Drumbeat: December 18, 2009

OPEC Nations Brace for 2010 Price Shift

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to keep production steady when it meets Tuesday, but members are bracing for a potentially challenging year that could see oil prices weaken at a time when some OPEC nations are in need of price increases.

Oil prices have risen nearly 60% this year, thanks in part to OPEC production cuts. But the cartel faces problems heading into 2010. Some members, such as Iraq and Venezuela, are increasing output even as OPEC tries to purge a huge buildup of oil. And waning stimulus efforts could pinch consumer demand for oil in industrialized nations.

The equation may add up to downward pressure on prices. "The problem (for OPEC) could be the second half of 2010" as those issues take hold, said Deutsche Bank chief economist Adam Sieminski.

Iraq and Iran Trade Accusations Over Oil Field

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government said Friday that Iranian troops had crossed the border and occupied a portion of an oil field situated on disputed land between the two countries, but Iranian officials immediately and vehemently disputed the account.

Iraq official confirms Iran incursion in oil area

BAGHDAD: Iranian soldiers have crossed into Iraqi territory and taken up position at a southern oilfield whose ownership is disputed by Iran, an Iraqi official said on Friday.

Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji, reversing statements made earlier in the day, said the incursion on Friday was the latest in a series this week.

Iraq demands withdrawal of Iranian troops

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government demanded the immediate withdrawal on Friday of Iranian troops who have taken control of a disputed oilfield in southern Iraq.

Russia launches icebreaker to boost Arctic oilfield

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin launched an oil tanker on Friday capable of slicing through over a metre of ice, bringing Russia a step toward its decade-long ambition to launch its first offshore oilfield in the Arctic.

State-run Gazprom has delayed the launch of its Prirazlomnoye oilfield for nearly 10 years as it persists with domestic firms to equip the project, helping Russia develop the technical know-how to conquer other Arctic mineral riches.

How Iraq Is Punishing Big Oil

In recent auctions, US oil companies and other international majors were all but shut out. This continues a shocking shift in global oil power—and investors should pay attention.

All that blood and no oil?

Even if you don't believe the Iraq war was all about oil, the country's recent auctions for the right to explore and develop its huge oil reserves was shocking: US companies were just about shut out.

Can Obama Stop America's Gas-Guzzling Ways?

Never before has a US government been as serious in its warnings against the dangers of climate change as the Obama administration. But Americans are divided: Half of them regard climate protection policies as socialist, and half want to save the world. Can Obama make America go green?

Final leg of SCE renewable energy project gets OK

Southern California Edison got the green light Thursday to build the final segments of a nearly $2-billion transmission line that will connect customers with renewable energy produced by windmills.

Sask. gov't committed to uranium mining

REGINA — While rejecting a power-generating nuclear reactor, the Saskatchewan Party government remains committed to a strategy of “adding value” to the province’s world-leading production of uranium, Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd said Thursday.

That means a commitment to maintaining the competitiveness of uranium mining and exploration in the province through steps such as a royalty review and a strong push for a medical isotope-producing research reactor that would accompany an Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

How Effective Are Renewables, Really?

Coal and nuclear power still dominate the market, as do oil and gas. But the tectonic shift has begun: Each year, the share of renewables rises. Indeed, electricity from renewable energy sources already supplies 15 percent of Germany's electricity needs. In some German states, wind power supplies more than 35 percent.

Yet, far from all questions surrounding renewables have been answered. When, for example, will renewable energy sources be able to survive without subsidies? Will they continue to grow? Will we be able to develop a way to store energy generated from the wind and sun? It seems clear that, whereas some energy sources will prosper, others are destined for failure.

Surprise! Smart Fortwo among '10 Worst Cars of the Decade'

"If a 1960s Mini can be fun to drive and deliver killer mileage, why can't a Smart? Why is its combined fuel economy only slightly better than that of the much larger — and way more comfortable — Honda Fit? And why is the convertible almost $17,000?

"As a science experiment, it's a success. As a real car, it resembles a science experiment".

Bill McKibben: Scandal Under Our Noses

This afternoon at Copenhagen a document was mysteriously leaked from the UN Secretariat. It was first reported by the Guardian, and by the time it was posted online it oddly had my name scrawled all across the top. I don’t know why, because I didn’t leak it.

My suspicion, though, is that my name was there because it confirms something I’ve been writing for weeks: The cuts in emissions that countries are proposing here are nowhere near good enough to meet even their remarkably weak target of limiting temperature rise to two degrees Celsius. In fact, says the UN in this leaked report, the cuts on offer now produce a rise of at least three degrees, and a CO2 concentration of at least 550 ppm, not the 350 scientists say we need, or even the weak 450 that the U.S. supposedly supports.

Climate 'scepticism' and questions about sex

Why are virtually all climate "sceptics" men?

Global warming's biggest jerks

In Copenhagen, rich nations want to force the developing world to cut greenhouse gases. Poor countries want money from the rich to do it. Who pollutes the most?

Shell's promise of a bright future turns out to be yet another false dawn

Shell's new chief executive Peter Voser last week made one statistical claim for his company's progress to date. Its chemical plants were, he said, 8% more energy efficient that in 2001.

Good for them. But most other companies are doing better. The M&E study found Shell next to bottom on energy savings.

Shell failed to make the grade in other areas, too. It may spend millions promoting its expertise in alternative energy technologies, but Shell came in the bottom half here, too, with only half the scores of BP, Chevron and the Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras. Once, BP and Shell were bracketed together as companies taking the lead in expanding into renewables. But the report says that among the top 10 today "only BP seems to have a real business in alternative energies".

Greenland Glaciers: Water Flowing Beneath Ice Plays More Complex Role

ScienceDaily — Scientists who study the melting of Greenland's glaciers are discovering that water flowing beneath the ice plays a much more complex role than they previously imagined.

Researchers previously thought that meltwater simply lubricated ice against the bedrock, speeding the flow of glaciers out to sea.

Now, new studies have revealed that the effect of meltwater on acceleration and ice loss -- through fast-moving outlet glaciers that connect the inland ice sheet to the ocean -- is much more complex. This is because a kind of plumbing system evolves over time at the base of the ice, expanding and shrinking with the volume of meltwater.

Copenhagen 'must consider oil producers' interests'

AFP - Saudi Arabia's oil minister called on Friday for any resolution taken at the climate summit in Copenhagen that could affect oil demand to include measures that "reduce the effects" on oil producers.

"Any measures that might affect oil demand should be accompanied by a counter-measure that minimises their effects on oil producing countries," Ali al-Naimi said in comments published by the Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Hayat.

"Our objective ... is to protect our interests," he added.

Brazil Nears Top Spot in Latin Oil Output

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil is poised to overtake longtime energy powerhouses Mexico and Venezuela as Latin America's biggest oil producer, a result of both political flexibility and natural resources.

Trends suggest Brazil could rise to the top of the heap by 2011, as its ultra-deep offshore fields start producing in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, Mexico and Venezuela have seen crude-oil output drop dramatically in recent years. Traditionally high oil production in those countries made state-owned oil companies complacent, said David Shields, an independent energy analyst in Mexico City.

Naomi Klein: The Courage to Say No

On the ninth day of the Copenhagen climate summit, Africa was sacrificed. The position of the G-77 negotiating bloc, including African states, had been clear: a 2 degree Celsius increase in average global temperatures translates into a 3-3.5 degree increase in Africa.

That means, according to the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, "an additional 55 million people could be at risk from hunger" and "water stress could affect between 350 and 600 million more people." Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts the stakes like this: "We are facing impending disaster on a monstrous scale.... A global goal of about 2 degrees C is to condemn Africa to incineration and no modern development."

Capitalism the 'real culprit behind climate change'

Kovel was involved in green politics in the US for years – at one point he ran for senate as a member of the Green Party of the US – but he believes such parties have failed to make an impact and become stagnant. He says there’s a sense that green parties are a function of the privileged classes -- people who don’t have to worry about a roof over their head, or having access to water and electricity.

“It has too much of a petit bourgeoisie quality … They’re missing the big problem, which is capitalism. Capitalism is what configures the state and forms of thought. Marx and Engels put it very directly; they said in every epoch the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas. Well, what’s the ruling class? Is it the meat-eaters? No. The ruling class is capitalist. Look what happened to South Africa. You swear off the apartheid gangsters and you have the capitalists coming in. You have Trevor Manuel. That’s the ruling class.”

World 'heading for three degree rise'

A leaked document from the UN climate secretariat suggests that the world is heading for a rise of three degrees in average global temperatures, based on the target cuts in greenhouse gas emissions tabled by countries represented here.

“This is the single most important piece of paper in the world today,” said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International. “It shows in stark terms that the climate deal on the table in Copenhagen would put at risk the very viability of our civilisation on earth.”

As Patent Ends, a Seed’s Use Will Survive

Facing antitrust scrutiny over its practices in the biotechnology seed business, Monsanto has said it will not stand in the way of farmers eventually using lower cost alternatives to its genetically modified soybeans.

In letters to seed companies and farm groups this week, Monsanto said that it would allow farmers to continue to grow its hugely popular Roundup Ready 1 soybeans even after the patent protecting the technology expires in 2014.

Iran Forces Occupy Iraqi Oil Well, Border Guard Says

(Bloomberg) -- Iranian forces yesterday entered Iraqi territory at dawn, and occupied well number 4 in the East Maysan field in al-Fakah region, 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Baghdad, Border Guard General Zaser Nazmi said. The Iranian forces positioned tanks around the well.

The border guard’s comments couldn’t be immediately verified independently.

“They positioned tanks around it and dug trenches,” Nazmi said by phone from Basra. “They are still there, they raised the flag.”

East Maysan in southern Iraq is an old oil field that is no longer in production, according to Nazmi. Iraq is the third largest oil producer in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Iraq minister denies Iranian oilfield incursion

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's deputy interior minister denied on Friday reports that Iranian troops had crossed into Iraqi territory and briefly occupied an oilfield.

...Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji said no incursion took place.

"This news in not true. This field is disputed and now it is neglected by both sides. There was no storming of the field, it's empty, it's abandoned, it is exactly on the border between Iraq and Iran," he told Reuters.

Venezuela's Chavez accuses Dutch of aggression

CARACAS (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez on Thursday accused the Netherlands of planning "aggression" against Venezuela by allowing U.S. troops access to Dutch islands off the Caribbean coast of the OPEC nation.

Oil rises to near $74 as traders eye OPEC, demand

Oil prices rose to near $74 a barrel Friday amid expectations OPEC plans to leave production levels unchanged at its meeting next week. A slightly weaker dollar and cold weather on the U.S. East coast also helped support prices.

< By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for January delivery was up $1.22 to $73.87 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Wednesday, the contract fell 1 cent to settle at $72.65.

OPEC to Hold Quota With Prices Near $75, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC, the producer of 40 percent of the world’s oil, will probably maintain its output quotas at next week’s meeting as prices trade close to members’ $75-a- barrel target, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

All 36 analysts surveyed said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will decide for a fourth time this year to maintain its formal limit of 24.845 million barrels a day. The 12-member group meets Dec. 22.

OPEC to leave output targets unchanged - president

LUANDA (Reuters) - The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will keep production targets unchanged at a meeting next week, the group's president Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos told Angolan Radio Ecclesia.

With oil around $75 a barrel, several other OPEC oil ministers have said there was no need for the group to change its output targets at the Dec 22 meeting in Angola.

Petrobras oil output falls slightly in November

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA)(PBR.N) said on Thursday domestic oil output in October fell slightly in November to 2.141 million barrels of oil per day after offshore production in the Campos Basin dropped.

Production in Brazil fell 0.5 percent to 1.991 million bpd last month after output fell in the basin by about 20,000 bpd, according to data distributed by the company by e-mail.

Output outside Brazil fell to 150,900 bpd last month from 153,400 bpd in October. Average output this year stood at 2.11 million bpd during the first 11 months of the year.

PetroChina’s Gas Output at Oldest Oilfield Rose 24% This Year

(Bloomberg) -- PetroChina Co.’s oldest oilfield produced 24 percent more natural gas so far this year than in the same period a year earlier, parent China National Petroleum Corp. said on its Web site today.

Gas production at the Daqing field in the northeastern Heilongjiang province reached more than 600 million cubic meters as at Dec. 14, 116 million cubic meters more than a year earlier, CNPC said. Daqing is the country’s biggest and oldest oilfield.

Russia hikes 2010 gas tariff for industry by 15 pct

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's federal tariffs service (FST) on Friday said it has approved a 15 percent increase of the gas tariff for industrial consumers in 2010.

German Power, Gas Demand Seen -5% On Year In '09-Industry Group

FRANKFURT -(Dow Jones)- German demand for electricity and natural gas likely dropped around 5% on the year in 2009, the country's top energy lobby group BDEW said in a written statement Friday.

The BDEW said that based on preliminary estimates electricity consumption declined to around 519 billion kilowatt-hours in 2009 from around 548 billion kWh a year earlier.

Consumption of natural gas decreased to around 890 billion kWh, down around 5.5% from 942 billion kWh, it added.

California Gasoline Production Drops to Lowest Since January

(Bloomberg) -- California gasoline production dropped last week to its lowest level since January as some refiners in the state curbed production, a local government report yesterday showed.

Refiners in California produced 6.39 million barrels of gasoline in the week ended Dec. 11, down 8.5 percent from the previous week, according to the California Energy Commission.

In January this year, gasoline output in the state fell to the lowest point since October 2004.

Cosmo Oil Weighs Mothballing One Refinery on Weak Japan Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Cosmo Oil Co., a Japanese refiner partly owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, is considering shutting one of its four domestic refineries to tackle oversupply that has sapped profitability.

The Tokyo-based company may close the plant within three to five years, Chairman Keiichiro Okabe said in an interview yesterday, without saying which refinery is being considered. Cosmo’s four plants can process about 635,000 barrels a day.

Japan’s surplus capacity has grown to about 30 percent of the total as fuel demand slumps because consumers have switched to cleaner alternatives and factories have reduced output amid the global recession. Idemitsu Kosan Co. said yesterday it is weighing measures to trim capacity, while Nippon Oil Corp., Japan’s biggest refiner, is merging with Nippon Mining Holdings Inc. to shed a third of capacity by March 2015.

