.5 million jobs higher a year ago than it is today.

Bumpy plateau? These are pretty big bumps if you ask me.

jt -- Thanks for the update and keeping track for us.

Bumpy Plateau ?


And maybe depletion is starting to bite harder and sooner than we have been thinking for the last year or so.

I see some more pieces here and there blaming speculators for oil prices -but I have yet to see somebody post a piece explaining why the major oil producers need or tolerate speculators, or would allow them to rake off any serious percentage of thier potential revenues.

In recent history there has generally been a surplus of staple crops in the US as lower cost producers crowded out higher costs producers who went broke, leaving us with fewer farmers as the years went by-but nowadays the costs of staples is creeping up as the cost of the remaining producers creeps up and the amount of prime farm land declines.Increases in productivity are no longer adequate to hold the cost line.
Maybe a similar situation holds in the oil business-of course there are still low costs producers but with prices determined at the margin we may be in the deep doo doo as a famous (failed) oil man was once heard to say.
(Never mind 'bout that-he made his millions anyway, out of the perfect combination of modern big biz-baseball, protected by law as a monopoly in the land of the free , and socialism in the form of a free stadium for his team to play in so he could cash out and make a hundred to one on his investment-and pay only a piddly little capital gains tax on the profit at that.)

As I see it there aren't any producers,possibly excepting the Saudis and a couple of others too small to matter , who are able to seriously ramp up thier production to take advantage of prices that are double or triple the prices of only a decade or so in the past.

Maybe the answer is that the investment is not adequate-but the oil investment climate has been in the pits for only the last year in relation to oil prices.The oil that should be coming to market now should have been in the pipeline from the mid nineties on-where is it?

Of course the Chinese are using a lot more and they came on a LOT faster than most people thought they would but just how is new consumption responsible for LACK of new production?

The projects that we hear about being shut in or shut down rather were not within a year of being ready to pay thier way unless I am SERIOUSLY mistaken-and while I have no expertise , I do read this site regularly,as well as a couple more, that deal mostly with energy.

The only way I can read it, sticking to the basics and Occam's razor, is that the crunch is here now-we just don't really appreciate it yet because it is slipping up on us gradually.

Of course being no more than a moderately well informed layman I might change my mind again if oil is selling a lot cheaper next year.

Hey Mac!

I have yet to see somebody post a piece explaining why the major oil producers need or tolerate speculators, or would allow them to rake off any serious percentage of thier potential revenues.

Try this :

The two teams for the upcoming World Series of crude oil have been decided. The first team is made up of speculators and hedge fund advisors with the other team made up of the major and independent oil companies. The final outcome of this game between the Wall Street Titans and the Texas Oil Barons will decide the winner or loser, in this case the gasoline customer.
The big hedge-fund managers and other large speculators make up the Wall Street Titans and are betting on that the outcome will be that the price of crude oil price will increase to $85 a barrel by the end of this year.

I 've read a lot of that sort of stuff.

It doesn't add up for me.

About a dozen or so major producers ,national oil companies and multinationals put so much oil on the market day to day, month to month.All the rest together don't amount to beans in terms of short term changes in production as they produce small but steady amounts , as in the US.Over any extended period it all gets burnt, excepting whatever piddly amount goes into strategic reserves.

Now I can see the monster banks infleuncing the price a little from week to week or for a fewmonths down the road but if the sticky stinky stuff sells at the higher price then the oil companies collect, other than production sold and contracted forward.Somebody loses a bet for every winning bet in this game.

(Maybe speculators can move prices up and down a little, or for a little while-but the guys who own the oil in the ground determine the price by controlling production.If that oil keeps coming at a rate higher than consumption, prices must inevitably fall unless the market is growing and healthy.

Otoh, if that oil does not come forth, consumption is held steady-for a while -by drawing down inventories.Then prices rise.Doubtless if you have a lot of insider info-and the ultimate insiders are the big players in finance-you can make some winning bets.Enough to sack up some gold, doubtless.Enough to control the price of oil in any meaningful sense-not unless they also control production, shipping, refining and distribution- in which case our "SPECULATORS" ARE ONE AND THE SAME AS THE INDUSTRY ITSELF.Now I might buy some stock in that scenario.)

