Drumbeat: January 27, 2010

Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a Global Marketplace (article and report excerpts)

It's time to connect the headlines between persistent unemployment in the United States and growing food insecurity. The next Obama stimulus package should focus on how local food can address both simultaneously.

A study done two years ago found that a 20% shift of retail food spending in Detroit redirected to locally grown foods would create 5,000 jobs and increase local output by half a billion dollars. A similar shift to Detroit-grown food by those living in the five surrounding counties would create 35,000 jobs - far more than ever will come out of the multibillion-dollar bailout of the auto industry. The experience of microenterprise organizations around the country suggests that each of these jobs can be created for $2,000-3,000 of public money--a tiny fraction of the price of the last stimulus.

Past Peak Oil Travelling towards Transition

From pre Hubbert's Peak Oil chart towards Transport and travel in a world where transition has taken place. A positive animation look at the future of traveling without oil fuel, in this climate changing world to where we will again be able to hear the sound of birds.

God, Keynes, and Clean Energy

"Peak Oil," Fulton said, the idea that extraction of oil has peaked, "appears to be borne out by the market. When oil prices were high ($140 per barrel) OPEC wasn't producing more oil - they couldn't."

But in my opinion, this isn't a bad thing. As oil and other fossil fuels get more expensive we will shift to other, sustainable technologies. I've been thinking about the science. We're 25 to 30 years away from Fusion.

Belarus, Russia End Oil-Supply Row

MOSCOW--Russia has resolved an oil-supply dispute with neighboring Belarus, a government spokesman said Wednesday, easing concerns about midwinter disruptions of supplies to Europe.

"A deal has been reached, but we can't disclose any details yet," said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Qatar does not expect OPEC output change

DOHA: OPEC is unlikely to adjust output quotas at its next meeting in March if oil prices remain at current levels, Qatar's oil minister said yesterday. "If it stayed in the levels of the $70s I don't think so," Abdullah Al-Attiyah, told reporters on the sidelines of a MEED conference. US crude fell $1 to $74.26 a barrel yesterday, just marginally off the $75 to $80 a barrel range that top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members have said was fair for both consumers and producers.

Shell forced into oil sands U-turn

Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Peter Voser cannily chose the safe ground of an exclusive interview with the Financial Times to finally admit the all-too-obvious - the Canadian oil sands development Shell has touted as a major growth driver is instead a costly distraction, on which time is now being called. Mr Voser said the massive expansion the company had previously planned for its Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP) - envisioning growth from the current 155,000 barrels per day (bpd) capacity to an eventual 770,000bpd - was now '"clearly scaled down" and would be "very much slower".

FACTBOX - Money flows again in Canada's oil sands industry

(Reuters) - Numerous energy companies have moved forward with Canadian oil sands plans in the past week, but there is little fear so far of the return to runaway inflation that marked the industry until 2008.

Yemen Qaeda hub risks belt of instability

Al-Qaeda militants could strengthen their foothold in Yemen and form part of a belt of Islamist instability linking Asia to Africa if the government in Sanaa fails to crack down decisively against them, analysts say. An impoverished country that is strategically located on one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, Yemen has declared war on Al-Qaeda under pressure from Washington and Saudi Arabia, its oil-producing neighbour.

Blackouts, devaluation hurt Chavez in poll year

As he prepares for elections in September, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez faces the biggest threat to his popularity in years, hit by a weak economy, electricity blackouts and revelations of government graft. The Marxist former soldier has had a troubled start to his 12th year in office, forced to devalue the currency he had dubbed the "strong" bolivar and order sweeping power cuts to save energy across South America's top oil exporter.

Chevron Charges Ahead with $5.2B Papa Terra Project

Chevron will proceed with the development of the Papa Terra project as the company's second deepwater development offshore Brazil.

"This decision confirms our commitment to developing new opportunities in an important basin and adds to our strong queue of major capital projects," said George Kirkland, Chevron's vice chairman.

Anadarko announces 'major' oil find in Gulf of Mexico

Anadarko Petroleum says it has confirmed a “major discovery” of oil in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico about 160 miles southeast of Galveston.

Peabody Beats Analyst Estimates as China Demand Soars

(Bloomberg) -- Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal producer, said fourth-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates because of growing demand from China.

Must-read report: The decline of Central Appalachian coal

Given the numerous challenges working against any substantial recovery of the region’s coal industry, and that production is projected to decline significantly in the coming decades, diversification of Central Appalachian economies is now more critical than ever. State and local leaders should support new economic development across the region, especially in the rural areas set to be the most impacted by a sharp decline in the region’s coal economy.

Dubai looks to Qatar for natural gas

Dubai may start importing up to 37 billion cubic feet per year of natural gas from Qatar as early as September.

Qatargas 4, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell, has decided to ship half the plant’s planned output to China and Dubai instead of North America, Gerrit-Jan Smitskamp, Shell’s regional vice president for finance, said yesterday in Doha.

Tapping Methane at Lake Kivu in Africa

Beneath the surface of Africa’s 1,500-foot deep Lake Kivu, which borders Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, large deposits of methane and carbon dioxide have long intrigued researchers — and energy developers.

Recently, a team American scientists attended a workshop with the Rwandan Ministry of Education, where they assessed the potential of commercially viable methane extraction from the lake.

”In the main lake basin, concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane are very high,” said Cindy Ebinger, a professor of regional tectonics and applied geophysics at the University of Rochester.

Those concentrations, Ms. Ebinger said, could translate into vast energy reserves.

Gas shortage turns into crisis

An additional phenomenon has accompanied this crisis, which has raised concern in certain sectors. Individuals have been arriving early in the mornings, filling multiple tanks, leaving a shortage of fuel later in the day. “We get up early in the morning around 5 am in order to reserve a place and be the first to fill up my gas cylinder,” said a client.

“They used to give us 200 gas cylinders per day in the past. We do not sell gas cylinders to cart owners, especially in such times as these, because of the large demand,” said Hani Zuhra, a local gas merchant. “There are many people who come from other areas to buy from this location. We allow clients, when the tanks are empty, to ensure for themselves that they are completely empty. The shortages are increasing though; the Gas Company did not provide us with gas cylinders last Thursday. The underlying reason behind this crisis stem from rumors that the line has been severed,” he added.

GM to make electric motors in U.S.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors announced Tuesday that it intends to become the first major automaker to design and manufacture electric motors for cars in the United States.

Sites to Refuel Electric Cars Gain a Big Dose of Funds

Better Place, the closely watched start-up that hopes to create vast networks of charge spots to power electric cars, is set to receive a vote of confidence on Monday, in the form of $350 million in new venture capital.

Although Better Place will most likely require billions more in financing, this investment is an important step for the company and its chief, Shai Agassi, an Israeli-American software executive who founded the company in 2007.

Nuclear power study to be ready in time

The feasibility study on potential sites for Thailand's first 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant is expected to be forwarded to the government in March next year, while the Energy Ministry admitted it has to educate people more about nuclear power.

Storing Energy as Ice?

The Southern California Public Power Authority — a coalition of several public power agencies — and a seven-year-old Colorado company called Ice Energy have signed a contract to deploy rooftop units that use electricity at night, when demand is low, to make ice.

The ice is then used to cool buildings during the day.

A short history of peak oil preparation

Frankly, when I first learned about peak oil, I was a bit freaked out. But after time, a little too much wine, a lot of research, and some productive action, I recovered, and went on to slowly change my attitude, expectations, and lifestyle to accommodate a radically different reality from the one I previously knew.

Here's a year-by-year summary of the last five years of my efforts at peak oil preparation in three key areas: Short term (Emergency planning), Medium term (Economic / Financial crash), and Long term (Sustainable Future). Keep in mind, this does not cover the first, and perhaps most important area of preparation: psychological adjustment.

Uncovering secrets to a longer life

The secret to solving much of America's health care crisis and battle with chronic diseases lies in emulating the environment in Blue Zones. Is it possible?

Last year, my partners and I made Blue Zones-inspired changes to the environment of an entire American town -- Albert Lea, Minnesota, (see AARP Magazine article). We made the town more walkable and bikeable, dug public gardens, made it easier for kids to walk to school and people to expand their face-to-face social networks to include more people motivated to change their health habits. The results were astounding.

If the trends continue, life expectancy for the average participant would rise about three years and health care costs for city workers would decrease by 48 percent.

Growing Good People Through Work, Study, and Community

Just outside Asheville, North Carolina, bordered by the Craggy Mountains and located in the Swannanoa Valley on the banks of the Swannanoa River, Warren Wilson College students are busy moving the cows to their next pasture and cutting locally harvested lumber at the on-campus sawmill. A writing class meets beside beds of greens raised for campus salads, tended by the student garden crew. And just a few steps from my office, the greening crew prepares the campus quarterly energy usage report to evoke our conservation consciousness.

Don’t be fooled by the idyllic sound of all of this. You would be mistaken to assume we are less of a college and more of an extended commune from the 1960s. You may be enchanted by the young woman on the farm crew who drives past in a tractor on her way out to the field—it’s such a romantic sight. But there is so much more behind this seemingly eco-nirvana.

Advocates of Climate Bill Scale Down Their Goals

WASHINGTON — As they watch President Obama’s ambitious health care plan crumble, the advocates of a comprehensive bill to combat global warming are turning their sights to a more modest package of climate and energy measures that they believe has a better chance of clearing Congress this year.

From Inside and Out, Climate Panel Is Pushed to Change

There is growing pressure on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, from within and without, to change some practices to ensure the credibility of its future reports.

Energy Guru Brings Good News to Davos

All the world loves a bringer of good news, so energy guru Daniel Yergin should by all rights be guaranteed a warm welcome at Davos this week.

Governments may be buckling under debt loads, paper currencies hurtling toward their traditional terminal value of zero, but at least the world is not running out of energy supplies. The awful day of “peak oil,” when the world will have depleted its finite hydrocarbon resources to the point where it can never again increase production, is still a long way off, he reckons. “The big determinants (to global energy supply) are the above-ground risks — politics, the quality of decision-making, and costs and so on,” says the genial author of “The Prize,” the hugely acclaimed history of the oil industry and founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

What are your top green books?

Cambridge academics have compiled a list of their top 50 books on sustainability. Which books would make your own list?

Earth Matters: Bill McKibben shares his advice on living local

"There a set of statistics that indicates the percentage of Americans who were happy with their lives peaked in 1956, and we've gone downhill since then," he said. "Our fossil fuel lifestyle that's causing us to burn huge amounts of energy is also causing us from seeing each other. We stay in our houses and our cars. We don't eat dinners together anymore."

FACTBOX - PetroChina's global trading portfolio

(Reuters) - PetroChina's expanding international trading network will soon include the Middle East as it sets up a crude oil trading desk in Dubai and seeks to acquire or build an oil storage terminal there, industry sources told Reuters.

The firm, Asia's largest oil and gas producer, is flexing its muscle across the world, making sure it is strategically placed to exploit new commercial business that leverages on its global upstream asssets and new refining capacity.

Texas spill unlikely to cause emergency oil draw

HOUSTON (Reuters) - An oil spill that shut a key industrial waterway in Port Arthur, Texas, has not prompted refiners in the area to seek loans from the emergency U.S. oil stockpile, the U.S. Department of Energy said on Tuesday.

