Drumbeat: February 1, 2010

Growing Pentagon Focus on Energy and Climate

The Pentagon released its Quadrennial Defense Review on Monday, a wide-ranging report laying out rising priorities for keeping the peace and, when needed, waging war. For the first time, the report — at the request of lawmakers — considered the significance of climate change for national security, both as a potential source of conflict and a factor in military operations.

A core conclusion:

Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.

The report also describes a longstanding, and now intensifying, focus on cutting the use of fuels, which is a huge cost and a security concern on the battlefield. There’s yet another plea — particularly in light of expanding shipping activity in the Arctic Ocean — for ratification of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea, which despite support from a series of presidents faces persistent resistance from a small cluster of influential senators.

Navy: Time is now to prepare for ice-free Arctic

The Navy will soon have a new battlefield on its hands. Climate changes near the North Pole have been dramatic. The amount of summertime ice has decreased by half over the past 50 years. The ice is also 50 percent thinner, resulting in greater seasonal variations.

“The Arctic is changing, and it is changing rapidly,” said Rear Adm. David Titley, oceanographer of the Navy. “If the Navy does not start looking at this today … we could wake up in seven or eight years and find ourselves way behind the power curve.”

The oil world and its villains

CLIMATE change and worries about energy security have been the two dominant forces behind a growing popular resentment of the hydrocarbons sector in recent years. But, suggests Peter Maass, a New York Times journalist, there remain more basic and equally compelling reasons why the world should conquer its addiction to oil. From Iraq to Texas, to Central Asia, to west Africa, oil and the companies that seek it bring havoc and violence in their wake, he says.

Population Taboo – Bid It Adieu!

Today marks the beginning of Global Population Speak Out.

It’s human nature to blend in with the crowd. Nobody wants to be the “only one” with a given viewpoint. The cultural taboo on discussing overpopulation renders politicians, scientists and other opinion leaders reluctant to mention population when discussing both causes and solutions of modern challenges. Famed physicist Al Bartlett (author of the ultra-logical Laws Relating to Sustainability) nicely summed up his frustration about this in the Spring 2008 Teachers Clearinghouse for Science and Society Education Newsletter: Why Have Scientists Succumbed To Political Correctness? (Incidentally, my film, Hooked on Growth, is dedicated to Professor Bartlett.)

Australia: Knox Council devotes half an hour to potential global oil crisis

COUNCILLORS spent nearly half an hour last week debating how Knox would cope when the world’s oil supplies run low.

Debate raged among councillors who attempted to chop and change the council motion, which included the possibility of adding a business case to the tune of $5000 in the next budget to discuss ways of coping with this international crisis.

The council document outlined Knox’s social, environmental and economic vulnerability on the issue, also known as peak oil (when the oil supplies run low).

Cost of Bataan nuke plant rehab set at $1-B

MANILA, Philippines - Rehabilitating the moth-balled Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) will cost $1 billion, according to an estimate provided by Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) to National Power Corp. (Napocor).

"[The] estimate is $1 billion," Napocor President Froilan A. Tampinco said in a text message. "We are currently evaluating it prior to submission to the Napocor board."

Experts on the chances of a global climate deal working in Mexico in 2010

With the rancour of the failed Copenhagen climate talks still fresh, the election of Scott Brown leaving President Obama without a super-majority in the Senate and doubts over the reputation of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the chances of a global climate deal look further away than ever. The Guardian asked 39 politicians, climate negotiators, scientists and representatives of NGOs whether they thought a global deal was likely in 2010. Many would not speak on the record, but this is what the rest had to say.

Obama 2011 budget request: Energy Department

The Energy Department would get the ability to guarantee an additional $36 billion in loans for the construction of new nuclear plants under President Obama's budget request, twice as much as the previous loan guarantee program. The loan guarantees would sharply reduce the financing cost of capital-intensive nuclear plants, and proponents hope it would help jump start an additional half-dozen nuclear power plants.

The budget would eliminate funding, however, for the long-discussed Yucca Mountain, Nev., repository for nuclear waste. The budget proposal says that Yucca "is not a workable option."

O&G Execs Tout Increase in Upstream Employment

Half of U.S. oil and gas senior executives expect to increase employment this year and two-thirds believe that the recession burdening 2009 will end this year, according to Grant Thornton LLP's eighth annual Survey of Upstream U.S. Energy Companies.

Reed Wood, Grant Thornton LLP’s partner-in-charge of the firm's energy practice, detected optimism from the respondents of the 2010 survey. "It was convincingly evident in their outlooks for prices, capital expenditures and employment."

Fuel Exports From India Fall as Reliance Raises Domestic Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Fuel exports from India’s west coast, the home of two Reliance Industries Ltd. refineries, fell in January as the company increased domestic sales.

Shipments of at least 690,000 metric tons, or about 5.87 million barrels, of oil products left west India for places such as Japan, the U.K., and South Korea, down from 1.39 million the previous month and 1.28 million a year earlier, data collected by Clarkson Research Services Ltd. showed.

Kjell Aleklett: The OPEC bulletin and focus on Angola

At the moment it seems like everyone wants a piece of Angola. The queue of prominent visitors is long with the USA’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at its head. Where it smells of oil one can also find China and they mention that China is thought to have contributed $5 billion in loans to develop Angola’s infrastructure. The investment is necessary after 25 years of civil war. The repayment will, presumably, be made in the form of oil.

China to Raise Resource Acquisitions as Car, Home Sales Jump

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s largest metal consumer, will add to last year’s record $32 billion spending on resource acquisitions as demand for iron ore, copper and oil soars with the fastest economic growth since 2007.

Chinese companies will hunt for iron ore, coal, oil, copper and gold assets, said Jing Ulrich, the chairwoman of China equities and commodities at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Hong Kong.

Chinese oil giant leads pack in bid to build Saudi fuel hub

China's Sinopec International Petroleum Service Corp has submitted the lowest bid to build a new fuel distribution plant for Saudi Aramco, industry sources said.

Saudi to up March crude prices to Asia - poll

SINGAPORE - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia is expected to raise prices of all its crudes heading to Asia for March on healthy fuel oil cracks and improving refining margins, after cuts last month, traders said on Monday.

In a poll of five refiners and traders, all expected the official selling prices (OSPs) to rise across the board.

Russia oil output to hit 500 mln T in 2010 - Sechin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian oil production will rise to 500 million tonnes this year and zero export duties for East Siberian fields will remain in place, the country's foremost energy official said on Monday.

State Won Big in Sakhalin Buy

Immediately after Gazprom bought out international companies' stakes in Sakhalin-2, the state received a privileged share in Sakhalin Energy, which paid a $1.35 billion dividend.

"I want to thank our partners for their flexibility," Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said when Shell, Mitsui and Mitsubishi agreed to cede control over Sakhalin Energy, the operator of the Sakhalin-2 natural gas deposit, to Gazprom for $7.45 billion.

Exxon Mobil profits fall 23% in fourth quarter

US oil giant Exxon Mobil has reported a 23% drop in profits, but the result was better than many analysts had expected.

Chavez announced a billion dollar boost to Venezuela's power grid

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Sunday announced in its Sunday TV program a special one billion dollar fund to strengthen Venezuela's power grid and prevent another energy crisis like the one the country is now suffering.

Countering energy crisis with alternative resources

As Pakistan grapples with acute energy shortage due to fast depleting conventional resources combined with a struggling economy, there is an urgent need for adopting energy conservation measures.

Experts believe that by harnessing the alternative methods for energy generation, Pakistan can overcome the present crisis to a great extent. A number of western countries have successfully developed renewable energy sources based on wind, sun, biomass, geothermal, ocean tides and bio fuels to minimize dependence on fossil fuels.

Are We Yeast in a Wine Vat? Reflections on Sustainability

From Bill O’Reilly to Bill Moyers there is consensus that a return to growth is the remedy for what they see as an economic recession. Their political divisions arise over how to rekindle demand and consumption, with the right favoring a market led recovery and the left typically advocating massive government stimulus spending.

Were I to meet O’Reilly or Moyers I would ask, “Since we live on a finite planet, with finite resources, why is economic growth the solution and not the source of our dilemmas?” The failure of media, political, educational, scientific, and cultural leaders to consider this question illustrates what Joseph Campbell calls the power of myth. Questioning growth is at odds with our faith in the American Dream, whose main promise is that future generations are entitled to a higher material standard of living than their parents enjoyed.

Kunstler: The Jive Economy

Memo to nation: we're not really growing, we're shrinking. Is this necessarily a bad thing? I dunno. Unlike, say, the stockholders of Toll Brothers I'm not so sure that "housing starts" represents my idea of a healthy economy -- since it really means we're destroying every cornfield and cow pasture left outside our cities, which will play havoc with our national life when the reality of our Wile E. Coyote agribusiness fiasco starts to hit home and we discover what cornfields and cow pastures were really all about in the first place.

'Climate emails hacked by spies'

A highly sophisticated hacking operation that led to the leaking of hundreds of emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia was probably carried out by a foreign intelligence agency, according to the Government's former chief scientist. Sir David King, who was Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser for seven years until 2007, said that the hacking and selective leaking of the unit's emails, going back 13 years, bore all the hallmarks of a co-ordinated intelligence operation – especially given their release just before the Copenhagen climate conference in December.

Japan JGC in deal to cut Saudi refinery emissions

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - State oil firm Saudi Aramco and Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday they signed a deal with a unit of Japan's JGC to improve the environmental performance of their joint Sasref refinery.

JGC Gulf International will carry out the engineering, procurement and construction work to add two units to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions at the Sasref refinery in Jubail on Saudi Arabia's Gulf coast, a statement said.

Environmental groups losing interest in lobbying Prentice

Canada's leading environmentalists say they're losing interest in lobbying federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice because the government has locked itself into an environmental policy "bunker" and is not giving their ideas serious consideration.

Meanwhile, according to the Registry of Lobbyists, representatives for big oil companies frequently lobby the minister, and appear to be a major source of policy advice on energy and climate issues.

A Review of ‘Climate Cover-up’ by James Hoggan

This very timely book is essential reading for those bewildered by the recent backlash against climate science. It takes things back to basics, and rather than being an exploration of the climate science itself, it seeks to equip the reader with the tools to be able to distinguish between the sources of climate-related information. If you want to board an aeroplane, but were told by a large group of aeronautical engineers that the plane was 90% certain to crash upon take-off, would you listen to them, or to a small group, comprising a PR consultant, a botanist and a plumber, who presented as evidence an article from Readers Digest magazine? The debate as to whether climate change is happening or not, and the need felt by media organisations to always present ‘both sides’, was over several years ago, yet since just before Copenhagen, contrarianism is back, and is back bigtime. So who are these people? Are they right? And how can we tell the difference?

Crack Spreads Widen as Refineries Close in the U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- As refineries from New Jersey to New Mexico close at the fastest pace in three decades, traders in Singapore are profiting from a new plant on India’s west coast and a ship heading for Florida filled with jet fuel from Taiwan.

The so-called refinery crack spread in Singapore, representing the value of fuels minus the cost of crude oil, may climb 50 percent to as much as $4.50 a barrel this year, according to a Bloomberg News survey of five analysts. U.S. refinery margins will drop 35 percent by December, futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange show.

That means higher profits for oil companies and traders in Asia, where consumption is growing 13 times faster than in Europe and the U.S. That’s also why Morgan Stanley can buy jet fuel in Taiwan and ship it 11,500 miles to Port Everglades, Florida, and still make money.

Oil drops in Asia as stock markets extend slide

BANGKOK – Oil prices extended losses Monday in Asia as stock markets fell and hopes faded for a sudden revival in energy demand.

Benchmark crude for March delivery was down 23 cents at $72.66 a barrel by early afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 75 cents on Friday to settle at $72.89.

South Korea Crude Oil Imports Decline for Third Month

(Bloomberg) -- South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest buyer of crude oil, imported less of the fuel by volume for a third month as refiners maintained low crude run rates.

Imports dropped 20 percent to 74.5 million barrels in January from 93.3 million barrels a year earlier, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement today. Imports gained 5.5 percent from December.

Cosmo to cut refining capacity as demand wilts

TOKYO (Reuters) - Cosmo Oil Co Ltd will cut refining capacity by 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Tuesday and consider further reductions at mid-year, becoming the latest Japanese refiner taking action on declining domestic demand.

Taiwan LNG Imports Drop for First Time on Recession

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan, Asia’s third-biggest importer of liquefied natural gas, reduced purchases of the fuel for the first time last year because of the global recession.

Imports of LNG, used as a fuel in power stations, fell 2.5 percent to 19.4 million kiloliters, or 8.78 million metric tons, from 19.9 million kiloliters in 2008, e-mailed data from Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy showed today.

Russia Suffered Record Economic Contraction in 2009

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s economy shrank the most on record in 2009 after the price of oil slumped 77 percent from peak to trough and left businesses to start the year trying to adjust to smaller profits as banks cut off credit.

Peak Oil Debate Piques Interest at Davos

The BP-Shell duo have a long road to go to convince all markets of their point of view. It is said that the oil majors are creating speculative pressure on the commodity markets with the help of commodity speculators and banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley . Europe’s falling oil output at North Sea has been the talk of the energy circles during the last few years, even as intense speculative activity around Brent Oil at the London Exchange has been driving oil prices upwards.