They are the ones who have the oil market cornered.Now if you want to include them in your definition of speculators, I'm ready to listen.

Investment advisors have always been ready to spout bullshit to sell thier product.There has been a considerable amount of discussion of speculation versus fundamentals on this site over the last few months and after careful consideration of the arguments put up by the oil experts here I chose fundamentals as the controlling factor in oil prices,as did nearly all the regulars with real expertise if I remember correctly.I will be the first to admit I have no expertise-nobody needs waste any keystrokes on reminding me !


Meanwhile here in the UK I saw prices of £1.10 / litre -now last summer I saw prices upto around £1.28 so we are already about 85% of peak with oil prices only a little over half that of peak.

It makes me wonder what Petrol/Gas prices will be when oil gets back to $147.



You guys should just stop taxing yourselves and instead borrow money from China to pay for everything. It cost less, and the best part is you never have to pay it back!

Actually, our Treasury is going to print up the $10,000,000,000 dollar bill, put a hundred of them in a FEDEX pouch to Beijing with a Post-It saying, "Thanks for everything. Yours Truly, Uncle Sam."

Re: Nation Must Use Oil From Unconventional Sources

All but ardent environmentalists who have a perverse antipathy toward science seem to recognize that continued use of fossil fuels is inevitable.

Let me get this straight...If you're an actual scientist whose business it is to measure climate and resource limits and you are raising a red-flag advising industrial societies that the continued burning of fossil fuels may result in catastrophic changes in our earth-based life-support systems you get branded as a tinfoil-hat Chicken Little with a "perverse antipathy toward science".

Perhaps Ted Kacynski was right. Long before he became the Unabomber he tried his hand at Monkey-Wrenching (Edward Abbey) and after a period came to the conclusion that more violent methods would be the only solution to what he saw as the problem of industrial civilization. He says that he lost faith in the idea of reform, and saw violent collapse as the only way to bring down the techno-industrial system. About the idea of a peaceful, reformist means of taking it down he said:

I don't think it can be done. In part because of the human tendency, for most people, there are exceptions, to take the path of least resistance. They'll take the easy way out, and giving up your car, your television set, your electricity, is not the path of least resistance for most people. As I see it, I don't think there is any controlled or planned way in which we can dismantle the industrial system. I think that the only way we will get rid of it is if it breaks down and collapses ...

The big problem is that people don't believe a revolution is possible, and it is not possible precisely because they do not believe it is possible. To a large extent I think the eco-anarchist movement is accomplishing a great deal, but I think they could do it better... The real revolutionaries should separate themselves from the reformers.

And I think that it would be good if a conscious effort was being made to get as many people as possible introduced to the wilderness. In a general way, I think what has to be done is not to try and convince or persuade the majority of people that we are right, as much as try to increase tensions in society to the point where things start to break down. To create a situation where people get uncomfortable enough that they’re going to rebel. So the question is how do you increase those tensions?

Kaczinski sees efforts to slow down or negotiate with empire as futile and weak: "People putting their bodies in the way of machinery is masochistic and self-loathing."

As a footnote: Kaczynski is appealing his sentence...not for acquittal but to remove the stigma of insanity. He wants the death sentence. They'll never remove that sentence however. If they did that would give credence to his ideas. After all terrorism can never be a legitimate tool of political action...Right?


Hey Joe,
(where you going with that...)

I agree with Kaczinski when he says

The real revolutionaries should separate themselves from the reformers.

i.e. then we could lock them up and make the world a safer and better place.

But I disagree with him about the death sentence. It doesn't matter how many people he murdered, killing people is immoral, and that includes him.

I agree with Kaczinski when he says

The real revolutionaries should separate themselves from the reformers.

i.e. then we could lock them up and make the world a safer and better place.