Conoco, Valero results top Street, refining hurts

HOUSTON (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips and Valero Energy on Wednesday reported quarterly results that topped Wall Street expectations, but a sluggish economy continued to depress demand for fuel and hurt refiners.

Crude oil prices climbed nearly 30 percent from a year ago in the fourth quarter. While those higher prices help boost profits at companies with exploration arms like Conoco, they hurt refiners that use the crude as input to make fuel.

"While 2009 may have been the bottom for refining profitability, there's too much inventory and spare refining capacity in the industry right now for margins to rebound quickly," Bill Klesse, Valero's chief executive, said in a statement.

Haiti Earthquake May Have Exposed Gas, Aiding Economy

(Bloomberg) -- The earthquake that killed more than 150,000 people in Haiti this month may have left clues to petroleum reservoirs that could aid economic recovery in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, a geologist said.

The Jan. 12 earthquake was on a fault line that passes near potential gas reserves, said Stephen Pierce, a geologist who worked in the region for 30 years for companies including the former Mobil Corp. The quake may have cracked rock formations along the fault, allowing gas or oil to temporarily seep toward the surface, he said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Arab-American Group Says Pickens Uses ‘Racist Tactics’ in TV Ad

(Bloomberg) -- A new T. Boone Pickens television commercial promoting U.S. energy independence uses “racist tactics” offensive to people of Arab descent and should be pulled, an Arab-American civil rights group said today.

The advertisement begins with Pickens reading two sentences which flash across the screen in Arabic, then in English: “Go back to sleep America. The oil crisis is over.” Men with guns stand in front of burning oil fields as “ominous” music plays, according to a statement by the American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee in Washington.

Asia Fuel Oil-India BPCL sells 40,000T for Feb

The East Asian fuel oil market has been strengthening since the start of the year, lifted by tighter supplies from the Middle East and the West in January and February.

Western arbitrage flows for February are at a six-month low volumes of around 2.9 million tonnes for a second consecutive month, down from the above 3.5 million tonnes for September to December.

Saudi Arabia To Use Solar Energy for Desalination Plants

Saudi Arabia’s national science agency announced a new initiative to build solar-powered desalination plants to reduce water and energy costs by 40 percent, Arab News reports.

“Desalination is our strategic choice to supply an adequate amount of drinking water to people across the Kingdom,” said Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf at the launch ceremony. Different sources estimate that between 50 to 70 percent of the country’s drinking water is desalinated, a process that requires a lot of energy.

IEA to Meet CFTC, OPEC, Banks on Curbing Speculation

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency will meet OPEC, banks and U.S. and U.K. regulators in Tokyo next month to discuss limiting energy-price speculation.

IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said today he has asked U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, officials of the U.K. Financial Services Authority, and bank executives including Lawrence Eagles, head of commodities research at JPMorgan Chase & Co., to take part. The two-day meeting will start Feb. 25.

The CFTC has proposed curtailing investments by large banks and swaps dealers in oil, natural gas, heating oil and gasoline amid concern speculators drove crude prices to a record $147.27 a barrel in 2008. Speculative net-long positions in oil futures, or bets prices will rise, were the highest in at least 27 years in the week ended Jan. 12.

“OPEC and regulators must have come to the conclusion that a flow of big money from bloated global banks into the commodities market is responsible for big swings in prices for oil and metals,” said Tetsu Emori, a chief fund manager at Astmax Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. “Like President Barack Obama, regulators may have to take decisive measures to limit investment by banks.”

Oil Little Changed Around $75 Before Report on U.S. Inventories

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil was little changed around $75 a barrel before a report forecast to show crude inventories increased in the U.S., the world’s largest energy user.

Oil has dropped 11 percent from a 15-month high on Jan. 11 amid concern that the U.S. government may limit trading by banks and that China will take further steps to cool its economy. The Energy Department will likely say crude stockpiles climbed 1.5 million barrels last week as refinery throughput dropped, according to a Bloomberg survey before the report today.

Valero Energy looking to sell some units: report

(Reuters) - Valero Energy Corp, the top independent U.S. refiner, is working to sell its remaining plants on the U.S. East Coast and in the Caribbean, the Wall Street Journal said.

Exxon sees peak Cepu oil output delayed to end-2013

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The Indonesian unit of U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) expects peak crude oil production of 165,000 barrels per day (bpd) from its Cepu block to be delayed until the end of 2013, a company official said on Wednesday.

An Exxon Mobil Indonesia official had previously said the company hoped for peak production at Cepu in 2012.

Chevron Halts Units at Pembroke Oil Refinery in Wales

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp. halted units for scheduled maintenance at its Pembroke oil refinery in Wales, the second plant shutdown in the U.K. this month.

Work is being carried out on a crude unit, a vacuum plant and a visbreaker, two people familiar with the situation said. The work started last week and is expected to last about a month, the people said, declining to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly.

Reconfiguring Nabucco

MONTREAL - With the entry of Iraq into the mix of potential suppliers of natural gas for the Nabucco pipeline to Europe and the proliferation of alternative supply lines beyond the Russian-sponsored rival South Stream pipeline, the "classical" variant of the Nabucco pipeline is undergoing significant modification, just as it moves closer to final realization.

China eyes gas deal with Israel consortium-report

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - China has shown interest in purchasing natural gas from a consortium drilling in the Tamar area off Israel's northern shore, the Maariv newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Aramco Opens India Office for Contractors, Suppliers

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s top crude supplier that’s building refineries and exploring for gas, opened an office in India to attract and screen companies to supply equipment and contract work.

Aramco Overseas Co. opened the office in the Gurgaon industrial district near the state of Delhi on Jan. 19, the producer, also known as Saudi Aramco, said in a statement today.

Saudi Arabia says clashes with Yemen rebels stopped

KHOBA, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is no longer exchanging fire with Yemeni Shi'ite rebels following a rebel truce offer to the world's biggest oil exporter, and no rebels remained on Saudi land, a senior military commander said.

Iranian troops withdraw from disputed oil well area

Iranian troops withdrew from the disputed oil well area on the border between Iraq and Iran, Iraqi official television reported Wednesday.

"The Iranian troops have withdrew from the al-Fakkah-4 oil well to its original positions before their first border cross," the state-run channel of Iraqia quoted the government spokesman Ali al- Dabbagh as saying.

Woodside Considers Legal Action as Gas Worker Strike Continues

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd. and its contractors at the Pluto project in Western Australia will consider bringing lawsuits against construction workers to recover losses caused by a strike that’s been declared illegal.

Most of the 3,000 workers at the A$13 billion ($11.7 billion) liquefied natural gas venture remain on strike, defying a Jan. 23 order to end the action from Fair Work Australia, the workplace relations tribunal, Woodside said. The dispute may jeopardize investment in the oil and gas industry and hurt ties with overseas customers, the Perth-based company said in e- mailed comments today.

ND research money to explore waste gas for power

(AP:BISMARCK, N.D.) Money from a North Dakota research fund will be used to explore whether wasted natural gas may be used to provide electricity for oil producers and rural electric cooperatives.

Rapid expansion of North Dakota's oil production has also boosted the state's output of natural gas, which is a byproduct of oil production.

Ecuador: Petroecuador, Ancap To Exchange Crude For Oil Products

QUITO -(Dow Jones)- State-run company Petroleos del Ecuador on Tuesday signed a two-year contract with Uruguay's state-owned oil company Ancap to exchange crude oil for oil products, Petroecuador said.

The Arab Time Capsule: Once You Were the Leaders of Islamic Civilization

The Western strategists created an innovative time capsule to entrap the oil producing Arab leaders into the fantasy of a honeymoon bubble manufacturing an illusion of oil- linked economic prosperity. Its cultural impacts both short and long terms are shockingly unknown to the Arab captives replacing Islamic thinking, education, Arabic language and molding the Arab body and soul into a show piece of modern Arabs devoid of Islamic character and wisdom. But essentially imposing the non-Islamic thinking and values on the Arabian culture. The fantasy bubble is coming to an end with the peak oil forecasts as a visual reality. Power, prosperity and poverty are all trials in human affairs and transitory phenomenon. Was the discovery of oil a conspiracy (“fitna”) for the Arabs to change the originality of thinking, beliefs, values and passion for Islam as successful system of human life?

US Must Transition to Clean Power by 2012 or Miss the Chance

Even before the Supreme Court ruling this week, we already allowed fossil interests to dictate our energy policy by allowing the purchase of both policy makers and the formerly public airwaves to impede smart energy policy. In no other democracy is such corruption allowed.

The result is that we will be out of the ability to protect ourselves from peak oil from 2012 to at least 2020 (the earliest that new rare earth mines outside China might begin to come online). If we don’t pass effective climate legislation this year, we will miss that crucial transition window.

Jeff Rubin - The electric car: Turn out the lights

Sure, the cost of operating one of these cars will be cheaper than running the gas-powered one you’re replacing, but will the lithium-ion battery stand up to years of driving?

The one in my laptop couldn’t even handle my daily email before frying my hard drive.

Wind Power Grows 39% for the Year

Despite a crippling recession and tight credit markets, the American wind power industry grew at a blistering pace in 2009, adding 39 percent more capacity. The country is close to the point where 2 percent of its electricity will come from wind turbines.

'Thrill killing' poachers pose threat to wildlife

Poachers run down deer with cars or snowmobiles, and chase raccoons, then beat them to death with clubs. They also shoot deer, elk and antelope, sometimes removing valuable antlers but often leaving the carcass to rot on the ground, Talbott and other wildlife officials said.

"It's thrill killing — people just going out and killing stuff," Talbott said. "We have seen a significant increase of that in Wyoming. It's disturbing."

Iceland Leads Environmental Index as U.S. Falls

A new ranking of the world’s nations by environmental performance puts some of the globe’s largest economies far down the list, with the United States sinking to 61st and China to 121st.

In the previous version of the Environmental Performance Index, compiled every two years by Yale and Columbia University researchers, the United States ranked 39th, and China 105th.

The top performer this year is Iceland, which gets virtually all of its power from renewable sources — hydropower and geothermal energy. It was joined in the top tier by a cluster of European countries known for their green efforts, including Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Climate, Energy Programs Could See Boosts Despite Budget Freeze

Climate change and clean energy programs, which the Obama administration has championed, are expected to remain priorities at U.S. EPA and the Energy Department in the president's fiscal 2011 budget request despite a request to freeze non-military discretionary spending for the next three years.

Minimal climate goal set

AUSTRALIA has declared it will not go beyond a 5 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 without guaranteed action by major emitters including the US, China and India.

China's odd climate-change remark

NEW DELHI, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- China's top climate-change negotiator said he was keeping an open mind on whether global warming was man-made or the result of natural cycles.

Speaking in New Delhi following the conclusion Sunday of a two-day meeting of ministers from the BASIC group of the most powerful emerging economies -- China, India, Brazil and South Africa -- Xie Zhenhua said climate change was a "solid fact." But, he said, more and better scientific research was needed to determine the causes.

Indian glaciologist fires back at skeptics

BANGALORE - "It is a fact that global warming is happening. If the Arctic Sea ice is melting, how can the Himalayan glaciers not be melting?" glaciologist Syed Iqbal Hasnain asked indignantly.

Amid the brouhaha over last week's retraction by a United Nations body of its 2007 report that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035, global warming skeptics quickly seized on the error, noting the rash of media reports on the issue, which they believe bolstered their position.

