Drumbeat: February 24, 2010

So Much for Russia as an "Energy Superpower"

Just two years ago, Russia's energy reserves made it seem like a rising superpower—and a Western bogeyman that could do anything it wanted. That was then.

Five years ago, when oil prices were climbing steadily and economists were stoking fears about peak oil and gas, it seemed that major energy producers like Russia were holding all the cards. Then-president Vladimir Putin spoke of his country as an "energy superpower" and used energy supplies as a blunt instrument of Kremlin foreign policy. Gas cutoffs to Ukraine caused panic in Europe, while Western energy companies fell over each other to get a slice of Russia's oil and gas fields.

But all that is over. Today, the super-giant Shtockmann natural-gas field under the Arctic sea—Russia's only big hydrocarbon discovery since Soviet times—has just been mothballed due to the towering cost of extracting the undersea gas. At the same time, worldwide demand for Russia's gas has plummeted. And meanwhile, the government has punctured investor confidence by pressuring BP, one of the few major foreign investors left in Russia's energy sector, to hand over a giant Siberian gas field to a government-owned rival. It's time for Moscow to kiss goodbye those dreams of energy hegemony.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Some Perils of 2010

Last week we discussed a new report outlining the outlook for global oil production and noted that the conventional wisdom in the peak oil community now says that global oil production will start its inexorable fall circa 2014.

Imperial May Extend Cold Lake Field’s Life by Decades

(Bloomberg) -- Imperial Oil Ltd., the Canadian energy producer majority-owned by Exxon Mobil Corp., plans to extend production from its biggest oil field by several decades.

Imperial expects regulatory approval by the end of June for a 20 percent expansion of output at an oil-sands operation known as Cold Lake, the Calgary-based company’s largest asset, said spokesman Pius Rolheiser. Most of Cold Lake’s 150,000 barrels of daily output is piped to refineries near Chicago and other U.S. Midwest cities.

Hummer to close after collapse of Chinese deal

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors' deal to sell its Hummer brand to a Chinese automaker fell through Wednesday and the company said it now plans to shut down the brand.

GM did not give any details about why the agreement to sell Hummer to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines Co. Ltd. could not be completed, saying only that it was disappointed it was unable to close the deal.

The new wave: Harnessing the power of the ocean

(CNN) -- Producing electricity using the power of the oceans could start a new wave in renewable energy. But some fear that "wave farms" could damage the livelihoods of fishermen by rendering coastal waters off limits.

Study: Can Hurricanes Cause Climate Change?

Back in the Pliocene era, between 5 and 3 million years ago, the average global temperature was about 7°F warmer than it is today, yet atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were about the same. If carbon dioxide were the sole factor in warming, that wouldn't make any sense. It isn't, of course; there are several other contributors, including the brightness of the sun and the location of the continents (whose positions dictate, among other things, where ice caps can form), but these were all pretty much the same in the Pliocene as well.

So, what accounted for the higher global temperature? According to a new paper in Nature, one possible factor is hurricanes. Scientists have long suspected that global warming could make hurricanes more intense in some way, but the new study suggests the effect works both ways: tropical cyclones could help drive up temperatures in response. "We're suggesting that hurricanes could have created a permanent El Niño condition," says Yale's Alexey Fedorof, lead author of the study.

Michael T. Klare - Avatar: The Prequel

2144 in 3-D

Imagine them, then, on a future, energy-starved planet. In fact, I can easily picture such a future, so let me take one more step and offer myself to Cameron as a technical consultant on his prequel. Admittedly, I wouldn’t be the person to write the film’s plot or script -- I know my limits -- but when it comes to charting future resource wars, I think I could be useful. Drawing on Cameron’s clues in Avatar and my own books, including Resource Wars, Blood and Oil, and Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, let me just sketch out the prequel scenario I envision:

It’s the torrid summer of 2144, just a decade before Avatar begins. (That movie takes place in summer 2154, after a flight from Earth that, we’re told, involves six continuous years of sleep, which helps us backdate Jake Scully’s Venezuelan combat tours.) As it has been for decades, the world is at war, with competing power blocs fighting bitterly over a diminishing pool of vital resources.

Three great power centers dominate the global resource struggle, all located in the northern latitudes where the climate still remains tolerable and the land still receives sufficient rainfall to support agriculture. The first of these, in whose legions both Scully and Quaritch fight, is the North American Federation, founded after the United States, facing desertification in its southern half, invaded and absorbed Canada. The second, Greater China, incorporating northern China, the Korean peninsula, and eastern Siberia (seized from Russia in a series of wars), dominates what’s left of Asia; the third, the North European Alliance, encompassing Germany, Russia (west of the Urals), and Scandinavia, relies heavily on Arctic resources. As in the world portrayed by George Orwell in 1984, these powers continually jockey for dominance in shifting alliances, while their armies face one another in the torrid, still relatively resource-rich parts of the planet. In this neo-Orwellian world, warfare and the constant pressure of resource competition are the only constants.

China oil buys from Saudi, Iran drop; Libya, Angola up

BEIJING (Reuters) - China imported less crude oil from Saudi Arabia and Iran in January from a year earlier, but raised purchases from African exporters such as Angola and Libya and smaller MidEast producers Kuwait and Iraq, customs data showed.

But traders familiar with Saudi and Iranian supplies to China said the data could be skewed due to the Lunar New Year holiday and warned against interpreting them as evidence of weakening Chinese demand.

Insurance costs for oil projects in the Gulf decline by 30%

The cost of insuring hydrocarbon projects in the GCC – both upstream and downstream – has come down by as much as 30 percent in certain cases during the past two years, industry insiders said.

Norway cuts Ormen Lange size estimate by quarter

OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate on Wednesday reduced by about a quarter its resource estimate for Royal Dutch Shell's Ormen Lange gas field which supplies up to 20 percent of British gas needs.

After two disappointing appraisal wells drilled in the still undeveloped northern part of the field, the NPD cut Ormen Lange's official recoverable reserves estimate by 103 million cubic metres of oil equivalent from an earlier 395 mcm view.

Is oil refinement all dried up?

The refinery sector in France is at a critical juncture. A study recently published by the French Institute for Petrol revealed that “in 2008, the financial crisis took a heavy toll on the petrol refinery industry.” According to Jean-Louis Schilansky, president of the French Oil Industry Association (UFIP), the 12 oil refineries have lost as much as “150 million euros a month” since March 2009.

In 1975, there were 24 active refineries in France. Now, less than half remain with six of them owned by Total. According to the French Institute for Petrol, the levels of refinery in Europe as a whole dropped by two-thirds between 2008 and 2009.

Review of "Eastern Canadian crude oil supply and its implications for regional energy security"

This graph clearly illustrates the stunning decrease in imports from the North Sea (UK and Norway), which provided almost two-thirds of eastern Canadian supply in 2000. North Sea decline has forced eastern Canada to increasingly rely on Algeria, Angola and Iraq to fill the gap, all countries with political stability risks.

Hughes’ analysis of the drop in export capacity of key “safe suppliers” fits nicely with the work of Jeff Brown, Robert Hirsch, Jeff Rubin, and Paul Stevens, all of whom have addressed the impending threat of oil export decline. Hughes’ analysis appears to be unique insofar as he has applied the export decline syndrome to the energy security of a specific import-dependent region.

Canadian Oil Sands plans Syncrude expansion

Canadian Oil Sands Trust said today it is formulating plans to boost production at Syncrude Canada by more than expected by 2020.

TNK-BP: More Drama Or Business As Usual?

On the surface, it might seem like a new round of mystery and intrigue might be enveloping Russian oil, particularly involving BP’s joint venture there, TNK-BP. The Financial Times recently suggested Russia was moving closer to stripping TNK-BP of its license for the big Kovykta gas field.

But this sort of thing always precedes big energy deals in Russia, and the way the AAR Group of Russian shareholders in TNK-BP sees it, everything is under control.

