Drumbeat: December 24, 2009

Chilly Climate for Oil Refiners

Only a few years ago, a cry went up that the United States needed more oil refineries. The perceived shortage was so acute that George W. Bush, president at the time, even offered disused military bases as sites for building them.

Not only did that never come to pass, but the reverse is now happening. The business of oil refining is mired in a deep crisis, with five refineries having shut down this year, including plants in Delaware, New Jersey, California and New Mexico.

Gasoline demand, which many analysts had long expected to keep rising for decades, is down sharply in the recession. And refiners are increasingly convinced that even after the economy recovers, demand will not grow much in coming years because of the rise of alternative fuel supplies and the advent of tougher efficiency standards for automobiles.

Global energy crisis not expected before 2020, Russian expert

Global energy crisis is not expected before 2020, said expert Alexander Ageev, general director of the Institute of Economic Strategy of the Public Science Sector of the Russian Academy of Science.

Ageev's report on global energy security and alternative energy sources was presented at the Center of Strategic Studies under the President of Azerbaijan. The Russian expert noted that the traditional energy market relying on such energy sources as oil, gas and coal, will grow until 2030.

Saudis invest in Urals project

A consortium led by a Saudi royal has struck a deal to invest in an infrastructure project in Russia's Urals region, pointing to an upswing in business ties between the two largest oil producing countries.

Russia Transneft oil shipping fee to rise 15.9 pct

The oil shipping fee is the only source of profit for the pipeline monopoly, which has new pipeline projects and needs to maintain its infrastructure.

Chevron agrees to $45 million royalty settlement

WASHINGTON — Chevron Corp. will pay $45.5 million to resolve claims that it underpaid natural gas royalties to the government and Native Americans, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

James Hansen: Good Riddance, Copenhagen. Time for Better Ideas.

The proposals discussed in Copenhagen were like the indulgences of the Middle Ages. The sinners are the developed countries, which are responsible for most of the excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. They want to continue business as usual, by buying off the developing countries.

If developing countries can get a hundred billion dollars a year, that's enormously attractive. But both parties are thumbing their noses at young people and future generations.

Naomi Klein: Copenhagen's failure belongs to Obama

Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone's fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China's fault, or the fault of the hapless UN.

There's plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn't use it. If Barack Obama had come to Copenhagen with a transformative and inspiring commitment to getting the US economy off fossil fuels, all the other major emitters would have stepped up. The EU, Japan, China and India had all indicated that they were willing to increase their levels of commitment, but only if the US took the lead. Instead of leading, Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him.

Pockets of Promise in Natural Gas and Oil

TER: Given what you just said, you are a contrarian to the peak oil pundits?

PS: Absolutely. Peak oil is an economic impossibility and so it kind of makes me chuckle. It's the kind of story told to get people to pay way too much for oil resources, as they've been doing over the last decade. For example, Chesapeake Energy Corp. paid way too much for its natural gas resources precisely because its CEO is a complete believer in peak oil. Chesapeake Energy is going to do terribly over the next 10 years and will, I believe, go bankrupt.

TER: Why do you describe peak oil as an economic impossibility rather than a supply impossibility?

PS: It was the same way when people worried that the national phone networks would never survive the incredible demand for copper, because surely we couldn't find enough copper to string telecommunications networks over the entire world. Okay, maybe there isn't enough copper for that-but about 40 years ago people figured out how to use fiber optics instead of copper. Even before that, people figured out how to communicate wirelessly.

Oil is a valuable commodity because it provides us with energy. Energy is really the key issue. It does not naturally follow that a limited supply of oil would limit our production of energy. The idea that we would lose the ability to create energy in an economic way, in my mind, is absurd. The entire history of the human population is nothing but falling prices for valuable commodities-not measured in dollars, but measured in real terms. I have no doubt in my mind that by the time I'm dead the price of energy in real terms will be far less than it is today.

Oil rises above $77 after US crude supply drop

Oil prices hit a three-week high above $77 a barrel Thursday before surrendering most of its gains as a larger than expected drop in U.S. crude supplies fueled investor optimism that consumer demand is improving.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for February delivery was up 21 cents to $76.88 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid light volume, Christmas Eve holiday trading. Earlier in the session, it peaked at $77.48, its highest price since Dec. 4.

Energy prices to rally with no end in sight

Debate over the exact timing of peak oil (the point when the world reaches a maximum rate of petroleum extraction, after which production will always be declining) adds an interesting dimension to energy price forecasts. Some experts think we’re past this point, and others think it won’t arrive until 2020.

But whether you think we are near, at, or past peak oil is largely irrelevant. Oil is becoming increasingly scarce and the rate of adoption of alternatives is nowhere near the rate of increasing oil demand. The discrepancy is even more exaggerated in emerging markets then it is here in the U.S.

The Link Between The Economy And Oil Prices Strengthens

Crude moved above $77 today and it seems to be going higher. OPEC said it would hold production flat, a sign that it believes that demand can move prices up and that it can be blameless because it has taken a laissez-faire position in the market. The International Energy Agency reports that it expects demand to rise modestly next year, but that does not take into account a potential sharp improvement among the largest economies. “Peak oil” is only a theory, but most analysts believe that the supply and production of oil will begin to fall off within the next decade or two.

Iraq resumes oil exports after pipeline sabotage

Oil exports from northern Iraq resumed on Thursday after a temporary halt due to the weekend sabotage of the pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, the oil ministry said.

“The pumping of oil to Ceyhan resumed today with a total of 250,000 to 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) after repairs were carried out on the sabotaged pipeline and we hope that within hours it will reach its full capacity of 600,000 bpd,” ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP.

Transneft Concerned Bulgaria May Back Out of Bosporus Pipeline

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Transneft, Russia’s state-run pipeline operator, is concerned that Bulgaria’s new government will back out of a proposed oil pipeline designed to relieve tanker congestion in the Turkish Bosporus Straits.

“This government has made an unambigious announcement that this project is not profitable to Bulgaria,” Chief Executive Officer Nikolai Tokarev said in an interview with Russian state television station Vesti-24 today.

Bulgaria’s opposition to the link is a “worry” to Transneft as the government hasn’t come up with any alternatives, he said.

Russia's post-crisis revival to be slow - Medvedev

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's exit from the economic crisis will be slow and the world's biggest energy exporter will remain extremely vulnerable unless it can kick its dependence on oil and gas sales, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.

In an end-of-year television interview, Medvedev said Russian gross domestic product was likely to have contracted by at least 8.7 percent this year, though he said economic growth could total 2.5 to 5.0 percent in 2010.

Glencore Considers IPO After Crisis ‘Wakeup Call’

(Bloomberg) -- Glencore International AG, the world’s largest commodity trader, is considering an initial public offering after the credit crisis and tumbling commodity prices threatened to curb its funding.

Sinopec Says Business Conditions to Stay Challenging

(Bloomberg) -- China Petrochemical Corp., Asia’s largest refiner, expects business conditions to stay challenging next year as crude oil prices rise while fuel demand growth lags behind expansion in processing capacity.

The domestic oil-product market will be oversupplied next year when new refining facilities come on-stream and independent plants increase output, said President Su Shulin in an on-line newsletter today.

Lukoil sees profits plummeting by 45%

Lukoil, Russia's second biggest oil producer, expects net profit to fall this year by 34% to 45% because of weaker oil prices, the company's chief executive, Vagit Alekperov, told state television channel Vesti.

Russia's Gazprom inks deal to develop central Iraq field

BAGHDAD — An Iraqi official says a business partnership led by Russia's Gazprom has signed an initial deal to develop a small oil field in central Iraq.

Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad says Turkey's TPAO, Korea's KOGAS and Malaysia's Petronas are teaming up with Gazprom to develop the Badra field in Wasit province.

CNOOC teams up with Pdvsa

State-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Venezuela’s Pdvsa have signed a deal to jointly develop oil and gas reserves in the Latin American country.

Indian Oil Says No Word From State on Compensation

(Bloomberg) -- Indian Oil Corp., the nation’s biggest state-refiner, has yet to hear from the government on a cash compensation for selling fuels below cost, Chairman Sarthak Behuria said in an interview on CNBC-TV18.

“We are waiting to hear whether it will be bonds or cash,” Behuria said, adding that the refiner expects to lose 190 billion rupees ($4 billion) this year on sales of subsidized kerosene and cooking gas.

China urges electricity supply ahead of widespread temperature plunge

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China's State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) Thursday called for more efforts to ensure electricity supply and safe operation of power system ahead of widespread temperature plunge after a strong cold snap.

The cold snap, which already caused strong winds, heavy snow and temperature plunge between 10 and 25 degrees Celsius in northern parts of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was set to sweep across more than two thirds of the country's territory, China Meteorological Administration (CMA) forecast Thursday.

City Officials Say Drilling in Watershed Has Risks

New York City environmental officials said Wednesday that months of scientific research had indicated that hydraulic drilling for natural gas upstate could contaminate the watershed serving the city.

The study, undertaken by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, also showed that the drilling could damage infrastructure, including aqueducts, the officials told the city’s water board at a briefing.