But Hasnain, who found himself at the center of the Himalayan meltdown controversy, said it is "ridiculous" to assume that the glaciers are not melting.

Got Ideas About a Climate Bill? Kerry, Graham and Lieberman Want to Hear From You

Key Senate climate bill advocates are searching for something -- anything, really -- that can serve as a legislative compromise for capping U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

SEC Weighs Climate-Change Disclosure Standards for Companies

(Bloomberg) -- Companies may get guidance from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as soon as today on whether and how they should disclose the risks that climate change poses to their businesses.

Such guidelines may help investors make better decisions, said Abby Joseph Cohen, senior investment strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York. While more companies are reporting climate-change data in public filings, the information isn’t in a standard form and is difficult to analyze, she said.

Financial collapse of road tunnel in Sydney

Peak oil brought forward moment of truth for Lane Cove Tunnel

I wonder if quite a lot of failures we will see will be financial ones. An excerpt from Matt's link above:

Peak oil impacts in various ways on toll-ways financed by debt. As mentioned in a previous post

peak oil = peak credit

This means that it has become harder to re-finance or roll-over debt. Secondly, higher fuel prices reduce the paying capacity of motorists for tolls. Thirdly, a recession means fewer trips to jobs. Therefore, peak oil hits those toll-ways first which have high debt and where revenue is based on too optimistic traffic projections. These factors can be considered as “pre-conditions”. Driver boycotts and community backlash over local environmental and traffic management issues can complicate things further.

During the Cross City tunnel inquiry by a Select Committee of the NSW Parliament in 2005 which was extended to cover the Lane Cove tunnel as well, a researcher from the Sydney Uni, John L. Goldberg, predicted insolvency for the Lane Cove tunnel due to very low cash to debt ratios.

He found that traffic projections were a work-back based on assumed dividends and internal rates of return and NOT a forecast using transport and land use parameters. And, we might add, definitely not considering oil supply limitations.

Now that the Lane Cove Tunnel went into receivership, it is clear that the moment of the truth for this flawed approach – which was designed in an era of $20 oil – has apparently been brought forward by peak oil and higher fuel prices.

But...but...Energy Guru Brings Good News to Davos... so it can't be, right?

The news is so good in fact that this is what the Saudis are planning:

Saudi Arabia To Use Solar Energy for Desalination Plants

“Saudi Arabia aspires to export as much solar energy in the future as it exports oil now,” said Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi.

Research and development will be carried out by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology–-the national science agency–-and the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology.

On the face of it I'd say bully for them. But under it all it seems they are hiding their oil slowing oil fields with this move.


Matt, firstly thanks for posting.
But it would be appreciative if you 'told me' the juicy takeaway part in plain words, so that I don't have to read it all...
Leanans Drumbeats should be the TOD-standard for posting info-links (to existing articles on the net) Even Gail's exert doesn't tell more than 'round about' problems, nothing conclusive, other than 'problems there are'--
Anyways , it seems that Dr Bakhtiari's transitions are underway..

Now : Did Peak oil/credit stop the entire Lane Cove Tunnel -project ?

But Matt,tunnels are de rigueur for the rabbits are who running Australia (into the ground).

In Brisbane there is currently an orgy of tunnel building in order to cope with increased road traffic caused by rapid population increase caused by an insane immigration policy.

And our Dear Wenny Pong states that Australia will not go beyond a 5% decrease in pollution of the atmosphere unless everbody else gets on the wagon.Nothing new in that but it is nice to have more confirmation that the nation is run by irrational rabbits whose principle occupation is chasing their little puffy tails.

Oh,dear. That hodgepodge you linked looks to be ridiculously time-consuming to sort out, fuhgeddaboudit. But one suspects the tunnel builders failed to consider willingness-to-pay in their calculations. I find it completely unsurprising that not enough people have been willing to pay $A2.62 to go a mere 3.6 kilometers.

Now, if the tunnel went under a river at a place with no practical alternative route, then it might have been possible to charge the customary confiscatory toll and get away with it. It seems plausible that the builders simply miscalculated, and that over land, too few people are really able to save $A2.62 worth of time in such an absurdly short distance.

Now, people have been miscalculating since long before oil (in the modern sense), never mind peak oil. So I would hesitate to read "peak oil" into every single miscalculation. However it appears that your link is to an advocacy site which may reshape everything to fit their world-view, so they may feel differently.

Sydney is choked and warped by its very difficult geography (a deeply indented large harbour, and with steep country around lots of it), and further, it has a tiny CBD (Downtown) relative to the huge size of the city overall. Fortunately (or perhaps not) it is mostly stable, softish sandstone - which of course is a tunnel-digger's dream.

While it is lunatic to build more roads feeding cars into the CBD, (and has been at least since the 1970s), within the Government's own head-space, the Lane Cove Tunnel made some sense, in terms of reducing the mayhem found in that part of the city brought on by massive development beyond it. It is also a fairly wealthy part of the city, and wealthy burghers tend to like more serene suburbs.

Sydney is an historical and current mess, in every sense of "town planning". My parents (as post-WWII newly weds) build a modest house on the flat river-land west of the CBD, as thousands and thousands of others did. The house was built on beautiful deep topsoil (and a prior Chinese market garden) - that Sydney Basin topsoil is an extremely rare commodity in Australia. So hundreds (perhaps thousands) of square kms of great farming country was concreted over. Which is nice.

"...in terms of reducing the mayhem found in that part of the city brought on by massive development beyond it..."

Interesting. With such a large externality, the planners might have considered that the tunnel would benefit more than just those actually driving through it, and worked out the financing accordingly. I suppose that now they will need to do so anyway since they're stuck with it unless they plan to undrill it. They can either divert as much traffic and noise as possible off the surface streets, or charge a confiscatory toll, but maybe not have it both ways. So it goes.

Not sure how they would do that - maybe charge all the ratepayers in leafy Lane Cove 5c for every car that went through the tunnel, rather than down the surface arterials that blight the place. I can see that working really well politically!

LOL. Of course the usual approach, as seen with, say transit lines that are claimed, sometimes dubiously, to reduce congestion, is to put the tab on the never-never by burying it somewhere in the municipal or county budget.

With (basically) only two entry/exits, the Lane Cove tunnel makes a great redoubt during the Zombie Apocalypse while you wait for Army reinforcements (unless they're Left 4 Dead style Zombies, in which case, you're farqued).

Am I going nuts?

On Monday, didn't news come out for December that existing home sales were down by 17%?

Then why for the past two days have "economists" been saying the the real estate market now looks rosy?

Year over year it's higher. Versus November it was lower for 2 reasons: first-time home buyer tax credit, and that December is low anyway.


Link up top: Jeff Rubin - The electric car: Turn out the lights

Of course, we could always try to meet that energy challenge by emulating our climate-change partners, China and India, and build hundreds of new coal-fired generating plants.

I wonder why no one proposed that at the recent Copenhagen global environmental summit.

Jeff, electrification will be what makes the US energy independent. We will electrify all public transportation, from busses to trains. And of course we will electrify all automobiles as well. All we must do is follow China’s lead and build at least two new coal fired power plants per week.

But no, we do not really have to take that path. We could go the coal to liquids path to US energy independence.

Either way... :-(

Ron P.

Damn Ron...I hate reading your posts first thing in the morning. Not that I disagree but I did start the day with a smile on my face. Seriously, perhaps that's our biggest obstical to change: facing reality isn't a pleasant excercise for the general public especially with their more imminent economic problems. Just that passive aggresive position lots of folks take: "I'm unhappy but I'll just sit here and do nothing. Yeah, that'll teach them."


You think you have it tough, this morning I found one of my neighbors wandering behind my place in her bathrobe, complaining that "we're" in Haiti but nobody will buy her a cup of coffee. I finally gave her $2 for her coffee craving, but I'm wondering: Should I report this to the police? If she's got a history of mental problems I'd hate t get her hauled away. How do I get this on record without getting anyone in trouble?

You might report it to the police. That way you are on record as being concerned. And the cops can put keeping an eye out for her on their "to do list" when they cruise through the neighborhood.
Don't worry too much about your neighbor being "hauled away". It's pretty complicated, the process of getting someone involuntarily committed to a mental hospital; just doesn't happen very often. The bar is pretty low when it comes to formally determining rational behavior.

Here's Yergin going to Davos to assure the Politburo of the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie that peak oil is decades away, depending on 'above ground factors'(read: as long as the public interest isn't allowed to intervene), and you want the police to spend time watching a woman making a perfectly normal request for a date with the charming and suggestively named Rockman.

toil -- once again Yergin and I seem to differ on the definition of PO. Above ground factors may well effect demand and delivery but for me PO remains the max delivery capability of oil form all the wells collectively.

I would be glad to date that poor lady. But I already have one sweety. As far as getting involved with two women at the same time I'll pass: dealing with one disappointed woman is bad enough.

Sorry that is incorrect. It depends on the city and state.

If you are found or reported to be acting strangely and you refuse to be taken in, they will handcuff you and take you in anyway, at least in Little Rock and North Little Rock. You'll get to go to a Hospital and they will poke and prod you and then they will send you to a Mental ward at one of the hospitals that have them. 2 different wards at St. Vincent, 3 at Bridgeway (only a mental hospital), 1 at Baptist, 1 At UAMS.

You can appeal in court, but if the attending doctor says that you need help, you will get a 7 day stay, then if you have made improvement, IE you have taken your meds and promise to do better they will let you go home.

How do I know this?

Been there done that.

I had something go screwy with my head in Jan 07, I saw clocks going off through my right eye and the room above me in my left eye, and heard the bells going off. About three hours later I left the house. It seems I had something go wrong in my head, but it took them 10 days to figure out that I was harmless and could go back home. It felt like hell on earth that first night. Once you are labeled mentally ill it seems you have a rock tied around your neck. When the police find out your name, they sit you down and call the EMT guys to take you in. You might have been stopped for running a light, or something. Talking your way out of going in is a real problem, even when you know the police person. The Only time I have been able to not go in for Evaluation is when I was in my own home.

No, not everywhere will let you just go home and be fine, they won't take you home either, unless you know the officer really well.

There are some areas of Little Rock that I no longer go to, because some folks in the homeless community have cell phones, and have called the police on me. I know the police in most of the downtown beats, so I am pretty safe, but they usually tell me to go home, and stay there.

Now you know why I have mentioned that Little Rock is not known for it's nice treatment of homeless people, I am not homeless, but they know I deal with them.

North Little Rock local Police are a bit more tolerant, but there are fewer Homeless in the downtown areas.

In 2008 I had to explain to some Police that All I did was offer to pay for a cigarette off the lady that seemed to have called the cops on me. But it was two weeks before the election and it was a mad house on the streets, homeless folks were getting rousted from their local hangouts, until the police showed up I didn't know how bad it was. I was in my normal uniform. Walking shorts, sandals no socks, a pool cue case over my head and shoulder, Long hair and friendly smile. It felt like they thought I was going to shoot someone with my cue stick.

I normally went to the breakfast feeding station to help out, then walked the blocks back to the Library and read till my poolhall opened up, and playe pool for a while and took a bus back home, I did this 5 times a week. Not to long after that, I just quit going into Little Rock after dealing with the homeless. I'd head home again.

