Drumbeat: November 5, 2009

Kunstler: It's Time to Rebuild Our Passenger Railroad System

The world economic fiasco, which I call "The Long Emergency," may be speeding us into a future of permanent nostalgia in which anything that is not of the present time looks good.

I say this to avert any accusations that I am trafficking in sentimentality where the subject of railroads is concerned. For the moment, any suggestion that a railroad revival in America might be a good thing is generally greeted as laughable for reasons ranging from the incompetence of Amtrak, to the sprawling layout of our suburbs, to our immense investment in cars, trucks and highways -- motoring culture now overshadowing all other aspects of our national identity.

Montana Farmers Fear a Buffett ‘Dictatorship’

Few states have more at stake in Warren Buffett’s acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe than Montana. The company owns 90% of the state’s tracks, which are the primarily means for Montana farmers and coal miners to ship their goods across the country.

Saudi Planes Attack Insurgents in Yemen, Rebels Say

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia’s air force attacked Shiite Muslim rebels in Yemen, the insurgents said, a move that threatened to draw the world’s largest oil exporter into its neighbor’s escalating conflict.

John Michael Greer: Harnessing Hippogriffs

Mish is among the most thoughtful and articulate proponents of the Austrian school in today's blogosphere, and he has an excellent eye for the economic news that matters – which is by and large exactly the economic news that the rest of the media avoids covering. Very nearly the only thing on his blog that makes me roll my eyes is his repeated insistence that the market is always right and government regulation is always wrong; no matter how berserk the market gets, its vagaries are for the best, and any problems should be corrected by privatizing even more government functions. Now of course Mish is hardly an official spokesperson for the Austrian school, as if there were such a thing, but he's not exactly alone in his insistence, either.

Enough people in the peak oil scene share similar views that it's probably necessary to say something about the free market and its potential for solving or creating problems during the twilight years of industrialism ahead of us. Any such comments need to be prefaced, though, by a reminder that a spectrum consists of something other than its two endpoints. Just as a great many people on the left have picked up the dubious habit of using labels such as "fascism" for any political system to the right of Hillary Clinton, a great many people on the right seem to have convinced themselves that any form of economic regulation at all is tantamount to some sort of neo-Marxist hobgoblin – a "socialist-communist-ecologist" system, to use a phrase that actually appeared in one of the comments fielded by last week's post.

Economic growth has let us down. What's the alternative?

Tim Jackson's new book, 'Prosperity Without Growth', is an explosive indictment of the failure of economic growth to provide sustainable wellbeing for the world's population. But there could be another way forward...

Economic growth is supposed to deliver prosperity. Higher incomes should mean better choices, richer lives, an improved quality of life for us all. That at least is the conventional wisdom. But things haven’t always turned out that way.

Continuously less and less

The fundamental enabler of our industrialized American way of life is continuous access to enormous quantities of inexpensive nonrenewable natural resources (NNRs)—energy resources, metals, and minerals. Unfortunately, future NNR supplies will be insufficient to perpetuate our American way of life, for both geological reasons and geopolitical reasons.

The Dark Side of Transition Towns? Worldchanging Slams Transition Movement

We TreeHuggers have long been inspired by the Transition Movement's positive response to peak oil. From planting nut trees for food security to launching local currencies, Transition Initiatives are promoting real, boots-on-the-ground action. But they have not been without their critics, arguing that Transition feels like a rebranding of the back-to-the-land movement, or hinting that it is deeply skewed to the left-leaning, hippy end of the cultural spectrum. Now Alex Steffen of Worldchanging has weighed into the debate, claiming that Transitioners exhibit a "casual eagerness for the death of others."

BG Group Plans to Invest $20 Billion in Brazil Over 10 Years

(Bloomberg) -- BG Group Plc, the U.K.’s third- largest natural-gas producer, plans to invest $20 billion in Brazil over the next 10 years, Chairman Robert Wilson said today at the Financial Times Investing in Brazil Summit in London.

Sweden gives green light to gas pipelines in Baltic Sea

STOCKHOLM (Xinhua) -- The Swedish government on Thursday gave the green light to the construction of two pipelines to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany through its economic zone in the Baltic Sea.

"This is an important decision according to the international right with consideration of the environmental concerns," Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said at a press conference.

Japan's 1st pluthermal power generation begins 10 years behind schedule

FUKUOKA — Japan began operating a nuclear power reactor Thursday using plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) as fuel for the first time in the country, about 10 years behind the initial plan for the so-called pluthermal electricity generation. Nuclear fission began at the 1.18 million-kilowatt No. 3 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture, southwestern Japan, after a control rod was removed from the reactor at 11 a.m., company officials said.

Toyota reports surprise profit

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Toyota Motor Corp. reported a surprise quarterly profit and slashed its annual loss forecast by more than half as sales and cost cutting beat its forecasts, putting it on track to follow Japanese rivals into the black next year.

Why Biofuels are Good for the Us, the Environment and the Economy

Food vs fuel proponents argue biofuels replace food crops, therefore causing food shortages

For the following reasons this is a short sighted argument.

1. Most crops used for biofuels production in the US aren't for human consumption, their alternative use is as animal feed

2. A co-product of the ethanol production process is a feed ingredient that replaces much of the nutrient value derived from the corn

3. Biofuels reduce the demand (and price) of oil which encourages further world trade

Native Recipe for Health: The Tohono O’odham Nation tackles diabetes with a return to desert foods.

Historically, the Tohono O’odham were slender and athletic. People ran between villages to share news or ­simply visit. For recreation, races between villages were organized. And in order to survive in the arid terrain (Tohono O’odham means “Desert People”), they spent much of their time gathering food—from the fruit pods of the saguaro cactus to the mesquite beans that would be ground into flour.

“We’re living in a very different time period,” said Danny Lopez, a tribal elder who was born in 1936 and taught the O’odham language and history at the local community college. Lopez, who passed away in 2008, served as a link to traditional O’odham ways, teaching the youth songs and storytelling, and stressing the importance of speaking the language. “Can you believe when I was growing up,” he said, “we didn’t even have a word for diabetes?”

Community Gardens may be a sign of the times but they are in Chicago to stay

The city of Chicago has over 10,000 acres of vacant land within its borders and much of it has been vacant for several decades. This acreage exists in all parts of the city, many of them places where homes once stood. For many people they have come to represent urban decay; symbols of their neighborhood’s fall from grace. For a time, the city government had a policy of tearing down all abandon homes, in order to prevent their use as crack houses.

While this vacant space may be the holes knocked in to our neighborhoods by the recession, they also represent a unique opportunity to bring us closer as neighbors. There are stories coming out of Detroit about community gardens that are springing up in abandoned lots throughout the city. A city that has known recession much longer than the rest of the country Detroit had a period in the 80’s and 90’s in which abandon hundreds of houses were burned on “Devils Night” as combination of entertainment and protest.

The Crude Truth About Oil Reserves: The coming century will overflow with petroleum.

It offends conventional wisdom. It will also seem nasty to the doom-sayers, who for decades have predicted an oil scarcity that never came. But the 21st century is very likely to overflow with oil. There are at least three main reasons for this.

First, oil reserves are finite. This is incontrovertible. But even so, no one knows how finite they are. And since we don't know the total amount of oil resources existing underground, it's impossible to calculate the curve of future supply.

Proved Reserves Of Crude Oil Fall In 2008, Reflecting Low End-Of-Year Prices

The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Proved Reserves, 2008 reports that proved reserves of crude oil fell by more than 10 percent in 2008, primarily because of low end-of-year prices used to estimate proved reserves, even though discoveries of crude oil rose for the third year in a row. In contrast, proved reserves of natural gas rose by 3 percent in 2008, despite low end-of-year prices.

Proved reserves are those volumes that geological and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be recoverable from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions. Under Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules in effect since 1982, operators assessed their 2008 proved reserves based on the market price on the last day of the year.

IEA to forecast natural gas glut: report

LONDON (Reuters) - The International Energy Agency (IEA) is set to forecast global supplies of natural gas will rise faster than demand in coming years, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Thursday.

"Global gas markets have evolved from a seller's market, driven by tight supply and demand, to a buyer's market as demand weakens while new supply comes onstream," the IEA says in a draft report of it World Energy Outlook, to be published November 10, according to the FT.

Energy famine is turning into a glut

My colleague, Roland Gribben, tells me that back in the 1960s, the then chief economist at BP forecast that the world’s oil wells would be largely dry by the mid-1990s. Even with burgeoning demand from the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America, I’ve always been suspicious of the “peak oil” brigade, which argues that sometime soon, demand is going to outstrip world capacity to produce. For further evidence of this fallacy, take a look at the International Energy Agency’s forthcoming “World Energy Outlook”, a copy of which has been leaked to the Financial Times.

Oil: $20 a Barrel? Or $200?

Whew--now that we have more fossil fuel than Saudi Arabia, I guess we have nothing more to worry about. Uh, count me skeptical. The technological breakthough is calling "fraccing" for hydraulic fracturing, a technique which has been around for decades.

Sounding an Alarm on Oil

Mr. Ruppert: Two things are critically important: A real worldwide transparent effort to determine how much oil is really left. Screw state secrets. I don't care what the Saudis, Russians, BP or Chavez want to hide. We have to clean up those books just exactly as the same way that we need to clean up the books on Wall Street. Secondly, we need to establish a second strategic petroleum reserve of refined product for state, county and municipal use because I really foresee a serious oil shock coming as soon as this ersatz recovery starts to push up the global GDP and demand for electricity. We have to make sure we have basic services.

Oil crunch: Crisis or a rosy future?

A string of impressive discoveries from America to West Africa have prompted optimism that a widely-touted supply crunch may not be as imminent as industry watchers have suggested.

Some executives say that the drop in demand and the overhang in capacity will delay an oil crunch for some time to come.

The Peak Oil Crisis: A Plan For Renewables

There has always been a warm spot in the hearts of those of us following the peak oil story for Scientific America- the magazine that in 1998 published the seminal article by Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère that launched the modern era of concern about peak oil.

In October, however, Scientific America slipped a bit when they published an essay by Leonard Maugeri, an executive vice president of the Italian oil company ENI and long-time publicist for the notion that there will be plenty of oil if only we rework existing oilfields with secondary and tertiary recovery methods. This reworking, of course is already being done, and has been for years wherever it is economically feasible. To claim that the world can be saved if only we tried harder to get more oil out of old fields has long been discarded as a panacea.

Anyway, this month Scientific America is back on track with a cover story entitled "A Plan for a Sustainable Future - How to get all energy from wind, water and solar power by 2030." Now this is more like it.