Where am I going with that? I thought it was perfectly clear. I view the paradigm of industrial society as a cancer. You don't reform cancer. You have to root it out. But that's my opinion. Your opinion appears to be that modern industrial society makes "the world a safer and better place". I think you're poorly informed and blinded by a nasty case of anthrocentricism masquerading as righteous moral high ground...but that's only my opinion.

Best wishes for a quick collapse.


Hey Joe, interesting turn of the conversation.
To the casual site visitor, it comes across as some twisted, sick, eco-terrorist shit.
but that's only my opinion.

The one comment was meant as a Jimi Hendrix reference ... I hope no one takes any of this seriously.

Take his 'Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens' serious though.

I think he's talking about these people that I photographed last weekend at a 350 rally on the beach


FMagyar - On Saturday I was at the Greenpeace 350.org demonstration at Embarcadero Plaza in San Francisco. Great event but the question remains...is the notion of halting consumption and growth going to catch on with the mainstream?


Hey Joe,

I'm on the east coast In South Florida, as for halting consumption and growth becoming mainstream, I don't expect it to happen soon or voluntarily but it is happening already. Look at the predictions for Christmas shopping for example. One of the interesting things about going to the rally was talking with people. At least the group on the beach was obviously ahead of the curve in terms of awareness and activism.

I had a good talk with a lady from http://www.slowfoodusa.org/?gclid=COCNifKH3p0CFSduswodgASAMg


After all terrorism can never be a legitimate tool of political action...Right?

Said the British Red Coats of the American Revolutionaries...until they lost!


Interesting. He clearly thought about and came to a similar understanding of where we are at as I have (and many others here as well). And yet he thought that sending a few explosive devices through the mail was morally acceptable and would accomplish anything. Which confirms to me that it is not easy living with these ideas, and that they can easily lead to depression and hopelessness and, in the end, drive you nuts. It is one of the reasons that most people will never embrace such ideas, as they are deeply disturbing and people will instinctively reject them.

The really sad thing about T K is that hardly anybody knows what he had to say-we remember the bombs but tptb captured his martyrdom and used it for the furtherance of the very system he was fighting.

I am not particularly opposed to his execution -his victims were not well chosen and his methods cowardly-but I hope he manages to clear himself of the insanity accusation.

Now if he had targeted some banksters I would sign a pardon petition in a second.

Leaving aside the morality question, the idea that he could accomplish anything that way was delusional and foolish. The forces we are dealing with are driven by a population of close to 7 billion, and a guy in a remote cabin is not going to have much effect on that. Which should have been obvious.

a guy in a remote cabin is not going to have much effect on that.

Via http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2009/02/the_unabomber_w.php

After 25 years on the job, why did he not make his own tools separate from the system? It looks like he shopped at Wal-mart. The food he scavenged from the wild was minimal. Instead he regularly rode his bike to town and there rented an old car to drive to the big city to restock his food and supplies from supermarkets. He was either incapable of supporting himself without civilization, or unwilling to.

Bush2 sent a number explosive devices thru the "mail" and ended up, before his term was over to have killed about 6,000 americans and over 1 million Iraqi's.

Was he "morally" acceptable? Was the Unabomber any less insane? The biggest bomb has the "rightest" message?

I disagree, as will most in the psyc field. Most people do, actually embrace such ideas, but will never rise to the level of actually doing it. Just listen to the reactions with the 911 hysteria. It's in the human biology, that might makes right. Sad but true.

twilight, i agree entirely. very nice crystallization.

the ideas we're discussing are instinctively repulsive. they serve to destablize foundational assumptions with which most americans born since wwii grew up - especially the perception of permanent personal security and the thought my-children-will-live-a-better-life-than-me. i have been amazed at the tug-of-war that has gone on in my own mind. for me, the period of intellectual digestion was months long.

the reason these ideas are repulsive is: if you accept a new foundational assumption by displacing the old, many decisions made and things built/developed/earned prior to the incorporation of the new assumption are sunk, void, moot and worthless.

Thanks Bert - that's what I was getting at. It is a long process to work though, and those who are thrown into it suddenly will have a very hard time accepting, adapting, and acting in ways that are to their own benefit. That's why the best preparation you can make is to learn and understand, and be ready to embrace change.