Fire breaks out at Kuwait oil gathering centre

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Firemen were on Monday trying to douse a blaze that broke out at an oil gathering centre, the state-run Kuwait Oil Company said, adding that production has not been affected.

Falkland Plans to Drill Toroa Well in April, CEO Says

(Bloomberg) -- Falkland Oil & Gas Ltd., a U.K.-based explorer in the south Atlantic, plans to start drilling a well southeast of the Falkland Islands in April.

Four shot dead at PNG LNG site

ExxonMobil has suspended work near a liquefied natural gas (LNG) site in Papua New Guinea after four local villagers were killed in a tribal dispute.

The clash between two rival coastal villages near the capital Port Moresby occurred in an area where ExxonMobil is to build a plant to liquefy, store and load gas for shipment overseas.

Shell Shuts Nigerian Oil Flow Stations After Sabotage

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Nigerian unit halted some flow stations in the country’s southern oil region after sabotage caused a pipeline leak.

“We have shut in some flow stations which produce into the line and the leak has stopped,” Precious Okolobo, Shell’s spokesman in Nigeria, said today in an e-mailed statement. “Repair work will commence as soon as possible.”

Nigeria militants deny Shell pipeline attack

LAGOS, Nigeria — The main militant group in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta says they were not involved in the rupture of an important Royal Dutch Shell PLC pipeline.

Incremental Steps in Iraq To Let Kurdistan Oil Flow

ERBIL, Iraq — The semiautonomous region of Kurdistan is the one place in battered Iraq that promised economic boom times, but some of the foreign oil companies that rushed in over the past few years are becoming increasingly restless.

Their multibillion-dollar deals are still mired in a bitter political dispute between the Kurdish region and the central government in Baghdad.

They may have a stake in what is shaping up to be one of the greatest oil bonanzas of modern times, but the prospect of earning a profit, let alone recovering their costs, remains highly uncertain.

Voser’s Shell Overhaul May Signal Output Revival in BP Fight

(Bloomberg) -- Peter Voser is using lessons from his two-year stint rescuing Swiss engineering company ABB Ltd. from near bankruptcy to turn around Royal Dutch Shell Plc by selling assets, cutting thousands of jobs and speeding up decisions.

Not only has Shell suffered six years of falling output, it’s been overtaken as Europe’s biggest energy producer in terms of market value by BP Plc for the first time since 2006.

Oilpatch expected to post solid Q4 earnings

"Oil producers should have a pretty solid quarter," said Chris Feltin, an analyst at Macquarie Group in Calgary. Crude prices, he noted, climbed "materially" in the fourth quarter over the third, as well as in the same period last year.

"Those exposed to natural gas are likely to show weaker results because natural gas prices were still relatively weak," he said.

Gazprom Profit Rises on Weaker Ruble, Tax Decline

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom’s profit climbed a more- than-expected 33 percent in the third quarter after the Russian gas export monopoly paid less tax and the ruble weakened against the dollar.

Net income rose to 174.6 billion rubles ($5.75 billion) from 131.7 billion rubles a year earlier, the Moscow-based company said on its Web site. That beat the median estimate of 156 billion rubles in a Bloomberg survey of 12 analysts.

Russia, Venezuela step up oil cooperation

High-ranking officials from Russia and Venezuela on Sunday discussed oil cooperation and export of Russian cars to the Latin American country, Russian news agency reported.

Russian Deputy Premier Igor Sechin and Venezuelan Oil and Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez held talks in Moscow over the operation of the Russian National Oil Consortium in Venezuela, the reports said.

Do you use more energy than your neighbors?

More than 1 million U.S. households now receive reports on how their energy consumption compares with their neighbors as utilities encourage conservation, some with smiley faces for those doing well.

The reports — deployed by 25 utilities, including six of the 10 biggest — have resulted in households cutting energy use an average of 2% to 3%, says Alex Laskey, co-founder of Opower, which provides the reports.

Getting connected: Europe's green energy 'supergrid'

It is a criticism frequently leveled at those promoting wind or solar power as an alternative to fossil fuels: what happens when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine?

Well, now there is a smart answer, at least in Europe -- we'll simply and instantly switch to another source of clean, green power.

Plans for a massive electricity grid dedicated to uniting the varied sources of renewable energy available in northern Europe have taken a step forward in January as nine countries formally agreed to work together on the project.

Speed is only part of rail project scope

In all, President Barack Obama funneled $8 billion in stimulus funds to high-speed rail projects across the country. Missouri is getting money, too — $31 million — but that won't let trains run faster than 79 mph between St. Louis and Kansas City. Instead, it will reduce delays with such improvements as a parallel bridge over the Osage River, crossed now by a single track.

"This whole package is being sold as high-speed," said Matt Van Hattem, senior editor for Trains magazine. "But in fact, $5 billion of the $8 billion is being used to upgrade existing systems."

The great uranium stampede

Bakouma is not an isolated case.

It’s just one example of a silent landgrab unfolding around the globe. After decades as a forgotten commodity, uranium, the radioactive element used as the primary fuel for nuclear power, is hot property again. Agents for companies, many of them government-controlled, are fanning out across the globe to gain access to the powdery, radioactive ore.

The scramble has been set off by the comeback of nuclear power. In the past couple of years countries that for decades had shunned it as an expensive, pariah technology have embraced it anew. Britain is leading the charge. The government envisages a new generation of reactors to replace the rickety old stations that will be retired in the coming years. The renaissance has taken hold elsewhere, from America to the Middle East and China.

Singapore to Consider Nuclear Power, Fewer Foreigners

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore should consider using nuclear power and depend less on foreign workers in its efforts to transform the economy in the next decade, a government- appointed panel said.

World's most powerful laser to trigger fusion reaction this year

A pivotal step in the march towards fusion power, the ''holy grail'' of sustainable clean energy, could be taken this year.

Brazil Cosan, Shell in $12 billion ethanol merger deal

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's Cosan, the world's largest ethanol and sugar processor, said on Monday it signed an agreement to merge its ethanol and fuels distribution business in the country with Royal Dutch Shell in a deal valued as much as $12 billion.

Fuel the future

Lithium is touted as the ‘new oil’ but the debate rages if it’s a long-term solution or short-term burst of optimism.

Canada: Residents fear prospect race for lithium

The rush to find lithium in West Quebec has some residents concerned that prospectors will cut trees and tunnel or drill on their land to meet the demand for the volatile metal used in rechargeable electric car batteries.

"Energy-Louisiana Style" at the 2010 Washington Mardi Gras

The theme of the 62ND annual Washington Mardi Gras Ball is "Energy-Louisiana Style." That's why Louisiana's business leaders in attendance were looking forward to hearing from the luncheon's keynote speaker Matthew Simmons, chairman emeritus of Simmons and Company, an investment banking firm for the nation's energy industry. But when a technical snafu prevented Simmons from presenting his original Power Point presentation detailing the history and future of Louisiana's energy industry, many in the audience, including executives of the nation's leading oil and gas corporations, were taken aback when Simmons decided to call up his favorite "go-to" topic, wind energy in the state of Maine, and why he feels that windmills may one day replace oil derricks and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as the supplier of our nation's energy needs.

Cuba: creative, complex and contradictory

The Cuban travel experience is otherworldly. It’s like falling into a Caribbean Stargate, constructed from rusting Russian tank parts, vacuum tubes and Marxist boilerplate, and stumbling out into a Terry Gilliam fever dream.

On the surface, Cuba would seem to have little to offer the rest of the world, other than a lesson in stubbornness and staying power – especially considering this nation of 11 million people is only 140 kilometres from its erstwhile enemy, the US. But with today’s contentious issues of diminishing resources, food security and healthcare, Cuba may have a hard-won lesson for westerners about getting by in hard times.

Town joins Transition network

A CORNISH town has become the latest to join the Transition network of communities encouraging sustainable development.

Saltash, in South East Cornwall, is the latest addition to the network of more than 160 communities across England.

How Can We Talk About Transformational Change Without Losing Hope?

Every time we're subjected to more dramatic predictions of global warming without being given solutions, a seed of helplessness is planted in our souls.

Poisoned Shipments: Are Strange, Illicit Sinkings Making the Mediterranean Toxic?

In October 2009 the government of Italy announced that a wreck discovered off the southwestern tip of the country is the Catania, a passenger vessel sunk during World War I—and not the Cunski, a cargo ship loaded with radioactive waste, as alleged by district authorities from nearby Calabria. Few locals are reassured, says Michael Leonardi of the University of Calabria. He and others maintain that the putative Cunski is still out there and is just one of numerous ships full of poisonous garbage that a crime syndicate has scuttled in the Mediterranean Sea. Such a startling allegation, if true, would not only damage the tourism and fishing industries along this idyllic coast but also compromise the health of Mediterranean residents.

Emissions of Potent Greenhouse Gas Increase Despite Reduction Efforts

Despite a decade of efforts worldwide to curb its release into the atmosphere, NOAA and university scientists have measured increased emissions of a greenhouse gas that is thousands of times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide and persists in the atmosphere for nearly 300 years.

The substance HFC-23, or trifluoromethane, is a byproduct of chlorodifluoromethane, or HCFC-22, a refrigerant in air conditioners and refrigerators and a starting material for producing heat and chemical-resistant products, cables and coatings.

IMF plans 100 billion fund to help poor mitigate climate impact

The International Monetary Fund is planning a 100 billion dollar fund to help countries mitigate the effects of climate change, the agency's head said.

"The new growth model will be low carbon," Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the IMF, told political and business leaders meeting at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos this weekend.

Germany Greenhouse-Gas Emissions Fall 22%; Kyoto Target Achieved

(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s greenhouse-gas emissions fell 22 percent between 1990 and 2008, the environment ministry said today.

China Reaffirms Greenhouse-Gas Goals to UN, Yu Qingtai Says

(Bloomberg) -- China told the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change it supports the Copenhagen Accord reached in December and reaffirmed its goal to cut carbon-dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005 through 2020.

Rudd Takes Up Fight With ‘Mad Monk’ on Australian Climate Bill

(Bloomberg) -- Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this week will make a third attempt to introduce a carbon trading bill, confronted by a new opposition leader who views the climate-change debate as his ticket to power.

Brown Says UN Climate Negotiations Were ‘Flawed,’ Need Reform

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the climate negotiations that failed to produce a binding treaty to rein in greenhouse gases were flawed, putting pressure on the United Nations to change the way the talks are structured.

Ecologists Outline Necessary Actions for Mitigating to a Changing Climate

Global warming may impair the ability of ecosystems to perform vital services -- such as providing food, clean water and carbon sequestration -- says the nation's largest organization of ecological scientists. In a statement released Jan. 26, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) outlines strategies that focus on restoring and maintaining natural ecosystem functions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

"Decision-makers cannot overlook the critical services ecosystems provide," says ESA President Mary Power. "If we are going to reduce the possibility of irreversible damage to the environment under climate change, we need to take swift but measured action to protect and manage our ecosystems."

GFDL Study Suggests Doubling of Category 4 and 5 Hurricanes this Century

A team of scientists from NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) used a unique downscaling approach to model hurricane activity through the end of the 21st century, and their results produce nearly a doubling of the frequency of category 4 and 5 storms.

Did someone with a wry sense of humor name the "crack spread?" Looks like the USA will be suffering from "crack spread" -- although Morgan Stanley is poised to profit

Actually LNG there is a reason for the term "crack spread". When the refinery industry started all those many decades ago there were no refinery builders per se. So they had to borrow from established industries. As much of the refinery is composed a various piping sysems it was natural that many of the original workers were borrowed from the plumbing industry. Thus if you've every stood behind a plumber and watched him work it's easy to imagine how the term "crack spread" developed.

Either that or it originated from the oil "cracking" technolgy used to make finished products. Thus the spread in prices between what crude oil sells at the well for and what the finished cracked oil sells for.

I thought as much. But I like the part where the spread "widens". Now the poor plumber has one foot in the US and one in Taiwan. Talk about a "wide spread". You can just see Morgan Stanley as the medical examiner with a whip: "spread'm wide."

I'm also sure, LNG, if that crack spread gets to wide our Congress will want to probe deeply into the matter. They've been getting good at doing that lately to many of us.

They do tend to dive in headfirst, don't they?

Reminds me of this hooker I met once in Houston that had the street name of crack spread.

They don't seem to worry much about lubrication either do they?

This is getting to be like an Ozzy vs. Alice gross-out contest.

Re: Canada: Residents fear prospect race for lithium

Wow, I didn't realize how different Canada's mineral laws were compared with the US. Lithium is the new gold rush? There's a town near Atlanta called Lithia Springs, because of the high concentration of lithium in spring water...

E. Swanson

"Wow, I didn't realize how different Canada's mineral laws were compared with the US."

Me neither. Geologists behaving that way in the US might find themeselves 'donating' their equiptment and running for their lives. Always pays to check those mineral rights on your deed, I guess.

The Government -- any government worthy of the name -- claims and exercises full right to citizens' property and lives. That's what makes it the "government".

A few hundred years ago, it was saltpeter, not oil or lithium. But it's always the same
The Saltpetre Man

Lord Coke states, "simple people believe that hee (the salt-peter-man) will, without their leave, breake up the floore of their dwelling-house, unless they will compound with him to the contrary." The new and uncertain process for obtaining the constituents of nitre having failed to answer the purpose for which the patent was granted, an act was passed in 1656, forbidding the saltpetre makers to dig in house or lands without leave of the owner: and this is the point to which the learned commentator of the law, in his Discoverie of the Abuses and Corruption of Officers, alluded, when "any such fellowe if you can meete with all, let his misdemenor be presented, that he may be taught better to understand his office." In england, up to about the period when these curious acts of parliament were passed, the right of all soil impregnated with animal matter was claimed by the crown for this peculiar purpose; and in France the rubbish of old houses, earth from stables, slaughter-houses, and all refuse places, was considered to belong to the Government, till 1778, when a similar edict, to relieve the people from the annoyances of the saltpetre makers, was made.