Peak oil? Don't worry - Obama's on the job

What if, as a result of efforts to fight climate change and boost energy efficiency, global oil demand peaked in the foreseeable future? You could argue that such an achievement would be one of the most historic accomplishments of human civilization to date, proof, indeed, that we are civilized. It's a task that will require lots of hard work all over the globe, but based just on the actions taken by President Obama in his first year of office, in the United States, we have made real progress toward that goal.

Abiotic Synthesis Of Methane: New Evidence Supports 19th-Century Idea On Formation Of Oil And Gas

ScienceDaily — Scientists in Washington, D.C. are reporting laboratory evidence supporting the possibility that some of Earth's oil and natural gas may have formed in a way much different than the traditional process described in science textbooks.

U.S. oil market anti-manipulation rule takes effect

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Federal Trade Commission rule takes effect on Wednesday that will hit energy traders and companies with fines of up to $1 million a day if they manipulate the oil markets.

The FTC unveiled the rule back in August to go after fraud in oil markets that it said could cause widespread damage to the U.S. economy. The old fine was just $11,000.

Gold at $1,350, Oil at $100 in Six Months, Kang Says

(Bloomberg) -- Gold will climb to $1,350 an ounce and oil will top $100 a barrel in the next six months, driven by a “herd mentality” fueling an investment boom, said Richard C. Kang, chief investment officer with Emerging Global Advisors LLC.

“Many investors, especially in the developed world, are underexposed to commodities from gold, metals to energy to agriculture,” New York-based Kang said in an e-mail Nov. 3. “They are likely to move this up to somewhere between five to 10 percent of total portfolio holdings.” Kang helps manage $40 million invested in metals, energy and mining funds.

Lukoil to Add Oil Storage Capacity in Persian Gulf, Singapore

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Lukoil, Russia’s second-biggest oil producer, plans to add storage capacity for oil products in the Persian Gulf and Asia to boost profit from those markets on bets that demand for fuels will rebound.

Lukoil International Trading & Supply Co. will increase its storage facilities for gasoline and distillates in the Persian Gulf and expand storage in Singapore beyond the floating supertanker it uses to hold fuel oil, Gati al-Jebouri, chief executive officer of the Lukoil trading unit, said in an interview in Singapore yesterday.

CNR profits plummet 77%

Third-quarter profit at Canadian Natural Resources fell 77% as oil and gas prices plunged, Canada's second biggest independent oil explorer said today.

Exxon follows China lead in clinching Iraq oil deal

BAGHDAD (AFP) – US major Exxon Mobil has won a contract to develop West Qurna 1 field, the oil ministry said on Thursday, as the foreign role in Iraq's oil industry widens with China leading the way.

"Today we will sign with the consortium of Exxon Mobil and Shell a preliminary accord for the development of West Qurna 1" in southern Iraq, spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP.

The Chinese navy is going blue water

Today, more than 1,000 Chinese commercial ships and oil tankers are sailing through troubled waters every day, and China's commercial sea-borne trade volumes have escalated dramatically. China's commercial maritime interests exceeded $800 billion by the end of 2008, and more than 60 percent of its oil imports transported by sea.

As Chinese cargo ships and oil tankers are becoming all the time more vulnerable on the high seas, Beijing sees it as vital to safeguard China's sea-lanes. Last week, the Chinese government vowed to make "all-out efforts" to rescue De Xin Hai, the Chinese ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean northeast of the Seychelles.

Flying Over Oil Fields, Watching Iraqi Money Burn

He notices something else from the Black Hawk: gas flares down on the desert floor is Iraqi money going up in flames.

"The estimate from Shell Oil ... about $6 million a day that is being flared off," said the general.

"If you convert that into 40 gallons LP cylinder tanks, which a lot of people use here for cooking, that's about 330,000 of those 40-pound cylinders per day that are being flared off here and not being captured here for a number of different things, for generating electricity or for LP gas," he said.

Iran’s Military Power Subject to New U.S. Study Used for China

(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s military will be subject for the first time to the kind of U.S. assessment reserved for China’s expanding forces as lawmakers seek a more accurate analysis of the Persian Gulf oil power’s strengths and strategy.

Congress ordered an annual report on Iranian military goals and capabilities, including the country’s missile and nuclear programs, in a provision tucked into a 1,200-page measure authorizing defense spending. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law last week.

How to boost fuel efficiency? Raise taxes, executives say

DETROIT (Reuters) - There's a simple way to get Americans to drive fuel-efficient cars, according to auto executives, but they are not going to like it -- sharply hike the gas tax.

While politically unpalatable, gasoline that costs at least $4 a gallon would have a far greater effect on American fuel usage than Washington's $25 billion loan program meant to spark investment in new technologies, executives told the Reuters Auto Summit in Detroit.

EDF Urged by French Government to Boost Nuclear Availability

(Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, came under pressure from the French government today to increase the number of nuclear reactors online amid growing concerns over the reliance on imports.

EDF must “raise the rate of availability,” of its reactors, French Environment and Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said during an interview on RMC radio. That rate is currently “low,” he said.

Nuclear waste: Coming to a town near you?

The nuclear industry could be on the verge of a major expansion just as the government cancels a plan to store the waste. Where's it going to go?

Kansai Electric May Extend Lifespan of Atomic Reactor

(Bloomberg) -- Kansai Electric Power Co., Japan’s second-largest utility, is seeking to extend the lifespan of a 39 year-old nuclear reactor instead of replacing the unit.

The Osaka-based company filed a request today to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency for an extension beyond next November for the 340-megawatt No. 1 Mihama reactor, it said in a statement released in Tokyo. The unit, built in November 1970, is the second-oldest of Japan’s 54 atomic plants.

Our Planet, Our Selves

As we move closer to the tip­ping point of cli­mate change, where we’ll lose con­trol of our abil­ity to influ­ence atmos­pheric con­di­tions on Earth, it’s prob­a­bly time to reeval­u­ate hEndofFoodcoverow every­day habits got us here. As a polemic, it might be instruc­tive to see those habits as dif­fer­ent kinds of addic­tion.

Former editor of the Watertown Sun releases book

Dubbed “an agrarian primer for the 21st century,” the sourcebook documents a range of positive pathways to food security, economic stability, environmental health and cultural renewal. To McFadden and others, the call of the land now is an SOS. The responses, from individuals, communities, cities, and institutions, are both imaginative and practical.

Al Gore follow-up to 'An Inconvenient Truth' published

NEW YORK (AFP) – Al Gore has released a follow-up to 2006 best-seller "An Inconvenient Truth," the former US vice president's rallying cry against global warming, a statement said Wednesday.

Gore, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 following the book and movie versions of "An Inconvenient Truth," aims to offer clear strategies to tackle climate change in "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis."

Landscapes now get 'green' ratings

"Green" seals of approval are slapped on dishwashers, heat pumps, light bulbs and entire buildings. So why not the outdoors?

As of Thursday, even open-air spaces — from parks and parking lots to corporate and college campuses — will have their own environmental rating system.

Amazon deforestation slows: Brazil

BRASILIA (AFP) – Brazil lost 400 square kilometers (154 square miles) of Amazon jungle in September, but deforestation slowed by a third compared with the same month last year, according to official data released Wednesday.

Deforestation as Carbon Culprit Drops Relative to Fossil Fuel

(Bloomberg) -- Deforestation’s relative contribution to global carbon emissions has declined as pollution from fossil fuels increased, according to a researcher at the faculty of earth and life sciences at VU University in Amsterdam.

Warm winds slow autumn ice growth

Sea ice extent grew throughout October, as the temperature dropped and darkness returned to the Arctic. However, a period of relatively slow ice growth early in the month kept the average ice extent low—October 2009 had the second-lowest ice extent for the month over the 1979 to 2009 period.

Fix climate change or else, say military top brass

IF THE world fails to act soon on climate change, "preserving security and stability even at current levels will become increasingly difficult". That's the blunt message of a statement released in Washington DC (PDF) last week by 10 high-ranking military officials from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the US.

Re: "Abiotic Synthesis Of Methane: New Evidence Supports 19th-Century Idea On Formation Of Oil And Gas"

So within a few hours of this article coming out, the right-wing wingnut radio talk show host I listen to is all over this story. Of course, he spins it as that it will solve all of our energy problems.

Entertaining to watch how these people will cherry-pick science ... if it wasn't so sad.

It's not just the right wing nutters.

Research Findings Throw Some Doubt Into Theory of Peak Oil

The implications of this discovery are rather profound. Although we don’t know what percentage of fossil fuels are made in an abiotic (without decaying organisms) fashion in the Earth, the researchers’ results clearly indicate that at least some of the oil and gas we mine from the earth is produced constantly without the need for decaying organisms.

Why so profound? Up to this point we’ve been fairly confident that the Earth’s petroleum resources are finite, which has in turn given rise to the idea of Peak Oil and the rush to wean the Earth off of fossil fuels. Certainly it’s too early to say if the abiotic method of oil and gas production even makes a dent in the overall production of buried hydrocarbon deposits, but it gives legitimacy to the question: Are we really about to run out of oil?

Funny line- "Up to this point we've been fairly confident that the Earth's petroleum resources are finite".

You would think one bean burrito would put an end to this abiotic "theory?"

If you're getting them at 7/11, I'm pretty sure the burritos are Abiotic, as well.

I used to eat one of those 7-11 burritos occasionally on the theory that if it didn't kill me it would both toughen me up and silmantaneously kill any possible intestial parasites.

All the more true with their smokey big bite. Pure delicious junk.

I won a bet in High School by eating a Big Bite while reading "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair.

There is no doubt that methane can be formed in the presence of massive amounts of free carbon and free hydrogen. If large amounts of oxygen is also present, then the hydrogen will combine with the oxygen instead and form water. On other planets lots of free hydrogen would likely be present after the oxygen has all disappeared. This would result in massive amounts of methane, sometimes enough to form seas of methane.

There is little evidence that any free hydrogen exist in the depths of the earth. And even if it did, and even if trace amounts of methane were formed, because of the tremendous heat no longer strings of hydrocarbons would be formed. Heat breaks long hydrocarbon strings into shorter strings not vise versa.

The idea that oil could be formed in the great depths of the earth is just another attempt by the fringe to deny peak oil. These nuts should be ignored.

Ron P.

*IF* abiotic oil (and/or biotic oil) was being formed at even half the rate that we consume it (one cubic mile/year or 1,000 barrels/second), we would be seeing natural oil spills that would dwarf the Exxon Valdez on a continuous basis. The Persian Gulf would periodically flame up and kill all those living around it.

Reason: Input must eventually balance output.

If this much new oil was being formed it would not all stay in geological storage for millions of years, but would leak out. A half cubic mile of oil bubbles up from below. A half cubic mile must then leak out onto the surface. There is not an infinite amount of reservoir traps and there has not been a major shift in geology in XX million years so we were in a steady state (new oil in = oil leaks & seeps out) before Col. Drake.