In a forceful letter to the State Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday, the city’s acting environmental commissioner, Steven W. Lawitts, called on the state to withdraw its draft regulations approving the drilling.

REDI-ing Your Portfolio for a Low-Carbon Economy

Since Colorado Governor Bill Ritter recruited my friend Morey Wolfson for the Colorado Governor's Energy Office (GEO) he's had a lot less time to socialize with the rest of us in the clean energy community, but we caught up over lunch during the International Peak Oil Conference in October where I was speaking on investing for a peak oil world, and he is on the advisory board of the sponsoring organization, ASPO-USA.

Morey told me he had spent the last few months working on a report for GEO on the improvements needed in Colorado's energy infrastructure. Even though Colorado is in the top ten states for several renewable energy resources (Wind, Solar, and Geothermal,) it will be difficult to achieve significant emissions reductions in the fast-growing state, and I find government reports an excellent place to look for a clue to future government action.

On the move: Species face race against climate change

PARIS (AFP) – Land ecosystems will have to move hundreds of metres each year in order to cope with global warming, according to a letter published on Thursday in Nature, the British-based science journal.

The old world ended at Copenhagen

Throughout my 35 years in sustainability it has always seemed odd that while so-called economic rationalism reigned over our political, economic and business worlds, rational thought wasn’t applied to issues like climate change. The risks were always clear, as defined by rational science, while a logical analysis of the economics showed acting early was cheaper than acting late. Yet a strange kind of religious and ideological zealotry took hold, as otherwise sensible, educated people ignored rational thought. It was a failure of reason.

Obama says climate discontent is 'justified'

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said disenchantment over the Copenhagen climate talks was "justified" but defended the chaotic outcome as the top UN envoy urged an end to post-summit recriminations.

Kurt Cobb: Why climate change adaptation could make things worse

Perhaps the most widely agreed consequence will be a rise in sea level that will threaten low-lying coastal areas around the world. The consensus rests at around 1 meter by 2100, but the numbers are highly uncertain. What will countries do in response? Naturally, they will spend enormous sums of money to defend their coastlines. In the process they will create vast additional greenhouse gas emissions. Why? Because 86 percent of the world's energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Until that changes, adaptation strategies that involve energy expenditures will only reinforce climate change.

Global warming hike may be steeper: research

PARIS — Global temperatures could rise substantially more because of increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than previously thought, according to a new study by US and Chinese scientists released Sunday.

The researchers used a long-term model for assessing climate change, confirming a similar British study released this month that said calculations for man-made global warming may be underestimated by between 30 and 50 percent.

Christmas is too big to fail:


That was priceless comedy! Thank you..

Comedy? What comedy? That was actual policy!

Ok, satire then...

Thing which disturbs me is that Rudolf appears to have cast as a girl. Call me old fashioned but Rudolf is a bloke. That said, I get yer point. It does sum up the policy nicely.

Still, at least Mr Obama got his health bill through the senate. Haven't been following that particular debate closely but from what I can deduce he has gone and stuck the US tax payers' kids with even more debt. How has the bill gone down over there? Are people broadly in favour or is it a typical rich/poor split of opinions?

All though I hate our Labour party with every cell of my body it is nice to be able to walk into a doctor's surgery or hospital and not have to pay. Is that what this health bill will do for America?

All though I hate our Labour party with every cell of my body it is nice to be able to walk into a doctor's surgery or hospital and not have to pay. Is that what this health bill will do for America?

Are you crazy? Or perhaps a commie of some sort? This is America! We would never, ever go for a setup where you walk in, get treated, and don't pay. Of course this bill won't do that. What it will do is make sure that you buy insurance whether you can afford it or not (else you get fined -- although there is supposedly some sort of assistance for those who can't). The reason you Europeans have such a simple system is because you are so stupid. We Americans are smart. The bill (last time I heard) is some 2000 pages long and has a little something for everybody in it. With any luck, there could be something for you. You can be absolutely certain it was read by every Senator voting on it, just like they read the Patriot Act. Anyway, if you want to know what's in it, just read it. You've got the time over there, with 4 week vacations and all.

We take care of ours over here, our bankers, our insurers, our drug companies, our military corporations. You piss everything away on insignificant little people, and put the squeeze on the suffering and overtaxed rich. You've got a lot to learn from us.

although there is supposedly some sort of assistance for those who can't

But the insurance companies still get their cut-- even through it is paid for by the government and taxpayers-- we pay them,they take a cut, and they pay the doctors.
This is a corp whore wet dream!

If it passes, brought to your by liberalism, American style.;)

Or maybe I should put it this way. :-(

May we all open our eyes together one of these days and see the light of reality!

And of course I do recognize that if the democrats majorities were larger it MIGHT be a better bill.But I wouldn't bet much on it.

Hellth care conservative style is an oxymoron. Hellth care liberal style involves keeping poor and middle class folks barely alive enough to be corporate slaves. What we need is unobtainable in a country run by the corporations and their rich owners.

ET - well what are you waiting for? You Yanks and Confeds have the most sublime, perfect Constitution that our species has ever known. You have encased in that document all the cries for freedom from bondage and persecution you could ever need. You have historical precedent in your favour. When pen, ink and parchment weren't enough to release the slaves your ancestors fought a righteous war to that end. Now maybe your fore-fathers were not best mates with Old Abe, maybe Lee was their cuppa tea, but don't go winging to me about the State of your Union! Fight the bastards and win. Form a more perfect Union, a more decent Union.

I think you Americans are too self absorbed at the moment. You truly do not know what a wonderful thing you have in your Constitution.

HA thanks for the inspirational words. Entrenched kleptocracy probably can't be dislodged without bringing down the whole system. The US Constitution is a nice document, from what I've heard, Soviet Era USSR also had an exemplary constitution. I'm just trying to get along. Just got diagnosed with Parkinson's and am spending a lot of energy just dealing with that. Am otherwise healthy but am now coming intimately face to face with our so-called health care 'system'

Merry xmas and may Father Christmas do you right.

I think you Americans are too self absorbed at the moment. You truly do not know what a wonderful thing you have in your Constitution.

What makes you think we have it from what I can tell it was lost decades ago. I think Bush used the last copy as toilet paper.

As I said in another post bread and circuses are the worst form of enslavement and way to take over a government.
I'm sure Europeans will also eventually find that their year of easy living has left them with less than they realize.

About the only benefit is I think that the American populace is slowly waking up to realize that they have been robbed the only problems so far is they are demanding their cut of the loot. They have not quite got it yet but at least they know a robbery has occurred which is a step forward.

For Europeans the same game is being played although your form of bread and circuses is somewhat different more weighted to social welfare however what did you get ? And far far more important what was taken ? I think you will find your looters and ares are the same people.

Listen Memmel, ET,

Every generation should have it's revolution. My point is that your constitution IS worthy of fighting for. I class my self as 'A polite republican' . I have nothing but complete respect for HM. But I also know in my heart that being born to a position of authority is anathema to democracy. This is why I was silently cheering for Mr Obama at your election: the idea that the Oval Office would fall to another Clinton, after a Bush, after a Clinton, after another Bush made my republican (small 'R') teeth set on edge. What I see from recent trips to the US, is a country ill at ease with itself. Everyone I have spoken to on the subject is fed up with the plutocracy, but no one is prepared to fight to defend what makes America great. For God's sake, stop being scared! Get up and fight!

The Confederate States of America had the moral and Constitutional high ground and look how they got treated. (No I don't consider slavery part of this high ground but it was going to get phased out anyway.)

As for the modern plan, as I understand it, I have essentially NO income. I'm as poor as you can get in the US

(a lot of the homeless/street people I know in Santa Cruz are getting 2X-3X the pay I can get by working hard in the summer, just for waking up in the morning. They get SSI, SS, all kinds of cash assistance etc it's amazing. Plus a substantial panhandling income since their hearts are more in it than mine. I try to get a shower in at least 2X a week and keep fairly clean, don't look so poor, and these scruffy specimens have 2X-3X my peak buying power and for them it's all year around.)

So anyway, as I understand it, since I can't afford health insurance or to pay the fine, I still won't get health care but now I can be clapped into prison at any time. I'm now a criminal, the fines are administered by the IRS, which is a Federal agency.

This is how the bottom 30% or 50% are going to get herded into the Fedghettos AKA Fema camps etc. We're all federal felons now!

Fleam, you don't have to worry about being slapped in jail, paying a fine, or anything like that. Since you have no taxable income, you don't file a return. Consequently, there is no enforcement. The 'fine' is levied, based on taxable income, as a surtax. If you have no income, first of all there is no way to discover you did not purchase the mandated policy. Second, if they did find out, my information is that the Fed Gov't would pay the policy premium (but, I am not sure about that, so don't bet the farm!). Third, even if they did not, there is no fine if you have no income since there can be no surtax on "no" tax.

Of course, this does not provide you insurance unless you ask the gov't to buy your policy. Don't know how all of this is going to work, but from what I have seen it looks to be a few years off. By that time, most of the country may be as broke as you are... and it will not matter much what they 'official' policy is. It is like Obama said when he was just running for office, "...if mandates would solve the problem, we could just mandate that everyone must work, and end unemployment forever."