A German architect friend whose academic specialty is ancient German "clay" farmhouses tells me the law is still on the books allowing the German government to come in and scrape the walls of your house for saltpeter without any compensation being required -- even if it knocks over the house

I didn't realize how different Canada's mineral laws were compared with the US.

This is in Quebec, which derives its provincial laws from French civil law. The rest of the provinces have laws derived from English common law, and thus are much closer to law in the US (which adopted English common law as of 1776).

The closest analogy in the US would be Louisiana, which also derives its state laws from French civil law.

Inch by inch....

Green Energy Awaits Word on British Tariffs
Britain's renewable energy industry awaits details of a plan to be announced by the government Feb. 1 to subsidize use of energy sources such as solar and wind

The Government will today set out the details of the "feed-in tariff" scheme designed to encourage small-scale, green electricity generation, concluding years of intensive lobbying from the renewables industry.

Subsidies for home or community use of wind turbines or solar panels, for example, will start in April. But the details of how much they will be worth, and what will be eligible, have been the subject of much debate. The biggest concern is that the Government will set the subsidy too low for it to act as a significant stimulus to the market.

See: http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/feb2010/gb2010021_225809.htm

Edit: With respect to the provisions pertaining to "renewable heat":

The announcement of the new feed-in tariffs came as the government also released fresh details of its proposed Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which will come into effect in April 2011 and mirror the Clean Energy Cashback scheme, providing cash incentives to homes and businesses that install ground source heat pumps, biomass boilers and air source heat pumps.

The government said that precise details for funding the scheme would be announced in this year's budget, but set out proposed tariffs that would result in the average semi-detached house with adequate insulation levels generating £1,000 a year in extra income on top of energy bill savings of £200 a year by installing a ground source heat pump to replace heating oil.

The proposals were welcomed by REA policy director Gaynor Hartnell, who hailed them as an important "world first". "Renewable heat is the sleeping giant of renewable energy in the UK with a major contribution to make," she said. " The industry is confident these proposals give the UK pretty much the best chance of generating more than 10 per cent of its heat from renewables by 2020."

Source: http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2257085/feed-tariffs-un...


The UK Government press release is here.

A renewable heat incentive (RHI) consultation has just been announced also.

Details are here.

Here's an example of how the RHI might work taken from the consultation document.

Example of calculating RHI entitlement

A household’s useful energy demand for heat averages 15,000 kWh per year. The property is a three bed semi-detached house with cavity wall type construction.

A switch from current gas use to a combination of biomass and solar thermal is being considered. Under the proposed deeming approach based on an on-site assessment by an accredited installer, the process for determining the level of RHI compensation could be as follows.

The installer determines that a reasonable space heating requirement for this property is 10,000 kWh, taking into account some straightforward energy efficiency measures the household could implement, for instance installing loft and cavity wall insulation. Hot water will require approximately 3,700 kWh/year. The total deemed heat load in this situation would therefore be 13,700 kWh/ year.

He might conclude that solar thermal panels would provide 60% of the hot water requirement (2,200 kWh), with the biomass boiler providing the rest (1,500 kWh) as well as the space heating requirement (10,000 kWh).

In this case the RHI entitlement would be:
2,200 kWh x 18p = about £400 per year for 20 years
11,500 kWh x 9p = £1,035 per year for 15 years

Total RHI payments would be over £1,400 per year for the fi rst 15 years (and around £400 per year for the following 5 years). This amount would be paid as a fi xed (deemed) annual amount regardless of actual energy use (subject to the terms set out by the RHI such as continuing to use the equipment).

Combined with grants and loans, this looks like a fantastic proposal.

Thanks, RA, for the links to these resources. I'm pleased to see air source heat pumps qualify under this programme. These should be much easier and less costly to retrofit into existing housing stock.


The Wikipedia Oil Megaprojects was revised on January 30, 2010 and there were a few dramatic revisions. Here are the yearly total revisions, OPEC + Non-OPEC in thousand barrels per day that will be produced by these new projects.

Year  Megaprojects Revision
2007      2950       -150
2008      4443       -647
2009      4742       +397
2010      3240       -420
2011      3114       -621
2012      2275       -984
2013      2400       -145
2014      2050       +230
2015      2530      +1275
2016      1385       +290
2017       462       +300
2018       130        -50
2019         0        -50

Projects five years out and beyond represent a considerable amount of uncertainty. Projects are often delayed or moved up and new projects that we do not know about will almost certainly be added. But remember it takes from 4 to 6 mb/d of new production each year just to stay even.

Ron P.

The EIA shows that North Sea crude oil production fell from 5.9 mbpd in 1999 to about 3.7 mbpd in 2009. Sam's analysis of North Sea production showed that North Sea oil fields, whose first full year of production was in 1999 or later (analogous to current Megaprojects fields worldwide), showed a peak production rate of about one mbpd in 2005. However, the observed 10 year net production decline rate was still about 4.7%/year, even with new fields that had a peak production rate of about one-sixth of the 1999 peak rate.

We don’t believe in peak oil,” he told reporters later

DAVOS, Switzerland - The head of Saudi Aramco said Thursday “peak oil” prices were a fear of the past.

With all due respect to the sharp minds who write for the Oil Drum -- how can anyone doubt the Head of Saudi Aramco Oil? Pretty presumptuous, I would judge it. Hmm

Car sales in India surged in January:


Backing up Jeff Rubin:


In his model, the beginning of the oil crisis is not marked by a sudden and extreme depletion of oil reserves, but oil prices that rise at an accelerating rate, driven by rapidly growing demand from the global economy (primarily from developing countries like China and India) and expanding development of expensive and energy-intensive non-conventional sources.

I love Jeff Rubin but I think he is projecting the price of oil a little too high. No, a lot too high. Tis my opinion that high oil prices will knock the economy into a deep recession, or even perhaps a depression, keeping prices low. However I do agree with him that this means the end of the global economy.

But I got to thinking about the title of his book: "Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller. Doesn't he have that backwards. Isn't the world about to get a whole lot larger? The world got a whole lot smaller when we went from sailing ships to steam powered screw propulsion. Instead of taking from weeks and months to cross the ocean, we could do it in a few days. And then the world got even smaller with the advent of air travel, crossing the ocean in hours instead of days. Now when such travel will no longer be affordable it will be back to sail power. And the world will seem a whole lot larger.

However I do realize that he is talking about going local instead of continuing with the global economy. Your food, and just about everything else will be produced locally instead of half way around the world, hence only in your small world. I guess it will get a lot smaller in one sense but a lot larger if you plan on doing any world traveling.

Ron P.

Ron, we're on the same wavelength about this. Every time demand pushes supply, the resulting price increase will diminish the demand... and thus we will always see the deniers refusing to acknowledge a supply problem. It is the demand that is the problem, and supply will always keep up.


Why ?

The closet concept to this is a Cargo Cult. Your assuming what you believe is true is true.

As far as I can tell one could easily with a bit of research realize that if their are black swans then there probably are golden swans. I.e a mix of unpredictable occurrences can result in and extremely favorable but unpredictable outcome. Certainly people can grasp at this occurrence and build a belief system on top but thats all it is. Indeed oil prices have risen substantially from there lows even as the economy went through the greatest recession since WWII. But if you keep the faith then you know that prices will crash again.

Perhaps we get a series of events that cause another gold swan if you will perhaps not. Regardless this faith not theory that prices will fall again can only be proved false if they don't. Well then what ?

If they don't then your forced to conclude that the previous price collapse was the result of a number of events that are not repeatable aka a gold swan.

I don't care personally either way but its been funny reading so many people spouting theories that are so tragically flawed.

What was the chain of events that actually lead to low prices show me how they are certain to occur in the future ? How do you deal with OPEC's seeming ability to cut production to support a price target ?

Or build your bamboo airplanes and wait patiently for your theory to prove itself.

Certainly rising oil prices will force economic contraction but claiming that its certain to cause a collapse leading to low prices is a logical leap that has no substance. Can it sure all that has to happen is for supply to briefly exceed demand by a decent margin. But thats like predicting the winner of a horse race i.e its not predictable and thus fits my golden swan claim. A real theory that shows demand is certain to collapse faster than supply if prices rise is difficult to create why because its impossible to prove it will happen. Its one of a number of possible outcomes that are sensitive to how various dependent variable change.

I'm very willing to see this uber theory that explains all until then I'll happily stick with a price collapse being a gold swan event that possible yet not predictable. My own research suggests that the chances of the conditions required to create a price collapse become increasingly improbable once it happened.

Not that it can't happen but if you actually spend some time looking at the issue instead of fabricating dogma you find that if one happens it tends to ensure that another occurrence is even less likely.

Obvious support can be seen in OPEC price support no matter what they are really doing now you can bet that if prices start to fall significantly then they will be willing to make deep cuts sooner than later thus cutting off any chance of a price fall. On the demand side given that prices rebounded nicely many players are now willing and able to buy and store oil assuming that the follow on rebound will happen quickly.
So since we had a golden swan event we find that producers are willing to rapidly cut and that speculators exist willing and able to rapidly by any cheap oil on the market. Where is your certain price collapse ?
Well guess what its not there because I actually took the time to try and really understand the issue and came up with a neat result that golden swans don't have a lot a children events. By their nature they are singular one off events that never repeat to the same magnitude again the next time around as they self dampen. Not that we can't have another golden swan but its certain to have a much lower magnitude of swing and the one after that the same.

In fact given this you begin to consider that the most likely outcome following a golden swan event is actually to see a period of stable prices as the producers and speclulators oppose each other resulting in a sort of dynamic stability. Indeed there is nothing that prevents a rapid dampening of follow on golden swan events resulting in the system flatlining over a fairly short period of time as speculators create a large buffer that offsets supplier variations. In fact I'd not be surprised to see that this sort of rapid dampening is not the almost certain outcome.

However its also obviously a short term situation as volatility drops quickly and the advantage of holding oil in storage lessons and its not free. Eventually this excess is drained from the system as its a dynamic situation not one that has long term stability. What happens next who knows but another golden swan is now certain to be the least likely outcome with all others having a higher probability. The closest one is a return to dynamic dampening and prices rapidly flattening again at some unknown level from a new peak.
Given OPEC has claimed 70-80 as some sort of magic price and its not lead to economic collapse the probability of prices falling below this level for any length of time is remote.

If they do spike again we have no assurance that even if they do go into some sort of balance later like we have now that it will happen at 70-80 it could well be higher know one can know.

Could we see 30 again sure of course if a similar set of circumstances which caused it last time happened it will happen but I'm not running around claiming that its some sort of dead certainty because with some thought its obvious that its not.

Do golden swans lay golden eggs?
If so we could update the old fable as such...

A man and his wife had the good fortune to possess a goose swan which laid a golden egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough, and, imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decided to kill it. Then, they thought, they could obtain the whole store of precious metal at once; however, upon cutting the goose swan open, they found its innards to be like that of any other goose swan

I think Aesop was trying to tell us something.


You got it.

Theres a bit more. The golden egg is the golden era or a return to the bubble (BAU).
And its a one shot reprieve i.e if you try and get the golden egg as a return to BAU or the old golden era you kill the goose (swan). The implication of the Golden Swan is a bit of a grace period between when the old ways partially fail and the underlying system dynamics result in crushing or killing pressure.

I assume that many people that read on this board have read about the Great Depression and recognize that a similar respite period happened after the 1929 crash as the stock market rebounded and increases in efficiency of business gave one last spurt of productivity. If one looks at the Roman empire one finds a series of these sorts of golden swan type events over a period of several hundred years.

I'd not be surprised in the least to see natural variants. Fore example consider a population crash of a herd animal with predator prey. The predator begins to decimate the herd and grows hungry but initially is culling the weakest animals. For the herd animal the initial reduction in numbers takes the pressure off the grass allowing it to regrow even stronger. You have brief period where the predators are weak the herds numbers are thinned of the weakest members and the grass is the greenest. The herd population rebounds slightly however the new calves are easily targeted by even the weakened predators and the regrowth of the grass is quickly consumed. Then you fall into the final spiral.

Thus although not predictable Golden Swans are probably quite common the problem with predicting when they occur can be seen in the natural example as a number of factors have to come together to get the effect. If you say have a hard winter then perhaps it never happens certainly a random confluence of a good year for the grass at the right time boosts the probability of a Golden Swan. This is important because the Hurricanes in 2008 actually provided a similar lucky break as US demand was artificially constrained while production continued. A extra random beneficial factor seems to help a lot in the formation of a Golden Swan event.

Golden swans are thus unpredictable but common and almost universally squandered as few recognize them for what they are which is and grace period and not likely to happen again thus rarely are they used correctly to prepare for the coming storm. Note they also are surprisingly common in War where you have the initial victory or defeat in the opening battles followed by a long grind that very often results in a different outcome. Its not surprising at all that a Golden Swan/Black Swan ( depending on which side your on ) is common on the battlefield as small variations in a complex set of events can turn the tide of battle significantly. Generally however the outcome of the overall war is determined by other factors that eventually cause people to dismiss the early victories or defeats as one off events. Correctly of course but surprisingly people completely ignore how these events where treated when they happened.