Hope I made this point clear,


As a chemist by training, I have no trouble believing that there can be abiotic synthesis of methane at high temperatures and pressures. But to be of practical importance, would it not have to be the case that some fraction of known gas fields were of ongoing abiotic origin, and as a result replenished themselves as fast as they could be tapped or, if tapped out and left "fallow" for a little while, started producing at high levels again? Which leads me to a second question, one that will reveal my ignorance: are there immortal gas fields or gas fields that mysteriously revive without technological resuscitation?

Well I am not a chemist but correct me if I am wrong but wouldn't there need to be some kind of carbon-based input into an abiotic process? If not, then are the carbon atoms supposed to be formed from other atoms?

Until I hear the CEO of an oil major stand up at a press conference and state unequivocally that oil is being continuously formed in one of his oil fields and at a comparable rate that it is being sucked out then I will not bother any more with this theory.

Yes, there would have to be both a carbon and a hydrogen source and Darwinian has pointed out above that at least the latter seems to be lacking. I agree with you--if abiotic hydrocarbons were being produced at any sustainable rate there would have to be some evidence for sustainability at the level of individual fields or areas. Unless all the abiotic gas/oil were in nontraditional fields that haven't been heavily tapped yet, in which case it wouldn't be likely to make much of a dent anyway.

Methane, water, ammonia and carbon dioxide are extremely common volatiles in the solar system, usually in the form of ices. Presumably a great deal of all four was incorporated in the formation of the earth. It is possible that a great deal remains in solution in the mantle.

Not that I put much credence in abiotic oil or anything, but there's your carbon.

Whaleoil, carbon is not the problem, it is free hydrogen. And methane is not the question either, it is crude oil. The problem is how can hydrogen be separated from other elements in the deep mantle, then combine with carbon to form methane, then this methane must be forced to link up with other methane molecules to form long strings of hydrocarbons.

You would need something in the deep mantle to break molecules up into their basic atoms, then recombine them to form long hydrocarbon strings. Give me a chemist who can explain this process and I will give him my full attention.

Ron P.

Scientists have recently discovered a new element in the deep mantle that functions as a catalyst for certain reactions. The team that discovered the new element has named it Goldmanium sachus.

Under deep pressure, the Gs element breaks existing molecules into separate bits, then recombines those bits into new molecules and passes them on to other elements. In the process, energy is extracted from the system which allows the Gs elements to grow larger.

In this way, Gs takes ordinary hydrogen and carbon and turns it into shit gold.


Heh-heh-heh! +1

Well I'm a half arsed amateur astronomer, not a geologist. Others here could way in on this.

Ron, for what it's worth, I believe the mantle is essentially dry at this point. It's clear that most of the water outgassed early, condensed at our goldilocks distance from the sun, and today covers 70% of the surface. Most of the ammonia outgassed, photo-disassociated and today comprises our nitrogen atmosphere. I don't see why the methane and carbon dioxide would not also have outgassed, photo-disassociated, and have become largely locked up in carbonates.

As I understand it, there's some debate as to how wet or dry the mantle is. Pure-d mantle magma isn't too easy to sample, most magma/lava samples have melted through and mixed with heavily reworked crustal rock. I think the equations of state of the various volatiles and the temperature gradient are relevant to this, and that stuff is a little above my pay grade, but the point is that the volatiles in a wetter mantle are in solution with the magma. At lower pressures they come out of solution. 99.9% of this original volatile budget may have already outgassed from the mantle(I 'spect this would have largely happened very early in the earth's history when the entire earth was essentially a magma ocean, presumably with convection so that over time the magma would have all circulated to shallower depths/lower pressures). Even 1/10th of a percent of an enormous initial endowment could still be quite a lot of CH4, NH3, H2O, CO2 in solution in the mantle, or, maybe only 90% of a smaller endowment outgassed.

In any case, there could possibly be a great deal of methane in solution in the magma. Very unlikely, I would think, for longer chain molecules to form and be stable, but like I said, that whole temperature gradient/pressure gradient/equation of state thing is a little over my head.

It's not only a matter of how wet the mantle is. It is thoroughly oxidized and electron activity is low, so those reduced materials aren't going to stick around for geological time scales.

I agree with you--if abiotic hydrocarbons were being produced at any sustainable rate there would have to be some evidence for sustainability at the level of individual fields or areas.

If there were such a thing a abiotic oil or gas (which is pure wishing for a pony stuff I know), it needn't form at a rate similar to our withdrawals. If say it took millions of years, it would still have implications for us, i.e. we need not exclude geology which doesn't contain/overlie traditional source rocks, but would want to drill into any potential trap. So it would imply that a lot of unexplored geology still exists. This is a much weaker form of trick pony then the self-replenishing oil/gas field. But it would be easy to see geologically, as most traps would contain useful amounts of oil.. And presumable the abiotic stuff would have different composition.

What's the problem?...

Hey, I - just as every other human does - create methane every day. About 2-3 cubic inches according to the last textbook I read.

Have faith in the horn of plenty and ALL will be ALL-RIGHT.


Unfortunately the qualifications for being a successful radio personality don't include knowing very much about anything other than the prejudices, fears, and insecurities of your audience and being able to play upon these shortcomings like a violin.

This said, and having gotten to the age where I can no longer remember all the many things which I once knew to be true which aren't,I'm intellectually willing to consider several possibilities.

Some very small portion of oil and gas may actually be abiotic-not that it would matter, because we know that essentially all of the oil and gas endowment is biotic.

It may be that we can convert our transportation system to natural gas over the next decade or two and still live lives more or less recognizable as bau.

It may be that there will be game changing breakthroughs in solar technologies, perhaps even in materials technologies which in turn will be real game changers in wind power.

There could be a social enlightenment revolution such that somewhere someone starts building a whole new city that is essentially car free,all the buildings are built to the German Passive house standard,and transport is provided by dropping coins into a computer controlled single passenger trolley car , punching in the address, and paying another quarter to watch tv during your ride.

Well to do econuts and retired professors would move to such a place in droves.People could perhaps go for such cities the way they once went for automobiles.

It may be that we can erect giant sunshades in orbit and burn coal right up to the point that we need to wear respirators.

But just because such things are possible does not mean they WILL come to be.The odds don't look good, except for the respirators.

I have been trying for quite a while to find some hard data on the likely overall costs of converting ng to gasoline and diesel and how long it might take to ramp up production.

If we can buy a few more years by this means, meanwhile avoiding an outright collapse due to past fiscal insanity and avoiding WWIII,we might just experience some sort of pearl Harbor eventin one of those years that will bring us to our senses in time to make some serious changes before we are well and truly cooked.

Whether the radio guy knows anything or not is not the issue.

The issue is with the speed of which this news has spread to right wing outlets. It's not that the radio guy does any original research, he just reads what is put in front of him. So who feeds them this stuff?

Or else, likely they know the magnitude of the problem and this is a desperate attempt to salvage whatever is left of their BAU.


These guys have internet -just like you and me-and most of them apparently have a few people on staff to do such simple research as is necessary for thier purposes.

I would not be suprised if some of them are not reading the TOD, installing solar, and stocking up on nonperishable groceries.Radio and tv personalities are out to make a living first and advance thier agenda second.

Of course such a priest these days actually does not need a master-he can freelance for himself if he can attract advertizers and donors.

But we make a serious mistake in dismissing these people out of hand-they have a coherent social message and thier audience trusts them because of that.

I have pointed out here several times that the environmental community is making a colossal mistake in not seperating thier message from the message of the people interested in social change such as gay marriage, socialized medicine, drug legalization, ad infinitium.

Those who advocate such change (with good cause of course) are conflated with environmentalists by those who believe in the status quo, and environmentalists are therefore discredited-most of us after all, even the so called well educated among us, have zero or near zero training in the physical sciences, and are unable to make informed judgements.

Just for clarification he is not a "radio guy".

He is senior executive vice president of the Italian oil company Eni, and a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Which doesn't preclude him being full of sh...methane precursor.

A different opinion from the former CEO of the same company. The following article was published in 1998, and Franco Bernabe's warning was remarkably prescient, since annual oil prices rose at 20%/year from 1998 to 2008.

Cheap oil: enjoy it while it lasts
Howard Banks, 06.15.98

NOT THIS YEAR, nor the next, but maybe as soon as five years hence, oil prices will start to rise, says Franco Bernab*, chief executive of the Italian oil company ENISpA. Well before 2010, he believes, the world will be vulnerable to 1970s-style oil shocks. Speaking to FORBES in London in early May, he says, "There is a great deal of complacency among politicians and economists that the oil problem is over. But despite today's low prices, in the long term we will be back to a high-price scenario in the oil sector."

. . . What about technology? Haven't things like horizontal drilling greatly increased the yield from existing fields in recent years? Sure, says Bernab, but there's not a lot more scope to increase recoverable reserves this way. . .

"My forecast is that between 2000 and 2005 the world will be reaching peak production from our known fields, and after that, output will decline." But demand will keep growing, slowly but inexorably.

*I believe this should be Bernabe.

Just in case you misunderstood me, I was just commenting on the fact that this news had already spread to talk radio.

It's not just talk radio.

I've tracked some stories from internet posts thru Google. It takes about a day for a conservative story to percolate thru the net to dozens of sites. The conservative PR organizations are very good at propagandizing and e-mail is a great multiplier. A targeted mailing to a large list of friendly sites will result in their message being spread very quickly thru the hinderlands.

Of course, the Democrats have been known to do the same thing.

E. Swanson

I would not be suprised if some of them are not reading the TOD, installing solar, and stocking up on nonperishable groceries.Radio and tv personalities are out to make a living first and advance thier agenda second.

Funny you should mention that, I just helped install an off grid PV system at the home of a Radio personality with an automobile ad agency. He is actually a nice guy but listens to Rush Limbaugh on the radio and the entire time I was at his residence I got to hear non stop global warming denial on the station he was listening to. In his case it just makes economic sense he is not worried about Peak Oil or the environment, that's for sure!

So who feeds them this stuff

These days - email. Old days - fax.

Fox picked up and did a story on the local timebank because Fox subscribes to a scraping service that funnels topics.

But 'these powers that be' are channeling a known working method by Willi Münzenberg. A Commie AND a Nazi so you can vilify him in America.


One of the modern masters of such media control was the German Communist from whom Joseph Goebbels learned his trade, Willi Münzenberg. Münzenberg was not only the inventor of spin, he was also the first person who perfected the art of creating a network of opinion-forming journalists who propagated views which were germane to the needs of the Communist Party in Germany and to the Soviet Union. He also made a huge fortune in the process, since he amassed a considerable media empire from which he creamed off the profits.