Prosperity lies in the huge oil and gas deposits

WASHINGTON - The United States relies on foreign oil for nearly 65 percent of the oil we use - and the level of imports is rising. Energy independence, it is not.

Americans spend $400,000 every minute for imported oil. The cost of importing more than 8 million barrels of oil a day becomes even greater when we consider the military cost of protecting oil transported by tanker from the Middle East and other volatile regions.

Nonetheless, the demand for oil is projected to grow as the United States emerges from recession. The government projects that even accounting for gains in efficiency and an increase in the use of alternative fuels, the United States will require 2 million barrels more of oil per day in 2030, and 1 trillion cubic feet more natural gas every year.

For an economy that depends on energy reliability and wants greater energy independence, there's only one realistic solution: adopting government policies to boost production of America's oil and natural gas resources.

Keith Schaefer: Oil and Gas in 2010

TER: Do you see it going much above $75 in the first quarter?

KS: There can be lots of spikes. There is a lot of oil in the world available to us right now. It's a question of production bottlenecks. In some cases, there really is peak oil-whether it's Mexico, the U.S., or other places. But for the most part, bottlenecks are production constraints. So in those types of situations, absolutely, you can see some spikes above $80. In the near term, is that going to happen? I would suggest that's not likely.

Hedging gold, peak oil and more

Q: Are you a believer in Peak Oil, Mr. Hui? What are your thoughts and predictions regarding the energy sector going forward?

A: People like Robert Hirsch, who co-authored the Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation and Risk Management in 2005 for the US Department of Energy, and Matt Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert, are compelling in their analysis.

What’s more, standard micro-economic theory holds that higher prices means high supply. Blogger Gregor Macdonald shows that non-OPEC production has been flat to down for the last several years.

Oil prices have been rising, so where’s the new supply? This chart signals to me that we may be supply constrained on oil production in some way.

Woodside Expects ‘Short-Term Impact’ on Pluto LNG From Strike

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-largest oil and gas producer, said a four-day strike by union members working on its $13 billion ($11.7 billion) Pluto venture will have a “short-term impact” on the project.

Natural gas plant fire in Alaska destroys building

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two large explosions and a fire leveled a maintenance building Thursday morning adjacent to a natural gas plant north of Anchorage.

Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials said no one was injured the Fairbanks Natural Gas-operated facility at Point MacKenzie. The cause of the explosions was not immediately known.

Wen: China sets pace in new energy, afforestation

COPENHAGEN (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday China had recorded the world's fastest growth in the adoption of new energy and renewable energy and the largest area of man-made forests.

Energy-thrifty White House turns deeper shade of green

As President Obama meets with world leaders at the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen today, the government he runs at home is quietly engaged in an unprecedented effort to reduce its carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, cut waste and more.

..."This is a big leap forward for the federal government," says Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of Obama's White House Council on Environmental Quality. And the effort will be "sustainable itself beyond this president."

Sutley says the federal government is the country's single largest energy consumer, using 1.6% of all the power used nationwide, so reducing energy consumption will mean big savings.

Make your voice heard on transit

It calls for parking structures costing $200 million at two of the six proposed gateways. Yet providing parking only encourages continued driving. If we had this $200 million to spend, why not spend it on the transit technologies that replace driving?

Does this LRTP effectively address the global challenges of peak oil (much higher travel fuel prices) and climate change (the need to restrict burning of fossil fuels)? Do the data used and the outcomes imagined accurately anticipate the choices people will be making in the face of the emerging global context, about how they travel and where they live? For the year 2035, the plan forecasts 744,300 daily auto person trips in the high-investment scenario that has only 56,300 people riding transit. Will so many of us still be driving if gas is selling for, say, $8 a gallon in 2035?

Many Americans scale back seasonal trips or stay put

More than half of U.S. residents who wanted to travel during the holidays have significantly cut back their plans or canceled trips altogether because of the fragile economy, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.

Americans are suffering from high unemployment, income reductions and financial insecurity that continue to undermine the travel business, even as the economy shows tepid signs of recovery, according to economists and poll respondents.

The transition to a greener future

Coined in 1998 by Colin Campbell, ‘Peak Oil’ asserts that oil is finite, and supply will therefore peak at the highest level possible, before eventually, irreversibly, declining. Arguments oscillate around the timing, with many predicting that we have hit peak already, while others see it in the not too distant future. Famed environmental journalist George Monbiot includes himself in the latter group, as he made clear in a Klimaforum lecture this week. What is undeniable by even the most fervent ‘denier’ is that it will happen. When it does, demand for oil will outstrip supply in a way unprecedented in history, and as basic economics dictates, prices will rise and rise, and then oil will run out.

‘Collapse' may leave you overly paranoid

“Collapse” goes into Ruppert's visions of the future, which are grim. He begins with the “peak oil” notion, which posits that the world's supply of fossil fuels is now in the declining phase of its exploitation, and that no future oil deposits could possibly be large enough to reverse this inevitable decline.

Because oil products make up so much of what we use every day, the results will be catastrophic, Ruppert says. Bottom line: You should probably plan to get a small plot of land and some seeds.

ResilientCity network aims to address environmental challenges

Architects and urban planners need to radically rethink how they design and build cities, says Toronto architect Craig Applegath, a founding member of ResilientCity.org, a non-profit network of planning and design professionals.

The organization’s focus is on developing “creative, practical and implementable” urban planning and building design strategies that address challenges posed by the combination of global warming, peak oil costs and anticipated explosive population growth.

Buying local can take some pressure off the planet

One way that we can all cut down on our carbon dioxide emissions this holiday season is through buying local foods for holiday celebrations. A study done by the Region of Waterloo Public Health Department found that, of 58 commonly imported foods, the average distance they had traveled was 4,497 kilometers. The emissions for these imports are approximately 51,709 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Aside from produce, our commercial meat industry accounts for approximately half of all greenhouse gas emissions in our food system, according to Pat Murphy, author of Plan C: Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change. This is because of the high input of energy necessary to maintain grain-fed, factory-raised livestock. Free range, pastured animals are not only treated more humanely, but have access to low impact sources of foods: insects, grass and grubs.

GE-Mitsubishi Wind-Turbine Fight Threatens Arkansas Jobs Plan

(Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co.’s effort to keep wind turbines made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. out of the U.S. may hinder Arkansas’s plan to become the “Silicon Valley of wind manufacturing.”

China says may exceed 2020 greenhouse goal

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday that China was committed to meeting and "even exceeding" a goal to rein in the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

"We will honour our word with real action," Wen said in a speech to a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. "Whatever outcome this conference may produce, w

Obama Snubbed by Chinese Premier at Copenhagen Climate Meeting

(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s first closed-door meeting with world leaders in Copenhagen to discuss a new climate change treaty had a notable absentee: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

On the last scheduled day of negotiations for a global climate-change accord, tensions between the U.S. and China are on the rise. The world’s two largest greenhouse-gas emitters are at an impasse over finance for developing countries, pollution- reduction goals and verification of emissions cuts.

Obama, other leaders in last-minute climate talks

COPENHAGEN (AP) — The U.N. climate talks were in serious disarray Friday, prompting President Obama to upend his schedule and hold closed-door talks with 19 other world leaders to work out a last-minute agreement on fighting global warming.

Delegates earlier were blaming both the U.S. and China for the lack of a political agreement that Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and more than 110 other world leaders are supposed to sign within hours.


Michael Lynch gives another delusional article

And then we have the Prosperity article linked uptop:

For an economy that depends on energy reliability and wants greater energy independence, there's only one realistic solution: adopting government policies to boost production of America's oil and natural gas resources.

In any case, as we have discussed, I anticipate that the US economy will be increasingly free of foreign oil, and I suspect that the 2006-2008 pattern--when we saw China buying every barrel of oil that the US did not import (relative to its 2005 rate) plus some--will be the pattern that we see in future years.

there's only one realistic solution: adopting government policies to boost production of America's oil and natural gas resources.

I couldn't agree more! I say we adopt those policies. Then if the production of oil and natural gas does not equal or surpass our current rates of consumption, we round up all the proponents of these policies and make bio diesel out of their hides. Fair is fair and it would add a touch of realism to their proposals, me thinks.

I tried to pinpoint the logical fallacies in his argument, and failed. There is a bit of genetic fallacy, begging the question, and false correlation, but it's all so subjective it's impossible to analyze. How can only the gov't boost production? Why only oil and gas (versus coal or nuclear, let alone wind and solar)? Why only production versus conservation?

Why the term "reliability", which is only a small part of the expectation and need, rather than including cost, safety, and pollution?

And then finally the term "realistic", which is so subjective as to be totally meaningless.

It's like listening to the ocean -- vaguely soothing, but no information is conveyed by the white noise.

Hi Paleo,

I'm just a naive person here, but the post you reply to... may be "sarcanol" - a TOD specialty, though, of course, not at all exclusive to TOD - which is so easy to produce we often find it necessary to put a lid on it. Or, at least a label.

The part I really liked was where it said,

Credit goes to American innovation and technology. Despite some "peak oil" theorists who believe energy supplies are fast running out, we have seen steady upward revisions in U.S. recoverable hydrocarbon reserves as energy companies invent new ways to find and pump oil and natural gas.

I propose we slant drill, using our new technology, through the mantel and core of the planet, and tap either into all of that abiotic oil, or drill through to all of those huge 'proven' reserves.

Of course, upward revisions in reserves, created by revisions in the definition of the word, "Proven," creates a lot of oil as well!

Yup. Water World knows how it works. If you want something, define it into existence. Oh, you can also do a 'push poll,' to show that it is true. After all, if more than 55% of Americans believe it, it must be true, don't ya know.

By that logic, there is ample abiotic oil, AGW is a hoax, unemployment levels are dropping fast, and the economy is on for a full, fast recovery. Oh, and Santa Claus will bring you a new Lexus this year.

By that logic, there is ample abiotic oil, AGW is a hoax, unemployment levels are dropping fast, and the economy is on for a full, fast recovery. Oh, and Santa Claus will bring you a new Lexus this year.

It must be the belief that we are in a Matrix like virtual world. Just alter the programming and you can have all those things.

Some of what Lynch has said hasn't been helped by the haplessness of the USGS geologists and others to try to understand how reserve growth comes about. They are the ones that labelled it "enigmatic", not Lynch. To a child, Santa Claus is also an enigma. Yet, with reserve growth, they are not past the Santa Claus phase.

It's his usual vomit of "anecdotal evidence" and that the oilmen on this board "do not know how the oil industry goes about"

Not difficult to shoot at. But I guess he has to keep repeating his propaganda to sink it in.


The recent round of warnings began in the 1990s, when some geologists used so-called Hubbert curves to estimate resources and predict production around the world. This resembles the fallacy many economists fall prey to, namely believing the model over reality. Hubbert curves are not the norm in the real world, nor have they successfully predicted production except in rare cases. In 1980, Hubbert himself used the curve to estimate remaining US gas resources at 270 to 400 trillion cubic feet; US gas production since 1980 has totaled 500 Tcf, and gas reserves have increased.
Most (but not all) peak oil advocates have abandoned this theory, along with the corollary that a peak in production represents the point at which half of the resource has been produced. Since many countries have had multiple peaks, this is obviously false. Instead, these analysts rely on estimates of resources using creaming curves, made up of discovered fields by size, which tend to flatten out as an area is depleted.

We should really settle on exactly what the "theory" exactly is that Lynch refers to. Is it simply the the Logistic sigmoid curve? To me it looks like both sides shoot at each other with at best heuristic evidence.


Since then, however, most analysts have produced estimates of around 3.5 trillion barrels of recoverable petroleum.

If I split the difference between 3.5 trillion and 2.0 trillion and use 2.8 trillion, I get a peak date of around 2008 (see curve below). And this is due to a real theory called dispersive discovery + the shock model.

So when will we establish a good null hypothesis that Lynch and others can try to throw darts at? Until that occurs, both sides are talking in non-scientific terms. IMO (as a concern troll) of course.

Dear WHT,

re: Lynch: "This resembles the fallacy many economists fall prey to, namely believing the model over reality."

"Reality" is simply incoherent incoherency, without ways of organizing it, on multiple levels. (Hence, the human brain, limited as it is.)

re: "We should really settle on exactly what the "theory" exactly is that Lynch refers to."

It is not up to *"us"* to determine what Lynch refers to when he uses the word "theory" - is it?

Lynch uses what appear to be scientific words, but he does not define them.

Used in this way, they are merely tools of some other agenda.

And what about those pessimistic guys at CERA who cannot see oil production rising for more than a decade or two:

And while some analysts, such as CERA and Total, argue that they can’t see production rising for more than another decade or two, this is more an acceptance of the limits of their foreknowledge: we can’t see where new automobile capacity will come from in two decades, but that doesn’t mean production will peak.

Lynch thinks CERA lacks foreknowledge. If they had foreknowledge, like he has, then they could see oil production will keep on rising for a century or more.

Ron P.

I actually do credit myself for having foreknowlegde. Thanks to guys like you.

The thing is, if you/we are wrong that's OK, but if CERA/Lynch is wrong, that's mayhem. Who's irresponsible here? They actually get paid very well for being irresponsible, for their disservice.

I believe that the future is probabilistic. There is no such think as foreknowledge. Although I may be picking nits.

I agree. The term that I have recently learned about, which appeals to the SciFi fans out there, is that this alternately says that we have a potential range of alternate histories (AH) that are ahead of us. We have passed through exactly one of the AH available, and the outcome of the future AH is unknown. I wrote about this very recently here: http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2009/12/monte-carlo-of-dispersive-disco...

Hi Jack,

I'm glad to see comments from you.

re: "...probabilistic."

The chance may be nit-small, however it still exists. In theory.

"To face a winding down of the extraordinary explosion of economic development that followed the rise of science and the discovery of fossil fuels would require extraordinary courage and sense of community on the part of the human race, which we could develop perhaps only under conditions of high perception of extreme challenge."
Kenneth Boulding, 1982.