Good luck with that!

"Every generation should have it's revolution. My point is that your constitution IS worthy of fighting for. I class my self as 'A polite republican' . I have nothing but complete respect for HM. But I also know in my heart that being born to a position of authority is anathema to democracy." Posted by HAcland

Over at Archdruid Report, John Greer has an excellent post on one of the inherent paradoxes that comes with electoral political systems.

If there were to be any effective actions taken by the US government to mitigate the fallout from Peak Oil or Climate Change, they would have to be empowered sufficiently to summarily toss all the lobbyists and hucksters of all stripes off the decision-making table. They would also have to find a way to end "campaign contributions," as these are a direct lead-in to the corruption of the decision making process. And our constitution essentially forbids this.

Since elections are fundamentally ALL ABOUT WINNING, short-term thinking is built into the foundation of the system, and long-term thinking equally shut out. Intellectual honesty in any discussion is also shut out and replaced by rhetoric. And elections are rarely decided on the merits of the candidates or issues actually on the ballot, victory goes to whose spin-doctor comes up with the catchiest ad campaign, or who gets more boots on the ground out on Get Out the Vote activities such as running phone banks, doorbell ringing and distributing fliers.

A hereditary government, however, tends to the opposite. Without an election cycle every four years, long-term thinking becomes possible. The knowledge of rulers that their kids will someday succeed them also tends towards longer, multi-generational thinking. A hereditary ruler owes their position to no one save fate or the gods, and isn't therefore politically in hock to specific constituencies or corporate campaign contributions.

The US constitution is fundamentally ONLY about individual rights. There is absolutely nothing about it that encourages sustainability or living within our ecological limits, indeed, it discourages this and enables the opposite. The American system kinda-sorta worked in the era of continuous economic growth, when serious problems could be kicked down the road 20-30 years to metastasize further, while $$$$ from economic growth could be kicked down, usually in the form of Pork, to various constituencies to buy their votes, or at least neutralize potential opposition. I do not see any of this working in a steady-state economy, much less the century or so of actual contraction we are likely to see before we finally get to some sustainable level.

Antoinetta III

No one has chosen federalism-- it is a failed governmental system.
All new countries chose a parliamentary system, as it is more representational, and can adjust to change.

Dave, fabulous! I get your point...

(but please, don't EVER call me a EUropean again, or by gollly I will box your ears! I love everything about France, the Italians are cool, the Spanish too and even the Jerries are fun (so long as one doesn't mention the war). I love the Dutch, the Irish and the Austrians have the best skiing in all Christendom. But don't EVER call me a EUropean.

The EU is the least democratic institution there is. My Queen is my Head of State, not this unelected nonse from Brussels who has just been 'appointed' to the position of EU president. I have never been asked my opinion on EU membership. Not once. Both Tory and Labour have sold our country out over Europe. My parents got a vote to join the Common Market, and thirty odd years later we are the island outpost of an unelected Stalinist undemocratic fudge called the EU. Well to all those bastards in Brussels sucking up the gravy at MY expense you had better hope I don't meet you down a dark alley.

I would rather be a member of the 51st state of the Union.

(but please, don't EVER call me a EUropean again, or by gollly I will box your ears!

But from a health insurance point of view, you all look alike! Anyway, I get my ears boxed twice a week in karate class, thank you, so once more doesn't matter.

I would rather be a member of the 51st state of the Union.

Queue up.

I think Puerto Rico, Guam, American Somoa, the US Virgin Islands, and the US Marshal islands have precedence. ;-)

Haha I bet Hack's all talk, I find Brits entertaining (Benny Hill, the Viz Comic) but frankly, the ones with the balls to move here have all done so long ago. That's why England's such a quaint, odd, entertaining country. They're sort of the leftovers.

Hack will talk and talk but he won't actually move here or anything.

Mate - give me a Green Card and the name of a realtor in Montana and I am on the next plane out of Heathrow...!

You just need a good set of fake ID, which I should know more about, but don't.

Can you get a visitor's visa and then just .... .stay?

Fleam - if the good people of Montana want/need an experienced software developer then I would prefer to do it by the letter of the law. Seriously, if I could I would. There is no more beautiful a place than Montana (mountain top mining excused).

... Space! Open space! That is what the US has in abundance... Screw the 'economy' you have space.. Britain is a crowded little island with no where to go...

Well, you may be able to get work in a warehouse, or digging ditches or cleaning toilets etc. Day labor maybe. Sounds like you made the same kind of idiotic decisions in life I did, to go into tech/computers. Sigh - well, we've both got to live with it. I'm in the process of becoming an EMT, which will at least have some use in the coming times. And for what cash income is still possible in a collapse, there's no telling, there's not going to be much work as we understand it today.

Sounds like you'd never make it here if you want permission from the Queen to leave, tea'n'treacle's mighty rare here too so you'd better stay home.

Fleam - i am 34 years young. If I could wind back the clock to my sixteenth birthday, armed with the weapon of hindsight, I would have applied to Cirencester and studied agriculture. I am no Luddite, far from it, but my skills are not even paying me a decent wage in the 'pre-collapse' years.. Let alone be of use in the coming decades. That's why I say, give me open space any day over a crowded island like Britain..

What makes you think those skills will pay anything here? Those skills are universally useless.

Don't go thinking things are any better here than where you are, they're probably worse.

Your opportunities here will be on the underground economy, realistically speaking, you should count on surviving on the underground economy for the rest of your life here. You'll have to take on a false identity, and you'll get minimum wage if you're LUCKY.

It's a high price to pay for open spaces, England will have lots of open spaces after the dieoff you know.

Fleam - you don't think farming will have a place in the post collapse economy? Eh? What?

Ah, but you're too good to farm, you just want to press buttons.

Screw off! I am perfectly willing to roll of my sleaves and dig for victory...

Then why'd you say above that you want to work as a programmer, would only come to the US if a job is arranged ahead of time, and with the OK of all gov't entities?

And I think you ought to stick to the Easterm part of the US, or come out here to California, it really isn't an ecology able to sustain a lot of people inbetween and for some reason ALL the wild-eyed survivalists want to go there. You should try to be where things grow. Out where I am kicks ass, look up the town of Gilroy, California.

Bozeman just legalized weed.
Do you have any marijuana growing skills?
Bozeman in the 70s was one of the great spots on the planet. Someone should write a book, before everyone dies who remembers that magical time.
Three is a minor software biz in Bozeman, but more money can be made in other pursuits.

Britain is without doubt very badly placed to weather the coming storm and you're quite right to want out. But you need to consider where to decamp to very carefully. The tyranny of distance will be just as big a problem as overcrowding. Something us Brits tend to overlook as we're normally no more than 80 miles from the sea on our little island.

Given more space, what would you do with it?

Given more space what would I do with it?

Well, for starters I wouldn't have to pay £625 per month rent for a one bedroom flat having to listen to my down stairs neighbour's moronic music...

Space is important.. Just ask JT Kirk

If you want open spaces, why not go to Australia? Montana has lots of empty spaces and there's a reason for that. Even though Montana is south of London, it gets ball freezing cold in winter, not to mention the snow and blizzards. And, it's in the way of future droughts, if historical warm periods are any indication.

As a one time programmer, I wouldn't think you would have any better chance at finding that line of work than I. Remember, you are competing with programmers from China and India, a situation which I did not have to contend with. I've been mostly unemployed and have seen several instances where programmers from overseas took jobs I was qualified for.

No, Australia is the place for you. America is already flooded with people who are living beyond their sustainable level.

E. Swanson

Hmmm. I keep reading on TOD that Australia is drying out. HAC is right, there's lots of open space in the US. If you just go 100 miles perpendicular to I-95 up the east coast, you're in a land of farms and small towns, in the most densely populated part of the country. OK, maybe 200.

It's also an area with around 40 in (100cm) of rainfall annually. There's a chance it could be sustainable in some fashion in the long run. Montana, Wyoming, maybe, since they're ranching country and not too settled, but I wouldn't bet on anything else west of the 100th meridian. Formerly known as the Great American Desert.

My brother has a biz in OZ---
He thinks it is Arkansas with a beach--
Not impressed.

Australia is a dying continent and its inhabitants will be increasingly concentrated into the coastal zones and cities (even more so than now). Per capita energy consumption will probably need to increase much further to enable living in an increasingly harsh environment where nothing lends itself naturally to survival.

The one thing that does go in Australia's favour is its low population and abundant resources (a bit like Saudi Arabia). With a potential 2-4°c increase in global temperature within the next 50 years Australia will probably come to resemble a very large mining colony on the moon (ie. people increasingly living in and off an artificial environment with minimal contact with the natural environment). Like Saudi Arabia, Australia will probably end up using most of its own resources for its own survival otherwise de-habitation may well be necessary IMO.

