Drumbeat: October 29, 2009

Saudi oil policy not hostage to Iran worries

BEIRUT - Saudi Arabia might seek to brake any new oil price spike, mainly to protect a fragile global economy and prolong its own role as the world’s top oil producer — and if that hurts regional rival Iran, it will shed no tears.

Immediate pressure for Riyadh to use its vast spare capacity to pump more crude has faded somewhat as US crude has dipped back below $80 a barrel, after hitting $82 last week, its highest level this year.

But a Saudi government adviser, who asked not to be named, said the price had reached ‘the high end of our range’ and any further rise could prompt the kingdom to react.

‘Especially now that the global economic system is recovering, we don’t want to be seen as letting the oil price spiral out of control and affecting the recovery,’ he said.

Shell says would fight Chinese grab in Nigeria

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc will fight any possible efforts by the Nigerian government to hand control of its Nigerian fields to Chinese oil companies, the Anglo-Dutch oil major's chief financial officer said on Thursday.

"One thing you probably will have seen, and can be sure of, is that both ourselves and the industry will defend our interests,"Simon Henry told analysts on a conference call when asked about recent Chinese approaches to Abuja.

Phil Flynn: Coming off the Benchmark

The combination of two rare occurrences helped send the energy complex falling. The dollar actually got stronger and gasoline supplies increased! Yes, that can actually happen! I know, I was amazed myself.

Well it does seem amazing as in recent weeks the dollar has been getting hammered and refiners looked like they had refined their last gallon of gas. I am exaggerating of course but that has been the market mood. But with an unexpected 3.6% drop in new home sales and a 1.7 million barrel increase in gasoline supply, it made some people question some of the things they had believed in. But now the question is whether the NYMEX West Texas Intermediate is a contract the world can believe in.

Shell, Exxon Profits Tumble as Recession Saps Oil, Gas Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest oil companies, posted their lowest third-quarter profits in six years after the recession eroded energy demand, pulling down fuel prices.

Net income at Shell declined 62 percent to $3.25 billion from $8.45 billion a year earlier, The Hague-based company said today in a statement. Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, said its profit dropped 68 percent to $4.73 billion. Exxon Mobil’s per-share profit was 98 cents, 4 cents below the average of 15 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Exxon invests $19bn in new energy supplies

ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest publicly listed oil company, said on Thursday it had invested $19bn through the first three quarters to develop new energy supplies, while competitors where shedding staff and announcing cost cutting efforts.

”Despite ongoing global economic weakness and reduced demand for products, we continued our robust investment program and delivered strong results,’’ said Rex Tillerson, Exxon’s chief executive. ”Our commitment to a disciplined and long-term, focused investment strategy sets ExxonMobil apart from its competitors.’’

Report: ND is now 4th biggest oil-producing state

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota has surpassed Louisiana as the fourth-largest oil-producing state in the nation, the U.S. Energy Department says.

The agency's Energy Information Administration said North Dakota produced 6.38 million barrels of crude in May, edging Louisiana, which had 6.34 million barrels for the month. Oklahoma was ranked fifth, at 5.7 million barrels for that month, according to the most recent figures. Oil production data typically lags at least two months.

Pay less to stay warm this winter

(Money Magazine) -- This year you can score a rare recession-induced break on your energy bill: The combination of a weak economy and a production boom has dropped the cost of heating with natural gas to a six-year low and is keeping a lid on other heat sources as well. But you can still save more. These questions will help you figure out the most cost-effective ways to keep out the cold.

Transportation Officials Face Shortage

Mike Patterson, director of finance for the Transportation Department, says the state has lost $391 million in federal highway funds since 2002 because Congress did not appropriate as much money as it authorized.

Patterson also says fuel taxes collected by the state and federal governments for roads and bridges are not raising enough money.

Island 'at risk without airport'

People on the remote island of St Helena have warned that unless Britain builds them an airport soon, their economy will collapse.

Without it, children are becoming "economic orphans" as parents are forced to take jobs on other islands and the sick are travelling hundreds of miles by ship for specialist care, often without a nurse.

Pakistan: Electricity generation shrinks by 50%

LAHORE: Thin water flow in Mangla and Tarbela dams is causing 50 percent declined at in hydal electricity generation, whereas the unavailability of furnace oil has forced closure of thermal power houses. As a result, 8 to 15 hour electricity outages persist.

Pakistan: Industry seeks uninterrupted gas supply

Business leaders urged the government to ensure supply of all inputs including gas and electricity with a view to keeping the wheels of industry moving while voicing grave concern over abrupt suspension of gas supplies to the industry in Sindh and Punjab in upcoming months.

Representatives of industry maintain that suspension of gas supply would reduce exports and 2.4 million workers would be rendered unemployed. Gas shortage would hit the industry’s business worth $1.5bn per month.

Uranium deal eases West's fears over Iran's nuclear stance

TEHRAN: Iran's President has appeared to lend support to an International Atomic Energy Agency proposal to ship the bulk of his country's enriched uranium abroad.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cast it as a victory for Iranian steadfastness as the world awaits Tehran's formal response to the deal.

Paladin Falls After Reducing Uranium Output Forecast

(Bloomberg) -- Paladin Energy Ltd., the Australian uranium producer with mines in Namibia and Malawi, fell the most in seven weeks in Sydney trading after it reduced its full-year production forecast by as much as 15 percent.

Biofuels are Just One of the Alternatives of Renewable Energy

Production of biofuels (ethanol) from corn is not the ultimate goal for biofuel development. Production of ethanol from a cheaper, more sustainable raw material, such as cellulosic materials, will gradually replace the corn-ethanol technology, therefore reducing the concern on food shortage.

Can we afford free wind?

It was obvious that the pro-wind lobby, paid with your tax money from RENEW Wisconsin, had the minds of legislators on their side long before the hearing.

Several people that live near wind turbines gave first-hand testimony — to empty chairs of the committee — of the negative effects and problems they have. Some broke down in tears as they spoke of negative health effects on their families and their farm animals and that abandoning their homes was the only solution in the near future.

Because of financial situations, most are stuck living in a PSC-regulated hell with nowhere to turn and no one to listen.

Some Tough Thoughts on Climate Policy

Two readers with different backgrounds who both accept that humans could disrupt the climate shared strong feelings of discouragement after the Obama administration’s “evidence-based revival meeting,” as Cathy Zoi, the head of the Energy Department office on efficiency and renewable energy, described Wednesday’s White House forum on energy and climate.

Greenest Place in the U.S.? It’s Not Where You Think

Green rankings in the U.S. don’t tell the full story about the places where the human footprint is lightest. If you really want the best environmental model, you need to look at the nation’s biggest — and greenest — metropolis: New York City.

Saudis drop WTI oil contract

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday decided to drop the widely used West Texas Intermediate oil contract as the benchmark for pricing its oil, dealing a serious blow to the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The decision by the world’s biggest oil exporter could encourage other producers to abandon the benchmark and threatens the dominance of the world’s most heavily traded oil futures contract. It is the main contract traded on Nymex.

The move reveals the growing discontent of Riyadh and its US refinery customers with WTI after the price of the price of the benchmark became separatedfrom the global oil market this year.

The surge in oil inventories in Cushing, Oklahoma, where WTI is delivered into America’s pipeline system, depressed the value of the WTI against other global benchmarks, throwing the global oil market into disarray.

Related: Saudi Aramco to Use Sour Oil Index as U.S. Benchmark, Drop WTI

Iran May Evade U.S. Sanctions as U.A.E. Delivers Fuel

(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. effort to pressure Iran into nuclear concessions by curbing gasoline imports may have little impact because the United Arab Emirates and other countries are willing to keep shipping fuel to the Islamic Republic.

About $2.8 billion worth of gasoline passes through the U.A.E. to Iran each year, amounting to 75 percent of Iran’s refined fuel imports. Sanctions passed yesterday by the House Foreign Affairs Committee will have limited effect unless international curbs follow, said Cliff Kupchan, a senior analyst at Eurasia Group, a New York political-risk consulting firm.

Shell to comply with Iran gasoline sanctions

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it will comply with international rulings on gasoline supplies to Iran as part of United Nations sanctions against the country over its nuclear program.

“We always comply with all existing legislation in countries or from other countries,” Shell Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said today on a conference call with reporters. He declined to comment further.

Cnooc Third-Quarter Sales Fall on Oil Price, Typhoon

(Bloomberg) -- Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil and gas producer, said third-quarter sales dropped 23 percent after crude prices fell from a record and a typhoon forced the company to cut output at some fields.

Sinopec Profit More Than Doubles on Higher China Fuel Prices

(Bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, said third-quarter profit more than doubled after the government eased curbs on fuel prices and a recovery in the nation’s economy boosted demand.

Energy group BG says third-quarter profits slide

LONDON (AFP) – Energy producer BG Group said Wednesday that net profit tumbled 43.5 percent in the third quarter due to weaker natural gas prices and lower-than-expected output.

Net profit sank to 484 million pounds in the three months to September, compared with 857 million pounds a year earlier.

Energy giant Shell reports 62% profit slump

LONDON — British energy giant Royal Dutch Shell revealed a 62-percent net profit slump in the third quarter on Thursday, blaming weak oil prices and warning that the outlook is cloaked in uncertainty.

Quarterly profit amounted to 3.25 billion dollars (2.21 billion euros), compared with 8.45 billion dollars in the same period of 2008 -- when oil had struck record peaks above 147 dollars per barrel.

India's ONGC Q2 profit rises 6%

MUMBAI (AFP) – India's biggest oil producer ONGC reported Thursday a six percent increase in quarterly profit as its subsidy burden fell sharply thanks to a fall in global energy prices.

Pemex Posts Third-Quarter Loss on Fewer Refined Product Imports

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the largest oil producer in Latin America, said its third-quarter loss narrowed as it imported fewer refined products.

Pemex, as the Mexico City-based company is known, said today in a statement to the Mexican Stock Exchange that its loss narrowed to 3.7 billion pesos ($277 million) from a loss of 14.4 billion pesos in the year-earlier period. Sales fell 21 percent to 293.4 billion pesos.

Iraq to initial oil deal with Italian-led consortium

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq is to initial this weekend a draft agreement with a consortium led by Italian energy giant ENI to exploit the Zubair oilfield in southern Iraq, the oil ministry said on Thursday.

"The oil ministry will sign the preliminary agreement with ENI in Baghdad on Sunday," spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP, adding that the deal would then be submitted to the cabinet for final approval ahead of a formal signing.

AEI Tests Investor Appetite for Enron Model in $800 Million IPO

(Bloomberg) -- AEI’s initial public offering is testing whether Enron Corp.’s failed gambit to supply energy to billions in the developing world will finally pay off.

China, U.S. try to take sting out of trade disputes

HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – China and the United States agreed to tackle a series of trade irritants from pork to wind power and reiterated pledges against protectionism at high-level talks that ended on Thursday.

But in a sign that the global financial crisis has fueled a risk of more, not fewer, trade barriers, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming confirmed that Beijing would conduct a preliminary dumping investigation of U.S. auto imports.

Felon involved in clandestine videos

QUITO, Ecuador -- One of two men who made clandestine video recordings allegedly showing government bias and kickback-soliciting in a $27 billion oil contamination lawsuit is a convicted felon with a history of legal troubles, The Associated Press has learned.

An AP investigation also has found no evidence that Wayne Douglas Hansen worked in his professed field of environmental remediation.

Former CEO sentenced 3 years for Alaska bribery

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – The businessman at the center of Alaska's wide-ranging political corruption investigation, once a pillar of the Alaska oil industry and state Republican party, was sentenced on Wednesday to serve three years in prison and to pay a $750,000 fine.

Fla. offshore drilling being debated on Internet

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Citizens across the state got a chance Wednesday to question a panel of supporters and opponents of a proposal to open Florida waters to oil and natural gas exploration.

Queries could be submitted by e-mail for responses during an interactive Internet forum. Two emerging legislative leaders, both offshore drilling supporters, also took part.

Byron King: Peak Oil – The Rewards

We should expect a global oil shock by 2012…at the latest. But an oil shock doesn’t have to be completely shocking. Why not beat the rush and get ready for the shock now. You might even make a few dollars in the process.

Our story begins with “Peak Oil” – the belief that conventional production of crude has already peaked, and has already slipped into an irreversible decline. As “Peak Oil” moves from mere theory to indisputable fact, the global economy will face wrenching changes. But the vigilant investor will gain an opportunity to profit along the way.

Richard Heinberg, Renowned Author and Senior Fellow at Post Carbon Institute, will Speak on VoiceAmerica's ZOOM'D Leadership about Life after Peak Oil

Richard Heinberg, perhaps best known as a leading educator on Peak Oil (the point at which we reach maximum global oil production), joins host John Schmidt on VoiceAmerica's ZOOM'D Leadership on Monday, November 2 at 11 AM Pacific Time/ 2 PM Eastern Time to explore the tenuousness of our current way of living, describe how we are trapped by both high and low oil prices, and provide a vision for a truly sustainable future.

John Michael Greer: Why Markets Fail

It’s a safe bet that any public comment on the politics of peak oil, unless it sticks closely to one of a very few widely accepted opinions, will provide a good demonstration of the laws of thermodynamics by turning plenty of energy into waste heat. Last week’s Archdruid Report post was no exception. Between those who thought I was too hard on Cuba, those who thought I was too soft on Cuba, those who insisted America is already a fascist dictatorship, those who thought America would be better off as a fascist dictatorship, and a variety of less classifiable rants, I was well and truly denounced. My favorite for the week was a bit of online splutter that, having exhausted its author’s apparently limited vocabulary of profanity, wound up with the nastiest term he knew: “...you American!”

Those of my readers with a taste for wry humor may well have found all this as entertaining as I did. Still, this week’s essay will leave such amusements behind, and return to the theme I’ve been developing in recent posts, the reinvention of economics that will be necessary in an age of hard ecological limits and deindustrial decline. Vegetarians and animal rights activists take note: a certain number of sacred cows will have to be slaughtered and dissected in the course of that inquiry, and the process is unlikely to be either painless or clean.