Unfortunately the qualifications for being a successful radio personality don't include knowing very much about anything other than the prejudices, fears, and insecurities of your audience and being able to play upon these shortcomings like a violin.

Very well put.

Whether the radio guy knows anything or not is not the issue.

The issue is with the speed of which this news has spread to right wing outlets. It's not that the radio guy does any original research, he just reads what is put in front of him. So who feeds them this stuff?

There is a whole rightwing thinktank industry related to this kind of stuff. Its been going on for quite a while, I suspect when Hillary was talking about the "vast rightwing conspiracy" back when she was first lady, that this was what she meant. In any case, these various foundations, are well funded, and issue strategies for advancing their agendas. This material is available at little or no cost to the rightwing talk radio and punditocracy. Mostly they are simply reading from the same script.

So I don't think that thinking of this stuff spreading to these folks captures the dynamic. It is deliberately sent to them.

It's also sent by the left, as Obama's staffer was gloating about a week or two ago how they "managed the flow of information to the press".

Only in Bizarro World could you have the "left" working for Goldman Sachs.

Really, I think they've all amply illustrated their profession. Most of the recent haggling has been on price.

Perhaps the label of 'left' that you are applying is not correct?

Actions speak louder than words.

The 'Wingnut 500' ... and the 'new reserve currency' and 'gold standard' nonsense from central bankers and economists indicate one thing only:

These people are all frightened out of their wits ... they are grasping at straws.

All, or almost all, oil that we've extraced so far contains biomarkers, which point to a biological origin for oil. Abiotic oil believers need to explain how non-biological oil aquires biomarkers.

There are plenty of strikes against the abiotic theory: Abiotic Oil Rebuttal Point by Point.

Looks like its comedy hour in the fossil media today; a concerted set of stories saying don't worry, there's a glut of fossil fuels coming. Neatly confusing gas for oil repeatedly. Assuming they aren't doing it to give us all a laugh, its almost as if someone is feeding them phrases to depress prices somewhat.

But with WTI at $80 it doesn't look like its working.

My July, 2007 "Iron Triangle" essay:

The prevailing message from some major oil companies, some major oil exporters and some energy analysts can be roughly summarized as follows “Party On Dude!”

. . . To some extent, what we are seeing across the board, from large sectors of the energy industry to the auto/housing/finance industry, media and beyond, is the "Enron Effect," i.e., many people know that we have huge problems ahead, but their paychecks are dependent on the status quo.

You've got this the wrong way around.

The media campaign is not to precipitate a lower price, it is to provide cover for a decision to force the price lower by selling futures, starting today. As the price drops, we will hear that it is because "investors" (those mysterious players always awake at 3 am in the morning) believe that production is going to exceed demand in the long run.

The price will drop to (say) $69.00 and promptly shoot back up again. Someone will make a lot of money. RInse and repeat in the oil market, gold market, you name it market.

It is called management of markets by perception (Jim Sinclair). (www.jsmineset.com)


Francois, that is just another nutty conspiracy theory. The media could not care less which speculators make money or which lose money. How would they know which is which? Surely you must realize that for every dollar made in the futures market, another dollar is also lost. It is a zero sum game.

So you think the media is conspiring with half the speculators, the ones that will make money by falling oil prices and later make more money as prices rise again? That would require tens of thousands of speculators to conspire with the media in an attempt to defraud the other half of the speculators.

I don't think I have ever heard of a such a nutty theory before.

Ron P.


Clearly, if you are in a position to manipulate the market down, you can make money by shorting it. It is true that someone else is losing that money, but that is their problem. This is not nutty - this is what the SEC is in the business of protecting againt.

It is investment 101. Dont be so quick to be an expert on everything.

Who is in a position to manipulate the market down? Are you saying the media is in the market and make money by investing in advance of their stories? This is a new one.

Francois I don't think you understand the problem at all. No one is complaining about speculators, or even speculators who might have jobs in the media making or losing money in the deriviteves market. The concern is with hedge funds and investment bankers (in this case). They are gambling with other peoples money.

For instance the firm "Long Term Capital Management", initally had annualized returns of over 40% and a lot of people jumped aboard to get a piece of this easy money. Then they lost $4.6 billion in less than four months. They folded and all their investers lost their money.

True the SEC also looks at small timers, newsletter writers and internet bloggers, who "Pump and Dump" but to my knowledge the mass media has never been charged with this. And this applies to the equities market where some stocks are very thinly traded and can be more easily pumped up or driven down. This strategy would be much more difficult in the far more liquid depravities market where billions are traded daily. If you think that they are guilty of this you need a lot more than just your belief.

If you are going to complain about something concerning the derivitives market, and pretend you know what you are talking about, you need to explain yourself a little better. Don't be too quick to be an expert on something you obviously know nothing about.

Ron P.

The oil market is easy to manipulate if you have a) enough liquidity and b) oil. Hmmm ... Saudi Arabia.

Oil last summer was a monopoly opportunity. There was enough cash floating out of derivatives worldwide to allow a few playaz to simply write (bad???) checks and buy as many oil futures contracts as possible; to buy the entire world's production on the commodities markets for years into the future. Problem was, @ the monopoly price $140 oil was too expensive, there was nobody to resell it to. The contract buyers lost a lot of money, the same way the Hunt brothers lost money trying to corner the silver market.

In the silver corner, the size of the Hunt's long position created an equally large short position held by banks and other market pros. Never underestimate these dudes. The Hunts discovered they didn't have enough leverage/cash to actually corner the silver market, just enough to get themselves into trouble. They couldn't buy enough silver to actually corner the market ... yet, the short postion really was a corner! OUCH! They had bought more contracts than there was physical silver available, hence the large offsetting 'short' positions. Plus, the 'shorts' were borrowing (virtual) silver from central banks to sell to the Hunts! Double ouch! When the Hunts eventually had to make margin, they had few buyers left to sell to! They had discovered 'Steve From Virginia's First Law of Economics'. That is, the cost of managing a surplus rises alongside it to where management costs eventually exceed the surplus's value. Learning that law cost the Hunts billions.

Nobody's talking, but a similar short squeeze probably took place in oil contracts last fall. Who was lending 'oil' last summer to create offsetting short positions in oil when there were more contracts than physical oil and price was skyrocketing? Saudi Arabia? Hmmm ...

Like the Hunts, the oil longs were undone by high real interest rates; the interest cost of servicing the surplus of oil contracts 'cost' more than the oil positions could be sold for. The high real interest rates (low nominal rates but high deflator) made margin costly. At the same time, the high prices killed demand, so there was nobody to sell the ever- high- priced contracts to at a profit.

So ... markets can be manipulated by finance but for transient rewards.

At the same time, oil in the ground can be sold forward at high price with delivery not being the problem it would be for a speculator. Does this let producers attempt corners/short squeezes in crude when the opportunity arises?


Here's a good story about the Hunts' attempt to corner silver.

There have been other corners, the attempts are made and always fail, the last, best attempt (other than that on the oil futures market) was Porsche's attempt to buy Volkswagen last year. This attempt failed and VW just bought out Porsche. The longest lasting corner was Yasuo Hamanaka's 10 year attempt to corner the copper market during the late- 1980's. He also failed and lost billions.

Oil last summer was a monopoly opportunity. There was enough cash floating out of derivatives worldwide to allow a few playaz to simply write (bad???) checks and buy as many oil futures contracts as possible; to buy the entire world's production on the commodities markets for years into the future.

A monopoly is when someone completely corners the market. That is, they control ALL the oil. OPEC controls 42 percent of the oil, or would if they all obeyed their quotas. They do not. About four of the members are still producing flat out. Nevertheless they control enough of the oil to dramatically affect the price. They have that clout, no speculator does.

Okay, oil futures are derivatives! It is a zero sum game. Exactly as much money must flow in as flows out. The futures market, or the derivatives market, does not create money it just redistributes it. To say that there was a lot of money flowing out of derivatives ignores the fact that just as much money was flowing into derivatives. The derivatives market cannot possibly create wealth anywhere without taking it from some other party.

The derivatives market cannot creat enough wealth to buy, as you say, the entire world's production on the commodities markets for years into the future. That assumes some of the players are successful all the time, making enough money to buy up all the futures. That just does not make any sense. You are saying that they are making enough money in the futures market to corner the futures market. I seriously doubt that!

I know all about the Hunt brothers trying to corner the market in silver. I recall it when it happened. Yes, I followed the market way back then. They failed in their efforts. There are no Hunt brothers in the oil market. No one except OPEC has enough clout, or enough money, to affect the price of oil. And OPEC does it by holding the actual oil off the market. No one does it by buying or selling oil futures. People who make the claim that the oil futures market is manipulated by buyers and/or sellers of futures haven't a clue as to how much money it would take to pull it off.

Derivative (finance)
A derivative is a financial instrument that is derived from some other asset, index, event, value or condition (known as the underlying asset). Rather than trade or exchange the underlying asset itself, derivative traders enter into an agreement to exchange cash or assets over time based on the underlying asset. A simple example is a futures contract: an agreement to exchange the underlying asset at a future date.

Options are also derivatives. A derivative is something that derives its value from something else, that is all.

Ron P.

A monopoly is when someone completely corners the market. That is, they control ALL the oil.

Traders wouldn't have to control any oil, just control the futures contracts to gain control over pricing. The synthetic position would (could?) be greater than the amount of physical oil available over a given period of time; this was a part of the discussion last year here as well as in the mainstream media: that there was more futures' open interest representing oil ... than there was oil.

As for the positions of the producers, it would be surprising if they weren't hedged in futures because they have oil in the ground to deliver and hedging amplifies their control over prices. Producers have less to lose by speculating than they would gain by not speculating.

If there is a buyer for oil that costs $10 a barrel to produce and that buyer will spend $140 a barrel, why not sell that buyer a contract to deliver it in the future? Oil would not have to be delivered; the contract could be bought back later at a lower price in the future should prices decline. That would end the contract. Alternatively, the oil could be delivered at the high price. There is no reason why the producers would not actively participate in a highly speculative market where trends are favorable to them.

As for the zero- sum aspect; you are absolutely right! The issue is the source of sellers. Last year's discussion never really clarified this issue: If a trader wants to buy futures contracts, someone must sell those contracts. If there are no organic sellers - that is, someone with the physical oil to sell/hedge - the exchange itself will act as the seller. Downstream of the exchange is an entity that sells oil contracts 'short'. That is, they sell oil they don't own but is borrowed instead. Since the amounts of oil bought on the futures markets last summer was large, + $300 billion invested at the peak, there would have to have been short positions almost as large. The short sellers would have been (liquid) investment houses and market makers such as Goldman- Sachs borrowing from the oil 'central bank' - Saudi Arabia, perhaps? GS certainly had the marketmaking/frontrunning posture to engineer the short position and get the longs - hedge funds and other institutional investment 'long only' funds - overextended.

