Drumbeat: November 2, 2009

Aramco takes war on speculators to whole new index

With oil prices thoroughly decoupled from the fundamentals of supply and demand, Saudi Aramco has decided it is time to nudge the market towards reality.

Last week, the world’s biggest oil company said that as of next January, it would use the Argus Sour Crude Index instead of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude as the benchmark for pricing all grades of Saudi crude sold to US customers.

Why that would make a difference takes some explaining, but it boils down to a decision to link Saudi crude sales to a market that the state-owned Aramco can influence through the number of tankers it dispatches towards the US coast.

DME approves Saudi crude price marker move

The Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) welcomes a move by Saudi Arabia to drop a US light sweet crude oil benchmark as the basis for pricing its sales into the US, the DME said in statement on Monday.

Arabian oil vs Argus Index

The Saudi’s priced their crude relative to Alaska North Slope (ANS) crude because it and theirs were so similar in quality. When ANS was kept on the West coast and no longer was brought to the Gulf of Mexico, the Saudis lost this as a “marker” and turned to WTI as the next closest pricing mechanism, relying upon “basis” spreads against the WTI futures to price their crude production.

As Dr. Verleger notes Saudi Arabia is changing its reference because new fields and spot markets with sufficient liquidity have developed. The shift in Arabia would no doubt do the same in Europe if a sour benchmark were available.

Gulf has clear route to gains on Silk Road

China and the Gulf states are natural allies. One needs oil, while the other has plenty of it. Not surprisingly, China-GCC economic and political ties have strengthened dramatically in the past decade. Yet the much acclaimed new Silk Road has run into major roadblocks: its investment ties are struggling.

Saudi Nov gasoline imports down 34 pct from Oct - trade

DUBAI - Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, was expected to import around 17,038 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline in November, down 34 percent from the previous month, traders said on Monday.

The kingdom shelved a plan to export some of its gasoline due to sluggish global demand and low international prices, traders said.

Saudi ups Dec light crude prices to US, Asia

TOKYO (Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Aramco said it has raised the official selling price for its benchmark Saudi Light crude oil to U.S. clients in December by 85 cents a barrel to a discount of $3.75 below U.S. light crude WTI, its state oil company said on Sunday.

Saudi Aramco also raised the price of Arab Light to customers in Asia by 35 cents to the Oman/Dubai average plus $0.50 a barrel.

Putin tells EU not to be 'greedy'

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today called on the EU to lend Ukraine "at a least a billion" to help avoid a new gas pricing spat with Russia and supply disruptions to Europe.

For Your Perusal: The Glory of Free Market Oil Supply

Free Market Oil has dropped by over 2 mbpd (million barrels per day) since December of 2003. If your professor or your local economist or perhaps national newspaper is still pounding the table that supply always makes a response to price – even in natural resources – you might want to send them a link to this chart.

Commentary: Oil & Money Conference—What the CEOs and VPs are Saying

On October 20-21, the 30th Oil & Money Conference, convened in London by Energy Intelligence and the International Herald Tribune, attracted roughly 500 attendees, many from the industry press (most of them working for the conveners). Held under tight security at the opulent Intercontinental Hotel, a half-dozen oil ministers past and present plus two dozen CEOs and VPs of oil producing, service companies and other industry players shared their views.

No statements were as ground-breaking as the O&M conference two years ago, when the Wall Street Journal and others covered stark warnings by Total’s CEO Christophe de Margerie, Libya’s oil minister Shokri Ghanem and former Saudi Aramco VP Sadad al Husseini that world oil production was going to undershoot demand in the foreseeable future. But all three were present again, and all three echoed their previously-stated concerns, especially in light of the late-2008/2009 downturn in investment by a growing number of players outside of the super-major investor-owned oil companies. In fact, the majority opinion was a warning about the looming impacts of climate change decisions and project investments on prices and supplies over the next few years. A few comments from key presenters:

The Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century (book review)

The Squeeze begins with a bang: the sound of Tom Bower blowing a hole in his own credibility. In only the second paragraph of the preface, he suggests a shaky grasp of the workings of oil markets and of Opec, the producers’ cartel, and fails dismally in an attempt to get inside the head of Ali Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s veteran oil minister.

It is a testament to Bower’s journalistic skills, and to the great story he has to tell, that he manages to steady the ship after torpedoing it so early in the journey. For the most part, The Squeeze is a gripping and convincing account of the turbulent story of the global oil industry over the past decade.

Daniel Yergin’s dazzling book The Prize remains the definitive history of oil in the 20th century. But while the world waits for Yergin to pen a sequel, Bower has stepped in smartly to fill the gap.

Transition: Meeting the Challenge of Energy Descent

It’s become axiomatic that, like it or not, we will be facing a future with ever less energy. But what does this “Energy Descent” mean, exactly? And how do we prepare?

Kurt Cobb: The peace movement and the cornucopian view

As such, those operating under this view assume that the natural resources required to attain the needed growth will continue to be available in the quantities required at prices that will make such equality possible. In other words, the seemingly politically impossible task of redistributing wealth will be sidestepped in favor of redistributing current income from future growth. This constitutes a wholehearted embrace of a cornucopian future; it recognizes no limits to growth that are implied by climate change, world peak oil production, and the rapid depletion of other resources including metal ores, water, soil and fish. And, if any of these limits are acknowledged, the resulting problems are assigned to the "technology will save us" category.

Zambia: Brace for Low Crop Yield, Warns Farmers Union

ZAMBIA should brace for a low crop yield next year unless the shortage of fuel being experienced in various parts of the country is reversed soon, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jarvis Zimba has said.

Exxon Mobil to Pay $231 Million for Oil-Sands Stakes

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest oil company, agreed to pay C$250 million ($231 million) for UTS Energy Corp.’s stakes in three oil-sands prospects in western Canada.

UTS expects after-tax proceeds for its 50 percent stakes in the leases east of Alberta’s Firebag River to be about C$200 million, the Calgary-based company said today in a statement. Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. owns the other 50 percent of the Alberta leases, which cover a combined area equal to half the size of Sacramento, California.

A shorter trip from field to fork

When a trend moves from the small, passionate originators to the masses, usually the hipsters move on. But that's not the case when food is involved.

The influences of books, movies and media on buying local produce is showing up in strong numbers in sales of fruit, vegetables, meat and organics. Despite the recession, more people want to know where their food came from and what's been done to it.

Conference urged to look towards business in a world without oil

BRITAIN'S manufacturing and transport sectors will become obsolete unless we find an alternative to oil, a major conference was told in Yorkshire.

Some of Yorkshire's leading designers and environmentalists attended Sheffield in a post-oil world which analysed how Britain might look in 2059.

The 120 participants were asked to consider how they would survive without oil and plastic.

The Facts about the Peak Oil Theory: Consumers, not unproven theories, should drive the ultimate decisions on what fuels they want and will accept

Peak Oil theorists usually neglect to mention that the Peak Oil theory is just that — a theory. It is based on a belief the world has reached the point of maximum production of crude oil, and is used to predict painful and disruptive catastrophes as the world adjusts to the alleged decline of this critical source of energy.

Unfortunately, arguing about Peak Oil is like arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It’s a theory that cannot be proved. Worse, those individuals who embrace the Peak Oil theory frequently also promote energy policies that can have costly and disruptive impacts on consumers and businesses.

An oil bubble

Following on last week's topic, some have suggested that maybe, like the housing bubble in the US, the spike in oil prices and their subsequent collapse could have been an oil price bubble that also pulled up the prices of natural gas.

Crunch time for oil debate

A CONFERENCE on the "oil crunch" is to be held at Edinburgh University tomorrow.

Speakers at transport campaign group Transform Scotland's event include Jeremy Leggett, a former oil geologist and ex-chief scientist for Greenpeace, and Steven Stewart, director of corporate communications at Stagecoach Group.

Oil Rises From a Two-Week Low as China’s Manufacturing Expands

(Bloomberg) -- Crude rose from a two-week low after manufacturing in China, the world’s second-biggest oil user, expanded at the fastest pace in 18 months.

Retail gas prices highest in a year; up 17 straight days

Retail gasoline prices chugged higher Friday to a new peak for the year, forcing consumers to dig deeper into already-thin wallets to pay for fuel.

At the same time, natural gas prices also were moving up again and have now climbed 16% in the past two months — just in time for furnace season to kick in.

The worst part: Supplies of oil and gas are plentiful. In fact, storage points for gas are so jammed, producers are running out of places to put it and crude supplies are well above average levels.

Russia’s October Oil Output Rises on New Field Output

(Bloomberg) -- Crude output in Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, grew 1.8 percent from a year earlier in October after OAO Rosneft began output at a field in northern Siberia.

October output remained flat against September at 42.47 million metric tons, or 10.04 million barrels a day, a post- Soviet high, the Energy Ministry’s CDU TEK unit said in an e- mailed statement today.

Total crude exports rose 0.5 percent in October from a year earlier to 5.4 million barrels a day. Exports fell 2.1 percent from September levels.

OPEC Output Increased in October, Bloomberg News Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raised crude-oil production last month to the highest level in 10 months as members took advantage of higher prices, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Output averaged 28.76 million barrels a day in October, up 80,000 barrels from September, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. The entire gain came from the 11 OPEC members with quotas, all except Iraq. The 11 countries pumped 26.31 million barrels a day, 1.465 million barrels above their target. Iraqi output was unchanged.

Colorado county copes with methane mystery

WALSENBURG, Colo. — Bernice and Jerry Angely like to show visitors the singed T-shirt a friend was wearing when their water well exploded and shot flames 30 feet high.

The friend wasn't hurt. But that and an explosion at another home weeks earlier forced Colorado to suspend natural gas drilling around this southern plains town until someone could find out why dangerous levels of methane were getting into the groundwater.

Two years later, Walsenburg and surrounding Huerfano County are still waiting, its residents caught in a collision between two of the West's vital resources: Water and natural gas.

Shale gas numbers may not add up

From one end of the known world to the other, which is to say from Boston to Washington and some points in between, there is a consensus among the well informed that one part of a national energy plan is in place. Thanks to the discovery and mapping of huge reserves of gas in shale formations, we have an alternative to dirty old coal, and, possibly, imported oil for transport fuel. A 40 per cent increase in the country’s gas reserves! You can thank advanced American technology for that.

Well, you can thank advanced American something, but along with the technology you can also thank the advanced American ability to extract money from investors. The key element of this national characteristic is the willingness to listen carefully to determine what people with money want to hear, and then tell them that. Again and again.

Do Saudis have the clout to destroy NYMEX?

For Saudi Arabia, it is a philosophical issue that the black gold pouring out of its deserts should be treated as a tangible, physical commodity – not the paper plaything of traders on Wall Street hedging against the weak dollar. This thinking is at the heart of the Middle Eastern country's decision last week to abandon its long alliance with West Texas Intermediate crude – the famous oil used by most global producers to price their exports to the US.

It is both a technical issue and a symbolic shift that strikes a blow to the domin-ance of the New York Mercan-tile Exchange, the world's biggest centre of oil trading where the most popular products relate to WTI crude.

Time for UAE to rethink dollar peg

Dubai: The UAE should consider a fresh monetary policy, reducing its link with the US currency that has been declining in value.