Why Montana? As Jared Diamond lays out in Collapse, Montana has gone from being one of the wealthiest states, due its rich natural resources, to being one of the poorest - due to over-exploitation. The forests have been clear-cut, and what's remaining is poorly managed and therefore prone to devastating fires. Mining has poisoned the land. Arsenic and other heavy metals leaching from mines will poison the lakes and streams for 100,000 years. 90% of the fish in the rivers and lakes are dead. Once fertile farmland has a crust of salt over it. Some wells that used to produce fresh water now produce water seven times saltier than seawater. There's not enough water to support farming any more, and farms and ranches are being replaced by vacation homes for rich people. Montana used to export food, timber, and metal ore; now they are net importers of all three. Diamond argues that Montana has already collapsed.

Me, I think I'd like to move to Canada. Lot of empty space there, too, as well as an outsized chunk of the world's water (much more important than oil in the long run). And, I suspect, much less likely to burn evolutionists in the town square.

Anything around the Great Lakes looks good to me.

Montana has gone from being one of the wealthiest states, due its rich natural resources, to being one of the poorest - due to over-exploitation.

Montana's wealth was based on the fact that it once had the biggest copper mines in the world. However, the copper is now gone, and all they have to show for it is some of the biggest environmental messes anywhere. The abandoned Anaconda mine in Butte is the largest Superfund site in the US. After it was abandoned, it filled up with a mixture of arsenic and sulfuric acid, and the main problem is that it might overflow into Butte's water supply.

In recent years, Montana has achieved the distinction of having the lowest average wages in the US - lower than all other states, including such historically poor states as Mississippi and Alabama.

Me, I think I'd like to move to Canada. Lot of empty space there, too, as well as an outsized chunk of the world's water (much more important than oil in the long run). And, I suspect, much less likely to burn evolutionists in the town square.

It's quite disconcerting to drive across the border from Montana into Alberta. All of a sudden, the semi-arid plains with the occasional scattering of cows is replaced by hordes of prosperous little farms and towns. Southern Alberta has a lot of Mormons and a wide variety of other religious sects of all description, plus a bunch of Japanese that were forcibly moved there during WWII. They have done quite well at small-scale mixed farming, raising cattle and various crops such as sugar beets.

As you continue north, eventually you come over a rise and BANG! there's Calgary, population 1 million plus, more people than all of Montana. It's the main head-office and financial capital of Western Canada and second-largest head office center in Canada. It's also has one of the highest per-capita incomes in North America, never mind Canada. From there on north the farmland just keeps getting better and better and the farms more prosperous. Three more hours up the highway you hit Edmonton, which also has more people than Montana, and also has most of the oil refineries and petrochemical plants in Western Canada.

Montana's real problem is that it has a resources-based economy without having a lot of remaining resources, while it borders on three Texas-sized Canadian provinces which have far more natural resources of all types than Montana has - water, oil, gas, farmland and forests. These Canadian provinces have far more people than Montana, but that's not many people in proportion to their land area and resources.

Capt. Vasili Borodin: I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck... maybe even a "recreational vehicle." And drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Captain Ramius: I suppose.
Capt. Vasili Borodin: No papers?
Captain Ramius: No papers, state to state.
Capt. Vasili Borodin: Well then, in winter I will live in... Arizona. Actually, I think I will need two wives.
Captain Ramius: Oh, at least

The EU is the least democratic institution there is. My Queen is my Head of State, not this unelected nonse from Brussels who has just been 'appointed'...." This is a very strange statement without logic. You Queen is not only unelected, buy worse, she has the position by birthright. How could it be that a human born on this planet is not equal at birth? Birthright is a notion invented thousands of years back suck on other peoles labor. That has no place in a modern society. I rather take the EU.

Ngass -

I class myself (as do many others) as a 'polite republican'. I detest the idea of patronage and birthright. It is abhorrent that man should scrape and bow to his 'superiors'. I wish that we had the constitution of the US here in Britain: that all men are created equal. Tomorrow morning I will go to church to welcome my Saviour Christ's birth; I find it utterly distasteful that my head of state is also the 'nominal' head of my church (Christ is the true head of my church). It is equally distasteful that more than a few families living on these British Isles will have little joy tomorrow, will have scraped together a Christmas meal and will face 2010 with trepidation in their hearts. And all while Britain is experiencing the biggest gap in wealth ever recorded. Men earning 1,000,000 pound salaries for doing nothing more worthwile than shuffling paper about a desk. Bonuses for bank employees printed into existence because the bankers control the money supply and surpline politicos. What amazes me is that revolutions are not common place in western societies. We have allowed the greedy to rape us blind. But then perhaps it just that we are too comfortable with our abundant cheap energy supply and supermarket shelves laden with goods at pocket money prices that we don't care what our politicos get upto on our behalf. While the going is good we don't care a damn. Well, good luck come the fallow time...

But I am a polite republican because Her Majesty has served our country most admirably for more than 50 years. And for that I thank her. And if it weren't for her we would have some greasy war-mongering sod like Blair as head if state. And that would be truly abhorrent.

You've got the time over there, with 4 week vacations and all.

4 week vacations? I worked for a US corp all my working life - I always got 5 weeks + 8 bank holidays, my French colleagues get something like 7 weeks vacation - spit,spit!

Not any more. I started out 35 years ago with 2 wks vacation and 2 wks sick leave and over the years worked my way up to 5 / 2. Now I'm at a consulting firm and topped out at 4 wks and 3 days of combined vacation and sick leave. This is the industry standard, I'm told. I'm right back where I was at the age of 22!!!! Ain't America grand?

Yep most of us are going back to our 20s or teens or even pre-teens earning wise.

At the age of 22 I was working hard physical labor all day, living in a crappy little rooming house, saved up a year to buy a radio.

In some ways my living is a lot better now, but my income is far lower - that's a good thing, the first step in the big chess game against the Beast is to not make enough to tax.

Thing which disturbs me is that Rudolf appears to have cast as a girl. Call me old fashioned but Rudolf is a bloke.

Ahem. This is a science-based site. Santa's reindeer, including Rudolph, are obviously females. Male reindeer lose their antlers after rutting season is over in the fall, so have no horns at this time of year. The females keep theirs until summer. Santa's reindeer are girls.

that hit my funny bone

Leanan, maybe in some uber feminist enclave in a parallel universe (Uni Cal, Berkeley?!!) Rudolf might be a chick, but from where I'm from Rudolf is most definitely a bloke. And what's the problem with HIS antlers? They are magical antlers just like the sleigh too... They can grow whenever and where ever they like!!

Uhh, yeah, Rudolf's a dude and I have to agree with Hack here Leanan.

Hi Hacland,

I am not following this thing closely but right now it looks as if it may be a big winner for the paper shufflers who make thier money by -drum roll- shuffling paper of course.

If it includes a decent public option in the final bill it may be a net win for the country,depending on the features of the option.

You are probably aware that we spend an outrageous part of our health care dollars on salesmen, actuaries, lawyers, clerks, and advertismemts, and so forth, rather than doctors and nurses.

Somebody posted a link a couple of days ago as a rant about O Bama, which I read.The author is one thoroughly ticked off liberal professor and his main sore point was the health care bill, which he dissected in some detail . He judged to be mostly just another slop trough for the health industry hogs as currently written..

I'm sure that somebody who is computer savvy will post the link again again today for those who missed it.

We're the land of opportunity. Nobody else gives its citizens the opportunity to go bankrupt behind medical bills. What's the matter with the rest of the world?

The health care bill, like all our recent legislation, was ground into something that would get 60 votes in the US Senate, which thanks to an intransigent minority and the filibuster, has become a completely undemocratic (small d) legislative body.

It had to be written and passed by 4 different Senate committees, who didn't talk to each other, then reconciled (I'd call it watered down) in a way that the last two Democratic holdouts would vote for it. There were long efforts to get a couple of Republicans as well, but in the end they remained loyal to the Party of No. For the life of me, I can't understand why.

So we have a Senate bill that bends to the corporations, but will improve our notoriously bad "system" in a few ways, and a House bill that's a little more progressive. Next step is to have them get together and write something that the House likes that doesn't lose one Senate vote. That's a process that should be quite interesting.

The political blogger who seems to have the best grasp of the process writes at www.boomantribune.com. To those who are used to a parliamentary system, the US legislative process must be an impenetrable puzzle.

I guess I am really dense. Can someone please explain the joke?

You must be joking. Did you not watch the video? I thought it was halirious. And I loved the source: Mox News: Unfair and Biased.

Ron P.

I'm with you neverlng

I can't even see the humor in this crap anymore. It's just pitiful.

"Pockets of Promise in Natural Gas & Oil"

Quote from PS interviewed in above article :-

"PS: No. Alternative energy simply means energy that no one in their right mind would pay for

A large-scale coal plant and a power grid is the cheapest way to get electricity. The second cheapest way is natural gas under the same circumstances. The third cheapest way is nuclear. And those three are relatively equivalent, depending on the price of coal or natural gas at any given time."

I guess price is the only consideration. (/sarc off)

I would find it interesting to see price include externalities.

I would find it interesting to see price include externalities.

don't be daft. Everyone knows that global warmin' is a load of myth-based hocus pocus put about by wild-eyed enviro-fascist hippies hell bent on destroying our economy just so they can get a warm feeling in their hearts for saving the fluwfy polie bwears.