Kazakh backing keeps energy network alive

ROGUN, Tajikistan - Since the Central Asia winter energy crisis two years ago, when freezing temperatures lasted for several weeks, cooperation dynamics within the region have witnessed rapid change. Upstream Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which rely on electricity imports during winter, were hit particularly badly in the crisis as they were unable to supply the population with enough electricity and gas. Consequently, Tajikistan was forced to declare a humanitarian crisis.

The crisis revealed the poor management of energy resources on the part of Central Asian governments and their failure to build effective regional energy cooperation. To make matters worse, last December Uzbekistan left the regional electricity network that linked all the Central Asian states. Tashkent's decision affected Dushanbe's ability to transmit its own electricity through Uzbek territory. While the regional electricity network was built during the Soviet period, Uzbekistan was able to leave the regional system by constructing its own energy plants.

Steep rise in coal imports required to power India

India’s coal imports for power production are likely to rise to 48 million tonnes (mt) in the next fiscal, sharply higher than the expected imports of 28mt for FY09-10. Both private and public power utilities are likely to contribute to this high figure. Despite India being a coal-rich country, delay in mining activities at captive coal blocks, inferior quality of coal and hindrances in domestic coal transportation has increased power utilities’ dependence on imported coal.

Floating LNG unit on way to tackle gas crisis

Bangladesh is set to deploy a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) unit this year to stem shortage of gas, officials have said.

The government is in talks with service companies for launching an LNG import facility and also with LNG suppliers including Qatar to import the fuel, Shahidul Abedin, director of Bangladesh Oil, Gas & Mineral Corporation, said in Singapore recently, a report revealed Monday.

32 dams will be constructed throughout country: Pervez Ashraf

ISLAMABAD: Minister of Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday informed Senate that as many as 32 small and medium dams will be constructed throughout the country to bridge the gap between supply and demand of electricity.

Power rentals only shortcut to overcoming energy crisis: Ashraf

ISLAMABAD: Rental power generation is the only shortcut to overcoming the existing power crisis, Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Tuesday.

Venezuela: Heavy consumers deem it unfeasible to lower electricity demand by 20 percent

The leeway of retailers and industrialists in Caracas has almost finished. Although both sectors have reported declines in sales and production due to the energy crisis, they must save more energy to avoid government's penalties.

Reopen the Bataan Nuclear Plant

We have been brainwashed into believing that the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong town posed a grave danger to the population because of the possibility of a leak.

What most of us don’t know is that the unfounded fear was foisted on us by then President Cory and her subordinates who were on a vengeful spree against ousted dictator Marcos.

All the things Marcos and his wife Imelda built must be destroyed, according to their mindset, because they were the fruits of an evil regime.

Uranium Mining Begins Near Grand Canyon: Thousands of Claims Threaten Public Health & Sacred Lands

Grand Canyon, AZ — In defiance of legal challenges and a U.S. Government moratorium, Canadian company Denison Mines has started mining uranium on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. According to the Arizona Daily Sun the mine has been operating since December 2009.

Energy Secretary Chu Says U.S. Must Decrease Energy Use

U.S. energy secretary Steven Chu said Wednesday that the U.S. must decrease its energy use to allow developing nations the room to grow, while emphasizing that prosperity doesn't have to come with a large carbon footprint.

'Consumer Reports' still likes Prius as top eco-friendly car

Toyota Motor's Prius retained its title as Consumer Reports magazine's top pick for eco-friendly vehicle two weeks after the automaker recalled 437,000 hybrids to fix a brake software flaw.

The carmaker's $76,572 Lexus LS460L was named best overall vehicle among more than 280 autos tested for the list of best vehicle by product category, CR said Tuesday. The Prius won best "green" car for the seventh year in a row.

California Bill Takes Aim at Basic Right: Free Parking

SAN FRANCISCO -- For many drivers in California, the right to free parking is as fundamental as freedom of speech or the right to bear arms. Politicians who challenge the California car culture do so at their own peril.

But that hasn't stopped state Sen. Alan Lowenthal from pushing legislation to reduce the amount of free parking available in California cities. Not that it's free everywhere -- downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco, for example, charge high rates like most large cities do. And most cities have parking meters in congested areas.

California's high speed rail dream

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- California's high speed rail plan is eye candy for anyone who likes big, fast shiny things.

If built, it would connect Los Angles to San Francisco via one of the fastest trains in the world. Traveling along its own separate track, proponents say the bullet train would hit speeds exceeding 220 miles per hour, stopping periodically to pick up passengers in a network of sparkling steel and glass stations.

Austin Energy seeking more wind farm land

Austin City Council members will decide Thursday whether to add another 4,664 acres to Austin Energy's growing stockpile of potential wind farm land.

If approved, the 30-year lease would bring the utility company's total West Texas holdings to 22,000 acres. A spokeswoman for the group said other contingencies must be resolved before turbines actually hit the ground, but construction could begin as early as 2013. The city would pay about $50,000 a year for the land.

A change of mind on Cape Wind

Eight years ago, I was strongly opposed to the wind farm on Nantucket Sound. I didn't think it was worth it to trade the aesthetic and spiritual values of a beautiful natural environment for a limited contribution to our nation's energy problems. Today, I strongly support Cape Wind.

Back then, based on my research about our energy needs, I believed that only an Apollo-type project with full support of the government would make sense to solve our energy problems. Fortunately, we have evolved over these years and now there does exist a national consensus to move forward in a comprehensive way to keep us safer in this politically volatile world and protect us from severe climate change.

An Interview with Mike Small of the Fife Diet

What were the challenges you encountered?

Well, funnily enough it wasn’t sourcing the food – that was relatively easy to do. Fife’s been blessed with good arable land and access to some seafood and quite good meat, though not very good dairy. The challenge was our time and preparing unprocessed food from scratch. So one of the things the project revealed was that we’re all time-poor, over stressed and over worked. I think it was kind of a revelation to us that this isn’t about getting local food – which is relatively easily done, this is about our society which has developed so that we’re latched to mortgages that we can’t afford, so we’ve all got to work too much and then we need convenience food.

Saudi Arabia to export solar power soon, US says

Riyadh: US Energy Secretary Steven Chu expects that Saudi Arabia will emerge as a major exporter of solar energy and this could reach the current level of the kingdom's oil exports.

He also dismissed fears of a looming crisis caused by dwindling oil production.

Chu, a strong backer of alternative energy, said that there is big scope for Saudi Arabia to tap into its vast solar energy sources.

"The kingdom's drive to invest a portion of its oil revenue on scientific and technical research will enable it to strengthen diversification of energy sources and promote renewable energy programmes.

"This will contribute to achieving remarkable growth in its industrial output and increasing productivity potential," he said.

...Speaking to reporters with regard to oil supply, Chu said the market would adjust even if supplies were to decline. "I don't see any peak in oil," Chu said, dismissing the idea that global oil production was at or near a peak and is expected to slide because depletion was outrunning new discoveries. "I see a transition to more expensive forms of oil like that produced from harder-to-access fields and secondary recovery schemes.

Crude Declines as European Equities, U.S. Stock Futures Drop

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil declined, erasing earlier gains, as European stock markets fell and before a U.S. government report expected to show crude inventories advanced last week.

Jeff Rubin: Hugo Chàvez for premier of Alberta

Is there heartache in the heartland? As Albertans shoulder the weight of a new $4.5-billion budget deficit (not to mention the burden of equalization payments to the rest of Canada), despite the fact that they own the world’s largest oil reserve open to private investment, some might suggest that something is seriously amiss in the heartland.

But instead of imposing painful health care spending cuts or equally unappealing personal tax hikes, maybe there is another, better way to go.

North Sea oil 'could last at least a decade'

Britain's offshore oil and gas fields could still be delivering 1.5m barrels a day by 2020, enough to satisfy 35% of UK energy demand, according to industry trade body Oil & Gas UK – but only if high fuel prices and tax breaks combine to make viable a growing backlog of exploration and development projects in the North Sea.