As a result, the UAE and other Gulf currencies that are pegged to the dollar are losing value.

Kirkuk dispute may delay Iraq elections

BAGHDAD - Iraqi politicians are dueling with new hostility over the fate of Kirkuk, the oil-rich city that both self-ruled Kurds in the north and Iraq’s central government want to control.

The dispute has caused a deadlock over an election law, threatening to delay Iraq’s nationwide parliamentary elections set for mid-January. Any vote setback could, in turn, disrupt American plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, scheduled to increase after the vote.

Nuclear renaissance -- not dead yet

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Whatever happened to all those new nuclear power plants the country was supposed to build?

Last year, with energy prices soaring and global warming making headlines, talk of a so-called "nuclear renaissance" was rampant. Energy experts, utility heads, even presidential candidates called for the construction of dozens of new plants. Billions were going to be spent. Investing magazines ran stories on how to get in on the action.

Then the credit crisis struck, energy prices collapsed, and the Democrats won the White House. Nuclear renaissance seemed all but dead.

But it's not dead, it's just on life support. As the greenhouse gas bill moves through Congress, billions more in taxpayer money could soon be deployed to resuscitate the movement.

Suzlon sees delays hitting orders

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Delays in sealing new orders forced Indian wind power company Suzlon Energy Ltd to cut its sales forecast, but the company will still see full-year profits near last year's level, an executive said on Saturday.

The wind power industry has grown rapidly over the past decade, but the financial crisis that hit many of the world's biggest banks has choked off financing for many new clean energy projects over the past year.

Giants’ Danny Clark Chose to Go Green With a Smart Car

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Danny Clark of the Giants says he gets a lot of long looks from curious motorists when he drives his Smart car between Manhattan and the team’s practice complex in New Jersey.

But the glances turn to stares and smiles when he parks his 1,600-pound vehicle and his 6-foot-2, 245-pound body emerges from behind the wheel.

“That’s when the real mystery comes about,” Clark said. “They say, ‘How does this big guy get out of such a small car?’ Other drivers are quite surprised. They can’t believe it.”

Toyota's new hires headed for plants

NAGOYA (Kyodo) In an unusual move, Toyota Motor Corp. plans to start using all of the 900 or so college graduates who joined the automaker this spring as factory workers in January to boost production of fuel-efficient vehicles, company officials said.

...College graduates usually start their careers at Toyota as white-collar workers or engineers. But Toyota opted to use them over temporary workers because it is not sure how long popular demand for its Prius hybrid and other fuel-efficient cars will continue.

China's Rare Earth Metal Supply - China's Hold on Rare Earth Metals Threatens Toyota

When the news broke in Tokyo, it was said that the "Head Freds" at Toyota and Honda literally fell out of their chairs in shock.

According to a UK Times report from March 2009, "[It] has triggered what government sources in Tokyo told The Times was an invisible tsunami of panic in Japanese industry."

Oddly enough, the same event happened five months earlier — in November 2007 — with the same result.

Europe metals producers warn of relocation

MADRID (Reuters) - European non-ferrous metals producers may move to countries where environmental legislation is less strict unless the impact of forthcoming measures is reduced, an industry spokesman said on Thursday.

Javier Targhetta, president of Eurometaux, said the industry was concerned over high and unpredictable power costs, the added cost of a new emissions trading scheme (ETS) in 2013 and a new registry of chemicals, amongst other issues.

San Fran's latest battle royale: parking meters

In San Francisco, where the SFMTA unveiled a 37-page study on extending parking meters on Oct. 20, the battle lines are being drawn.

On the nay side are small-business owners, residents who live in commercial areas, the anti-war group A.N.S.W.E.R. (for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), the parking control officers union and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

On the aye side are environmental activists and members of the Board of Supervisors, as well as residents, who argue that San Francisco can never have a first-class public transit system if it continues to raise fares and cut service while cars get a free pass, at least at night.

Evolver Long Beach hosts “counter screening” to 2012 movie

Two days before the release of director Roland Emmerich’s 2012 disaster epic, 28 cities around the globe will host “counter-screenings” to discuss the positive transformations postulated for the Mayan Calendar’s end date on December 21, 2012.

Coal mines, power plant give Navajos income, controversy

WINDOW ROCK - A green controversy fueled by coal-fired power plants is raging on America's largest Indian reservation.

On one side is Joe Shirley Jr., president of the Navajo Nation, who rejects the notion of climate change even though he recently won an international award for environmentalism. On the other are environmentalists opposed to power plants in Indian Country and to the coal mines that provide their fuel. Caught in the middle are tribal members concerned with economic survival and the protection of sacred lands.

The dispute centers on fundamental questions of religion and heritage, as well as tribal finances.

Deforestation sped demise of Nasca in Peru: study

BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) – The mysterious people who etched the "Nasca Lines" across deserts in Peru hastened their own demise by clearing forests 1,500 years ago, according to a study on Monday.

The Nasca people, famed for the lines that depict animals or geometric shapes most clearly visible from the air, became unable to grow enough food in nearby valleys because the lack of trees made the climate too dry, scientists said.

Dwindling water supplies can be helped by oil experts

“In the northern half of Oregon from Pendleton to the Willamette Valley, an aquifer that took 20,000 years to fill is going down fast,” Jarvis said. “Some places near Hermiston have seen water levels drop as much as 500 feet in the past 50-60 years, one of the largest and fastest declines in the world.

“I know of a well in Utah that lost its original capacity after a couple years,” he said. “In Idaho people drawing groundwater are being ordered to work with other holders of stream water rights as the streams begin to dwindle. Mississippi has filed a $1-billion lawsuit against the City of Memphis because of declining groundwater. You’re seeing land subsiding from Houston to the Imperial Valley of California. This issue is real and getting worse.”

In the process, Jarvis said, underground aquifers can be irrevocably damaged – not unlike what happened to oil reservoirs when that industry pumped them too rapidly. Tiny fractures in rock that can store water sometimes collapse when it’s rapidly withdrawn, and then even if the aquifer had water to recharge it, there’s no place for it to go.

Beijing's first snow of season 'artificially induced'

BEIJING — Chinese meteorologists covered Beijing in snow Sunday after seeding clouds to bring winter weather to the capital in an effort to combat a lingering drought, state media reported.

Europe probe tracks global warming impact on water

PARIS (AFP) – The European Space Agency on Monday launched a water tracking satellite that will help give faster predictions of floods and other extreme weather incidents caused by global warming.

The 315 million euro (460 million dollar) Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) was carried into space on a Russian Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia.

Japan aims to bury greenhouse gas emissions

OMUTA, Japan (AFP) – Swathes of dirty clouds brood over a coal plant in rural Japan, but scientists are now hoping to send the pollutants the other way, deep into the bowels of Mother Earth.

The cutting-edge but controversial technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is being tested at the Mikawa power station, located near the coast of Japan's southern Fukuoka prefecture.

Climate Envoys May Want Chinese Actions, Not Results, Binding

(Bloomberg) -- United Nations climate negotiators meeting this week in Barcelona will debate how far they can push developing nations such as China and India to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming.

While the UN will ask industrialized countries to accept binding targets on their gas discharges, poorer nations may be urged only to adopt measures to limit emissions growth, such as building wind-energy farms.

UN climate chief: Deal must be legally enforceable

BARCELONA, Spain – Developing countries don't trust wealthy nations' promises that they will help them meet the challenges of climate change, the U.N.'s top climate official said Monday, adding that means any new global warming deal must have legal force.

Climate change can kill 'a quarter of million kids' next year

LONDON: A quarter of a million kids might lose their lives next year due to adverse effects of climate change, warns a charity.

Save the Children insists that figure could rise to more than 400,000 by 2030.

Its report 'Feeling the Heat' claims that climate change is the biggest global health threat to children in the 21st century.

The forecast: Warmer, with a chance of survival

Tim Flannery believes the biggest challenge of the 21st century is to create sustainability for the human race. That's par for an environmentalist, and the consensus of a majority of scientists. But the quest is no small task given the resistance and denial in many circles, including among power players in the realms of politics and business.

Yet Flannery, the world-renowned conservationist and scientist, seems oddly optimistic about that challenge. The acclaimed author of The Weather Makers knows well that time is running out. But he believes we will take the steps necessary to save the planet – if not for altruistic reasons then maybe for economic ones – and ultimately create a new kind of society.

Regarding the "facts about peak oil theory" article, Murray Gell-Mann has an interesting take on the word "theory".

Many people seem to have trouble with the idea of theory because they have trouble with the word itself, which is commonly used in two quite distinct ways. On the one hand, it can mean a coherent system of rules and principles, a more or less verified or established explanation accounting for know facts or phenomena. On the other hand, it can refer to speculation, a guess or conjecture, or an untested hypothesis, idea or opinion. Here the word is used with the first set of meanings, but many people think of the second when they hear "theory" or "theoretics". (from The Quark and the Jaguar)

Unfortunately, I do think that this meme will gain momentum over time.

That omits the question as to whether peak oil theory has any real formality behind it, but that gives us something to work on.

Is it a theory that Cantarell has peaked?
Is it a theory that total US production has peaked?
Is it a theory that both UK and Norway oil and gas has peaked?

Bogus. These are facts, as we know.

Well, in theory, they have peaked.

Well, we haven't actually peaked in Texas--we just can't find buyers for all of our oil, even our light, sweet oil.

Well, we haven't actually peaked in Texas--we just can't find buyers for all of our oil, even our light, sweet oil

you being serious?

WT never lies!

He's kidding.. but is dead-serious about it.

Just another crazy wildcatter. They are relatively harmless...unless you start writting them checks.

Alas, I've had to downgrade my recent discovery from East Texas Field size to Yates Field size.

Yeah,yeah WT...I got your Yates Field for you right here...in my pants!!! It's good to have WT to tease. The two exploration guys working with me won't put up with my BS.

Yes ! It is the work of those communists who gather at the Midland Petroleum Club.


I heard tell from one of our Congress critters on CSPAN this morning that them Yankee ingenuity people invented a new fangled thing called, open quotes, "horizontal drilling", close quotes, gasp with over exuberant admiration at the hoo ha jargon. This will unleash billions, no trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and barrels of oil from our untapped domestic resources and thus free us from the clutches of them who don't like us very much but nonetheless sell us "foreign" oil so that we can keep our infidel way of life going.

Once this new fangled and heretofore unknown "technology" is installed, Texas shall rise again. The yellow star shines on us all oh brothers. Yee ha.

Yee ha.

Yee ha.

'Slim Pickins' is about right, eh?

As with AGW Deniers, maybe it's time for the Cognoscenti to make a concerted effort to excoriate PO Deniers and assign them to their proper niche in Hell.

That didn't exactly work the first time.

on one side we have the cognoscenti and illuminati ....... and on the other side
only ignorati and illiterati.