The Victory of the Commons

The biggest roadblock standing in the way of many people's recognition of the importance of the commons came tumbling down when Indiana University professor Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Over many decades, Ostrom has documented how various communities manage common resources — grazing lands, forests, irrigation waters, fisheries — equitably and sustainably over the long term. The Nobel Committee's recognition of her work effectively debunks popular theories about the Tragedy of the Commons, which hold that private property is the only effective method to prevent finite resources from being ruined or depleted.

Peak Oil Is A Serious Business Contingency Planning Issue

Many decision makers in business and government continue to erroneously believe that peak oil is a "theory" that will not substantially affect them or their organizations, at least not any time in the near future. Accordingly, they continue to drag their feet when it comes to adjusting to the new reality of declining petroleum supplies. This behavior is not only dangerous, it is likely to make the process of adjusting to the peak oil situation much more painful, expensive, and difficult than it needs to be.

Food will never be so cheap again

Biofuel refineries in the US have set fresh records for grain use every month since May. Almost a third of the US corn harvest will be diverted into ethanol for motors this year, or 12pc of the global crop.

Xcel Energy to add more solar power in Colorado

DENVER – Xcel Energy Inc. has added more than 257 megawatts of solar power to its plan for meeting Colorado's renewable energy standard by 2020.

Fisker to convert a GM plant in Delaware to build plug-in hybrid cars

Out with the old, in with the new. California electric-car startup Fisker Automotive will announce plans tomorrow to turn an old General Motors plant in Wilmington (Del.) into a hybrid electric-car plant, says a source with knowledge of the announcement. Fisker plans to use the 52-year-old factory to build its $48,000 Project Nina plug-in hybrid starting in 2012.

Plug-ins rev up, but are consumers ready?

Many auto industry experts and environmentalists see plug-ins and a similar technology known as the Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (the Chevrolet Volt is the best-known example) as a practical compromise between conventional hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles. The latter are plagued by high costs and limited range. Typically after 100 to 150 miles, the vehicles must be parked for an extended recharge that makes long-distance driving impractical.

Wind Turbines Don’t Kill Birds; Coal Plants Do

A very detailed and complex study (pdf) Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to the US Electricity Supply weighing the costs and benefits of increasing wind power to 20% by 2030 included some very interesting projections on bird extinction numbers expected from climate change.

Greenpeace dumps 18 tonnes of coal at Swedish govt offices

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Environmental activists from Greenpeace dumped 18 tonnes of German coal outside Sweden's government offices Wednesday to protest against the Swedish state's coal plant ownership abroad.

EU urged to raise bar on climate financing

BRUSSELS (AFP) – European Union leaders were on Wednesday told they have to find 15 billion euros a year to help developing countries fight global warming if this week's summit is to be deemed successful.

Leaders from the EU's 27 member countries are split into three camps going into a summit starting Thursday at which they will try to agree a common line to take into United Nations negotiations in Copenhagen starting on December 7.

U.S. Is Confident of Progress in Climate Negotiations

(Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration is confident it will help forge progress at climate-treaty talks this year in Copenhagen, said Carol Browner, a White House adviser on energy and the environment.

“We feel very, very confident that we can work with the rest of the world to take significant steps forward in Copenhagen,” Browner said in an interview.

Climate Change Caused Radical North Sea Shift

Fueled by previously unappreciated links between climate and ecology, the North Sea has undergone a radical ecological shift in the last half-century, say scientists.

The very shape of the food web has changed, from plankton on up to the cod and flatfish that once dominated the icy waters, supporting rich commercial fisheries. They’ve been largely replaced by jellyfish and crabs.

The full scope of the change has gone relatively unnoticed, and could foreshadow changes in waters around the world.

Turmoil from climate change poses security risks

WASHINGTON — An island in the Indian Ocean, vital to the U.S. military, disappears as the sea level rises. Rivers critical to India and Pakistan shrink, increasing military tensions in South Asia. Drought, famine and disease forces population shifts and political turmoil in the Middle East.

U.S. defense and intelligence agencies, viewing these and other potential impacts of global warming, have concluded if they materialize it would become ever more likely global alliances will shift, the need to respond to massive relief efforts will increase and American forces will become entangled in more regional military conflicts.

It is a bleak picture of national security that backers of a climate bill in Congress hope will draw in reluctant Republicans who have denounced the bill as an energy tax and jobs killer because it would shift the country away from fossil fuels by limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.

I love to hear thoughts on the WTI benchmark change by the KSA.

What are the implications?

It will remove some of the volatility from the price of oil and also remove some of the volatility from the WTI contract as traders will now start to watch the Argus Index which is based on the spot market rather than any futures market.

From the link above: Saudi Aramco to Use Sour Oil Index as U.S. Benchmark, Drop WTI

The daily Argus Sour Crude Index was launched in May as a measure of U.S. Gulf Coast medium-sour grades in the physical crude market. The index is calculated using the volume-weighted average of all daily transactions for three Gulf Coast crude oil grades: Mars, Poseidon and Southern Green Canyon. Sour refers to the oil’s sulfur content.

Note: This does not mean that Saudi will price Saudi crude at the same price as the Argus Index. They will just use that as a benchmark and price their Sweet a certain percentage above that index and their Sour and Intrmediate crude at another percentage point either above or below the Argus Index.

Ron P.

Yeah, I'd like to hear more about that. What I'm reading doesn't make a huge amount of sense to me. There are many different "benchmarks" which reflect the different grades of oil that are traded. WTI is a "sweet", "light" grade which sells for a premium due to its quality. In fact, WTI doesn't even exist in any substantial quantity right out of the ground anymore. It is now blended with a number of crude oils in order to reach the quality benchmark. As a measure of quality, it should be able to exist perfectly well as an abstraction. In other words, any oil of WTI quality should qualify for that price premium, right? Regardless of whether or not WTI actually exists at all. I don't know exactly how heavy, sour crude is affected by the WTI benchmark except in terms of being inferior by comparison. Perhaps that is exactly the Saudi's point.

The WTI ETN has done very well since last winter, so the premium is still operable. In that regard, I don't see any problem. The world is still pumping a lot of premium oils which compare favorably to WTI from Nigeria and Libya.

I'm guessing that their primary motivation is that they think that small inventory fluctuations in a remote area of Oklahoma should not affect the global price of oil.

One implication is that who gets up first and sits last and toadys around fetching the coffee is changing.

I think I know what you are trying to say, that the change in benchmark reflects a shift in power from the US to KSA, but don't follow the logic.

It seems like a very reasonable thing to do based on the fact, noted above by westexas that WTI pricing is volatile and there isn't any real basis for using it as a Saudi benchmark anyway.

I don't see any reason to read too much into this.

Maybe because the US has always been the "price changer" in terms of global marginal demand and SA has always been the "price changer" in terms of global marginal supply it was simple to keep the price of the domestically produced US oil price linked to the swing producer.
Now with the US representing an ever decreasing percent of the global demand pie it is not as pertinent.
Just common sense.

Westexas's explanation seems much more like common sense than yours:

I'm guessing that their primary motivation is that they think that small inventory fluctuations in a remote area of Oklahoma should not affect the global price of oil.

This part of your comment doesn't seem to be even logical:

in terms of global marginal supply it was simple to keep the price of the domestically produced US oil price linked to the swing producer.

The old system did almost exactly the opposite.

Why did they wait so long to change then?

The timing of the change doesn't seem to support your theory any better. If you think it does, let me know why. Otherwise you just seem to be playing rhetorical games with no real argument.

From the WSJ. Behind a paywall, but you can get in through Google:

New Oil Price Benchmark Gathers Steam as Saudis Sign On

A new U.S. oil pricing benchmark is rapidly taking shape, threatening to further erode the dominance of the Nymex crude futures contract.

Argus Media said Wednesday its Sour Crude Index will be adopted by Saudi Aramco to set prices for oil sold in the U.S., in a move away from a formula tied closely to light, sweet crude futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The backing of the world's biggest oil exporter gives new clout to the five-month-old benchmark, and to the Gulf Coast market where the oil tracked in the Argus index is delivered. Argus and rival Platts have argued for years without gaining much headway that growing production in the Gulf of Mexico makes the region better-suited for setting oil prices than Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for barrels underpinning the Nymex futures contract.

The Argus index isn't a total departure from the Nymex contract, either. Each of the three blends of Gulf of Mexico crude in the index are in turn priced off of the Cushing benchmark.

Right, all oil benchmarks track each other to some extent. The WTI contract, if priced too high, can pull up the other benchmarks but not as much and not for very long. Soon, if there is a glut of oil on the Gulf Coast, it will pull the WTI contract back down to earth. In the long run supply and demand determine the price of oil.

Ron P.

I think KSA dropping the WTI is very serious - for the US, and the dollar

one more nail in the coffin

I have the same uneasy feeling, but I'm not sure what all the connections are.

Is it the strongest (though still tacit) admission that we are long past peak light-sweet-crude?

Please explain in more detail, it is not clear wha thte link is to me. Thanks.

There is no link and I suspect that there is nothing behind polytropos's comment except that people want to read the demise of the US and the dollar into everything.

Perhaps the Saudis feel this move will lessen the chance of the US "manipulating" the ball game in their favor.

I think KSA dropping the WTI is very serious - for the US, and the dollar.

No, it doesn't mean that much to the dollar.

Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, will start using an index of sour crudes next year to price oil for sale to U.S. customers,...

The new benchmark, the Argus Index, is also a dollar based index and anyway, the WTI was only for US customers. Basically nothing has changed except they are now using an index that will not be as volatile as WTI futures. Saudi have always used a different pricing scheme for sales to other nations.

This is a serious blow to the WTI Index however. Now the NYMEX must come up with a Gulf Coast Sour Crude based index if they expect to stay current. There is just not enough of actual WTI oil traded and the small storage capacity of the Cushing Hub has been a serious problem. The Gulf Coast is where the real action is. The NYMEX should have realized this years ago and took action. It may be too late for them now.

Ron P.

Saudi Aramco’s WTI snub

This is a massive blow to Nymex and its WTI futures listing. Ultimately, their fear is that a new futures product will have to take its place when trading liquidity shifts into Argus’ WTI paper alternative due both to Saudi trades and to when traders begin calling for a new financial futures product with which to hedge.

But it is also a blow to Platts, the world’s premier OTC energy pricing firm and which dominates via its grip on the American crude market. What’s more, the fact that Platts launched its own Americas Sour contract this year may suggest more than a simple dislike of WTI on the Saudis’ part.

Does anyone know what this means for the DBO exchange-traded fund? I'm long a significant part of my net worth in that fund.

Right now, it is up 3%, while Nymex shows crude up 0.2%.

I had commented a few days ago that an estimated 30 new wind turbines are going up around the home place. Well the local paper finally published an article telling the story:


It turns out that there will be 44 new GE turbines it says. And FPL Energy has changed its name to Next Era Energy. In choosing GE turbines Next Era is giving up on the troublesome Clipper Turbines.


The third phase of the project is commencing about five miles north of Crystal Lake. 44 GE 150-megawatt turbines will be erected and are expected to generate 66 megawatts of electricity.

Once the project is completed, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to service 104,000 homes.

The wind farm is owned by Next Era Energy, a company based out of Juno Beach, Fla. Next Era is one of the largest generators of wind energy in the nation, Stengel said.

The company carries over $1 billion in assets in Iowa alone.

The electricity that will be generated by the 224 turbines at the Crystal Lake wind farm will be sold to third-party energy companies, such as Wisconsin Power and Light.

44 GE 150-megawatt turbines will be erected and are expected to generate 66 megawatts

There is something seriously wrong with those numbers.

150MW turbine??? 3MW surely with 1.5MW actual power (50% - you'll be lucky! more like 30%) to give the quoted 66MW (but more like 44MW in practice) of power.

Looks like a typical MSM Journalist not reading the press release slowly enough.

Stimulus helps fill coffers for states

Federal stimulus money has protected states from making big cuts in the number of government workers, in aid to schools or in spending on Medicaid, the health care program for the poor. But most federal stimulus money ends in December 2010.

The result is a potential financial cliff for states. "It's hard to imagine what happens when stimulus money runs out," says Craig Thiel, a budget expert at the non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

The latest declines come on top of a 15% nationwide drop in tax collections during the first six months of the year. "The slide downward continues with no end in sight," says Robert Ward, head of financial research at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Looks like the spit will hit the fan in December of next year.

Assuming there's no recovery by then. And no new stimulus package.

Mish highlights a report that asserts that the City of Houston (and other cities) may forced to file municipal bankruptcy next year:


There is a huge conflict coming between taxpayers and current and retired government employees--given vastly underfunded pension plans.

From the linked report by Lemer, et al (regarding Houston):

Apparently the City has no idea as to what has transpired financially since June 30, 2008 or will transpire this fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, on the full accrual basis of accounting. But even on the modified accrual basis of accounting (essentially cash basis) followed by the City and all other municipalities, the $236.8 million fund balance in the City’s general fund as of July 1, 2009 (the beginning of this current fiscal year) would not exist except for the City having deposited the proceeds of pension obligation bonds into the City’s general fund instead of depositing them in their legally required immediate destination, the pension plans’ bank accounts.

Of course, this is what the federal government has been doing for years with the Social Security surpluses (which looks like they have now vanished)--using them for current expenditures.

I read a hilarious article the other day-supposedly the US Dept of Energy was set up 30 years ago with the goal of reducing dependence on imported oil. Now it costs 24 Billion a year and has 16000 employees (and mnay more outside contractors) and nothing has been accomplished at all toward the original goal. I don't know if these are accurate numbers, but if they are the whole thing is absurd.

The US economy is being kept on life support, courtesy of the creditors (especially foreign creditors) who are funding our federal deficit (and indirectly funding local and state deficits).

A question I have posed before: What happens when our foreign creditors decide that our high levels of oil consumption represent a bigger threat to the creditor countries than the benefit they get from selling us stuff (which we are basically buying with vendor financing)?

One answer to your question:


I don't know what happens when our foreign creditors (or the rest of the world, for that matter) decide that the US is just using too damn much oil for the vanishing benefit we provide the world.