It would be best to check on the lady's home life, and see if she has someone to care for her, find out if there are kids elsewhere of hers that can be informed of the things you saw and if not, you might be able to help her, mayhaps she is lossing memory due to illness, and is not mentally ill. That is the route I would go before calling the police.


Have you seen this:

Terrence McKenna: Schizophrenic or Shamanic?


I'm sure McKenna is lost to most TODer's

Not to me ! - But his vibe is not usually within the subjects at hand


The meds that they "gave me" are at cost 700 bucks a month. I know how my mind works in that there are times when the actions I take, leads to the chemical reactions in the human brain. Ages ago I was in college and had enough classes to have a minor in Human Behavior, and Religious studies, I literally took all the classes they had to offer without me going into the field itself.

I rarely took pain killers, because I taught myself how to cure the pain by isolating it and shunting it away from me. I would pray about it, but only to be given the ability to understand how my own body worked.

I am not on any meds, besides Protein Pump Inhibitors, for Gastric overacting acid production. And I don't take them every day. And Lasix, which help drain the fluids out of me, but the best way for that is to lay down 16 hours a day for 3 days and it goes away, for a while. The more active I am, the more the legs swell, to much damage to the veins in the legs from those blood clots in 2005.

Interesting thoughts on shamans and such, if you want to talk about it some more, e.mail me at ceojr1963 at yahoo dot com



She lives with family. I think they know. Probably best not to say any more for privacy considerations. I'll just go over and ask advice at the local police station without mentioning names. I hope it doesn't become a habit.

Unfortunately I had a very good friend who started having problems at about age 18... became a wandering homeless person... the worse part was that the family kept quiet... I guess they didn't want the embarassment; probably the worse thing they did.

Hope all stays well with you. Take care.

I am at peace with life and the future. I just stay away from certain people and am more weary of Police than I have ever been, even in my days of fast driving.

Our problem is that most people want to shy away from admitting that their family members might have a problem. It'll look bad on the rest of us, is the most common reason, the next one is misunderstanding that help is close by.

There is an Amber Type alert system for the elderly I think, see if there is one in your area.


Just as well,Jabberwock.If our fearless leaders had to jump through a few mental health hoops I think most of them would become regulated patients.

complaining that "we're" in Haiti

Ignorant, maybe she just read this article:
America is More Like Haiti than We'd Like to Think
and she wanted to let you know about it. ;) Kinda... :P

After my mother's memory failed in her 80s -- seemed more like mini-strokes than Alzheimer's -- she was able to have her own room in a very nice assisted living complex where she was treated with dignity. At the end, however, she had to move into the nursing wing for more constant care. There she didn't have her own telephone, and we had to ask for her to be brought to the phone when we called. Since we hadn't visited since the move and I wasn't sure whether she was speaking from a central desk or from a hall telephone, I asked her one evening, "Where are you?"

Her answer, innocent and accurate, was: "In a warehouse."

This could be simply sleep-walking. It's sometimes possible to have conversations with sleep-walkers and they can sound just like you describe. I used to sleep-walk but as far as i know haven't done for many years now. If it was sleep-walking she will almost certainly have no recollection of the event.

However it could also be something more serious as you fear.

Could just be Ambien, or a few too many nightcaps the day before?

It does sound like Ambien. I have "a friend" who has exhibited some strange behavior on Ambien.

I posted about fishy revisions to Venezuelan production data from the EIA the other day - Jan-April All Liquids figures were revised upward 100/200/200/100 kb/d between now and when I created a special spreadsheet for EIA international data in August. I've just checked any other producers with >100 kb/d output, and indeed many show revised figures, of the plausible variety - Saudi Arabia's moved downwards -17.45/-23.6/-38.95/-52.85 kb/d. You know, like what reality would reflect.

Am off to the Wayback Machine to see if any more data turns up.

Ah, nix on the Wayback. It is fun to have a gander at the early TOD layout, though.

Study Examines Costs and Benefits of Algae

But a recent study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, suggests that algae production is energy intensive and can end up emitting more greenhouse gases than it sequesters.
“Nutrients are going to be the limiting factor,” Dr. Clarens said. “We’re humans. We need to eat dinner, and you can’t expect to have algae that provides a bunch of energy without feeding it nutrients.”

Nothing new here.

The relevant bit is

The paper suggests that one way to reduce the environmental impact of algae is to draw municipal wastewater into algae plantations, as a source of nitrogen and phosphorus.

For algae to work out economically all the pieces of the puzzle are going to have to be at minimal cost, or providing some measurable benefit, such as using and cleaning up wastewater. Too many of those working in the field at the moment are not looking at the total picture, but only one part, and it all has to integrate in a viable way before we will see real progress.

Too many of those working in the field at the moment are not looking at the total picture, but only one part, and it all has to integrate in a viable way before we will see real progress.

Hey, if we continue down this road, we might invent the... drum roll please... ECOSYSTEM!

I have seen some speculation recently that where there is lots of nutrient polluted water(read any sewage treatment facility or large feedlot, etc.) and plenty of available space, lots of sun, and sutiable terrain hat it might be feasible to breed or engineer fish to make algae farming work.

The idea is that the algae feed on the waste nutrients in the partially treated waste water which would be fed into the fish ponds.If the right oily fish can be found or created by breeding or engineering,it will be able to live in a rather rich algal soup and grow very fast , given the ample food supply-algae will grow fast too.

The idea is that the fish can be harvested and some significant quantity of oil extracted which may be substituted for other oils as a fuel or feedstock.The rest of the fish becomes pet food or a livestock feed supplement.Or the fish might just go whole hog into the feed.

If this works it will save money on water treatment as well as provide the feed supplement.

This process should by pass most of the difficulties involved in controlling wild algae-unless some float in that are poisonous to the fish.

It sounds to me as if it is worth a serious effort.Of course it most likely could only be implemented in temperate to hot areas with lots of cheap open land and plentiful water, at least at first.

The key is coupled systems.

One process' waste is anothers raw material. This is the reality in the biological world. There is no real waste. Many organisms live on the "waste" of other organisms. Take that waste away and a whole food chain can dissapear. The waste and the raw material supply are in balance.

Our current business plan is to deposit the waste away from where it is made. Livestock runoff to streams. Garbage to a dump. CO2 up the smokestack or out the tailpipe. If you forced people to hold all the waste on site until they had a buyer people would think differently.

In all cases the true cost of converting that waste back into a raw material is not counted except as a monetary cost. We don't hold waste until a BUYER comes. We PAY people to haul it away.

It is cheaper to haul it or hide it away than it is to use it as raw material in a sustanable process. This mindset, that waste has no value, is only a few generations old. There have always been midden dumps near Humans but they were very small relative to today. There was very little waste when energy was a scarcer commodity. Convince people that energy is scarce (and therefor waste is valuable) and people will revalue what is wasted.

I know the thread is about algae, but for sewage, the best uses are to set up vast wetlands, the old marsh systems that filtered water over time. There have been studies and small scale systems built to handle small amounts of sewage from homes and businesses that work just fine.

As far as scaling algae growing ponds and or greenshouse tube systems, you have to look at a lot of issues, that we don't as of yet have solutions to.

Runoff from factory farms is an issue, maybe factory farms are the real issue, going back to small scale animal keeping instead.

Having been a tropical fish breeder for over 15 years. Tank set up with clean water, did not limit the numbers of creatures and plants that showed up even in an empty tank. Wondering how seed shrimp showed up in a tank without plants in it (they can carry eggs on them). Gravel that had been boiled, and water from the faucet and you still get green things growing on the sides of the tank in a few weeks.

Life hangs in the dust of the air, waiting to spring up and grow. If you have to keep your strains pure, you'll have to work really hard to do so.


I think we are all going to have to think small for the future of human and animal wastes. If the crash means the end to industrial civilization it means the end to large scale farming, living, waste systems, water systems etc. While our forefathers in the US dumped human wastes in outhouses, other forefathers say in China recognized that was wasting something useful. Check out the humanure handbook, free on the web for the SIMPLEST composting toilet. http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/humanure.html

Heading Out -

This notion of using sewage, either treated or untreated, as a source of nutrients for large-scale algae product is fine in theory but extremely problematic in practice.

Let us for the moment stick with treated sewage effluent (as raw sewage poses even more difficulties). The effluent from a large well operated sewage treatment plant employing widely used secondary treatment processes will contain N, P, and K in low-ppm concentrations. Therefore, it should be evident that a very large amount of sewage effluent would be required to supply the nutrients to even a relatively modest size algae operation. (I made a rough calculation of this once, but don't have it in front of me at the moment.)

In other words, there will have to be large flow rate of sewage effluent through the ponds where the algae is being grown. Sewage effluent goes in and sewage effluent must come out. As such, there has to be some means for preventing the algae from being washed out with the sewage leaving the algae ponds. This implies further liquid/solid separation, either in the form of a settling pond or clarifier. And that implies more capital cost and operating expense for material handling. Doing this in a batch rather than a continuous operation has both pros and cons, but the material handling problem still remains.

Then we have the consideration of logistics. If the algae ponds are of any considerable size, they cannot be located too far away from the sewage treatment plant (unless one wants to build sewage pipelines many miles in length). The algae ponds must also be located near a suitable receiving stream that can accept the discharges sewage effluent after it has left the algae ponds.

Another not-insignificant consideration stems from the fact that treated sewage effluent still contains soluble biodegradable organic matter (typically 20 -30 ppm as BOD), which constitutes an attractive carbon source for all manner of aquatic microorganisms. Thus, we have the problem of inadvertently feeding all manner of stray microorganisms that we went through great trouble to keep out of the desired mono-culture algae population.

So, you are quite correct in that many pieces of the puzzle have to come together for the sewage-as-nutrient source concept to work on a commercial scale. As I see it, in most locations and situations there is bound to be a serious mismatch between the size and type of the physical things required and that which are available, such that it just won't happen.

The very high production rates of algae per unit area of land versus land crops is highly misleading (I think sometimes intentionally so). It is the wrong basis of comparison. What is more meaningful is the unit rate of algae production (say in terms of lbs/day of lipids) per unit of capital investment. The simple fact is that one doesn't have to do much to an acre of farm land to grow a crop, but a one-acre algae pond is something that has to be constructed, and at not-insignificant expense. And if those ponds have to be enclosed, you've just increased the overall construction cost several-fold.

I am quite willing to be proved wrong, but I still have a really hard time seeing this working on a large-scale commercial basis.

I still have a really hard time seeing this working on a large-scale commercial basis.

I agree, but I suspect the future is not one of large enterprises but small local scale requiring few non-local inputs, just like in my grandfather's day. I think part of the failure mode of our current western intensive farming is fragility caused by large scale and the need for one-time-use inputs like phosphorus and fossil fuel.

In many parts of the world the waste from one food animal is used as one of the inputs for another, such as carp, by using a slatted floor design upon a certain part of the pond surface. This kind of practice is available for duck, chicken and even pigs, the droppings and wastes of which are good feed for fish as well as other zooplanktons. The slatted floor may be built using different types of building materials, including bamboo sticks.


In Brazil I know of few places where they use water hyacinths to treat waste water which is then harvested to produce biogas for fuel. Following link is in Portuguese


Here is a link to something similar being done in China and then the hyacinths are used for feed.