Joe Sparano: The Facts about the Peak Oil Theory - — Joe Sparano is president of the Western States Petroleum Association. The Sacramento-based nonprofit organization represents the petroleum industry in California and five other Western states

I think Joe missed a few important "Facts" in his article. He is simply pumping up the petroleum industry. Here are some more facts that he did not mention -
1. The US passed peak oil in 1970.
2. Many other countries are already past peak.
3. It is not a matter of how much is left, but how much per day we can pump.
4. The next new energy source will not be as cheap as oil, which will forever lower the world standard of living, and lower number of people supportable with current farms run on oil.
5. Someday, it really does not matter when, the oil will be all gone for good, and we will return to pre-oil days.
6. If we all convert over to natural gas, then it will run out faster due to more consumption.
7. Undiscovered oil will cost much more than current costs.
8. We must lower our usage to survive.
9. Power in the World will shift based on who has oil remaining - i.e. away from the US and UK to other countries. Can you imagine the US and UK making demands on other countries when they are importing 95% of their oil? They will simply be cut off of the supply and dry up. Without nuclear power the US and UK will be forced to power down and have major blackouts.

And who really trusts CERA????

Number 9.

Power, is by definition the ability to project force and apply force relative to time.

The only consideration is who has the strongest military.
Geography means nothing if you can't defend and hold your position.
I don't want it to be this way, but it is.

I wish things were different-but we are "there fustest with the mostest".

Forrest was probably misqouted but the principle holds.

Theory or facts, not to worry. No one will change their mind about what they think they know.

Gas here this day just north of Reno is $2.67 9/10s for regular and a dime higher for diesel. I filled up my '91 Isuzu pickup this morning about 11 gallons. Bought it new and it just turned 85,000 miles.

Seed is still relatively cheap. Yukon Gold potatoes got about the same yield at Nate's (not too great). Only a few carrots left in the ground. Just a little here and now for those interested in reality vis-à-vis virtuality.

JHK seems to think some military will do the coup d'etat thing but I don't think so.


We were a lot more upset with Johnson (like 45,000 more of us dead) and nothing happened except he decided to not run any more.

Of course Mish is upset with Gold in Sacks, AIG and the Fed.


I wish Stoneleigh had said something about the future of military retirement but she didn't. It is always nice to hear her opinion of things financial coming down.

My XYL turned 70 on Saturday. She is absolutely lovely. All up, pretty good shape for a confirmed doomer.

You put forward a good point. Also, if we are to make any sense of the PO related models, hypotheses, guesses and conjecture, proper rules of knowledge formation should apply.

One should advance with multiple working hypotheses to partially rule out cognitive bias.

Further, hypotheses should be linked to actual data from the field. Theory should be based on a well-defined model from data, be in-line with current findings and further, predict something that we don't yet know, but which we can experimentally test. That is the rigour, repeatability and testability. Or at the very least, asymptotic approximation of those ideals.

Falsifiability has not been attempted for PO at formal and methodological level to a very extensive degree, afaik. Only proving in the other direction (PO is X, PO happens at Y, decline will be Z, etc). That's important in itself, but only part of the the puzzle for robust knowledge. As a meta it is interesting to notice, that the situation is now so, that we'd have the luxury of attempting this. There is enough belief for and probably even information available. Time? Well, that's the high likelihood risk factor.

Still, without falsifying attempts it is just too easy to get clogged up in one's own machinations, not to falsify one's own thoughts and to keep on believing ever wilder constructions that the mind keeps conjuring up. And to selectively find proof in support of that, but to ignore all the counter-evidence as thoughts of 'fools'. And nobody I've yet to met is immune to this, certainly not myself. The only remedy is the method.

Yes, science (the method) is hard. And yes, the line between a good hypothesis and a beginning of a theory formation can be difficult to draw when formulating these. Yet, without approximating these, we easily fall into the folly of merely believing. And then building a stronger case for belief, because well...um, we believe!

While belief can be important, it is no substitute for verifiable facts.

And even when we are talking about the future, which by very nature is unpredictable to a varying degree, we need robustness for decisions and options. That is doable - again as an approximation, even if not perfectly.

And it is the facts that in the end give us the context in which we have to operate. They don't go away, even if we stop believing in them.

So, that makes two of us in this thread. There are bound to be more @ TOD. Many have posted here. Why not set up a wiki somewhere to debate these issues and start a march towards formalism through falsifiability? Many have alone travelled this path already (WHT, RR, SS, etc). I don't think wikipedia is the right place for this yet, as it's a process not a thing.

Or maybe just a series of high level technical posts at TOD?

WHT, do you want to start? I can help, to the degree I know how.

I can already see the first headline... "Debunking Peak Oil 'theories' - No need for Peakoildebunked web site anymore" >;)

I got your back on this one.

Multiple Models - I like this one. It is often just as fun coming up with straw-man arguments as to work with real ones.

Falsifiability -- This is also great. Models are like punching bags. They either take a beating because the deserve it, or they can take a beating because they can withstand it. The latter leads to the robustness criteria.

I will suggest some of your ideas in an upcoming post. It won't be the entire theme but it will certainly get introduced.


These days I have been reading the book Real Science by John Ziman. He takes a "naturalistic" perspective on science as it is actually practiced.

One of my fantasies for several years now has been the development of some kind of web software to support debate. I would love to be able to look at some hypothesis and then see the strongest arguments for and against it. If I just thought of an argument, maybe it is already in the list, and then I can see how other folks have already found supporting evidence for it or maybe big flaws that I missed.

I don't see any way one can actually prove any hypotheses about the real world. Even to make a really powerfully convincing argument is practically impossible, depending on who it is you want to convince. There's an old saying that a new theory gains acceptance once the old folks have all died off who were holding on to the old theory.

For me at least, I think it works best to admit that predicting the future is very difficult and really there are multiple theories that well enough fit the facts we know. Each theory has pros and cons. Give people some room to decide for themselves and they often do a better job of picking the best alternative than they would if you were to drag them over and tie them to it.

We might be side-tracked here, but it does look like an interesting diversion, so what the heck :)

Good points.

I've been thinking on the same lines for some time.

There's a whole world of argumentation structure software out there.

Some help people to structure their own arguments (like Compendium, Rationable, Argumentative, etc).

Others' help to keep an argumentation stack and related proofs up-to-date and organized, so that arguments, lemmas, proofs and sub-proofs are organized as a stack so that you can easily see what's been proven, what's still open and what's being debated (the name of this software escapes me now).

Then there are tools for collaborative shared argument building and testing, but these are often not very formal.

As for the real world and "full proof" on something that doesn't obey a simple law, I agree.

Still, even crude statistical approximations that are clearly right more than a random guess can be useful. The more right than the random guess, the better. Of course, to deduce the correctness, we need lots of data and back-testing and it's not to say the future will obey the trajectory of the past - in fact, it likely will not. Still, that misses the point. It's still more like to be in the right direction - on the average - than a wild guess.

As for predicting the future, we come to the question of why? Well, to be able to handle it, of course. This then boils down back to multiple scenarios that are mutually exclusive, even if we think some of them are more likely than others. A robust decision is one which then achieves a reasonable adaptability in all of these scenarios and hopefully even ones we haven't considered. That's satisficing (re: Herbert Simon) for robustness and resiliency. The other way would be to optimize (local or global) for a single most probably outcome. With future being unpredictable by default, guess which I would select: satisficing for resiliency or optimizing for a single outcome?

What's even more important is the way in which politicians and decisions makers make decisions that are tough or transition critical. They must be able to convince themselves and others that many options have been looked into, the method used has been best-in-class and that the outcome is the best there is. Even if it's half make-believe (there is no 'best', just some that are maybe 'good enough'). But it's like the old motto 'Nobody ever got fired buying IBM'. The same applies here. If you want to convince somebody, I mean really convince to make a decision, you better bring in the heavy artillery.

And yes, if on the average people get to choose, there will be a heterogenous mass of various adaptations and answers - which is the nature's way of building resiliency - adaptive strength through the power of the variation.

Currently I think there's a bit of too much chance of group think in the general PO circles, perhaps not satisficing for overall variability. That's just a guess though and by no means do I mean in it as a offence, just as an observation.

Oh boy, that really was a diversion.

Thanks, this thinking is exactly the flavor I would like to cultivate.

One of my principal work areas is in mathematical logic. Here is a project on the fringe of what I have looked at, but that seems to be more in the direction I am thinking about here:


I will look at the software you mentioned. I have not done much research in this area at all.

I can imagine at least three modes of reasoning to support:

1) measurements, data analysis, statistics, etc. Observations about the real world.

2) models. Differential equations etc,

3) logic, inference, argument, etc. Weighing and comparing, like what is the best model, etc.

from "The facts about the Peak oil theory" above: "the petroleum industry was prevented by U.S. policies from accessing much of the undiscovered, technically recoverable resources of more than 115 billion barrels of oil and 650 trillion cubic feet of natural gas estimated to be located on federal lands, much of it offshore"

So it's not been found yet, but it is estimated to contain so and so much.

exactly! laughable really.

The Facts about the Peak Oil Theory?

Some one convince me it's just a Theory. Please point me to the shallow seas or newly bured rift valleys where oil formation is going on? Maybe a new theory of where & how oil is formed?

Even if we find some place were oil formation is happening, I'll go out on a limb and say we're using oil way faster that new oil than is being formed.

So given we have a fix amount of oil (no ongoing formation), the only uncertainty is how much is left to discovery and then exploit? Both follow a typical bell curve. That means we are well past peak oil discovery and about at peak oil.

How could we not be at peak oil. I can only see one way. There is some big reverses of oil out there that is in places that we haven't or can't look yet! That is, there is a second, different bell curve of oil we can scale in the future. Does anyone think this is real likely???

I don't consider Peak Oil a theory that can be disproved. It's simply a logical outcome of extracting a finite resource.

That was humour. The comment was partly facetious and partly highlighting why it really is a finite resource.

Apparently, there are lots of people - maybe the majority of people who even give it any thought, and unfortunately quite a few people in policymaking positions, still - who seem to be of the impression that the extraction of oil or any other resource can just keep going up and up and up until it is exhausted, whereby it then promptly falls off a cliff to zero. "Peak oil" to them equals no more oil.

To all of us here, this is simply ludicrous. Unfortunately, this is the mental model with which a disturbingly huge number of people operate. It is so common as to be taken for granted. Thus, those of us who suggest that their model is not correct, that reality actually not only can, but does, follow something more like a bell curve, must sound quite strange, if not downright insane, to these people. Similarly, they all seem quite loony to us. Unfortunately, a very large chasm separates our respective mental models.

I don't consider Peak Oil a theory that can be disproved. It's simply a logical outcome of extracting a finite resource.

It can't be disproven until it's way too late to mitigate. Just like many of the other limitations we currently face - technology and large gross resources combined with our inherent optimism will make society require 'proof' to the contrary, which they'll only get in hindsight. Science is critical but it can only be a guide.

BTW - same goes for neoclassical economics - unlike gravity, or the different phases of H20, nce can't be disproven.

NCE assumes rational actors.

All economic actors are irrational.

NCE is disproven. Q.E.D.

Even if peak oil were accepted by everyone, what (politically acceptable) mitigation would there be? Why do we think that our society will behave any differently from other civilizations that watched as their "last trees" were cut down.

The Hirsch Report is great at raising the flag but the mitigations offered fail in the face of the environmental consequences.

Are we inherently optimistic or just plain lazy?

BTW, my personal mitigations for the weekend included building a 3 section compost bin from scrap lumber and starting a new book: Gardening when it counts. Thankfully I'm not being graded on my carpenter skills or dependent upon growing my own food...yet.