Without renewed investment, production from already mature fields, currently meeting about two-thirds of Britain's energy needs, will drop to 0.5m barrels a day by the end of the decade, representing only 11% of energy demand.

Oman: Boost continues

(MENAFN - Oxford Business Group) The Omani oil and gas sector's significant investment in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques has reaped rewards for the second year running, as newly released figures show the Sultanate's daily production rose once again in 2009.

Oil output increased to an average 812,500 barrels per day last year, a 7.4% hike on 2008 production. The figures represent the second year of sustained production growth in the sector, reversing a trend of decline which first set in during 2001 when Omani oil production hit its peak of an average 956,000 bpd. According to media reports, the government hopes to increase production in the sector once again in 2010, hitting a production target of between 860,000 and 900,000 barrels per day.

Green laws ‘could hit Indonesia flows’

Indonesia's oil production, which has slumped in recent years, could be hit by new environment laws in South-East Asia's biggest economy, director general of oil and gas Evita Legowo said today.

Total Expects Refinery Deal as Unions Urge Strike End

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, Europe’s largest refiner, expects to sign an agreement with unions today to end a weeklong strike that’s hobbled operations at its refineries in France.

Workers at the Provence refinery near Marseille voted at midday to suspend their walkout, Christian Coste, a representative of the main Confederation Generale du Travail union, said by telephone. Fuel shipments and the restart of refinery units will begin “very quickly,” he said.

Iran says can deal with gasoline sanctions - report

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran is prepared to deal with any sanctions on its gasoline imports that world powers might impose over the country's disputed nuclear activities, a senior oil official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Iran's hardline rulers have repeatedly shrugged off the impact of sanctions imposed on the country over its expanding nuclear work, which the West fears is a cover to build bombs. Tehran denies the charge, saying its nuclear programme is peaceful.

China’s Refining to Rise, Boosting Crude Purchases, Poten Says

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-largest energy consumer, may boost refining capacity by more than 10 percent by 2014, leading to gains in crude imports, according to calculations based on estimates by Poten & Partners.

China’s capacity to convert crude into petroleum products may rise to more than 7.5 million barrels a day from less than 7 million barrels a day last year, according to a report by the U.S. energy consultant last week.

Falklands have right to oil, London says

London said the Falkland government is "entitled" to explore for oil and gas within its waters. Chris Bryant, the British foreign minister charged with the Latin America portfolio, said it was abundantly clear that Falkland Islanders want to remain British.

"We're also clear that the Falkland Islands government is entitled to develop a hydrocarbons industry within its waters," he said in a statement. "We remain focused on supporting the Falkland Islands government in developing this legitimate business in its territory."

Argentina to take Falklands protest to the UN

THE diplomatic row over the Falkland Islands has deepened dramatically after Argentina announced it would take its protests over British oil exploration to the UN today.

At the Rio Group summit in Mexico yesterday, Buenos Aires won unprecedented support from other Latin American states for its demand that Britain stop drilling in waters near the islands.

Nigeria’s Jonathan Must Fix Oil Industry Investment, Security

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, faces two challenges in keeping crude output from shrinking in Africa’s biggest oil producer: guns and cash.

Jonathan, appointed to the helm of Africa’s most populous nation in place of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua by parliament on Feb. 9, needs to calm a four-year-old insurrection in the Niger River delta and raise funds to expand the oil industry, according to analysts at Eurasia Group and PM Consultancy.

Basra exports halved on bad weather

Oil exports from Iraq's southern Basra terminal fell by more than half today to 792,000 barrels per day from 1.728 million bpd on the previous day due to bad weather, according to reports.

A sand storm made it difficult for some ships to berth at export terminals, a shipping source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Nabucco officials express optimism

SOFIA, Bulgaria, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Project backers scheduled a 2011 launch date for the construction of the Nabucco pipeline to transport Iraqi, Turkmen and Azeri natural gas, officials said.

Christian Dolezal, the spokesman for the Nabucco gas pipeline consortium, told an audience at an energy forum in Sofia that construction was scheduled for the end of 2011. Gas transits, he said, should begin in 2013.

Leaders meets for energy diversity talk

The leaders of central eastern European states will meet today to discuss how to diversify energy sources and focus on the Nabucco gas pipeline and liquefied gas - alternatives to dominant regional supplier Russia.

Putin Warns Billionaires Prokhorov, Potanin on Power Investment

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Vladimir Putin threatened four Russian billionaires with fines and penalties if they don’t meet the investment commitments they made when acquiring utilities from the state.

UAE, US committed to stronger energy partnership

ABU DHABI - UAE Minister of State for Foreign affairs, H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash, and the US Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu , signed an implementation arrangement between UAE Foreign Ministry and US Department of Energy concerning information exchange and cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy on February 24, 2009 in Abu Dhabi.

The Implementing arrangement establishes a framework via which US Department of Energy through its National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) would cooperate and support UAE competent authorities involved in the development of peaceful nuclear energy sector.

German 2011 Power Holds Steady Near Its Lowest Price in a Year

(Bloomberg) -- German electricity for delivery next year held steady near its lowest price in almost 12 months on signs an economic recovery may be slow to materialize.

Iberdrola Net Falls on Lower Gains From Asset Sales

The power company generates more than half its electricity outside Spain after expanding abroad to avoid relying on the domestic market, where demand dropped last year. Iberdrola is now carrying out a plan to sell assets worth 2.5 billion euros after purchasing U.S. utility Energy East Corp. in 2008 and Scottish Power Ltd. in 2007.

“Operating results increased despite the complex environment, affected by the deterioration of the business in Spain, the weakness in demand and prices,” Iberdrola said in a statement. Electricity demand in mainland Spain fell 4.6 percent in 2009, Red Electrica Corporacion SA, the operator of the country’s power grid, said Dec. 30.

Stephen Leeb: A Long Term Look at Energy Demand and a Great Oil Bargain

The two most important developments that came to light this past weekend both occurred within the energy sector, a sector which is also a key indicator of economic health.

On the global level, we had a report that oil consumption in the U.S. fell in January to its lowest level since 1998. We can interpret this drop in several ways.

Most of the recent decline came in the demand for distillates, including diesel fuel. Diesel fuel, which is used in trucking, railways, and other forms of mass transit, is particularly sensitive to economic activity. The more goods we produce, the more transportation fuel gets consumed and vice versa. In fact, UCLA has recently created a Pulse of Commerce Index based on real-time diesel consumption by the American trucking industry.

Diesel consumption has a very good record as an indicator of industrial production. Unfortunately, this means the drop in January's consumption figures suggests that industrial output is slowing as well.

GM Said to Not Win China’s Approval for Hummer Deal

(Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. failed to win approval from Chinese regulators to sell its Hummer brand to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., said two people briefed on the deal.

A government agency indicated that it won’t provide approval for Chengdu, China-based Tengzhong to purchase the Hummer line of sport-utility vehicles from GM in China, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn’t been made public.

What the Olympics Can Teach Us About the Price of Gas

But the oil sands controversy at the Olympics is an interesting window into the increasingly complex questions of how will the world move itself around, and what really is the future of oil anyway?

Is oil a scarce geologic commodity on the verge of hitting an effective production peak, and soaring in price as a result of resulting scarcity? That's what the founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, warned the UK government. He thinks the crunch will come within five years. His opinion is shared by the CEOs of at least two oil companies, Total and Petrobras, even though recent oil finds by Petrobras are often cited by peak oil skeptics as evidence that no crisis is near.

Energy expert brings conservation message

Amory Lovins has been preaching energy efficiency for decades.

..."Tonight, I invite you to re-imagine the world," Lovins said to start his talk.

His primary message: Saving fuel costs less than buying fuel.