What really helps Lynch get away with his propositions is how the MSM doesn't qualify his statements. Perhaps intentionally but I suspect it's more a matter of their not understanding or not caring to understand the details. Yes...the charts shows U.S. oil production up. Just about everyone at TOD knows it a result of the Deep Water plays. And most of TOD also knows that the life span of these fields will be very, very short compared to comparable large onshore fields around the globe. And while there are more DW fields in the GOM to discover and produce, these trends will have the own Hubbert curve. For lack of details I can't speculate if we've reach peak DW GOM oil yet or when we might. But there are X number of prospects that will ever be drilled out there. And when those are drilled there will be no more. Unlike the onshore U.S. where smaller operators move in after the big fields are discovered and add greatly to our reserve base, the same will never happen in the DW GOM. The cost structure won't ever allow it. Thus an attempt to project a Hubbert type curve for these DW trends would likely overstate, perhaps to a large degree, the remaining potential to keep U.S. oil production at current high levels IMHO. Just a very WAG but I'll predict the unpredictable and say we'll see peak DW GOM in about 10 years. Based upon my instincts and not facts.

Hi Rockman,

I'm glad to see you articulate these important points (once again).

I only wish there was some way you might write them up for the same audience Lynch does (and get published in the same or similar venues).
(www.energybulletin.net is the first, most accessible place I know about.)

If there is any way I might be of help with this, please let me know.

Thanks Aniya. But I've never said anything not said before by folks with a wider audience then I have. A certainly more clearly articulated. I know this sounds rather cynical but I think many folks out there who sound like they are on the opposite side of the fence as TOD don't really beleive their pitch. Why? Lots of possibilities.

Like I said...rather cynical. But it isn't that complicated. Takes a little time to digest it all but it can be done. Sounds like you're pretty far down the road yourself.

Lynch thinks CERA lacks foreknowledge. If they had foreknowledge, like he has, then they could see oil production will keep on rising for a century or more.

That jumped out at me as well, Lynch leveling a flat-out accusation at CERA for being too pessimistic due to "lack of foresight" has got to be the peak-oil headline of the century. You know the reality of our ongoing global self-extermination must be setting in when even the most hysterically optimistic cornucopians start feeding on each other.


In a few years Hollywood will produce a new version of the Pink Panther, replacing the bumbling French police detective Jacques Clouseau, with Michael C. Lynch. I love Lynch's perspective it provides much needed levity for the more astute oildrum/oilfield types.

Here’s the reality: we are nowhere close to the end of the oil age. A careful examination of the facts shows that most arguments about peak oil are based on anecdotal information, vague references and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum.

Has Michael C. Lynch read any of the excellent, well researched articles here on TOD? Maybe he hasn't. Or maybe he doesn't dare having his critique being subjected to the TOD gauntlet by airing it here.

Apparently he has obliquely referenced TOD according to some people that post here.

He goes by the name "spike" over at the PeakOil.com message board, but I don;t think he has posted there for a couple of years. The only thing I like about the PeakOil.com board is that the discussions can go on for a long time, its just that they are not as high a quality as on TOD.

Finally, there are the recent efforts to predict production by categorizing fields and/or countries into rising, plateau or declining categories. Like other efforts, this ignores all variables (politics, economics, infrastructure, technology) in favor of a time-element, presumed to represent geology. Again, this flies in the face of the historical data, where many countries have seen production decline, only to recover upon tax reduction, the welcoming of new foreign investment, or by the simple expedient of investing more money.

I would like to ask Lynch if he expects the US, UK, Norway, Indonesia, Oman, Mexico, and Iran to see higher peaks in the future. If so, based on what evidence.

And the emphasis on depletion rates, found to be increasing lately, raises a valid concern but is lacking. While new technologies allow fields to be produced more quickly, this is an input rather than an output. Drilling more wells will offset that decline rate, as witness countries like Iran, said to have an 8% depletion rate, yet whose production has not fallen—until its quota was reduced last year. Differential levels of investment explain why some countries’ production is stable or rising rather than falling, and the countries whose production is falling are often those that have a xenophobic or confiscatory investment environment.

Higher depletion rates will lead to higher decline rates and vice versa unless you believe there's an infinite quantity of oil in a reservoir. In that case the depletion rate will be zero of course.

I guess he assumes that the US, UK, and Norway have a xenophobic or confiscatory investment environment.

Don't forget the confiscatory communists in Texas.


Instead, these analysts rely on estimates of resources using creaming curves, made up of discovered fields by size, which tend to flatten out as an area is depleted.

A creaming curve that is made up of discovered fields ordered by size is actually well known by another name. It is called a rank histogram of field sizes. I have a good model for this called dispersive aggregation which allows one to do some interesting projections. If you look at the rank histogram curve below, you can see the flattening out of the curve at high rank. Actually it is a flattening along the vertical axis, so you have to tilt the curve sideways to understand what Lynch is talking about.

All that I can grant to Lynch is that he tends to look at things from a perspective that ties up loose ends. The more he points out inadequacies of the analysis of oil depletion, the better one can understand what is going on. In other words, the more you look at this stuff, the more everything makes sense and all the models unify.

Web -- In your analysis of such "creaming curves" have you been able to use different economic factors to distinguish one trend's CC from another? As I offered briefly above, a significant volume of U.S. oil production has resulted from the small oils developing the smaller targets the majors left behind. Obviously such efforts are controlled by project economics. I could go into an onshore trend and develop a lot of oil reserves that fall way below the 50th percentile. Cumulatively these efforts (multiplied by thousands of small operators) add up. Likewise large independents scavenged the GOM shelf plays as the majors moved out. But obviously not to the same degree as was done onshore due to th3 cost structure. Now add the extreme cost of developing DW plays we'll never see the fat end of that tail IMHO.

Your thoughts, please.

What are we talking about in costs? More or less than USD $1.5B for a single rig/platform - say 10 or so wellheads? Or, is the $1.5B figure I have heard bandied about for multiple rigs/platforms? How fast can a single platform's operations drain the reserves being discussed? Would a second platform be economical?

Some of my kids are involved in S.Tx. workover operations... on the maintenance side. They slowed down a bit early in the year, but seem to be doing quite well now. They don't see any way that they could service DW plays.

zap -- Numbers range widely of course. A single completed DW well can run $100 - 200 million. Platforms/facilities even a greater range: $600 million to a couple of billion. Would have to be a very large field for two platforms: directional drilling allows us to reach way out there these days.

W/O business will probably good for a while. The price drop shocked companies for a while. But W/O economics are generally safe bets so if the company has the capital they'll keep the W/O rigs busy.

I made the assumption that the entire field distribution curve is governed by geology (but of course). According to my model of dispersive aggregation the "knee" of the curve (at high rank or small field size) comes about from the passage of time. If the geological time scale was shorter we would have smaller fields. The idea of aggregation is abetted by time and so it also explains why we can not have an infinite sized field (i.e. the real Black Swan would require much more time to aggregate but it would then draw from the rest of the fields). Yet within the extremes, the sizes go all over the map, pretty well obeying fat-tail statistics, ala Taleb and Mandelbrot.

The general distribution for fields goes as p(Size) = C/(C+Size)^2. This is a simple yet pretty powerful expression because the constant C (what I refer to as the characteristic field size) varies from region to region. For the USA, it is less than 1. For other parts of the world it can vary between 10 and 30. For the rank histogram I plotted above, which is a estimate for the entire world, C is 2 MB. It drops down closer to the USA value because the USA has a sizable fraction of the fields. The value of C isn't quite the average field size but it can be used to estimate where the knee occurs.

Why the USA has such a smaller C than the rest of the world, I haven't been able to pin down quite yet. The USA does have the majority of the fields in existence, so that this would imply that we have been the most persistent at rooting out every potential field. The rest of the world will likely catch up to a certain extent and so their value of C may drop, but the offshore spots may never change. The UK North Sea sits at C=20MB for example. But this may not matter in any event since the accumulated value for all the fields less than the C value is relatively small. I think the oil industry people know this as a collective wisdom, yet they have never formally proven this point. The dispersive discovery model aims to formally quantify this behavior.

The end result is that if you look at the rank histogram I displayed above, the total URR amounts to 2800 billion barrels spread out among 130,000 fields. There are in all likelihood only a handful of super-giants near 100,000 MB of oil. If as some have pointed out that we have only have exploited less than half of the 130,000 fields that I have estimated for a 2800 billion barrel URR, then we have a lot of work left to not get much more bang for the buck. And this number is the same URR that I used to get a peak date of around 2008.

I would love to have Lynch take a look at this analysis, just to see if his head would explode. This is all very basic fat-tail statistics, comprised of plain common sense and the forces of entropy at work.

Thanks Web...very interesting. It seems like your variation between the US and the rest of the world would be explained to a large degree by the entrepreneurial nature of the US industry vs. the rest of the world. No one in the KSA is going to devote much time to wells netting $300/month. But I've dealt with dozens of small US operators who would keep these fields running at such rates. US average production rate is less than 10 bopd. Any guess how low a daily per well rate Saudi Aramco can function at? I can't but I think it's a safe bet it would be a lot higher than 10 bopd.
Granted it varies with the character of the reservoir but there are many large fields (100 million bo+) in Texas where more than 50% of the URR came out at rates of 40 BOPD/well or less. I still offer that the primary reason the US is the third largest oil producer on the planet is due to these small operators. If all the oil fields in this country were owned by ExxonMobil we might not even have half our current rate IMHO. That's why I think many estimates of URR from DW GOM fields might be way too optimistic if they are using models based upon precious US production trends.

US average production rate is less than 10 bopd.

One of my friends in Corpus Christi makes a pretty good living running a few tanker trucks, collecting the production from some of those wells. You see 'dinkers' all over the place while driving all over that area of South Texas. There'll be half dozen jacks on maybe 5 or 6 acres, one or two will be working. Next time those will be sitting still, and one or two of the others pumping away in a sort of lazy effort. There's even a few at the CC airport, near the runways. They couldn't be doing more than 10 bpd, maybe for all 5 or 6 jacks.

My guess on KSA fields would be too tentative since I've never been there or seen them in action. I would suppose each an order of magnitude above 10, though. Part of that would be from the locale, since it is expensive to service and transport from small producing fields, and they are in desert. Those I see in S. TX. are all near highways for transportation, and easy to maintain.

zap -- when production drops so low those wells will likely be on timers and pump only a few hours for day. Then they sit idle while the oil moves slowly back towards the well bore. But think about some blue collar guy operating six wells at 5 bopd each. That's a gross of 900 bo/month. Times 60% net times $70/bbl and he's netting about $40,000/mth or almost $500,000 per year. Not a bad pay day in CC.

An old drinking buddy of mine worked for Nortel in Atlanta. He got a call from some guy in eastern KY who wanted to discuss a small, capped off NatGas well on the old family farm my friend still owned. Dude took a few days off and drove to KY. A few days later he was back at the bar buying rounds. He had just retired. He gave Nortel his notice, cashed in his stock and moved back to KY. Said the least he would be making was $10K a month. A few months later Nortel crashed and burned. There is some justice in the world for a lucky few.

One barrel a day, $70 a day, would be riches for most Americans, I know it'd sure be for me.

There are sort of "oozy oil places" not all that far from here, the town of Aromas is named for the sulfur aromas in places where sulfur and oil bubble up.

This area might end up still having kerosene lamps in the horse-powered and bicycling/walking future.

It is something to think about. I've dealt with small operators and it was always easy to be envious. A lot of sweat equity but you're working for yourself. Knew one very nice couple who had operated their little wells for 23 years. Made around 20 bopd (and a virtual zero decline rate). Not nice oil...sour. So when oil was $18/bbl they would get $7/bbl. So during the worst of times about $30,000/year. But they lived on there little ranch (debt free) and the husband would spend a few hours each morning lubing the little pump jacks. At the height last year they were probably making over $500,000/yr. For the same effort.

And no commute to work or white shirts/ties. Like I said: easy to be envious. Outside of TOD I doubt the vast majority of Americans realize how much of our productuon comes from small operators and how unique that is in the world. Less than half the oil in the US comes from ExxonMobil and all the other big companies.

I've been reading up on stuff, trying to learn a bit of chemistry because it's interesting. And, he could possibly have rigged up a way to sweeten that oil, a lot of trouble to build a dealie-o to put the oil in, heat it with some chemicals then out the other end sweeter, but it would have doubled what he'd get per barrel.

Gonna be more small-operator chemistry and all sorts of things in the future, geez look up on Wikipedia on how sodium hydroxide is made, it's a lot of work, you'll feel guilty next time you pour it down the drain.

Rockman --

Well, not just TOD, outside of your comments I wouldn't have known how much production comes out of the small wells. I really appreciate your contribution. It's interesting to see how the US economic model might be able to pull more oil out of the reservoirs than any one else's.

I lived in Huntington Beach for a year or two way back when and there was a pump jack across the alley in one of my neighbor's yards. I expect he only got royalties or rights, but I used to think about how nice it would be to have someone mail you a check every month for no effort on your part.

Sigh. I went the shirt and tie route. Oh, and the debt route. Like the rest of us schmoes chasing the American Dream.

You bet WP...nothing sweeter then owning royalty. In fact, after I posted the story about that couple I remembered they were also the mineral owners. In fact, I think that's how they ended up owning the wells. The orignal operator wanted to abandon the wells but offered to give it to the couple if they released him from the abandonment requirement. Can't remember why that operator wanted to walk.

BTW: that's what we actually call those royalty payments: "mail box money". Folks don't realize how much money the oil patch puts into public hands besides taxes. A million bbls of oil a day X 20% royalty (a rough average) X $70/bbl = $5 billion/yr. Just a guess but I would say about 2 million bbl/day comes from private mineral leases. So right now it's probably around $8 billion/yr.

BTW -- the royalty on Federal offshore leases is 16.666%. Folks can go to the MMS web site and see exactly how much the feds have made made off their leases.