My Suggestions:

1) Electrify 36,000 miles of railroad (the "main lines") in 7 years (also double track almost all of those main lines; speeds up shipments even when the x4 capacity increase is not needed). Also build rail over rail bridges whenever a N-S line crosses an E-W line. Cost, 3 to 4 AIGs

2) Throw as much money and resources as can be devised for transportation bicycling (take parking from cars > bicycles, take lanes from cars and make 2-way bike lanes, showers at work, etc.). Cost, 1 AIG ?

3) Build urban Rail FASTER than the French (1,500 km of trams/light rail in ten years) after adjusting for population and work hours (the French take all of August off).

Say, 6,000 miles of Light Rail, 1,000 miles of Rapid Rail (subway, elevated) and 10,000 miles of streetcars in a decade. Plus lots more commuter rail. Cost, 8 AIGs or so if done efficiently.

Best Hopes,


But that would require actuall work and real pysical investments...

But, isn't the mythical AIG unit some impossibly big number? Like maybe $1T?

About $182 billion. Just for AIG, not ALL the other bailouts.


I find an "AIG" to be a useful unit of measurement.

Best Hopes for Investing in Real, Long Lasting Infrastructure,


I also like an "Iraq war" as a unit of measurement - about $2T.

Alan for President!

Electrified rail was precisely what went through my mind when the TARP debacle was in progress. Hope we can still throw an AIG or two at it when the time comes.

"Gold in Sacks," that's great!

I'm very much in favour of what Alan has proposed for some time, barring some unforeseen changes.

Generally doing this out of fiscal budget is called 'communism' and 'meddling with the free market's in the US. I personally disagree with those accusations, but my vote does not count.

So, how could one make this proposal a faux 'free market' proposal so that it gets funded, done and rolling?

Otherwise the current markets will not adopt it, as it's not a guaranteed way to make money. Leveraged bets are. Or at least they are not guaranteed to lose one's own money, only that of the tax payers :)

That is, what are the required tax and other incentives to get private money investing in something like this? Is it a pipe dream?

Actually, the problem I have is more with is the intended extrapolation from comment that "Markets have proved to be very equitable and efficient at identifying and selecting new products and energy supplies." Markets are clearly very efficient at delivering "stuff" to the "consumer" when there's an excess of "stuff" and poor ventures can be allowed to fail. What's less clear is that markets are good at figuring the best way to ensure that the most "stuff" possible gets to consumers when there's a limited amount of "stuff" available. So when the "theory" that you're making disparaging comments about is predicting a shortage of "stuff", trotting out "the market will ensure a smooth transition" without deeper thought seems like a mistake.

The link up top: Russia’s October Oil Output Rises on New Field Output is worth a read. Russian oil production has been up during the last three munths due to new fields coming on line. According to Russian oil experts themselves, this surge will be short lived. Russian production increase from early this century until 2007 has been the one thing that has kept non OPEC production from becoming blatantly obvious.

Non OPEC C+C production peaked in 2004, with the highest monthly production December 2003. This happened despite the fact that Russian production has increased by just over one million barrels per day since that date. Since then total non OPEC production is down about one million barrels per day but without the Russian increase non OPEC production would be down over two million barrels per day or about 5 percent.

When Russian production begins to decline then peak oil deniers will have a much harder time arguing that peak oil is a myth. But just when will that be? Dissident posted, early today but on yesterday’s Drumbeat: ”Estimates of Russian production imploding in the next few years are rather premature.” How valid is that assessment? Not all that valid according to many Russian oil experts themselves.

Alex Burgansky: Russian Oil and Gas Industry Surprises Analysts

Therefore, next year there will be a lot fewer fields coming on stream; in the absence of new incentives to put more money to work to grow Russian oil production, it will naturally start declining, with organic decline rates of around 19% and growing.

Russia 2010 oil output to fall -Bernstein analysts

London, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Russian oil output will stagnate in 2010 and begin to decline as mature fields lose production capacity and only one new project comes on line, oil analysts at Bernstein Research said on Wednesday.

And the Moscow News published this in October 2005 from Russia’s Energy Minister himself:
Russian Oil Production To Peak By 2010

"Russian oil output could peak .... in 2010..... Russian Industry and Energy Minister Victor Khristenko said on Monday, Oct. 24. 'It will reach a certain plateau of production within the time frame of 2010,' Khristenko, quoted by the Reuters agency, told reporters....

And from that same report:

"Peak production from the FSU [Former Soviet Union] is expected between 2008 and 2014... The most likely outcomes for non-OPEC oil production can be obtained by combining the forecasts for the FSU and the rest of non-OPEC. Non-OPEC oil production is predicted to reach a peak between 2007 and 2011...

Basically those who expect Russian oil production not to peak in the next few years are on really shaky ground since everyone, including the Russians themselves, expects the opposite. My opinion is that Russian production peaked in 2007, or at the latest 2009. During these three years Russia has been on a plateau with 2007 the highest year. However the monthly high will be September or October of this year due to the launching of eight new fields this year. But only one will be coming on next year.

Note: Even with eight new fields coming on line this past spring and summer, Russian annual oil production is up only slightly over 2008 and will likely still be below 2007 due to the extremely high decline rate of Russia’s very old fields.

Ron P.

Isn't part of the problem lack of money for new investments? Without huge new investments, the decline rate will quickly affect the total production rate.

With 8 new fields on line this year and 5,000 to 6,000 new wells in older fields, I think they had had adequate investment in 2009. Perhaps all that investment with so little gain is part of the problem with new investments. I think that a decline rate in their older giant fields of 19 percent per year and growing is the primary problem. Russia has now punched holes in all new fields discovered in recent years with only one new field coming on line in 2010.

Of course new investments could keep up those 5 to 6 thousand wells per year rate. That would help suck the remaining oil out a lot faster. However the super straw strategy does have its drawbacks you know. Saudi Arabia, and a few other OPEC nations, are about to find that out.

Ron P.

Darwinian, launching of a field doesn't mean it starts producing at 100% capacity. Those eight new fields will gradually increase production for several years. And it's quite possible they can produce more right now, but the ESPO pipeline will be launched only in December. No sense in pumping oil now.

I agree that Russian oil production will start to decline after 2010, but I don't think decline will be steep.

Syndroma, give me a little credit please. I fully realize that a field does not come on line at 100 percent immediately. However most of most of the fields that came on line earlier in the year are already well over 50 percent. The very largest, Vankor, came on line in July pumping 131,000 barrels per day and will be pumping at about half total capacity by years end. Production increase will be very slow thereafter and will not reach full capacity until about 2014.

Rosneft's Vankor Field

Start-up at Rosneft's Vankor field in eastern Siberia helped raise oil flows. Vankor came on stream at a rate of 131,000 b/d and is expected to be producing 219,000b/d by the end of the year. It will eventually supply crude to a new pipeline to China and the Pacific Ocean.

Production decline will likely be steeper than you think in 2010. I have seen some reports that predict the decline to be as high as 7 percent, however I think this is way too high. I would not be surprised however if it is 4 percent. But by 2011 it will, in my opinion, be well above that. The decline in Russia's old giant fields is just too high, at 19 percent and growing. They have kept production up by drilling 5,000 to 6,000 new wells each year. But now that drilling rate is slowing dramatically.

Ron P.

But now that drilling rate is slowing dramatically.

True. Rig count has fallen from 411 in Oct 2008 to 312 in Sep 09 according to Schlumberger.

Here is rig count (blue) between 1/98 and 8/07: When Will Russia (and the World) Decline?

Darwinian, I agree with you in general. But I want to point out two things. Vankor is connected by private pipeline to Western Siberia pipeline network, so its exploration is less dependent on a single export route. And Russia's old giant fields peaked in Soviet times, and can be expected to have much more stable decline rates than immediately after the peak (that's debatable, I know).

China to increase, not reduce, auto stimulants:


As for the Theory of Peak Oil, to me it is the like the theory of gravity. The evidence of its correctness both in the numbers and in the logic is overwhelming.

But some people especially those who tend to be believers have a lot of trouble with theories. It is a mind set that demands certitude no matter how contrary to the evidence or logic. This certitude is provided by constant repetition of the big lie. If repeated often enough and by enough proponents, the big lie is taken for truth.

And it is so much more comfy to have "facts" and a large group of the like minded loudly backing you up than to think for yourself.

But whose theory of gravity, Newton, Einstein, or one of the more esoteric new theories based on string theory (or something else)?

Newtonian gravity is only an approximation to reality, as has been repeated demonstrated, but was good enough to put men on the moon. Einstein's theory is very hard to test directly (the results are still coming in) and the new theories are almost impossible.

Peak oil is like that. We will still be arguing the finer points of geology, economics and politics when we are reduced to collecting dribbles from stripper wills in a tank towed by a bicycle.

To me 'Peak Oil' translates to this statement of fact: When oil is first pulled out of the ground from a field it is at a slow production rate, as the field is developed and ages the production rate increases, towards the end of the fields life the rate starts to slow again. You can replace the word field with, country, area, state, world, etc. and it will still hold true.

What part of that has anything to do with economics, politics, or unprovable theories?

Politics and economics are to peak oil what Einstein and 'new theories' are to gravity. They are the fine detail on the larger picture.

If someone drops a brick off a skyscraper, Einstein will tell you to the picosecond when it will hit you. However Newton will tell you all you need to know.

Does it matter?

Even if your theory of gravity is dead wrong, you don't float away.

Even if a theory of peak oil is wrong, production will still fall off when it's time.

Reality is the stuff that happens whether you understand/believe in it or not.

It doesn't. Physics rules.

Here is a simple model showing the relationship between gross energy (like oil pumped out of the ground), energy costs (or the energy invested in doing the extraction), and net energy available to do economic work. The model assumes a building backpressure due to depletion, which, in turn, gives rise to the exponential increase in cost and eventual peaking, and subsequent decline, of gross flow rates. Note also that net energy (gross - cost) peaks earlier than gross. This suggests that all the fuss about peak oil (or gross energy in general) misplaces the real concern for the economy since it is net energy that counts toward economic work.

Also note that the curves are not symmetrical about the peak, as Hubbert's curve is depicted. The decline is faster than the increase.

This is the basis for what I hope will be a forthcoming paper on the biophysical limits of non-renewable energy sources. That certainly means fossil fuels, but also will include alternatives that fail to contribute sufficient excess energy to replace their current fossil fuel subsidies in replicating themselves -- the basis of true sustainability.

Question Everything (see category titled Biophysical Economics for more).


The shark fin model makes perfect sense because technological advances will improve extraction rates up until the wells are empty.
I think that you are correct and that we are going to wake up one day and realize that all the oil is gone.

The shark fin model makes perfect sense because technological advances will improve extraction rates up until the wells are empty.

I think if either/both of the following are common enough, that the late time production won't be as bad as your model indicates:

(1) There exist significant fields/wells that produce at decent EROI, but at slow rates, i.e. they will be producing high EROI at modest rates for a long time.

(2) The ability of the market/discovery/production system to pickoff the highest EROI resources first is imperfect, i.e. some high EROI prospects will be found or developed late in the game.

Either of these situations should insure that the production of the higher EROI component should have a nontrivial longtime tail.

Hey George,
Could you give me a book list for biophysical economics?
It would help shorten my learning curve.