And old-fashioned engineering and outdated ideas about power and transportation are costing the world lots of money.

After Fossil Fuels: The Great Transition Ahead

Richard Heinberg, energy expert and senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, was in town last night as part of the 2010 Illahee Power and Change lecture series.

In a far-ranging presentation entitled “After Fossil Fuels: The Great Transition Ahead”, Heinberg detailed what the audience already seemed to know – that life after fossil fuels will not be the same.

21st Century Breakdown

There is no way to avoid this Crisis. It can't be bypassed. Just as the seasons must progress from Spring to Summer through Fall and into Winter, a Crisis must follow an Unraveling. History does not have a rewind button. Secular Winter has arrived and the country couldn't be less prepared for the challenges ahead. The government and the governed enter this highly dangerous period weakened and fragile. The short-sighted economic choices and deferred fiscal decisions will collide with peak oil and uncontrolled globalization to inflict a horrific resolution to this Crisis. The gravity of our situation cannot be overstated. As politicians and the mainstream media play pretend games of recovery and false optimism, the country hurtles closer to the abyss.

Book Review – Future Scenarios, by David Holmgren

The book begins with a discussion of four possible broad energy scenarios that are likely to occur over the next century: techno-explosion, techno-stability, energy decent, and collapse. These scenarios range from continued growth to doom and gloom, and Holmgren writes, “There is a desperate need to recast energy descent as a positive process that can free people from the strictures and dysfunctions of growth economics and consumer culture.” He continues, “This is now apparent to many people around the world and is far more fundamental than a public relations campaign to paint a black sky blue.”

Oil production set for discussion

Energy Transitions Group - Northwest will give a presentation titled, "Wake Up Call: A discussion on energy transitions, economics, and the environment from a peak oil perspective" at 7 p.m. March 10.

Preparing for 2014-15 "Oil Crunch" Forecast by UK Industry Group

What can cities, businesses and individuals do to prepare for such energy price volatility, buy hybrids? Actually, the report asserts, "there is real danger that the focus on technological advances in cars is making consumers and government complacent."

More urgent steps need to be taken by policymakers in particular to avert this impending crisis.

A Danish biotechnology company, Novozymes, says it has cultivated a new enzyme that could convert maize, wheat, straw and woodchips into ethanol for as little as 32 pence per litre.

'Ecological disaster' looms as oil spill hits Po

ROME — An oil spill that fouled a small river in northern Italy has reached the River Po and officials are warning that an ecological disaster is under way.

Milan regional officials say the cause of the spill was likely sabotage at a former refinery, and that an unknown amount of gasoline and oil spilled into the Lambro River near Piacenza.

Britain's Weather Office Proposes Climate-Gate Do-Over

At a meeting Monday of 150 climate scientists, representatives of Britain's weather office proposed that the world's climatologists start all over again and produce a new trove of global temperature data that is open to public scrutiny and "rigorous" peer review.

Tackling climate change 'urgent,' Hu says

China's highest leadership yesterday began considering proposals from the country's senior researchers in an attempt to help achieve the country's ambitious goal of cutting carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020.

The move is a sign that China will roll out more economic and industrial policies to tackle climate change this year when drawing up the development roadmap for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

UN talks on international climate change treaty to resume in April in Germany

BONN, Germany (AP) — The United Nations says formal negotiations on an international treaty to control global warming will resume in Bonn in April, four months after the failed climate change summit in Copenhagen.

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said Tuesday the negotiating schedule is being intensified in order to secure a global climate deal at the end of the year. After the Bonn meeting April 9-11, more talks are scheduled there for May 31-June 11.

UN Calls on Countries to Boost Emission Pledges

BALI, Indonesia—Countries will have to significantly increase their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions if there is any hope of preventing the catastrophic effects of climate change, according to a U.N. study released Tuesday.

New NASA Web Page Sheds Light on Science of Warming World

ScienceDaily — Will 2010 be the warmest year on record? How do the recent U.S. "Snowmageddon" winter storms and record low temperatures in Europe fit into the bigger picture of long-term global warming? NASA has launched a new Web page to help people better understand the causes and effects of Earth's changing climate.

EPA Prepares to Take the Lead on Regulating CO2

From the moment President Barack Obama took office, he has emphasized the importance of dealing with climate change. He's said that the right way to do it is to pass congressional legislation that would cap greenhouse-gas emissions. But eight months after the House of Representatives passed a cap-and-trade bill, similar legislation remains mired in the Senate, its chances of passage dimming by the day. With midterm elections not far off — threatening serious losses in Democratic seats in Congress — it's reasonable to wonder whether the carbon-capping bill will ever become law in the U.S.

But there is a Plan B. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases like CO2 could be considered pollutants and gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the power to regulate them under the Clean Air Act. Although that authority went unused in the waning days of former President George W. Bush's Administration, the Obama EPA has spent much of the past year preparing the groundwork for regulation. In the absence of a climate bill, the EPA has the power — and is legally mandated by the Supreme Court — to step in and address carbon emissions.

EPA Chief Goes Toe-To-Toe With Senate GOP Over Climate Science

U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson today defended the science underpinning pending climate regulations despite Senate Republicans' claims that global warming data has been thrown into doubt.

"The science behind climate change is settled, and human activity is responsible for global warming," Jackson told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "That conclusion is not a partisan one."

Belief In Climate Change Hinges On Worldview

"Basically the reason that people react in a close-minded way to information is that the implications of it threaten their values," says Dan Kahan, a law professor at Yale University and a member of The Cultural Cognition Project.

Kahan says people test new information against their preexisting view of how the world should work.

"If the implication, the outcome, can affirm your values, you think about it in a much more open-minded way," he says.

And if the information doesn't, you tend to reject it.

In another experiment, people read a United Nations study about the dangers of global warming. Then the researchers told the participants that the solution to global warming is to regulate industrial pollution. Many in the individualistic group then rejected the climate science. But when more nuclear power was offered as the solution, says Braman, "they said, you know, it turns out global warming is a serious problem."

And for the communitarians, climate danger seemed less serious if the only solution was more nuclear power.

I've participated on TOD for a number of years and it simply amazes me that a bunch of volunteers can produce a quality product day after day..a product that makes you want to come back for more every day. Further, the quality and civility (mostly) of the replies adds to it all.

So, thanks to everyone.


I'm sure we all share the same sentiment.

I agree - this has been a major part of keeping me sane!

Ditto. (And I still have little idea what the hell is going on!).

Hats off to one and all. I've gained tremendously on both a personal and professional level from my time spent on this forum. Everyday, I learn something new from the various articles posted here and from the conversations they help generate. Life would never be quite the same without a daily dose of TOD.


Suppose it's all a devious underhanded capitalist piggie plot to get us hooked and one day soon they will start charging us?

We'll all be like a bunch of junkies trying to raise the subscription money. ;)

I can quite anytime I want - I swear!

Heck, redcoltken, it's easy to quit. I've done it dozens of times! ;-)

I'd put a first and second hypothèque on my soul if it came to that, OFM. Gotta have my TOD.


Ahh funny that I stopped posting and mostly stopped viewing as well for the overflowing of personal attacks, the foul language, the sometimes very very ugly attacks on Christianity and .well some elistism thrown in as well.

Just in the DB ,perhaps yesterdays, or the day before there was rampant hate comments about Christianity and then degraded as always to 'Tea Baggers' and thence to those derided as 'rural' be it those who live in the south or those of conservative views.

Its really gone downhill since all the newbies came over from other blogs and showed everyone how ugly and nasty they can be.

So I maybe once a day browse over to TOD and finding too much worthless chaff mixed in with a few good comments on DB.

The feeding frenzy on the AZ Key Post was pretty hyped as well.

I continue to see the F word and wonder when it will be expunged. But not too often I note.

I will agree though that most KEY TOPIC Posts are worthy. Its the DBs that are disgusting.