Performance of a water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) system in the treatment of wastewater from a duck farm and the effects of using water hyacinth as duck feed

In Brazil I know of few places where they use water hyacinths to treat waste water which is then harvested to produce biogas for fuel. Following link is in Portuguese

The largish biogas gas plants in Austria need lots of water, I've wondered about using a algae settling pond as a water source for a biogas plant. Bugs and prolific low-lipid species wouldn't be a problem them and you top it up with your regular feedstock to the desired VS content. You may would want to encourage a filamentous low lipid type like Spirogyra that is prolific. Pump effluent from the digester back into an algae growing pond.

xeroid -

You must remember that all of my above comments were directed at the concept of growing special high-lipid strains of algae on a large commercial scale for the express purpose of producing bio-fuels.

Localized small-scale schemes of linking human/animal waste with some form of agriculture or aquaculture are a whole other matter entirely. In that size regime, the concept has worked quite well, as evidenced by the very clever and efficient way Chinese peasants have practiced it for centuries.

Keep in mind, though, that there are several orders of magnitude difference in size between the two and that a full-scale algae bio-fuel operation of even modest production capacity will require many hundreds or thousands of acres of ponds, which if covered will be VERY expensive to build. And as previously mentioned, nutrient supply will become a more and more serious consideration the larger the algae operation is.

Lots of other stuff in our sewage too such as many of the medicines we take which come out the other end. see http://www.imjournal.com/resources/web_pdfs/0807_kreisberg.pdf

A few snippets below

Hormones, specifically estrogen compounds, made the first headlines about medicines adulterating sewage, and since then they have been found in significant concentrations

Antibiotics enjoy widespread use, but,according to studies, up to 95% of antibiotic compounds are released unaltered into the sewage system

Other substances found in surface water throughout Europe include beta-blockers, antidepressants, antiepileptics, antineoplastics, diagnostic contrast media, synthetic musks, disinfectants, sunscreens, and nutritional supplements.

I don't know how this would affect the algae but it is a consideration

Antibiotics affect biogas digesters, at least with pig manure.

The report is behind an expensive pay wall, $30 for a PDF, thus I've not read it.

Generally speaking, one big problem with using algae for fuel is that there is a need to select the best strains for production. Once selected, the problem becomes how to grow that one species when there are many other wild types already growing in most environments. Thus, some sort of isolation must be achieved to keep the single strain away from the wild types which would blow in on the winds.

This means that there must be some large area of transparent material placed to separate the algae growth medium from the natural environment. As an example, think of greenhouses, spread over a vast land area. Or, think of building thousands of miles of tubes covering that same vast land area. I think the cost (and energy required) to build and operate such systems would be immense.

Here are some further comments

E. Swanson

I think this is something a lot of people miss when it comes to biofuels. Not just algae, but hemp, switchgrass, and the rest.

Sure, it grows like a weed in the wild, in small amounts. All of our crops once did. They didn't need pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

The problem comes from growing in monoculture. Which you pretty much have to do, to make it worthwhile on an industrial scale. It's repeatedly growing the same crops in large amounts that causes the problem, not which crop you are growing. You end up creating a haven for pests of the crop being monocultured, and depleting the soil of nutrients needed by that crop. So you have to "fix" the problem with chemicals.

Efficiency again being the opposite of resiliency. Monoculture is efficient and easy. And the easier we make our processes, the easier it is for anything else to come in and screw up our processes.

Don't forget that if your feedstock is human sewage from a city it'll have plenty of heavy metals + other stuff that will not work well in an 'organic' context.

And most of the 'lets use algae' technofixes quote the use of CO2 laden gas is how the high yeilds happen. So 'vast areas' are not conductive to CO2 gas.

Well golly who would have thunk it. From the way some are hyping algae you would think it just grows and makes energy out of nothing, another perpetual energy machine if you will. Of course we could feed it our manure, human and animal. OTOH when we don't have chemical fertilizers anymore we are going to need that to grow our own food. Thanks for the article Debbie

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending January 22, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 13.6 million barrels per day during the week ending January 22, 200 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 78.5 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 8.6 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 3.5 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.9 million barrels per day last week, down 673 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.4 million barrels per day, 1.3 million barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 823 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 658 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 3.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 326.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are just above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.0 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.4 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 4.3 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 5.7 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Residential propane prices up to 267.6 cents last week setting all-time record high. The rate of increase has leveled off, however, it looks like temperatures across the US have fallen back down. My guess is the price will break $3 in March since stocks will drop to a record low.

Based upon recent oil import trends, the Exportland wolf is coming and is soon to arrive at US refineries. But the wolf is sneaky, and instead of huffing and puffing and getting a lot of attention, he is going to come softly knocking at the door and then will just walk in.

US oil imports are now falling back to year 2000 levels, and before long, we may back down to import levels last seen in the 1990s.

I don’t think offshore oil in storage, aka the oil bank, is going to bail us out when oil inventories hit and then fall below MOLs (minimum operating levels). I view the oil bank as a way to get around increasing difficult futures exchange rules, and not a really plan to save us from our short sighted ways. It’s probably already too late for OPEC to do much, if anything, about it. I tend to doubt that OPEC really has much “spare capacity” anyway, but even if they did, they would be slow to react to US oil inventory problems until they become severe. After all for some time now OPEC has said we had more than enough inventories, and you could probably find many analysts this very minute who say the price of oil should come down based upon US oil inventory levels.

Even if the import gap crisis comes in the summer driving season, or maybe later, it will come and there won’t be much we can do then to stop fuel shortages then - well perhaps much higher retail pump prices will hide the fact that demand may (in the longer term) now permanently exceed available oil supplies in the US.


Obama to Announce High-Speed Rail Plan Post-Speech

The president's visit to the region means Florida's proposal for a high-speed line connecting Orlando and Tampa is likely to receive funding. California's proposal for an 800-mile-long rail line from Sacramento to San Diego and a nine-state proposal in the Midwest are also considered strong contenders.

The $8 billion in funding for high-speed trains and other passenger rail projects is part of the $787 billion recovery act. Besides the 13 corridors receiving grants, a White House official said several smaller awards will be made for improvements to existing rail lines. Overall, 31 states will receive funds.

I am scratching my head about the "Orlando->Tampa" HSR line. I guess we will know a lot more tomorrow what they really plan to do..

I am so longing for high speed rail between downtown San Francisco and LA, but the fighting, quibbling, and quarreling even to get it started seems to never end. Everyone wants to protect their turf and line their pocket. At the Pont du Gard, the amazing aqueduct/bridge constructed by the Romans in the south of France, there is a great museum where you can read translations of documents about the quibbling/quarreling/difficulties in financing that beleaguered the aqueduct's creation. The poor Roman bureaucrat in charge of the project at times despaired it would ever be built. Some things never change, I guess.

With wilder hurricanes and rising ocean levels on the horizon people will need to get out of town fast. Therefore this is a good use of scarce resources.


Reviews same material... may be of interest.

I have some notes I will add later, when I get home, coming from one of the planners in the State of Hawaii, where he makes the case that rail transport of any type will not work. Mostly, as I recall, b/c of distances in the US of A, and comparing with Eurail. Don't have them at hand here, at work. Check after 8 pm Central.


edit: Add this, from the above, but very nicely done by Wired:


I've been looking for the material I downloaded last year, and cannot find it. Wouldn't you know?!

Basically, coming from the head of Hawaii's Dept of Transportation, saying that the inherent inefficiencies of rail transportation would preclude any further developement. Had some interesting cites, and I know I have them somewhere. If I find them, some day, I will post them.

I guess my computer is having a short term memory problem?

Ah... progress!

I would be so happy with a reliable 70mph line from Portland to Denver and Chicago!

Who needs high speed rail? Just another boondoggle, except maybe in really high traffic areas, like D.C. to New York.

Who would go from Orlando to Tampa by HSR?

My other question as to proposed routes: How does it get to San Francisco from Sacramento? In days gone by, the California Zephyr ran to Oakland, hence by bus to SF. Today, the E. Bay goes underwater from Oakland to SF. Do they drill a new tunnel? Does it go to the bus station, train station, BART, or what?

Of course, the answer may be in the map on Wired, showing it actually goes to Stockton, to the Southbay area, and up North to SF. Not exactly speedy, but eliminates huge expenses.

Otherwise, I must disagree since IMO high speed rail will have to be used to replace air travel... and, construction will provide the jobs needed to get by for a generation. Think the Railroads in the 1800s.

It is proposed to go from San Francisco via San Jose, Gilroy, then over the Pacheco Pass to the Central Valley where it will link up with the Sacramento line. It will stop at SFO and Redwood City or Palo Alto. (Mid-Peninsula stop still to be determined. Palo Alto is turning up its nose while Mountain View is begging for it.) On the Peninsula speeds would be slower (100pmh I believe) until the train clears San Jose but will be on entirely grade separated tracks. (At-grade crossings throughout the Peninsula are currently big problems for Caltrain.)

Here's a fun visualization web site:

Right now the train is supposed to end in San Francisco at a new Transbay terminal a block away from Market Street and two blocks away from BART (with underground pedestrian tunnels linking.) This would be a dream. Currently Caltrain ends at 4th and Townsend, nearly a mile away from the shopping/financial district. That last mile causes all sorts of problems, and can add (unbelievably) twenty to thirty minutes to people's commutes, partly because of the severe incompetence of our public transit system (MUNI). The Transbay terminal designs are already set and would revitalize the area, but now there is carping that this location won't have enough future capacity, and we should stick with 4th and Townsend as the terminus, even though this means people couldn't get to it via BART, couldn't walk to it from a majority of the city's hotels, and would have to cart luggage on and off MUNI which is poorly designed for this function.

I don't think we will become earnest about high speed rail until the airline industry collapses. The good news is that laying track down Central Valley should go pretty quickly. Getting over/through the Tehachapi Pass will be more difficult, as will creating the separate grades all down the Peninsula. But this has potential to get people not only out of airplanes (San Francisco to downtown LA would be 2 hours 38 min, faster than you can fly when you count taxi rides and boarding time) but also out of cars up and down the Peninsula. Just having Caltrain terminate at a spot from which people can walk to most of their destinations would be an enormous improvement.

If that dude gets done I might just have to move back to CA. Maybe near Sacramento, or on the line near a stop. Being able to get to SF would be a big plus for me! Civilization, and all that. At least until TSHTF.



World proven reserve estimates remained essentially unchanged from 1970 to 1986 at a level of around 700 billion barrels. During 1987, however, several countries (UAE, Iran, Iraq and Venezuela) raised their proven reserve estimates by 191 billion barrels, increasing the world total to 891 billion barrels. There is some uncertainty concerning some of these reserve additions, since most did not come from new exploratory activity.

At the end of 1988, world crude oil reserves were estimated to be 983 billion barrels, which is 102 billion barrels above the 1987 estimate (see Table A8). This increase is almost totally due to a revision in Saudi Arabian oil reserves from 167 to 252 billion barrels. The Saudi revision is the result of reservoir studies of existing fields rather than new discoveries.

From the IEA Annual Oil Market Report - 1987/1988. In the words of the old song, You're So Blasé.

For a TOD review, see


And for a bit more historical:




I know all that. My post was about what was stated at the actual time of the revisions, before Campbell began to call them on it. I'll keep after it, would make for a nice guest post here. Mike Lynch said people he knew didn't think anything of it at the time, btw, and he still defends OPEC for making the revisions.