BPE has not been an established field. We're just starting to formalize it. However it is closely related to Ecological Econ (c.f. Costanza, et al, "An Introduction to Ecological Economics") but with a heavier emphasis on energy flows and esp. EROI and net energy (as above). Also, many of the writings of H.T. Odum have direct bearing on BPE as Charlie Hall is conceiving it (c.f. Odum, "Environment, Power, and Society For the Twenty-First Century"). The situation with available texts will hopefully change soon. Hall and an economist are working on a book specifically about BPE (title under Springer imprimatur).

Everything else is buried in the primary literature, so you have to do what I'm doing; read the papers! Hope this helps.

George - I'm sure you saw my debt and negative skew slide at SUNY.
When we make things appear to be sustainable/affordable by adding debt to system it stands to reason we are moving consumption (and therefore production) forward in time. I would really like to run a model on what global decline rates would be at $30 oil - Sam showed one 'worst case' run that doesn't look too dissimilar from your graphic above. The question is: what does peak demand infer for peak supply?

Bear in mind this model is strictly a limiting case due to the laws of physics. There is no money or finance or anything else involved. What you are seeing is strictly the time course evolution of a system with finite resource that is harder to extract as a function of depletion. It provides an outer boundary, so to speak, for any real system with other complications, as you describe. This is just what is physically possible at the boundaries, your millage may vary.

I did see your graph. I spoke later and showed my graphs. The one above is just the energetics part of my talk. At the conference I showed how this relates (through physical work) to the accumulation of assets over time. I think I published that graph here on TOD sometime back (for a refresher - ). It shows an initial period where net energy always exceeds asset production (taken to be measured in emergy units) until the net energy derivative goes to 1 and then tends toward zero as the peak approaches. At that inflection point the rate of accumulation of assets tends to overshoot net energy and then peaks a bit later. I called the first area "debt-feasible" and the second area "debt-infeasible" since in the former there would (until toward the crossover point) be energy available in the next time unit so you could use your current capacity to work on things that would take more energy than you as an individual could control in the current time step. Meaning that you would have to accomplish useful work in the future using that future, assumed, energy to pay back the loan with interest. Though I'm still not talking about money as such, following your characterization as money as a marker for energy flow, it is easy to factor in money effects (I think!)

After the cross over there will never be a time when there will be excess net energy and after a while, there won't even be enough to ward off entropic decay of the assets, which is why they will diminish with a curve like net energy's but lagging several time steps behind.

All other things being equal, e.g., no significant inputs from truly renewable energy sources, this is the story of yeast in a vat. Once the sugar (gross energy) is used up the whole system declines rapidly. Up thread the comment about more drilling and new plays dragging the right tail out does not follow because this is assuming that we will extract every conceivable ounce of fossil fuel we can by whatever means we can until the cost is so great that net energy goes effectively to zero. That doesn't even take into account the kind of effect technology is apparently having on recovery of shale oil/gas -- initial high production followed by much steeper decline rates such that the total volume extracted is actually less than the older technology-based wells. But that is a whole 'nother story.


Reports: Putin warns EU of possible gas disruption

Today at 08:48 | Reuters
MOSCOW, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Russia has warned EU president Sweden of possible disruption to natural gas supplies to European consumers because of problems with main transit nation Ukraine over energy payments, Interfax news agency reported.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin raised the issue in a telephone conversation with his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency, Interfax said late on Sunday.

"During the conversation, Putin drew the attention of the EU leadership to signals, including those received via official channels from Kiev, of possible problems with payments for Russian gas supplies," it said, quoting Putin's press service.

"As Putin stressed, as a result of all this, 'problems with Russian gas transits across Ukraine's territory aimed for European consumers could arise'."

Great. This coupled with the news about the UK being down to only 6 hours gas supply this winter and I am going to go buy a new thick jumper and a pair of thermal underwear.

I reckon this might be a ploy on Russia's part: get the EU worried up into a fit about Ukraine. Paint Ukraine as the bogey-man monster who is responsible for frail old grannies in western Europe freezing to death and then when the Russian tanks roll into Kiev at the start of the next phase of the Russian expansionist policies we will greet them with open arms. You never know.

And currently Ukraine is describing their swine flu epidemic as a threat to national security. With schools, universities closed, hospitals overflowing, many workers ill and public gatherings banned there must be an impact on GDP and thus possibly their ability to pay on time.

Here's a few pics. The middle picture is captioned "Actor Jean Claude Van Damme at a press conference in Kiev"


This likely won't help either:

S&P Lowers Ukraine Outlook On Election's Impact On IMF Loan

Ukraine's economy--one of the hardest hit in Europe--suffered an estimated 18% contraction in the first half of the year. Attempts to combat the crisis have been hampered by intense political infighting ahead of the Jan. 17 presidential election.

The ratings agency--which has the country in highly speculative territory--said pre-election hikes to social expenditures would likely trigger a public sector deficit this year in excess of 10% gross domestic product, given below-budgeted revenue collection.

Until issues involving the wage policies are resolved, the next scheduled IMF loan disbursement for $3.9 billion is likely to be delayed, S&P said, which would push Ukraine's financial account back into deficit. The IMF has already handed out almost $11 billion in loans to Ukraine since approving a $16.4 billion standby loan last autumn.

I tried to catch some news about this on Radio Ukraine's English language broadcast Friday night, but they weren't even on the air. That may just be a coincidence, but it sounds ominous.

With luck what we are seeing here is the politicians ignoring the warnings from their health department until the situation hit crisis level. Their health ministry first put out a bulletin on Oct 21st stating that the epidemic threshold had been crossed in one region even though the national politicians are acting suddenly surprised now. If the numbers infected are truly in the hundreds of thousands or more then the number of deaths might not be too worrying. If however we do have a mutation with increased virulence then that's a very big problem. Hopefully more will be known very soon.

One thing that is very clear is that if this strain had achieved the killing power of 1918 or worse by now then all the world's plans would have been in vain as we'd be dropping dead in huge numbers everywhere about now with the vaccine too late - and it might still happen. This process must be speeded up in future.

US CDC reports occasional detections of a strain mutating away from the vaccine but no sequences have yet been posted so we don't know what exactly might be going on here.

One thing that is very clear is that if this strain had achieved the killing power of 1918 or worse

Great. One more thing to worry about. I've got enough on my plate what with Peak Oil, climate change and 2012.

The world can't end in 2012 because it has to still be around for the end of time() on Jan 19, 2038 at 03:14:07 UTC.

OK, I'll bite. Huh?

It's the next millenium bug. Unix time stamp rollover.

But probably less of a problem than the first one.

Either all the computers that matter will be 64 bit or larger by that time, or they'll all be using exactly 0 kilowatts.

This is the nightmare scenario postulated by Ukranian President Yuschenko below. The problem is that some of the obvious deaths are not all testing positive for pandemic H1N1 (some are). This could suggest a mutation but it could also just be that rapid tests are known to give false negatives worldwide. If Yuschenko has even partial evidence to support the suggestion below then we are all in deep sh1t.

Yushchenko addresses nation, journalists about flu epidemic

Question number two, which I think is the result of failures in the question number one, particularly the failure to establish the Flu Center, is determining the type of the virus. Today only one thing pulls the Health Ministry and effective system of actions back – determining the type of the virus. In many cases this question remains unanswered. There are even experts, who suppose it is another modified virus - the differentiated virus between the "bird flu" and the "pig flu". But only the operative analysis would answer that. The flu, which the risk group is suffering from, should be identified.

An alternative interpretation is that we are getting confused, incomplete and contradictory reporting from an economy in rapid meltdown and with probably third world levels of health care.

About 50 people have died, probably of swine flu in the country. However, we saw panicked and exaggerated reports from the US and Mexico in the early days of the first wave.

Monitor the situation, but too soon to panic.

And now the Ukranian Health Minister tells the politicians to shut up. Notably makes no reference to anything other than pandemic H1N1. A/H1N1 California mentioned below is the vaccine reference strain.

Google translation.

Address of the Minister of Health of Ukraine Vasily Knyazevich to politicians

Dear Sirs,

As Minister of Health of Ukraine, as a doctor and a national appeal to you upon request and refrain from forcing the near future situation in the country, create panic and spread unprofessional medical recommendations in the media.

Today, the state faces serious tests. The epidemic of influenza A/H1N1 California, which syahla territory of our country, requires specialized, coordinated action by all branches of government. However, events of recent days showed that the complicated situation opponents used solely for political struggle and unconstructive criticism.

Charge of the Ministry of alleged financial abuse, I consider an attempt to paralyze the activities of specialists of Health, which now depends on coordination to combat the epidemic of influenza. As Minister of Health sworn facilitate any inspection, investigation, prosecution, but after a flu epidemic in the country be overcome.

Also, ask the politicians, even those who have medical education, to refrain from comments and advice from television screens in the epidemic of influenza A/H1N1 California. After all the political rhetoric around health topics encourages journalists to apply to the MOH for the comments. This, in turn, takes away valuable time refuting absurdities and clarifications specialized medical topics.

Gentlemen policy, everyone should do his thing! Take care of your precious time of doctors, they save the lives of compatriots!

Thank you for understanding

Undertow, have you seen this rather bizarre story from back in August?

Joseph Moshe (MOSSAD Microbiologist): "Swine flu vaccine is bioweapon"

He said that Baxter's Ukrainian lab was in fact producing a bioweapon disguised as a vaccine. He claimed that the vaccine contained an adjuvant (additive) designed to weaken the immune system, and replicated RNA from the virus responsible for the 1918 pandemic Spanish flu, causing global sickness and mass death.

More info, read what happened to Moshe and then the comments on this article:


This Joseph Moshe is a US citizen, has no connection with Israel and has a long history of mental problems according to comments at http://www.thesun.co.uk/discussions/posts/list/WHAT_HAPPENED_TO_JOSEPH_M...

However maybe that's what they want us to think :-)

Similar stories about adjuvants, mass death via vaccine etc, etc are all over the conspiracy sites and have been long before he made the claim. He just read it on a website by the look of it.

Anyway the US has decided not to use the adjuvanted vaccine which is one of the reasons there is so little vaccine in the US at the moment. Most of the rest of the world including Canada and Europe is using mainly the adjuvanted version as this makes the active antigen stretch to between double and quadruple the number of doses.

Thanks Undertow, did some digging. Like you say looks like an embellished story built around the bizarre behaviour of this Moshe guy and deliberately confusing him with Joseph Moshe Barr (a real microbioligist).

Why isn't the US using the adjuvanted vaccine?

Would you believe one of the reasons given (there's a huge PDF archive of the debate somewhere on the CDC website) was that such a fear had been whipped up on the internet about the dangers of adjuvants that people would refuse the vaccine if they knew it contained it? Also they expected to have more antigen available by now than is actually ready.

However it is also true that the sqaulene based adjuvants have only been approved in most countries for emergency use in this outbreak because of limited prior safety testing. The US is currently completing clinical trials and has said it may still use the adjuvant in advance of the results if the situation deteriorates significantly and has notably already bought the adjuvant just in case. A small number of researchers in the field say the concerns are significant but the majority say these concerns are overblown and there is sufficient European trial data going back years.