My guess on KSA fields would be too tentative since I've never been there or seen them in action. I would suppose each an order of magnitude above 10, though. Part of that would be from the locale, since it is expensive to service and transport from small producing fields, and they are in desert.

KSA has no small fields, and average per well is thousands of barrels per day.

Opposite extreme case from the US.

The average oil well in Saudi Arabia produces about 5000 barrels per day, which would be worth over $120 million per year at current prices.

On the other hand, a US oil well producing 10 barrels per day at an average $70 per barrel would generate over $250,000 per year, which would be enough to keep most Americans happy. There are a lot of little oil companies happily operating with only a handful of wells.

It wouldn't be enough to make the Saudi royal family happy, however. There are about 3000 to 4000 royal princes in Saudi Arabia, and they have expensive tastes. There are 30 to 40 new ones born every month. That's what happens when people are allowed to have four wives and don't use birth control.

By the time Saudi Arabia runs out of oil, it may have more people than England or France, living in a desert with no resources other than oil. Now, that's a recipe for disaster.

A Break at the Gas Pump

Published: December 17, 2009

HOUSTON — This holiday season, consumers can expect a gift that should ease their burdens a bit: modestly lower gasoline prices.

Retail gas prices have been slipping gradually for weeks, thanks to the recent fall in oil prices. Some experts think the national average price for a gallon of gas — now $2.59 — could fall another nickel by Christmas.

“It couldn’t be more timely; it’s welcome news,” said Brian Bethune, chief United States financial economist for IHS Global Insight, who predicts that gas prices will drop to $2.50 a gallon by early next year. “The recent drop in gasoline prices has clearly contributed to an overall improvement in consumer confidence and right now that looks like it could build over the month.


The end of the article talks about oil prices and the economy and how experts disagree on coming oil prices.

It is funny - this focus by the media on gas prices almost seems as ridiculous as the stories about what color underwear some starlet is wearing. The stories always follow a predictable pattern.

They start by talking about national averages. Up/down/sideways/whatever.

Then they interview a few random people at the pump. If prices are up, they complain that it is "ridiculous". If prices are down, then people talk about what a relief it is.

There is rarely any analysis beyond this.

For me, I fill up with diesel maybe once every 3-4 weeks. I went 6 weeks once. And this is with a 15 gallon tank. At this "burn rate", the current prices are a negligible part of my budget. I see all of the talk about EV, or PHEV, but even if I used no fuel at all, I wouldn't save that much - not enough to justify a new vehicle.

Likewise, except 22 gallon tank and a bit over 3 months between fill-ups.

Best Hopes for Spending more money on my cobbler than filling my tank in 2010,


Right on Alan.

I will need to get to EMT school from January to June, but after that, I feel, with my income getting closer to 1% of what I used to make than 10%, the motorcycle is becoming unaffordable to keep gas in, keep registered and insured, etc. (registration and insurance are each about $90 a year, tiny for most people, huge for me) so I may just get back into bicycles, put my hard-earned (and little-earned) money into tires and tubes and tools and spares, and go into the future that way. Fortunately I know how to really get around on a bicycle.

This would mean no gasoline bought at all.

I don't know what is compulsory for you Fleam, but in Ontario, Canada you could be paying $900/year for a 50cc dependant on age and driving experience. A good friend was an accomplished racer with several Ontario championships and many wins on the US circuit in several categories and class bikes. He stopped riding recreationally 10 years ago when even the seasonal rate on a 250 cross country became prohibitive -- three months at nearly $800 for a toy with an accident free record for close to 30 years (not on track -- there he has possibly broken every bone in his body at least once). He sold his old 'hot' bikes a few months ago due to divorce ... bikes he hasn't ridden for 20 years due to insurance.

I have a bit more than the compulsory insurance.

Full coverage would be something like $300 a year I'd think.

It sound incredibly expensive to ride a motorcycle at all in Canada. Probably almost no one does.

This is the media at its worst.

Gas Price 12/18/2008 = $1.67
Gas Price 12/18/2009 = $2.589

My simple math puts this at about half a billion dollars a day more on transport fuel over 12/2008. Not that the sheeple would ever notice anyway.

Here is your "jump" in Christmas spending all the bubbleheads will be trumpeting come January.


talking about energy efficiency..

our government here in romania is running a "thermic rehabilitation program", where it coveres about 80% of insulating the blocks. the insulation is putting double glass windows and covering exterior walls with 15mm ...something, can't name it in english. the bad part, all the people from one side of the block must agree with this and share the 20% of the costs, and that most of the flats have government-run hot water and heating, and there are a lot of heat losses.

here are a couple of pics


polystyrene foam

I recall that my college dorm room, which had radiator heat and no A/C, was always too hot in the winter. The radiator had no real "off" control, so you regulated head by covering the vent with towels and opening the window a crack. During warm spells, almost every window was open -- a massive heat loss.

I was really surprised to find my daughter's old-building dorm room was still that way, more than 25 years later. Except hers had vertical vents, so it was harder to block off unwanted heat, and it had NO control at all -- it was ALWAYS on. I guess district heating has its own issues with efficiency, though they would seem to be readily addressable.

When I was in grad school we had radiators - we could turn a knob to regulate the heat, but if you had it set anywhere but full open the radiators would hammer like crazy. And it was loud too - I could grab a big hammer from my toolbox and bang on the thing - it was almost that loud.

And with the valves fully open, it would get too hot, so we would have to open the windows.

A second problem they had was that there was a programmable thermostat in the super's apartment. But the windows in our unit leaked like crazy so we would get a couple of hours without heat and it would get as cold as hell in our apartment. My roommate borrowed a strip-chart-recorder that monitored temperature, and used it to prove to the super that our temperature was all out of whack.

Eventually they came through and installed new windows in the building, and given the documentation that we had about the temperatures in our unit, we were first on the list for new windows.

Part of the problem I guess is just the age of the system. Nobody in their right mind would install old-fashioned radiators in a building any more (esp ones with just one pipe going into the radiator - the steam would rise into the radiator and the water that condenses in the radiator would exit through the same pipe). I

I really don't know how many such systems are still in active use any more however. Hopefully not many, but to replace such a system you almost need to gut the building.

Lots of OLD infrastructure in the US still in use. No money to improve it so the losses continue.

I have no insulation (gets down into the 30s fairly often in the winter, 20s at times) here because 60 or 70 years ago when this trailer was built, it was supposed to be used in the summer, for say 2 weeks a year, to go to Yosemite.

As the economy and my income plummet, I'm beginning to realize that a house and workshop made of shipping containers may be far, far too posh for me to contemplate. I need to consider mud-and-wattle, various "earthship" ideas, etc. I think it'd be a gas to make walls using old bottles, I'd be out competing with the other down-and-out at the Dumpsters and roadsides for old beer bottles but I'd be building with mine!

When I was in university residence, they had one thermostat per wing, and it was in the most senior person's room.

Of course, his room was on one side of the building, so when the wind blew, the other side was at a completely different temperature. The people on the wrong side were either too cold or too hot.

And, of course, in the classic screwup situation, on one extremely cold day, with a very high wind, the people on the other side of the building were way too hot. They opened their windows to cool their rooms down, the cold air froze the heating pipes, the pipes burst, and there were thousands of dollars worth of water damage to the building.

At that point in my university experience that I realized that not all engineers were rocket scientists. Most of them should not be allowed to design rockets. Many of them should not be allowed to design heating systems.

Post-Peak Oil City

BBC video report on Lund Sweden where 45% of commuters bicycle and 15% take mass transport (inferred from report).


Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,



Which American city has the highest percentage of biking and mass-transiting (or conversely, fewest cars)? A US example would help defuse the "but it's different in America" argument. Has any city made the leap?

Possibly Portland?

Top 101 cities with the least cars per house, population 50,000+

1. Manhattan, NY (housing, pop. 1,537,195): 60.3% no vehicle

2. Brooklyn, NY (housing, pop. 2,465,326): 29.3% no vehicle

3. New York, NY (housing, pop. 8,008,278): 28.0% no vehicle

4. Bronx, NY (housing, pop. 1,332,650): 27.2% no vehicle

5. Camden, NJ (housing, pop. 79,904): 25.5% no vehicle


Thanks Wharf--
very interesting.

When I lived in New York I didn't own a car and rode my bicycle with my infant son strapped in behind me all over town. Occasionally in off peak hours I'd put my bike on the subway too.

Shortly after I moved to South Florida back in 97 I tried to take my still infant son for a ride on my bike in traffic... never even tried riding my bike on the streets again until about two years ago and even today I do not ride much on the roads if I have to share it with Florida drivers, life is short enough as it is.

Four of those first five are all New York City, of course, so the excerpt is a tad misleading.

But what a list like that cannot possibly reveal is the degree to which lives are confined and reduced without the cars. On the whole, relying on walking, cycling, and/or transit in Amsterdam, where the trams are generally prompt and reliable and run seven days a week until around midnight, and snow is cleared up promptly, is one thing. In Camden, where the risk of being mugged is high, snow-clearance and other aspects of street and walkway maintenance are not so good, and the buses are no doubt (I've been there but not tried to use the buses) as tardy and unreliable as anywhere else in the USA, it's quite another. One supposes that the gap could be closed with great gouts of money, but we may all be long-dead before great gouts of money are made available for such things.

Nor does the list, in and of itself, reveal that places like New York City - or Amsterdam - that are best for transit that is actually functional are places with wall-to-wall people, the sort of places that, despite New Urbanist wishful thinking, many Americans have been escaping at almost any cost and for many decades now.

I don't think that model is going to sell very well.

Surely there is an interim model for suburbia that would support short-range small vehicles (gas, hybrid, EV, etc.) for local errands and transit for work and/or longer trips? Something like that plus re-localization of businesses would seem to go a long way toward cutting gasoline consumption. 30mph-top-speed cars like golf-carts with reduced crash regulations would make sense too, for last-mile travel.

As a side-note, some areas already have dairy delivery (just like the good ole days) but with CSA produce delivery as an added value. Add dry-cleaning, bread, and a few meats to the list and you'd cut many people's shopping down to once a week.

Catching an intermittent bus wouldn't be so bad if the bus could communicate precisely when it would be at your stop. A simple application to text you five minutes before it got to you would let you work or sip coffee while reading until the last minute, and then dash for the bus-stop for just-in-time transit. My limited experience is that bus stops are unpleasant to wait in when it's cold or there are unsavory elements loitering about, but a minute or two isn't bad. Delays are much easier to take when you know exactly how long the wait will be, too -- it's the uncertainty that is most irritating.

Back when I had my business etc and a Prius .... I'd still never take a car into SF, it was far far too much hassle and frankly, took much of the fun out of it. Public transpo all the way baby! From Sunnyvale or San Jose etc really it's hard to beat the train, then from the terminus you have your choice of bus, taxi, streetcar, etc. The city's not that big so a taxi isn't that expensive if you have to be somewhere. The buses are interesting because of all the different people, yeah I know, it means the smelly homeless guy with 2 uncapped gallon jugs of milk by his feet too lol.

If I lived in SF I'd not even bother keeping my motorcycle, I'd just have a bicycle and that a light, single speed job like the messengers use.

The thing with buses is, generally there are timetables, or if it comes often you just know it's every 10 or 15 minutes etc.

But what a list like that cannot possibly reveal is the degree to which lives are confined and reduced without the cars.

I'll concede that there are plenty of people who probably think exactly like you.

However I'm 56 and my girlfriend is 55 and she is training for a half marathon we both like LOOONG (like 5 to 10 mile) walks, we also take long bike rides along our beaches. Oh we do crazy things like paddle our kayaks for miles out in the open ocean and then scuba dive off those same kayaks to catch lobster.

Yes we both own ICE powered cars but neither of us minds walking a few miles to have a pizza and a beer and then walking off the extra calories on the way back.

Horror of horrors, we have actually upon occasion ridden our local transit system to go out to an art show or a concert that was being held more than 10 miles away and our cars weren't even in the shop!

Something tells me that you are really really really stuck on this car paradigm being the only possible way of getting around. Sorry Paul, that's where that finely refined yak dung I mentioned the other day comes into play.

I think that if you got out of your car mentality you might even find that your life may suddenly encounter expanding rather than confining horizons. Yeah, yeah, I know you've mentioned that you're are afraid of catching some communicable disease from the people you might accidentally be forced to share space with on a train or bus...

Hey, guess what, I even survived more than a decade of riding the subways in New York and I never even got a flu shot. I've also ridden public transport in Rio de Janeiro with the city's poorest and survived that as well. I won't even mention when I lived in Mexico.

May I suggest something, "ride a bike or take a hike!"

NOTHING is better for exploring an area than a bike.

Walking is good, but you can't cover as much territory, and you don't have the escape method if you need it of getting on your bike and getting out of there.

A bike is great, for collecting cans, learning where good stuff is tossed out, finding and exploiting stuff like figs, walnuts, abandoned crops, etc. You can get to know all the alleys and side-streets and so on. A friend of mine noted that a bike tends to restrict you to a 10-mile radius, and he's right, but then regular life tends to do that too. And you see a lot less in a car.

"NOTHING is better for exploring an area than a bike.

Now, in many (not all) places, even in the USA, that's quite true, at least for those who are physically up to it.

Yes we both own ICE powered cars but neither of us minds walking... we have actually upon occasion ridden our local transit system...


As usual, you have cleverly changed the subject. The discussion was about the percentage in various cities who don't own cars at all. Now all of a sudden it's about the discretionary use of alternatives.

Unlike you and I, the folks who have no cars at all have no "out" at times when transit is not running, or when the route they would bike or walk is unreasonably dangerous. There's a world of difference between, on the one hand, having to rely on bikes and transit for everything, and on the other hand, being able to rely on driving as needed when the bikes and transit are not congenial, or are downright useless.

Oh, and few of the non-car-owners represented by those statistics will have the luxury of time and money to "train for a marathon", since (leaving aside a handful of places like Manhattan) the usual reason not to have a car in the USA is poverty. So it's also not reasonable to assume tacitly that everyone who is not a strapping twentysomething will be a sports freak who is up to doing such things.