Top 50 Green Books

A number of titles not on the list that I would add:

Ehrlich, et al: Population/Resources/Environment - This was the basic text for the Environmental Economics course I took, but getting a bit dated now.

Kohr: The Breakdown of Nations - Maybe the most profound, mind-changing book I ever read, THE manifesto for decentralism/localism.

King: Farmers of Forty Centuries - How sustainable agriculture has actually been done

Colinvaux: Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare - Ecology 101

Darwin: Origin of Species - Can't understand biology without this

McHarg: Design With Nature
Alexander: A Pattern Language & The Timeless Way of Building
Jacobs: The Life and Death of Great American Cities - These books together are essential for envisioning an alternative to Suburbia

Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw revolution. I have a pdf copy of it,

Ruth Stout, wrote several books on organic gardening, I was fond of her brother Rex and his nero wolfe novels.

I have loads of issues of Rodale Press's Organic Gardening. I can see the book cover but not the title of Their Organic Gardening book (might be close to title) it is in storage with most of my herbals and all my Plant books. I have this great set of species of garden plants common to the US books, it is a 20 volume set, as there is a load of plants listed. Some articles are rather extensive and others are just a few words, the set is from the late 60's with some color plates in that odd tinted pictures.

Several Plant breeding books, One on Fish breeding and ponds.

Like I said most of these are in storage, otherwise, I'd have them listed.


I agree, "One Straw Revolution" is a very special book.

A bit off the green line, but for a post peak novel, "Julian Comstock" is great. Charles, you'll love it!

Thanks, I'll look into it, maybe the library has it.


A few on my desk at the moment (read or unread):

Under a Green Sky
The Emerald Planet
Big Coal
Pillar of Sand
Planet Earth (companion book to the BBS TV Series)
Indigenous (Don Burke)


...The Leadership Secrets of Ghengis Khan...

What happens as governments become less solvent than corporations?

As we see China gradually tightening up on lending a story surfaced this morning that Goldman Sachs had approached China and been denied an additional 25 Billion euro extension of credit for Greece. Bond yields for their debt is 'legging up' daily by some reports 370 points over German base or 6 and 3/4 %.


Could we get to a situation where corporate bond yields are lower than government bond yields for the better quality corporate issuers ? This is already happening in the case of Greek government bonds - investors now need to analyse Greek government bonds and ask whether they should lend money to the Greek government for 5 years, or for a very similar yield and a maturity, should they buy euro denominated bond issues from Vodafone, Carrefour, BHP Billiton, Deutsche Telekom or Diageo? If the UK economy deteriorates much further then there is no reason that the same thing can't happen in the UK. It could even happen in the US, Germany or France, particularly if you consider the ugly technical picture that could result from the huge amount of government bond issuance that will be necessary over the coming years.


Along with recent SC decision makes me wonder. If When governments get to the point where most of their financing is debt service will corporate entities run the show completley?

Well, that is really where they want it to end up, isn't it? Governments being obsolete relics, and the whole world controlled and run by corporations.

I'm starting to agree with what the Russians are saying: Everything Marx told us about Communism was false, and everything Marx told us about Capitalism was true!

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, the most basic tool we have left is to give corporations as little of our money as possible. This is not easy to do, and with my family the best I can achieve is a gradual weaning away. Still, it is on my mind to use small businesses, local products, local providers, and non-profits as much as possible. We are in the process of trying to refinance our house with our local credit union rather than the too-big-to-fail (but very convenient) bank we've been using for decades. We are trying to buy less "stuff" in general, grow our own vegetables, use bicycles and public transit more, use less fossil fuels (that all come to us via large corporations).

It is so astonishing to me that corporations have been equated to people with the same decreed rights guaranteed by the Constitution that I am nearly speechless.

Think this a good and sanity maintaining strategy.

As you say, in light of the decision further codifying as individuals I can now think of any transaction I do with any entity as being a political donation. No need to give to any party anymore. (some charities) Withhold from multi's and buy local or grow our own, bike, reduce, try to make some of our own power and not buy coal ect.

Not easy but perhaps as effective as one can be given all this.

Michael Moore on Haiti, the Supreme Court Decision on Corporate Campaign Financing, and Why He Calls the Democrats "Disgusting"

I watched this instead of Obama's speech. I was waiting for him to make a call for a third party.


That was a hell of an interview.

It is so astonishing to me that corporations have been equated to people with the same decreed rights guaranteed by the Constitution

Well, not quite the same. Corporations are capable of indefinite lifespans, and you can't put them in jail. They have no morals, and no sense of community responsibility, as they are accountable only to their shareholders (and often, not even to them.)

The supreme court has not really explained their decision in any terms that I can understand, other than what it seems on the surface -- we are headed for total control by global corporations that will have shareholders who have no love or loyalty to the USA.

Why do they want this?

In 1886, . . . in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a private corporation is a person and entitled to the legal rights and protections the Constitutions affords to any person. Because the Constitution makes no mention of corporations, it is a fairly clear case of the Court's taking it upon itself to rewrite the Constitution.
Far more remarkable, however, is that the doctrine of corporate personhood, which subsequently became a cornerstone of corporate law, was introduced into this 1886 decision without argument. According to the official case record, Supreme Court Justice Morrison Remick Waite simply pronounced before the beginning of arguement in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company that

The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does.

The court reporter duly entered into the summary record of the Court's findings that

The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteen Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Thus it was that a two-sentence assertion by a single judge elevated corporations to the status of persons under the law, prepared the way for the rise of global corporate rule, and thereby changed the course of history.
The doctrine of corporate personhood creates an interesting legal contradiction. The corporation is owned by its shareholders and is therefore their property. If it is also a legal person, then it is a person owned by others and thus exists in a condition of slavery -- a status explicitly forbidden by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. So is a corporation a person illegally held in servitude by its shareholders? Or is it a person who enjoys the rights of personhood that take precedence over the presumed ownership rights of its shareholders? So far as I have been able to determine, this contradiction has not been directly addressed by the courts.


Wiki has an article on the history of corporations as persons at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood_debate

Probaly well known to most folks here but if you haven't seen The Corporation it's a good primer on the subject too.

That movie is in my queque over at Hulu dot com, they have it listed in news and information channel, but you should be able to just hunt for it via the search window.

I'll have to watch it later.


In The Corporation the personhood's personality is a sociopath. Tragedy of the commons, environmental capital, people are not people only corporations are that sort of thing.

It's just one more step for me to see how the bailouts and the sub-prime mess weakened democracy in government, unions, and political opposition to corporate power a ton. I know of no direct link for this but as to assigning whether a sociopath would do such things?

That would be sort of cunning.

If a corporation is a person, perhaps WE should demand that they pay income tax just like the rest of US PERSONS. That would get their attention real quick. I bet the corporations would start back sliding real fast, just like those investment banks that suddenly wanted to be considered regular banks when they wanted a bailout from US PEOPLE...

E. Swanson

Why do they want this?

Hi my name is Zefdomburbler I am your new King, My company ZefRules has waged a price war with our rival and we have won. The person whom elected as President, Phil Shill, answers to me and I'll be happy to let you know what I want at his next State of the Union speach tonight 27 Jan 2010.

Thank You and good night.


That is what they want. A method if not fought against, to rule you be their power and not the power of the people. Jefferson would ask us to rebel again and fight for freedom again, I am sure.


I guess the question that keeps coming up for me is the question of the nationality of the corporations. Non citizens aren't entitled to vote in our elections, and they aren't allowed to contribute to candidates. And for that matter, people would be highly outraged if foreign governments attempted to meddle in our electoral politics. So if a corporation is treated the same as a person here, how do you decide what the nationality is?

It gets especially complicated with multinational corporations. Does it have to do with where the company maintains the headquarters? What about the shareholders - if the majority shareholders are non-citizens of the U.S., is the company still regarded as as if it is a citizen? Given that it is likely that any corporation of any size will have at least some non-citizen shareholders, what level of foreign ownership would be needed before a company would lose the rights as a citizen?

What if there is a U.S. subsidiary of a multinational? Does this give them the rights of a citizen or not?

What if the corporation is owned to some degree by a foreign government? Does that make it a non-citizen for these purposes? What level of ownership by a foreign government would be allowed before a company would lose the "U.S. citizenship"?

What about if a company moves the headquarters overseas as a tax dodge? Are they effectively renouncing their citizenship when they take this step?

I am just scratching the surface on this point, but IMO the Supreme Court laid a huge egg with this one. We like to think that they are pretty smart people, but I don't see how they could have missed this. But I guess in my mind the whole concept of corporate personhood is nonsense, but if you are going to open this door you end up with all sorts of headaches.

A corporation nationality is determined by where incorporated. A quick fix for congress would be to limit campaign contributions to domestic/Foreign corporations. One could reasonibly require any corporation giving money in usa elections to have only US Citizens as officers and Directors.

BTW: Terminology

Corporations from your state: Domestic
Corporations from other 49 States: Foreign
Corporations from other countries: Alien

Where there shareholders live is irrelevant on determining nationality of the corporation.

As to foreign ownership, you could be 100% owned by a foreign governent and be a USA corporation. As long the foreign government could find USA citizens who would be acceptable as directors, I don't see how congress can limit them.

Watch the M. Moore interview - it's all good but at 25:00 he begins to talk about the Surpreme Court decision involving him and his movie F 9/11. On DemocracyNow.org


Wow that is a hell of an interview.

So a full length documentary which had a long commercial run in theaters and PPV which wasn't even released by the company who originally sponsored it becomes a John Kerry campaign ad and a targeted ,smear Hillary, within the campaign, TV ad with paid for airtime are exactly the same thing in the eyes of the law.

Fahrenheit 9-11 was political and supported up or down as a business venture by hundreds of thousands of individual ticket paying donations made by ordinary citizens. They knew what they were buying.

When I buy toothpaste now ,thanks to this decision, I have no idea what the hell I'm getting myself into, that's the difference. There was at least a fig leaf of free choice there before. Now, want to keep soda pop in schools , buy a sponsor, want to intimidate someone from running, get a sponsor, want preferred status for government contracts, be a sponsor, and who will be the wiser?

I hope these people never have to parse out the difference between reckless endangerment and capital murder. They can not have been this ignorant.

Has anyone ever considered putting a corporation on the ballot for public office? It could provoke an interesting court test case on corporate personhood...

I don't recall election law. How many people would have to "write in" any said "candidate" before they are considered "on the Ballot"?

It varies from state to state, Some require that you have x-number of signatures to get your name printed on the ballot. Some allow write in names.

But it would be a thing to look into.


Hi My name is Bobbit Corp. I was written as your new governor and I want to offer you all .......

Now that Corporations seems to be legally considered individuals in pretty much every sense of the word, can we (that is, you Americans) gaol an entire company if it's found guilty of something requiring such a punishment? ;)

This from the Himalayan glaciers article;

"In Ladakh, in India's northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir, retired rural development civil engineer Chewang Norphel quietly refutes claims that there is insufficient scientific data to prove that India's glaciers are receding.

"I am the scientific data," said Norphel. "I have seen, for instance, the size of the Khardung La glacier since I was a child: it was solid ice then," he told the international journalists' group in November 2009.