I have to imagine I'm not the first person to figure this out and I have to suspect that if I am right just like every single other time no one will remember or understand this concept. Historians with the knowledge of events yet to happen won't fully appreciate the absolute certainty that almost everyone has right now that oil prices are capped and somehow can't exceed some sort of barrier. From doomer sites to the MSM there is this massive psychosis that the worst is behind us and that we can somehow successfully shrink our demand for oil such that low prices result. Peak Demand is the new buzz word. Supporting the concept is nothing and future historians will fail to grasp the shear power of this empty concept. People that believe in it will like all true believers be impossible to sway even as the facts show their belief has no basis.

Assuming I get out of the house I'd not be surprised to overhear a waitress or bartender spouting off about peak demand and how oil prices can get high for long again. Not to many shoeshine boys lefts so they are proxies.

One can do a bit of pondering by using Google Stats for searches such as peak oil oil demand etc.


I found it interesting that Washing DC showed as a top city for Oil Demand but not Peak Oil :)

This suggests that Oil Demand theorists are fairly common in the DC area which in my opinion speak volumes about the Oil Demand theory.

As and example Green Shoots also ranks DC highly.


Yeah, your world gets smaller, just like everybody else's, but The World gets a lot bigger.

Wealth provides options. Of the many things we'll all be giving up, a broad array of personal options and choices will be part of the loss.

All of that cheap Chinese junk we bought over the last 20 years may be worth something someday!

Chinese junk... at first I parsed that as a kind of boat.

Thanks Ron I wonder what the Iraq fields will yield, from the PEAK OIL PEAKS INTEREST up top, My primary takeaways from the Davos energy forum was

1) 10 Million Barrels per day from Iraq was portrayed as a CHEAP ENERGY SLAM DUNK by both BP and Shell.

2) Depletion will eat up a bunch of that gain but 100 MBPD is VERY DOABLE again according to BP and SHell

3)Now that level of production is contingent on $22 TRILLION in total investment $$ (I assume USD)

Total was the only Peaker really showing skeptism towards the Iraq fields but that was primarily due to the ability to gain return on investment for its shareholders due to the margin constraints applied by the Iraqi auctions.
If I have missed it can someone please direct me towards an Oil Drum reasonably recent discussion on Iraqs potential. I am of the opinion that this will be vitally key to the Peak Oil impact along with the financial crash and natty gas.

Kansas, the Iraqi production potential has been discussed almost daily here on Drumbeats and a special thread by Stuart Sanford was posted on January 6th. Iraq Could Delay Peak Oil a Decade. A few people here on this list think it is a distinct possibility that Iraq can eventually produce between 10 and 12 mb/d. I think it is a joke and I have stated so in many posts here on TOD.

Their old fields are all in steep decline with heavy water intrusion yet they hope to triple production in some of them and quadruple production in others. They are going to do it by implementing horizontal MRC wells and new water injection wells. No doubt if they push 15 million barrels of sea water into the periphery of those old fields they will dramatically increase their output of oil and water, but for a few months at most.

That is my opinion but it is only my opinion. Others are far more optimistic.

Ron P.

I agree. My 2¢ worth:

Iraq certainly has lots of potential, and there are lots of stories about their announced plans to achieve almost a five fold increase in production in 10 years or less. While I think that they can increase their production, I am in the skeptical camp regarding the scale of the projected production and net oil export increases for two key reasons.

First, I can’t find any case history of a mature producing region showing this kind of production increase. They closest analogue I can think of is post-Soviet Russia, where they achieved about a 65% increase in production over their post-Soviet low, to a rate below their 1980’s peak production rate. Note that Iraq would have to increase their production by about 50%, just to match their 1979 production rate.

Second, oil consumption in Iraq has been steadily increasing since 2003, and based on their recent rate of increase in consumption for Iraq just to maintain their 2009 net export rate (which preliminary EIA data show to be down slightly from 2008), they would have to increase their production at about 2.2%year.

So, the bottom line for me is that the most realistic positive outlook for Iraq, given the rapid increase in consumption plus numerous political and logistical challenges, in my opinion is probably a slow rate of increase in net oil exports, and many factors could result in flat to declining net oil exports.

Hey thanks gents, I seemed to remember Stuarts thread but I must confess trying to keep up with all the discussions has past my ability to cope and recall.
Great points and I will review the 1/6/2010 thread. While my inclination is to remain skeptical I must appreciate the addition potential that Iraq could well be. When coupled with the staggering economy and natty gas the peak impact picture continues to become more convoluted...not necessarily better just more variable. If production can maintain the 83-86mbpd for another decade then maybe we have more time to prepare. If the staggering gait of the economy becomes a collapse then the required industry investments will probably not me made in a timely manner and the production drop will get uglier. Was interesting to hear that all the bigs at Davos were sticking to their investment projections and maintaining them at 2008 & 2009 levels.
Yesterday was the 100 year anniverary of Scouting, church was a nostalgic look at the impact of scouting on our society. The scout law and creed were recited, after nearly 40 years the words are still easily recitable, and models to the appropriate. The scout motto of "Be Prepared" still challenges us all. Guess we all are still trying to be a good boy scouts. TO!

I think the real secret to Iraqi production is going to come from the new 'Iraqi Oil Sands', which is all the places where our Humvees, Tanks and Oil Transport Caravans have been blown up. There's gold in them thar hills!

(Dark Humor, I do know how much this has cost us in Human Life, and a lot of what's in that sand isn't oil.. I'm just so sad about it I don't care about making nasty jokes any more.. if people are really incensed, they know where their anger can be directed.)


I think there are probably more than a few of us here who share your sorrow, Bob.


Those revisions are pretty chilling. I was curious to know who would be contributing the most to incremental production over the next five years (2010 through 2014) according to the megaprojects, and here's what I found:

This chart shows a country's incremental production as a percentage of total world incremental production from 2010 to 2014.

A couple of surprises for me:

1. Saudi Arabia is ranked 7th

2. Canada will contribute more than Saudi Arabia

3. Iran is the only Middle East country to make it into the top five contributors

4. USA contributes more incremental production than Mexico

5. USA contributes almost as much incremental production as Qatar or Iraq.

6. Two of the top four contributors are African nations

Of course, the bigger story is that all of this incremental production won't be enough to offset production declines (assuming a 4% to 6% decline rate). So, as supplies tighten, those top contributors will see their influence rise, I expect.

Insightful graph, thanks. The top two predicted contributors are both working in very challenging environments.

Some multiyear net export decline rates (EIA):

Malaysia (2004-2008): 16.8%/year

Ghana: Net Oil Importer

Oman: (2000-2008): 4.4%/year

Vietnam: (2004-2008): 46%/year

Indonesia: Net Oil Importer

Venezuela (1997-2008): 4.5%/year

China: Net Oil Importer

Australia: Net Oil Importer

Mexico (2004-2008): 13.5%/year

Norway (2001-2008): 5.1%/year

USA: Net Oil Importer

Iraq: Declining net oil exports relative to prior peak, for obvious reasons

Saudi Arabia (2005-2008): 2.7%/year

Iran (2005-2008): 3.5%/year

Nigeria (2005-2008): 6.9%/year

Brazil: Net oil importer in 2008, probably very slight net oil export volume in 2009

Whoa! I'd be curious to see what these export decline rates would look like, along with other data for these countries, combined with Kingfish's graph.

Ooo, ooo. What about a master list of Tipping Points or Areas of Concern (have fun with the name) by country/region/hemisphere. Some gamecard is needed for the predicament we're in, the direction we're-a-headin'.

Thanks Kingfish. According to my calculations new production from megaprojects, over the next five years, will average 3 percent of total production. That is about half of what we will need just to stay even. However all new production is not included in the megaprojects. But... all those megaprojects will not come to fruition, not all on time anyway.

Ron P.


A few more comments on key numbers on the megaprojects page.

1. Between 2015 and 2017, KSA adds almost 1mbpd of new production.

2. Between 2014 and 2014, Iran adds 1mbpd of new production

3. Between 2010 and 2014, Brazil adds 1.6mbpd of new production

4. Kazakhstan will add 0.5mbd in 2013 alone.

These are huge numbers. Are they in any way tied to reality? Does Chris Skrebowski vet these numbers in any way or just report what the NOCs report?

Kazakhstan is the $136 billion (ultimate 1.5 million b/day) Kashagan field. Also known as "Cash all Gone".

Originally scheduled for first oil in 2005.

Best Hopes for $136 billion to electrify, expand and speed up US Railroads# to save 1.5 million b/day,


# Most of the savings would come from a modal shift from trucks

Venezuela ranks #1 with over half a trillion barrels of recoverable heavy oil with a higher EROIE than Canadian cold bitumen. More peaks and valleys.

Venezuela with more oil riches than Saudi Arabia?

Between 2015 and 2017, KSA adds almost 1mbpd of new production.

Saudi Arabia

One challenge for the Saudis in achieving this objective is that their existing fields sustain 5 percent-12 percent annual "decline rates," (according to Aramco Senior Vice President Abdullah Saif, as reported in Petroleum Intelligence Weekly and the International Oil Daily) meaning that the country needs around 500,000-1 million bbl/d in new capacity each year just to compensate.

Over that three year period they will be from come up from .5 million to 1.5 million barrels per day short.

Ron P.

So you don't believe in magical non-depleting oil fields in Saudi Arabia?

Nice work KF -- Re: Brazil...did they offer any details on the timing of getting their production equipment out there? They have certainly made some big discoveries but they'll take as long (and maybe longer) to bring online as DW Gulf of Mexico. That big jump would seem to indicate not only a very rapid drilling and construction program but one done simultaneously for all the current discoveries. It's only 4 years to 2014. Construction can run 3+ years and that only begins once enough reserves are proved up. And then you have to drill the development wells.

Seems a tad optimistic but perhaps they are farther down the road then I've heard.


It's a bit messy because Chris puts the expected peak production rate in the year that production starts. Then he has a second column for the year that peak will occur and that column is often blank. So the number in the box doesn't necessarily apply to the year it's assigned to.

Even so, your point is exactly what makes these numbers so suspiscious. From 2010 forward, Brazil has incremental production (kbpd) of 375, 280, 100, 460, 100, and 300. To me, that implies a huge capex and maybe rose colored glasses. After all, we are in 2010 right now -- where would Brazil need to be to bring 375kbpd of new production online this year? Wouldn't they need to have a whole lot of rigs out there right now? My guess is that the negative revisions that Darwinian noted will be seen again and again.

KF -- They've got the rigs for sure. There's about 20 rigs in the world that can drill in those water depths and last I heard Petrobras had 80%+ of those under long term contract. But it's the production facility construction process that's usually the choke point and isn't getting the wells drilled. They can drill the wells while they're building the facilities: just leave them as subsea completions waiting for the tie-in. Just an educated guess but new fields will come on at 200,000 to 400,000 bopd. The anticipated increases would seem to call for 1 or 2 fields coming online every year. Not impossible but would be a push. On top of everything else you're limited to some degree about the capacity of the shipyards to handle such a construction schedule.

Not a complaint about the projection but perhaps the construction schedule is the most difficult to estimate and might lead to an overly optimistic projection.

Carbon as cash - "mainstream" mention of Technocracy.

Forces are already at work to position a new Carbon Currency as the ultimate solution to global calls for poverty reduction, population control, environmental control, global warming, energy allocation and blanket distribution of economic wealth.

And under the Duh files.


The federal budget deficit has long since graduated from nuisance to headache to pressing national concern. Now, however, it has become so large and persistent that it is time to start thinking of it as something else entirely: a national-security threat.

Deficits don't matter Bay-bee! *insert grumbling here*

The Lithium article -- Fuel of the Future -- caught my eye this morning. Avoiding comment on the inane title, we read the following in that article:

The laptops and handheld electronic goods that run off lithium-ion batteries use only minute measures of the metal, yet demand has risen so sharply that the price of lithium carbonate jumped from $2,000 per tonne in 2004 to $5,500 in 2008.

Whenever anyone picks two dates for a comparison I am always curious about the longer historical perspective to see whether those dates were anomalous.

Recently, I have been working on a databrowser for the USGS dataset titled: Historical Statistics for Mineral and Material Commodities in the United States. This dataseries goes back to 1900 for many minerals and contains both US and World production as well as pricing information up to 2007.

One of the graphs in this new databrowser is a 'Price Evolution' graph that gives the economist view of the world by plotting price vs. world production. Here's that chart for Lithium:

What we immediately notice is that Lithium had commanded a price of ~ $5000/ton for over 30 years and that the lower prices since 2001 are anomalous compared to that longer record. The dramatic price drop in 2001 was caused by a huge reduction in demand in that year. From the USGS Minerals Yearbook lithium page:

Estimated domestic consumption was stable from 1997 through 2000, but in 2001, consumption plummeted to only 50% of what it was in the 4 previous years. A major reason for this dramatic decrease was that primary aluminum production was 28% lower in 2001 than in 2000 as a result of increased energy costs and reduced energy supplies in the Pacific Northwest (Plunkert, 2002). This resulted in reduced lithium demand for that sector. Lithium consumption in other end uses, including ceramics and glass, lubricants, batteries, synthetic rubber, and pharmaceuticals, was negatively affected by a slow domestic economy (Schmitt, 2001).