Frankly I do not attend Church of anykind but I do believe in the right of believers to not be constantly bashed over and over. A lot comes from Europeans.

The comments by Black Dog and the surrounding ones on the DB were examples.

I give up. I gave up. Just wanted to say why.


When christianity became Christianism during the third and fourth centuries of the Common Era, it lost its capacity to liberate humanity from the darker tendencies of our species. Christianism, sadly, vulgarizes the ancient myths and thus bars the way to a civilization based on compassionate love by way of a recognition that the spark of divinity resides within every human being. Turning the christ myth into history and making the manufactured christ figure into the sole embodiment of divinity on earth were the essence of this power-seeking and manipulative vulgarization.

The fact that you see rampant hate comments in the Drumbeats instead of disgust with the anti-scientific and anti-nature tendency of the christanists is an outcome of your own ignorance. I don't fault you for this. The unrelenting campaign to maintain darkness and curb enlightenment continuously undertaken by the spawn of satan (eg. every bible thumper on TV) is a huge obstacle for anyone.

To overcome this ignorance, I recommend you add 'The Pagan Christ' by the christian theologian, Tom Harpur, to your list of books to read.

Yet you persist in your counter-ignorance, which is to conflate the squeaky wheels of an extreme end of Christianity into the overall group, and manage to slip in a snap on Airdale somehow being 'ignorant' (but nuthin' personal, bubba.. ) ..

If you've got a problem with some group being self-righteous, better check on the mote in your own eye. What Airdale describes, these ongoing snipes against Rural, Christian, Working Class and Southern people is entirely accurate, and you simply reconfirm that these blind biases by the Urban College Set are as destructive and entrenched as any of the angry simplemindedness championed by a SEGMENT of the Christian world.

Being arrogant and dismissive doesn't make you enlightened.


"Being arrogant and dismissive doesn't make you enlightened."

Pot, kettle, black.

There are ongoing snipes against any and every point of view, on this forum and every other on the Internet as far as I can see. This claiming of victimhood is more than a bit overwrought. Try running for office as anything but a professing Christian and see how far you get - Christians are not a persecuted minority. Of course, that's why we have so many pretend Christians.

Of course, when someone snipes at your group, you fob it off on some extreme segment of your group and take great umbrage. When someone snipes at another group, you don't even notice.

For example, your own simple-minded snipe against some monolithic "Urban College Set" that doesn't exist. Take the plank out of your own eye, my friend.

It's never been about fairness or diplomacy or objectivity. It's always been about pandering to a delusion held by a majority.

Sorry, but no. I'm not a Christian, Sgage. It's not 'my group' that I'm defending. I'm well aware of the power and the ignorance of a certain brand of Christianity in this country, but it's still a deviation, albeit a huge one, and attacking all religiousness or all Christianity does nothing to address the real source of the problem, it only alienates a swath of Christians who come here who should be allies in the fight to beat down that extremism.

"I'm well aware of the power and the ignorance of a certain brand of Christianity in this country, but it's still a deviation, albeit a huge one,"

It defines Christianity in this country, and that and only that is being addressed.

But let me put it bluntly: Christians claim to have the truth, period. If you disagree with the Christian formula, you are damned to hell. Yes or no? This is not fringe interpretation of Christianity. This is the bottom line. You tell me who is arrogant and condescending.

Seriously, Bob, the snotty arrogance ball is firmly in the Christian court. And disagreeing is not "attacking". But surely we can be civil. But think about it - think about how Christians think of non-Christians...

And I evidently need to reiterate - Christians are NOT a persecuted minority, at least in the US. In fact, they rule. If you ran for office in the US and said "I am definitely not a Christian", your campaign is over. Over.

So again, please spare me the victimhood.

If you disagree with the Christian formula, you are damned to hell. Yes or no?

Actually, an issue of significant theological debate. (Although not among the TV preacher subset).


If a Christian believes you are headed for Hell, through no act or blame on his part, and yet he acts to dissuade your travails in that direction, why does that make him arrogant rather than graciously considerate, or perhaps at worst misled and unnecessarily concerned?

If a non-believer tells you earnestly to go to hell based on a personnal bias, does that make him a kindred spirit worthy of praise?

Why worry so much about what people believe, rather than what they actually do?

Here all I wanted to do was thank all the people who make TOD work and it's turned into almost a flame war. Is it too hard for everyone to just STFU and let this kind of thing go - forever? I was a mod on another forum and I can tell you I would have deleted just about everything as OT.

Geeze, I wish I had never posted. And, FWIW, I've cut back my postings because of this sort of crap. But, I have to admit all of you are being sort of civil.


I would like to thank you, Todd. Your post was spot on to begin with.

People will see what they want in almost any post. I have read and commented on a bunch. Yes, TOD sometimes leaves in vulgarities - perhaps more than many sites I have visited. And, there is no posted rule, and virtually no censorship.

I have seen far more virulent posts against Jews and Muslims on most sites than I see here. Perhaps this is because many persons involved are in frequent contact with real people, as opposed to the media constructs most assume to be descriptive. As far as anti-Christian bias, I have simply not seen it. I have seen many persons posting their particular views on coming events, and their slant on right and wrong vis-a-vis the Bible. Sometimes others take a contrary position. I know more than a few good Christian people whom I would not call enlightened, or fair minded, and who would take offense at anyone dissing their POV. They have every right to be offended. But not to censor the blog.

And, my own position is much like yours. I appreciate the civility on TOD. I regularly discuss with persons whom I know do not see things eye to eye with me. Always they are respectful. I read posts from the far left, and from the far right. All are concerned. All have something of value to contribute. And, all are, as you noted, very civil. A rare thing. And TOD is a rare site.


Any time someone pumps out one of these "Oh you guys are so great posts" one of two things happen: 1) We waste half a drumbeat with people piling on and saying yes, they are great until we get completely bored, or 2) It deteriorates to a flame war.

If you love The Oil Drum send them an email or make a donation. I, for one, think these tribute posts are a complete waste of time at best.

I'm inclined to agree. I know it's meant well, and it is appreciated, but it tends to generate a lot of noise, rather than signal.

I don't much worry about what people believe. It's just when they tell me I'm going to hell, I do not feel as though I am being the aggressive party. and When I push back, and I'm told I'm some sort of unreasonble party, I say no. No. That's all. When the people who profess this belief then tell me I'm being persecutorial, I say bullsh*t. This attitude of the poor picked-on Christian is nonsensical.

When a non-believer tells you to "go to hell", it is not even peripherally relevant to what we're talking about here, as well you know.

Again, pot, kettle, black. It's the Christians who are all of a sudden whining about being persecuted somehow. The point isn't what anybody believes. The point is Christians complaining that they're being "attacked". What they see as "attack", some of us see as self defense.

Maybe we need to come up with a new term for virulent American evangelical aggression, to distinguish it from what you seem to want to call Christianity. But that's the way it's always been. If someone professing Christianity turns out to be a jerk, well, "they're some extreme element".

Well, if you look into it, regular everyday orthodox Christianity is pretty extreme. Think about it. The Christian narrative is fairly bizarre... and not all that open to dialog and compromise. Right and wrong, black and white. Those of us who don't buy it are tired of being smugly condescended to. OK?

Science peels open the tightly clad Id like a can opener letting the fears partially contained by religion escape to the surface. A fracas sometimes develops in the mind as the Ego tries to reconcile cherished belief and observable, testable fact. This is the same reason that people lash out at “Peak Oil”, their fears are contained with pleasant but untrue assessments of the future and peak oil catastrophe is not something they like to think about, so they stuff that fear back in it's box and go on their merry way.

What happens when all of the defensive delusions get peeled away? Can they ever be peeled away? Do we want to peel them away? Do religious ideas have more survival value than an appreciation of the Laws of Thermodynamics and Evolution? Maybe so, I guess time will tell, but IMO religion will make a grand resurgence with the decline of industrial society and its sacriligious handmaiden, science.