Norphel, known popularly as India's "glacier man", has been building high-altitude water-conservation channels that freeze over as "artificial glaciers" to beat the lack of water from the receding Himalayan glaciers."

Geo-engineerings got it covered, not a problem.

A co-worker from India told me recently that there was an aging monk that had been given a camera back in the day. Supposedly he took pictures of the same area over and over for a number of decades and the photos allegedly show the decline of the ice. I've found nought about it online.

I don't know of anyone that says glaciers are not retreating. The claim of them being gone in 25 years was just speculation.


The minister, however, added, “I still maintain that the glaciers issue is very serious issue for India. Most glaciers are receding and most are in a poor state of health but from that to derive the conclusion that all glaciers will vanish by 2035 was alarmist and misplaced.”

Please read this excellent report on potential Green Jobs by our friend Roger Bedzek(Peak Oiler).


I thought it interesting that between now and 2020, more than 3.5 times as many jobs would be created by energy efficiency initiatives as wind+solar+biofuels.

The report gave expected increases in employment for various categories. The results were a little strange. The types of employment with big increases in 2020 (from Figure 6) were

Electricians ~48,000 - OK, sounds good
Exec. Secretaries ~47,000 - Whatever for? That many more executives?
Cashiers ~46,000 - Why?
Janitors ~41,000 - What do janitors have to do with energy efficiency and new energy initiatives?

I presume these new additions have not been offset by reductions in other industries (oil, gas, and coal).

According to the report, most of the jobs are standard job types.
As you say, most of the carbon reductions come from energy efficiency, so I guess many are connected with building retrofits.

It seems that more details come the earlier ASES report Tackling Climate Change in the USA"


It would be great if Rodger Bedzek could post
something about the report here at TOD, right?(Hint, hint)

Saudi Arabia uses 1.5 million barrels of oil per day at its plants, according to Arab News.

1.5 million barrels a day for desalinization!

Yes, Saudi Arabia needs to use more and more energy to support their growing population. Here is a plot of Saudi Arabia oil and gas consumption from the Energy Export Databrowser:

If you compare this with their population growth you'll see that the ~ five-fold increase in energy consumption since 1965 almost exactly matches the ~ five-fold increase in population. (Yikes!)

Given that the population will continue to increase over the next decades we should expect SA to both explore alternative energy and consume more of their own production. If you review natural gas production and consumption in the region you'll quickly come to the realization that the Gulf states have probably reached a maximum level of natural gas exports. Give the very high birth rates in the entire region, I would expect the region as a whole to cease exporting natural gas by 2020. (Just see the Dubai looks to Qatar for natural gas article for confirmation.)

Whether there is anywhere to import it from in 2020 remains to be seen. Export Land Indeed!

-- Jon

Link up top: Past Peak Oil Travelling towards Transition

Great little cartoon. Peak oil will cause a crash but not to worry; it will all be for the greater good of all. And when fossil fuels are all gone we will live in a beautiful world that is awash in clean fuel. Birds will sing and children will play in a wonderful, wonderful world world of pece and plenty.

I don't know which type of stupid propaganda is worse, the type that says peak oil is a hoax or this type, the type that says yes we have peak oil but it will only lead to a kinder, gentler and peaceful world. But at lease the author of this peace has one long term TOD contributor on his side.

At least some percentage of the human race are preparing to enter an age filled with glory, a moment in time which will be celebrated in books, film and song in years to come. This is what is meant by "a moment in history." It will be worth being alive at this time in history just to watch the age unfolding.

Ron P.

Heaven forbid you miss any points in that post that would help to qualify his contention that it's about making choices, and at least working in a direction you can live with.

"It seems like it might be a good idea to get underway building renewable energy facilities while the material is still easily available. Many solar systems that were built in the energy crisis days of the 1970's are still producing power today, a third of a century later!"

I know. He's raining on your funeral parade, Ron. Some people are trying to stay alive, and trying to give their kids a chance at survival. But sadly, 'EVERY ONE OF YOU IS WRONG!! JUST PLAIN WRONG!' Ron's truth is sprinkled on us from the Mountaintop..

Of course, that will take a lot of people joining forces and working together, and you've reminded us again and again that such things just aren't possible.

(40 and Sunny in Portland, Maine. My silly little homemade panel is blowing 107 degree air into the house. Again! ..and with a little help, I'll be able to add many more to the roof, and someday let the damn furnace shut down and rust.)


Bob, you and I have choices. We can prepare or we can just sit and wait. I am 71 and plan on only sitting and waiting. I have been however, trying to persuade my children and grandchildren to make the right choices, to prepare for the very hard times to come. There are lots of things they could doing, but that is for another thread. The point is they don't listen to a damn thing I say. They believe that things will continue as usual for the next 100 years. They want that very bad so that is what they choose to believe, and take no action whosoever.

Which is my point, the vast majority of the world will not do one damn thing to prepare. The crash will happen and then and only then will they start to take things serious. But it will be way, way too late by then.

And anyway.... The world is deep, deep into overshoot. There would be a crash even if we had enough oil to last for 5,000 years. The world is going to hell in a hand basket, water tables are falling, the soil is blowing and washing away, rivers are running dry, beautiful lakes are drying up or becoming fouled with death, species are going extinct at a rate not seen in 65 million years. And you think that perhaps wind and solar energy will fix all that.

Of course, that will take a lot of people joining forces and working together, and you've reminded us again and again that such things just aren't possible.

Of course it is possible. But it is possible for small groups. Groups should get together and form small farming communities with all the houses in a small group in the center of the farms, for defensive reasons. But that is not possible for the entire world! And even if it were it would only allow the rape of the world to continue until the last river ran dry, the last tree was felled and the last wild animal was driven into extinction. Then the human race would suffer a far greater catastrophe than if it happened now.

So Bob, please tell me I am wrong. Tell me that the world is not in such bad shape. Tell me that rivers are not running dry, tell me that India and China are not running out of water, tell me that animals are not going extinct or...

Tell me again that all is right with the world, or at least will be as soon as we run out of fossil fuel.

Edit: Bob, it is Roger's position that the world will be a lot better off after the demise of liquid petroleum. Is this your position also? I have always maintained that people should prepare to be among the survivors. That they should concentrate on survival for themselves and their families. That they should form survival communities. That they should not waste their time and energy on trying to save the entire world. Roger on the other hand thinks that the entire world can be saved that is where we should concentrate our efforts. Which side do you come down on Bob? If neither then what is your position?

I would be interested in reading anyone else's opinion on this subject as well.

Please reply!

Ron P.

"Which side do you come down on Bob?"

-- There are a lot of sides to choose between, Ron. Not two.

Yes, it should be clear from what I've written here for 4 years that I agree that we are in extremely precarious shape, AND that there are huge changes that we Do have the capacity to make.

Will swaddled Americans make them? Yes, eventually.. just at the very last, desperate 'minute', when a couple million more people notice that we really need to be on a 'Wartime Footing' for it.

"Birds will sing and children will play in a wonderful, wonderful world world of peace and plenty." - I don't think that's really what Roger was saying.. it's not what I'm saying, but I do feel that we have a chance to reshape a situation that has made us soft and desensitized, disconnected and cynical with the ungodly volumes of practically free energy that has been heaped onto us. There will be disasters, AND there will be Bounties from old sources that have been harder to see behind the Neon Glare. When he talks about the Glory of such a time, what do you think that means? I think it means that the SURVIVORS and their successors will have been on the razor's edge, will have been made stronger and quicker by this 'unexpected' turn of events, and will become another 'Greatest Generation'.. but of a different sort than the Norman Rockwell reality that has drenched the WWII period.

I'm off to a meeting. Sorry, Ron, when you blast out some of these extreme statements and caricatures, I just wish you'd reign it in a little. You're right that there's no reason to predict that this will be 'the Lion Lying down with the Lamb' .. it's going to suck. And it'll make us better. (and MUCH, MUCH leaner!)

Bob Fiske

"That which doesn't kill us will only make us Stronger"
(Either Bugs Bunny or Nietsche)

When he talks about the Glory of such a time, what do you think that means? I think it means that the SURVIVORS and their successors will have been on the razor's edge, will have been made stronger and quicker by this 'unexpected' turn of events, and will become another 'Greatest Generation'.. but of a different sort than the Norman Rockwell reality that has drenched the WWII period.

No, that is simply not the case. I have followed Roger's post for years and he simply does not believe that any kind of real long term crisis is coming due to peak oil. Of course he would agree that there will be hard spots but no real catastrophe, like the end of the world as we know it:


ThatsItImout on March 29, 2009 - 10:04pm
(or geesh, this apocalypse is so tiring...)

And the post goes on and on, telling us that we worship the God of Oil and how really screw up we are to do so. But you wrote:

Yes, it should be clear from what I've written here for 4 years that I agree that we are in extremely precarious shape, AND that there are huge changes that we Do have the capacity to make.

Just who the hell are WE? Are we the world or are we a few people dedicated to try to be among the survivors?

Ron P.

I know this is not to me. But, I tend to try to use myself only Unless I am also talking about my parents who see the things changing.

My brother on the other hand sees a tech future. He knows about the issues we talk about here, because I talk about them to most people in one way or another.

But I think, I am the Only one that can say for certain what I will do, I can't say what others will do.

We as a world will not do anything like what we as a world did last year. There are way to many variables to make any kind of "WE" statements.

If I were in charge I would do this or that, and likely someone would kill me because I stepped on their parade.

Hugs, Ron, it'll be okay.

WE, as I was writing that, was 'We the human race'.. or maybe 'we who are affected by oil' anyway.

But there is a closer we, too, and it is part of the disagreement you and I seem to have. This proclamation of yours that 'You can do a bit for you and maybe your family and community, but that's it.' That's not it. There are much more significant groups of people who are collaborating, influencing each other, and spreading the word with related groups.

Pete Seeger sings those songs that get endlessly mocked, but there are still millions who do listen to them (me.).. and follow the ideas and the goals of these distant messengers that we have never, and possibly will never meet. Transition towns are springing up all over the place. Maybe that movement will hold, maybe not, but so what? People in them are learning skills and trying things, and then revamping those ideas over at Co-Housing, Permaculture, Habitat for Humanity, Freecycle, etc.

The point isn't that they're 'winnning'.. the point is that people share ideas and start movements constantly, working to build ideas that can germinate, variegate and spread like organisms, so our efforts aren't just purely local bandaids. Family Lifeboats. You keep saying that one's efforts are just little bits for me and mine.. but you and I are communicating over the most ridiculously widespread interactive collaborations of idea-sharing that humanity has ever devised. A few brilliant (and many ridiculous) notions here have the chance to set a sparkle in the eye of someone on every continent of the planet. How many thousands of people come through and lurk just at this site?

That's a pretty broadly-cast net for actions and intentions that are only supposed to do tidbits of local good. Yes, the 'big actions' that should be happening as these ideas try to plant themselves in Oil-saturated minds.. they're not ready yet, but they're getting out there..

So yeah.. Who is 'WE'?

Anyway, thanks for talking with me Ron.
Have a good night.


I prepare and I sit and wait, and I think about helping others when the time gets here, and I help those that I can now.

When things change from the way they are right this second, I'll have to adjust to how they are now. Time is moving forward and I try to not worry about it, but be prepared to function with whatever comes my way.