My basic attitude after having lived in post-Katrina New Orleans is "been there, done that".

Yes, the post-Peak collapse will be broader and much longer lasting, but there are some comparables when it comes to psychological impact and life experiences.


And your initial reaction was to ask the rest of the country to sacrifice to 'save' New Orleans (and if need be New York and San Francisco)

The only 'place' that will get sacrifice from the rest of the nation via force of law to 'keep it going' will be Washington DC.

Many other places have 'lived though' something like what is coming. Russia and Argentia are the common places mentioned.

Which confirms to me that it is not easy living with these ideas, and that they can easily lead to depression and hopelessness and, in the end, drive you nuts.

Or it's possible he was depressed and psychotic to begin with and wasn't able to rationally assess the consequences of his actions. Which may also be why they concluded he was insane. Having said that it still is not easy living with these ideas even for those of us who are still considered sane, well maybe a little quirky ;-)

Who you callin' sane? Them's fightin words!

As I often say to my friends, it's perfectly Ok if you talk to yourself...it's only when "yourself", starts talking back, that you start to have a problem ;-)

Re: Kaczynski

Kaczynski's lawyers attributed some of his emotional instability to his participation in a CIA stress and mind control experiment at Harvard from the age of 16.
Source Wikipedia

Does make one wonder a bit...

According to zFacts.com's debt clock, the US Federal Debt reached $12 trillion at 12:03 pm EDT today Oct 27, 2009. That is roughly $40,000 debt for every person. The negative net worth, which includes GAAP accounting principles for SS and Medicare runs $60 to $75 trillion depending on who's counting. That's $200,000 to $250,000 per person including newborns.
In addition, TARP residual losses and Freddie losses are not yet tabulated and therefore are a huge overhang on effective Federal Debt numbers. As the Federal Debt gets larger by around $200 million every hour, we can easily see where this debt will burden us for the near and distant future.

I don't think this level of debt will be a problem. We'll just pay it back with itty-bitty little dollars ;-)

I've just begun wading into the fracking document:
and the useful information (for me) begins on page 5-52 with the functionally organized list of chemical components that are used in fracking liquids.

It's ironic that so many of the constituents are aliphatic hydrocarbons - but those don't look so bad to me.

I don't like the idea of pumping methanol, glycols, or glycol ethers into the ground, because their miscibility in water means they won't stay put, and their chemical stability means they'll still be present when they eventually migrate out of the ground. It depends on the mammal, but many of us find these compounds to be hepatic toxins, since they're metabolized to formaldehyde and other unpleasant compounds.

I also notice alkylphenol ethoxylate on this list, which is no longer in use in the US as a chemical sterilizing agent for medical devices, because it acts as an estrogen mimic. I wonder how many other estrogen mimics are hidden away here in the surfactant list? The other prominent sterilant here, glutaraldehyde, is particularly nasty but reactive enough that it's probably not all that persistent in soil.

It'll take awhile to search out the whole list, but the first take-away is that hydrochloric acid is the main player in fracking liquid.

Thanks for your initial report. One wonders if fracking can be done without using poisons?

Nah, it's the nature of the beast. Sure, you can switch surfactants, lubes, biocides, and corrosion inhibitors, but the best you can hope for is being 'less bad,' never 'good.'

Did you check out the liquid volumes they're talking about? The sheer mass of the injected materials is staggering.

Yeah, and then they act surprised that such massive volumes are able to infiltrate aquafirs and show up in nearby wells. So, the external cost is centuries-long pollution of irreplacable aquafirs for a few years worth of Natgas--and that is somehow in the interest of the USA and its citizenry?

In honor of Halloween, a lot of travel sites are publishing lists of the "The World's Spookiest Places," "The World's Most Mysterious Places," etc.

Among Travel and Leisure's "World's Eeriest Abandoned Places": the abandoned suburbs of Florida.

I wonder if the Mayan abandonment was sub prime related.