I think our brain is a correlating and predicting engine that is constantly engaged in predicting the future at various levels. I've got a great book at home on this subject, but the title escapes me.

As part of the mechanism, we predict, perceive, assess, and update the predictors. At some levels these form "habits". Other layers, perhaps "beliefs". Still other similar mechanism handle muscle motion and physical interaction with the "real world".

For some of these mechanisms, error signals from the feedback loops drive minor shifts in prediction. Sometimes these tiny bits of "novelty" stimulate dopamine channels -- babies laugh when they something unexpected happens. Or, if too much is out of the ordinary, they cry. Some channels reward novelty, while others reward accurate prediction. Memory circuits feel oh-so-precise and permanent, yet they too are fluid, as each read/review/replace cycle subtly changes the image. Somehow our perception/viewer circuitry can knit oddball bits of memory, prediction, and sensory data together into a brilliant and sharp picture that seems more real than reality itself, because to us, it's the prediction that is "us", and reality that is "from the outside".

Each perception/prediction channel has vast interconnectivity with sensory inputs, other predictors, and memories. Filters and weights seem to be modified an updated based on complex feedback loops. Some are easier to update for the young -- over time they harden and fixate.

Why do I hit "refresh" on TOD? Do I welcome the tiny drip of dopamine when each "new" comment appears? Do I experience schadenfreude when the headlines reinforce my doomerish predictions? Do I welcome remarks that match my own perspective, or feel ire rise when conflicting views appear? Or do I quietly filter disputing data in a subtle confirmation bias that skews my predictors to poorly-supported constructs?

Even the dichotomy of my recent doomerish beliefs but hard-to-break BAU habits might both be reflected by ingrained yet inconsistent patterns. Am I tortuously self-conflicted or happily scattered? Depends on how the dopamine and adrenaline circuits are wired I suppose.

The thing is that what people believe often affects what the decide to do.

As a woman I find the christian belief set frustrating. One of the big female role-models is Mary. A virgen and mother at the same time. Combine the example of Mary with the natural human propensity for sexual interaction, and you have a recipe for a population explosion, as sexuality becomes completely intertwined with reproduction. I think that any humane system of controlling the worlds population has to find a way of dis-entangling people's sexual drives from reproduction. The desire-guilt-justification by way of baby cycle is problematic.

I love singing in church choirs (good acoustics, good harmonization, nice music) but always end up leaving because I cannot reconcile my world view to what is being pushed upon people.

Victimhood. Hm.

I'm sorry you continue to allow the Extreme Christian Right to define the whole name of 'Christianity', as you're simply obeying THEIR insistence that we do so. There are numerous branches and denominations that have absolutely nothing to do with this kind of behavior and attitude. The 'everyone else is a sinner' think is not as universal as you seem to think.

I mean, how can you say 'What Christians think of Non-christians' .. it means nothing. There are TOO MANY subsets that don't play the same game, so these broadsides just make YOU seem too angry or resentful to notice that you're talking about groups of thoroughly dissimilar people.

Well, I sort of know what you mean Airdale, but I think you're exaggerating quite a bit. People of all stripes say sometimes inflamatory things here - liberal and conservative, Christian and not. I do not see Christians being particularly targeted. You're probably just not noticing when people bash things you're not particulary sympathetic with.

The F-word we could surely live without, though again, I don't seem to notice a lot of F-bombs here. In fact, once a week would be a lot, but maybe I'm just thicker skinned and don't notice as much.

Personally, the reason MY DrumBeat time is way down is because I already know what everyone is going to say. It's like a big Rorschach test. You put a story out there, and everyone has their take. After a certain number of years, you just know how it's going to go. So I check in the morning, see the top stories, and catch the posts for a while until it becomes predictable. I used to use the TODban script, but easier just to take a break from it all.

I'm sorry if I offended you with my comments. The US was founded by people who left Europe, many because of religious persecution and warfare. We often hear that the Constitution guarantees religious freedom, which I must think also includes the freedom not to have a religious world view. Yet, we often hear of peer pressure to conform to religious dogma and the Evangelical Christians seem intent on spreading their religion to the rest of humanity. There was even a report of Evangelicals going to Israel to convert Jews to Christianity.

I assume that you don't find Tim D'Annunzio's rants to be threatening, perhaps because you agree with him. Christianity has a long history of repression and persecution of dissent. I'm simply afraid that this mode of operation would return, if the economy falls off a cliff into permanent decline. Will things return to the days of torture and execution for heretics? I hope not because I think true scientists would be the first to go. Remember Galileo and Giordano Bruno, both victims of The Inquisition..

E. Swanson

But while you're recalling the Grand Inquisitioners and their contributions, be sure to remember The Berrigan Brothers, Sister Prejean, Rabbi Lerner and any number of unsung people who are not using their faith to do anything but help people and keep their families and communities be strong together.

Oversimplifying them all as intrinsically similar to the Inquisitors would be scientifically dishonest.

The difference is that those of us on the secular side do not claim that to follow our path is the righteous one: it is merely our path. I could no more not be an atheist than not go to the bathroom. If there were no tax benefits to being a church or making contributions to one, and people did not let their religion slip over the line into business and politics, then I would not have any comment here.

What Airdale is not acknowledging is that he is not the injured party here. Being a christian of any stripe is not a social stigma in the USA; you are not being persecuted, and, as I noted in a post yesterday, in many parts of the country not being a Christian is a social barrier.

I do not take responsibility for, or claim to represent, everybody who doesn't go to church on Sunday (or Saturday). It is not a homogenous group: those who are only a little religious, those who believe but don't care, agnostics, avowed atheists, and miscallaneous heathens of every kind share only one thing in common: we either do not believe (or do not care about) the consequences of not worshipping.

Wikipedia quotes a study showing 2.5% of the world's population as atheists, and a separate 12.7% as non-religious.

So... much like the "Left wing media elites", who are practically to a person rich right-wingers who support BAU, and therefore, not what they seem, we atheists and our non-religious fellow travelers are, as hobgoblins to be defended against by the forces of religion, pretty weak hobgobblins.

If our numbers are so small (and they are) why all the fuss?

Because, in my opinion, religion is a tragically fragile concept.

If the arguments for religion were stronger, and the consequences of not believing palpable (if, for instance, a really angry God were to strike me dead for writing this and then hold a press conference so the point wouldn't be lost on anyone and to avoid any ambiguity) you guys wouldn't be running around like chickens with their heads cut off every time someone said they disagreed with you. I (and those like me) would see that it wasn't enough just to be a good person and honorable in my dealings. I would give thanks to god to avoid that ol' thunderbolt. (And if a kind, merciful god delivered a plan to deal with peak oil and global warming at a similar press conference, and made it stick, he/she/it would get a nice "thank you" note from me, at the very least.)

So man up! You've got this vestigal, superstitious tic that you can't get rid of, you like the music, it's part of your culture, if you don't show up in church for Christmas your mom will disown you...I really don't care. Believe what you want. Just don't persecute me, make me pay for your church with your tax exemption (wish I could do something about that), teach your religion in my school (wish I could do something about the Toronto Catholic School Board), or tell me I'm going to hell. Don't annoy me with your problem.

"You've got this vestigal, superstitious tic that you can't get rid of, you like the music, it's part of your culture, if you don't show up in church for Christmas your mom will disown you..."

I'm sorry, but just because someone taught you a comic-book stereotype that you paint onto anything religious, and then assume that now You're being 'persecuted', that everyone who goes to church is condemning your soul to hell, it's just a slew of assumptions. Whatever.. misinformation runs rampant on both sides.

but your opener was the prizewinner.. "The difference is that those of us on the secular side do not claim that to follow our path is the righteous one" complete and utter bs, we can do that really well. 'Secular, Science-based Sanctity' blech! Nothing like a diffident scientist raging red-faced against emotionalism.. it always brings a tear to my eye.