But I do think it is worthy of a lot of study. Please, someone with more knowledge about all this stuff than I, produce a Land Import Model.

For the short term at least, it is pretty clear that the world would be awash in oil and gas if tiny (population-wise, ~4% of world pop) America weren't soaking up a quarter of the first and nearly half of the second. Lots of folks outside the US are going to start thinking that they don't have an oil supply problem, they have a vast-inequality-in-oil-distribution problem.

We may actually find out sooner than later.

Right now the US still needs gasoline imports to meet overall demand although its narrowing.

However the weakening dollar may make it more and more difficult to import gasoline.

Also of course depletion and fall in oil exports leaves countries with refining capacity that export falling product exports. Technically its a free market but I doubt that any country will export products for long if its facing a tight local market.

I call it the double export land model where you have on top of oil exports and imports exports and imports of finished products. As with oil one can expect that local markets are supplied first.

We might be at the start of a new situation where finished product exports become problematic its hard to say just yet but the trends seem to be suggesting that exports of finished products are becoming interesting.

Since most of the refineries for re-export are located in more developed countries with freely exchanged currencies shifts in the value of the dollar relative to their currencies plays a role in what gets exported and whats sold on the local market. With the dollar weakening buying power for local customers increases relative to the US.

And given this is a secondary primarily financially driven market it can move a lost faster than crude can. And of course refineries eventually can be shut down or utilization cut back etc. Small changes in the relative value of currencies can have big changes in product exports if oil imports are tight.

At the moment the oversupply of refining capacity has in general sheltered us and the world from this along with the fact that even as prices are rising the market still seems to be well supplied with crude.

However this is a temporary situation eventually the least efficient or most indebted refiners will go under and utilization up and oil export land marches on. And as this happens product exports and currency valuations become ever more important and at best exports of finished products become volatile.

As refineries come out of turn around season one can expect that they will have made the changes they wanted to make to get utilization up so over the next several months the overcapacity issue should reduce by a lot.

I call it the double export land model where you have on top of oil exports and imports exports and imports of finished products. As with oil one can expect that local markets are supplied first.

No, it is not a double export land model. The export land model is the export land model and has to do with a constrained natural resource. Whatever you want to call your thing is ok, just don't associate a perfectly good model with some rubbish hypothesis. Any model that can disassociate the monetary effects from the resource effects is the way to go, and here you are trying to spoil it.

Draw a graph, lift a pen, do some cave sketchings, I don't care, but just don't do this stream-of-consciousness B.S.

Hmm export land is purely a socio-economic model. The people that can kill me get the oil first then the people with money. The inverse of export land is where this condition does not hold a good example is the Irish famines.

To some extent Nigeria is/was trying to buck the trends of export land with obvious consequences.

And of course as internal consumption increases to be a larger percentage of the total the actual total production becomes difficult to assess. If most of the oil is exported then imports are a good gauge of overall oil production however as more and more oil begins to be used internally then its tough to know what the real numbers are.

As far as pen in paper my opinion is that reported oil production numbers are so corrupted that its difficult to asses what the real situation is. This does not mean you can't get trends using them but given the nature of the input data I find it difficult to believe that attempts to model using any equation is valid.

As far as science goes the very very first thing you do is vet your experimental data.
If your data is garbage then your wasting your time.

So far no one has really shown that they have vetted there data.

ExportLand is interesting since the nature of the solution is insensitive to the errors that are probably the most common as its looking at exports. And even here its the trends that matter not the absolute values.
And its tied to population/economic trends so again well constrained.

Taking the assumption that the data is corrupted as truth then my only question is is a rapid drop in production possible ?

The answer is given even rough estimates of how much the data is corrupted then yes we could easily have any number of possible outcomes from a sharkfin collapse to production increasing for several more decades. They all could be used to fit.

However if production was collapsing then given recent events its already started to collapse. Thus a rapid collapse in production is either occurring right now or can be discarded as a possible solution. Even with corrupted data the nature of the potential corruption which is fraudulent claims of both production and reserves along with oil prices ensures that the possibility of a fast collapse is bounded to have ether already occurred or will not occur.

Getting much more out of the data is hopeless in my opinion. The trends in export land are grounded in population growth and wealth or economics so they work and are insensitive to where the data is most likely to be corrupt.
ExportLand does not care why exports are falling the division between internal domestic use and overall production is not important for the model. However future changes in exports are dependent and if the data is corrupted in general all this does is make export land a best case scenario.

Regardless because of the recent events of the last several years the exact situation with the data will become clearer the first model to be tested is fast collapse either its already in the past or not. If it proves to be false then each potential outcome will be tested in turn from the worst case scenario to the best. With a few more data points we know if peak oil is in the past and the decline rate so we can see which model "won".

But obviously nothing was actually correct in the predictive sense as no model could be rejected until after the event they where supposed to predict had already occurred.

Not even the sharkfin model itself stands as a predictive tool. I'm not trying to do what you claim I must do. I'm not predicting future production. All I'm doing is saying that I beleive the error in the data are large enough to allow a fast collapse and next its rather obvious that if it happened the first major price spike is almost certainly the signal that it initiated. If it has then the data can be corrected for fraud.

Now you may hate the way I do things but given one of my basic assumptions is extreme errors in the data I'd argue its tough to do much more than I've already done.

Show me how you could for example prove the exact situation of Enrons books before they collapsed ?
All thats happened is far is I can tell is some fraudulent accounting.

You can of course set around and model the result of cooking the books if you will but why ?

The answer is given even rough estimates of how much the data is corrupted then yes we could easily have any number of possible outcomes from a sharkfin collapse to production increasing for several more decades. They all could be used to fit.

I gave you a chance to pick the shape of a shark-fin and you picked a shark-fin that did not show a collapse. Now you say it is the shark-fin with a collapse. Or you say it could be anything. It could be a giant roller-coaster with loop-de-do's in it for all you would know. Or it could be the shape of a Klein bottle. That one is not out of the question with the weird crap that enters this blog.

If you don't believe me, I will dig it up for you. The problem with your writing is that your words do not remain consistent from day to day. I do not believe a word that you say. Actually, if I took the opposite tack from what you say, it would probably push me in the right direction.

"...We might be at the start of a new situation where finished product exports become problematic its hard to say just yet but the trends seem to be suggesting that exports of finished products are becoming interesting..."

Indeed...As concerning consumer goods the latest issue of The Economist reported roughly 70% of the large container-freight ships sit idle right now.The pains of post peak possibly?

Aren@t the biggest creditors the ones who are most dependent on the US market?

My feeling is that here in Japan there is utter desperation to keep the export economy going. God forbid the big export companies can`t fund the government. Other countries will not try to take your oil away until you no longer need as much of it and by then, neither will they. Here there is slow progress away from oil, actually--- Seiji Maehara (new Minister of Trans.) has managed to stop a lot of the dam and highway construction (it wasn`t necessary anyway) that the LDP had planned. That`s a lot of parked bulldozers and cranes and stuff. That oil is being used for other things around the world. People really don`t need as much oil as they think they do.

I dunno. Those people who's former jobs were driving those bulldozers sure needed that oil.

If the DOE solved the energy problem all the people there would need new jobs.But if the problem keeps getting bigger, then obviously DOE needs more people, nicer offices, and more money in general-

This contributes mightily to full employment and continued growth-ask any economist.

BrianT, the cover story for US DOE has always involved something to do with energy, when actually DOE is actually little more than the bombs branch of the Pentagon and a way to pump military spending up even higher without having it obvious how much the military is a weight around the neck of our economy. If you stare at the DOE logo for a while, you'll start to notice something funny about the outline of the shield on which a random assortment of energy icons are distributed.

BrianT, the cover story for US DOE has always involved something to do with energy, when actually DOE is actually little more than the bombs branch of the Pentagon and a way to pump military spending up even higher without having it obvious how much the military is a weight around the neck of our economy.

Thats correct. The DOE used to be the AEC (Atomic Energy Commission). Its biggest mission is overseeing and funding the nuclear weapons complex. After that nuclear power. Then tacked on like an afterthought, are various other energy programs.

My frinds at Minesto have now updated theit web page with information about their ligtweight tidal and sea current powerplants.


I think this could be a perfect technology for countries like UK.

Interesting Approach.. very similar to the KiteGen that UGO showed us, but without hanging over our heads.. I hope the Marine Wildlife impacts can be shown to be benign. Then again, if the Northern seas are really getting overladen with Jellyfish, this might double as a Jelly-maker.

They seem to have missed the existance of KiteGen when I told them about KiteGens website. I would not be surprised if they are learning about web PR from that example.

Both Minesto and KiteGen has the advantage of not needing massive ammounts of material.

Both are probably good for technically sophisticated countries that need to diversifie their energy sources. KiteGen needs lots of free room making them bad for UK. Minestos systems thrives in steady sea currents making them good for UK.

Very interesting and creative approach. I like how they even addressed the EROI issue right on the front page stating an energy payback of "three weeks."

Of course they have to back that up, too. That got my eyebrows up a little.. and not in instant admiration. Overhyping could be bad for them.

RE: Climate Change Caused Radical North Sea Shift

Funny, I woke up today thinking about Joshua trees in the National Park and how they will probably disappear due to a slight increase in temperatures. When you spend time in the natural world you tend to get a sense of the ecological dangers of even a small increase in temperature without needing to have learned much about the science of it.

I thought the graph below from the article was very informative. For lay people, the r-values are correlation values. Higher positive values predict that an increase in value (temperature if going from the middle circle) leads to an increase in other value at the end of the arrow (decapod larvae). The negative r-values mean that an increase in one value (temperature for example) leads to a decrease in the other value (Calanus finmarchicus for example).

Turning 12% of the worlds corn crop into ethanol while a billion people go hungry. Swell. Millenium Goals anyone?

That's not the half of it-a large portion of the ethanol industry went bankrupt recently-it's infrastructure largely paid for with tax money-and has been bought up for pennies on the dollar by our larger corporate citizens-meaning effectively that we working jerks have just handed them another huge gift.

Every nickel that was ever pumped into corn ethanol was a mistake-the money should have been spent on conservation and efficiency measures.

Amen. Couldn't have put it better.

I'll double your Amen & sugarcoat with a Heavenly Glory Hallelujah on top of that..

Former Senator Brooke to Sen. McConnell at ceremony

"We've got to get together," Brooke lectured, with a smile. McConnell fidgeted. The crowd burst into applause, and McConnell joined in. "We have no alternative. There's nothing left. It's time for politics to be put aside on the back burner.


Best Hopes,


US economy is growing once again

The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 3.5% between July and September, its first expansion in more than a year, official data has shown.


Denninger looks at the details, key quote:

Nothing in here I like; to the contrary, this report sucks and on a drill-down appears to be full of outright lies.


Even with the gov spending trillions on TARP, on stimulus, on two wars, on cash for clunkers, and on other programs, we can only get positive growth by fixing the books. Den makes a good case that housing and import/export numbers have simply been falsified.

The important number, as he points out, is the over 7% decrease in consumer spending. That does not bode well for a recovery (though it may bode well for a post-consumer economy!?).

Consumer spending didn't decrease. It increased. People's income is what declined over 7%. People are spending money they don't have.

So into decreasing personal income and disposable personal income people tried to spend anyway. Best guess: most of this was "cash for clunkers", which is the worst sort of "spending" - it is the taking on of more debt by replacing a paid-off car with one that now comes with a shiny (and nasty) payment book.

Better car payments that putting it on plastic, I guess:

On Tuesday, the Pew Charitable Trusts released a study showing that interest rates rose by an average of 23% from December 2008 to July 2009.

Holy crap. An average increase of 23%?

An interest rate that goes from 6.00% to 7.38% has had an increase of 23%.

An interest rate that goes from 6% to 29% has also had a 23% increase.

I assume they're calculating the former.

An interest rate that goes from 6% to 29% has a 383% increase.

29 minus 6 is 23. ;) At least, that's probably the way the Banksters are hoping Citizens consumers will understand it as.

I never pay any attention at all to anything other than the revised numbers, and even those with a very sceptical eye. The initial data releases are pure political garbage, and have been for a long time now.

It's funny, the word "information" doesn't appear once in Greer's post regarding the "failure" of markets. Markets don't fail we just fail to feed the markets the proper information. It is a societal failure that also occurs in non-market economies. We could have avoided the entire AIG CDS debacle by simply mandating, by law, that these contracts be standardized and go through an exchange. Had people seen AIG's CDS exposure build over time they would have stopped doing business with them.

GreenPlease, I agree. If these had been standard instruments traded on exchanges controlled by the CFTC (Commodities and Futures Trading Commission) then things would be very different today...

Yup. It is very bothersome to me that everybody singles out "the market" and "capitalism" as the source of society's woes. They're missing the 700lb guerilla in the room: information. If you don't have the right information it doesn't matter what economic model you follow.

I single out capitalism, because it is unsustainable. Like Kenneth Boulding said, "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

That's a very played quote. Capitalism DOES NOT INHERENTLY ENTAIL PHYSICAL GROWTH though its opponents often use this grey area as a cop out so that they can align themselves with the environmental and peak energy movements. Would communist Russia not have been sustainable? I hear crickets...

Again, it's all about information. Get the information right (and your monetary system in the process) and market economies will prevail themselves toward sustainability.

Ah, typo. Should have been "Would communist Russia have been sustainable?"

I could not disagree more.

And I am not advocating for communism, either.

But capitalism does depend on growth. This is why Jesus had a problem with money-changers, why Cato found charging interest on a loan to be a crime as bad as murder, why Jews who charged interest to other Jews were stripped of all their possessions. A steady-state economy cannot afford to pay interest.

Your confusing capitalism with our monetary system! The two are not intrinsically tied together! I'm working on a book/paper that demonstrates as much. Too much to explain in this space and with what little time I have available to me. It all comes down to measuring utility.

No GreenPlease, I think you are the one who is confused. You cannot have capitalism without the growth of capital. Therefore capitalism, by definition, means growth.

Capitalists want their money to grow. If they did not, they would not be capitalist. Of course you may claim that you could just invest your money in some business, not needing to loan it out for interest, and that would be capitalism. This is true but it would be unsustainable capitalism. If no one borrowed money to start a business, there would be very little business, very little capitalism.