Or, to quote what said yourself when you got it right, "...never even tried riding my bike on the streets again until about two years ago and even today I do not ride much on the roads if I have to share it with Florida drivers, life is short enough as it is." Yes, exactly. Florida is not Manhattan, nor is the rest of the USA. There are a few times and places where cycling or walking or even taking transit may be OK, and then there are all the other times and places.

Those who choose or are obliged to be under a form of house arrest at all those other times and places will indeed find their lives restricted. Various expensive plans which may or may not ever be carried out, such as imitating the French installation of tram systems, have been put forth on TOD and elsewhere to mitigate that. In the meantime, no conceivable amount of rhyming one-size-fits-all snark will alter it by even one jot.

New Orleans 11.8%, pre-Katrina it was 28%.


Davis California for bicycling (although there is talk in New Orleans about becoming the next Copenhagen). Portland is the most "bicycling" larger US city. Austin is building some bikeways (Lance Armstrong E-W. Nueces Street, N-S, becomes occasional car + mainly bikes).

NYC for mass transit, but I prefer using the transformation of Washington DC. In 1970, 4% commuted by city bus. Today, more people use mass transit than drive alone to work (single & carpool still slightly larger than transit + walking + biking to work).

A significant transformation !

Just spend $11.x billion on a decent subway.

In Canada, Vancouver (2+ million) does not have a single urban freeway or toll road. All expansion of capacity is by urban rail, no new roads.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


"(although there is talk in New Orleans about becoming the next Copenhagen)."

I was thinking Venice.

We have a tool that no other major coastal city in the US has, the massive sediment flows of the Mississippi River.

Relatively low cost and low energy to divert spring high water into building up the surrounding marshes or even filling up Lake Pontchartrain in the worst case.


PS: Diverting 30% of the Mississippi down the Atchafalaya Basin at the Old River Structure for 70+ years has built up the basin so much that it is no longer the path of least resistance for the river. We raised the alternative path enough by adding silt that the current river channel is the naturally preferred one.

Scientists warn of 30ft rise in sea level due to 2C of global warming

GLOBAL warming of only 2C could lead to sea-level rises that would submerge the Netherlands and Bangladesh, a report in the journal Nature has warned. Scientists at Princeton and Harvard universities in the United States carried out a new analysis of the geological record of the Earth's sea level.
Their research revealed that the polar ice sheets are vulnerable to large-scale melting, even under moderate global warming scenarios. According to the analysis, an additional 2C of global warming could commit the planet to 20ft to 30ft (about six to nine metres) of sea-level rises over the long term.

Coastal areas where hundreds of millions of people live would be inundated, the US scientists warned.

You guys are gonna need a lot of mud!

And the article about "3 degrees C rise" says even more, including:

Sorley McCaughey, of Christian Aid, said all of the leaders should stay until they managed to produce a “fair, ambitious and binding (FAB) deal on climate change.”

All of this pretending and bickering will continue, IMO, until we hit the first real tipping point. That could be sudden release of methane from warming seas, or from thawing tundra, or it could be sudden collapse of the ice sheets. Or, and more likely, it will be something we don't even see coming. Then, all of a sudden, the spin will be on blame! No... not a hoax? It must be Obama's fault! Or Nancy Peolosi's, or Sen. Boehner, or the Arabs. Anything and anyone except the MSM, and their owners, who, in order to make a few bucks more profit, cut their staff and news input (http://www.minnpost.com/davidbrauer/2008/08/26/3130/strib_tells_ap_were_... is one example), and offered up entertainment as news, telling us that the polls say that 55% of Americans believe AGW is a hoax.

[And, also IMO, sea levels will rise more than 20 to 30 feet before equilibrium is reached. That is what planet Earth does... it finds equilibrium. It may require the elimination of an offending species, but that is what evolution is about. If a species cannot live within its environment, its environment will eliminate it, find that new point of sustainability, and go forward from there.]

I don't see any evidence yet that we could so impact the atmosphere that it would create a Venus-like situation. After all, according to PO theory, we have burned about 1/2 of the oil available, releaseing the carbon from that into the atmosphere already, and are only at 390 ppm. Figure we do nothing, burn up the rest and all of the coal. Even that much should not totally kill the planet. But then, who knows what nasty surprises Gaia might have up her proverbial sleeve?

I think you're right about the pretending and bickering. But I think you're wrong about the self-limiting outcome per your final paragraph. You name the contesting evidence yourself - methane released from sea bed and tundra. Not to mention the accelerated deforestation that will accompany the decline in FF as billions seek food and fuel w/out them. Nor the positive feedback of shrinking ice caps and melting glaciers, among others. IMO we've already set all of this in motion, and it's too late for us to turn the tide. I may be wrong, but it is at least a very real possibility. And I say this amidst a 2 ft snowstorm here in central VA...

I remember riding my bicycle to school in New Orleans forty years ago.
Flat as a board for all practical purposes, rode along State St. from
south of Tchoupitoulas to Loyola. A quick trip but I remember it as being bone jarring on my unsprung bike due to the roughness of the streets. Those were the days though, there should be a seat with my name on it at Fat Harry's!

boby -- You are certainly hard core Nawlins if you still remember how to spell Tchoupitoulas. I worked as a security guard one summer at a plant on that street and always had to look up the spelling for my time sheet.

Actually I'm from North Louisiana(capitalized because Louisiana is two states people wise, N. and S. Louisiana). Went to school in N.O. for three years. N.O. takes about six months to get used to, but it gets real comfortable after that. If you want to party there is one going on somewhere at any time. I had to leave to give my liver a rest!

LOL boby. Know what you mean. Grew up in the Quarter

Ghung -- I assume you meant Venice, Italy. Oddly enough there's another Venice much closer to N.O. that might stand as a model. South of N.O. there is an oil patch town, Venice, La., that services ops in the bayous as well as offshore. Or I should say did. It was essentially killed by a hurrican. Being at sea level it didn't really take to much of a blow nearly wipe it off the map. Never did here the story of how it got its name but if you ever passed thru it's not hard to guess.

I was looking forward to a gondola ride down Bourbon St. I was in Venice, LA about 20 years ago. Wasn't high on my list of vacation spots to return to!

Ghung -- took many a work boat out of Venice. As you say not much to look at. Haven't been back since the hurricane (go out of Fourchon these days). They say Venice is really ugly now...hard to imagine it's that much worse.

"(although there is talk in New Orleans about becoming the next Copenhagen)."

I was thinking Venice.


Bicycle bridge over freeway in Davis California.



We've got something like that too, actually five or six of them but that one's the most elaborate. I haven't been over there since the snowstorm but if it's like some of the other paths, it'll be covered with thick rutted ice - if you try to walk, it will be difficult and dangerous, and if you try to ride, even with the expensive Finnish tires, you'll get tramlined in the ruts.

So maybe Davis, where in this sense it's summer all year round, is more suitable for actually relying on such things, at least as long as one need not ever travel in the awful and dangerous noonday summer heat.

Those figures for DC must be for DC proper and not for the whole metro area. Transit in the suburbs is still pretty weak, although even that is slowly changing.

The other day I posed a link about new DC streetcars arriving in Baltimore. Now there is some citizen's group all up in arms because they think the overhead wires are ugly, and they want the streetcars to use some "alternative" ways to get power to the streetcar.


But exactly what alternatives are there, really? There are some out there that are used in one or two places - I would almost categorize these as experimental. Some people in these links even talk about hydrogen fuel cell streetcars. But my (and I suspect many here) view is that the future is going to be one where money is very tight, and we can't waste time or money on Disneyland-style transit.

This citizens group really has no authority - they just sit around and prognosticate as best I can tell. But it wouldn't surprise me if they tried to file a lawsuit to block the overhead wires.

One, overhead wires & supports can be quite pretty (examples in New Orleans, France).

Two, DC used to use a semi-buried channel in the street (only around Capital, White House, Mall) with "L" contact that slid along it. Stick your fingers down there and get 600 V DC ! Had to keep leaves, etc. out. Today, with throwaway packaging & littering, it would be worse.

One concept used for a few km in France (old historic area) was to turn on and off 6 m sections of insulated aluminum bar in the street. Hot ONLY when tram covered it. Early teething problems, unsure if they fixed them.


People will use many reasons to not fund mass transit. When Atlanta's MARTA was expanding into surrounding counties the big scare tactic was that it would allow "undesirables" into their nice suburbs and that the crime rate would go up. Affluent Cobb County even built their own bus system with few connections to MARTA, so that they could limit the influx of the "undesirables". Their choice to go their own way resulted in decades of fudes between the county and the Metro Atlanta planning authorities, costing taxpayers millions. The Cobb Transit System has been pretty much a failure in areas where people can afford to commute by car.

Same issue about "undesirables" in Staten Island and possibly outlying Queens, both within New York City. The resistance wasn't even really about funding, it was purely about the locals in some areas resisting service increases.

Humans are pretty good at building gated communities, but most of the gates are invisible.

When a new metro station was going to open up by my apartment, the neighbor's association declared a state of emergency. They were worried that thieves and muggers would become a problem and that the vast crowds would create maintenance issues.

Most of the people using the metro station seem to be students, workers, tourists and old people. Since I have to walk 2 blocks less, and the streets are busier I feel safer. The crowds use the metro garbage cans for their garbage, and visit the local stores, so they're not really a problem.

Our undesirable elements seem to live in/operate out of the abandoned sub-basement, and some abandoned lots near by. Metro related development should help reduce or limit them.

Yes, they are for DC proper.

There are 15 rail lines (Metro, light rail, commuter) worth building in the DC Metro area at $30/barrel oil. From memory,

Extend Purple Line to Tysons Corner. Light Rail from TC to near Pentagon, and another from TC to southeast along highway.

Extend Silver Line to Leesburg VA. Extend Green Line to Baltimore, have light rail feed Red Line terminus @ Shady Grove (basically Red Line extension but lower capacity on old RR ROW).

Several streetcar lines in DC.

Split Red Line into 2 lines with overlapping sections in DC. New build section starts at Bethseda MD, to Georgetown (crosses existing Red Line @ Van Ness (?) & Dupont Circle and catches other Circle north of existing Red Line and terminates at Union Passenger. Might extend out to catch Gallaudet & Orange Line past UPT.

Shady Grove passengers would have choice of taking one seat ride on old or new Red routes, with both terminating @ UPT and same for Glenmont, terminating at Bethesda.

And more.

All affordable with proper priority.


Sorry to nitpick, but why would they want to run the Green Line to Baltimore when there are already two commuter lines parallel to the route, one of them electrified? There's no way a DC Metro train could beat the Penn Line speed.

As another feeder or collector from all of the Suburbia between DC & Baltimore. More stations for people to access.

Best Hopes,


I'll admit it would be nice to have another route into Baltimore, too. Bal'mer got screwed in the transit sweepstakes in the 70s. Cities that had routes planned way in advance got to be first in line for UMTA grants. DC and Atlanta were the best at the game.

Baltimore's planning was done by the State of Maryland instead of a dedicated transit agency, and it seemed like they were just beginning to look at the next route when the last one was getting done. Which is why they've got one metro line, and one light rail line, and nothing else, while MARTA and WMATA have lines running everywhere.

Just my $0.02 rant.

-- waterplanner (former transitplanner)

In addition to better access: they're just commuter lines with very limited service, even more limited in the evening and nothing at all on the weekend. Metro typically provides something much closer to the sort of transit service one would expect in a "real" city, though I can't actually say whether they would do so on the new line.

There was discussion of some of the options for Northern Virginia here today:


I should also add that the most recent appropriations bill that was just passed last weekend had money to study the Rt 7 corridor (among many other things):


Enhanced Transit Service, Route 7 Corridor—$350,000 to conduct a study on the feasibility of enhanced transit service along the Route 7 Corridor connecting the King Street Metro Station in Alexandria with the future Columbia Pike light rail service that terminates at Skyline in Fairfax County with the planned multimodal center in Falls Church with the future Metrorail Stations in Tysons Corner.

This isn't even at the preliminary engineering stage, but you have to start somewhere, I guess..

In Canada, Vancouver (2+ million) does not have a single urban freeway or toll road. All expansion of capacity is by urban rail, no new roads.

The City of Vancouver does not have a single freeway or toll road. The City of Vancouver is a small part of the region, however (like 500,000 people). Greater Vancouver certainly has freeways, is building more, and has started to build toll bridges (although not roads, yet).

Our "urban rail" is elevated, costs billions of dollars to expand at all, and services a very small portion of the population. It's nice if you live near it, though, and commute downtown (which I do, intentionally). Most transit miles are by diesel bus. Most commutes are by automobile. The lack of a freeway downtown makes that painful, but people still do it because it's faster and a lot more comfortable than transit on a crowded bus. Most commutes are also not downtown or to other areas served by elevated rail.

Best wishes for light rail.

I saw an HGTV show focused on Vancouver, buying little condos for $530+ per square foot, WITH A COMMUTE. I think this is asinine.

I saw an HGTV show focused on Vancouver, buying little condos for $530+ per square foot, WITH A COMMUTE. I think this is asinine.

Not only that, but people are lining up overnight on the sidewalks and paying more than the asking price for those insanely expensive little condos.

Meanwhile, large numbers of houses in suburbs across the United States are being abandoned by people who are walking away from their mortgages.

What does this tell you? Personally, I think it has something to do with the lack of freeways in Vancouver.

Welcome to the 21st century, soon to be totally car-free era.

In Canada, Vancouver (2+ million) does not have a single urban freeway or toll road. All expansion of capacity is by urban rail, no new roads.

Vancouver is interesting as a case study proving that if you solve your traffic problems by just ignoring them and not building any freeways, people will learn to cope. They will adapt by taking life easy and mellowing out. They don't call it "lotusland" for nothing. Peace, love, and grooving, man.

Vancouver is also interesting in that the Economist Magazine of London and other sources rate it either #1 or #2 in livable cities on the planet. I think it has a lot to do with the lack of freeways. It limits people's mobility, but so what? They seem to take the point of view that there's no point in going anywhere else, because where they are is perfect.