For reasons that we don't understand, the Mayas, abandoned their cities around 900 AD. There is evidence of invasion from the outside and its possible that economic difficulties led them to abandon the cities.



Detroit looks pretty freaky too.

How food shapes our cities

Every day, in a city the size of London, 30 million meals are served. But where does all the food come from? In this new TED video Architect Carolyn Steel discusses the daily miracle of feeding a city, and shows how ancient food routes shaped the modern world.

Food is a shared necessity -- but also a shared way of thinking, argues Carolyn Steel. Looking at food networks offers an unusual and illuminating way to explore how cities evolved.

Energeek - Excellent presentation! Carolyn Steel, with perfect British understatement, calls it like it is:

One of the great ironies of the modern food systems is they've made the very thing they promised to make easier much harder...by making it possible to build cities anywhere and anyplace they've actually distanced us from our most important relationship which is that of us and nature and they've also made us dependent on systems that only they can deliver and as we've seen are unsustainable.

500 years ago Thomas Moore was thinking about these very issues. In his treatise Utopia he presented the idea of cities that were a days walk from one another and people were farming vegetables in their backyards and having communal meals together.

I guess we know how that worked out.


From the Register-


Globo-renewables all electric future touted again -Still requires population freeze + universal poverty

Another American environment professor has asserted that the entire world can easily power itself using only pure-green generation methods - "wind, solar and water". As with other recent plans, the idea would seem to be to keep the developing world in misery - and the developed world in penury.

The new scheme comes to us courtesy of Mark Jacobson, a hard-green environment professor at Stanford. Jacobson and his colleague Mark Delucchi at UC-Davis have drafted an article outlining their thoughts which is to be on the cover of Scientific American next month.

Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 – here are the numbers

Jacobson and Delucchi used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to project that if the world's current mix of energy sources is maintained, global energy demand at any given moment in 2030 would be 16.9 terawatts, or 16.9 million megawatts.

They then calculated that if no combustion of fossil fuel or biomass were used to generate energy, and virtually everything was powered by electricity – either for direct use or hydrogen production – the demand would be only 11.5 terawatts. That's only two-thirds of the energy that would be needed if fossil fuels were still in the mix.


I havn't read it yet -how do they see planes operating on electricity??


A giant electric rail gun shoots the planes into the upper atmosphere, and then they glide down to the destination from there. Of course, you can only go one direction around the globe, so all trips become a round-the-world excursion. And you have to wear a G-suit at take-off.

I suppose that air flight becomes a thing of the past. Not a big deal IMO.

Air travel dies once the 'mass produced' airplanes stop.

The airplane is a marvel of Mechanical Engineering so I find it incredulous you could say that...

...and tourism is the worlds #1 Industry btw.

But I do like the railgun idea.


I just talked with an old friend who works as a 1st mate on Container Ships, asking him about the Kite/Sails, etc. and the conversation moved into his being eager to see a return of the Dirigible, and his having heard about tests with blimps that carry a few containers. I didn't get into the volume required, but the point was that travelling with the weather currents, the fuel requirement could be very reasonable. Might be useful for some kinds of loads..?

Says who?and by what measure?

I have seen claims for the "biggest " industry for agriculture, oil, military,finance, etc.

A request:

This relates to the 'cubic mile' of oil we consume (annually?) I think it is a very compelling point to put in terms of windmills, solar panels, or nuke plants what we would have to build each year to replace oil/FF's going forward.

Does anyone have a handle on those numbers? If we did what Jacobson and Delucchi say we can do, how many of these alternatives would we have to build and put into service each year?

The blog articleLeanan links to gives this summary of electricity generation:

Wind: 51% of power needs. This would require 3.8 million large new wind turbines worldwide. Currently, less than 1% of that amount is installed.

Solar: 40% of power needs. This calls for 89,000 photovoltaic installations and concentrating solar power farms, all at 300 megawatts each. Like wind, the world is at less than 1% of that target.

Water: 9% of power needs. This would require the deployment of numerous "mature water-related" technologies, including 490,000 tidal turbines, 5,350 geothermal plants and 900 hydroelectric plants. For hydroelectric, the world has 70 percent in place. For geothermal, there are less than 2% of the needed facilities installed, and turbines, less than 1%.