PS, I'm agnostic, too. But I really hate it when thoughtful people start slinging thoughtless stereotypes around.


.. and I DO like the music. Hallelujia!

but your opener was the prizewinner.. "The difference is that those of us on the secular side do not claim that to follow our path is the righteous one" complete and utter bs, we can do that really well. 'Secular, Science-based Sanctity' blech! Nothing like a diffident scientist raging red-faced against emotionalism.. it always brings a tear to my eye.

But this is the part where I'm not being sarcastic. (and incidentaly, where I'm replying to the idea that religious people have the monopoly on good works, so the abuses can be ignored.) Look at the full quote:

The difference is that those of us on the secular side do not claim that to follow our path is the righteous one: it is merely our path.

I'm totally sincere. My life would have been tremendously simplified if I could say, with a straight face, "there might be a god who would notice if I said a nice prayer now and then." Would have made my mother happy. Would have made my mother-in-law happy. Would have allowed me to get on better with Americans.

Acceptance of a complete lack of faith does not come easy, and it is not without value. It is tremendously freeing. The only thing I'd change about that statement is to make it singular.

"You've got this vestigal, superstitious tic that you can't get rid of, you like the music, it's part of your culture, if you don't show up in church for Christmas your mom will disown you..."

The only one of these I haven't actually heard from someone is the "vestigal, superstitious tic" one. It's not a stereotype..it's the reality. Not exclusive, there are people who believe in their religions, but how many are 100% theologically pure? There should be regular testing... except, of course, that the drop in funds from excommunications would be intolerable. ;)

BD, You will never make friends and thereby advance your agenda by badmouthing millions of people who are in the vast majority of cases very decent people.

Believe it or not ,nearly all of them have tv, most of them have internet now, and a very large portion of them vote.

You align yourself with the modern liberal movement.It comes part and parcel, and it's high priests are the professors in charge of he sociology, pol.sci. history, lit, etc depts of the nations schools.

One of the primary tenets of this new religion is that thou shalt never speak evil of anybody or anything , except a nazi or a christian, especially a white male Christian from below the Mason Dixon line.

Now I somehow suspect that the utter and overwhelming hypocrisy of this position is lost on a true believer of the left.You can rest assured however, that it is not lost on the many millions of people who hate your guts because you go around calling them names.They will reflexively express this hate by (gasp ! who would ever have thought?) actually voting, rather than staying home and watching tv and reading the only book in thier house.(sarcasm light on.)

I do believe you can guess which way they are apt to vote after reading such attacks as you and many others seem determined to repeat every few days.

Keep it up, you are making people like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck very happy indeed.They may not have a staffer combing this site for incedinary quotes to rally the crowd with the torches and pitchforks YET but one day they will stumble across it.

More than likely the only reason they haven't yet , so far, is that there are so many sites and publications for them to pick over.

Keep your shirt on.;)

We have enough to fight about as it is.

If you haven't been back to the thread we were on yesterday or the day before, check out my last reply.I think you will be somewhat suprised(pleasantly).

One of the biggest problems people such as I myself have with modern liberal politics is that the practicioners of the same seem to be utterly deteremined to throw out the baby along with a lot of old conservative bathwater.

If you will collectively tone down the rhetoric , you will find that there are tens of millions of people such as yours truly out there who are conservatives but who nevertheless have goos sound educations, relize that tsis itf, and will work towards reasonable solutions that take thier concerns into account.

Believe me , guys.The repugs, as you like to call them , have had plenty of help from the demorats (sorry , but everybody knows that as a self described conservative I can't be expected to know how to spell!) right along in createing the current mess.

Get off your holier than thou wagon , or by the next presidential eclection , yoy will have done your part in returning the legislative and executive branches to the REPUGS.?Given the current age distribution of the current SC Justices, you may also succeed in helping the repugs put another right winger on the court.

( If I feel like it , I do proofread my one finger and one eye typing.My spelling and punctuation is variable depending on my mood and time. Plus the memory for spelling is going.
Sometime before too long I am going to learn how to do my comments in a word processor program so that proofreading is fast and easy.)

We aren't getting out of here alive no matter what. Relax a little.;)

Having spent most of my life below the Mason Dixon Line and having been educated in a quasi-religious school, I like to think I have some understanding of the situation. Or, at least, thought I did until I moved to Western NC. I've also watched as the Republican Party has embraced the climate change denialist claims, in spite of the facts.

We're talking about big changes here, both in terms of energy and climate and yet we can't begin to get a rational public discussion of the issues. Why is that? Is it because one large segment of the population expects the end of the world to happen any day now, thus they don't care about the future? Guys like Senator Inhofe use their position to publish anti-science and the scientific community is blasted for being an "advocate for" global warming (as if scientists aren't also people), while blasting the other advocates (such as Al Gore), claiming they aren't scientists.

Politics is fun stuff, but I learned in college that it's very difficult to argue against a belief in the supernatural, since there is always the fact that one can not prove a negative. It's impossible to prove that Mr. J.C. didn't arise from the dead or didn't appear in person to Simon Peter (or whomever) some time later, especially as there are no written records from that date. Similarly, one can not prove that god doesn't exist in the sense usually meant by those who believe that some supernatural entity wills everything to happen. So the Fundamentalist continue to preach "The Good News", telling the sheeple that they can get defy Death if only they Believe. Didn't these guys tell these folks when they was kids that There Is A Santa Claus?

E. Swanson

BD and Others ,

I UNDERSTAND your frustration and your position.

I fly under false colors here for one reason only-I'm a confirmed Darwinist living in the midst of the people you are so determined to make into enemies.They are mostly decent ,kind and cooperative people, and thier religion does not prevent them from being good socialists-as a matter of fact , it predisposes them in that direction.

My eightytwo year old fundamentalist Daddy is deadly upset because loggers have begun to resort to clear cutting around here, he feeds the birds, he donates his spare money (of which there is VERY LITTLE)to little league and the Red Cross and fire dept.He realizes as well as Airdale or Greenish that the world is headed to hell in a hand basket, and he supports the concept of the govt reining in the excesses of big business, especally pollution.His religion teaches him to live simply , within his means, to limit his consumption, to look after his nieghbor, to be a good steward of the earth.He is heartily in favor of his grandchildren having small families.

As a matter of fact he would most likely be voting the democratic ticket except for certain percieved excesses on the part of the party and people like you.

You may have spent a good bit of your life in contact with these people , but I can assure you that your understanding of them is superficial in the extreme.You pick and choose and cherry pick and exaggerate as well as Rush Limbaugh on one of his better days.Somehow I doubt if you have ever tried EVEN ONCE to have a non confrontational conversation with a Christian.

It is becoming rather obvious to me that you derive a great deal of satisfaction out of feeling superior -just like older whites often feel better themselves because they have convinced themselves they are better than Blacks, or Jews, or Irish ,or Poles.Incidentally I am Irish myself and married a Jew .

I would feel differently if you were to show some signs of being rational in respect to getting along with other cultural groups.You are obviously quite as prejudiced in this particular respect as any of the Christians you so ardently berate.I personally know several such Christians who are rather lacking in perception and quite as prejudiced as any old time kluxer.I might also add that they they are lacking in intellectual horsepower, but that's not thier fault.Some people are born stupid, and others have never had an opportunity to learn any better.

So go ahead and spew your venom - it will not advance your cause.

I do believe that a substantial part of the otherwise rather exceptionally well educated audience here is glaringly deficient in an understanding of the basics of biology and anthropology.

Somehow I get the feeling that if it were within your power , you would secretly like to round up anyone who disagrees with you and put them in a reeducation camp.Or maybe just get rid of them -after all , the end -saving civilization and the Earth - would justify the means, would it not?Time is very short, is it not?

Tyranny can come from any direction and in many guises.

If I could find another forum similar to this one without this hypocritical posturing and preening I would be gone in an instant.