I used the Hunt Corner as a comparison because the strategy and their outcome wound up being so similar to what happened last summer. The Hunts bought more contracts for silver than were available from mines and silver brokers. The exchange sold short to the Hunts: resold to banks and market- makers who 'borrowed' silver from central banks (who had an interest in crushing the Hunts, but that is another story).

As the buying took place, the demand amplified the rise in price disproportionately: there was a bottleneck at the broker level. As you pointed out, there were many buyers ... but at some point there was only one seller, the exchange. Here, the limited seller supported the offered price; there was no one else to buy contracts from.

The seller in this position can name his price - and certainly did so.

As for the ability of finance to generate large amounts of a money- like substance: markets are vulnerable since they are by design 'open systems' and generally accept all kinds of collateral, they make their own margin, that is they are lending their own derivatives into existance. The market makers which support the markets - Goldman- Sachs again - are midwives to the creation so there is no reason why the exchanges themselves would not accept other derivatives as margin. The world's GDP is given as $60 trillion, the amount of derivatives is greater by orders of magnitude, finance can buy the world many times over.

All finance needs is someone to buy its paper for cash ... The world's real net asset value is about fifty cents ...

Markets act as 'liquidity laundries'; they are the only places where credit can be sold for cash. Pumping the price of an asset in a securities market allows more and more derivatives to be laundered; the success of the laundering rather than the difference in incremental price is the 'profit'. Unlaundered derivatives in conditions similar to last summer's wind up worthless.

The long- oil corner attempt ran down; only the derivative- launderers can tell if it was a failure or not. $147 oil doesn't generate enough returns in our current 'buy to waste' paradigm to justify that price. The shorts crushed the oil speculators; a lesson for them? To keep oil prices down?

As for actually cornering the entire oil market; I don't know if the Hunts thought they could become silver monopolists. They started ambitiously enough and as their scheme proceeded successfully, their ambition expanded. The Hunts were wagering against US monetary policy as a second derivative. The oil spike was also a monetary policy wager. Like the Hunts' gamble, the oil speculators were betting that real interest rates would fall. Deflation was never considered, instead the bet was for declining Fed Funds rates with small background inflation.

Now, oil prices work the other way; the upper bound to oil prices gives strength to the dollar. $80 oil doesn't generate enough returns in our current 'buy to waste' paradigm to justify that price.

Interesting, thanks for making me think.


It is called management of markets by perception

The idea that markets can be 'managed' may be a "nutty conspiracy theory".

Yet didn't Jim Kramer admit to market manipulation? And, isn't he a participant in the media?

How about the media reports of the massive gold discovery a few years ago when gold was at $250 and turned out to be a 'false' perception by the 'market'?

Or the media reports about a new fast modem that broke the nyquest limit?

Did Enron 'conspire' with the media? Or just fib?

is conspiring with half the speculators...tens of thousands of speculators to conspire with the media

You are the one claiming a manipulation needs speculators and media working together.

Sometimes just one guy faking things (modem dude) is all that is needed to generate the speculation.

Othertimes all one needs is Goldmanium sachus, rub it with the royal purple paperwork of government rules and BAM! Speculation works to your advantage. Not a 'conspiracy' as the magic of royal purple cleans away that nasty unlawful part.

Surely you must realize that for every dollar made in the futures market, another dollar is also lost. It is a zero sum game.

How does one 'loose' what does not exist?

It is called management of markets by perception

The idea that markets can be 'managed' may be a "nutty conspiracy theory"

It probably doesn't require that much of a conspiracy network. Just position yourself to gain from what the spin based market spike, then send off the stories to the gullible news media. They will publicize it for you, without even having a clue as to how they are being used. So you get lots of other people to help "spread" your rumour, who are not directly involved -or even know about the conspiracy. All you need are a couple of well connected people, who can generate the news or affect the timing of its release.

Of course it is not "controlling" the market. It won't work every time. But if trading, you can't expect to win 100 percent of the time, you just gotta be able to beat the average prediction accuracy (which is maybe 50%).

Of course it is not "controlling" the market. It won't work every time.

Mr. Twain pointed out the new element.


The firm lost money on just 3 days in the last two quarters.


Health officials say corporate partners are always part of the distribution of any vaccine.

But hey, lets all head the words of Darwinian and remember - no conspiracies.

Oh! I don't know Ron. When a certain bank was scaring everyone to death with their $200/barrel oil forecasts, they were selling insurance (derivatives) against rising oil prices like hotcakes (really upset the Chinese Government). The media was obviously complicit, knowingly or unknowingly, in the bank's nouvelle moneymaking scheme.

It didn't take thousands of people to be in on what was happening or one lot of speculators conspiring to defraud the other lot. It's just a case of one speculator screwing all the others and using information channels, hungry for sensational news, to their advantage.

People doing their normal daily jobs are usually completely unaware if they're involved in something or not.

I agree, but I am also trying to figure out exactly who is feeding them these stories.

As I watched the World Series yesterday I monitored how fast the Wikipedia page for Yankee's player Hideki Matsui was being updated. At the peak, it looked like it was updated at one edit per minute; I didn't really count but there were like 100 in the span of an hour. Some of the edits were deleted with a comment that the game was not over yet. This is what passes for our information age -- information that is so fluid as to be virtually meaningless. What is knowledge if it only lasts for the amount of time it takes to spread and then is immediately supplanted with some other knowledge?

We are losing the battle against the fluidity of knowledge. It's not how right or wrong you are, apparently it is how fast you can get it out there.

And here comes recent shooting in Texas to provide a perfect example.

Can't they just say they don't know?

What if, as a result of efforts to fight climate change and boost energy efficiency, global oil demand peaked in the foreseeable future? You could argue that such an achievement would be one of the most historic accomplishments of human civilization to date, proof, indeed, that we are civilized.

I was wondering when the "it's not a shortage of supply, it's not unaffordable demand, instead it's SUCCESS!" news would start. Looks like spin-meisters are prepping already.

Obama gets some kudos for actually doing a few things right versus the last 30 years of no reasonable policy at all, but to say a couple of billion dollars in efficiency spending is a good start while running $1T in deficits doesn't ring true. It's a start perhaps, but not a very good one.

If 100M houses need about $10K in new windows, insulation, and appliances, and could use another $10K in PV or thermal panels, that's $2T in spending. Imagine if we'd spent the bank bailouts and guarantees on efficiency instead.

RE: The crude truth about oil reserves By LEONARDO MAUGERI

So Mr Maugeri, how quickly can we produce all this phantom oil? How many bbls per day? And at what cost?

The nut-jobs are really going for it today! I would not be surprised in the slightest if there is a PR company, funded by all the oil majors tasked specifically with co-ordinating a propaganda campaign letting the world know that there is 'plenty of oil' still left. Don't worry! Enjoy yourself! Nothing to worry about! Keep the peace. Heck, it might even be funded by governments.

Nothing we haven't heard before:


"Rather than a 'peak,' we should expect an 'undulating plateau' perhaps three or four decades from now."

Mr. Robert Esser
December 7, 2005


"Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no signs of a peak... Oil is a finite resource, but because it is so incredibly large, a peak will not occur this year, next year, or for decades to come"

ExxonMobil Advertisement in New York Times
June 2, 2006


"We in Opec do not subscribe to the peak-oil theory."

Acting Secretary General of Opec, Mohammed Barkindo
July 11, 2006

Don't these guys worry about the waste product (CO2) at all?

Maybe somebody should start a campaign to reduce CO pollution... now we all know that CO kills. (yes a bit of stupid sarcasm, but perhaps stupidity is the answer to a stupid mindset.)

Third, only one third of our planet has been sufficiently explored for discovery of new oil deposits. Once again, this is because it was not economical or technically feasible to undertake big and sophisticated exploration campaigns when oil was abundant and cheap, as it was for most of the past century.

And where are those two thirds of the planet that have not been sufficiently explored? The deep oceans?

What's more, oil exploration has been mainly a North American phenomenon, with the U.S. and Canada accounting for around 90% of all oil-exploration wells ever drilled on the planet.

Oh, that answers my question. We have only looked for oil in the U.S. and Canada. Hell, why don't they look in some other places, like the Middle East. Hell there may be huge giant fields there just waiting to be discovered.

Bottom line, we haven't found all the oil because we haven't looked. Damn, why didn't someone informe me of this years ago?

Ron P.

Yes...very sad HA. It seems that no one challenges such assertions with very simple questions. First, let's just assume half the oil/NG we're producing today is of abiotic origin. So what? We've discovered what we've discoverd. The source doesn't change that number. Second, oh goodie...we might still be generating oil/NG abiotically today. So? We are generating oil/NG bioticly today. And if we are generating abiotic hydrocarbons today just how slowly might that be happening. Hint: a damn slow process by their own models...i.e. millions of years. And where is this potential untapped source of hydrocarbons? Maybe 10 or 20 miles below the surface. A depth that couldn't be drilled even after a couple of hundreds years of tech advances. The abiotic oil origin always has been, and always will be, an academic debate with no practical value. Not just my opinion but also that of the abioticm scholars out there should anyone bother to ask them.

MAUGERI's basis is this statement:

only one third of our planet has been sufficiently explored for discovery of new oil deposits.

How true is that statement?

As Ron says above, the two-thirds that haven't been pinged by a seismograph that Magueri refers to are going to be in the middle of a deep ocean. Well, good luck with that Mr Magueri.

I don't want to misquote anyone but I seem to remember someone contributing to TOD who had worked on a relatively long term exploration project in the Arctic and they had said they came away with little to show for it.

I think their response was as a comment to yet another report trying to convince us of just how little of the planet we've explored for oil...

Maybe whoever related the Arctic exploration story can re-tell the details - I just wish I could remember who it was that originally posted it.

Turnbull -- Might be true. But then you have to be careful how you interpret that statement. I haven't check the attic in my new home yet. That doesn't mean there much of a chance in my finding an elephant up there. But the fact remains: 100% of my attic has not been explored for elephants. Who knows?

Back in the oil boom of the late 70's a committee was formed to prevent drilling for oil/NG in Long Island Sound. I actually donated a dollar so I could get a certificate noting my contribution. Probably one of the most succesfull environmental movements in the US. Not only did no oil company drill a well there but none even asked for permission. OTOH, the sound is underlaid with igneous rocks and had zero chance of finding oil/NG there. There is often a good reason why no one drills wells in certain areas.

Maybe he is referring to methane hydrates on the ocean floors? I dunno where he wants to look.