I have this habit when I am walking in the city. I'll point myself in a direction and start walking, When I come to a street I will cross it, be there cars zooming by or not, I'll time my steps so that I can get as close to the cars as possible and still get across the street without being hit. I've been doing this for 30 years, I just walk and cross the river of life like I am slicing through it. You know how when there is a big crowd of people in the store, how do you get through them all, slow and fast adjusting as you go, looking ahead and noticing what you pass, but not looking back to awful much.

Ron, you are older than I am, you have kids, and grandkids, and I am sure they play a part in your ideas about all this.

I don't have kids, and as of this second my parents are fine. I am only 3 years old and... Okay 46, but I am younger than I look, er older than I look, I am confused, I don't see myself much younger than 400 in my minds eye at times because of the stories I write of an older person living billions of years. Worry is all in your mind, worry won't change anything.


Re: "God, Keynes and Clean Energy" above.

Amazing, Fusion is no longer 50 years away. It is now only 25 years in the future. I love the vistas in 'next year country'.

Perhaps fusion will approach the present asymptotically.

"50 years away". Impossible. When I left the nuclear industry 30 years ago it was 25 years in the future. Its not asymptotic its parallel, with random errors.

25 yeas for fusion is a constant, like the speed of light. No matter where you enter the system, it is always 25 years away. It is like Special Relativity.

For how long have they been saying that Fusion was only 25 years off? It seems this magic technology is always just over the horizon.

almost as long as the people who claim that one will be able to buy a stirling cycle engine as part of a CHP (combined heat and power) or at the focal point of a heilostat.

http://www.epa.gov/chp/basic/catalog.html (note how the DOE doesn't list a stirling based unit.)

I am sorry to say that Fusion is here right this second, Just look out your window and see that Fusion ball in the sky.

Ohhhh You mean in my backyard under my tarp where I have my Mr. Fusion canopener knawing on cans of food, and the Robot me dumping those cans in the soup pot, for all the homeless streaming past my door.

Oh okay, Yeah, fusion is in my backyard. There is a window I am looking at and It dialates time so back there it is 25 years in my future and in here I am still using coal.


I love the fictional it is in the future fixes, we have the cute drawing and they look really neat. Heated highways so we don't have to salt the snows. WiFi over the whole planet so we don't have to go to work in cars and we can all sell ourselves toys made by hand online.

I'll dream about it in books and stories that I might write, but I'll grow my garden and fix my current systems to be able to live without fusion if and when it shows up.


So you're saying that fusion is 8 minutes away, and always will be.

I can live with that.

Just like the, oh, 5:35 city bus...

Are you one of those guys who just has really bad luck with public transit?

My pal Jay HATED the F train from Brooklyn Heights. Me, I never had to wait for it.

Maybe so. Seems like one has to leave the US to find efficient, punctual transit (and also leave the UK, which seems forever beset by the wrong kind of leaves or snow, or the wrong temperature.) Tokyo is quite good - they somehow manage to run trains in hotter temperatures than are ever reached in the UK - but of course it's wall-to-wall ground-to-sky people.

Where you don't have wall-to-wall people, you're pretty much stuck with a bus if there's anything at all. And I've never been impressed by the shiftlessness, sloth, tardiness, and incompetence that seem typical of both the planning/scheduling and day-to-day operation at US bus systems. It's as though everyone concerned is in a perpetual marijuana haze - they just seem too stupid to grasp, for example, that the noon bus ought to get underway when the big hand and little hand are both on the twelve.

Part of it's the utter indiscipline of government, where everybody but a temp seems to have what amounts to tenure no matter how badly or even idiotically they perform, but the problem may go beyond even that. In any case I still remember the subway-train drivers ("motormen") who would pull into a station with their noses buried in the Daily News (the paper that prided itself - no kidding - on its third-grade reading level), counting on the trip-stop arm (which was probably maintained as poorly as they were driving the trains) to slam the train to a halt when they forgot to look up. Needless to say, the pounding cacophony of a substantial number of steel wheels with flats is awesome and unforgettable...

CATA, Central Arkansas Transit Authority or just plain CAT. is very good at time keeping. They have added a rush hour morning and evening bus to the route going by my house, and run on Sunday in NLR, which is good for shopping.

For 1.35 and .05 transfer, you can get many miles in one direction. I buy a monthly pass, which is good when you ride more than about 15 times a month.


Excuse me while I toss in a non-thread post about the movie Avatar, which my wife and I viewed last evening. Visually phenomenal movie, which will view best on the big screen. At one point a woman of the clan is teaching a guy from Earth infused into a clan body, and she says, "You are just a baby". What she is saying is mankind is still a baby. That we do not connect with our natural surroundings the way we will when we have grown up more.

I actually didn't think it would be very good, but the movie is really quite amazing. Segourney Weaver plays her role well as a scientist.

I wanted to grab her smoke a time or two though,,, Hey let me have that, I need it more than you.

Permaculture and Edible Landscapes are natural systems based Ideas.


Couldn't agree more.

I assume you are referring to Neytiri saying to Jake after saving him from the viperwolves, "You're like a baby making noise. Don't know what to do." I do not perceive a metaphorical interpretation. She is saying that Jake's behavior in the jungle is clumsy and amateurish attracting predators. Although a former marine Jake has no experience with jungle warfare nor wild animals because there are none left on Earth (Jake to Eywa: "See the world we come from. There's no green there. They killed their mother."). He definitely acted like a child in a playground touching the plants to see their reactions.

I agree it is a cleaver movie, very amazing. The people who belittle the plot as unoriginal and simplistic do not perceive the stealth theme. Humans are near the end of their industrial, technological and resource consuming civilization spanning 660 years since Columbus discovered the Americas. Without unobtainium, the 20 billion inhabitants of Earth would already have entered population collapse. Cameron is brilliant in how he put the controversial subject of our unsustainable civilization into a major motion picture and managed to get people to buy tickets (He Doth Surpass Himself: ‘Avatar’ Outperforms ‘Titanic’.

Hello Everybody

This is a link to a new coal mine being cleared of protestors in Scotland.

Once the protesters are out, the landowner will be able to implement a coal extraction agreement with opencasters.

The landowner is Lord Home, the Queen's banker, one of the richest men in the country.

These are the politicians who speak for him.
Two warnings - any Scot will feel ashamed, and there is an unpleasant stream of swearing in the second half of the video.

Oh please, give over. He ain't HM's banker.

You do your cause no good by emoting in this fashion. What, are we supposed to all start chomping at the revolutionary bit because you link him to HM?


and here is a small warning, for those that like paying for flunkeys.

RBS is now nationalised. Lord Home helps run it for all of us.

Re: Conoco, Valero results top Street, refining hurts


Valero Energy looking to sell some units: report, both up top.

Ethanol eases Valero's losses:


Apparently bankrupt ethanol plants purchased at 30 cents on the dollar are more profitable than refining crude. If I recall correctly Valero specializes in refining heavy crude a lot of which comes from Venezuela.

With Chavez never missing an opportunity to do something stupid, that business model may be finished.

Their new one seems to be working fine so far.

Excuse me while I toss in a non-thread post about the movie Avatar, which my wife and I saw last evening. Visually phenomenal movie, which will view best on the big screen. At one point a woman of the clan is teaching a guy from Earth infused into a clan body, and she says, "You are just a baby". What she is saying is mankind is still a baby. That we do not connect with our natural surroundings the way we will when we have grown up more (provided we get that chance).

I actually didn't think it would be very good, but the movie is really quite amazing. Segourney Weaver is great as a scientist. At one point where the scientists are trying to stop the destruction of the forest, she explains that the roots of the trees communicate with the roots of all the other trees of the planet in a huge neural network like a big brain, and the corporate rep. says, what have you people been smoking up here?

i saw the movie avaTAR. yeah nice movie. but titan, a moon of saturn is covered in hydrocarbons. IT HAS LAKES OF METHANE!!! i wish some one would chart the price of oil to where it would be profitable to go to titan and get it.

i wish some one would chart the price of oil in comparison to the u.s. military budget.

i fart in fusion's general direction.

but....what about this?
Researchers at KTH have been able to prove that the fossils of animals and plants are not necessary to generate raw oil and natural gas. This result is extremely radical as it means that it will be much easier to find these energy sources and that they may be located all over the world.

“With the help of our research we even know where oil could be found in Sweden!” says Vladimir Kutcherov, Professor at the KTH Department of Energy Technology in Stockholm.

"it's all good"

Linked on the Housing Bubble Blog:

Running on Empty
As state unemployment benefits expire for thousands of Oregonians, many people face an uncertain future

“Walt Nichols has two big worries: his own finances and the state of his Mount Scott/Arleta neighborhood. He’s chairman of the Southeast Portland neighborhood association, and wonders what will happen as residents get more desperate when their unemployment benefits expire. Nichols also is receiving unemployment and is concerned that it might soon end.”

“Mount Scott/ Arleta is one of Portland’s poorer neighborhoods, and Nichols says it’s unwise to leave anything in a car or on a porch, or it could be stolen. He’s accustomed to seeing many neighbors out of work who are alcohol- or drug-dependent. Now he’s noticing a broader swath of people in trouble. ‘What we’re seeing now is more families, more people who have lost their homes,’ he says. One neighbor who lost his condo is living in a car in the neighborhood.”

So, welcome to our 'Brave New World."

Multigenerational residential living... 10 family memebers from 4 generations, all in a 4 BR home. Only half of the adults are employed, the others have been off the rolls long enough that they don't count. Could be you, some day... and it is becoming typical.

That is why both residential home purchases and rentals are dropping.

As long as the Fed keeps the feeding trough open to the banks, so they can borrow from the US at 1% and loan to the US at 3.65%, they will keep the homes off the foreclosure market. I am fairly certain that is the deal that the administration has made... Nothing else makes sense.

On CNN news today, the Fed announces that they will keep the rates down.


As a consequence, the Dow is up 41.87.

This is our recovery.

::deep sigh::

Gotta go to bed now. I can't stand any more fun today!!


An appropriate article for me. I finally found full-time work after losing a well paying job over 10 month ago. My unemployment benefits where just about to expire and I was feeling the first tinges of desperation. Of course, I'm living in Canada where the economy hasn't yet collapsed like in the US. Everybody here thinks the recession is over and we're having a massive housing bubble happening, especially here in the Vancouver area. Rock bottom interest rates have convinced many people that buying a home is sure way to riches. Does that sound familiar?

He’s chairman of the Southeast Portland neighborhood association...


Friends have urged Nichols to apply for food stamps, but he doesn’t like the social stigma attached to that.

Emphasis added.

So I guess he won't be 'lowering the standards' in his Neighborhood Association, then? Must keep up appearances, after all.

How many times did Obama mention "energy" in his SOTUS?

[10] "I am grateful to the House for passing ... But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future - because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation."

[9] "But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America."

[8] "Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history - an investment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year's investment in clean energy - in the North Carolina company that will create 1200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels."

How many times did Obama ... continued

[7] "You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany's not waiting. India's not waiting. These nations aren't standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs. "

[6] "Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, ... We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities, and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it's time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of America. "

[5] "Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the interstate highway system, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products. "

[4] "Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. 200,000 work in construction and clean energy. 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and first responders. And we are on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year."

[3] "We will continue to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we will extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, investment fund managers, and those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it."

[2] ???