Capitalism is a debt based system. People borrow money to start a business. That business must grow or they cannot pay the interest on their loan.

There is no such thing as steady state capitalism. Our capitalist economy must grow or collapse. If credit dries up it will collapse.

Ron P.

Again, you are confusing our monetary system with capitalism. Your statements only hold true for a debt based currency (the incumbent system). What other type of currency could there be? An energy (in a form, equity) currency. Said currency would grow with our ability to harness energy. Run out of fossil fuels? Figure out how to harness the sun. An obvious observation is that once the market sensed the decline of traditional fossil fuels it would make a massive move toward renewable energy sources.

Again, capitalism depends on the growth of capital. If one's capital does not grow then just taking care of your basic needs eats up your capital. Capitalism, by definition, means growth.

I really don't think you know what currency is. Currency is not the barter system. Currency is the opposite of the barter system. We, humanity that is, got off the barter system when we invented currency.

The world population grows, technology improves and it takes fewer people to produce the same amount of goods and interest must be paid on all loans. These are the three reasons that our capitalist system requires growth. If we don't have growth then the system collapses. But growth cannot possibly continue forever in a finite world therefore our economic system must collapse at some point in the near future.

Run out of fossil fuels? Figure out how to harness the sun.

Wow! Aren't you the genius? Wonder why no one else ever thought of that?

You live in a strange little world GreenPlease, In your world capitalism has nothing to do with capital and if we run out of fossil fuel we will just find something else. You are probably one of those folks who say that the stone age did not end because we ran out of stones therefore the oil age will not end because we run out of oil; we will just find something much cheaper than oil to produce our energy.

Yeah right!

Ron P.

Capitalism is a still moving target - so a definition is not yet set or agreed upon.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism upper paragraph:

There is no consensus on capitalism nor how it should be used as an analytical category.[1] There are a variety of historical cases over which it is applied, varying in time, geography, politics and culture.[2] Economists, political economists and historians have taken different perspectives on the analysis of capitalism. Scholars in the social sciences, including historians, economic sociologists, economists, anthropologists and philosophers have debated over how to define capitalism, however there is little controversy that private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit in a market, and prices and wages are elements of capitalism.[3]

If one read about the numberless "definitions of Capitalism" over here at http://www.answers.com/capitalism, you should firstly agree upon which one you like discuss, else it is all done in vain. It is fully possible to discuss capitalism without mentioning monies or bank-transactions or growth at all ....

Under Marxist rule there were bread lines in the U.S.S.R. (Russia). Rather than tolerate the rich, many became poor. There was big government with excessive controls. There was a police state and many died serving in slave labor prison camps called Gulags. The situation has changed for the better since 1990.

Alternatives to capitalism are bad. The revolutionary turned to theft as free market dealings were not good enough. Take for instance China bribing the Nigerians to try to gain control of oilfields they did not develop. In the mind of a socialist, revolution is a normal way of doing business.

... private ownership of the means of production, creation of goods or services for profit in a market, and prices and wages are elements of capitalism.

These are necessary, but they are not sufficient to distinguish capitalism from other market-based systems.

In capitalism, there must be a system of laws (and associated mechanisms) that enables limited liability, and the creation of trading entities by arbitrary groups of unrelated (i.e., non-kin) people.

A financial infrastructure that permits lending (debt) at interest is also necessary for "late-stage" capitalism -- this is where the "monies" come in.

There is more to captalism than just growth as a sustaining ideal. Capitalism represents ownership of property - real property and personal property. It represents the worship of capital [and that IS money, notwithstanding neoclassical drivel to contrary], and has presided over some of the greatest triumphs and crimes in history.

Natives in America had a long term, sustainable, peaceful and balanced civilization before the arrival of Europeans, with their ideas of ownership. Courtesy of the newly arrived, America has developed with no idea of a commons. Thanks to depredation by disease brought along with their ideas, Europeans managed to take over 'ownership' of the American commons, and sold and traded it amongst themselves in the system that eventually must transfer all property to a single shareholder, if carried to its logical and inevitible end - its reducto ad absurdum. There is no other way with capitalism. It is the nature of the beast. And, as the weight of capaital rises more and more to the top few, it will topple... just as an analogously top heavy boat will capsize.

Communism fails from much the same human failures. It has been rightly said that Communism will work as well as self-service banks. It is greed that destroys capitalism and communism. The correct place for government is in holding in check the force of greed/

Of course, the greedy disagree, and they depend on the greed of others to sustain their power. That is why most states today host a state lottery. 50 years ago, that was called numbers running, and was illegal! Our states have become criminal forces, paid by the greedy to deflect attention from the truth. Of course, this implies socialism, with all of the connotations imputed to same by capitalists, though of course socialism is a political system, while capitalism is monetary.

Our current predicament in which someone lies and says the 'economy' 'grew' by 3.5 per-cent in the third quarter in order to throw us off the scent, began in earnest 29 years ago with perhaps the greatest fraud in our history - Ron Reagan. He was an actor, and he read his script well. A script written by the purveyors of the Chicago School of Economics, who abandoned all pretex and claimed as their mantra, "Greed is good." Except, as is evident after 29 years of uninterrupted expansion of this monetary theory, greed is NOT good. Greed is evil, and hence, Capitalism, which in its greed worships money, is evil as well.

I started to write a short post about, "what have I missed about the economy... how could it have grown without anyone noticing or benefiting?" But, this thread directed my attention to where what I suppose we could call the "bad Karma" of Peak Oil, Global Warming, Corporate Fascism, and economic ruin originates. Yesterday my opinion included some hope that 'those in charge' might actually be able to help to ameliorate the conditions so many of us see coming. The "3.5% increase" news makes me think otherwise. And the above is my opinion as to causation.

Natives in America had a long term, sustainable, peaceful and balanced civilization

A myth !

The Aztecs, as one example, were none of the above.

Wars of extermination were fairly common, as was torture of captives.

All megafauna except the buffalo, elk and grizzly bear were driven to extinction.



Absolutely true!

The "natives life in peace with the environment" - myth drives me insane!

The only reason that this is partly right is that they are either small in numbers (natives in north-america) or not capable of infuencing the environment because of backward technology!

Loke at the maya, the middle-sea-nations in europe long b.c. or Ankor in south-asia, they all destroyed their environment like they where capable...

And the life of these "nature-people" is not that nice at all. High child-mortality, dying by serveral diseas ar normal in their everydays-lifes...

You can not turn back time - because the entropy in a closed system (universe) is growing!

Adam Smith couldn't have said it better.
Personally, I think it was designed to fail once resource constraints were reached.You know problem-reaction-solution.
Just like the League of Nations was DOA and led to tariff wars that promulgated inevitable conflict.
How else can this insanity be understood?

If capitalism can deliver a rising material standard of living and use less energy in an absolute sense (not GDP per BTU, e.g.), great. If not, it will go. I think it will go.

"Capitalism" is not the same as "free enterprise", either. I think you can have a vibrant and competitive economy without today's credit-based capitalism, with growth of new companies fueled by investment, and of course with new losers and winners over time, but a relatively stable overall market.

Looking at it another way, there is no reason that cameras couldn't go from Polaroid to Digital in a constant-GDP economy, or computers from vacuum-tubes to transistors, with fortunes being made and lost over the transition. Of course without heavy growth fueled by capital it may have taken centuries rather than decades to occur.

Zero growth doesn't mean zero change...and it would tend to promote innovation that focused on increasingly efficient resource utilization.

Yes, I specifically use the term capitalism, because it implies the existence of capitalists - people who earn their wealth by charging interest.

I think in a steady-state (or more likely, shrinking) economy, it will become very difficult for borrowers to pay interest, and therefore lenders will be reluctant to lend. People will go back to saving their money to start a business, rather than borrowing it.

In the ancient world, part of the reason for the prohibition on interest was that society simply could not afford to support capitalists. Probably 99% of the people worked in agriculture, and struggled just to produce enough food to feed themselves. Interest was money earned without working or producing anything - wealth taken from people who could ill afford to lose it.

Main Entry: 1cap·i·tal·ist
Pronunciation: \-ist\
Function: noun
Date: 1781
1 : a person who has capital especially invested in business; broadly : a person of wealth : plutocrat
2 : a person who favors capitalism


Main Entry: cap·i·tal·ism
Pronunciation: \ˈka-pə-tə-ˌliz-əm, ˈkap-tə-, British also kə-ˈpi-tə-\
Function: noun
Date: 1877
: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

Don't see anything about interest in those definitions nor did I ever see anything in any of my economic text books that tied capitalism to charging interest. Pre-conceived notion and popular opinion? Perhaps. But that doesn't change the fact that capitalism does not intrinsically require physical growth.

Why would anyone "invest" their money if they could not "take their increase" - get back more than they lent?

Simkin, below, gets it. Capitalism isn't all about lending.

In a contracting economy with sufficient inflation then there may not be anything you can do that will preserve the current value of your wealth. So you might invest in a business if it preserves a higher proportion of your wealth than other options. However you wouldn't need inflation (or as much inflation) if money automatically lost value [so that 12 month old dollars only buy 95% or what newly minted dollars buy]. This is an alternative to inflation as a way of forcing people to use their money. Any time that people see merit in keeping money (or money-like stuff) and doing nothing with it then your economic system is going to collapse. If you assume that money, or gold, is going to hold its value then it is reasonable to deduce that a contracting economy will not work.

I think you are on the right track.

There may be a gen=erally accepted definition of capitalism and a generally accepted definition of a free enterprise system as far as prifessional economists and the compilers of dictionaries are concerned,but it is perfectly obvious to me that as far as the public is concerned very few people can distinguish between the two and assume they are one and the same-whether that is true depends on your personal definitions.

My personal way of looking at this is that we don't really have a free enterprise system , and that we never have -at least not one that was fully functional.

What we do have is a extremely corrupt perversion of a free enterprise system referred to derisively by most commentators here as capitalism.This system has wrapped itself hypocritically and self righteously in the cloak of free enterprise while at the same time cynically doing everything in it's power to destroy any remaining vestiges of true free enterprise.

If anybody is entitled to define free enterprise it is the original thinker Adam Smith who gave it to us.

I am going to try to outline very briefly the defining characteristis of a free enterprise system as he described the concept.Every body please be aware that I am not a professional economist, a historian, or a scholar-this is necessarily going to be a fast job painted with a broad brush.

This may be known to some as market theory.

Certain assumptions are made in describing a free enterprise system , some of the key ones being:

I. Buyers and sellers must be too small to influence the market price.

It should be perfectly obvious that there a few if any industries left where such conditions apply-It holds on the supply side in agriculture in respect to most crops-even a conglomerate with twenty thousand acres can't sell or without enough corn or wheat to affect the price.

Obviously it also holds to some extent in many other industries such as the retail sale of groceries-there are enough supermarkets in most places to keep the profits and costs in that industry competitive.Perhaps not truly competitive in the sense hat vendors in a farm market compete, but reasonably competitive-nevertheless a store a few miles from it's nearest competitor usualluy charges quite a bit more for a similar cart full of groceries than stores owned by the same chain in more competitive nieghborhoods.
When I lived around Richmond, Seven Eleven generally charged an extra dime for gas at stores well away from competing retaliers but the exact same if there was another store selling gas within a block or two.
The situation in between is different-certainly some intense competition exists in certain areas but in others there seems to be very little.The power of advertising rather than the efficiencies of mass production are imo responsible for the fact that we drink only a few brands of beer from even fewer breweries,eat mostly only a few brands of bread, chicken, etc.Sometime back I read that of the many dozens of brands of bath soap, the vast majority are con trolled by only two or three companies.

Strike one-even in the most basic industry-food distribution- the players are too big to be described as ordinary free enterprise players.

II.Everybody must be fully informed-nobody would have access to huge amounts of secret data.

So just how much insider info does a bank with zillions of credit cards in use have in respect to the consumer economy?

How could an individual or a small company hope to match a big corporation in terms of data when the big boys can hire whole buildings full of analysts?

Personally I cannot imagime an Exxon or a Royal Shell NOT knowing how much of any given kind of equipment Saudi Arabia buys, given that they buy a hell of of a lot of the same stuff, or thier not being able to have an honest and profitable talk with a few recently retired guest workers from time to time as the need and desire arises.Add that to the satellite photos, the shipping reports, the publicly announced revenue and sales of equipment manufacturers-they must have a very good idea of whats going on after they crunch it all-but how could any little outfit match that effort?

I will resume this after awhile-got to take care of a few things.

Generally agree with you, BUT

I think that you overestimate the quality, and usefulness, of "insider" information inside Fortune 500 companies. Since managers, despite their multi-million salaries, cannot properly process such information in useful ways, there is not much demand for it. And a company can wander off into illegal activities too easily gathering such data. Illegal gets costly if caught.

Peak Oil is not a deep secret IMVHO, but an overlooked fact for most of corporate America. (Toyota, with their 100 year strategic plan, may be the exception to that).


Capitalists don't earn their wealth by charging interest. Bankers do.

Capitalists earn their wealth by deploying it in the form of productive assets that in turn generate more wealth.

Generate more wealth being the key point.

We are so used to an expansionary economy that we can no longer wrap our minds around what it really means to live in a steady-state or worse, shrinking, economy. Prohibitions on usury sound as quaint as prohibitions on wearing clothing woven of more than one kind of fiber.

I think this is going to be one of the biggest shocks of the post carbon age - the transition from having a pie that grows every year, to one that shrinks every year. "Generating more wealth" is going to mean "taking it away from someone else." It's going to become increasingly difficult...and increasingly unacceptable.

That said...I do think it's possible to have a steady-state economy that is reasonably high-tech. Like this.

And even in a steady state economy (even one which has reached a steady state of technology) there is still a need for capital investment to replace worn out stuff. So there would need to be some sort of mechanism to incentivize such investment. Its just that the amount of investment, and the return on it is going to be a lot less than in an exponentially expanding one.


The thing is, though, that capitalism (when combined with technological change) concentrates wealth and income. In a steady-state economy, capitalism -- as currently practised -- will result in the collapse of demand.