What we need is more coal. There is enough coal in them there hills to power civilization for centuries. We can't let them enviro-religious wing nuts shut down our coal fired power stations. We need more coal and less polar bears. We need more debt-based money, more consumerism, more deficit spending and more guns. A lot more guns. Frankly one can never have enough guns.

These are just a few of my wishes for the New Year.


May your New Year have 365 days in it ;)

And I actually woke up in a cheerful mood with good feelings towards my fellow man and hope for the future...

Then I read that article and I'm back to being my miserable, pessimistic, mean curmudgeonly self.
Now I can go forth and face the world as it really is. Thanks for posting that!

Sometimes it's best to take a couple of days off from this. Don't get so P.O.ed.

Don't get so P.O.ed.

Don't worry! I actually have real friends and family who I will be spending quality time with over the next few days...and my comments are mostly tongue in cheek ;-)

Link up top: Pockets of Promise in Natural Gas and Oil

The entire history of the human population is nothing but falling prices for valuable commodities-not measured in dollars, but measured in real terms. I have no doubt in my mind that by the time I'm dead the price of energy in real terms will be far less than it is today.

Since 1988 natural gas prices have risen 167%. Since 1994 electrial rates have risen 46% in the USA. Since 1995 propane rates in the US have risen 224%. Since 1995 heating oil has risen 387%.
A Look at U.S. Historical Energy Prices for Estimating Future Trends.

So much for the historical knowledge of Mr. Porter Stansberry. And his future predictions are probably as accurate as his historical knowledge.

Ron P.

Punditry is so easy, but technical issues are hard. Our culture suffers from a surfeit of easy pithy punditry, where people can make smart sounding comments about peak oil or global warming, and sound very knowledgeable, but haven't really done the work. Real understanding takes getting down into the numbers and having real expertise like many of our friends on TOD do. In the meantime, it's always easy to bat these concerns away with a smart remark, while reality creeps up behind.

Another quote from Mr Stansberry :-

"I happen to be shorting AEP, because they're going to put an enormous amount of capital into these carbon recycling systems, which are completely uneconomic and unnecessary. Meanwhile, the stock has negative cash flow and has for the last five years and I think it's in dire straits. The CEO now said publicly that they're going to move forward as planned and that it will only double the average person's power bill.

And he apparently believes that the demand for electricity will be unaffected by a doubling of the bill. I don't think there's any way in the world that any consumer would vote for a doubling of their power bill."

Well, on the one hand, I agree if you tell people their power bill is going to double, people will get upset. On the other hand, it is going to double anyway, with or without carbon sequestration, which I happen to think is not "unnecessary", and power companies need to be managing expectations.

Re "Pockets of Promise In Natural Gas and Oil"

If ignorance is bliss then Porter Stansberry may be the happiest man on earth.

His error, of course, is one that all sentient beings are prone to: answers that seem perfectly sensible within their own SMALL frame of reference, can become ludicrously idiotic when viewed from a broader and more encompassing frame of reference... and ultimately any sentient mind will hit its limit on how large of a frame it can wrap its wits around.

Partying in your parents house when they are away for the weekend might seem like a good idea at the time, but extend the frame of reference beyond the weekend and it won't look so blissful.

Stansberry is just another god damned stupid Capitalist, for whom financial profit trumps all other frames of reference. The fact that there is still money to be made speculating in the markets of coal, gas and oil blinds him to the larger frame: namely, that the work necessary to provide for 6 billion people will not be possible when energy sources deplete by even a relatively small percentage. His financial view of the universe is in for a very big shock when continual year-to-year expansion becomes physically impossible. No expansion = no annual profit on loans = no capitalism = no more Porter Standsberrys. At least there is that bright spot to look forward to.

no more Porter Standsberrys. At least there is that bright spot to look forward to.

Ah, why thank you, now I can go back to one enjoying one of my brief episodes of cheerfulness ;-)

What Is the Connection Between Oil and GDP Growth?

There is a great chart at this link but I haven't figured out how to post them. Anyway this was just posted today on Seeking Alpha but it looks like something that has been posted before on TOD. At any rate it is worth a second look. And it is nice to know that articles and charts from TOD is getting a wider audience.

Oil is the lifeblood of the economy:

In the 1960s Oil Supply Growth exceeded GDP growth.
From 1970s to 2005, OSG trailed GDP by 2 points.
2005, Peak Oil, end of Oil Supply Growth, except for momentum the end of GDP growth based on Oil Supply Growth.
From 2005 the trend has been horrific. Worse if measured in foreclosures and banking system collapse.

Ron P.

There is a great chart at this link

This chart?


Yup, that's the chart. GDP growth follows pretty closley to oil growth. Which means the GDP growth is over. The word just has not reached Wall Street yet.

Ron P.

Happy Xmas Ron, and the whole TOD community.

"The word just has not reached Wall Street yet." Will it ever?

Merry X-mas Ron.


May be it is the other way - oil growth follows pretty closley to GDP growth. Can't make out from that graphic.

This is another graphic that shows it better:

I'd hate to try and get a sound statistical reading on which way the causality arrow points in that graph. A variety of economists have tried all kinds of tricky statistics (eg, Granger tests) to "prove" the direction of causality for years, and I would summarize the results as "can't tell".

Certainly the ability to apply more external energy raises worker productivity; the classic "a man with a shovel versus a man with a backhoe" argument. At the same time, a backhoe operator earns more than the man with a shovel, and other things being equal, can spend more income on high-energy forms of leisure; jet travel across a continent for vacation.

It may be worth noting that oil and GDP followed each other more closely up until about 1975; from that point forward there has been some divergence. IIRC, much of that is due to increased use of nuclear, coal and natural gas for electricity generation.

Except that one man with a backhoe replaces ten men with shovels. Other than that I agree with you.

Will Gold Rush Continue?

CNBC's talking head, I forget his name, said this:

I've heard about peak oil now for a decade and it seems that they are always finding new ways to find oil or some derivitive thereof. Do you really buy into the fact that we are near what you term peak gold?

The implication here is that since "peak oil" is just a myth that peak gold might be just a myth also.

Ron P.

Edit: Sorry, I meant to post this as a new thread. I screwed up and posted it as a reply.

No problem, Ron. And happy X-mas, for all the TOD-ders

I started celebrating the Solstices, myself...somehow, dancing about around a circle of stones lit with candles seems appropriate ;)

You don't want to watch me dance. I threw a bunch of logs on the fire Monday night and called one a Yule Log. I guess I should have saved a piece of it for next year, according to the solstice tradition.

I thought about celebrating Festivus, too. The Airing of the Grievances, now that's my kind of tradition. Couldn't get behind the Feats of Strength, though ... I'm afraid I'd throw out my back.

Spring Tides,

I just recently finished a book titled America BC which is primarily about the stone structures found thru a lot of New England which are customarily but erronously attributed to colonial era farmers.

Quite a few are obviously astronomically oriented and many are increasingly recognized as being obviously very old.

I have poked into this a little more and there are some sites that were almost certainly used for ceremonial purposes such as celebrating the solstices.

Sorry I can't remember the authors name. I have already returned the book to it's owner.


This one ?

America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World, Revised Edition (Paperback)
~ Barry Fell

Fortunately, available at Amazon, and at the library. Another to add to my reading list, thank you !

As the Financial Times has noted, while all the world watched Copenhagen, a rather more ultimately significant event took place in Turkmenistan.

And as China and the rest of the developing world put the squeeze on and out compete the West for these resources, maybe P.S. has some magic formula for keeping energy prices "dropping".

Loan Program May Stir Nuclear Industry

In the next few days, the Energy Department plans to announce the first of $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for building new reactors.

This program was authorized by Congress back in 2005. Still, that level of loans seems large compared to the amounts offered to renewables, from my memory. But then, the loan money has been available for almost 5 years.

Daniel L. Roderick, senior vice president for nuclear plant projects at GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a partnership between General Electric and Hitachi of Japan, said that a year and a half ago, there were expectations that more than 20 units would be under construction by now in the United States. “That number is currently zero,” he said.

E. Swanson

Part of GE-Hitachi's problem has been what they are selling: extremely large-scale boiling water reactors, sized from 1.3 GWe up to as much as 1.6 GWe. At this point, there are few utilities looking to add that much capacity all in one place. There was a story in the NYTimes recently that said their list of serious US customers was down to Detroit Edison, but that deal was being reconsidered because the auto industry's problems had greatly reduced the power demand in that area.

I'm off down the booza for a pint. Stuff work. I'm taking the afternoon off. And next year I'm going to become a banker and get bailed out for a living. Much easier that the smeg-storm of a year I've had in dear old 2009.

Merry Christmas everyone. May you know peace, love and laughter. And thank you for all the wisdom and excellent articles. I have learned a lot from TOD this year. With folks like y'all maybe - just maybe - the human race can survive the coming decades.


PS has a confusing definition of Peak Oil, doesn't he?

Porter Stansberry has a politician's view of world energy--in other words, a sound byte perspective provided by an aide.

Stansberry was bearish on natural gas from 2006 on:

I suppose he missed the huge run-up in natural gas prices that occurred from September 2007 until July 2008 when natural gas spot prices reached $13.20/MMBtu in the U.S. and averaged $8.67. This was the first time since the deregulation of natural gas that a price spike that was unrelated to weather occurred. While speculation played some role, it seems that supply was an important factor.