We are talking roughly 20 years to get this all installed, so we would be talking about 190,000 wind turbines a year. I am not sure how big individual wind turbines would be. A recent publication called "U.S. Offshore Wind Energy: A Path Forward" estimates the cost of offshore wind turbines (including installation and maintenance) at €3,300/kW ($4,600/kW) and that of land-based turbines at €1,700/kW ($2,400/kW). If the 190,000 wind turbines consists of

1. 80,000 offshore wind turbines averaging 3MW each, the cost of these wind turbines would be ($4,600) x (3,000) x 80,000 = $1.1 trillion

2. 110,000 onshore wind turbines averaging 1.5MW each, the cost of these wind turbines would be ($2,400) x (1,500) x 110,000 = $0.4 trillion

The total of these two pieces would be $1.5 trillion, for a single year's installment. It seems like solar, hydro, and geothermal would increase the annual outlay to perhaps $3 to $5 trillion.

Besides this, a lot of other changes would be required. There would need to be more transmission lines and electrical storage. The world would need to replace fossil fuel powered cars, trucks, trains, and boats and airplanes (?) to ones powered by electricity or wind. Homes would need to be converted from gas heating to electric, and cooking would need to be converted to all electric. Many kinds of industrial equipment would also need to be converted.

My estimate is very rough. Perhaps someone else can make a better one.

20 years is 7300 days give or take a few. When you do the math on their proposal we get some really fascinating production rates.
Over 67 one MW tidal converters every day.
A 100 MW geothermal plant every 32 hours.
A 1.3 GW hydro dam every 27 days.
98 750 kw wave converters every day.
232,000 homes per day having a 3 kw PV system installed.
6.7 300 MW concentrated solar thermal plants every day.
5.47 300 MW industrial scale PV systems every day.
Now turn off that computer and get to work!

Gail -- Unfortunately you make my case quit well. Military action is much more cost effective. Of course, that assumes you win. And that you don't monetize the cost of human life.

I think this is the complete report ...

A Path To Sustainable Energy By 2030


Another related question that was dealt with on TOD in the past, is whether such a buildup would put enough GHGs into the atmosphere to cause us to exceed the tipping point for catastrophic climate change (assuming we haven't already done that).

I actually e-mailed Jacobson about this and while he emailed me back, he did not directly address the question of why he did not clearly include massive conservation as a cornerstone of his thinking. His answer seemed to imply instead that renewables were preferable to ramping up coal, as we otherwise would. He did not say whether he had even calculated the necessary GHGs in building not only turbines and panels, but also transmission lines and EVs.

I would encourage the better-connected and more engineering-savvy among you to email him. He is clearly interested in random members of the public's opinion of his work.

Will Americans embrace massive conservation? How will we know until Madison Avenue tries to get us there? From the folks who got us to wear high heels and eat McDonald French fries, and watch that infuriating drivel interrupted by commercial pitches for several hours a day?? Why risk underestimating (humans or Madison Ave)?

Thanks Gail.

Numbers like these are what I was looking for, as related to the J. and D. article referenced above.

The US alone imports something of the order of 8mbpd of Crude Oil. At $70/bbl, that's $560,000,000/day, or, if my eyes aren't decieving me, half a billion dollars a day. That's over two hundred billion dollars a year ($204,400,000,000/year). So a Renewables build-out (ignoring opportunities for increased efficiency) is expensive, but not that expensive. "A trillion here, a trillion there, and soon we'll be talking real money!"

Another American environment professor has asserted that the entire world can easily power itself using only pure-green generation methods - "wind, solar and water". As with other recent plans, the idea would seem to be to keep the developing world in misery - and the developed world in penury.

As the FFs gradually run out, those renewables (and I would add biomass/biofuels to the mix, but within limits, and maybe a little more geothermal and tidal as well) will be all we have, and the world will indeed power itself only with those. This will be true even if it only consists of fishermen heading offshore on a raft with a sail, and then cooking their catch back on shore over a wood fire.