You will note that aluminum production, not battery production, was the primary use for lithium in 2001. In 2001 batteries appear only after lubricants.

Looking for updated information in the 2008 Minerals Yearbook we read the following:

Lithium consumption averaged 6% growth per year since 2000, with 2008 slowing to less than 4% growth owing to the waning worldwide economy (Roskill Information Services Ltd., 2009, p. 155).


The amount of lithium consumed globally for use in batteries has been increasing by more than 20% per year during the past few years.

Another interesting note:

About 60% of the world’s supply of lithium minerals was produced by Talison in 2008. The company reported that its deposit in Western Australia is the largest spodumene deposit in the world (Department of Industry and Resources, 2008, p. 39).

The Outlook section of this document finishes with:

The use of lithium-ion batteries in HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs could greatly increase demand for lithium. As demand and prices rise, spodumene and other lithium resources that had been considered uneconomic might once again yield economically feasible raw materials for the production of lithium carbonate. New lithium mineral operations currently being developed throughout the world specifically to produce battery-grade lithium carbonate demonstrate a changing economic climate conducive to increased sales of lithium.

Here is the summary of what I have learned from all this:

  1. The recent increase in prices only returns lithium prices to their historic norms.
  2. The primary use for lithium has been in aluminum smelting.
  3. Growth in world consumption of lithium has been a moderate %6 since 2000
  4. Consumption of lithium for production of batteries for electric vehicles is strong and expected to continue.
  5. Bolivia is not the current #1 (or #2 or #3 or #4) producer of Lithium, despite all the news articles about Bolivia.
  6. Lower grade sources of Lithium are not considered to be in short supply and will be made economically viable as prices rise.

Bottom line:

If you believe in peak oil, it looks like lithium will be in high demand and will, at least for the next 5-10 years, be able to meet that demand. Prices today are only at their historic norms and may rise further IF the global economy is strong enough to support demand for transportation.

PS__ If anyone would like to explore the new Minerals databrowser prototype I would appreciate any feedback. Just be aware that it's still in alpha:


Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

Wot? no oil? :-)

Correct. This particular dataseries has no fossil fuels. I hope to add them at some point if I can find a similar dataset going back to 1900 for fossil fuels.

If anyone would like to explore the new Minerals databrowser prototype I would appreciate any feedback.

It's great - ten out of ten in the Tufte VDOQI scale.

Hi, that's a great site but where's the best place to go to find out reasons for spikes, etc.

E.g. Why did Cobalt spike in 1980?


If you go to the USGS Commodoties site you will see that each mineral has a link to more documentation. From the Cobalt page you will find another link to Metals Prices. That page links to a Cobalt prices page which has:

Historically, cobalt prices were relatively stable until the late 1970’s, when a series of events resulted in concerns over cobalt supply and a rapid increase in prices to more than $40 per pound. The key factors and events leading up to the “cobalt crisis” were as follows: the cessation of cobalt sales from the U.S. Government stockpile in 1976, a drawdown of Zairian producer inventories following 2 years of sales exceeding production, a sharp increase in demand, a reduction in cobalt allocations by the Zairian producer, limited world cobalt production capacity, and an invasion of the copper- cobalt mining region in Zaire (Mining Journal, 1979; Kirk, 1985). Although Zaire’s annual production actually exceeded that of the previous year, the “cobalt crisis” had long-term impacts on the cobalt market. For the first time in many years, a strong free market in cobalt developed, and cobalt prices gained the reputation of being unstable.

These USGS PDF files are well written, well documented and full of rich information. You have to hand it to the USGS for a job well done.

My goal in building this databrowser is to make this treasure trove of information more usable by providing easy access to informative graphics based on USGS data and then linking those graphics to the rich set of documentation at the USGS Minerals site. End users should be able to 1) query the data to generate questions and 2) find existing documentation that might answer those questions.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon


well, you've made a good start and thanks for those other links...


This one is for Possible Declinist Queen: a housetruck. Link at bottom of article for inventor website.

Have house will travel

Following the tenants of the tiny house movement, Labovitz is building his own home on wheels that he will use as a full-time domicile while traveling the country and possibly the world as a photographer and computer programmer.

Why doesn't the guy just buy a used Airstream?

According to the article, he looked into it.

While he already owns a home that is just over 800 square feet, Labivitz thought he could live on less, keep his environmental impact to a minimum and propel his desire to travel, all at the same time. However, when he started looking at options he ran into two distinct problems. He noted that quality of most RVs of the market were terrible and even if he found one of higher quality, such as an Airstream trailer, it didn’t meet his personal needs.

If you read the article, what he wants is definitely not what the average RVer wants.

Los Angeles Might Require Rainwater Capture

Under the ordinance, builders would be required to use rainwater storage tanks, permeable pavement, infiltration swales or curb bump-outs to manage the water where it falls. Builders unable to manage 100% of a project's runoff on site would be required to pay a penalty of $13 a gallon of runoff not handled there -- a requirement the Building Industry Assn. has been fighting.

An old plan in the Houston area Debbie. The prime motivation here is to prevent down stream flooding. Any building permit above a certain size requires the construction of a rain retention pond. Not sure of the ratio but ten years ago they built a 1 acre by 10' deep retention pond for a newly constructed school. They've done the same for new subdivisions. But the clever one turn the RP's into attractive park-like settings complete with fountains and ducks.

That part is common here too, since maybe the 80's. I figured that was a nationwide FEMA design guideline by now, but I guess maybe not. It still doesn't stop people from building in flood plains and getting flooded, either!

I don't get the permeable pavement bit - that must be something they talk about in areas that never freeze hard?

I'd be happy if rain barrels were all you got to water your lawn -- catch as much as you like, but it's up to you to pay for the infrastructure that waters your lawn!

I don't get the permeable pavement bit - that must be something they talk about in areas that never freeze hard?

Up north, roads go from impermeable to permeable over time, with catch basins developing naturally.

Best Hopes for potholes ?


We've got some permeable parking areas by the New Muskie School building at Univ Southern Maine. I've wondered how it handles freezing.. still only a year or two old.. so we'll see.


I don't get the permeable pavement bit - that must be something they talk about in areas that never freeze hard?

Permeable paving is being used in the freeze belt more and more often. The City of Minneapolis has several test areas on residential streets. City snow removal/maintenance crews have been trained not to salt and sand those areas as that will clog up the permeable part of the paving. The freeze/thaw process thus far hasn't shown these pavements to degrade any faster than standard bitumen or concrete paving.

LID - Low Impact Development

LID is quite different than more traditional retention ponds.

Pervious pavers and pervious concrete reduce the need for retention ponds since the water is able to directly filter into the surficial aquifer - see http://www.paversearch.com/permeable-pavers-introduction.htm.

We should be so lucky. It is illegal for us to capture our rainwater and use it on our gardens. That is considered robbing the watershed.

That's the it was in CO while I lived there, but it didn't seem to be much enforced in suburban neighborhoods.

Utah -- Drained off ground water recharge turned into a big problem as New Orleans expanded into the suburbs. Many of these new subdivions were built on soil with very high organic content. But with the sidewalks, street and gutters rainwater didn't keep the soil as water saturated as it had been for 100's of thousands of year. As the water levels dropped the organic content began to oxidize and essentially shrink ( I think some coined "disappearing soil"). In some areas the ground level dropped a foot or two in ten years. Making it worse was the uneven nature of the shrinkage. You might see a 15 yo house where the sidewalk leading to the house might be a foot or more lower than the slab.

For grins look up house levelers in the greater N.O. area: you'll see a great many.

One interesting side effect was the post-WW II slab houses (build them just like rest of USA).

The natural gas line feeding the house would be stretched as the pier supported slab separated from the ground. Often times a slow leak would develop under or on the edge of the slab as the pipe was slowly stretched. A natural gas & air mixture between the Lower and Upper Explosive limits would develop. And then a random spark ...

Houses randomly exploded. Summer seemed to be the worst time (sparks from the air conditioners ?)


That might be part of the post-PO age solutions Alan. Probably most folks here don't know that most early N.O. homes were buit on top of 2'- 3' piers usually made of brick. besides getting you above occasional flood waters and bugs it also made it relatively easy to re-level a house: just jack up the lower portions and slide a shim in. I have clear memories of slidding under houses during the worst summer heat and enjoying the cooler temps. Also not a bad spot for early lessons in "neken" for those of us without cars.

the sidewalk leading to the house might be a foot or more lower than the slab.

Only a foot lower?

The same thing happens in the UK. Holme Fen is the lowest point in Britain. Over many years, drainage of the surrounding farm land has caused the peat to shrink. This shrinkage has been recorded by the Holme Fen Post, a cast-iron column that was sunk into the fen in 1851. The column was sunk till its top was level with the peat surface, but it now stands some 4 metres above ground level.


Thanks xeroid. I suppose that's the extreme example of disappearing soil. Maybe this will be one of the silver linings to AGW: resatuating the soils. A tad salty, of course

In our case we get 'Fen Blows', Holme Fen is marshy but much of the fens is agricultural and fertile bare soil is literally blown away leaving useless subsoil!


Thanks for the tip. Quite a business opportunity down thataway. Looks like there's also a rock band with that handle! The difference in hydrology between Salt Lake suburbia and that of N.O. is a good example of why one size never fits all. Our virgin (i.e. unpaved) soil is bone dry most of the year so we save snow melt behind dams to divert to our lawns. When we get a good summer thunderbumper it all ends up in streets and gutters and washes into the Salt Lake. I'd love to divert some of that excess to the back forty, but even were it legal, the road grime would kill the fruit trees. The craziness of the laws is that I can shunt water from my roof to the street gutter, but not into a rain barrel.

In Chennai India, its compulsory for all building owners to install rain-harvesting systems. he problem is that indiscriminate pumping of ground water has resulted in the water table falling in many parts of the city.

From Speed is only part of rail project scope

"This whole package is being sold as high-speed," said Matt Van Hattem, senior editor for Trains magazine. "But in fact, $5 billion of the $8 billion is being used to upgrade existing systems."

This is a good way to improve infrastructure. Better than building more highways, and after last week's discussion, this makes a bit more sense. And, it seems a good thing to do, if you want to maintain any reasonable transportation for foodstuffs and products. Of course, sea transport will need a revamp to sail power, otherwise trade will drop off in the international scene.

Still, I imagine that having the bottlenecks to rail transport removed will help, both in terms of cost of delivery, freshness for produce, and reduction of fuel consumption. Hopefully this will include electrification of all inter urban rail transportation. Diesel electric should not be encouraged.

And, the more I think about it the more I come to accept that truly high speed (above 200 mph) is not needed. Nice, but unnecessary, that is.


I am pleased that you went through the same logical analysis that I once did.

TOD at it's best both informs as to facts and presents varying logical analysis of the facts.

Best Hopes for Thinking,


Here's the cartoon of the week for me.



"What if it's all a big hoax and we go build a better world for Nothing?!"

Is this the best use Royal Dutch Shell could find for $12 billion?


Oil production ventures must not look very good.

Some times the deal is not what is reported on top.

The partnership will create two companies, one focused on ethanol production and power generation and another to distribute the fuel through 4,500 gas stations across Brazil.

This is about distribution infrastructure, not production.


X -- As zap mentioned this is the down stream arm of RDS. But it's also true that the major oils are having increasing difficulty finding new big plays to drill. In addition to having fewer really big plays out there they have also been cut out of many such areas by the NOC's. Consider Brazil: the Bz gov't even put limits on new leases by Petrobras and have essentially shut out all new areas to all other companies. This may be one reason why Devon Energy is putting it's Deep Water Bz properties up for sale: might be the last chance for non-Bz companies to get a piece of the action down there.

More on Shell's Brazilian deal with Cosan:


Another NYT article on electric bikes:


Electric bikes have been a “gift from God” for bike makers, said Edward Benjamin, an independent industry consultant, not only because they cost more — typically $1,500 to $3,000 — but also because they include more components like batteries that need regular replacement.

In the Netherlands, a third of the money spent on bicycles last year went to electric-powered models. Industry experts predict similar growth elsewhere in Europe, especially in Germany, France and Italy, as rising interest in cycling coincides with an aging population. India had virtually no sales until two years ago, but its nascent market is fast expanding and could eclipse Europe’s in the next year. . . While the American market has been modest — about 200,000 bikes sold last year, by some estimates — interest is rising, said Jay Townley, a bicycle industry consultant. Best Buy began selling electric bicycles in June at 19 stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore. Trek, a manufacturer based in Wisconsin, recently began selling a bike created by Gary Fisher, a prominent bicycle designer.

WT I converted an old Gary Fisher Cro-mo to an electric awhile back. Tough frames.

Industry experts predict similar growth elsewhere in Europe, especially in Germany, France and Italy, as rising interest in cycling coincides with an aging population.

We did a ride yesterday led by a gentleman who does an annual '200 miles by midnite' ride (200 miles in a day) He is 71. Real good shape, wins his age running, runs a 12k faster than I do. He might get around on an electric when he's 100.

That said electrics have many advantages over other 'motor'bikes or NEV's. Most places require no license or special insurance, if your handy at all they are easy to build or maintain, once you pay the up front the charge cost is negligible, they don't require costly parking, they are allowed most places a regular bike can go, they range from small folders to more highly capable types, if you chose to build and maintain yourself you can have a reliable product and save a bundle over the storebought variety, they'll do most commutes and allow one not to arrive sweaty at work but you can pedal it home if you like.