As always, EROIE will rise up and bite him in the arse if he tries to go to the deep oceans. Just like the 'other 75%' of known oil that he plans to get out using high energy techniques that only are worthwhile if what you want the oil for is plastics and pharmaceuticals and not for their energy potential.

Yes... we will have that available. If, and only if, we have some energy source to waste getting it in a negative EROIE situation. Planning for that will be interesting. How much energy is available to mine sufficient fossil fuel to produce plastics for solar panels? At what point does that become net negative as well?

Second problem with that plan is the polution it produces. Pumping CO2 into the wells, and N2? Who out there can tell me what happens to the gasses injected as the oil is removed? Does it stay in the ground? Does it combine with other elements to form new chemicals? Does it poisen the ground or the air? Of course, we all know how nice it is to live near an oil well, what with the pure water it produces.

My real problem with WSJ and Fox and all is that they are negating any political will that might be coming along the pike to do something. Unless they know that it is already too late, and all they are doing is trying to make their last few years a bit more fun [for them, at least].

Gotta run. I'll check back late this evening to see if anyone answered my question about the gasses. Thanks all.

He finishes the article with "Yet, if my estimates are correct, we will have plenty of oil for the 21st century"

He is talking estimates. What if you're wrong, Mr. Maugeri?????

His SciAm piece already had a dedicated thread here: Comments on Scientific American's "Squeezing more oil from the ground"

No one outside of knuckle dragging talk radio DJs is saying we need to explore in the middle of the ocean, where there's nothing but basalt. There's plenty of area in the world's sedimentary basins that hasn't been touched by the drill bit; only 51 wildcats on the Atlantic seaboard, for instance. Atlantic OCS Area Activities But this begs the question of whether expending the effort would be worth it in the first place, from any perspective.

Exactly. The "number of wells drilled" statistic tells us precisely nothing about the effort expended in exploration. Why drill unless the geology and seismology say there might be something there?

But the statistic sounds plausible to the inattentive lay-person for five seconds, and that's all that's needed to shape opinion.

My personal opinion is that the tax break extention for homebuyers is just going to make the (next deflation of the) housing bubble a lot worse than what it would otherwise would be.

I thought about it all day yesterday and a good part of last night (when I should have been sleeping). I see nothing good coming of it in the long run.

Denninger has written about this a lot. He thinks the housing credit (and the cash for clunkers credit) is only going to make things worse. People who got them are going to end up losing their homes or cars.

I agree, plus you'll get these flippers that will jump in and basically wreck many houses with "upgrades", the lulling of municipalities into a sense of a larger tax base, tying up consumer spending (since the money will have to go towards a mortgage), etc.. Not just losing cars and homes, but there's a good possibility that it'll stress out good-will within many local communities as some get what others aren't (or weren't) allowed.

Diseased blood, I say.

The Obama administration's $3 billion "cash for clunkers" program should be renamed "cash for gas-guzzling pickup trucks," according to an Associated Press analysis of the data.


And what a surprise that is, huh? As always, C for C was sold as something it was not, but then that is what marketing and advertising are for - to deceive you into believing things that are not true in order to get your money (or take on debt). I'm certainly glad to have contributed so that some schmuck could have new truck, propping up an industry that will fail anyway. My only satisfaction is that those who traded in for new big trucks foolishly took on large debts in spite of the C for C money, and that may well sink them when the next step down hits.


I watched this program last night and it blew me away. It is the story of Alan Greenspan and how he almost wrecked the economy with a lot of help from Congress and Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin. And also it is the story of one woman, Brooksley Born, who tried to warn Greenspan and Congress and was soundly told to shut up.

We are told of this exchange by Greenspan and Born, over lunch.

Greenspan: Brooksley, I don’t' think we are going to agree on fraud.
Born: What do you mean?
Greenspan: I take it that you are against it.

It was not that Greenspan was for fraud, it was just that he thought it was no problem, that the market would handle any fraud, and absolutely no rules should be enforced to try to prevent fraud.

Also this program points out that Greenspan was a disciple of Ayn Rand. He worshipped her almost as if she were a God.

If you have a high speed internet connection it would be well worth your time to watch this program.

Ron P.

Let's not forget Larry Summers and his successful lobbying for the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

At the time, Mr. WimminRstoopid said:

Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century. This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.

Yes, Larry Summers was featured in the Frontline program also. Greenspan, Rubin and Summers were the Three Musketeers of deregulation. All three thought there was no reason to regulate the depravities market. The program pointed out that few in Congress had any idea of what a derivative was. They simply thought that these three guys were geniuses and knew what was best for America. When they said "Silence Born" Congress did just that.

Ron P.

the depravities market

Kinda says it all, I think!

Seriously though, you make a big assumption that these people cared at all what was best for America. I think they only cared what was best for them, and still do. And so they conspired to silence her.

Of course they cared about themselves but that concern was with their legacy, with their reputation as being the best at their jobs. They wanted to do a good job and protect America. They felt that keeping the market free and encumbered with regulation was the way to do it. The very last thing they wanted was to be disgraced by being proven wrong. But they were proven wrong and lost their reputation in the process. And it will get worse. The more light is shown on their careers the more the world will understand just how wrong they were.

And so they conspired to silence her.

Nonsense! There was no conspiracy involved, they did it out in the open and advertised to the world what they wished to do.

Ron P.

I'm afraid I do not share your trust in their motivations, mainly because I don't see a shred of evidence to support it. I think the pain of disgrace from being proven wrong is easily soothed by great gobs of money - both what the made for themselves and for what they helped their wealthy and powerful friends make. As many have pointed out, somehow these people who have been so consistently wrong seem to derive and awful lot of benefit anyway. They are not "wrong", they are successful - it's just that you don't realize what their goals are.

Twilight, I cannot express in words just how wrong you are. People, like us, who grew up poor or at best middle class, think that money is the prime motivator for everything. On the other hand people who have always had all the money they need for anything put power and prestiege way above money. Do you think Cheney became Vice President because of the money. How much was he making at Halliburton? Or perhaps you believe he thought he could make more by being a crooked Vice President?

A person who thinks money is the prime motivator for everyone, even those rich from birth, would think that way so I suppose you do.

Ron P.

Yes, of course it is all about power, and in our society money is the main tool for exercising power. But you've neatly sidestepped the point - you claimed they acted out of altruism, and I claimed they acted out of selfish motivations. Now you're disputing which selfish thing motivated them (power or money).

you claimed they acted out of altruism,

Bullcrap! I never made any such claim. I said exactly the opposite!

Of course they cared about themselves but that concern was with their legacy, with their reputation as being the best at their jobs.

Their concern was almost entirely with themselves. That is what I said and that is what I meant. Don't say what I said, quote me exactly. That is, quote with blockquotes, don't say what I said when I never said anything even remotely resembling such. I am shocked that you would resort to telling a bald faced lie just to cover up your mistake.

Ron P.

They wanted to do a good job and protect America. They felt that keeping the market free and encumbered with regulation was the way to do it.

They did want to do a good job and protect America, and they would be regarded as heroes for doing such. They did not give a damn about outer people they was only concerned with their own reputation. Fraud heaped upon others did not bother Greenspan one whit, he only wished to prove his philosophy, and that of Ayn Rand correct. By quoting only part of my post you committed the unforgivable sin, you quoted out of context. It is a lie in sentiment to quote anyone out of context. Here is the part that put everything into context.

Of course they cared about themselves but that concern was with their legacy, with their reputation as being the best at their jobs.

Altruism never entered their minds and I never even gave the slightest hint that it did.

Ron P.

Oh heavens, you've been so wronged. Get off your high horse - your original paragraph is all of 100 words long and is still siting there for anyone to read, and you've quoted one part of it out of context yourself 2 times.

To paraphrase, you said they wanted to do a good job for America, and followed that by saying this was because they wanted to have a good reputation. You did not say that their reputation was the ONLY thing they cared about. Reputation means they have a social conscience and worry about how the rest of society thinks about them.

I said I do not agree that they cared about this at all, rather that they cared about money (= power).

Apparently any disagreement is to be met with bluff and bluster in an attempt to silence dissenting opinions, which is the same reason you like to play the conspiracy theory card. Sorry, but I don't get intimidated Sir. I still disagree with your original premise.

I'm done.

I'm done.

Dear God I hope so, I never read such a load of bullcrap in my life.

Ron P.

So true. Once the basics are covered the game changes.

Check out this article from 1999:

Brooksley E. Born, the chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said yesterday that she would step down from that post, ending a year of sharp public disagreements with other regulators and Clinton Administration officials over regulation of the financial derivatives markets.

The announcement came just a few months before President Clinton would have decided on whether to reappoint Ms. Born to a second five-year term. Administration officials say there was little expectation that she would have been reappointed because Ms. Born openly broke ranks with some of the Administration's top economic advisers -- including Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin. The issue was her edging toward tighter regulation of the market in over-the-counter derivatives.

After TSHTF, the Times published an article about how she'd been right all along.

“Greenspan told Brooksley that she essentially didn’t know what she was doing and she’d cause a financial crisis,” said Michael Greenberger, who was a senior director at the commission. “Brooksley was this woman who was not playing tennis with these guys and not having lunch with these guys. There was a little bit of the feeling that this woman was not of Wall Street.”

There was a little bit of the feeling that this woman was not of Wall Street.

I think that statement says everything one needs to know about the U.S. financial industry and Fed/Treasury policy.

What is the chief end of man?
A. To get rich.
In what way?
A. Dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must.
Who is God, the one only and true?
A. Money is God. God and greenbacks and stock - father, son, and the ghost of same - three persons in one; these are the true and only God, mighty and supreme; and William Tweed is his prophet.
- Mark Twain, The Revised Catechism

IT was a great program, it was on here 2 weeks ago. It could have probably been a few hours longer...basically went straight from LTCM to 2005 or so.

I knew Greenspan was a member of Rand's inner circle, but to think that fraud shouldn't be regulated? How could people take him seriously? And he really looked like a broken old man testifying in front of congress that he was wrong.

To think there are still people who are sure it was poor people buying their first home because the gov't made the bank loan them money that crashed the economy....

For a broken old man, he stills draws a king size paycheque (from memory I think he is grifting for PIMCO now)-guys like Greenspan aren't totally human so IMO it is always a mistake to apply human feelings to them.

He must be human - he plays the saxophone as I recall. Maybe that's why Clinton kept him.

Ayn Rand passed away after I graduated college, so I didn't hear of her until a few years ago, but from what little I've read, my impression is that she favored anarchistic themes. Would that be fair to say?