The main remedy used in the past was redistribution of income via progressive income taxes, up to 90% (and even 101% in Sweden, for a while). The western world seems at present to be trying a pseudo-remedy, printing money. It'll be interesting to see if that works this time -- it never has before.

Excellent points.

Leanan greate article.

One question is population control how did they do it then ?

If you find something I'm very interested.

And of course the next observation is this is doable but at a much smaller population than we have today.

If you find info on birth control during that period email me.

One question is population control how did they do it then ?

They did it the same way all humanity did it before the industrial age. Before the industrial age the population grew only as the territory Homo sapiens occupied grew. If the land could support only a given population then the population never grew above that number.

It does not have a name that I know of. All the animal world is governed by this system of population control. Every species produces far more offspring than can possibly survive. The weak die off and the strongest or most fit survive. North Korea still uses that system of population control today.

It is really not very complicated Memmel. ;-)

Ron P.


The constant population was not a result of governmental regulation, but a result
of natural causes and some intentional actions by people. The famine caused by crop
failure due to unfavorable climate and other disasters was the major reducing pressure. It
seems that the people tried to lower the birth rate in general, and that some form of
abortion and infanticide were practiced occasionally when the increasing pressure
overwhelmed the food availability.

Yes, infanticide and abortion, but the main method of population control was delaying marriage.

Malnutrition causes infertility. Insufficient food causes malnutirition. Peak oil will result in insufficient food. You connect the dots.

One question, though. Do hungry people just lie down and die?

Planet Earth has a carrying capacity of homo sapiens of about 1.25 Billion. That is what can be fed using sustainable agriculture. How many are there now?

I don't think infertility from malnutirition is a good way to go for reducing population. And, I don't have a clue what to do about it at this point in time, which is why, IMHO, we will shortly see TSHTF.

Planet Earth has a carrying capacity of homo sapiens of about 1.25 Billion. That is what can be fed using sustainable agriculture. How many are there now?

Absolute nonsense. Fot the second about 6.9 billion.

I suggest the earth can carry more than 10 billion with current technology.

This does of cource not mean they all can life the american suburb-lifestyle with oil driven SUV's consuming a gallon per 20 miles, very inefficient old air-conditioners running all day long at max. capacity, eating a high-meat diet growing fatter all the time (this does not include anybody i know, but quite a large amount), thats true for shure, but that are to different things.

sustainable agriculture <> current technology

The population density during the Edo period was
approximately 80/km2, which is about twice as high as the present world population

I don't know where I could find the fertility data etc. to compare Edo Period Japan to the rest of the world, but I would guess that the world is not capable of the same population density as they had. 1.25 Billion may be a bit low, but I'm guessing 10 Billion is not sustainable either. Look at totoneila's posts on fertilizer for just one problem with "current technology".

I rarely disagree with Ron. But I think even before industrialization, global population was gradually (if erratically) expanding. Gradual improvements to farming methods, accumulation of infrastructure, such as terracing and irrigation schemes, as well as gradual improvements of crop yields (via selective breeding), was gradually increasing the carrying capacity. Malthus thought that only deprivation induced death rates would limit population. But, we've seen that diseases, and wars can also have a major effect. Since the organic growth rate (until the brief period of the industrial revolution temprarily changed the dynamic) was higher than the slow increase in carrying capacity various sorts of catastrophes, especially wars would keep the population in quasiequlibrium with the carrying capacity.

Diamond talks about birth control in sustainable societies. In Japan, as someone else noted, delayed marriage was one way they kept the birth rate down. You were not considered an adult until you were 21 - pretty old by global standards. Japan was also very accepting of homosexuality. A man was expected to marry and produce a son, but once he did that, he was free to pursue a gay lifestyle. (This was one reason western homosexuals gravitated to Japan.)

They also practiced things like coitus interruptus, abortion, and infanticide. To this day, Japan is much more accepting of abortion than we are. Mizuko, "water children," are babies that are miscarried, aborted, or stillborn. (In the old days, they may also have been infants killed because their families could not afford to support them.) There's a special ritual, mizuko kuyoo, which is a memorial service for fetuses, that expresses the parents' remembrance and regret, and allows them to say goodbye.

Prohibitions on usury sound as quaint as prohibitions on wearing clothing woven of more than one kind of fiber.

Cute one.

Have you seen the Coen Brothers' new movie, A Serious Man?

IIRC, the actual prohibition in the Old Testament was against trying to grow hybrid plants (though shall not genetically modify)

Capitalists earn their wealth

A lot of freakonomically-framed discussion going on in this thread.

What is "wealth"?

Are you "wealthy" if you are at the moment dying of the H1N1 virus and yet there is a computer somewhere out there whose bits and bytes assigns a large number of dollar units to your name?

First and foremost, "wealth" should imply a state of well-being.

Since no man is an island, our individual well beings depend on the well beings of our fellow men (and oh yes, women).

Accordingly, the concentration of power and good life into the hands of a small minority does not create well-being. It creates strife, anger and possibly violent overthrow of the current power structure.

What were the revolutions in America, France and Russia about if not that?

Several issues here, let's try to sort them out.

1) Ownership of productive assets:

There have been many different arrangements for the ownership of productive assets tried over human history. I won't go into that here, most of us should be at least somewhat aware of most of the variants.

What works best, or just plain works at all, for a sustainable, steady-state economy? An increase in the accumulation of wealth, and thus productive assets, in the hands of the wealthy few would seem to me to be inherently a discontinuity. You don't necessarily need steady-state economies to be entirely rigid, but you don't want to have a great deal of changes in the underlying structure going on. This seems to me to be the best reason why "capitalism" is not compatable with a sustainable economy.

That doesn't mean that some form of state socialism is any better. Heavy handed centralized government owned and operated economies have their own set of problems. One of the main ones is likely to be excessive overhead. A sustainable, steady-state economy would need to make the best use of the limited resources available, and would need to studiously avoid waste. Unfortunately, the actual track record of state socialism to run enterprises efficiently is not good.

My personal position is that localized/decentralized system of public ownership but not government ownership, i.e. cooperatives, would be the best arrangement for the ownership of most productive assets in a steady-state, sustainable economy.

2) Interest:

We've had this conversation before, and I continue to take exception to this claim that in a sustainable, steady-state economy, there cannot possibly be any interest charged or earned.

When it comes to extending an exponential rate of interest into infinity, this is certainly right. However, few contracts involving interest are actually set up that way; usually, it is a matter of interest being payable for a fixed number of periods, and then the debt being paid off or the transaction unwound. I fail to see what is so inherently problematic about that. In the case of a limited term of interest payments, interest is nothing more than the rent one pays for the use of money. I fail to see people here arguing that rent is impossible in a sustainable, steady-state economy, but rent and interest are really just the exact same thing. For that matter, wage employment is only the renting out of your own personal productive asset, i.e. your own labor, so that really isn't any different either.

The reason why you WOULD have both rent and interest in a sustainable, steady-state economy is because that is the only way to assure that scarce productive assets are allocated to their highest and best use and not wasted. As I said, such an economy cannot afford waste.

Having said all that, I am in no way suggesting that such a sustainable, steady-state economy would look anything at all like what we have now. I doubt that there would be very much borrowing and lending going on at all; what little there would be would tend to be small scale and short term. I doubt that the rate of return on interest income from money loaned would differ substantially from the rate of return on rent income on real or personal property. I suspect that both rates would probably be pretty low.

Excellent summary, WNC Observer! Interest is a charge for the use of money; wages are a charge for the use of time; rent is a charge for the use of land. These are all mechanisms to guide choices as to the use of the resource concerned. Sometimes, they even work.

... although I think economic rent (ability to obtain an 'excess profit" because of variations in the 'quality' of a free natural resource) is a little problematic. "The problem of Rent" was raised by (IIRC) Ricardo, but basically swept under the carpet after he died. The lump will become much more visible in a steady-state economy.

If oil is explored on (1) land that no one owns, with processes that (2) have no human input, and that use (3) autonomous self-replicating robots that cost no money, then theoretically oil can be completely disconnected from the regular financial system. The producers of oil then have a mechanism to automagically print an alternative form of money. They can then assert a stranglehold for however long the supply holds out. I only mention this because it would make a nice premise for a SciFi novel ... if it hasn't already been done.

If oil can be produced "for free", doesn't that mean it would become a "free good", like daylight or air? IMHO, governmental violent force regulation would ensure that would happen. The most popular law in history, that would be.

n the ancient world, part of the reason for the prohibition on interest was that society simply could not afford to support capitalists. Probably 99% of the people worked in agriculture, and struggled just to produce enough food to feed themselves. Interest was money earned without working or producing anything - wealth taken from people who could ill afford to lose it.

That's really the crux of the issue, I think. It seems to me that if a person can produce considerably more food than they need for themselves... that doesn't imply a growth economy. If a person can produce food for three, i.e. for two extra mouths, then that ought to support a population where 1/3 of the people are farming and the other 2/3 are doing whatever else along with eating.

If I have some extra land and/or extra tools, and you are a farmer whose output is constrained by a lack of land and/or tools, why doesn't it make sense for me to loan you what I don't need, and then how about we split whatever extra output my loan enables you to produce? I don't see how that creates a growth economy.

The problem I see with interest is that it involves a serious imbalance of power. The risk is primarily on the borrower. If the weather is bad, the farmer still has to make loan payments. The penalties for failing to repay a loan are severe.

A much more equitable arrangement is that I loan you resources not at any fixed repayment schedule, but for a share in your increased productivity. That way, we share the risk.

Fractional reserve banking is an even crazier beast than loaning at interest. The bank promises to repay deposits on demand, but they've loaned that money out with long term repayment plans. It's really a kind of fraud.

Then, even worse, there is stuff like buying stocks on margin. It's not investing, it's pure gambling.

Of course all of this is child's play compared to the unintelligible stuff Wall Street's been dreaming up the last few decades.

I think a total restructuring of the economy would be a bit like a brain transplant - pretty much guaranteed to kill the patient, no matter how much a new brain would help. Better, I think, to cut out the most lunatic excesses first and then gradually work toward a saner system.

It seems to me that an economy where 1/3 of the people farm and the other 2/3 write poems and play music... maybe to entertain the farmers at lunchtime... could be perfectly sustainable.

I think a bigger part of the distaste for interest came from it's serious abuse. The Romans routinely forced conquered nations/cities to take out loans at interest rates they couldn't afford, then used the debt as an excuse to drain the region of its wealth, and to force many citizens to be sold into slavery. Many others, sometimes without even realizing it, have resorted to similar techniques.

There is a totally different way to look at the ancient prohibitions against interest. In traditional societies, most of the wealth was concentrated in the hands of a small number of large land holders. These were the top dogs. The rise of capitalists who gathered their wealth through interest from money lending constituted the threat of a competing class to the large land holders. Simply prohibiting interest was a convenient expedient to keep such competition from gaining a foothold in the first place. Wraping the prohibition in religion assured its ready acceptance by the general populace.


thank you for a good, suscinct and easy to understand explaination of capitalism. That is, "...money earned without working or producing anything - wealth taken from people who could ill afford to lose it."

Of course it involves other things, like inherited ownership of land that is actually part of "the commons," but when push comes to shove, you got it spot on!

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Zero growth doesn't mean zero change...and it would tend to promote innovation that focused on increasingly efficient resource utilization.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you! Seeing someone else say that gives me a glimmer of hope. One important change needs to be made, however. This is the message I'm trying to get out to people:

We have enormous challenges ahead of us. We have to make radical changes to the way we live, from how we plant and harvest our food, to our building materials, to the way we harness energy and generate power. Millions of light bulbs have to be changed, more efficient modes of transportation built and utilized, millions of community gardens planted, copious amount of insulation installed, hundreds of thousands of wind turbines and CSP plants built, and an untold number of innovations must be made if we are to maintain our standard of living.

Government alone cannot do this. Government could never hope to handle such a mass of information or such a beast of administration. We all must contribute. We all must bid for the steel, for the soil, and for the remaining oil with the end being a sustainable society and we must do this competitively in an open market to ensure that resources are used efficiently.

In order to ensure that our end is met, however, we must make one significant change. We have to change our currency. Our currency has to be tied to energy so that the market can see what we truly have in terms of stocks and flows.

...something like that. It sounded better when it was just a thought in my head.

Of course greater efficiency is its own curse in a world of decreasing resources and a fragile environment, as Jevon's Paradox describes.

This leads to Paleocon's Dilemma, or perhaps it's a Fork: We can continue live inefficiently and some people will starve relatively soon, or we can live efficiently and a greater population will likely starve later.

The only real solution is to decrease population AND decrease consumption (especially of non-renewable resources) at the same time and proactively, before resource limits do both for us.

So far we are doing poorly on the latter and worse on the former. Sigh.

I must respectfully disagree. Though a good concept, money should be based on production by people. Historically you could say that was the case. Time was, gold was about 1 week of work per troy ounce. If gold rises above that level, it is probably too high.

But, energy? It debases the human factor - something already being done far to much. We are a human society. Human labor is what we exchange. Base rate is untrained, uneducated laborer. Each step of education, skill attainment through training and experience, and ability increases the value of our labor. How we value labor is what determines how successful our society is. Energy should be valued by the same currrency... how much in labor is that energy worth?

Perhaps you could come up with a formula showing how many btu's of energy are expended in producing a wiget. Or an automobile. And then showing how many btu's of energy are burned in one hour of labor? I don't know, but I doubt it would work, and it would still not change the end determinant of societal wealth and success as well as units of human labor in production of goods and services.

You seem to be describing the Labor Theory of Value and the Energy Theory of Value.

Modern economics considers these to be inaccurate as the value of something is what people are willing to pay for it, not what went into it.



Zero growth doesn't mean zero change...and it would tend to promote innovation that focused on increasingly efficient resource utilization.

I agree that would be nice to some degree but it's a dream.

Nearly any given system is neither growing or in decline - even the universe, you may have a peak but that's all. There is absoluty no staedy-state in the long run.