Undisciplined over-production by shale gas players and the global recession ended this peak. Stansberry is also apparently unaware that natural gas prices have recovered to almost $6/MMBtu after a year when prices averaged less than $4.00.

Stansberry thinks that there are huge natural gas opportunities in Mexico:

He says that the geography doesn't change at the U.S.-Mexico border and, therefore, there are great gas opportunities in Mexico that merely have to be drilled to be found. He is, again, hopelessly ignorant about geology which, in this case, is much more important that geography.

PEMEX made a major effort in the Burgos Basin, just south of the Rio Grande River, beggining in the early 1990s, and has increased production but only to a peak of 1 Bcf/day. This is a notable volume but not enough to keep Mexico from importing gas from the U.S. The geology is different because the reservoirs in Mexico are less porous and permeable than the same rocks in the U.S. because they contain more volcanic clay-rich components.

PEMEX had a huge push to find more natural gas throughout Mexico in the 1990s without much success. While Mexico shares the Gulf of Mexico Basin with the U.S., the high-quality reservoir rocks that exist in the U.S. Gulf are simply not present in Mexico.

Stansberry thinks that huge oil discoveries have been made in offshore areas of West Africa and Brazil that refute peak oil concerns.

It is true that important discoveries have been made in West Africa, but the boom occurred a decade ago, and much of this production is now mature. The Jubilee Field offshore Ghana is the biggest recent discovery and, while 2 billion barrels is important, it is a fraction of the 31 billion barrels of oil the world consumed annually in 2006-2008.

The giant discoveries made since mid-2007 in Brazil's Campos Basin may cumulatively be as much as 35 billion barrels. These are impressive discoveries but are just slightly more than what the world uses in a single year. In fact, reserve changes have only reached or exceeded 90% of annual consumption in three years since 1990.

Clearly, huge discoveries do not mean that world demand is replaced.

Stansberry thinks that peak oil is an economic impossibility.

What does that mean?

Stansberry thinks that oil is only a subset of energy and that there is no problem creating enough energy despite the fact that oil production may be limited.

The problem with this viewpoint is that we do not yet know how to supply transportation needs without oil. All the energy in the world does not solve this problem.

I suppose that Porter Stansberry subscribes to the belief that at some price, there will always be a way to produce more oil. While this may be true, he does not consider whether this will supply enough oil to meet demand, or what are the economic implications of super-expensive oil.

37% of the world's energy is from oil, 25% from coal(80% concentrated in 6 countries), 23% from natural gas and 6% from nukes.


Here's a chart showing approximately the primary power sources of our energy(not just electricity).

Frank Porter Stansberry was convicted of fraud in 2007 by the SEC.


Great catch there maj...thanks.

And a Happy Holiday to ya!

Not too Grinchy, eh?

Merry Xmas, ROCKMAN!
Here's to finding some more North American hydrocarbons!

Oil should back up to $100/barrel in 2010 at least.
And the world goes on its merry way.

maj -- Gonna make a run at that big hydrocarbon pie in the sky in a couple of weeks ourselves. Start drilling for a legitimate 20 million bo and 100 bcf. About a 50/50 chance that it's there: either it is or it ain't. Would be on the barge rig now but they got hung upon their last well and delayed. Nice to be home for the holidays for a change but you can imagine how we're about to come out of our skins waiting to see if it's there. Biggest potential well I've ever drilled.

Good hunting, ROCKMAN.
50/50 is a coin toss.
BP's success rate is 15 out of 25 wells.


The odds are in YOUR favor.

John Michael Greer The Political Ecology of Collapse

...the central political fact of the limits to growth: the reduction of First World nations to a Third World lifestyle that will be the inevitable result of any transition to a postpetroleum world, whether that transition is deliberate or unplanned. Metaphors about elephants in living rooms don’t begin to touch the political explosiveness of this fact, or the degree to which people at every point on the political spectrum have tried to pretend that it just isn’t so. Still, set aside delusions about miraculous new energy sources that show up basically because we want them to, and it’s impossible to evade.

Let’s walk through the logic. The most reasonable estimates suggest that, given a crash program and the best foreseeable technologies, renewable sources can probably provide the United States with around 15% of the energy it currently gets from fossil fuels. Since every good and service in the economy is the product of energy, it’s a very rough but functional approximation to say that in a green economy, every American will have to get by on the equivalent of 15% of his or her current income. Take a moment to work through the consequences in your own life; if you made $50,000 in 2009, for example, imagine having to live on $7,500 in 2010. That’s quite a respectable income by Third World standards, but it won’t support the kind of lifestyle that the vast majority of Americans, across the political spectrum, believe is theirs by right.

That’s the bomb ticking away at the heart of America’s political system. When it goes off, the entire system of government by pork barrel will explode messily, and it’s only in the fantasies of reformers that what replaces it will likely be any improvement. (My guess? Anything from a military coup followed, after various convulsions, by a new and less centralized constitution, to civil war and the partition of the United States into half a dozen impoverished and quarreling nations.) In the meantime, we can expect to see every possible short term expedient put to use in an attempt to stave off the explosion even for a little while, and any measure that might risk rocking the boat enough to set off the bomb will be quietly roundfiled by all parties.

Greer's analysis of the end of cheap energy continues to be the voice of reality in a sea of partisan delusion. His challenge to "take a moment to work through the consequences" of energy scarcity drives home the point that Americans (all first worlders for that matter) will never voluntarily reduce energy consumption. For instance how many in the 350.org movement will be on board when they come to the realization that they will have to give up their BMW's, high powered laptops and morning lattes? Any top down attempts to impose restrictions to consumption through taxation schemes will be met with hostility ranging from derision to outright revolt.


Hi, Joe

I agree that the Beemers are going to be fond memories but maybe the laptops and the lattes will still be affordable- if we build them just a little better laptops can last for twenty years easily, and if we walk or take a streetcar or bike to a niehgborhood bar, a latte should still be within reach if you have a job, considering the likely wages of baristas and coffee shop rents o after tshtf.

Coffee can come by slow boat and a hundred pound bag will make a lot of lattes.

Maybe the future is not as dark as we sometimes imagine it.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year to everybody!

mac -- you know about the passion we folks from New Orleans have about coffee with chicory? During that long forgotten war the folks in NOLA were cut off from their coffee suppliers. So they roasted the chicory root as a sub. When coffee arrived once again they had developed a taste so they kept the blend alive. Took me a few years to stomach regular Texas coffee after I migrated across the Sabine River.

Might be time to plant some chicory.

Rockman --Keep that chicory coming. I've been a Luzianne drinker for decades. I know, I know, there's probably better stuff in New Orleans, but it's what I have access to up north.

I went into a panic the week after Katrina and rushed to the grocery stores to see all the Luzianne gone. Oh noes!! Turned out they had a sale that week, and that's why it was cleaned out. Also turns out it's made in other places as well.

A couple of years ago, it was off the shelves again. It's now only available through mail order. I'm about to buy another case. Do you (or Alan, if he's listening) have any other mail order recommendations? Is there something else I should try?

Planner -- it's not chicory but I like Cafe Bustelo. No chicory but an expresso. If you're not careful it will curl your toenails. Seems to be available many places. I think Cafe Du Monde does mail order. Used to stop there often on the way to school for a cup and an order of beignets.

Happy Holidays!

You can find Du Monde anywhere there's a Vietnamese population, it's used for all of their coffee drinks.

Try a ca phe sua da some time, you'll know why they were able to kick us out of their country.

Pronounced caw-fee-soo-dah. Basically, ca phe is coffee, sua is the syrupy condensed milk you stir (it sits like a bomb on the bottom and the general rule is to stir for a few minutes to get it all dissolved) and da is cold, after stirring up this "love potion no. 9" you dump it into the tall glass of ice provided, and stir that up. And drink. And your toenails curl.

Thanks fleam. Sounds very interesting. Got a big Viet population Houston...I'll hunt some down Saturday.

Coffee with chicory is BETTER! That stuff's good!

Patriotic Civil War stuff eh? I might have to plant some chicory too.

We live in Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC, and sometimes shop at Patel Brothers grocery in 74th Street (known as Little India). I was delighted to find a roast and ground coffee 53%/chicory 47% mixture there, $5 for 500 grams (17.5 oz). The brand is BRU Green Label, made in India. Tastes good, like I remember New Orleans coffee many years ago. The product doesn't seem rare, because I bought another brand with a slightly different balance of coffee and chicory that was also good.

We've also picked up Peet's Coffee from San Francisco at a 99 cent store on 82nd Street south of the subway, $1 or $2 for a a twelve ounce package. A&P's Food Emporium in Union Square Manhattan wants $9 for the same thing. Fresher, probably, but we aren't picky.

Merry x-mas OFM.

"Maybe the future is not as dark as we sometimes imagine it." I agree.

Greer, in the course of his writings, makes the point over and over again that sudden, dramatic collapse only happens in the movies. Even Easter Island took generations to arrive at a miserable group of starving cannibals that Capt. Cook first set eyes on. Slow catabolic collapse is death by a thousand cuts.