Note if you choose to build your own do a good online search first. There are some pitfalls like alloy forks with front hub motors and no torque arm ,having good brakes, balance and weight distribution and the like.

I met a man on an electric recumbent trike at the Mildenhall rally a few years ago, a spritely 91 years young.

Unfortunately I heard that time caught up with him shortly after.

Pretty cool that he was able to get around so long. That's kinda what I'm hoping for too. That rally looks like good fun for all ages.

Sidenote; being 'new' to the area we looked up the local cycling club and with some trepidation, not knowing the demographics, invited ourselves along for a ride. At 56 we we're ,I believe, the youngest riders there.

And if you are following the Vitamin D & autism discussion, a long but fascinating case history from the Vitamin D Council:



You belong to my Peak Oil Pantheon but I'm afraid I'll have to strike you off my private medical register for promotion of Vitamin D quackery. The link you provide concerns an anecdote, and anecdotes prove nothing. Vitamin D hyping has a long history. Maybe they've got it right this time. Maybe they haven't.

Could autism be caused by not enough sun? I sincerely hope that parents of children with autism-spectrum disorders apply the appropriate degree of skepticism and caution to the latest possible explanation for this most maddening of diseases. [snip]
The theory, propounded by psychiatrist John Cannell is that pregnant women and kids aren't getting enough Vitamin D, which is generated by exposure to sunlight. [snip]
Unfortunately, that's about all we have in the way of a theory so far. Studies exploring changes in sunlight exposure over time and autism diagnoses haven't been done. Neither has a study comparing autism and latitude. [snip]

etc. etc.


The must-bookmark site for autism quackery is:


You sound a lot like the doc quoted in the case history. BTW, have you had your Vitamin D blood level (especially in the fall/winter) checked using the 25(OH)D test? So far, I have polled 17 health care professionals. So far, none of them knew what their 25(OH)D level was, which I suppose explains a lot about the medical profession's knowledge about Vitamin D. After I asked my doc, she had her blood level checked and it was 13 ng/mL. Last time I talked to her, she was taking 100,000 IU per week (a temporary prescription level dosage obviously). She has now started testing her patients, and she is finding that 80% to 90% of them are below 30 ng/mL, even here in Texas.

In any case, one of the many interesting observations is that the rate of autism on the shady side of Oregon is about twice the rate on the sunny side of Oregon, and incidentally, there is an ongoing study of pregnant women who have had at least one prior autistic child. They are being given 5,000 IU daily of D3 during gestation and 7,000 IU per day during lactation.

I suppose if drug companies could patent Vitamin D, we would be seeing non-stop ads about the new miracle drug.

What If Vitamin D Deficiency Is a Cause of Autism?
A few researchers are turning their attention to the sunshine vitamin as a culprit, prompted by the experience of immigrants that have moved from their equatorial country to two northern latitude locations

And there is other evidence for a vitamin D link: Last November, Cornell University researchers published a study in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine showing that children in rainy (and therefore more overcast) counties of Oregon, Washington and California were two times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than their counterparts in drier parts of the state. "Our research is sufficiently suggestive of an environmental trigger for autism associated with precipitation, of which vitamin D deficiency is one possibility," says study co-author Michael Waldman, a professor of management and economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management. "Further research focused on vitamin D deficiency is clearly warranted." His research on environmental links to autism are ongoing; he plans to publish in the coming months but will not disclose any of his studies until they are accepted by a journal.

Gene Stubbs, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry and pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, says the preliminary research is already intriguing. "We don't have proof, but I am certainly leaning in the direction that this hypothesis could be correct for a proportion of kids," says Stubbs, who has been studying autism for 30 years. He is launching a pilot study of 150 pregnant women who have at least one child diagnosed with the disorder. The women will receive 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 during gestation and 7,000 IUs during lactation. "If we find that we are able to reduce the recurrence rate of autism within families substantially enough, others will want to study this in larger groups with larger controls."

Thanks for the interesting links, westexas. I'll reserve judgment - it's just that there's been so much rubbish written about the aetiology of autism that EVERY new hypothesis puts my BS detector in overdrive.

Another site you might be interested in (and not just as regards autism) is Science Based Medicine:


And your 25(OH)D blood level? I hope you are not #18 (I assume you are a doc).

A dermatologist recommended today that I start using sunblock.

I said, "well, I am concerned that if I block the sun I won't get Vitamin D."

He said, "oh, you are a believer in Vitamin D."

I said, "well, no, not really, but it has its purpose."

He said, "oh, don't worry, I am. I would recommend taking supplements because you will not get enough Vitamin D from sunlight anyway."

I'm guessing that my poll now stands at 18.

Since it appears you're a physician, I'm just curious, what is your position on healthcare reform?

Just make sure the BS detector is not working at the office, you medical genius you.

In any case, one of the many interesting observations is that the rate of autism on the shady side of Oregon is about twice the rate on the sunny side of Oregon, and incidentally, there is an ongoing study of pregnant women who have had at least one prior autistic child. They are being given 5,000 IU daily of D3 during gestation and 7,000 IU per day during lactation.

Sorry westexas, Im not buying it. My son is an Aspie, very high functioning, but still part of the autistic spectrum. Consequently I happen to be acquainted with many parents of autistic kids who were born here in the Sunshine State. Their parents were exposed to plenty of good Florida sun.

So how are you going to fit those data points into your theory? Methinks it sounds a bit shady

First question would be what is your son's 25(OH)D blood level? Second, there is a wide variation in people's ability to synthesize Vitamin D from sunshine; autistic children's ability to synthesize Vitamin D may be impaired, and people over the age of 40 on average lose the majority of their ability to synthesize Vitamin D from sunshine. Third, I don't think that most Vitamin D researchers believe that Vitamin D deficiency is the sole cause of autism.

But the key point is question #1. Here in sunny Texas, my doc is finding that 80% to 90% of her patients are deficient, below 30 ng/mL.

Vitamin D Council link regarding autism:


Dr. Cannell points out that even in sunny areas, children, for a number of reasons, aren't getting as much sun exposure as they used to.

Third, I don't think that most Vitamin D researchers believe that Vitamin D deficiency is the sole cause of autism.

Just to give the old, "correlation does not imply causation", canard another whack!

Neither do I and that was my point. I would find it very surprising if it were confirmed that all of the mothers of the autistic kids I know personally, were vitamin D deficient at the time they were pregnant. We all spend a lot of time together in outdoor activities mostly on the beach, even the babies. This is Florida after all.

Oh, and some of us, myself and my son included rarely if ever use sunscreen.
Especially when we snorkel and dive out on the reef, which many of the kids really enjoy. It seems the chemicals that block UV also block the light needed by symbiotic algae living in the coral's tissues.


Oh and my orange juice has added calcium and vitamin D :-)


Just to clarify, you are largely dismissing Vitamin D deficiency as a contributing factor to your son's autism, but you haven't had his Vitamin D blood level checked?

And this is a key quote, IMO:

Here in sunny Texas, my doc is finding that 80% to 90% of her patients are deficient, below 30 ng/mL.

Edit: If you don't know what your son's 25(OH)D level is, what is your basis for rejecting Vitamin D deficiency as a contributing factor to his autism? As noted above, for a number of reasons, sun exposure doesn't necessarily guarantee optimum Vitamin D levels.

Since there's no agreement on what a healthy level of vitamin D is, I don't see any reason to rush out and get tested.

I disagree. The most commonly used deficiency threshold number is about 30 ng/mL, using the 25(OH)D test, and a number of peer reviewed papers have found a significant increase in all cause mortality for people below 30 ng/mL, but of course there is still the correlation vs. causation factor, but what is the risk from getting your blood level up to the 40 to 60 ng/mL range?

As the NY Times article points out...supplements have been proven unexpectedly harmful in previous studies.

There's also the cost of the doctor's visit and testing, in time and money.

And especially for a kid...the pain of the blood draw.

Regarding D3 supplements, I can only refer you to Dr. Vieth. Do a Google Search for Vieth + Vitamin D.

Regarding a blood test, I think that the are kits out there just require a pinprick, but in any case a blood test seems like a small price to pay if it can cause one to increase Vitamin D levels, and possibly ameliorate autistic symptoms--and that was the point of the (admittedly anecdotal) case history that I posted.

If I had a dime for every "anecdotal" cure, I would be richer than Rainwater.

And if I rushed out to get a blood test for every purported cure, I would be broke.


Dr. Tami Bair and Dr. Heidi May, of the Intermountain Medical Center in Utah, report yet another study showing that your risk of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, and death are dramatically increased by Vitamin D deficiency. In a presentation at the American heart Association meeting, they found that people with low levels (<15 ng/mL) had a 45% increased risk for cardiovascular disease, 78% greater risk of stroke, and double the risk for congestive heart failure — not to mention a 77% increased risk of death — compared to people with Vitamin D levels >30 ng/mL. All that disease and death occurred in only 13 months of follow up for the 27,000 people in the study.

So how many Americans died this last year from Vitamin D deficiency? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? More? How many will die next year? Someone is responsible. Medical scientists who want more money before recommending that Vitamin D deficiency be treated have to assume responsibility. I am all for more studies but we have to act now, like we did with cigarettes. Remember, no human randomized controlled trials exist showing cigarettes are dangerous, so we have much more — and better — science than we did when we warned about smoking. If we fail to act on the dangers of Vitamin D deficiency, someone will end up with blood on their hands.

. . . a 77% increased risk of death

As I understand it, the only documented case histories of Vitamin D toxicity have occurred at blood levels over about 200 ng/mL (see Vieth, et al). So, IMO the risk/benefit analysis of maintaining a 40 to 60 ng/mL blood level is pretty straightforward, but people will have to decide for themselves.

And I think that the same argument would apply to autism. What's the risk of maintaining an optimum Vitamin D blood level versus the possible benefit?

And given the strong circumstantial case for a Vitamin D deficiency link to autism, why in the world would a parent of an autistic child not get their 25(OH)D level checked?

I'm not talking about toxicity.

If you read that NY Times article, the problems weren't anything so blatant as toxicity. Rather, it was things like people who took the supplements had a higher rate of cancer than those who got the placebo. Not the kind of thing you could ever figure out without a carefully designed double-blind study.

Given the track record of supplements, it's really hard for me to get very excited about them. Vitamin D is the flavor of the month, but before that we had vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E, beta carotine, etc. None of which has worked out in supplement form, and may even be dangerous.

I'll be looking forward to the results of the study mentioned in the article. But right now...I don't think you can criticize anyone for not opening up their wallet for possibly unnecessary blood tests.

"But right now...I don't think you can criticize anyone for not opening up their wallet for possibly unnecessary blood tests."

We will have to agree to disagree, especially for parents of autistic children, IMO.

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)

Is there a way to get tested without going to the doctor?

We have a clinic at work, but you first need to meet with the nurse practicioner to justify why you want the test. I can still do this, but don't know what they would say if I'm asymptomatic.

You can buy a test kit on the Vitamin D Council website, but I don't think it's any cheaper than getting a lab test. Be sure and specify 25(OH)D.



Here's David Gorski, the lead blogger at Science-Based Medicine, on the etiology of autism (comment replying to earlier comments):

The idea that vitamin D deficiency is a cause of autism falls into the same territory right now as a lot of stuff on NaturalNews.com. In any case, there’s no good evidence to support such a contention, and you did indeed come across sounding like another vitamin D “miracle” believer. Perhaps I was a bit too sarcastic, but the material in the link you provided dove straight into woo territory.

As for evidence that the true rate of autism prevalence is not increasing? You’re kidding, right? We’ve blogged about that time and time again on SBM. The increase in autism diagnoses is almost certainly nearly all accounted for by the expansion of the diagnostic criteria in the 1990s, diagnostic substitution, increased awareness, and increased screening. There may have been a slight increase in the true rate of autism prevalence or there may not have been (the data do leave room for either), but there is most definitely no autism “epidemic.”

It's here:

The autism “biomed” movement: Uncontrolled and unethical experimentation on autistic children


Thanks Carolus,

My son is currently in high school taking advanced science and math classes. Yes, he has all the social issues related to Aspergers but I decided to take advantage of applying critical thinking and the scientific method very early on and did quite a bit of self education, so my BS detector has been well calibrated for some time now. My ex wife (no big surprise) was more susceptible to believing all the woo and pseudo science. Oh, well!


WT - FYI, the Well blog at the NY Times is discussing vitamin D today:


Lots of interesting comments, and someone posted this video:


Westexas, FIY: know where Dr Cannell published his notorious paper on Autism and Vitamin D?

In 'Medical Hypotheses', home of the quacks. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

Medical Hypotheses is an Elsevier medical journal intended to provide a forum for unconventional ideas without the traditional filter of scientific peer review. According to the journal's website, it publishes "radical ideas, so long as they are coherent and clearly expressed." Submitted papers are not sent to other scientists for review, but are chosen instead by the journal's editor-in-chief based on whether he considers the submitted work interesting and important. The journal's policy places full responsibility on the authors, rather than peer reviewers or the editor, for the integrity, precision and accuracy of their work.[1] Medical Hypotheses is the only Elsevier journal not to practice peer review.