The question is: at what place will we actually level off? The more I look at things, the more convinced I become that something in the range of 25% of present per capita GDP is about the best that any of us can hope for. It may take quite a few decades to decline to that level, though - probably well beyond my lifetime. You are right, there will be many unfortunate places where people will do much worse than that - as they pretty much have been up to now.

Hi WNC--As you allude to, the "level off" point will be different for various places plant-wide. Some regions with vast, longlived hydrocarbon resources--South America, for example--will continue to have some sembelence of growth-based economies until the next century. Some economies are already contracting, several without ever having experienced real growth--Kenya, for example; I put the USA in this group. Some will have their growth eventually halted by the Climate Crisis, with India and China being the most prominent. I expect to see the first steadystate economies emerge in the Scandinavian countires, with the EU becoming the first such region. Since the USA has by far the farthest distance to fall before it can become a steadystate economy, I expect it to be the locus of the greatest and longest-lasting amount of upheaval as GDP falls 2/3s.

But, is a lower standard of living bad provided it's shared by all? How far must US culture evolve to arrive at such an outcome without lots of bloodshed, or is such a feat impossible given the dominence exerted by Corporadoes over the mechanisms capable of promoting such change?

We would clearly do better in the US if the political and corporate elites embraced what I would call "managed decline". As you imply, that probably won't happen. More likely, we'll see denial and counterproductive resistance against the inevitable all the way down, which will make things worse rather than better and may well result in a lower "level-off" point than we might otherwise hope to achieve. Nevertheless, it is a big territory with a lot of sustainable resource potential, and it is populated with lots of people who are used to being self-starting and fending for themselves, rather than waiting for TPTB from above to hand everything to them, including their next instructions. Thus, if it were possible to lay any long-term bets, I'd say that individuals, small businesses, and local communities in the US will end up coping a little better than one might expect, while the federal government and the big corporations will perform spectacularly poorly. The latter will likely end up having little, if anything to do with how the US actually operates once we are finally in the leveled-out phase; indeed, they might not even still be in existence.

Obama putting $3.4B toward a 'smart' power grid

Even as Obama pitched more efficient and renewable energy use, his trip to Arcadia made it clear that old habits and dependencies die hard. He arrived in a motorcade of gas-guzzling SUVs. While waiting for the motorcade to get started, several vans kept their engines running to provide air conditioning for occupants escaping a hot Florida sun.


(eyewitness account)The President landed at Sarasota's airport and was flown in a helicopter escorted by at least 5 other whirlybirds to Arcadia.

It's not reasonable to expect the POTUS to travel by bicycle with 2 or 3 Secret Service agents. A helicopter probably saves money (and all sorts of peoples timee) in that they don't have to clear the driving route and manage contact at every possible point.

Five helos seems a bit excessive, but it would be bad to have the POTUS get killed by some suicidal rogue in a Cessna or news helo.

A prune dehydrator here in California is installing a solar array and although it is an american company installing it ....

All trackers , panels ,and electronics are made in China


Disclaimer, I work with an American company selling commercial and residential PV installations.

I do not have any preconceived notions as to which company's panels will end up being used in a particular client installation. Part of our product portfolio includes panels from SolarWorld http://www.solarworld-usa.com/ this is a German/US company that actually manufactures panels on US soil.

While I may have personal and philosophical reasons to prefer local manufacturing of products that I use, if a product that meets the specs, happens to be manufactured in China and is available to be delivered today at a competitive cost I would find it difficult not to consider using such a panel.

If the US government and the business community decides to put their money where their mouths are and invest and create incentives for producing more panels here in the US, I will most certainly be willing to sell those panels. Heck I'll even export them to the rest of the world including China.

Especially if the value of dollar continues to decline against foreign currencies that might not even be such a far fetched notion.

Global Warming Is a Myth: James Altucher Says Invest for a Colder Planet

For those looking for ways to invest in a global cooling theme, Altucher recommends Campbell's Soup and American Ecology Group, which does waste management - including nuclear waste.