I'm surprised at the bold assertion "Had people seen AIG's CDS exposure build over time they would have stopped doing business with them". Firstly, there were very many people throughout the financial industry who were incentivized by bonuses based upon the amount of deals that they did with very little penalty (just basically getting a bad evaluation) for making deals with dubious long term stability. Secondly, individuals like Jerome Kerivel at SocGen and the various other "rogue traders" shows that you can't rely upon financial people to behave sensibly (an economist would say "rationally" but I refuse to use such a pre-judged term).

And what makes you believe that you can rely on a government official to behave sensibly/rationally???? Libraries are littered with books about corruption and irrationality/irresponsibility in government in capitalist, communist, and socialist countries alike. Do you believe that you can rely on yourself to act sensibly/rationally? If so I'd get behind the market system if I were you...

I've got quite a few friends on LaSalle Street that would tell you straight away that not only would they have refused to do business with AIG or touch any product insured by AIG but they also probably would have been short their stock. Had such a pattern emerged early on AIG's CDS business would have stalled quickly and a bubble would have been averted.

Note that what I wrote was that I was surprised by your saying that AIG wouldn't have led to a collapse simply had information been "available to the market". I emphatically did not put forward an alternative mechanism that I believed would have stopped AIG. Likewise I wasn't being "not behind the market" (nor was I being "behind the market"); FWIW my view of human beings (incuding to some degree myself) is that they're sufficiently emotional and bizarre that I don't think any system is capable of stopping some degree of non-sensible behaviour (including bubbles). I tend to believe a mix of various "influences" (market, government regulation, investigative journalism, diversification by investing entities like pension companies, etc) has the best chance of preventing extreme behaviour that is susceptible to collapse.

Regarding what your friends on La Salle Street tell you now, I'll make the cheap shot that had there just been a more standard form of reporting earnings in the newspapers then of course I'd have spotted the bounce in shares that began in March. No, really, I would definitely have. No, I'm telling you I would have spotted it.

Being more serious, I'm very dubious that even had some form of standard information been available that all of the financial community would have drawn the correct inferences from it. Maybe enough would have spotted things to have stopped a significant bubble, maybe not enough.

FWIW my view of human beings (incuding to some degree myself) is that they're sufficiently emotional and bizarre that I don't think any system is capable of stopping some degree of non-sensible behaviour (including bubbles).

Yes, let's be clear. Bubbles represent an extraordinary opportunity to gain wealth. So, there's your incentive for some to engage in ruinous (to the larger society, anyway) behavior.

In my limited experience of the Futures markets, you are required to deposit enough cash (margin) to cover a large swing in asset prices. And if you don't top up your margin balance (if your position goes against you) then you can find your position promptly liquidated. These features vastly reduce counter-party risk IMHO. Also, every contract is re-priced at close-of-day trade (the settlement price) rather than the opaque mark-to-model pricing of the CDO players.

Yep, you've got the gist of it. AIG was, in the context of your comment, operating their CDS business on a zero margin model. They essentially had no cash set aside incase one of their CDSs went against them. If I recall, I remember reading that they had something like 0.0177% of the potential delivery value of the CDSs set aside.

So, in a word, AIG ran a Ponzi scheme whereby the took in money to be paid out if there was a loss, in the insurance model, but took the money with the hope and prayer that if any losses took place they could pay them from current income, meanwhile pocketing the premiums as bonuses. Right?

That kinda misses the point I was making, which was querying the claim that having information would be enough to stop all bubbles. Incredibly limited research shows that there is a base margin imposed by the stock exchange with additional levels being put on by brokerages to gain greater protection for themselves in case of more extreme events. So the margin isn't a fixed thing, companies can choose on a spectrum of values. Are you asserting that being able to see the margins taht every counterparty would choose the "most conservative" margin entities to transact with, or will some choose lower margin entities that provide better "prices" and/or "bonuses"? If not, then the claim that simply having the information will eliminate all problems arising in the market strikes me as a too bold assertion.

weatherford (WFT) stock is down on Pemex announcement they don't need the equipment contracts. A friend told me this implies Chicontopec is dry - anyone have any insight into that?

David Shields, as ASPO, said (if memory serves) that Pemex is going to virtually abandon (or at least vastly downscale) the project.

It was all over the news earlier this month.

Here's a link to the Weatherford story:

Pemex Says Two Weatherford Contracts May End in April

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil producer, said it may not renew two drilling contracts worth $870 million with Weatherford International Ltd. because it has sufficient equipment for next year’s drilling program.

“Considering the yearly work program for 2010 and the infrastructure we have contracted, Pemex has met its equipment needs,” Pemex spokeswoman Reyna Zea Delfin said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News when asked if it will continue using Weatherford’s drilling rigs and equipment after the contracts, known as ATG 1 and 2, expire in April.

Blame genetics for bad driving, study finds

"I'd be curious to know the genetics of people who get into car crashes," Cramer said. "I wonder if the accident rate is higher for drivers with the variant."

Him and the auto insurance industry.

I wonder if there's an advantage to having that gene variant. The fact that 30% of Americans have it suggests there must be some advantage to offset the disadvantage.

Maybe, but perhaps any significant disadvantage has only materialized recently (with the advent of driving autos).

That doesn't seem likely to me. The gene results in poor memory, which is what causes the bad driving. Seems like that would be a bad thing, car or no car.

And sure enough...there is an advantage.

But don't be alarmed if you think you have this gene variation -- it has it's good side. The researcher say the gene also slows mental decline for people with conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease or multiple sclerosis.

"It's as if nature is trying to determine the best approach," Cramer said. "If you want to learn a new skill or have had a stroke and need to regenerate brain cells, there's evidence that having the variant is not good. But if you've got a disease that affects cognitive function, there's evidence it can act in your favor. The variant brings a different balance between flexibility and stability."

Its almost as if it were less "brain wear".

Its not clear to me that less robust memory implies bad driving. As long as these people don't push the limits as much as other drivers they could be just as safe. It is not so much an issue of stuff like reaction times, but an attitude about thinking about safety and not pushing the envelope. I suspect that is pretty tough to test for.

In any case I remember reading that some sorts of intelligence may be associated with disease risk. It is also true that larger brains consume more energy, and henece unless they provide a substantial advantage are selected against.

U.S. Imports from Saudi Arabia fell to 0.766 mbpd in August.

Environmental activists from Greenpeace dumped 18 tonnes of German coal outside Sweden's government offices Wednesday to protest against the Swedish state's coal plant ownership abroad.

Greenpeace could do even more for our climate if they supported new nuclear powerplants.
We can build new ones in southern Sweden and export power to Denmark and Germany and replace coal power. But Greenpeace obviousle dont rate the climate change as a realy serious problem.

No, they just don't take your argument as "realy" serious, probably because of nuclear's:

enormous expense
danger in an age of a universal and eternal war on terrorism
hazard at every stage from mining, to transport, to processing...
eternal hazard it bequeaths to our progeny for ever
huge ff use needed to mine, transport, process...materials
subsequent high level of CO2 produced

Because someone has a different perspective than you does not mean that they do not have an analysis or that they don't care.

I have asked greenpeace street salesmens questions about nuclear power for years and they have a harder time answering for each year.

It is true that nuclear power is expensive, especially todays more or less hand built one off or short series nuclear powerplants are expensive since the engineering cost and cost for training worers is spread over one or few units.

The ammount of copper, concrete, steel etc used per MW of capacity or MWh of production is however not that large making nuclear power a good option for societies with lots of qualified workers but limited physical resources. For instance wind power plus pumped hydro storage needs more resources to build but fewer experts.

The eternal war on terrorism is a kind of madness that we have get rid of regardless of our power sources.

The material is dangerous, you do for instance need thin glowes when handling freshly made nuclear fuel and the waste is deady if you try to handle it like the fuel.

Radioactive waste is not eternal, it breaks down naturally. But todays common reactors dont utiliza all of the long lived waste products like plutonium. This can be solved with technology development such as integral fast reactors or molten salt reactors and that would also lower the need for freshly mined fuel with a factor of ten or more.

If the CO2 levels for mining and fuel manufacture were anyway near the CO2 levels for coal powerplants we would get a cost for the nuclear fuel approaching the cost for coal since nobody would donate free fossil fuel to the nuclear fuel industry. This is not the case and you can also compare the volumes handeld.

My analysis is that Greenpeace perspective is dictated by their donors and what gives the most efficient PR for their cause and wallet.

We would be living in another world if the nuclear buildout in USA and the western countris had not halted as it did in the 1970 but run to near complete fossil fuel replacement for electricity production as it did in France. This would have killed most of the coal industry mountaintop mining and all and left lots of natural gas in the ground. The CO2 levels in our atmosphere would be much lower, nuclear technology would be cheaper for the newly industrializing countries and Chine would probably have gotten hell for its coal powerplant buildout. And a peak oil scared USA would have more natural as for its wehicels and almost unlimited electricity for electrical wehicles. And the nuclear waste storage facilities would now have about ten times as much waste. And that would kill how manny people?

I'm not sure the nuclear dumps would have even as much waste, as most would have been re-processed in any reasonable multi-decade nuke-utilization plan.

Thanks for a thoughtful response.

"for societies with lots of qualified workers but limited physical resources. For instance wind power plus pumped hydro storage needs more resources to build but fewer experts."

I suspect that many experts that are strongly pro-nuclear are, consciously or (more likely) not, driven by this economic self-interest. Nuclear is a wonderful employment program for over-educated physicists that don't have much else to do. Overall return on investment for employment for regular folks is much better, of course, for just about anything else.

You imply some nefarious source of funding for Greenpeace. Do you have some documented basis for these suspicions? If so, please share them.

People on the street with most organizations are simply volunteers, regular folks. That doesn't mean that others in the organization have not done their homework.

For the record, I have no association with Greenpeace, I certainly think that coal-powered generation should be rapidly phased out, and I think that the vast majority of our effort should be in doing much less with much much less--efficiency, conservation, contraction, doing without...

There is no well funded industry behind such a notion and it goes against the very well funded universal propaganda, the advertising industry, that is constantly telling us all we must do much much more regardless of the inefficiency, stupidity, banality... of the activity.

So we will undoubtedly take some further disastrous path, nuclear or otherwise.

I don't want to take up further space in this thread with this rather off topic and endlessly debated (though no less important) subject.

Best wishes in an uncertain future.

One of the resources we have plenty of in the post peak oil future is people.

If we educate bright people to be scientist, engineers, realy good welders etc and teach them extreme quality control and long term thinking we get the ability to build more of the already designed nuclear powerplants and develop more advanced nuclear powerplants.

This require very little extra calories but it probaby takes about a decade of hard work to become a realy good professional. I dont concider that to be over education when it makes it possible for us to make the most out of the resources available.

And this extreme quality and long term thinking could lower all kinds of environmental impacts when it spreads to other industries. This mindset also leads to people that buys mixers and electric drills that are realy expensive but last for 20 years instead of buying crap ever 18:th month.

And we also need a very strong science culture to keep track of all the ways we affect the environmnet we live in and our schools need to be realy good to get the general population to understand the basic stuff. This is also likely to do wonders for the quality in the political system.

I find a nuclear technology use and long term environmental thinking to be a good fit. That this combination also is likely to be prosperous sets a good example for continously investing in this intellectual effort. My soundbite for this is that the futute could be "bio nuclear" since the biological sciences is key for our prosperity and I live in a country with large bio resources.

Greenpeace funding has its own internal logic and there is no need for a deep conspiracy for them to get stuck in an old activist business modell and continue fighting the wrong battle.

If there is something nefarious in Greenpeace I would recommend searching for it during the cold war when Sovjet sponsored movements that could make the western countries politically, economically and and also military weaker. Greenpeace would have been a good choise for Sovjet sponsorship and the realy neat thing with that is that they would not even have needed to ask them do anything specific. It would not needed to have been risky like arranging the killing of a west german left wing activist to ignite a conflict.

And for the record, I have been a support member in Greenpeace but quit after one of their advertising campaigns. This where quite a while ago when I were anti nuclear.

Well, we can certainly agree on a need for superior scientific education, though I would propose that it is in the area of the humanities that we need the most work--we need to understand ourselves and our penchant for folly before launching into enormous projects that are potentially ruinous for our progeny.

I believe the books on Soviet funding of Western organizations is open. They certainly did fund some activities (esp. communist parties), but I don't recall hearing of any revelations in this direction. If Greenpeace had depended heavily on them, presumably they would have folded upon the demise of the USSR.

Anyway, we seem to be veering further off topic. Nice chatting with you, though, and best of luck as we spiral into the abyss.

Achieving deep understanding of our species psycology and cultural dynamics is an extremely good idea. But it would be extremely unwise to postpone solutions to the resource problems while we wait for the break thru.

Figures I've come accross suggest that nuclear plants typically have from 10-18 years (depending primarily on the grade of ore used) of run time before they produce a net gain in energy, due to the massive embodied energy costs as well as the mining/processing/concentrating of their fuel. To me, that says nuclear energy is anything but climate-friendly or low carbon. Would be interested to see any figures you may know of which refute this. Seems to me that Greenpeace is right on the money.

David -- Seems as though we may be left with two practical (i.e. That which the public would support as opposed to what's best for the planet) choices: nuclear or coal. Which would you vote for? Tough choice, eh?

I'm sure that I'm in a minority here and everywhere else, but based on the amount of carbon we can allow ourselves to emit and still have a viable ecosphere, I think we need to seriously reconsider industrial society. My choice is none of the above, nor industrial wind or solar power.

I don't think anyone will really do that though, nor do I think a non industrial society can support 7 billion humans. I'm quite confident humanity will drive itself off a cliff, or rather that it already has but doesn't fully realize it yet.

I agree David. Unfortunately I have absolute faith that our society will pay what ever it takes to maintain BAU as close as possible. And this will be done regardless of the costs: be it potential radioactive leaks, flooded coastlines or body bags shipped back from overseas. We have evolved...we are no longer geneticly designed to do without IMO.

we may be left with two practical choices: nuclear or coal...

And it could be that this is a false choice, and that NEITHER are acceptable or in fact practical, for a variety of reasons. The odds that Nuclear can prove itself Economically at this point might preclude the debate altogether, though.