The journal's focus on "radical" and non-mainstream ideas, as well as its editorial policies, have drawn criticism from some parts of the scientific community. After two articles by AIDS denialists were published in Medical Hypotheses in 2009, a group of 20 HIV scientists and advocates contacted the National Library of Medicine requesting that the journal be removed from the MEDLINE database on grounds that the journal lacked scientific rigor and had become a "tool for the legitimization of at least one pseudoscientific movement [AIDS denialism]."[3] An article in AIDS and Behavior argued that "Medical Hypotheses has long been a source of concern in the scientific community" because of a "disturbing track record of publishing pseudo-science."


I hope you appreciate the irony that two Vitamin D skeptics, you and FMagyar, apparently don't have a clue as to what your (or your family members') 25(OH)D levels are.

Dr. Cannell's comments:

What Should We Do Right Now?

That is, what do we do while we wait for all the hundreds of studies that need to be done to see if the vitamin D theory is correct? The studies will take years. If we do nothing but just wait, we are continuing an unplanned naturalistic experiment on pregnant women, the brains of their unborn children, and upon autistic individuals. A risk/benefit analysis tells us the risk of doing nothing is potentially great while the risk of treating vitamin D deficiency is minimal, simply good medicine, and the better choice.So until we know for sure, pregnant women, infants, children, everyone—especially autistic children—should receive sensible sun exposure daily: around noon or 1:00 p.m., expose as much skin as possible, 10–30 minutes duration, depending on how easily one sunburns. In the winter, use a suntan parlor once a week, with the same precautions—or better yet, purchase an ultraviolet vitamin D lamp for home use.


You and your child should have a vitamin D blood test, called a 25-hydroxyvitamin D . Then take enough vitamin D to achieve adequate (natural summertime) levels. Given what we do know, adequate 25(OH)D levels are now thought to be somewhere above 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) and probably closer 50 ng/mL (125 nmol/L). Ideal levels are unknown but they are probably close to levels that were present when the human genome evolved. Natural levels (levels found in humans who live or work in the sun) are around 50–80 ng/mL (125–175 nmol/L).


It is of course possible that Dr Cattell is right. I'm not taking a stand on the matter. I'm just pointing out that there is no peer reviewed literature supporting his hypothesis to date. The fact that he has to publish in a quack journal speaks volumes.

Not being an expert myself, I have to rely on authority. Dr Cattell will only possess authority in this subject area if he manages to be taken seriously by his fellows and gets published in serious medical journals, not mumbo-jumbo rags like 'Medical Hypotheses'.

Just curious as to whether you find anything from the above captioned quotes controversial, and are you going to find out what your 25(OH)D level is? If memory serves, a peer reviewed journal article found a significant increase in all cause mortality for people who are Vitamin D deficient. (Incidentally, it's Dr. Cannell).


You are fighting an uphill battle. See my post below for my rant on vested interests at work. What I find difficult to reconcile is how many participants on this site, having had exposure to all the obfuscation, deceit, fuddling of statistics and national/corporate subterfuge with regards to issues surrounding Peak Oil, find it so hard to accept that the same sort of thing may be happening in other fields, like health care.

Alan from the islands

One begins to wonder if a large portion of the medical industrial complex is actively antagonistic toward cheap preventive measures.

You can bet your sweet life their marketing departments are!

Alan from the islands

Thought you would be interested in this:

How could the current government figures be so far off?

Vieth traced back how it happened. The 1989 US nutrition guidelines said that 5 times the RDA for vitamin D may be harmful - in other words, don't take more than 1000 IU/d. It cited a 1963 "expert committee report", which itself referred back to a 1938 report, in which linear bone growth in infants was suppressed in those given 1800-6300 IU vitamin D/d. But this citation is meaningless in relation to adult nutrition. Vieth also traced back a statement from the 1987 Council Report for the American Medical Association that "dosages of 10,000 IU/d for several months have resulted in marked disturbances in calcium metabolism...and, in some cases, death."  This report cited two references, and Vieth says of these: "One was a review article about vitamins in general, which gave no evidence for and cited no other reference to its claim of toxicity at vitamin D doses as low as 250 µg (10000 IU)/d . The other paper cited in the report dealt with 10 patients with vitamin D toxicity reported in 1948, for whom the vitamin D dose was actually 3750-15000 µg (150000-600000 IU)/d, and all patients recovered." He goes on to say: "If there is published evidence of toxicity in adults from an intake of 250 µg (10000 IU)/d, and that is verified by the 25(OH)D concentration, I have yet to find it."

It's hard to say if the scientists involved made an honest mistake or deliberately, for reasons unknown, set the dose of Vitamin D at just enough to prevent frank rickets and osteomalacia. My feeling is that it was due to a certain mindset, one that wants certainty, and when this is lacking, as it always is in true nutritional research, resorts to a position that could never be accused of being too "flaky" or "outrageous". "Well, we know this level will prevent rickets, so we can make an unequivocally safe statement…"   Of course, some will point to the decades-old revolving door between government and the pharmaceutical industry as the motivating force behind not publicizing the benefits of a non-patentable nutrient.  These conspiracy theories may sound ridiculous, yet it was recently announced by a group of supposedly disinterested scientists that any recommendations for the use of vitamin D to treat or prevent any disease should wait until patentable vitamin D analogs could be developed!  You can make your own evaluation of the motivation of these "scientists".

The question is, as always, who's paying the piper?........

Staying optimally hydrated (i.e. water) is good for preventing arthritis, gout, kidney stones, obesity and more I am sure (diabetes link is indicative but not conclusive). It also puts less strain on the heart and lets our metabolism operate at optimum efficiency.

Yet how many ads push drinking enough ordinary tap water ?


This is exactly the kind of thing I would expect to hear from someone who believes in the "Peak Oil" theory.

Gotcha ;-D

I'm doing some research right now on Alzhiemers disease and use only books authored by establishment researchers and writers-liscensed physicians and nurses in the field, most of them with university backing.

All of us old geezers need to make sure we get plenty of A,C,E,SELENIUM,and E too -although we don't know of any direct connection between D and Alzhiemers we need plenty of that too.RDA's are based on the general population not getting sick, rather than older folks who have weaker immune systems, digestive systems, and circulatory systems staying well.

Overdoses ARE POSSIBLE however and can be dangerous.

A little fish oil and ginko won't hurt you either.

Lots of fruits and veggies and an active lifestyle are big pluses too.

For more info, do a Google Search for: Vieth + Vitamin D.


Look for info on vitamin b12. B12 is an important vitamin for a healthy neurological system. Years ago my dad developed symptoms of anemia and some weird memory issues along with loss of sensation and tingling in his extremities. He was diagnosed with Pernicious Anemia where the body fails to absorb adequate amounts of b12in the GI tract. This b12 deficiency results in impaired red blood cell formation (anemia) and impaired neurological function as well, possibly resulting in permanent nerve damage.

The "cure"? Regular injections of vitamin b12 for the rest of his life. We can know when he doesn't get his shot in time since he gets all forgetful, sleeps an awful lot and is easily confused. He recently went too long between shots and seems to have suffered some permanent damage to the old noggin. He's not as sharp as he used to be. We have to be monitoring his shots more closely now. Can't trust him to do it himself.

Edit: By the way OFM, you might not find much on b12 from your chosen sources. They will more likely be steering you towards expensive, big pharma developed medications. I wouldn't worry too much about overdosing either. From Wikipedia

Death by vitamin poisoning appears to be quite uncommon in the US, typically none in a given year.

For a really harsh critique on vitamin safety skeptics there's also http://www.doctoryourself.com/safety.html which links to this page that contains this little gem

Over a twenty-four year period, vitamins have been "connected" with the deaths of a total of eleven people in the entire United States. Poison control statistics confirm that more Americans die each year from eating soap than have ever died over the period records have been kept from taking vitamins.

Quotes, emphasis and italics mine.

Alan from the islands

Interesting and balanced article. It notes the long line of disappointments that supplements have provided. And points out that correlation is not causation, especially when it comes to human health.

In particular, people who have high levels of vitamin D may be more likely to be leading a healthy lifestyle: exercising outdoors or taking supplements, which may be correlated with other healthy behaviors.

I suppose if drug companies could patent Vitamin D, we would be seeing non-stop ads about the new miracle drug.

This is part of what has made me an almost complete cynic when it come to matters involving vested interests. How do you measure the advice of somebody who has an interest in your response to that advice. Many studies that are quoted as the justification for one point of view or another are expensive to produce and it is not always easy to figure out who funds theses studies.

Case in point; I went and visited the Science Based Medicine web site linked to by Carolus Obscurus and on scanning through found an article on breast feeding. The article was discussing whether or not the benefits of breast feeding were being over promoted and whether there aren't also benefits to not breast feeding. Immediately a red flag goes up in my mind and I think, "who in the world would even want to debate that and why, for Gods sake?". Of course, there's a huge industry selling infant formula, supported by all sorts of downstream suppliers. All of these interests would be glad if it could be proved that there was absolutely no advantage in breast feeding over infant formula and would likely be willing to spend a small portion of their marketing budget to fund any study likely to end up in their favor. I left the site. As far as I am concerned that's not Science Based Medicine. That's profit driven medicine.

I have read enough about the exploits of the tobacco companies to understand that corporate greed has undefined limits. Many individuals and corporations, it seems, are quite willing to create fear uncertainty and doubt about rival products or services and malign anything or anybody that questions the usefulness or safety of their product or service, all in the name of "marketing". These efforts to sway the minds of people have little to do with morals or truth and everything to do with making loads of money.

As a result of thinking like this I have come to expect the following:

Oil companies to support attacks on electrified transport and the notion of Peak Oil.
Motor vehicle manufacturers and airlines to support attacks on railways and barges.
Infant formula manufacturers to support attacks on breast feeding.
Sunscreen lotion manufacturers and drug companies to support attacks on vitamin D.
Cold and Flu remedy manufacturers and drug companies to support attacks on vitamin C.
Drug companies and Health care providers to support attacks on any health options that don't involve them making some money.
Credit card companies to downplay the notion of saving to buy what you want.
The coal mining industry to support attacks renewable energy.
Microsoft to support attacks on Open Source Software.
And probably quite a few more similar instances of vested interests at work.

Strangely enough, I am not a communist and believe in free enterprise and competition. I just wish morals could take precedence over greed for more people. It leaves me questioning the motives of anyone trying to sell me anything. Are they trying to make an honest living or a quick fortune? The more money they spend trying to sell the product to me the more convinced I get that they are far more desperate for the sale than I am in need of their product. I'm sick and tired of people dismissing low cost simple ideas(medicine) simply because they do not present an opportunity for mega profits for some (drug)company. Maybe I should have used "confused cynic" as my screen name.

Alan from the islands

A couple of good economic reports today, on personal income and manufacturing. However, CNBC did interrupt the party to mention that the Baltic Dry Index has collapsed over the past couple of months, perhaps signaling a double dip.

Baltic Dry Index Collapses Signal Further Worldwide Economic Weakness In 2010

New York, NY - The Baltic Dry Index has collapsed by 40% over the last 10 weeks further signaling economic weakness.


I haven't a clue as to what the hell this means.

Ron P.

Does this indicate a reduction in trade? Seasonal? The dollar? Dropping commodities? Reduced industrial production? All of the above=a perfect storm for shipping?

I would say it indicates a fall off in the economy but nothing of the scale of late 2008.

If you look at it over 6 years, it looks more like the 2007-8 era was a huge spike.

I'm not surprised the economy is struggling. $70/bbl oil is expensive by historical standards, although it may not seem that way relative to $147/bbl.

Inflation adjusted graph of oil price is at http://inflationdata.com/inflation/images/charts/Oil/Inflation_Adj_Oil_P...

I'd say that by far our miracle 4th quarter growth in 2009 was old fashioned channel stuffing.
Retailers let stocks dwindle very low demand actually was not as bad as expected so we get this huge restocking surge with the retailers probably getting killer deals. Wall Mart for example probably restocked well below manufactures costs in China. I'd suspect a lot of the stuff made of the last couple of quarters was actually sold at a loss all the way down the line with some fancy foot work cutting employee's and cooking the books hiding the fact. This selling at a loss or minimal real profit discounting layoffs etc is plain old channel stuffing.

Channel stuffing is the practice of selling more products to one's customers than the customers can sell to their customers. (For a more detailed description, see here.) In the short-term, this can increase sales (and therefore profits), but it can't be sustained forever since the customer's inventories will continue to bloat until there is finally a day of reckoning.

Given most systems are now Just In Time based its not surprising that this trick failed fast.
Expect periodic channel stuffing from here on out. Retailers can't sell so they discount and slash prices and stop buying until inventories run low once they are forced to buy again manufactures over them even sweeter deals stuffing channels.
Rinse lather and repeat.

I expect we will see this sort of pulsing from attempt to stuff our very shallow channels from now on out.

If you look at the chart you see three distinct peaks since the economy collapsed expect that pattern to continue for the foreseeable future. Overstocked.com is going to be deluged.

As far as fundamentals go I dunno once this pattern sets up its self reinforcing without outside influence.
As the retailers and manufactures fail it might dampen a bit but other than that its probably going to run pretty much on its on natural scale which looks to be about six months or so eyeballing the chart.

How long will it last ? Well I as I said I think the basic pattern will persist for years. As far as the volume of trade well I'd argue as long as manufactures can roll their loans they will build until their forced into bankruptcy same for retailers as long as they can borrow money and not go bankrupt they will sell at a loss. Eventually of course banks will be forced to write off these loans and probably refuse new ones sooner but as long as the credit is there then the game will continue.