Consider this: In the wake of Katrina and the tsunami people from all parts of the planet pulled together to give aid. But OTOH as James Workman points out in The Heart of Dryness, a drought (primary resource scarcity) will pit brother against brother in bitter blood feuds. Resource scarcity (Peak Everything) will be the driver of bloody conflicts and genocides the scale of which will dwarf the tragic events of the 20th century.


Yes, I've wondered what will happen to my lattes. I think I won't be able to get all the varietals I can now get from http://www.sweetmarias.com and make my own blend. May even have to get pre-roasted stuff from *bucks - yuck.

In other words: BAU has very high inertia.

One small problem, among many, and just as a downpayment on the whole affair. On Greer's analysis, it's far more than just the snarky "BMW's, high powered laptops and morning lattes":

Take a moment to work through the consequences in your own life; if you made $50,000 in 2009, for example, imagine having to live on $7,500 in 2010.

In the USA and other 'developed' countries, per capita spending on health "care"* alone is already half of that, and is on a steep upward trajectory as 'we' learn how to spend ever more and more to gain a few extra hours of what we pretend to be "life". And it's compelled by government force almost everywhere, soon to include the USA at long last. And each working person supports roughly one other person, so after paying out the government mandate, there would be zero, nada left to live on.

Now, if a few live on $7500, they can be subsidized. But if the overall level is to be $7500, then something is going to break rather badly, and it's going to be far more than just easily-expendable morning lattes. Worse still, the proportion of spending going for food is going to have to rise if it is produced more labor-intensively (which could happen even without returning to the eighteenth century.) So health "care" may have to be cut even more than proportionally, and limited to what is very highly cost-effective.

IMO it follows that when we contemplate such a future, we ought to move beyond snarking at those who are prosperous, which is anyway not uncommonly a monumental self-justification indulged in by those who are too shiftless to contribute anything to society, but are still outraged when they fail to receive super-deluxe everything "for free" from "the government's" bottomless box of pixie dust. We ought to follow through seriously from time to time, and explore obviously-likely consequences of our scenarios.

Given the strident moralizing and overweening entitlement mentality with respect to health "care" throughout the West, slashing it by, oh, say, 80% to 90%, is not going to make for a pretty social and political picture, should Greer's $7500 scenario come to pass...

*I deprecate it with quotation marks on recalling an old Molly Ivins column in a physical book somewhere, mentioning that 60% was spent on the last month of life. That was back in the early 90s. These days it's got to be more like 75%, and it's really a prolongation of death, apparently intended to appease the airy Marxist moralizers and the airy right-wing moralizers - who become functionally one and the same at the extreme where far right and far left merge into one.


I'm not about to argue with you if our incomes crash by eighty or ninety percent.

On the other hand when things change so drastically in terms of income lots of other things do change that tend to work to soften the impact.

Seventy five years ago my Old Pa could afford a plate of bacon and eggs on the days he went to town as a near broke farmer selling apples out of his wagon because the plate if I remember correctly cost twenty cents.

This is because the restaurant paid no rent, no bookkeeper, no advertising, used no throwaway products,and had no employees but rather only the owner and his wife who had no investments or health insurance ,and only a very minimal electric bill for thier fairly new fangled lights.
They had no automobile and lived in the back and were happy to clear two or three dollars a day above and beyond what they ate.I am sorry to say that although he knew them well I cannot remember thier names.Time flies.

And he probably actually paid that twenty cents only on rare occasions, trading salt pork, apples, and probably cream and eggs for his occasional meal in town.

I tell this tale tonight partly because I sorely miss the old folks who are gone but mostly to illustrate that commerce can still continue on even when it seems impossible.

I often see articles written by various authors who tell us that the poor people in so and so country live on the equivalent of a dollar or two a day.I am no traveler, but the assertion is an absurdity on it's face unless accompanied by an explaination of how this is accomplished, since it is impossible to buy enough food for two dollars a day to live in the US-not to mention shelter, clotheing, etc. .

The explaination is seldom included of course but it involves a sufficient amount of non monetary income to make up the difference,this income being the result of unpaid work that substitutes for money.These people are DESPERATELY poor of course but mostly they aren't actually starving.

I stretch my own money income quite a bit by doing many things that substitute work for cash such as personally maintaining and driving only an older truck.This alone raises my income EFFECTIVELY by as much as three or four hundred dollars a month since I never have to make a payment.

Having lived in countries where people commonly live on a dollar a day...often, they aren't really that desperately poor. It's just that costs are much lower, too. If people earn only a dollar a day, you cannot charge $2 for a box of eggs.

Yes, which simply means that saying they live on a dollar a day does not present an accurate picture. One really has to take purchasing power into account, and on the basis of what people actually buy rather than on the basis of what a prosperous Westerner might buy. And if a lot of commerce goes on under the table, that also has to be taken into account to get a realistic picture. The problem of course is that the analysis becomes multidimensional and therefore a bit tricky.

There's not a scintilla of doubt in my mind that commerce will continue on in any scenario short of full extinction. It predates fossil fuels by millennia, and it sometimes was done on a surprisingly large scale. My main point was more about current Western notions of entitlement, and particularly with respect to medical care, which would eat up the entire hypothesized $7500. The usual hyper-moralizing strongly suggests that any downward adjustment to medical care will create enormous social friction. Of course if $7500 becomes the typical income due to deflation without much change in relative prices, then it's just a change in the size of the unit of account.

However, I figured we were discussing going from $50,000 to $7,500 in constant dollars (including under-the-table commerce, since otherwise we're discussing legal nitpicks rather than practical living standards.) Yes, things happen to blunt the impact, but nonetheless, with one-sixth as much stuff to go around, a great deal of what we are accustomed to in all areas of life would simply have to go undone. The most immediate need is to eat, so a disproportionate share would have to come out of everything else, including medical care. And indeed, in poor countries; medical conditions we are used to having treated as a matter of "right" (however convoluted and dysfunctional our current system of payment may be) frequently go untreated. For example, if your relatives can't afford to transport you to the hospital, which might be a lengthy canoe trip upriver, or if one or two of them can't afford to stay to feed you and whatnot, you may simply not be going to the hospital at all.

There is a big difference between now and 75 years ago that should not be blithely overlooked. 75 years ago, at the start of 1935, there was barely anything that could be called medical care (Blue Cross was new, and Blue Shield didn't even exist.) The issue I was raising barely existed. What little medicine there was took up about 3.5% (PDF) of a far smaller GDP. Today it's heading for 20% of the currently vastly-larger GDP.

Even on an undisturbed BAU trajectory (which would seem unlikely to me even with no constraints on fossil fuels, simply because hyper-exponential piling-on of debt can't continue forever), there would be major fireworks since we can hardly afford what we're doing now. So it's hard to imagine the strife from a cut in real income to a $7500 level...and that will differ markedly from currently-poor countries because people who had something and find it snatched away tend to react far more strongly than if it had only ever been a distant abstraction that they had never really built into their lives...

"....a great deal of what we are accustomed to in all areas of life would simply have to go undone."
Posted by PaulS

The reference to things "in all areas of life" having "to go undone" caught me as I was reading your post. As I am on the periphery of San Francisco's political scene, I am close enough to see that EVERYTHING the city does is extremely, even obsessively process oriented. Not to go on a rant here, but almost all of this stuff creates enormous amounts of "busy work" for which hundreds of millions worth of contracts are given out to nonprofits to perform, not to mention the increased hiring of direct city workers.

Now we're facing massive budget cuts, and people in various city departments are running around wondering what they will have to cut, but I have heard no discussion about trying to sustain particular objectives while cutting out unnecessary procedure and process.

Unfortunately, a lot of this stuff was legislated at the behest of one or more local constituencies. It's going to be hard to un-legislate things, and on a larger scale, doing so would be a sort of warning sign that the era of "Progress" may be over. Yet it seems obvious that if even local government is going to be at able to provide any services, this type of downsizing will be essential. Just wondering on how others see this dynamic playing out; I'm sure it is not unique to San Francisaco.

Antoinetta III

You have obviously checked out the origin of the word business.
Why are we still trying to cut each others throats for something we don't even need???

The Four Stages of the Oil age:

1) Discovery, peaking in 1964

2) Exponential production increases

3) Rocky Plateau, starting in mid 2004, 40 years after #1, (same as w/U.S. production, Disc. 1930-peak 1970)

The credit bubble bursts in July 08 due to lax credit regulations, but would have burst during stage 3 at some point due to a lack of cheap energy supply.

The credit bubble bursting at the same time as the first higher priced energy economic pulse is not a fluke, and will occur again. As the economy flutters back into expansion, increasing oil demand will cause another pulse up in price followed by a sudden drop. Each successive pulse will cause more economic displacement with more foreclosures, bus. shutterings, and a reduction in societal complexity.

Increased cost of energy is somewhat countered by increasing debt levels, essentially borrowing with the idea of continued economic expansion.

4) Sharp production decline, predicted here on TOD to occur first in 2012 with a supply crunch.