Richmond, immediately south of Vancouver, has the distinction of having the longest life expectancy on the planet. I think this has something to do with the fact that, not only do they not have any freeways, but they don't have to live in Vancouver. Okay, let me qualify that, they don't have Vancouver's problems with drugs and crime, and they have the opportunity to do a lot of walking and bicycling because they can't get anywhere by driving.

Disclaimer: I was born in Vancouver, so I have some emotional attachment to the place. However, I don't think I could live there because I can't handle the mellowness. I prefer the rarefied air of the Canadian Rockies instead.

Our "urban rail" is elevated, costs billions of dollars to expand at all, and services a very small portion of the population.

That's true. My analysis of the system was 1) it is too expensive for what it does, and 2) it doesn't serve nearly enough of the population.

Looking at the Vancouver area, I see it is criss-crossed by rail lines. It is a major port city (the largest port on the west coast of North and South America) and a number of railroads service the ports, both Canadian and American.

So, the question arises: Why didn't they drop a couple of light rail tracks into the right of way next to every freight railroad, and saturate the whole area with light rail service?

Of course they didn't, but that's more a political than a technical issue. They could have done it if they wanted to.

Why do you suppose media outlets shoot videos of that sort only on pleasant dry days? I wonder how well the somewhat supercilious voiceover would fit with video of those walkers and cyclists slip-sliding and falling on the ice during the cold snap after a snowstorm. Or with video of older people self-confined amidst the four walls because their doctors have told them correctly that it's too dangerous to go outside and walk or bike ... but how could one make such video watchable?

older people self-confined amidst the four walls because their doctors have told them correctly that it's too dangerous to go outside and walk or bike

I'm reminded of one of my father's aunts that we met in Northern Norway. She in her late 90's and was riding her bicycle into the nearby village every day. She said that she had trouble walking because she got dizzy, but on a bicycle she didn't really have any problems. She eventually died at the age of 102.

The interesting thing I noticed was that her bicycle had clearance lights on it. The roads in Northern Norway are extremely narrow, and cars have to know exactly how close they can get to the bicycles without either hitting them or running off the road. And of course it rains and snows quite heavily in Northern Norway.

I think the point is: Why are these people's idiot doctors telling them to stay inside? The problem with older Americans is that they don't get enough exercise. They need to get out and get some exercise regardless of conditions.

I also like the videos of cars slip sliding around on ice.

As noted before, Professor Egill Hreinsson bicycles to work all year to the University of Iceland. He says he feels more secure on studded bike ties in the winter than on summer tires.

If people biked to work in whatever they consider to be decent weather (for many a wider range than you do) and drove on bad days, it would significantly reduce our oil dependence.

My next door neighbors walk to One Shell Square (51 story office building, 1.1 miles away) on good days and take the streetcar on bad days.


Before I retired I biked to work every day. In the ice and snow a set of studs on the mountain bike is stable as hell. Many folks don't realize that traction improves once the temps get low enough. For the coldest days (10 below F) a full face motorcycle helmet works great against exposure.

Maybe this is a bit extreme but there are a TON of solutions which do not require near that much adaptation. You have led the way on these. Electric bikes are a snap to build and the LiFePO4 batteries you can get now are highly capable. Charging costs pennies and represent near FF free mobility when coupled with renewables.

I've been rebuilding houses this past year but will set up a winter bike with LiPo's and studs in a few weeks. Solutions are staring us in the face, it's our culture (and cheap oil) that is stopping us. As the one goes away I for one will be watching eagerly to see how the other changes. Best hopes for a AFBE style new year.

I dont like a small part of last comment "Its proof that it can be done but it takes a lot of money and comitment"

Comitment yes but bicycle lanes are not that expensive until you start building nice tunnels for crossing roads. They add a significat cost when building new roundabouts in my home town Linköping. Linköping has like Lund been building bicycle lanes etc for decades.

Both Lund and Linköping are also aiming for building trams and all the busses in Linköping run on Biogas, I dont know about the busses in Lund.

We did not have the economy to get everybody car born in the 40:s and 50:s and bicycling to the local factory where a normal commute. Walkable paths and bicyle lanes were a standard part of the building boom in the 60:s and early 70:s. Then there were an oil crisis and that lesson were never forgotten.

But Lund, Linköping and also Uppsala are a little special as they are medium size towns with lots of students and few students can afford a car and it is quite stupid to start up a car when it takes less time to bicycle.

And I do of course bicycle myself. I got one summer and one winter bicycle since I am to lazy to change the studded winter tyres and also a spare bicycle, its nice to live in a rich era! Ok, I got a small Skoda car too but I dont use it much.

GM to discontinue Saab after deal talks collapse

NEW YORK -- General Motors Co. said Friday it will wind down Saab after talks to sell the brand to Dutch carmaker Spyker Cars collapsed.

GM said in a news release that issues arose during the sale talks that could not be resolved.

GM has the opposite of the Midas touch. They (GM) are basically saying in this announcement that because GM could not meet GM's timeline for due diligence, the brand must be wound down. That's my tax money at work. These bozos couldn't assemble a bicycle if their lives depended on it.

Turbocharged 4 cylinder engines, a Saab specialty, could have gone a long way to making powerful vehicles that use less gasoline (especially when set up for diesel). GM chose to marginalize that future in favor of Big Trucks (the 9-7 is not a Saab).

wisco -

GM's acquisition of Saab never did make much sense to me. I suspect they bought it largely because they got it cheap rather than for any real product advantage that it offered. From the 1950s through the 1970s there used to be a real hard-core following of Saab enthusiasts, so maybe GM thought they could capitalize on some established brand loyalty.

As far as Saab and turbo-charged engines, they were an early pioneer in that area, but at this late stage of engine development all the major auto makers offer turbo-charged engineers in at least some of their models.

I think the painful truth is that there are simply too many auto brands out there, with a great deal of overlap between competing models.

You are right though about GM's reverse midas touch, though. Everything they touch seems to turn to shite.

GM has a talent for destroying even their own brands. For example if you had a Camaro in 1968 and you really appreciated its small size and sporty behavior you might go to a showroom today and look at the new model. What you would find is a garish elephant with no relation to the early model except a cartoonish sillouette. Virtually every popular car they have made has gone thru the same metastasis. Somehow they seem to think if you liked a particular model you would be willing to pay more if it was bigger.

but at this late stage of engine development all the major auto makers offer turbo-charged engineers in at least some of their models.

Personally, I would think most of the car jocks would much rather have the model with the turbo-charged bimbo?

Haha your own personal Dilbert riding shotgun, with 6 coffees in him!

My greatest fear is that GM will decide to start building streetcars, and then convince people to "buy American".

My greatest hope is that the company slowly withers away and dies. Kind of like a garden slug once you pour some salt on it. This would be a really rough break for the workers - make no mistake, but the management and corporate types simply have no clue, and I don't think they have what it takes to turn it around. So the best we can hope for I guess is that their ineptitude doesn't reach out to infect other industries.

Back in the 70s the solution to the defense downturn was to have these great manufacturing companies build transit equipment. Boeing Vertol tried light rail in Boston and SF -- not too successful. Rohr built DC's first cars. The second round of orders went overseas. Seems that Budd, Pullman, and St Louis Car who'd been building US transit cars for decades all of a sudden didn't know what they were doing.

It takes a lot of skills and systems integration to build transit equipment. You're outsourcing motors to one guy, gearboxes to another, controllers to a third, bodies to a fourth, and doG knows what all to everyone else. It's tough, tough engineering work and GM, who's built everything in house, won't have a clue.

It brings back memories. IIRC one of those aerospace outfits built some cars for, I think it was the "F" line, on the NYC subway. The "modern" lightweight-ish cars (with emphasis on the "ish") developed structural cracks after not all that long - just like aircraft, what an odd coincidence - and had to have expensive remedial work. But hey, the presumed "fresh" and "innovative" young things in the shiny new aerospace biz got to strut their stuff and shake up the presumed stodgy old codgers with one foot in the grave of the railcar industry. That was the gee-whiz important thing, at a time when the idea was to embrace enthusiastically the spirit of the brave new world of the Jetsons.

I think that was the R-46, built by Pullman-Standard, with trucks by Rockwell (former North American Rockwell, aerospace). The trucks were plagued with cracks (link to Wikipedia) and that, coupled with strikes at Pullman, did them in. The R44 KO'd St Louis Car. It was a tough time to be a carbuilder.

Trucks. Another part of the systems integration I forgot to mention earlier.

OTOH, New Orleans designed and built 30 streetcars largely in-house.

Elmer von Dullen started working on the 1923/24 Perley Thomas streetcars in 1952 and made over 100 detail improvements for parts that broke, wore out, rusted or were routinely damaged.

Trucks (improved PCC) from a company that also made coal mining rail vehicles, Brookville. Add modernized computer controls and a very viable streetcar was built, designed to last centuries.

Best Hopes,


Hi Eric,

I had a love-hate relationship with my 900 Turbo SPG. Loved the quirky "ugly-ducking" styling, fantastic handling and raw kick-in-the-pants excitement(*), but cursed the poor reliability and high cost of ownership. The latter may have improved under GM's ownership (it's hard to imagine it could get much worse), but there's increasingly little to set these vehicles apart from the crowd.... the beaten dog styling of recent years just doesn't cut it for me.


(*) Some of my fondest memories of that car were traveling the northern portion of the I-91 en route to Montréal. At 02h00, the road was completely deserted and at the base of the mountains, I'd flick on the brights and mash the throttle, the turbo needle tickling the red.... incredibly powerful engine and when you turned the wheel you knew precisely how that car would respond.

I had too many love-hate relationships with Austin-Healey, Triumph, and Alfa Romeo. And now VW, actually. I got a Miata 20 years ago and don't have to deal with the "hate" part any more. Although you'd have thought they would have figured out that you need Really Good Drains in the rocker panels. It's starting to look like all my old British cars.

Hi WP,

Know how some folks move from one abusive relationship to another and are incapable of breaking the cycle? After all the hell I went through with that car, I can't believe I would ever entertain the thought of buying another, but there's something about the SAAB brand that captivates me. I think it's the split personality -- the unique blend of bad boy performance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPlFru4suXI) and Swedish sensibility (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OmhxMf5oYc).

Here's something you can't do in a K-car wagon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0LPo4s9DSw :-)


Halifax -- Ha! You are hooked and hooked bad. My sympathies. Did I mention I keep a picture of my TR-3 from 30-odd years ago in my wallet?

You didn't link to the ad from a few years ago with the two Saab vehicles racing. One of the cars and a Viggen fighter jet, IIRC.

Hi WP,

I think that's great. I wish I were more mature with respect to my choice of vehicles but, as you well know, in these matters the right side of the brain and right foot are firmly in control. :-)

There have been numerous adverts over the years linking their fighter jets and vehicles. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDnQ8wxzyD8, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM3woO0AbCw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WZ-D_HT3y8. More recently: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wxeb_Nah1yY, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzMBrd_OEuQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd5Hjs6ea0A

Although my own experience was far from satisfactory, I'm still sorry to see this story come to an end.


If you liked your ugly little Saab, You would love the ugly little Subaru WRX/STI. Love/Love.

Sorry, Chung, there's ugly and down right butt f-n UGLY. One has to draw the line somewhere. ;-)


Re: GE-Mitsubishi Wind-Turbine Fight Threatens Arkansas Jobs Plan, up top.

Yesterday when I went over to the home place the 44 new GE turbines were running. This is the first time I've seen it. I didn't see any that weren't turning.

But the 80 Clipper turbines were in disarray. Maybe 75 percent were turning. The others were pointed in various directions apparently unsure which way or how fast the wind was blowing.

I do not understand the electronics or the mechanics of how wind turbines sense the direction and speed of the wind, but it is my observation that the GE turbines are better at it. And it seems to me that a turbine that can adjust quickly and accurately to changes in wind direction and speed is significantly more efficient than one that can not.

Not all wind turbines are the same. Some are better than others and it does not necessarily relate to size.

November temperature analysis in the news. I have been following this monthly since El Nino started to appear and strengthen.

November 2009 was warmest or 4th warmest on record, say NASA and NOAA

The November satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the warmest on record according to the University of Alabama Huntsville data set

What dataset are the deniers going to start using? Actually, it is a trick question, they don't need a dataset since numbers are poor abstractions of the natural world ;)

76F in my backyard, in the shade, here in San Gabriel, California at noon. Does not feel like 'winter' at all.

That's only ten degrees F above the average high - a trivial fluctuation. Year year-round summer seems to be the norm for your area. So why should it feel like winter?

Both of our rain gauges just went over 70 inches for the year-to-date (Western NC). D.C. is predicting 2+ feet of snow. SoCal sounds pretty good right now.

New Orleans had 30' in the last week !

Best Hopes for more sunshine tomorrow !


New Orleans had 30' in the last week !

I hope thats a typo " is for inches ' for feet! Even as inches, thats quite a bit, pumps must have got a good workout.

The Republican version of FEMA ruled that a week immersed in salt water was not sufficient to justify a paid for (80% FEMA) rebuild of large electric motors. They would have to fail within so many months (despite an expected time between rewinds of 50 to 70 years), and the feds would NOT pay for an expedited rewind.

As a consequence, we were down to the minimum of two potable water pumps for a few weeks (the motor rewinding people gave us expedited turnarounds despite not getting paid for it).

The rainwater pumps were going off like popcorn for a while, but almost all failed within the specified period and have been rewound and rebuilt.

The Obama version of FEMA has been MUCH better.


No no no. In the San Gabriel Valley, "winter" means every now and then you can see your breath in the morning when the temperature crashes into the 40s. And when the clouds lift and the rain stops you can see Mt Baldy from Foothill Blvd. Unlike the Fall, when it's obscured by smog and smoke from the fires. :-)

Ah, that explains it, then.

I see my own breath here at my computer desk inside my place, more than I ever did in SoCal.

keyboard gets stiff and fingers too lol.

So what's with this Iran/Iraq thing? Opening move, one-off, or disinformation?