A good example is a home builder he will happily build houses and sell them at a loss taking a large salary as long as the bank keeps loaning money most business will do he same operate as long as the credit flows.

I don't know the overall financial flows but given China is probably footing the manufacturing loans and no telling who is doing the retail loans it could go on for one perhaps even two years before things get serious.
One has to suspect that Chinese giving out un-repayable loans to manufactures who then stuff the channel via extending credit directly to the retailers bypassing the banks is probably becoming important. If so then it will go until China gives up on stimulus and cuts the pump into manufacturing. On the US side one would think that a retailer who has set up a credit deal with the Chinese may still be able to get additional credit for their operations from US banks.

None of this has much to do with the real economy outside of the fact that the actual rate at which consumers are purchasing and the amount of discount needed before the goods are finally sold at a loss determines how long before even pretending fails. I'd think this means less than two years as underlying channel stuffing is the fact its being attempted on top of a JIT based delivery system but perhaps for many goods we may see clearance take six months where turnover used to be 3 or less. So even with this angle the time scale is not all that fast. And you figure the retailer will wait at least two months before starting discounting. Figure they do 10% first round then 20-30% then 50-60% at two month increments and you get six months before the inventory is sold. Figure one more shot same game but with the initial price 20% off and right to a 20-30% discount second time over another six months and we are a year out from now. But starting 2011 we finally seriously hit the wall and another round of the game becomes increasingly unlikely for most players.

And of course all through this you have some survivor bias as competitors fold boosting your same store sales a bit perhaps enough to give you one more round. Indeed as we actually see more retailers fold the remaining ones are able to extend a bit more. So your looking at mid 2011-2012 before things really start falling apart.

I'd guess at this point companies that buy stock from failed name brand retailers will have a very nice selection at rock bottom prices and will slowly rise to replace the original ones. They will be able to cut killer deals with manufactures as they are sitting on so much junk they did not pay much for that they are in the drivers seat.

Now if oil prices rise all I can see it doing is accelerating all this a bit faster as the consumer pulls back on discretionary spending the signature there will be this channel stuffing occurring at longer and longer intervals and bankruptcy of retailers sooner than later of course this means inventory liquidation and and even faster fall in prices as clearance sellers rapidly offer everything at rock bottom prices.

It does not change things really just perhaps substantially speeds up the cycle. For example if we see say 120 dollar oil for example in the next few months given that the channel was just stuffed then the inventory will languish this cycle and many retailers will go bankrupt first half of the year. If we say hit 120 by for example June or later then perhaps they get in another round of channel stuffing.

As far as jobs go whats interesting is given the manufacturing is in China is more a change. Someone who works for a name brand retailer gets a job packing and selling the inventory in a liquidation then gets a job with a clearance seller selling the same stuff. Probably part time instead of full time but the net loss in low wage jobs is lower than you would expect. However at the management level things are different here we will see white collar unemployment climb quickly as management is consolidated. Thats the next big wave as stores are closed and also big layoffs at headquarters for the name-brand retailers. And of course importers get wiped. Overall unemployment probably won't climb nearly as fast just its moved rapidly up the income scale with white collar unemployment rates rapidly approaching 10%.

Of course if oil prices are spiraling higher one can imagine that given this is the segment that generally buys homes home sales will be hit hard and many will be deeply underwater with no prospects of another high paying job.

On the blue collar side you will see the now part time employee rent cheaper and take on roomates. Many of course again move in with family and friends. Obviously this pulls the rug out of rentals sending rents plummeting. This natural fall in rents hits expanding supply from the current round of knife catchers who bout "cheap" houses and some mortgage holders attempting to rent rather than sale since they can't.
Rising oil prices are probably underlying this steadily reducing what people are willing and able to pay for rent.

Thus eventually of course we will see housing prices collapse as there are simply no buyers. Of course on top of this we have a huge amount of shadow inventory held by banks already. One has to imagine as it becomes obvious that housing is collapsing that they will try and unload the inventory so you have foreclosed properties flooding a really really crappy housing market.

Whats interesting is it seems that for at least 1-2 years that almost all the pain is concentrated in housing and other expensive items such as cars. For normal people if you will offsetting rising food and gasoline prices are falling prices for goods and housing even if they go part time. The white collar guy of course loses his house savings and car and end up bankrupt working part time after the money runs out but this can take six months to a year. Given banks will be busy clearing all the delinquencies that have already built up its a good chance that many will live in their homes for a year or more after they stop making mortgage payments. At some point one has to imagine if oil prices keep going up that the value of even late model cars will plummet and the rate cars are repo'd will slow substantially as their worth less than their repo cost.
Many will probably have the 1-2 thousand dollars needed to buy a cheap but not particularly fuel efficient late model car. More fuel efficient models might cost a bit more but its not clear they will sell vs a few grand for a existing car. Everyones basically getting their car repo'd and simply buying some else for small amounts of money. Auto and housing prices simply collapse and you don't see any great gains in fuel economy.

Eventually of course housing prices get so low that even someone with a part time minimum wage job can afford it but don't buy as they are uncertain about their future.

Only after all of this plays out and all the housing and auto debt and revolving credit is defaulted on do you finally reach the point that the absolute cost of gasoline and food becomes a serious burden. And you finally start hitting the real wall. But now no one can afford EV's so its in general a move to walking/bicycles buses etc only at this point does the economy finally begin to structurally move off of oil.

Sorry for the long winded reply :) But hopefully you can see that we are probably in a mode that will last over the next year or two. If we have high oil prices then they will determine the rate if not then the steady pull back in consumption will be the rate controlling factor. I'd argue that oil prices will almost certainly be high within 2-3 years regardless post peak so we are either going to follow this scenario over about a two year time span if we get high oil prices this year or a 3-4 year time span if consumer consumption is the primary factor with oil finally hitting nearer the end.

But the cycle will be this pulsing BDI and steady housing weakness and steady collapse of individual retailers and malls and of course autos. The only notable difference is steadily increasing white collar unemployment other trends are pretty much the same as we have already seen except with rising part time employment in general and falling full time.

One last thing obviously a huge number of people are going to lose their medical care. Given they are also deep in debt they will file bankruptcy and discharge their medical bills. The medical industry is going to get creamed and be begging congress for a national health care plan. Those that try and turn away patients are going to be lawsuits out the ass as everyone becomes a victim hoping for "justice". I'm not saying they are in the wrong but many will be like poor blue collar workers where a lawsuit or winning the lottery is the only chance to make it. Obviously more outright insurance fraud also. Overall the new big thing will probably be collapse of the Insurance and heath care industries. Of course these are often you guessed it high paying white collar jobs ( housing ?? ).

Through it all surprisingly very little actually happens on the oil consumption side even if prices rise.
The reason is pretty simple debt service takes so much of most peoples income that defaulting on debt under the above conditions will supersede serious cut backs in fuel usage even though prices are rising. As debt is defaulted on and living costs outside of food and fuel fall even with falling wages you still don't get any huge drop in oil usage. All rising oil prices do is accelerate this above scenario shortening the time it takes to play out they don't materially change the script.

Whats really interesting is if we see rising interest rates they also will act like rising oil prices and simply accelerate the cycle. The number of consumers that are credit worthy declines dramatically and if they do borrow its from loan sharks so they either pay no interest or crazy rates. The official rates have little effect as consumer debt dwindles primarily via default. For companies the simply go bankrupt faster and get liquidated and thier employees eventually get lower paying jobs selling stuff thats been sold several times at a loss till its going for pennies on the dollar. On the other hand as people get foreclosed on and move in with friends and family they will be dumping all manner of used stuff in garage sales and craigslist and ebay at ever cheaper prices. One has to imagine that this will quickly go all cash/underground with people selling all manner of stuff cheap no questions asked. Of course this opens up a ready market for stolen goods no matter how cheap so perhaps theft actually rises even as prices fall as fencing becomes trivial. On the good side you probably will see more gardening and sale of local veggies and bartering taking place. As local governments fail rules governing restaurants will go unenforced and you probably will get street vendors proliferating sure you probably will get a bit more problems with sanitation but not as much as most people think as word of mouth eliminates the unsanitary places and vendors. If its starting to look third world your getting the picture.

No matter what for a while at least conservation of gasoline resulting in falling prices seems to play a secondary role to this collapse of the credit economy.

Bin Laden 'Furious' That John Edwards' Tape Is Scarier Than His

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) The Central Intelligence Agency has intercepted communications from Osama bin Laden indicating that the al-Qaeda mastermind is "furious" that John Edwards' sex tape is scarier than any terror tape he has ever produced. . .

"Why is it that we cannot produce anything this frightening?" an incensed bin Laden reportedly demanded of an underling. "We must hire this Rielle Hunter person. She has a true talent for terror."

i fart in fusion's general direction. do you know it takes a fission
atomic pile to ignite a fusion plant? HAH! do a webtube search lazy bones.

it is time for us all to reduce our lifestyles. but you doomers go first. i'll watch and see how it turns out and join you later. heh-heh!
may i recommend stone knives and bearskins and hard scrabble hunter gathering? for you not for me.

the link above:
Do you use more energy than your neighbors?

More than 1 million U.S. households now receive reports on how their energy consumption compares with their neighbors as utilities encourage conservation, some with smiley faces for those doing well.

The reports — deployed by 25 utilities, including six of the 10 biggest — have resulted in households cutting energy use an average of 2% to 3%, says Alex Laskey, co-founder of Opower, which provides the reports.

why dont they have a service where you can find out if your gold man sacks neighbors got a bigger bonus than you. how come no one commented on that?

the pentagon wants to focus on climate and energy? WTF??? maybe they will study the situation and realize all they have to do is reduce their carbon footprint.

chinese will build big homes and drive big cars. uhmerikans will be homeless and drive electric bicycles. you gotta love it.

JHK sez happy motoring is dead. but i see links to motorized homes and fossil fuel nomadic wandering. isnt that some sort of disconnect from the doomer ethos? WTSHTF exactly were can a person bug out to?
wishful thinking. no one gets out of here alive.

"it's all good"

i fart in fusion's general direction.

ee cummings you are not.

do you know it takes a fission
atomic pile to ignite a fusion plant?

*points at Sol*
No 'atomic pile' there. Just mass.

Sonofusion also shows you to be wrong.

As would projects like Shiva or tomahawks.

i used to study geology. i was into cleavage. then i switched to playboy and pent house. they have better cleavage. but i digress. the NYT had an article about earthquakes in yellowstone.

"In the last two weeks, more than 100 mostly tiny earthquakes a day, on average, have rattled a remote area of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, putting scientists who monitor the park’s strange and volatile geology on alert."

seems to me lots of earthquake activity lately. big earthquakes. what's up with that? if the yellowstone super volcano erupts the usa is toast. no more posting to the oil conundrum, no webtubes, no frozen pizzas, no motorized homes, nowhere to bug out to. it is the ultimate doomer scenario.

magnetic pole reversal, crustal slipping, one has to look at the bigger picture. maybe man's demise will not come from his unlimited greed and stupidity but from a world not made by hand.

So wait, now you're telling us that maybe it's not all good? Dang, you had me convinced!

Interesting about Yellowstone, though. Too bad I'm downwind..

The Earth was closest to the Sun on 3 January, as I recall. That means that the gravitational pull from the Sun was at it's peak for the year. Add in a full Moon, where the gravitational pull from the Moon was opposite that of the sun and one might conclude that this would produce a maximum in tidal forces acting on the Earth. That would tend to reduce the compressive stresses in the crust, which might let lose the strain which accumulates along a fault over a long period of time.

The situation in Yellowstone would appear to be a bit different, as there is a "hot spot" under the crust below Yellowstone. The result is the seismic activity and large geothermal activity at the surface. It's a lovely spot to visit, but it's going to blow up some day and I would not want to be nearby when it does...

E. Swanson

Once energy flows are established it’s hard to disrupt or rearrange them without a major shock. Just as the 9/11 event was an opportunity for redirection so too our managers must wait for or induce a significant shock to interrupt the established order. Once the energy flow is broken, it can be rearranged more to their liking with little resistance. If they are aware of a calamity in advance, they will not necessarily warn us of its effect, as they will need a strong shock to disrupt existing relationships. They don’t want us resilient when it works against their aims.
They want us pliable.

Our adaptations have become grossly maladaptive. I think some others realize that competitive evolution on a technological scale ends very quickly within the finite limits of our planet. We will wait for the sorrow of catastrophe before we accept that technology is not our savior and the freedoms afforded by excess energy can disappear as quickly as they came.

evolution on a technological scale ends very quickly...... the freedoms afforded by excess energy can disappear as quickly as they came.

Agreed, Dope......................if not more quickly. Duck and cover, y'all!


Unbeknownst to most people things are getting really ugly in Mongolia:

The country is currently experiencing extreme cold weather and heavy snow, which has caused much trouble for the life of rural herders.
According to the Food and Agriculture Ministry, a total of 1,712,259 heads of livestock have frozen and starved to death nationwide as of January 31, due to the natural calamity of dzud that consists of a summer drought followed by heavy snow and abnormally low temperatures.


The average temperature in northern Region has dropped to -35 degrees Celsius, with temperatures in the rest of country ranging between -22 to -17 degrees Celsius. According to weather forecasts, snow fall and cold temperatures will continue throughout March, with temperatures ranging between -28 and -45 degrees Celsius.


Imagine this weather happening in North America...

I truly feel sorry for Mongolia.