There's a huge fuss in Germany because the general population will get the adjuvant and military and politicians will get the version without adjuvant - a PR disaster. Merkle has however stated that she will take the same vaccine the public gets.

Some countries are also recommending the unadjunated version be used on pregnant women and young children pending the results of more safety trials.

It should be noted that Italy approved squalene based adjuvants some years ago and has been using them in the seasonal influenza vaccine for years. Hmm maybe that's why they keep voting for Berlusconi :-)

Great summary. Hadn't had time to read about this. Thanks.

Two words: "presidential election". Less than 3 months away.

Sadly (or is that fortunately), that's what it looks like.

According to the generally fairly trustworthy Recombinomics.com site, the infection toll in Ukraine is 255 516 and death toll 70 (Nov 2). That's a c. 0.03% fatality rate. Nothing to scoff at, but still within the previously experienced ranges. The samples are in London to be analyzed. We'll know in a few days whether there's a 'new strain' and how it differs.

But invisible enemies make for great rallying cries in politics. A good politician knows this.

These numbers come from the Ukranian Health Ministry site so as long as you trust their info then the Recombinomics/Rhiza data is accurate. Not all of the suspected cases will be swine flu as some will be a bad case of the common cold but, where it is flu, the only flu in Europe at the moment is swine flu as it has outcompeted all, other varieties (information from European and WHO sentinel viral surveillance) for the moment.

The Ukranians just seem to have been caught out by the fact that a small number of swine flu cases have an extremely bad outcome (far worse than seasonal) which they weren't seeing at first when case count was low. The alternative of a mutated virus spreading from one region remains a possibility though and hopefully that can be ruled out with more extensive testing. Personally I'd like to know if the E627K mutation is ruled out for certain as this is an obvious and closely watched for candidate. The Dutch detected this mutation recently in isolated cases but no sequences have yet been posted.

Unless Russia has release its own version of H1N1. We know they have accidently leaked from their lab in the past. It would not be too difficult to fabricated a modified version much more potent. However, this strategy might be as daugerous for the Ukranian than for Russian. IMHO, there is 99% chance this is an overeaction from the Ukranian. In Quebec, we have move from 40% of the population wanting to be vaccinated to 80% in ONE DAY, after the first death was annonced!

In Quebec, we have move from 40% of the population wanting to be vaccinated to 80% in ONE DAY, after the first death was annonced!

That's nuts - will they all line up to sell their cars after the next traffic death? People are herd animals. This is why Stoneleigh and Ilargi have it right in regard to the economy, and why those who expect people to act logically are always wrong.


The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses.
And an official of the World Health Organization’s European operation said the body is closely monitoring the investigation into the events that took place at Baxter International’s research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.

There is some early anecdotal information from health practitioners that vitamin D may be efficacious in preventing swine flu. While it is only from two physicians the numbers involved are not small and (though not a controlled study) reach statistical significance. Kudos to Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council for raising this issue. You can read a write-up on it here http://healthjournalclub.blogspot.com/

Yuo might want to modify your plumbing so you can dump the water from it to prevent expensive freezing. Have some antifreeze to place in the s and p traps.

The 120 participants were asked to consider how they would survive without... plastic.

One of the most interesting points made at the recent ASPO conference in Denver was that globally, high oil prices eliminate low-value applications first. The example given (IIRC) was that of higher prices transferring oil from an extra road trip by a poorer US family to a Chinese manufacturer. The relatively small part of annual oil production that is used to produce plastics would seem to be a high-value application that will be able to tolerate higher oil prices.

We also seem to be getting closer to being able to produce some types of plastic from common carbohydrates rather than hydrocarbons.

We also seem to be getting closer to being able to produce some types of plastic from common carbohydrates rather than hydrocarbons.

...but how much energy will it take?

...but how much energy will it take?

The bigger question is: How much food will it take from a starving world, or soon to be a starving world?

Carbohydrates are what we eat.

Ron P.

D, how dare you suggest that feeding the world is more important than filling our lives with yet more useless plastic crap!

LOL ;-p

All we need to do us use our trees for plastics and home heating and electricity generation and cellulosic ethanol and paper. The world will very soon look like Easter Island.

You forgot biochar for carbon sequestration. After all, we have to bring down the CO2 count. It's not enough to simply stop increasing it.

A Parker 51 fountain pen is a nice example of a high value use of plastic. These pens are near miraculous. I just found one at our local flea market for $1. Date code showed it was manufactured in 1949. The thing is as good as new.

What we really need to get away from is the notion of "disposable". The right answer at the check-out line is neither paper not plastic, it's "I brought my own!" I have a nice cordura nylon messenger bag that holds about as much as I care to carry up the hill from the local grocer to our house. The bag won't last as long as that Parker 51, but I have maybe 10 years of regular use into it so far and it has yet to show signs of wear.

So are you a certain Jim H. K. by any chance?

No. He posts under the name Kunstler.

The worst part is that my middle initial is also "H". My dad named me after his boss at the time! You can't make this stuff up!

I've got enough info in my bio here - just click on "JimK" on my posts - so you can see that I am not Kunstler.

One change that might happen is the transformation of plastics from cheap throwaway items to more valuable durable items. Plastic can last almost forever, it seems, but in practice can only be usuable over a long time period (an average person's lifetime, say) if engineered for durability. Compare the difference between the typical Rubbermade or Tupperware container with the plastic containers in which food products like margarine are sold. You can reuse the food container, but only for a little while. It was really only designed for one-time use, and will start falling apart very quickly, rendering it unusuable. The Rubbermade or Tupperware will eventually fall apart, too, but they were engineered to be more durable and to last through years of use.

Thus, one change you might see is that foodstuffs will be sold in larger, bulk units with less packaging overall, with the idea that consumers will break the stuff down and store it in smaller containers when they get home. Or maybe consumers will even be encouraged to bring their own containers to the store, into which bulk foodstuffs will be dispensed; if the store supplies the container there is a hefty extra charge. Some food co-ops and natural food stores already operate this way, to at least some extent. Not a world without plastic, but a world in which there is a lot less plastic packaging making a quick one-way trip from store to trash can.

Of course, we could also see a comeback for glass and metal packaging as well.

The advent of recycling was a huge boon to industrial design.

Instead of designing a way out of waste we were encouraged to design molded packaging for everything.

Plastics forming, molding, extruding really took off as all you had to do is include a little triangle with a number in the middle somewhere on it and nobody worried about it any more.

Recycling is a bad joke.

I dug a trench around my little solar house (partially buried), and filled it with plastic packing material thrown away by local businesses. I now have about an R-60 wall for almost nothing, and am looking forward to a cold solar-heated winter.

I was in home depot yesterday, and because the great insolation deal I'd heard was supposed to be a Lowes wasn't, I looked in the insulation isle, and it was at HD instead. R-30 unfaced at $.30 square foot. I had figured I had had my attic as thick as was cost/benefit justified, but at half price, a bit more insulation will make sense, so I bought another $10 worth. You can tear this stuff into thinner pieces, I will probably turn the R30 into 3times R10, and stick it on top of what I got already (about R40 now). In any case this is a good deal, and I hope people will take advantage of it. I put the extra layers at right angles to the orientation of the original stuff, so any gaps are pretty effectively covered up.

Yeah, I was ripping R30 and sticking in my basement band joists over the weekend -- since I have 3/4 crawl down there, it was absolutely brutal work. I just bought the materials for a basement root cellar over the weekend.

I wonder if anyone else remembers "peanut butter glasses". Peanut butter was sold in pretty tumblers with pry-off lids, so once you ate the peanut butter you had decent glassware. I liked the idea then, I like it now.

Of course, what passed for peanut butter in the 50's was crisco mixed with peanut butter, the same artery-clogging sludge which is mostly sold now. But the lack of plastic containers wasn't a problem. Refilling soda bottles made sense too.

I never drank at the table when I was a kid from any container purchased for that purpose only.We had the jelly glasses for big boy's appetites and the smaller glasses the my Grandparents snuff came in for the smaller folks.

We still have a few of the snuff glasses but they are seldom used as the sentimental value is too high to risk breaking them.

My Momma also reused quite a few quart jars that were sold filled with mayonnaise and other foods.

I know this is not reccomended but very few of them if any broke and the food canned in them might have otherwise gone to waste due to a lack of money for purchased canning jars. By the time I was old enough to realize what was what she had accumulated close to a thousand jars-If we had a bad year there would have been a good bit of carried over preserved food to help us get thru the next year-and some years it was all gone by the time new crops were coming in.
It was not so much that we were trying to grow everything we ate but more that some years there was very little cash income to make up the difference-if the crops failed that usually meant not only a poor year in cash on top of a poor harvest for our own table.

Canning days were organized in advance-firewood stacked and ready,tubs scrubbed, knives sharpened , hoses ready to turn on-we did it mostly outdoors and seldom bothered with less than a couple of bushels at a time, with a typical day involving twice or three times that.

There is a not so subtle lesson here for those who plan on self reliance-there is no other business so fraught with uncertainty as farming, excepting war.

And seven people getting plenty of exercise and five of them growing need a LOT of food.

It was Welch's jelly glasses for us. All sorts of cartoon characters. I'm dating myself here, but the oldest ones I remember had Daniel Boone on them. From the Disney Fess Parker era.

They were just the right size and if you broke 'em, Mom didn't care.

Certainly I can see lots of low-value applications of plastic go away before, say, bicycle helmets become unavailable. However, helmets wouldn't be as important if we weren't sharing the roads with cars and trucks.

The transition from "now" to "nirvana" will be more dangerous for bikers. WE haven't seen hardcore road rage yet, until [in a few years] they are bankrupting themselves driving past cyclists..

Dow up over 100 points on good news from Ford and a positive manufacturing report.

And gold is up a bunch too. What's with that?

the markets are getting more volatile and less connected. ergo, crash is on the way.

I wonder. Half the time I'm convinced Stoneleigh and Denninger are right, and we're headed for a world of hurt. The rest of the time I wonder how so many experts can be wrong about "green shoots."

Another possibility is that some of the "green shoots" are the genuine kind of green shoots that you get when you get an unseasonably warm couple of weeks in January and plants are persuaded to put forward spring growth early (stimulus money plus "spinning news positively"). Then if there's a return to conventional freezing weather almost all die off worse than if they'd saved their growth for the right time. (Of course there will be some signs that have been interpreted as "green shoots" that have been misleadingly interpreted, but most of the time it's the context.)

No doubt that things will get a little better before they get a lot worse.

In my view, the truth is both -- we're fundamentally screwed in umpteen ways, we're living a life of exponential growth on a finite planet, and we're mis-prioritizing at every turn. We're also in the hands of a gov't and financial system who does not wish for the gravy train of debt to end, especially into a deflationary world with them holding debt instead of cash.

When building a house of cards it's pretty hard to tell how high it will get before it crumbles. Obviously the top layer just fell, but the rest hasn't (yet). Maybe we'll get another layer or two built, or maybe not. Doesn't change the fact that the whole approach to building is unsound.

I'm just choosing to look at each continued month as "gravy", and extra time to get the house paid off, orthodontics done, and other preps completed. I hope I have 10 years. Maybe I'll settle for 10 months. Or maybe it's 10 days. Seems like a lot depends on the vast majority continue to believe things are "OK", and crowds are notoriously fickle.