It would be more accurate to say that she thought that government should have little or no role in business matters. I believe that she famously referred to Libertarians as a bunch of "Right Wing Hippies." Some Youtube links to Ayn Rand:


Or you could just read "Atlas Shrugged." An appropriate excerpt from "Atlas Shrugged" follows (although I think that she could accurately be described as an energy cornucopian):

"Account Overdrawn," from "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand:

Winter had come early, in the last days of November. People said that it was the hardest winter on record and that no one could be blamed for the unusual severity of the snowstorm. They did not care to remember that there had been a time when snowstorms did not sweep, unresisted, down unlighted roads, and upon the roofs of unheated houses, did not stop the movement of trains, did not leave behind a wake of corpses counted in the hundreds.

No, Rand was not in favor of anarchism in its most broad sense. She was in favor of a totally free market, or libertarian capitalism. Anarchism is also known as libertarian socialism. She very much enjoyed authoritarianism of the owners of property.

In my opinion, anarchism is used to mean many things by many people, many of which are in conflict. It seems that many people confuse anarchy with chaos, but I think there is a significant difference between the two terms. I find it useful to look at one etymology of the term, though I have heard of other etymological interpretations. I think it is more accurate to say that "some people say 'anarchism' when they mean what some others refer to as 'liberal socialism.'" I prefer a definition of anarchy that focuses on the etymology--defining the term as a degree of absence of hierarchal relationships. However, as an advocate of the advantages of a greater degree of anarchy in some situations, I won't presume to tell others how they should use the term.


It seems that many people confuse anarchy with chaos, but I think there is a significant difference between the two terms.

From Dictionary.com

an⋅ar⋅chy  –noun
1. a state of society without government or law.
2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.
3. a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.
4. confusion; chaos; disorder: Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.

Poeple do not confuse anarchy with chaos, that is one of the correct uses of the term. In fact it is by far the most frequent use of the term. The classical use of the term referrs to a state of government without rulers where everyone would live in perfect, or near perfect harmony is a silly theory. Whenever it has been tried chaos always broke out. The theory is usually known as Bakunin's Anarchism, after Mikhail Bakunin

Steven Pinker was once a believer in Bakunin's anarchism:

"When law enforcement vanishes, all manner of violence breaks out: looting, settling old scores, ethnic cleansing, and petty warfare among gangs, warlords, and mafias. This was obvious in the remnants of Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and parts of Africa in the 1990s, but can also happen in countries with long tradition of civility. As young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin's anarchism. I laughed off my parents' argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 A.M. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike. By 11:20 A.M. the first bank was robbed. By noon most downtown stores had closed because of looting. Within a few more hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a limousine service that had competed with them for airport customers, a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home. By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundred shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of storefront glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the Mounties to restore order. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters (and offered a foretaste of life as a scientist)."
Steven Pinker, "The Blank Slate" page 331.

Ron P.

What if the Mounties hadn't shown up the next day?

It wasn't so much the Mounties, it was the Canadian Army that showed up, set up machine gun nests and flamethrowers, and the crime situation got real quiet real fast. Those flamethrowers do have a definite inhibiting effect on criminal activity.

The Canadian Army specializes in peacekeeping missions, so preventing civil violence is not outside their comfort zone. After Palestine and Cyprus, Montreal probably didn't seem that bad.

One reason there is less civil unrest in Canada than the US is that Canadian authorities have powers that US law prohibits. In particular, local and provincial governments can call out the army on their own authority without asking for federal government permission.

I think you need to look at this in a little more depth. Thoreau was an anarchist, as was Tolstoy, and some of our great thinkers today, such as Chomsky.
We have had periods where millions of people have lived for long periods of time under syndicalism and anarchism, Spain, and the Ukraine in the 20th century being prime examples, with the communists overthrowing the Makhno organized Ukraine.
While I admired Pinkler's Blank Slate, a capitalist society with little moral or political literacy is hardly a example to base further action.
I do agree with the dumbing down and pabulum of mass culture, anarchism is a lofty goal that would be hard to achieve under these dire conditions.
Speaking of Bakunin, he makes the case against Marx that has held up to analysis.

I disagree with your characterization of the "classical use" of the term, but I think it's worth pointing to your statement that: "Whenever it ["anarchy"] has been tried chaos always broke out."

In general, dictionaries seem to chronicle the prevailing uses of words, under the theory that English is a living language. I don't know if I feel comfortable, however, with associating prevailing use with rational or "appropriate" use. Just look at how today's media uses "conservative" and "liberal"...

Ron, the true meaning from its Greek origins is "no ruler". The "chaos" bit is probably a revisionist definition brought about by the revulsion of the ruling elite and their habit of blaming Anarchists for all instances of social upheaval.

How do you and Pinker manage to conflate the loss of order with Anarchism? Anarchism doesn't mean no rules, no law and no method of enforcing it. As in your example, if you remove the police, loss of order ensues and lawlessness prevails even with the State (ruler) intact. Do we infer from your example that democracy or having a ruler means chaos? No, it means a system for maintaining law and order wasn't present.

Anarchism would obviously require a degree of self organisation to maintain beneficial social norms, albeit without a State hierarchy.


Who would police the street, check the food vendors for sanitation, or validate that a person is qualified to operate on a human brain?

Exactly! It would be the ultimate of deregulation. No one to watch anyone or regulate anything. Yet this is presented as some kind of utopia. In my opinion it would some kind of hell, a grifter's paradise, a cheaters haven and a place where all manner of deviates, such as child molesters, could act out their preverted desires with total immunity.

Ron P.

Ron, you're already living in a kleptocracy, a grifter's paradise and a cheaters haven, in fact they're so favoured they actually believe they're doing God's work. Just look at the massive transfer of wealth away from the people and to the kleptocrats with the blessing of the State. All manner of deviates, such as child molesters, do act out their perverted desires with near impunity as the State protects them from the communities they harm (as did the Catholic church).

What about the hell that rulers and Nation States have reined down upon people with wars, pogroms and genocides? And how did a world where corporations and profit become more important than people come about?

Seems to me there is a great deal of myopia, conditioned reflex and failure of imagination in those that cannot envisage different forms of social organisation. But it matters not, change is coming regardless.

Well said.

Not well said at all. We have regulations that keep restraunts clean, we have regulations that make sure doctors are doctors and not witch doctors. We have laws that prevent people from invading your homes, raping your wife and daughters, we have.... Hell I could go on and on but you guys seen to be totally blind to what you really enjoy in a country with laws. You guys cannot think straight and you are living in a dream world.

Want an anarchy? Go to Somalia.

Ron P.

Personally I'm not advocating anarchy, nor am I anxious to discard all of our social institutions for chaos. But when I look around I don't see the world that you do. I use doctors that you would consider witch doctors - because they are more effective than the pharmaceutical salesmen that pass as conventional doctors. We are a country of laws, but they do not apply to everyone, not even close. Those with enough wealth and power are free to break just about any law they please with impunity. Does that mean I want us to abandon all laws? Hardly, but it is what will happen anyway - the gross inequalities are what drives the violence and "lawlessness" that happen when police restraints are withdrawn. I could go on but you seem to be totally blind to the differences between how our society actually works vs. your idealized fantasy, and the rapid pace at which it is changing (even during the last decade or so).

We discuss here every day the kinds of forces that are building in this society, their causes and how they will effect society, but apparently you think this is something that will happen all of a sudden one day in the future. In reality it is all around you now, but you still believe the fantasy of some idealized time in the past that never really existed anyway. I admire your knowledge and many of your contributions, but I have to shake my head at how credulous you can be.

One just organizes things horizontally, rather than vertically.
In Barcelona, or the Ukraine, trash got collected, surgeons operated, and citizen patrols kept the sociopaths from trading derivatives.
This just assures that the scum will not rise to the top, as all vertical organized political arrangements eventually evolve into, as intention slacks, and a bland bureaucracy takes hold, be it the right or left.

citizen patrols kept the sociopaths from trading derivatives.
This just assures that the scum will not rise to the top, as all vertical organized political arrangements eventually evolve into

Here you are simply replacing large scale from the top, with a bunch of local enforcers. And, the chances are some of those enforcers won't incorporate all of the social norms. Most commonly the most ruthless elements will be able to cow the others into getting their own way. So you end up replacing an unpopular government, with government formed by the most ruthless of the thugs. This result is the opposite of the original intent.

Anarchism is a belief in order, without external hierarchal control (usually from a state).
You have many flavors of Anarchism, from syndicalism, individualism, communalism, etc.
Some of the great political and philosophical writing has dealt with anarchism.
OIf course, the state and the media elite's have condition the masses to associate it with chaos and violence.

Somalia doesn't help the case much either.

Best T-shirt I ever saw on TV -- "Anarchists Unite!" at a WTO demonstration.

A few years ago I lent my living room floor and couch to a mixed delegation of anarchists and communists that traveled together to attend the world social forum.

I quickly learned to tell the difference between the anarchists and the communists.

The anarchists described their political bent with labels like "par-econ style semi-individuo anarchists who believe in proportional decision making". The communists usually liked to show off their membership card, and mention that they were vice-secretary of xyz committee.

When it was time to make a decision the anarchists had a complicated system using pieces of paper to make sure everyone got an equal chance to speak. The communists liked to make big run-on speeches ended by proposal for a snap vote.

Must have been interesting to watch. I wonder how much that reflects those cultures..

WOMAN: We don't have a lord.
DENNIS: I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take
it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
DENNIS: But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified
at a special biweekly meeting.
ARTHUR: Yes, I see.
DENNIS: By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,--
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: --but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more--
ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
WOMAN: Order, eh -- who does he think he is?
ARTHUR: I am your king!
WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.


I would agree with both the previous posters, and indeed most of my knowledge of her 'philosophy' is from Atlas Shrugged...parts of which I had to skip (one speech in particular was probably over 30 pages long and was apparently almost cut from the book by her editor/publisher). My best guess would be she didn't believe in anarchy in the way I (or probably you) do. What I see as leading to anarchy or at least some form of corporate totalitarianism in her eyes apparently led to nirvana. I would recommend reading Atlas Shrugged. The way it's written makes you almost believe in her industrial, self made heroes and her scheming, government teat sucking (or employed) antagonists, and that if we just got rid of all these silly rules and laws everything would be ok.

Of course it also includes a 'magical' form of steel invented by someone with no particular training in chemistry (I think Reardon invents it?) and a perpetual motion machine, so that helps keep you grounded. A 'believer' of peak oil can almost trace the decline of the world in the book in a different way, as it might occur as oil becomes more scarce.

Here's an excellent profile of Brooksley: Born again - and again by Julian Delasantellis

Also this program points out that Greenspan was a disciple of Ayn Rand. He worshipped her almost as if she were a God.

It's been my observation that Rand devotees see themselves as giants towering above the feckless. When you look at your fellow man that way, worrying about the consequences of your recklessness isn't something you do.