It may be connected to this;

"Iran defiant in face of new US gasoline sanctions"


I have to admit that I have been thinking about this all morning, and I hate it because I can't think of a good reason for this pathetic little excursion...

I mean, cross the border a few hundred yards to seize one oil well? If you want the oil, just pump faster from your side. Or drill some directional wells over to the Iraqi side...

Unfortunately, I keep coming back to the same vision in my head...

In the darkness, a squad of Iranian infantry sneaks across the border, surrounding a lone oil well. Swiftly but quietly they dig in in a circle around in. Finally, the Iranian flag is raised over the well.

Switch to: Interior: Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's bedroom
The room is dark, the president still asleep.
The phone on the bedside table rings, Talabani groggily reaches over, lifts the handset. "Yes?" he grumbles.

Through the receiver, a tinny voice is heard, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Ha-HA! All your oil well are belong to us! Ha-HA!"

Apologies in advance.

If you are unfamiliar with the pop culture reference, google "all your base are belong to us."

I suspect they are testing us, Our lack of a vigorous response to this could show an underlying military weakness on our part. I suspect we are (after 6 years) so geared to fighting insurgents in Iraq that we would be hard pressed to respond to a confrontation with a mechanized army. Stories I gear are that armored and artillery units are acting as boots on the ground in HUMVEES and MRAPS messing around with insurgents. I've seen YouTube videos of my old unit 1/67 armor that at least partially bear this out.

I don't what armor we still have in Iraq, but if there is one way Iran would not want to fight it would be a mechanized war on the ground. With instant air superiority and lop-sided ground lethality, they would lose all of their assets. They are probably just testing and prodding, to have something to back down on while playing for time on the nuke front.

The US is exceedingly good at breaking things. It is not so good at putting them back together. I suspect in the next imperialistic engagement we will not make the mistake of sticking around, and that will reduce the cost enough to make it palatable to the planners.

I use this same approach with my teens. "Choose wisely. I know I can't always be around to stop you from doing things you shouldn't. But I can absolutely, without a doubt, make you wish that you hadn't."

I don't think Iran "wants" a full scale war, but I think they are definitely interested in getting a feel for how ready we are for one, along with the bonus of embarrassing us. As for air power, yes it is potent but if Iran were to mount a large scale armored invasion they would take a good amount of territory before we could stop them, leaving us in the position of having to negotiate, or take it back by force. It's also worth noting that the American people are not too terribly ripe on taking a bunch (say 10-20K) of casualties in order to keep Iraq. Not to mention we would be facing $300 oil which would devastate our economy.

Not to mention we would be facing $300 oil which would devastate our economy.

What economy? Oh, you must mean the [already] devestated U.S. economy?

They wouldn't want casualties to keep Iraq, but they'd take some to thwack Iran -- smart-bombs and turrets popping off on TV sell WAY better than embedded journalists on routine patrols facing snipers and IEDs. IMHO, for an armor war or air-to-armor war, there would be no such casualties.

The oil prices would rocket, though, once the Hormuz caught fire. But how is that bad for the administration? Gets people bumping down one more level without it being "their fault".

I included "disinformation" in my question above, because the thought occurs to me: maybe these aren't actually Iranians, just actors dressed up like them. Wars have been started with similar ruses before. It would give the US a very convenient excuse to go ahead and hit Iran. It would also be very convenient to provoke a quick little war right now when everyone is distracted by Christmas, away from work and on the road, the weather is terrible, etc.

I suspect it is some sort of minor provocation meant to make the Iranian government look good to the folks back home. They are still dealing with a very disgruntled population, and a little bit of military theatre distraction is just what the Mullah's want. Contrary to the self-important feelings of Murricans, most things are not actually about them.

Plus, their missile technology is getting advanced. It would be messy, especially if SA oil was targeted.

LOL! and many thanks for that one. I can't believe that as a dad to a teenager I never thought of that exact wording on my own. Though I will henceforth incorporate it into my arsenal of preemptive tactics. Heh! heh! heh!

Ha Ha Ha Ha


Someone has put up a torrent for "Collapse" (the movie with Mike Ruppert).

Can I legally view or download this, or would it be a copyright infringement? My ISP has warned all their customers that any illegal downloads would result in termination of service.

Can I legally view or download this ?
Well it definitely borderlines your moral thresholds, so there it sits.... To get started with torrents - pending your 'inner discussions' - Try here or alt. here

Can I legally view or download this, or would it be a copyright infringement?

Move to Canada. Buy a writable DVD.

The Government of Canada levies a fee on each DVD sold in the country on the assumption that people are going to put copyrighted material on it, and distributes the money to copyright holders.

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that this gives anybody in Canada who buys a writable DVD the right to fill it with copyrighted material of their choice. Whether they put it on the DVD is immaterial, the important thing is that they have paid the Government of Canada for the rights to it, whatever it is.

Now, the media companies are not all happy with this, and many would like to get more money from the public, but the courts have ruled that their dispute is not with J.Q. Public, it is with the Government of Canada. And the Government of Canada is not easy to argue with.

Thx, Downloaded in 10 minutes. I love broadband.

I tried to download it but they wanted my password to my web-based email address. There is only one reason anyone would ask for your password to your web-based internet account, they want to rip you off.

There is a scam going around now, it has been on the national evening news programs. Someone is sending out an email, supposidely from Yahoo, that tells you you "must" update your Yahoo account or it will be cancelled. They want your password also. Then they change your password so you can no longer access your own account. They email everyone in your address book and email everyone there begging for money saying you are in desperate trouble, in jail in a foreign country, and need them to send money to a certain address immediately.

So don't post your web-based email password to anyone or you will be ripped off.

Ron P.

I don't know what you clicked, but it shouldn't ask you for a password. There are multiple links on the page; make sure you click the one you want.

You do need some kind of software that can handle torrents.

I clicked on the big green box that said "Download". I tried it again and did not get the request for password. Could have been someone hacked it. Anyway I did install the toolbar and am trying to figure out what to do next to get the the video downloaded. Not having much luck however.

Edit: Finally fiugred it out and it is downloading now.

Ron P.

Ron, you are clicking 'the wrong thing'. The torrent you'll get by clicking "Download this torrent"
BUT BUT BUT , before that you'll need to download and install some software - like http://www.utorrent.com/ and get acquainted to how this works-

For more help: see my two hints under my reply to TODer dunewalker just above here. Good luck.

My ISP seems to be blocking access to any torrent sites. They tried to do it a while back with adult sites (claimed they weren't) but after too many people complained the problem suddenly disappeared. Betcha they're doing it with file sharing now. My provider is an EMC. Surprized they aren't blocking TOD.

What a pity - maybe time to shift to the next ISP ? :-)

We have three choices for broadband where I live: the ISP we use, a Christian ISP and Verizon (bullycorp; can't stand 'em). Don't get me started on the Telecommunications Act!

Hey I did and it finally downloaded, but it is audio only? The video is all just swirling light patterns. But I guess that is okay because he is just sitting and talking.

Ron P.

Ron I doubt you have done what it takes (!) It is the real deal, full featured Collapse-movie, Size: 697.3 MiB
Did you go through my hints ? Did you install a Torrent SW ? Did you get acquainted to the Bit Torrent procedure ?

READ HERE : http://www.what-is-torrent.com/ . If you are completely blank as to what Bit Torrent is, spend 30 minutes reading about it here and follow instructions. After you have done that, you will be able to see "Collapse" within one hour or so, depending on your Internet connection.

If he's hearing the audio, he's downloaded it.

It seems to be a very fast torrent. A lot of people must be downloading it.

has any one with a mac been able to download this?

That probably means you don't have the right video codec installed. IME, installing the divx codec usually fixes this issue.

(Doubles as reply for Ron)

I agree, it seems that he has gotten the real deal and it's a codec problem.
To circumnavigate all codex-problems in this Universe, just download and install VLC media player . Select according to your operating system here.

Go ! More peak-oil movies here - (also search for your favorite movies, music, etc in the search field upper left)

It appears to be the Xvid codec. Ron needs to install this

That did it. Thanks a million Rethin. Everything seems to be working correct now.

Ron P.


As much as I want to see Collapse, I'll wait until there's a DVD or it makes it to a theater near us. You know, Mike is having a hard time paying his rent and legal bills. I'm sure he gets some kind of a cut so give him a break and don't download it.


I suppose you could download it, then send him a check for what ever it costs to see it in a movie theater... you could even throw in what you saved on transport and popcorn.

Be honest. If you download the film without a toll you're going to watch the film but you won't send a check.


Honest? Based on the reviews I won't download the film.

Also, I won't send a check for it, or pay a toll... I live in a country that has made obtaining $ very difficult, and getting money or out of the country is mind boggling.

But when my favorite author (Hal Duncan) did an experiment with direct distribution I was over-joyed, and am in the process of asking my mom to move some paypal money for me for Christmas in payment for the stories I downloaded.

I think that if you value something and it required resources to produce it, you should contribute back to it, in what ever way is appropriate.

The description of the direct distribution experiment is here:


synchro How old are you? I get the impression that you're much younger than the average poster here (54 I think). If that's so I would like to welcome you. It's good to hear from young people. After all it's going to be your world like it or not. Good Luck!


I'm younger...27. But I'm also living in Venezuela, making something like 1.3 times minimum wage. It works out to maybe 250 USD on the black (parallel?) market. So I have fully adopted the latin american mentality and have no shame in calling my mother for help when it comes to things that are small for her but big for me.

Part of the reason I remain in Venezuela is that I like observing (and learning) behaviors that I believe will come in handy in the future. Yesterday I finally learned how to make a decent meal out of dry beans. I still am learning to tell con artists from genuine people.

I like reading the comments section of the drumbeat because it has an interesting range of opinions.

Concentrate on your gut when you are deciding if someone is a con or not. Your gut is connected to your subconscious, and your subc. always knows. If your gut tightens, churns acid or turns then its a con. If it relaxes, then it isn't. Always ask your gut.

perk, I would like to play poker with you. The subc. is loaded with lots of passions and desires. lots of info available on how to manipulate that part of your mind.

Synchro, Develop your critical thinking skills. Reading the posts and banter here in six months teaches me more than i learned in 3 years of graduate school. anyone reading this site who does not incorporate the info into his/her personal life is not paying attention. great ideas on how to avoid the con in the most important game being played out on our planet today. the bottle neck is before us, don't be coned into grabbing the wrong stream through. Many of us old timers know how to read the waters, but just don't seem to have the strength to hold on much longer. we are the lucky ones.

I won't send a check only because I don't see a donation link on his site.
But I will buy a book.

Obtained this link from Ruppert's site

I'd prefer to see this in theater.
But the crazy trickle release pattern they are using is annoying as hell.
I'll watch the vid, buy a book, and give it to my local library.

My cable company had it on demand digital - $3.99 - saw it yesterday

Yes, it's been available via Time-Warner video on demand since Sunday.

I have Time-Warner cable, but can't access video on demand because I don't have a cable box.

"Any measures that might affect oil demand should be accompanied by a counter-measure that minimises their effects on oil producing countries," Ali al-Naimi said in comments published by the Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Hayat

Would that include demand destruction due to a collapsing global economy brought about by peaking oil prices which in turn are a consequence of peak oil? If so what what would that counter measure look like? Oh, you didn't think of that one didja?

Szia FMagyar!

Did you notice the nice misstatement of PO?

Naimi dismissed as "empty words" any talk of oil running out soon. "I am a geologist and I know that such views are baseless."

Of course PO does not say that oil will be running out soon. This is stupid. And, Al Naimi did not say we would not or even had not passed peak. Just that we won't be running out soon. Nice.

Szia! yeah, as far as my general opinion of Al Naimi is concerned I think you could sum it up with that most descriptive colloquial Hungarian expression: "meg egy balfasz"

I'm sure that probably even the non Hungarian speakers here will not really need a translation...

Or, meg egy faszkalap? Can we say that?

zaphod42 -

Or maybe we could say, 'Lo fass' ? (crude English phonetic spelling by a third-generation half Hungarian in the US)

All those alien-looking words remind me:

Among the thousands of stars, in the ages of time, somewhere, someone must have developed interstellar travel. Why haven’t they visited us?
—Enrico Fermi
They are among us, but they call themselves Hungarian.
—Leo Szilard

(according to Arthur C. Clarke in Astounding Days. Szilard was of course Hungarian.)

PaulS -

If they are anything like my Hungarian side of the family, then they are indeed from some other planet.

There was a widely picked up story by the AP today about the number of roads having the asphalt paving ripped off and being put back to gravel in the USA because maintaining the paved roads is getting too expensive!


More than 20 of the state's 83 counties have reverted deteriorating paved roads to gravel in the last few years, according to the County Road Association of Michigan. The counties are struggling with their budgets because tax revenues have declined in the lingering recession.

Montcalm County converted nearly 10 miles of primary road to gravel this spring.

The county estimates it takes about $10,000 to grind up a mile of pavement and put down gravel. It takes more than $100,000 to repave a mile of road.


PORTLAND, Maine — Ever since the invention of the automobile, paved roads have meant progress. Now some cash-strapped towns and counties are finding progress too expensive, and they are tearing up battered roads and putting down gravel.

The high price of pavement and the sour economy have driven municipalities in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Vermont to roll up the asphalt — a mile here, a few miles there, mostly on back roads — rather than repave.

Some drivers don't like it and warn of danger ahead, including mud, dust and damage to their cars.


Torn from the Front Page: Grinding paved roads back to gravel makes cents for cash-strapped municipalities
By Clark Hughes | The Bay City Times
September 17, 2009, 5:14AM

After a bone-rattling, suspension-busting drive down any of a number of broken-down, potholed, "paved" roads, a stretch of freshly-graded gravel looks mighty good.

That's what years of economic troubles, and the resulting lack of road maintenance, are leading a lot of counties and townships to ponder.

Maybe it's best just to grind some paved roads back to gravel. We can hardly afford to repave all of them anyway.

It costs about $100,000 to lay new pavement down a mile of road, compared to just $10,000 to grind a road back to gravel.

From a dollar-and cents viewpoint, it's a no-brainer.