At this stage world oil supply cannot meet demand at a price the world economy can support. Countries hoard oil and food. The price of food goes up exponentially. Food riots ensue in cities, causing irreprable damage to food distribution networks. When the food stops flowing to market and its resources are exhausted, people in the cities spread out into the suburbs and rural settings.

The problem at this point is there is not enough food for everyone, yet we are all still alive. People hunker down and make do with what they have, but those that don't have food go in search of it, and those that have it do whatever they need to do to protect it.

The currencies of the world become valuless. A 100 dollar bill blowing down the street means nothing more to you than as a momento of the oil age, or as a means to start a fire. World population will plummet to a level the food supply can support. However, mega farms will become obsolete, as there will be no incentive for farmers to till the soil when the banks close and the dollar is worthless.


2013: Welcome to the Post Oil Age

Sorry I won't be here to reply to posts, but of to work I go.

Come on, what's this. You post your doom scenario and then you escape ?

I pushed the red button and then exited stage left to work my business. What you have to ask yourself is, is it doom or is it potentially prophetic?

Linked on Calculated Risk, another article about our friends in the investment bank community. I am reminded of the story about Morgan Stanley "walking away" from a mortgage obligation on some commercial buildings, while other banks go after residential mortgage debtors for deficiencies, where they can.

Banks Bundled Bad Debt, Bet Against It and Won

Goldman was not the only firm that peddled these complex securities — known as synthetic collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s — and then made financial bets against them, called selling short in Wall Street parlance. Others that created similar securities and then bet they would fail, according to Wall Street traders, include Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, as well as smaller firms like Tricadia Inc., an investment company whose parent firm was overseen by Lewis A. Sachs, who this year became a special counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. . . .

“The simultaneous selling of securities to customers and shorting them because they believed they were going to default is the most cynical use of credit information that I have ever seen,” said Sylvain R. Raynes, an expert in structured finance at R & R Consulting in New York. “When you buy protection against an event that you have a hand in causing, you are buying fire insurance on someone else’s house and then committing arson.”

I received my second chain email about Bakken today. I responded to the sender and then I checked snopes. Lo and behold, a decent analysis of the email was given. Snopes is pretty amazing. However, the website did not recommend that one should learn to grow their own food and harvest rain water like I do.

Snopes - Bakken Formation

Had never seen Scopes befor gog...thanks. They do a fair job of throwing a little water on the Bakken hype. But they let slide the 800 billion bbl recoverable claim from the oil shales despite the fact that not even one bbl has been produced yet at a profit.

I've pretty well trained my e-mail correspondents to stop sending (to me at least) chain emails. Every time I get a an email like the Bakken story, I send them the Snopes link (and about 95% of the time the story is false, or vastly exaggerated).

Incidentally, after 50+ years in Texas, I am going to have my first ever Texas White Christmas. Only about 1" where we live, but the snow is still coming down, with 8" NW of us.

I think I trained a couple of people where I work the same way. After sending back one or two Snopes links, all the emails I've received since then have been legitimate.

Snopes is really good on the email hoaxes. Any time you read something that seems a little bit fishy, or that looks like it's been forwarded more than once or twice, check Snopes.

EDIT: PS Congratulations on your White Christmas. We're having one too, thanks to the nor'easter that went up the East Coast last weekend, and the deep freeze ever since that's kept the 18" of snow from melting.

Sounds like a good tip planner...thanks.

We had our White Christmas in Houston a little early this year. All 1/4" of it. but was nice for the few hours it lasted.

i'm looking at the ac charger for my "high powered" lap top.
input:100-240 volts 1.7 amps, 50-60 hz. consumes 65watts.
buh? is dat high powered? my portable solar power generator will handle this with ease. even a 32 amp hour bat-tree will give me lots
of time to post comments on the oil conundrum. you can see my portable solar powered generators at:
make one yerself you boffins of glory or be gobsmacked.
surf the web, have a light and lissen to musak. sivilization is preserved! or just post comments to the oil conundrum and do nothing.

so the great state of nj has a 40% rebate on solar PV systems and you can get 30% from feds. the contractor who put up my 3KW system is selling a 1.8 KW system up front for $15,000 (do the math). the state has earmarked 52 million "box" through 2012. the BPU website sez in bold italic red letters that incomplete forms or with errors will result in immeadiate return of form and you lose your spot in queue. so now a days a 3.6 kw system is 30 grand. is that better than 3 KW for 25 grand? i expect that accepting the rebate means you cannot take the system with you to new digs, same as before.

now to be perfectly clear, a home owner has to pony up $15,000 first. then you get the rebates. who has that cash laying around? not too many it seems. i dont see many (as in none)systems going up. what if people traded in the their clunkers for new 4x4 pickups and are all tapped out? i doubt if many members of the unemployed class are considering such a purchase or those about to default on mortgages.

nj has 4500 or so solar systems in place. wow, the most densely populated state has 4500 systems (including mine).

i recommend staying away from 1.8 KW low output system. go right to 6
or 9 KW. i dont know if the rebates are limited to grid tied only and dual grid tied/battery systems are much more expensive.

i got the "cat" stove going today and expect to burn wood through saturday afternoon. i am getting more BTU's and practical energy from that than those snow obstructed panels on the roof. nope, aint going up there to clean them off. maybe the 40 degree rain this weekend will wash them clear.

"warmest" regards of the holiday season to everyone and sundry. "it's all good"....SN@RX!

What's a "cat" stove?

Laptops seem to be every bit as reliable as desktops, and what's better, you can grab it and run more easily.

Lots of just grabbing what you can carry and bugging out in today's economy.

Which brings me to: Greer is being optimistic saying you have to learn to live on 15% of your salary, I'd say it's more like 10% or less.

"What's a "cat" stove?"

I think he is talking about a wood stove that is certified for use in certain areas with restrictions.

There are two ways of cert. one it by putting a catalytic converter in line with the exhaust flue (not good for many reasons) the other gets a clean burn through superior design which burns nearly all combustable gases thus providing more heat than the "cat" design.

OK because a "cat stove" is a little alcohol stove for campers made out of a cat food can.

Catalytic was my other guess.

And I don't think I want to think about putting a cat. converter in line, I'd rather go with an efficient design.

Since I don't have money to buy anything, it has to be something I build myself. It's a "Spare The Air" day but that means no logs in fireplaces .... right now I use a very balky kerosene heater I think that's OK.


I believe Greer was using the 15% wages as a far out example to show what 15% energy would be like. We will live on 15% energy without petroleum based products i.e alternate energy products.

What he doesn't address is that damn near everything is made from petroleum products so we will do without tires, paints, plastics, etc. and a PV system cannot make a tire AFAIK.

We're still going to have coal, and I don't see why petroleum derived from oil shale cannot be used to manufacture things like tires. I see us living with 30% less energy, transportation will be a serious issue. There will be serious political and economic changes as a result but I don't see us reverting to 1805.

I don't see us reverting to 1805 either, but hell, we don't really know, do we? I'd like to think that the science and engineering we've learned since 1805 will be useful, and I like oldfarmermac's opinions that we can keep old diesel tractors running for decades, but it's really crossing your fingers and wishing, isn't it?

As for me, I figure my end will come at the wrong end of one of my neighbor's shotguns.

Back to 1805? Well, the technology of gun making certainly won't go back that far. Flintlock muskets? More likely, it would be 1898 Mausers or 1903A3 Springfields. Especially as 10 guys with bolt actions would wipe out 100 guys with flintlock muskets marching in formation before the guys with muskets got within range to shoot their first blast.

E. Swanson

Sounds a bit pricier than here (although your rebate is better). My 2.45KW was about $18K. California gives you (actually the contractor something like $1.10 per watt before installation), so I needed about $16K. The state cheats on the system ratings, only giving me credit for a bit under 2KW -so I recon the subsidy here is about $1/watt. Of course if you were sure about system installation you could have cut withholding back and accumulated some of the tax break up front, but I'll just wait for tax refund time.

It seems pretty schizoid around here. The housing developement around here I've found five other systems -mostly pretty big probably 4-5 KW. But other areas I've ridden my bike through, both fancier and less fancy I've found a grand total of zero systems! The fancier housing areas were built later, and I can bet 90% of owners are seriously under water (housing prices are a bit under 50% of peak), so maybe it is a case of people who are seriously under water mortgage wise won't invest in a solar system -why lose it to the bank in forclosure.

I can't imagine going to 6-9KW. Of course here except for December/January where it may be even cloudier than New Jersey (I grew up there), the rest of the year is very sunny. During the summer you typically go a month or two without ever seeing a cloud! But buying a big big system to make up for cloudiness is just gonna cost way too much.

Just wanted to wish all on TOD a very pleasant holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and for FMagyar, Kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket és boldog új évet kívánok!

Havin' a Cool Yule thanks very much!

En ik wil iedereen een Gelukkige Kerstmis wensen !



At the bottom of this thread are two posts in Cyrillic, with a couple of Hyper-Lynx to some Russian web-sites. Is this just Spam, or malicious software, or what? I have noticed this before, generally at the tail end of a thread several days old.

Antoinetta III

Probably both - spam and malicious software.

If you see messages like this, please flag them, and notify me so I can remove them.