When I think of the universal adoration heaped upon Greenspan over the past decade or two, I could retch. I am reminded of a star politician of an earlier era -- Henry Kissinger. Both should have been less adored and more scrutinized (as in "tried in a court of law").

Greenspan was a disciple of Ayn Rand.

Greenspan also used to write about how Gold as money was a keen* plan.

*Greenspan may have not said keen.

Initial unemployment claims may be slowly decreasing, however extended claims have increased by more than 1 million since June 1'st.
Its Hard to dig them out of the archives.


Here are the numbers

17-Oct 3,459,148
10-Oct 3,368,909
3-Oct 3,390,622
26-Sep 3,349,906
19-Sep 3,321,210
12-Sep 3,275,213
5-Sep 3,223,849
29-Aug 3,141,485
22-Aug 3,102,877
15-Aug 3,029,668
8-Aug 2,916,148
1-Aug 2,877,756
25-Jul 2,785,372
18-Jul 2,754,391
11-Jul 2,656,879
4-Jul 2,632,361
27-Jun 2,525,342
20-Jun 2,519,101
13-Jun 2,437,825
6-Jun 2,429,772

Denninger argues that the "improvement" is people dropping off the rolls because they've been unemployed so long.

So unemployment is now 26 weeks by the states, plus 50+ from the Feds, and now they're adding more because too many people are falling off the back? That's almost 2 years of benefits for some.

Where does unemployment end and welfare begin? Decreasingly few people working longer hours to support an increasing number of non-working plus growing debt is not a recipe for long-term success.

As a society, we have to come up with gainful employment for almost everybody else the evident moral hazard will start to erode the viable employment base.

Moral hazard is the least of our worries, IMO. Unemployment is not enough for most people to keep their houses, cars, etc. People are burning through their savings and their retirement accounts. Once those are gone, it becomes more and more difficult to find a job.

Well, thankfully, no one is working harder and longer to pay for it. We're just borrowing the money instead. That's bound to work out well.

Yes. It seems to me that the US is now going to align with Europe in terms of unemployment rate, and in the emergence of a large class of long-term unemployed people.

I see no reason to believe this will not be a permanent transformation.

The real drama is that the US does not have the social support structures and budgets that Europe devotes to keeping people out of direst poverty in these conditions. Nor, I fear, the political will to create them.

I see no reason to believe this will not be a permanent transformation.

Nor do I. This is an undiscussed part of the challenge in front of us.

Many people, perhaps most, aren't really suited to doing anything in the modern world economy. The range of jobs that can be automated or "offshored" -- whichever is cheaper -- continues to grow exponentially.

I'm part-way through Bruce Sterling's 1998 book "Distraction", and I'm impressed with how he picked up on many of the larger trends with us today. Climate change, seas rising and dying, social-demographic changes, the growing disharmony between the US and Europe, green tech, widespread farming of genetically modified animals as well as plants...

I particularly like his ideas on the rise of the permanently unemployed -- "Leisure Unions" and "nomads", who use a steampunk mixture of bricolage and fancy biotechnology to provide for themselves while occupying derelict parts of cities and Federal lands, all communicating fluidly and re-organising endlessly via the "nets" (presumably cellphone and internet), with an economy based on reputation and reciprocal favors (like the New Guinea Highlanders).

Bruce's future seems quite picturesque. I'm sure the real one will be much less fun.

Petroleum imports for the past four weeks' average dropped almost 20% week on week according to yesterday's U.S. Petroleum Balance Sheet, 4 Weeks Ending 10/30/2009

Total Net Imports: 9,238 11,544 -20.0 10,048 11,119 -9.6

The cumulative average U.S. imports over the past 302 days (2009) compared to 302 days (2008) have dropped 9.6%.

(Source: DOE EIA)

George Soros will spend $50 million to create an Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) designed to reject traditional economics. In particular Soros's new institute will reject the efficient market theory that has performed so poorly in predicting our current economic recession.



Crikee! You don't need to spend $50m to know that 'efficient market theory' is a load of old horse dung. Nor do you need to spend this sort of cash to work out that the 'free market' is only a tool to hoodwink the masses and enrich the elite.

You are correct, in my view, that you don't need that money to demonstrate that no one system has a lock on the best way for the world to run. See Greer's latest, excellent piece linked above 'John Michael Greer: Harnessing Hippogriffs.'

However, one does need that money to help steer the larger conversation. Ultimately, we change how we operate on a societal level according to what is being spoken in the network of conversations in which we all operate. If one doesn't alter the conversations being spoken, change will not (cannot) occur.

Or, if one is climate science-aware, one could view his money as a "societal forcing."

Mortgage rates drop

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.98% for the week ending Nov. 5, down from 5.03% last week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates, released on Thursday.

The mortgage averaged 6.20% a year ago.

Rates on other mortgage products also fell, with the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.40%, down from 4.46% last week and 5.88% a year ago, according to the survey.

I wonder this is a good time to borrow money to buy farm land? Borrow to the hilt, and then let future inflation wipe out the debt.

Or just load up on guns 'n' ammo, make friends with some tough-nuts at the local bar and when TSHTF lead your posse to the nearest farm and take by force what you want.


Except if we get deflation instead of inflation, you'll be screwed, blued, and tattooed.

Any plans to review the SciAm 100 Percent Renewable Powered Planet article, which Tom Whipple has commented on today?

I believe a key post on that is in the works.

Just noticed the story about Saudi aircraft attacking rebels on its border with Yemen. Been ongoing for several days apparently. Perhaps much ado about nothing. Haven't seen any reports from the MSM. But way back when the MSM didn't pay much attention initially to those poorly trained/armed rebels causing a ruckus with the Sha(sp?)of Iran. Could this be the begining of one of those Black Swans? Maybe a Grey Swan?

Just curious what y'all think.

I guess the Saudis just said "What's good for the goose is good for the gander". With the US and Israel always nipping into other peoples territory and trashing it whenever they feel like it without recourse, the Saudis probably just thought what the hell, lets do it.

Yemen is already fast heading for failed state status. No doubt the attack will help things along, turning it into the next Somalia. But it's hard to see it escalating into anything immediately serious for Saudi Arabia, unless, those being attacked or the Yemen strike back in some way.

It could of course be a prelude to further action in Yemen with the end goal being to secure the Bab al Mandeb straits at the southern end of Red Sea. But that would mean US involvement. It's probably just another case of formal boundaries and Nation States losing their legitimacy (he says as World War III erupts).

Probably all true Burgundy. But then I remember how the Russians thought those pesky Afg. rebels weren't going to be much of a problem. Amazing what a small group armed with stinger missiles and the willingness to die for the cause can accomplish.

From the perspective of a Yemeni an arbitrary line seperates the direst poverty from nearly unmeasureable wealth. If the USA can march into Iraq, set up shop guarded by mirrored sunglass wearing goons with guns, pontificate about market forces dictating the flows of oil and wealth, it cannot be far from the minds of that area's poor to make their own "market" decisions.

This is not really anything unusual. It's been going on for years. I've posted similar links before.

Sure, it could draw the Saudis into an extended war...but it hasn't so far. And yes, they've launched air attacks before.

I am not sure that we have one in the works. I asked, but only got "I'll think about it" as answers.

In the meantime, there is this: Critique of ‘A path to sustainable energy by 2030′ (by Barry Brook at BraveNewClimate)

Very interesting article + comments on TOD today: What "lower consumption" means.

Anybody know anything about AMP=D? TV show and custom-EV creation? EV meets hot rod -- a 33 Ford EV.


James Sherr speech at conference 'Energetika XXI: Economy, Policy, Ecology'

George Clemenceau famously remarked that war is too serious a matter to be left to generals. At a conference sponsored by Gazprom, I will not be so tactless as to say that energy policy is too serious a matter to be left to energy companies. But it is too serious to be left to any one profession or domain of expertise.

Unrelatedly: We heard on Australian TV last night politicians and bureaucrats pontificating on how much unused capacity there is in the economy. Presumably this is happening all around the world. The question that we should all ask our politicians, bureaucrats and economic commentators, to get their brains in gear, is this: "If all the world economies expand to fill up their supposed unused capacity, then how much oil will the world have to pump to drive that? What if it turns out that the world can't pump that much oil?".

If the person is reasonably clued up they might answer thusly:

  • The price of oil will go up.
  • This will induce a spike but an increasing number of investors, perceiving the roller-coaster, will start investing in oil storage to buy when low and sell when high, smoothing out the bumps.
  • The higher and more stable oil price will induce an expansion in expensive recovery, expensive development and lower probability exploration.
  • The higher price will induce changed behaviour: more efficiency, different activities. In particular it will induce everything that can to shift to electrification and natural gas.

At this point it will be a good time to question how long all that will take, what will be the short term and medium term consequences, and what role government should play. One might also point out the high probability of another economic crash leading to low oil prices, no investment, etc.

Evergreen Solar to Move Jobs to China

This has been all of the local Massachusetts news today - after newly minted Gov. Patrick helped arrange significant tax incentives for their new facility in (former) Ft. Devens, Evergreen has suffered several bad quarters and has decided to offshore manufacturing.

BOSTON — A solar panel company that received $58 million in state aid to build its factory in Massachusetts is now moving jobs overseas.

Evergreen Solar is shifting some of its production, currently done at a plant in Devens, to China next year, after posting an $82 million loss in the third quarter.

Gov. Deval Patrick calls the move unfortunate, but says some of Evergreen’s operations will remain here.

So much for the $58M of our tax dollars going to help the company, intended to encourage them to stay local and create more local jobs. But apparently, investors think it's a good move - ESLR stock was up over 9 percent today.

Sad face!

Kunstler- While what he suggests is obviously the way we need to go, I have a hard time seeing this happen, and can't quite jell my thoughts as to why. But here goes....
Railroads are easily centrally controlled. Automobiles are individually owned. Given our current economic/banking/political crisis I find very little reason to trust a public run/public employee union set up, or a large corporation, to run this kind of monopoly. I see it as ripe for abuse, the same abuse we have with the banking/government problem right now.
How are we going to direct these pig headed bureaucrats? They have no vision, no balls, no accountability, and we need all of that and more - fast.
It has taken me a long time to wrap my brain around the concept proposed on TAE that we have a political crisis, as the foundation that our other crisis's are resting on. Without a clear and logical vision/thinking from our leaders(talk about delusional) and the ability to implement it(more delusion) we are heading blindly into some sort of breakdown, or multiple (systems) breakdowns.

Definitely-there is every reason the whole thing would be an excuse for massive corruption, a Fannie or Freddie on rails. OTOH there is nothing to worry about because IMO the time to build it out has already passed-if Washington couldn't come up with 1 cent for every dollar given to Wall Street last time, they won't next time either. Also, the public is still unaware of the situation, so politically it is very easy to let this one slide forever.