I was talking about this over a year ago on TOD and it looks like it is starting to accelerate? I'd bet you are going to start seeing more of this in the next couple of years.

I've been saying for some time that some day people will be mining highways and parking lots with pick axes and wheelbarrows. Old asphalt paving will be America's oil sands. That's not what these stories are about, but they are a precursor.

Are they also extracting oil from the ground up asphalt? ;-)

At the very least, the asphaltum is good for patching roofs, insulating electrical gear, is burnable for heat and perhaps light, can be used in chemistry using the old "coal-tar derivatives" methods of 100 years ago, etc.

I grew up on poorly maintained gravel road, not far from from some poorly maintained blacktop. I preferred the poorly maintained gravel to the poorly maintained blacktop. Somebody would get fed up with the gravel road when it got really bad and take a tractor and scraper and whip it back in shape. Once the gravel gets packed its a pretty fair surface for slow speeds, like about 25 mph or so - not too bad of a surface for a bicycle even. At fast speeds the gravel all loosens up, especially on curves. When the blacktop got full of potholes there was nothing we could do.

I'll take the gravel also--
The major highway of the future.

Jon, thanx for the links-
I love these stories for the "mundane reality" of painfully slow collapse as these things, IMHO, will precede the "out of gas" cardboard sign by a few years.
I would like to make a list of the events and signs of this very slow process- potholes,Brown-outs,rationed public services, being on that list along with asphalt paving being put back to gravel.
So, I agree with your "I'd bet you are going to start seeing more of this in the next couple of years."

Long time lurker, but I liked the article above by the Marxist. It was a little defeatist though so I wanted to add that in January candidates will be taking out their paper's to run for office. Find a Green candidate and help him run. We have a new election in 2010. Come on comrades, let’s keep moving forward!

"Kovel was involved in green politics in the US for years – at one point he ran for senate as a member of the Green Party of the US – but he believes such parties have failed to make an impact and become stagnant. He says there’s a sense that green parties are a function of the privileged classes -- people who don’t have to worry about a roof over their head, or having access to water and electricity."

Read Kovel, his analysis is right on.

"Capitalism goes, or we go"

My conviction is that Communism as well as Capitalism are both anochronisms. In an over-populated, resource-scarce world, centralized planning systems will fade from existence. How long? That's a question that I will leave for others to divine. However if I could make a bet and live long enough to collect I would wager that earth will never see nine billion people by 2050 as predicted by the U.N. By then the die-back should be in flower.


My conviction is that Communism as well as Capitalism are both anochronisms.

Actually they share the common problem that they are theoretical positions not sustainable in reality. Pure communisim would work in a 'perfect' world, where every person is 'perfect.' So would perfect Capitalism, though I suspect its ultimate 'work' would be one person would own everything in the world. Without going into a rant about that, Capitalism assumes everyone is acting on the same greedy impulses, and their combined greed would be evened out somehow by everyone being equally greedy. If anyone does anything for the greater good of society, that is communism to a capitalist, and it threatens their economic theory.

Communism has a proposition, "from every man, according to his ability, to every man according to his need." The problem comes when they start working and a few men shirk their duty, forcing others to work more, and then those shirkers demand and receive equal recompense, according to their need. That makes everyone want to shirk, for otherwise they are the patsy at the party. Ultimately the system fails from that... nothing gets done, the system is inherently inefficient.

Actually there is a bigger difference than that, since Communism is a social/political theory, while Capitalism is an economic theory. Capitalism works in theory in any state except a purely communistic one, since in that society the State owns everything. That is why capitalists hate communism so. It goes against their greed.

Communism is a good system wherever we are able to have self-service banks. No where.

Capitalism is a good system wherever pigs fly. No where.

Some blend seems necessary - socialistic libertarianism? If that is not a total oxymoron.

Zap, I don't think that is an Oxymoron. Personal freedoms would work perfectly well in a world absent ecconomic freedom. Good comments!

Communism has a proposition, "from every man, according to his ability, to every man according to his need."

Which in practice soon becomes: "We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us."

I spent 9 weeks in the USSR in '74 (exchange student) and I would say you nailed it pretty good. I didn't see too many people working hard there, especially the ones with the "good" jobs. The hardest working people there were the black marketeers.

But their standard of living was better than in the 1990s, when they had to work hard to survive in the brave new world of dog-eat-dog laissez faire "shock therapy" capitalism. Experience around the world demonstrates a mixed system is necessary. Ideology driven purity is a total failure.

Unfortunately, Russia lost 35 million people during this period, a fact little known (they are arguing if it was 25 or 35 million, but you get the point). The GNG lost 85% of its value, and the country was turned into a Kleptocracy.
It was a winger wet dream. Strauss would of died in orgasm, Hayack would of approved of the efficiency of the exploitation, and Reagan would of been speaking out, if he wasn't demented.

When I was in college, I studied Russian as a language, and I remember one cartoon that showed some workers looking over a table with a chess board and chess pieces scattered all over the place. The caption was "It looks like the night shift didn't clean up after itself again".

Some blend seems necessary

Thats where the problems come in. We are such suckers for purity, so we divide into two camps, one for pure Capitalism, the other for pure communism. Anyone who says they want to be in the middle is despised as a traitor by both camps.

I don't think "free enterprise" and "capitalism" are necessarily the same thing. You can have rational self-interest in business dealings without unfettered rule-of-money. I tend to distrust any strong "isms", and any large, powerful governments as well. Capitalism and socialism both tend toward central authority, including big businesses, yet efficiency and robustness seem to come from vibrant small companies. Bounding free-enterprise with reasonable mechanisms to protect both the commons and the individual and limiting the centralization of wealth and power seems to be a pretty good place to start.....except we're not in a position to "start".

I've always thought "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" works at the nuclear family level, but not much beyond that. Parents and kids know each others' abilities, and can judge their needs on a collaborative level. Maybe it works on a commune level, with people who really get along well, but beyond that, forget it.

BTW, off topic, there are a huge percentage of Americans who think that's in the Constitution.

"to each according to his need" works [well] at the nuclear family level


I guess in the Woods nuclear family, Tiger had big "needs"

What's in your needs bucket?

Of course, intent is not to pick on the Tiger alone.
We can make a long list of celebrity nuclear families with "special needs":

Bill Clinton
John Edwards
That governor who needed to travel to Argentina on State money (forgot his name)
That Senator who needed to do tap dances in airport washrooms (didn't forget his name)
The list goes on and on

Let's all kiss our needs bucket

I have no problem with Tiger Woods screwing around but he should have gotten an Ok form his wife or divorced her first.

The core of the Tiger Woods story is in its reporting and what it says about US moral standards.

The reporting also shows too well what the MSM considers important stories. "Oilgate" at the IEA has been completely ignored.

By all appearances, Tiger's Swedish wife did NOT give her approval, either before, during or after. Any emphasis on her in Sweden ?


Does anybody recall or know of a book that discusses the US being broken up into regions as a result of the energy crisis and future collapse of our current system? Much appreciated -- if you can help.

"Nine Nations of North America" - written in 1981 by Joel Garreau. Not sure I would have divvied it up the same way the author did, but very interesting.

One of my favorites. The topic is Economic Geography, which might be worth some Google or library searching by the poster upthread. "Nine Nations" is a little outdated, since it refers to my region as the Foundry, which has been gutted and shipped overseas to China in the intervening period.

You might think about water if you're looking at an energy-limited future. Another favorite is "The Great American Desert", probably long out of print. The "desert" starts at the 100th meridian, approximately North Dakota south to the Texas Panhandle. If you look at annual precipitation maps, it really stands out.

There was some Russian guy - Panarin? (sp?) - who was predicting that would happen in the next year or so. Real off the wall stuff.

Someone mentioned Nine Nations of North America, and that is interesting for getting a grip on where the cultural/economic fault lines are.

What you really want is to do a search on Bioregionalism. There have been quite a few books written about that, some in a general sense, and others focused more on just one region. Here's the "Further Reading" list from the Wikipedia article:

Peter Berg, editor. Reinhabiting A Separate Country: A Bioregional Anthology of Northern California. San Francisco: Planet Drum, 1978. ISBN 0-937102-00-8.

Michael McGinnis, editor. Bioregionalism, Routledge, 1998. ISBN 0-415-15445-6.

Kirkpatrick Sale, Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision. Random House, 1985. ISBN 0-8203-2205-9 (University of Georgia Press, 2000).

Gary Snyder. A Place in Space: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Watersheds. Counterpoint, 1995. ISBN 1-887178-27-9

Robert Thayer. LifePlace: Bioregional Thought and Practice, University of California Press, 2003. ISBN 0-520-23628-9

Emanuele Guerrieri Ciaceri. Bioregionalismo. La visione locale di un mondo globale. Argo Edizioni, Italia 2006. ISBN 9788888659190

Doug Aberley, editor. Boundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment. New Society Publishers, 1998. ISBN 978-0865712720

In addition to the above, there have been a lot of articles written, many in non-mainstream publications.

As for pieces of the US breaking off, the title that immediately comes to mind is Callenbach's Ecotopia.

Hope this helps.

Also, on the wu end of things, Robes, by Penny Kelly

World leaders reach deal on climate change in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN -- World leaders reached a climate deal Friday night, according to an Obama administration official and other sources familiar with the talks. They said the deal provides a means to monitor and verify emissions cuts by developing countries but has less ambitious climate targets than the United States and European governments had initially sought.

A draft of the agreement can be found here:


Phew! Glad that's over. Now I can relax knowing that I don't have to worry about melting glaciers, ocean acidification, over-harvesting our oceans to extinction, pollution or over-population. Let's go home folks. Nothing to see here.


I was watching Blitzer's CNN debate between Rep. Ed Markey and Sen. (King of the Trolls) Inhofe about AGW and oil reserves. It seems clear that Markey OilDrums (Hi, Congressman!). What I do enjoy about Inhofe is that he doesn't stetch or spin the truth. He looks straight at the camera and LIES HIS ASS OFF. At least he's an honest liar, IMHO.

I don't believe that Inhofe is lying. I bet he could take a lie-detector and pass it. Most people see the world through the prism of their dogma (self included). The difference is I have invested a lot of time and energy in getting better information. Thanks Oil Drum!


Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do?

Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do?

If I were given the job (of Lord), I wouldn't take that as an excuse. Making a good faith effort to understand whats really going on is the first requirement to get in my good graces. Of course that means the vast majority of humans would be in deep-deep doo-doo.

Note the question mark. No forgiveness here. These politicians take "unqualified" to a new level. They don't care what they do.

Yet another advert for rail travel - from the BBC:

Eurostar spokesman Grant Smith explained the reasons behind the breakdown of the trains, which has affected hundreds of passengers.

He said: "It's snowing in northern France. It's very, very cold. The weather conditions are very, very bad.

"There's a difference in temperature between outside the tunnel and inside. And that's why it causes technical problems."

Gee, what design engineer could possibly ever have anticipated temperature difference or snow in winter. I suppose this can be added to the annals of "leaves on the line" and "the wrong kind of snow on the line". And here I was, thinking how bad Amtrak can be...

Well, having waited one morning, many years back, in Union Station for several hours while WMATA tried to figure out how to get trains out of the yards when all their switches were frozen, I can sympathize. The good thing was that unlike most Metro stations, we just had to go back upstairs where there were lots of places to sit and have a cup of coffee while we gave up waiting on the platform with 1,500 other commuters.

Experience is the best teacher. Sometimes you just have to f*** up yourself to figure it out. And to their credit, next winter, they'd installed switch heaters in their yard tracks.

But airplanes NEVER have weather delays !

A properly run (and experienced) rail system will keep running when every other mode is down. No planes, no cars, trucks and buses, difficult on skis but the trains make it through. Getting to and from the stations can be a problem.

Best Hopes for well run trains,


The MSM is reporting that about the only things moving much in D.C. this morning are the trains.


Once the snow gets to be about 8" deep, they shut down all aboveground service:

We have about 8-10" now, but they haven't closed down yet.

The old secret is to keep them running at high enough frequency to keep the tracks clear (and ice off the wires or contact rails). *IF* it is a priority to keep them running (this varies from agency to agency).


I remember some number of years ago, they made an attempt to keep running through a snowstorm, and the 3rd rail iced up and stranded some trains. They ultimately installed covers and heaters to help control icing. I guess I figure it is just a part of the learning curve for any subway system - the very first stations were all underground, and it wasn't until that previous storm ('96??) that it became clear what problems they have with heavy snow.

This type of snowfall is really pretty rare actually - freezing rain or sleet is far more common, and that's harder to deal with. Light fluffy snow is much easier to just brush away.

Metro ready for winter weather on Saturday

Metro will have up to 20 trains equipped with de-icing equipment to combat snow and ice on the electrified third rail, which must be clear to allow electricity to flow to move the trains. Up to 12 trains will be available to operate in regular passenger service on all rail lines with the remaining eight trains in rail yards.

The de-icing equipment is neither dangerous nor flammable, and passengers should not be concerned that it is aboard their train. If they prefer not to be in a rail car with the equipment, they can move to another rail car. Those same trains also will have special scrapers to help keep ice off of the third rail. If ice builds up on the third rail, it does not allow for the free flow of electricity from the rail to power the train. Keeping the third rail ice-free is a continuous process.

Metro will use “heater tape,” which has been installed on sections of track with significant grades/inclines and in critical areas in the rail yards. The heater tape, which will be in use throughout the winter, is a cable clipped onto the third rail that is turned on when temperatures dip below the freezing mark to keep the third rail warm enough to prevent ice from forming.

At 1PM they closed the aboveground stations...

They will be running non-revenue trains with snow removal equipment however.

I would like to know more about these "technical problems".

Why are the trains failing due to the warmer tunnel?

This is off-topic, I suppose, but it has come out that there are now PDF files on the internet that are infected with malware:


In particular, King Features, which serves comics, somehow got on the company's web server. There are undoubtedly others. There will apparently not be a fix from Adobe until Jan 12th. You can protect yourself by turning off javascript in Adobe reader:


I bring this up mainly because us analytical types end up opening lots and lots of pdf files for one reason or another.