I think our choices are not going to be that appealing in terms of 'Meaty Output' like Nuclear's constant, sexy refrain .. if they do work out Fission or Breeders to a satisfactory degree, I'm sure the story will get out.

About a hundred years ago it were fairly common for people to kill themselves slowly by burning coal in primitive fireplaces. They probably knew about it since they built more advanced fireplaces but that did not help in cities large enough to get smog. But it were better to kill oneself slowly with coal then eating cold food or die fast from winter cold.

Your rejection of tough choises is a luxuru made possible by living in a very rich society. A society rich enough to postpone the hard solution of such conflicts by not investing for the future.

But I agree that nuclear power isent allways practical. Trying to build a nuclear powerplant in a region lacking in technical skills and political stability is like building wind powerplants far inland in weak winds. You can still get it to work but it will be expensive.

I dont think nucleat power is THE silver bullet but it is one of the most important silver buckshot. It is important in sevral advanced countries and more nuclear power can be added in parallell with other solutions that has other limitations.

Magnus Redin -- you apparently think the post-peak world will be much more stable and peacable than I do. Granted, none of the answers I've come up with are particularly good either. Pretty much every possibility I can see involves a massive upheaval in population and lifestyles (including our current path). I still think it's worth assuming that we *may* be able to pull off a controlled descent to a non-industrial society without completely cooking ourselves off the planet, and am trying to make personal choices in that direction.

I am quite sure that Sweden and our closest neighbours can have a thriving industrialised culture with neglible use of fossil fuels. I only have to extrapolate what already is being done for two or three decades and were off the hook.

The physical key resources for this is lots of forests and fields per capita and plenty of hydro and nuclear electricity.

I find it reasonable that other people can do what we are doing.

I find it reasonable that other people can do what we are doing.

I think you missed your biggest advantage, a society whose people care about the big picture, and are not distracted by strong ideology and culture war issues. Unfortunately much of the world has the potential for energy/economic stress to fuel political strife, rather than innovation towards living with the new realities.

Point taken. It might be unique that fiscal irresponsibility is an election looser. I dont think you can win an election on a platform of more spending and lower taxes.

I expect that an oil crisis or accelerating climate change to be precicely the kind of things that make people from our whole political spectrum cooperate to solve the problem. For instance we got stronger support of our government as the financial crisis slammed our economy in reverse gear. But is this realy a Swedish trait? Isent it very common to rallie against a common enemy and try solving the problem?

But we might be a little more likely to listen to experts then manny other countries? It is quite possible for a well argued individual to contact our parliament and government and single handedly kill a bad idea or promote a god one. This is often good but can be bad when most experts have fallen for a dumb trend. And it works a lot better for "technical" ideas then things that have been loaded with political prestige, we are not immune from that problem.

I think this is utter nonsence. We are lucky to have a lot of forrests, arable land and hydro power, thats it. Look at the Dutch. Are they dumber than us? Don’t think so, yet they use 97% fosil fuels because their population is 16 times more dense than ours and they have no hydro power possibilities.

Ahh, yes I'm a Swede too

Thats my argument! They are not dumber then us and are on the same technology leven and can thus get most of their electricity from nuclear power. And it is also a good country for wind power although the dense population make it hard to find places where it wont disturb the neighbours.

The population density will also make it easier to replace car use with trams, trains, bicycles and so on. Our railway infrastructure is a lot more expensive per capita.

You mean you can't win an election on a platform of more spending and lower taxes THERE? You certainly can HERE! In fact, I'd argue it's the ONLY way to win of late.

The 2006 election were won on a platform of lower taxes and lower spending versus no change and continued high taxes and high spending with a small budget surplus.

The implemented policy were lower taxes, lower spending in the transfer systems and a large budget surplus. The dynamic stimulation of the lower taxes increasing economical ectivity and thus other tax revenue were were funneld into building an economical buffert.

The poll ratings went down as the governmnet refused to increase the spending when we had record years.

That worked realy well untill the financial crisis wich gave a budget deficit. The right wing government then dident bail out industries, wiped out the owners of the bank that had to be bailed out, increased RnD spending, increased infrastructure spending -especially maintainance, increased spending on education and most of the deficit were from lower tax incomes and the various support systems for unemploid. And the municipialities is getting governmnet money next year.

The poll ratings went up as the government refused large scale bailouts etc.

The opposition suggested the same things but wanted very large bailouts, especially of the US owned car industry, higher benefits for unemploid and more money for the municipialities.

The largest opposition party is having their pre election congress right now. But they are already setting a platform of higher taxes and higher spending.

The next election will from an economical viewpoint probably be about getting back to a budget surplus plus lower taxes and lower spending versus higer taxes and higher spending.

The only party that want to abandon the common policy of having a budet surplus over an economical cycle and limitations in the government budget process is the former(?) communist party that is part of the opposition. And that policy is rooted in a previous local financial crisis that more or less were a mini version of the US real estate meltdown, it took about a decade to pay down that deficit.

There is also a risk that the fianncial crisis and its fellow problems like oil supply have unhinged the economy and that we realy cant calculate over economical cycles any more. I realy dont know but we will anyway be better off as long as we continue doing productive stuff that are long term usefull.

We got our version of the "green shots" talk but during the acute crisis the official message were that we dont know how bad it will be and that we need to save money if it becommes even worse. We actually had our finance minister on TV stating that the situation is bad and we need to prepaire for the unknown and that it can get even worse. We got our green shots talk after the economy had started to pick up with higher demand and prices in some sectors.

For instance we got stronger support of our government as the financial crisis slammed our economy in reverse gear. But is this realy a Swedish trait? Isent it very common to rallie against a common enemy and try solving the problem?

Over here, and I suspect in a lot of places the people percieve their government as being in bed with the poeple that caused the crisis. And then the most popular media outlets seem to be unduely controlled by the same interests. So disinformation seems to get equal or better than equal airtime, and many cannot tell the difference.

I find it reasonable that other people can do what we are doing.

Some other people perhaps, but Sweden is a very heavily wooded, low population density country (20 people per sq Km and 193th out of 239). Your total population is less than that of London and the UK went through peak trees at least 500 ago. To say the least you do not live in a typical country.

Of the 27 Euro Nations 23 import 100% of their oil - this is a serious predicament.

I wouldn't reasonably expect your current situation to last very long from past world history. As all the world's resouces get exponentially depleted expect mass migration from importing nations hit by ELM to places of relative abundance - or attack for plunder of your resources.

Our abundance of trees is only comparable to a handfull of countries or regions but half of our abundance of electricity is nuclear power and that can be built in any advanced country but it do of course take about a generation to tool up for and complete such an investment.

We import all our oil and the refineries are changing to export customers as the local oil use falls.

I realy hope that we can becomme better at recieving immigrants and that most of the world implements wise investments since it would be terrible if we would have to close our borders and then rebuild the defences we had during the cold war. Such a depressing turn of events would also divert resources from more productive use.

Why in the world, would you want to be "better at recieving immigrants" ?

In whats rapidly coming, one would think you would want to become better at keeping them out. Dump 20 million new bodies, with a completely different attitude towards energy, food and culture, into your country over a short period of time due to food, energy or climate migration and I think you would be in for quite a shock.

Its good for us if we can attract productive people that needs to relocate to a well functioning society that also have plenty of electricity, water and so on to grow their busienss and get a better future. And it relievs a little of the preassure on the rest of the world.

But this only works out well if we learn how to attract people that fits in our society or learn how to integrate them better. It is unfortunately not going very well, one of the largest problems is that much of our intelligentia cant handle tough problems in a realy sane way and tend to scream "racist" or "islamophobe" as soon as anyone tries to do something about the problems.

And besides, manny years ago I set my personal measurement for a successfully de-socialized of Sweden as being so free that americans start migrating to us. You seem to be working on makig this goal easier to reach. :-)

You seem to be working on making this goal easier to reach. :-)

Yes, as we head towards 3rd World/developing nation economic status :-(


But this only works out well if we learn how to attract people that fits in our society or learn how to integrate them better.

If I may be so politically incorrect. For me the attraction to the Nordic countries is primarily because they have largely thrown off the effects of Abrahamic religion, and have a chance at forming rational policies. But, letting in mnay immigrants with an even stronger version of that same religious family threatens to undo all that progress. Preserving some form of culture should take precence over short term economic gains.

Do you have hydro electric dams made of concrete or steel which weren't created with coal? Very few metals and no concrete that I'm aware of are mined or smelted without fossil fuels. Don't forget that it's not just your direct personal use that is important, but industrial energy use.

Of course not, why would they have used more expensive fuels then necessery when building dams during the 1900:s?

But I expect it to be fairly easy to make cocrete with neglible oil or coal.
Use conveyour belts or trucks with overhead wires and heat the kiln with an electrical plasma arch.

Steel is harder to make withouth coal but can scrap can be melted with electricity.

But I agree that it is likely that we will use fossil coal far longer then oil. Our steel export would realy shrink if we would have to use charcoal.

And I expect that the refineries will still be present if Sweden manage to use neglible oil in 20-30 years. Provided that they have switched to other raw materials and are so efficient compared to the competitors that Russia etc still ship oil to them to maximise the profit. And I exect that almost all the production will be exported.

My Rejection of both Nuclear AND Coal, the 'Easy and Abundant' sources, IS the tough choice, Magnus. It's tough because it means I have to accept working a LOT harder if I'm willing to sacrifice being awarded all those energy slaves. It's why I obsessively collect glass and mirrors (among other things, as my wife will attest), in the hopes of collecting what benign energies I can.

My rejection of the Slow Poison of Fission (not even poisoning myself slowly, but potentially my neighbors grandkids and the fish that swim in their water-supply), doesn't mean I accept the faster poisoning of Coal by default.

The volumes of Plutonium that are already being disseminated around the darker backrooms of the world are not just unfortunate 'limitations' or warts on the shining star of Civilian Nuclear power.. they are simultaneously one of the prime movers of that technology, and an unerasable byproduct of it, that will become a guaranteed death-sentence in a world with Oil-crash tensions/repercussions, and a steady buildout of new reactors in every corner of the planet.. such 'Absolute Power' will do what it always does.. it doesn't bring out sweetness and light, it spoils us and drives us into power-addictions that tear us apart.

If Petroleum is a drug like Alcohol, then Nuclear is a drug like Heroin or Crack. (In that analogy, I may be forced to accept that Solar, Hydro and Wind are drugs like Pot, Beer or Coffee but of course, I'm only picking drugs that I've already basically accepted.. I don't pretend to be unbiased, but I don't think I'm blinded by my biases, either.)


Fission is such a slow poison that I expect it to be perfectly possible to run a culture on it indefinately provided said culture develop breeder reactors.

Its ok and admirable to make a tough choice and remove oneself from the consumption culture but I cant use that as a general solution since I dont what to remove other people. And most other people want to live and if they are unable to use good solutions they will most likely use bad soutions. Its not what I would like to se happen, its only what is most likely to happen.

I dont see why having electricity would tear us apart. It is more likely to power electrified trains and plentifull electricity makes it possible to manufacture products to trade with and trade brings people togeather.

The basic technology can both be used for powering a civilization and for building weapons. Every powefull technology has the same problem. My main solution for this is to figure out ways to make the local society and the world less poor if times turn tough to keep the desperation levels as low as possible.

I'm not calling Electricity the spoiler.. Electricity is just the 'Carrier' of the energy.

If the heat driving that generation comes from burned Coal, you get a power-structure in that industry that reflects the concentration of power that this coal carries, and the by-products are just shrugged easily off, and left to the state to worry about. Socialized, if you will.

Uranium just concentrates the power and the wastes into tighter parcels, while the business model and the power-brokers who manage this similarly can remain meticulously clean and optimistic, while the unpleasant tie-ins with military materials and unmanaged high-level wastes keep getting chuckled off as insignificant.

Carry a geiger counter through Baghdad.. we've been as careless about the city at the root of our civilization as we're being about the new-forming branches(the coming generations). These are growing piles of caustic, high-level poisons. They're near water supplies, they destroy their containment systems, and the people who placed them there won't be on duty or even alive any more to see them safely dealt with.

We're leaving plastic bags of rat poison strewn throughout the kitchen. This is no way to 'Like People', I'm very sorry to say.


I suspect you're right jokuhl. Nuke costs just seem undoable even with a healthy economy...which I doubt we be anywhere close when TSHTF. Coal seems like the only real future. Not just for us but the UK, China and much of the rest of the world. I just threw nukes in for continuity of the discussion

That "10 to 18 years" is *WAY* off-base, and was no doubt compiled by a strongly biased anti-nuke source.

Enrichment of Uranium is going towards centrifuges, which use 2% of the electricity of the old gaseous diffusion methods (last old US gas diff. closes in 2012). Np doubt ignored in the "analysis".

Per MW and MWh, nukes use *FAR* less concrete and steel (and copper) than wind turbines, which have energy paybacks <2 years. Nukes use higher grade materials (think aluminum for beer cans (WTs) and aluminum for Boeing (nukes) which raises their materials costs, but does not add much to the energy content.

If Wind turbines have an energy payback of 2 years, then nukes have an energy payback in months.

I am not a rabid pro-nuke (I have had "prolonged" discussions here on TOD with those that are), but this statistic is *WAY* off !

Best Hopes for Realistic Analysis,


Thanks for the info -- you obviously know a bit more about it than I do. I still don't see a future for nuclear power myself, but would bet you're right about the diffusion vs. centrifuge concentration energy use.

My favorit report is the one made by Forsmark.
Here is a glossy papper summary and comparision with a too long URL:

It is pro nuclear PR material but they would be ripped to shreads by our local anti nuclear people if they took any shortcuts.

The short pole in the tent for nuclear power is that it needs lots of skilled people.
And it is correct that it also needs good work ethics and a stable society that do
long term investments.

Nuclear power is a bad choise if you dont care about the long term. Burning thru the
easy available natural gas and coal and developmets such a setting fire on coal seams with
in situ gasification is much better choises if you only want short term profits since
you can minimize the cost for capital investments and educating people. It is also in
manny countries possible to walk away from sloppy storages fly ash while you have to
spend a lot to handle nuclear waste.