I am a bit shaky on the event time line also, as the feedback loops are immense.
But you get something for a 12 trillion dollar injection of cash into an economy, even if it is a "Red Queen" running in place reality.

Maybe everyone is right?

I look at the fundamentals and I'm a pessimist. If 70% of the economy depends on consumer purchases, and unemployment doesn't improve, and median income stays flat, then I don't see how things get better (Case a).

The stock market and the green shoots indicate that companies are becoming more profitable (Case b).

Could it be that the bottom line (b) is getting better through layoffs, downsizing, inventory cutbacks, etc., but the top line (a) is still in the tank because revenues are still down. If that's the case, then we can have an economy that's still contracting while profits improve.

this is one of the best things i have read about the nation's economic future in at least 12 months. companies are acting just like households - cutting costs, waiting, and saving up cash.

Stung by the financial crisis, companies are holding more cash -- and a greater percentage of assets in cash -- than at any time in the past 40 years.

In the second quarter, the 500 largest nonfinancial U.S. firms, by total assets, held about $994 billion in cash and short-term investments, or 9.8% of their assets, according a Wall Street Journal analysis of corporate filings. That is up from $846 billion, or 7.9% of assets, a year earlier.

while lots of folks have been laid off, there's fuel in the tank (excuse my choice of phrase) for investment. of course, a) a good deal of future investment and hiring will be made abroad, and b) those hires that are made domestically will likely be for moderately less money/benefits than in the recent past, but this is good news for our middle class. american corporations are ready to invest money to adapt as they can to the new economic environment.

we don't want an economy that is driven by domestic consumption; we need to transition away from that. i'd argue we want an economy that is driven by exports of sustainably-developed products and technologies, and we want our companies building global infrastructure - information, energy, transport. we want to spend the next fifty or a-hundred years building a new country and a new world.

some argue, it may not be possible, and perhaps they are right. but global corporations think differently (not optimistically, but with urgent survival instinct), and they are saving up a decent-sized down payment for the next phase.

if you feel like you want to bathe in an entirely different world-view for a moment, take a quick look at the comments to that article.

I think that the reason for the "green shoots" mantra that keeps being spouted by everyone at the top, is to keep all of those below the top from doing what is in their own best interest. If enough people stay convinced that things will get better soon, then they will keep making house payments, keep paying at least some on credit cards, businesses will keep pouring any savings the owners have plus as much credit as they can get. This keeps more employed, more merchandise moving, more rent being paid. A rational plan when most businesses stop making a profit is to immediately close. The owners would probably have been able to walk away with some cash. As it is they'll be broke. It's just another extraction of wealth.

As I understand it, the decline will begin after the last bear goes bullish. Therefore I'm planning on holding out to be the last bear - think of the power I will have!

Seriously though, these things often take more time than it seems like they will, and there are plenty of powerful people doing everything they can to prop it up (conspiring, as it were)- including dumping gazillions of money that isn't theirs and that we haven't earned yet into the market casino. But in the end there is only one possible direction we can go, for multiple reasons.

if there's anyone in the financial sector that's talking about a long painful recovery, it's bill gross at pimco. he's not expecting some sort of an all-out collapse, and he's not expecting deflation.

Mr. Gross and his Pimco colleagues dismiss the prospects for a traditional V-shaped recovery and warn that the U.S. is facing a “new normal” of tight credit, higher inflation, slow growth and elevated unemployment levels.

nouriel roubini, who is also written up in the article, (many probably know) predicted our current recession years ahead of time. seems like he's sounding a warning now about leveraged investing again, but it doesn't sound like he's expecting immediate economic carnage.

The current Economist edition has an article predicting a 'new normal' for many if not most countries. 'New normal' = long-term lower standard of living.

Of course, the same edition has an article that takes a pretty sanguine view of World population leveling off at 9B ~ 2050.

Kind of makes sense...those 9B will be living at a 'new normal' condition.

Dow up over 100 points

Yee ha.

Yee ha.

Climate Fools Day rallies the heretics
Stop them, before they Deny again!

What happens when you get hundreds of climate change denialists together for a conference?

Professor Philip Hutchinson of Cranfield University, who followed, took a swipe at both Peak Oil ("another handy scare story") and global warming. I've pinched a couple of his slides from another of his presentations. One illustrates the potential energy available to us if we can exploit it.

He warned of the dangers of energy security. For the UK, with its nuclear capacity declining, policy was now a case of "Faith, Hope and Charity."

What, no Intelligent Design advocates?

As opposed to what? Anyone who thinks they have the answers to those questions is a fool.

As opposed to Genomics and Evolutionary Biology.

My favorite site for these discussions is Pharyngula by P.Z. Myers.

Cthulhu fhtagn! May you be eaten first.

Scientific theory. All knowledge is provisional. Those of us who think scientifically provisionally estimate that we don't have, and may never have, all the answers. In fact, information theory says (provisionally) that we may never have enough resources to compute the Universe...let alone the Multi-verse...unless those theories with their provisional predictions are revised...to make other provisional predictions, an on and on...

Those who believe they have all the answers from some book seem silly to me...but that is a provisional statement.

"Well, science doesn't know everything." Well, science knows it doesn't know everything, otherwise it would stop ... But just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairytale most appeals to you."


The only reason I mentioned it is because when ID was brought up I looked on Wiki which basically said the theory is that there is a direction behind evolution and the universe. That premise appears reasonable, not a fairytale in any way. Nobody actually knows. If you are referring to the 4000 year old Earth nonsense, some people hold onto that for support-there is nothing wrong with that-it is the same as the Obama supporters still holding onto their dream in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary-people need hope in their lives.

Of course it seems reasonable, if you know that people design complex things and you see that life is complex it follows in a very loosly logical way.

But the logic is indeed loose, and there is no evidence that supports the ID hypothesis.

Classic-you have no idea what would constitute "evidence" but you require it. On this particular subject, the difference between you and me is that I realize my ignorance and I realize your ignorance, and your ego won't let you accept that.

Reading things in that I never said again.

I wonder what your mental image of me looks like? I doubt you'd recognize me if we ever met.

As far as what would constitute supporting evidence: you tell me. You expressed at least sympathy for the ID hypothesis, you must therefore have studied it much more than I and should have a very good idea of what would constitute solid supporting evidence.

As far as contradicting evidence: the optical blind spot and many other imperfections in humanity that would not be there if we were designed. Especially if we were designed after mollusca was complete.

Of course there is an answer to some of what I consider contradicting evidence, but the thought of multiple Designers doesn't seem to go down well with many ID advocates. I wonder if you could enlighten me as to why that might be?

Why that would make a difference takes some explaining, but it boils down to a decision to link Saudi crude sales to a market that the state-owned Aramco can influence through the number of tankers it dispatches towards the US coast.

Break the back of the energy speculators and investment money will go into development.

First time I've ever praised the Saudis.

This will make absolutely no difference to speculators, except perhaps to increase their numbers. The CBO is already making plans to start their own crude oil futures contract based on the Argus Index. And the NYMEX plans to start another contract based on Gulf Coast sour crude.

Anyway, speculators are not investors, they are gamblers. It is a zero sum game just like poker. In the futures market, if one speculator's back gets broken another is enriched even more. It happens every day to hundreds of speculators. There is no way, in a zero sum game, to cause them all to lose.

Ron P.

Zero sum games are not always(or even often) fair games.
Only an idiot plays unfair games.
(Millions play the lottery.)

“It's a racket,” he said, “Those stock market guys are crooked.”--Al Capone

The government could crush the speculators by 'investigating' hedge funds.


Interesting article about Russian economy and relationship with oil..

Strange article. Long on contempt, short on facts.
Russia never welcomed foreign investment and never will. This warming to foreigners is rare. Smart ones (the Chinese) take the opportunity while it's hot, stupid ones write articles.

Indeed. Nothing but hate-filled bile from the neocon press. For the last 18 years the theme has been how uninterested western investors are in the risky Russian economy. They would prefer to invest in real third world banana republics. Since Russia hasn't gotten much in terms of investment and still managed to have serious GDP growth in the last 9 years (so that the current recession is nothing compared to 1998) it would hardly be desperate for this investment now.

Great interview with Bill Black-basically all the top regulators are purchased http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/article/364593/Geithner-%22Burned-B...

Beijing's first snow of season 'artificially induced'

China is having drought problems in the northern winter wheat growing areas. Which makes the world's top 4 wheat producers having severe weather related problems with their winter wheat plantings. Add to that the possibility of Ukraine possibly exiting the wheat export market.

Seemingly Argentina had its hottest day on record last Friday. Drought reduced their soya bean harvest this year IIRC.

Hello TODers,

No theory here, just the cold, hard, and dead Facts:

As Bats Begin Hibernation, Deaths Expected

It won't be long before millions of bats settle into caves and mines across the country to hibernate. But the sad truth is that many in the East will never see the warmth of spring.

..Why should we care about the fuzzy little flyers? Somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of all mammalian species in the U.S. are bats, according to Hazel Barton of the University of Northern Kentucky in Highland Heights.

.."If we lose the bat population in North America," Barton said. "Everyone will notice."

..The sweeping lethality of the disease over just four winters makes extinction a real risk...
Consider the following example: Imagine going to your local zoo, then becoming aware that 1/4 of the cages are now empty; 25% of the mammals kaput. I think most people would be truly shocked and alarmed.

Is Mass Species Extinction a Bigger Threat Than Global Warming?
[Please see included graphic inside the link]

Biocide is occurring at an alarming rate. Experts say that at least half of the world’s current species will be completely gone by the end of the century. Wild plant-life is also disappearing. Most biologists say that we are in the midst of an anthropogenic mass extinction. Numerous scientific studies confirm that this phenomenon is real and happening right now. Should anyone really care? Will it impact individuals on a personal level? Scientists say, “Yes!”

..The research also found that the average person woefully underestimates the dangers of mass extinction. Powerful industrial lobbies would like people to believe that we can survive while other species are quickly and quietly dying off. Irresponsible governments and businesses would have people believe that we don’t need a healthy planet to survive- even while human cancer rates are tripling every decade...
If the bats go bye-bye--then you can yank the upslope trend [in the graphic] up above the headline into the advertising section of the webpage.

Of course, we could then be driven in all kinds of insane directions, like the North American caribou herds, when we start losing up to two pints a week from blood loss to supermassive mosquito swarms:

Fooled by Nature - Caribou Migration [2:01]

The route of their 6,000 march is determined by mosquitos...
YMMV greatly when you a trying to swat a mosquito every 6 seconds. IMO, we should instead strongly prefer to have dinky bats eat 600/hour. OFF repellent is aptly named as daily bathing in it will create the toxic-result of us humans being removed OFF this Little Blue Marble.

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

We're back to bats again? Seriously? What is it about bats anyway?

Are you being obtuse, or do you really think this sort of thing is a peculiar and petty topic to worry about?

This isn't just one specialized variety of bat in a tiny corner of one state.. we're looking at the possible devastation of several species, and as with oil, it's hard to impossible to describe or predict the relationships, in this case with insects, plantlife and ecosystems in general that can cascade into much broader disasters with a death-toll like we're seeing with Bats..

It's about reaching tipping points..

Peak Bat?