Yes, Altucher is a prize.
Tech-Ticker also has two other headlines for articles by him:
"Legalize It: Insider Trading Is a Victimless Crime, Says James Altucher"
"Economy and Market Going to Blast Off from Here, Altucher Says."
The way he sees it, the party has only started.

Australia Coal Mines Can Bear Proposed Carbon Cost

Huh? It works out more like $60 not 80c per tonne of coal which is huge. The figure often used in Australia is that a tonne of coal produces 2.4 tonnes of CO2 since heavier oxygen atoms attach to each lighter carbon atom. If each tonne of CO2 will cost $25 multiply 2.4t X $25/t. Factors which vary from mine to mine are that the coal may have a high proportion of inert minerals, may release fugitive methane and moisture may reduce combustion efficiency.

A minemouth brown coal burning power station might have a internal transfer price of $20 a tonne of coal. Now add $60 extra cost and depending on other overheads the wholesale price of electricity increases several times over. Could be why cap-and-trade schemes aren't happening so fast.

The Labor Government wants to give most of the proceeds of the ETS back to the polluters. The Coalition wants to give all of it back. Th Greens have just released their own ETS papers. The Federal Member for Conservative Christian Morals is wary of an ETS in general because 'god won't let us destroy the planet', or words to that effect (if we could convince MP's who don't understand a piece of legislation to simply abstain...), and because he's too interested in getting fiskal (sic) policy working.

The whole point of an ETS is to make GHG-intensive activities less attractive vs cleaner activities. In response to blatant lobbying er, sorry, concerned interests democratically airing their views, Labor recently capped the cost of a Carbon Credit at $10/ton for the first five years, didn't it (subject to negotiations with the Coalition. They're not going to negotiate with The Greens, because negotiating with the Coalition can fracture them even more). So at most, that'll be $24/ton, a doubling of fuel costs, but not a doubling of wholesale costs.

But honestly, the Mining industry doesn't give a rats backside about how much electricity costs us, because we've got bugger-all options (even with Govt Rebates, 2kW PV systems and SHW systems are still expensive). What they're concerned about is coal exports, which means profits. But the Chinese were paying nearly Au$300/ton not long ago for our coking coal. They wouldn't even blink if we threw $30 on top of that.

Scientists plan to make artificial sun in 2018

ITER is designed to produce approximately 500 MW of fusion power sustained for up to 1,000 seconds through the fusion of about 0.5 g of deuterium mixture in its approximately 840 m3 reactor chamber.

I don't get it. They've tried this exact same design on a smaller scale and it hasn't even come close to producing a net energy return. So how does it simply being larger provide for a net energy return?

Does anyone have a clue as to why they think larger is better?

It's probably due to loses in smaller setups -in fusion the bigger the better as suns prove...

+I don't think the smaller setup was ever a break-even design, it was used more to study plasma physics and the effects of the plasma on the container vessel. etc.

The techno-cornucopian in me is pinning my hopes on "Inertial Electrostatic Fusion". A spin off would be a trip to Mars in <30 days. The more Doomy side says we implode b4 we get a chance to roll it out in scale even if it works. I'll guess we'll see -interesting times and all.


There are different reasons for that, but the single main cause is that the volume of the fusion chamber is growing X³ (volume), whereelse the surface of the plasma which loses the head is only growing X². The same reason why in the artic animals tend to get bigger, so they lose less energy/volume through their skin...


Heat loss is a function of surface area, and the ratio of surface area to volume drops as you scale up.

Plus, of course, the newer design will incorporate all the improvements learnt from experimenting on the previous one.

Thanks for all the responses to my question regarding a larger fusion reactor and how it might acieve a net energy return. Sounds promising, and the timing even more so as I'm sure by 2018 everyone will be holding their breath as to whether it provides a promising energy strategy forward.

On the bonus side we will have definitive results on a couple of the alternate fusion reactor designs much sooner than that.

Tokamak fusion research has tended to the 90-90 rule:
The first 90% of the job takes the first 90% of the time.
The last 10% takes the other 90% of the time.