I vote existing hydro ,with mega solar and wind .... and half the population

I vote for liking people.

"I vote existing hydro ,with mega solar and wind .... and half the population"

I vote you to be part of the other half...

And what do you suggest ??


Pre industrial and 1/2 billion global population ?

I suggest nothing. I only vote. Just like you.

Eventually we all are going to be in the other group (deceased)

But population reduction through decreased birth rate would be the best in my opinion.

"But population reduction through decreased birth rate would be the best in my opinion."

A nice concept, jmygann, but totally infeasible. Even a zero birth rate for the next 20 years would not bring the population down to a level that can be sustained in a post-peak world. We are going to have to face the fact that there are far too many humans currently infesting and destroying the globe. For example, at present in Uganda, the average woman has 7 children.

Things just have to get horrible (temporarily, before major dieoff) if there is to be any chance of humanity successfully crawling thru the immanent bottleneck.

Living in New Zealand, with a currently sustainable population level, it might appear that I am in a fairly secure position. Unfortunately, to the northwest, in Asia, reside almost half of the world's population in rapidly deteriorating ecological environments.

Australia is already seeing a substantial increase in "boat people" attempting to reach its shores. This is likely to increase to a flood within the next few years, eventually resulting in military action (sinking boats, and leaving occupants to drown)to prevent this "Unarmed Invasion" of ecological refugees. As Australia itself will be one of the first nations affected by the rapidly approaching climate chaos, NZ will soon be seen as the next desirable destination for 10s of millions of economic/ecologic refugees from Asia.

To me it seems that there is NO good option. The least bad would perhaps be a major disease pandemic that would quickly wipe out at least 75% of humans. Horrible, perhaps, but less so than a nuclear war for control of ever declining resources in a hugely polluted world.

Basically, we are screwed. (You don't want to know my thoughts on a doomer day!!)

Greenpeace only alienate the common man (and me) by this stupid action. They have no good arguments, so they use violence instead...
I agree on your position on nuclear, but I like to ad that the discussion on yes or no to nuclear tends to be very simplistic. Does a "no" to nuclear mean that we can not use power that is based on nuclear reactions at all? Why? A Tjernobyl type reactor is a big nono, but a fusion reactor would maybe be a big yesyes. The point is that the safety of the technique involved should be discussed and not the fact that the energy is derived from a nuclear reaction.

I don't know if I'm common, Olle, but I thought that their very messy statement was quite good Political Theater. (And I don't consider that term to be derisive) It was 'Action', but how was it violent?

I'm in favor of Nuclear Research, but not Civilian Power generation in the way it has been run. Like most Corporate Business Models, they have only assured their profitability by outsourcing too many of the uncertainties onto the public sector or off into the far future. 'Unless you can clean up your own mess, you can't play your game on my planet' - Should be the policy.. not 'Leave it in the parking lot, someday they'll find a cure and thank us for it'

If you got 18 tons of lignite at your front door, you would stand there an applause the "good political theatre". I think you are unique!

"how was it violent"
Look up the term "violent" in a dictionary...

Partly agree on what you write on Nuclear, but no industry completely cover its external effects, C02 anyone?
I just believe that well managed nuclear is better than fosil fuels and also the only scaleable alternative today.

I'm sorry, but it's only 'disruptive', it's 'obstruction' .. but it's not doing harm to people, not intended to threaten them with injury, they might have killed some ants or cockroaches on the sidewalk, but did they even break a window? It doesn't look like it.

Yes, I applaud them. COAL is a killer. It is poisoning MY lakes and rivers, OUR atmosphere.

Coal is violent. Using an obnoxious pile of it to make a nuisance that cannot be ignored, to bring attention to topics that the US and Europe need to address with All-Haste seems to be a laudable action, in my view. But calling that 'Violent' is following the spin which defends these powerful interests against Activist groups who really are only doing potential Violence against these power-meisters' earnings potential. Jumping inbetween Harpoon-ships and whales is possibly a bit insane, but calling them violent is like calling a fire-extinquisher violent for trying to put out a blaze.

"..it brought the 18 tonnes of coal by truck from Germany, representing the amount Vattenfall burns every 20 seconds at its Jaenschwalde plant there."


So yes, they remain Anti-Nuclear, but are also clearly Anti-Coal. Go figure..

It might be possible to get you to like how the nuclear power industry is run in Sweden. They or rather the electricity buyers do pay for the handling, research and ultimate storage of the nuclear waste.

Here is an article (.pdf warning!) that describes injecting and then feeding Pseudomonas bacteria into oil wells to enhance recovery.
The mechanism is formation of bacterial plugs in the high-permeability channels, which forces the injected water around them, through the lower-permeability areas:

Changes in cell size and shape associated with bacterial starvation and resuscitation were used as a technique to
enhance oil recovery. Injection of starved bacteria followed by nutrients into rock cores produced deep bacterial
plugs. This work reports on an investigation of the dispersion and resuscitation of ultramicrobacteria (UMB)
produced by starvation of Pseudomonas sp.

Our earlier work established that Klebsiella pneurnoniae
isolated from oil well waters formed UMB when
starved and then resuscitated when given nutrients.

My question for the experts here is, are these people insane?
They've chosen a bug that is colonizing our hospitals and nursing homes, steadily developing new antibiotic resistance as it progresses. A little background, courtesy of a friend who's a health-care professional:

The most common infection caused by Klebsiella bacteria outside the hospital is pneumonia.
New antibiotic resistant strains of K. pneumoniae are appearing, and it is increasingly found as a nosocomial infection.
Klebsiella ranks second to E. coli for urinary tract infections in older persons. It is also an opportunistic pathogen for patients with chronic pulmonary disease, enteric pathogenicity, nasal mucosa atrophy, and rhinoscleroma. Feces are the most significant source of patient infection, followed by contact with contaminated instruments.

a genus of gram-negative bacteria isolated from wounds, burns, and infections of the urinary tract that includes several free-living species in soil and water and some opportunistic pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonads are notable for their fluorescent pigments and their resistance to disinfectants and antibiotics.

What price oil? Dollars-per-barrel is a poor measure of the ultimate price we will pay.

It is my understanding that is the way we are getting our fancy genetically modified foods (bacteria and viruses are used in the process) so what the heck. If you think that is bad, a newscaster in Canada was diagnosed with cancer and ending up getting a total diagnosis of what was in her blood (which is a very rare thing to do). She was loaded to the gills with all kinds of wierd crap, which likely means we all are-we have already crossed the rubicon a long time ago on this one. PS-try to limit your time you spend with the cell phone next to your brain-pretty well every expert in that field knows that it dramatically increases your risk of brain cancer, but what the heck, the earnings per share are good this quarter on that baby, which is the bottom line.

just an open comment.. i was talking to a fellow employee about the bakken shale issue and got him a copy of gail's work on this topic. he managed to find his way to the oil drum web site and i noticed he was perusing some of the documents. i didnt bother him thinking that he might discover something. later that day he remarked how he thought this was a strong environmentalism based site. i was a bit surprised and asked him why. he replied that the few articles he read seemed to be written from an environmentalists view. i told him that they try to allow as diverse a range of opinions as possible and assured him that it was a site about energy. he seemed unconvinced. this guy is an average guy, no degrees, like me, but i was wondering if this site is too complex to understand in a short period. i know i lurked here for over a year before i became a member. it took me that long to figure out the mechanics of this place. i am refering to the layout and how to read the articles and then the comments. i wouldnt change it because it makes sense to me now but it took a while to get comfortable with it......

is any of this making sense??

Yes, it makes sense. It does take a while.

To get anything out of The Oil Drum, you have to suppress your emotional reaction to what you read, read what is written (i.e. don't "read things into" what is said), think hard about whether the facts presented are really facts, and whether the arguments are logical, proceed from the facts, and don't gloss over inconvenient facts. And of course there's a huge amount of background reading to do at the same time...

Each of these tasks is hard enough by itself - especially not reacting emotionally! -- but together their difficulty is huge. (Hmm... are we masochists? ;-) )

The Oil Drum probably does look like an environmentalist forum at first glance - the difference between the environmentalists' "we should use less!" and the Peak Oilers' "there's going to be less!" is quite subtle. I guess that's the basic problem - the issues are hard to grasp and need an investment of time. Most people have too many other demands on their time.

IMO the best way to improve the site would be by building a concordance, but that's a huge job (in fact, non-finite while articles are still being posted).

the major crime of (nd) bakken shale production is that they flare so much ng. the nd industrial commission is charged with preventing waste and protecting correlative rights.

in reality, their objective is to get as many wells drilled as possible(promote economic development and all that). they tap dance around the wasting of gas by, get this, concluding that because the value of the gas is relatively small compared to the value of the oil it is ok to waste the gas. the ndic prevents waste by promoting waste.

the epa is more concerned with the small amount of ng being emitted from the stock tanks.

I suspect that your coworker doesn't have the vocabulary to describe TOD as a doomer or anti-capitalists/anti-industrialist website.

Yes, TOD allows a diverse range of views, but it is my impression that doomer discussion dominates.

I am a huge fan and long-term reader of TOD. I appreciate the entire range of opinions here, but I agree with your coworker that that a certain viewpoint tends to dominate.

I also don't think TOD has ever been "about" energy. When discussions with the editors have focused on this issue they have said that it is "about energy and the future" (see top of website). And "the future" is a pretty broad topic.

There are other websites that I would describe as being about energy such as:


If I had to make a rough guess, I'd say maybe 30-40% of the posters are on the extreme doomer end, maybe 10-20% are on the extreme technocopian end (and this percentage has been declining substantially over the past 2 years or so), and the remaining 40-60% of us (including me) are pretty much in the mid-range "long descent"/"catabolic collapse" camp.

I don't disagree with your breakdown, but do think that even catabolic collapse is a doomer scenario relative to what most people encounter and so would presumably appear pessimistic.

I actually see myself as being in the middle camp in terms of the discussion, but on the optimistic side compared to the body of TOD commenters. I think it is possible that we fall into a long-term collapse and possible that we find ways to adjust and pull through. I am certainly not a technocopian.

I actually don't think any of the four main scenarios: fast collapse, slow collapse, tough adjustment, and preservation of business as usual are impossible.

i've only been reading for about a month, but regular posters appear to me also to be doomers/catastrophists by and large. those who are not are seen to be naive or not hard-core enough. there's a lot of macho "that's not a knife, this is a knife" going on.

yes, we are in for a ride. yes, many will be left behind, but that's always been the case. despite all the damage bush did, our global government is slowly growing stronger. the concepts of conservation and resource limitation are being digested. information about our energy systems, ecosystems, etc. is improving. the majority of the young see the challenges and understand them. will adaptation be smooth? definitely not. but will every major society collapse in 2012 and leave us all sifting through the rubble to make windmills with salvaged truck axles? i expect not.

I guess it is partly a matter of perspective. For those who have been totally bathed in the technocopian BAU propaganda and who can't even conceive of anything to the contrary, even the moderate long descent/catabolic collapse people sound like raving, dismal doomers. On the other hand, to the doomers who are absolutely convinced that civilization is going down, and quickly, and totally, and that there is nothing that will make any difference, the mere declinists appear to be little different than the technocopians.

To those of us in the middle declinist camp, both extremes tend to appear to be just that - extremists. Some of us are quite willing to concede that either extreme is possible, but we tend to see a range of possible outcomes, each with its own probability.

agreed regarding perspective. and there is, of course, a wide range of possibility. i expect there will be fits and starts and good times and bad times along the way to the new (read: new without the 21st century shiny-clean-fresh connotation).

i'm of a camp that i haven't seen represented much on tod. most folks seem to conjure roving mobs of machete-toting cannibals when they think of oil prices rising. (too many have internalized the road as a forecast as opposed to a warning.) i think the ratcheting down of crude in the system is likely to spur some very positive changes twenty years in. community and family life growing. personal health improving. environmental degradation decreasing. less rat race hecticity. more time for reflection, self-discovery, and being human. more time in and with nature, and thus unconsciously absorbing nature's cycles. over a generation, i see many americans waking up and becoming more comfortable with their mortality.

Imperial corporation Shell making threats against Nigeria and China. Somebody should put these t*rds in their place. Oh, somebody already did in Siberia. Is Shell going to call in the US Marines to enforce its "interests". The interests of Nigeria trump any tenant (Shell) rights to the use of its resources. If your landlord chooses to sell the building you have no say in it since you are not the owner. Shell is NOT the owner of Nigeria's resources.

dissident -- Nope...they won't call upon US marines because they aren't a US company. This is Royal Dutch Shell. Shell USA has no involvement in Nigeria. They would, if needed, call upon the Royal Dutch Marines. But more likely they would utilize the world banking organizations....they have much bigger "guns".

By the way, as a renter you have all the legal right as designated in your lease. can't terminate the lease and sell the building if the contract doesn't allow it. No...RDS doesn't own the Nigerian reserves. But the have a legal and internationally binding contract to produce those reserves.

Sitting cross legged with eyes closed, hands resting upwards on your knees and chanting Ommmm. Envision yourself rising above the earth, up to the point where you can no longer discern man or his creations (okay, ignore the Great Wall, etc.).

See any problem?

No, the world is in balance and always will be. It may seem like it is teetering, yet it is still in balance. What appears as an inbalance is a shifting to a new balance. The human problem is that what it seeks ultimately creates a temporary unbalanced state which does not hold for long as balance will return. During this time, people are born and people die. Your time is coming.

If you do not understand the balance, it matters not. Balance reigns. Understanding and acceptance is optional. Balance is not static, eden, utopia or nirvana. It is existence in the moment. Don't like it? Ummm, to deny what is, to fight existence is to live in a world of madness. It's a mad, mad world. Welcome. Welcome to the every evolving, ever changing, always in balance world of the human.

A few billion years from now, the Sun will explode. Will the world still be in balance? If nuclear reactors and refineries are left to their own devices and it wipes out visible life until the sun explodes. Will the world still be in balance?

Perhaps, if the universe contracts and starts the cycle all over, the world will be in balance (so to think). However, current wisdom points to an infinitely expanding universe, I think.