I guess the little critters must be important in north America, sorry for being obtuse. Don't get many bats where I'm from.

I take your point about tipping points though.

It's pretty simple-less bats equal much more expensive food on the large scale.Bats eat flying bugs-many of which are pests.

No bats at all might well mean local environmental catastrophes including major losses of food production or spread of contagious disease.

We have no assurance that things might not "snowball" due to undesirable positive feedback loops if we lost most of our bats.But the odds are very high that the overall effect, from our pov, would be VERY bad.

Right on..

Something I don't know at all.. are there bats in England? I would assume there must be.
Sorry for assuming the negative.. I give my wife an awful look when she does that to me.

BTW, tho' I'm not a 'Goth', I had a Gothy Girlfriend in NYC years back, and my fave date was going up the Empire State Bldg one foggy night.. the Building's Colors were yellow that night, and out on the observation deck, we could see in that yellow, foggy glow, just hundreds of bats circling the building, hundreds of feet up there. Way too cool.. and I didn't know we had so many Bats in Gotham. Whooda thunk?

Gotta keep perspective. Compared to environmental destruction and the massive extinction of species, and the impact this will have on mankind, peak oil is but a minor hiccup. One means we cannot continue BAU, and the other may mean we can't continue at all. As for bats - I hope you like bugs and pesticides, because without bats we're gonna have a lot more of both.

Hello HAcland,

Thxs for your reply, but evidently you need to do some more self-research on the Circle of Life, and all creatures great & small, that allow it to function at NO COST to us, but annually provide trillions$$ in FREE benefits.

Please enlarge your thinking beyond Nate's Discount Model; try to think 'Seven Generations Ahead' like some ancient chieftains.

You might want to start with Easter Island: their free market system couldn't invent non-fossil fuel powered, easily manufactured substitutes for trees, nor edible, mfg. replacements for fish & seabirds, etc. Their free market solution was cannibalism and the common insult was: "The flesh of your mother sticks to my teeth".

I am highly doubtful that our modern, free market profit system, just out of the sheer goodness of their hearts, will manufacture totally FREE, at NO COST to us, countless multitudes of new substitutes to replace those species going extinct hourly. Instead, I would expect Soylent Green to be highly profitable sometime postPeak because we always pick the lowest-hanging fruit first from the largest, easiest reservoir available.

Consider how primate bushmeat is now considered a very rare delicacy. More humans are born each day than the sum total of existing gorillas, chimps, orangutans... we would postPeak quickly starve to death if our fellow primates became our primary food source. We will find a better food source once the mammals, birds, fish, frogs, lizards, etc, are extinct. It will be us.

the catastro-king has spoken.

Hello Bert in RI,

Actually, I dead-reckon facts carry more dead-weight tonnage effects than spoken words: Recall my earlier weblinked post when the UK dead-headed back home 3.5 million 'immigrants' annually for their topsoil replenishment program:

By 1815, England was importing so many bones for bone meal that people on the Continent starting complaining:

"England is robbing all other countries of their fertility. Already in her eagerness for bones, she has turned up the battlefields of Leipsic, and Waterloo, and of Crimea; already from the catacombs of Sicily she has carried away skeletons of many successive generations. Annually she removes from the shores of other countries to her own the manorial equivalent of three million and a half of men... Like a vampire she hangs from the neck of Europe."
Please don't forget to google Waterloo Teeth, too. If your children are NOT brushing and flossing enough--it makes an excellent bedtime story to forever alter them into practicing better dental hygiene habits. It will save you big dental bucks down the postPeak path ahead.


dewd. fascinating facts, but the history you're sharing doesn't at all in my mind lead to your conclusive expectation that cannibalism will become a money-making industry in days to come. yes, it's an inarguable and terrible tragedy that humankind is wiping out species -- no doubt -- but you say, "I would expect Soylent Green to be highly profitable sometime postPeak." i get the reference, but i don't see it. in my judgement, the jumps you make are far-fetched.

i don't know if you actually believe what you say, if you're just trying to one-up the next gloomiest forecaster because you think it's macho-cool, or if you're joking to get a rise. regardless, you seem to have a vivid imagination. there're a lot more facts out there you could draw on; use those probing pliers to pull out some juicy morsels for us.

Toto - thanks. Btw you don't need to convince me about species extinction. Already on the same page as you! I just love that you have such a care for bats. I'm going to call you Bat Man from now on (or is it Bat Girl/Woman/Maiden) ;)

The ecology and interdependency of the species is what got me going in the 'green movement' long before climate change was the main event. I grew up watching David Attenborough films. That man has done more to promote the natural world than almost anyone else.

Still bats in the UK where I live, although tucked up somewhere for the winter I hope.
It's a bit like frogs in the garden and fish in the rivers; if they can stand it then so probably can we. If frogs stop croaking (permanently) then something has moved, and almost certainly truly we do not know what or why? It's like going back to where you grew up and there is stuff missing that was abundant. What gives? Science only knows what it knows - plenty of real other stuff going on. Why is UK following USA along the obesity curve (and the prison population curve), still a decade or so behind? Is it collateral damage from advertisements?

OK, I'll bite as well... I don't know what it is exactly, but I've always been fascinated by those flying mammals. Here in China I normally get home from work at dusk, and most days I sit by my window with a cup of tea or a beer, watching all different sizes of bats flying around my house, for about thirty minutes before cooking dinner. I find it soothing, in a way it gives me this feeling that I'm still in touch with the nature, even though I live in a city (not a big one though).

Unfortunately an unusual cold spell started a few days ago (snow in Beijing etc.) and alas, no more bats to be seen. I sure hope those lovely creatures were not completely taken by surprise and will be around again when it gets warmer. Their existence improves my life, in a small but not insignificant way. So there! :-)

when we start losing up to two pints a week from blood loss to supermassive mosquito swarms

Won't happen unless there is mass depopulation of humans creating plenty of mosquito shallow breeding ponds.

Man has simple tech like clothes and netting. Man can create shallow artifical breeding ponds then process the larve out. And let us not forget electrical grids to zap them.

Anyone else weighing in on this?, from one of the above article's entitled: 'For Your Perusal: The Glory of Free Market Oil Supply'

Free Market Oil (non-opec non-russian) has dropped by over 2 mbpd (million barrels per day) since December of 2003. If your professor or your local economist or perhaps national newspaper is still pounding the table that supply always makes a response to price–even in natural resources–you might want to send them a link to this chart.

I tried to paste in the chart from that article, but it didn't take, but if you go there to look at it you'll see a downward angled trend from 2003 to the present.

It's a good opportunity for anyone on the message boards that thinks in economic or cornucopian terms, to understand that oil is geologic and therefore subject to eventual decline no matter how good the technology. And although that decline has so far only been seen in individual countries, we can see from this report that it is occurring in a large block of countries described here as Free Market Oil, and is a trend that will eventually encompass all countries.

Peak Afghanistan involvement...or is Afghanistan too big to fail?

We certainly are burning up real resources and fiat currency in these quagmires...maybe realization of the hopelessness of achieving our objectives (what are they again?)in the 'Stan will signal our 'peak empire'...or maybe by ~2014 we will be fully engaged in one or more of the following: Iran, Pakistan, North Korea (in addition to the Iraq, the 'Stan, certain parts of the Pacific Rim, and significant parts of Africa). Maybe then by 2020 Neuvo Rome will have collapsed...


Bread and circuses...and endless wars

Maybe the World will just about make its 75th anniversary of restraint before crossing the boundary and plunging into the maelstrom.

Afghanistan seems like the easiest one to get out of. All Obama has to say is; "We won the war, but we aren't staying forever. From now on we will monitor Afghanistan and when needed attack from the air. Oh what a joy it is to be victorious!"

But instead more money and troops will keep being thrown at this losing cause until it reaches a point like the Russians endured there and it will be a collosal loss. Maybe also it will mark the collapse of the U.S. pre-eminent world power position as our debt finally comes home to haunt us.

I long for the day when the U.S. is so crippled by debt that we can no longer fight endless, meaningless wars, and our many super expensive foreign military posts are closed permanently.

Yeah, the Taliban now have a permanent presence in 80% of the country and are growing stronger. The plan to control the country via a phoney democratic process has failed miserably, ended in farce and has been left in tatters. Then there is the blowback to contend with as the energised Taliban threaten to destroy the key US ally of Pakistan.

Another job well done, time to declare victory, tuck tail between legs and go home. You're not the only one to long for the day when; "the U.S. is so crippled by debt that we can no longer fight endless, meaningless wars, and our many super expensive foreign military posts are closed permanently". The world will probably be a safer place as a result.

Trouble is the US and Israel have managed to open Pandora's box and unleashed a new system dynamic capable of destroying not only Goliath, but also opening new avenues globally for insurgents, organised crime and the disaffected alike. I guess we're going to have to live with the legacy now regardless of what the US does.

OK, so when the US can't afford to fight "endless, meaningless wars", who's going to step when things go from bad to worse? The UN? Hah! At the point the US can't afford its own wars, it will also no longer afford the UN, and likely the UN will go from impotent to non-existent as a military organization.

About that same time the other worldwide aid organizations will also be defunded, some via Congress, and much via ordinary Americans who can't afford to give, or at least their money will be worthless. I don't think the world will magically become peaceful and prosperous at that point.

It's easy to be an armchair quarterback and wish we hadn't invaded Iraq, but in Afghanistan there was a clear cause after 9/11, and I don't see us leaving soon. Maybe it'll turn into an air and special forces war, but that'll still be expensive. I personally expect the Iraq troops to basically move to Afghanistan, and the war to heat back up for a number of years. In fact, I imagine when we leave it will be through Pakistan, and it will at least 5 years from now. And probably India and China will be involved to some degree as well.

Personally I think we should pull out of almost all foreign entanglements, pop some corn, and sit back and watch, but that's not likely in a down economy where scapegoats will be needed after the next crash.

OK, so when the US can't afford to fight "endless, meaningless wars", who's going to step when things go from bad to worse?

Maybe they'll just have to fight it out among themselves and stew in their own juices. As they have been doing without the assistance of the USA for, oh, the past 10,000 years or so.

Afghanistan is not about Afghanistan now. (Maybe it never was..) It's about Pakistan and Iran as much as anything.

And the point behind the US and NATO trying to destroy the Taliban is what exactly? As I understand it the "clear cause after 9/11" was to destroy Al Qaeda which was yet a different farce that ended in failure. What the hell are the US doing screwing around with the Taliban and destabilising Pakistan to the point of failure?

"who's going to step when things go from bad to worse?" Duh! The US is the catalyst which is making things go from bad to worse. They should pull out, they've no cause to be there in the first place.

We are not the World's policeman.

Most of the time our military intervention causes more problems than it solves.

The ROI stinks like a pile of dead fish.

So does the morality of our hubris.

The military (actually, the whole government)is a strong arm of the corporations who run our country.

It's the curse of empire. The lesson of WWII - the war is won by the nation with the greatest industrial capacity.

Industrial capacity depends on access to resources. Access to resources depends on military power. Military power depends on industrial capacity.

Military power - if you don't use it, you lose it. Of course, the absurd part is that access to resources depends on more than military power - the whole structure will come tumbling down soon enough anyway. Has any nation in history ever managed this kind of transition gracefully?