As a matter of fact I believe I have been here long enough now to know about all I can reasonbly expect to ever need to know about the ff problem , and there are lots of other forums available for environmental , political , and historical interests.

Unfortunately none of them have a feedback and comments section even remotely as good as this one.I guess I will just have to hold my nose if I continue to participate here.I don't want to give up the rest of it- the many links and the insights into various issues and problems posted by the the staff and the regulars are priceless.

Spew your venom? Please.

You assure me of this and that. You don't know anything about my experience or anyone elses.

Satisfaction over feeling superior? You're making that up.

Round up those who disagree? Holy moly!

I think you're into some serious projection.

not at all . I merely exaggerate a little to try to show you just how you are coming across.

I am taking your words a single step or level farther than where you left off.Maybe not any father actually.Anybody who cares to look back over your posts and mine for the last couple of days can see this readily enough.

You can dish it out , but when it comes back, it's projection.Don't like what you see? I am simply holding up a magic mirror for you , which may possibly allow you to see what you look like FROM the OTHER SIDE of the question.Somehow I doubt if your are capable , however , of stepping into other peoples shoes.

Perhaps I know more than you might suspect.I am no great physical traveler, but I have over six full years of credits from good universities, and I have read at least one serious book every week for well over forty years.Only recently have I slowed down to one every ten days or so.

I have lived at the very bottom of our society-spent the first nine years of my life in a two room board and batten shack with no running water.Spent several years hanging around the university district, taking the odd graduate class, hobnobbing with the liberal elite.Dressed the part , talked the part, walked the walk, married a Jewish artist from the Big Apple. Believed the part.. Have earned over two thousand dollars a week back when that was fairly decent money, in the eighties..

Been a lot of places and done a bunch of things that simply cannot be mentioned-the statue of limitations may not yet apply to all of them.Might need to get a job again someday.

I may not know much but I know an elitist snob when I meet one, even over the net.Forgive me, Gail , Leanan , Nate, Debbie, but I would rather get kicked off this site permanently than to retract.

Well Mac;
I gotta say I do appreciate your points here today.. it seems sometimes ASCII text just won't cut it with such age-old flaps.. I think you've heard some doozies about Liberals (of which I'm one, but who's counting?), but I do know what the offense was that Airdale brought up, and you reminded us of. Sounds like it isn't going away anytime soon.

I guess we're due for a big "Population" thread soon, huh? Nothing like an unsolvable argument to get everyone fired up. Including me.

If we did reach the point someday where we all got along and agreed on most things, we'd just have to get to work to find the next intractable topics all over again. Sounds like too much work.

'Strive mightily, as lawyers do in law, but eat and drink as friends!' -Wm Shakespeare


It was not my intent to create a 'firestorm'. I was wanting to state why after 3 years as a posting member here ,why I was finding it harder and harder to maintain any level of interest , based on some ugly comments that seemed to be on the increase.

To wit: As far back as I can remember the issue of insulting Christians has been visible on TOD. Yet newbie members come on board and appears MUST decide they have to spew it once more, for some odd reason, when it is obvious that this is a good Kicking Object and perhaps to show how 'enlightened' they are(but surely not since enlighment IMO is a spiritual aspect).

What their mantra is about is perhaps mostly the visible TeleEvangalist or the MegaChurches they notice , primarily in the South.

Some of them move to the south from the north. Warmer, less hustle and bustle and other reasons but they take up a hatchet and whine about the stupidity of the people of that region , from their I suppose 'lofty' perspective of how it SHOULD BE.

I have grown tired of the tirades against southerners. Just check out JHK for instance. I have grown tired of the constant insults against Christianity.

When on TOD has a Christian EVER , EVER seen fit to tell anyone that they are going to hell??????? Show me the comment post please. Or else shut your mouth about it.

When have a cabal of Christians EVER posted their views by insulting those not of a faith? When? Show me the posts or SHUT UP about it.

All I have ever seen is nice polite members who are of faith, try to explain why they might believe and explain the good values of the Christian faith.

Have you seen it otherwise? NO? If not then why don't you SHUT UP and accept that while YOU can spew liberal beliefs that they have just as much right to THEIR VIEWS?

There is a sort of elitism that slithers among the posts and some posters here. Its easily visible in their venues. They despise others who believe differnet, be it PO or CC. They are not above using invective and gall to make their points.

I DO NOT see anyone who professes to Christianity do the same.

This is my points. I think I have made them.

I watched this thread devolve into exactly what I describe above.

People I thought well of in the past I now see are those ones who I did not think likely to be in the same boat as the bashers. I was wrong and some are transplants to the south.

I am a southern. Born and bred. I see faults with my region. I seen poor people and mix with them daily. For some a goodly measure of FAITH and church is all that keeps them going.

They plant and harvest as farm workers and help keep the food supply of this nation working. All over the nation those who FARM the soil are pretty much of a like mind as regards their style of life and livelhood. It is mostly at very great odds with what is espoused here on TOD. Or that is what I observe as one who has worked in the north and the south and has been a mainstream Staff Programmer for IBM as well as a Field Engineer and farmer.

Sorry to be so blunt but rants against those who hold Christian and southern beliefs seem to be a big part of that elitism I see here so frequently.

Airdale-hoping to be my LAST post either on this subject or any others. Spring planting is coming anyway and I have far more important tasks to be about.

BUT I think it needed to be said and so I said it. I was never a 'shutmouth' anyway.

Are you responding to my posts)? You have accused me of numerous failings, which, of course, couldn't possibly fit me. After all, I did quite well in school making great scores on IQ tests, SAT's, GRE's, then on to Engineering school where I was on the Dean's list almost every quarter. Then to a top University, where reality hit and I found my lack of preparation and motivation produced poor grades. I did happen to win a national design contest, placing the best overall for 10 schools, but that must have been a fluke.

Yes, it would seem that I was labeled one of the greats. I could take tests better than 99% of the population, if that meant anything. Trouble is, I didn't do well with the other side of life, the socialization thing, probably related to that religious school I was sent to. I did later take an interest in science, joining AAAS 34 years ago to learn more. You might say that I'm another over educated idiot.

You claim to be a Darwinian, so I suppose you understand "The Bell Curve". Some fraction of intelligence is hereditary in humans as in other animals. Half of the population is below average by any measure you choose. I don't see that as a racist statement, but simply a fact.

But, you failed to comment on my main point with your rant about cultural differences, which was, that the Christians have shown a tendency to kill those who disagrees with them for more than 1000 years. I was simply trying to point out that in a future scenario of social decline, I would expect to see a return to such practices.

I'm sure you are more concerned with the present batch of Believers, since those are the people whom you have known thru your experience. The KKK variety is still out there though and, given the right situation, would take the stage again as they did under Nathan Bedford Forrest after the Civil War. The South still carries the scars of that war and of Reconstruction which followed.

As a Darwinian, you are likely aware of biologist Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion". If not, you might find it interesting. After a mention on TOD, I just read another book, Carmichael's "The Birth of Christianity", which gives an all together different view of our dominant religion from that you might have been exposed to all your life.

E. Swanson

Dawkins is one of my favorite authors.right up there with EO Wilson , Twain , the classical historians.

Yes Christians are a bloody lot.Our species is a bloody species.Our ancestral species were doubtlessly the same-the chimps who are our closest living relatives practice war.

Pointing our Christian behavior in this respect without explicitly noting that it is universal in our species (excepting the occasional very small handful of pacifist Quakers, etc, who could not long exist except for short fused Baptists, etc,)is simply revealing the prejudice I am raving about.

Any one who doubts whether I am a Darwinist should simply click on my handle and read a few random comments-I interpret everything in Darwinist biological terms.

Most of the engineers I know are Blank Slaters.Perhaps you might enjoy a book by Stephen Pinker by the title The Blank Slate..It might help you catch up on the progress that has been made in the psychological sciences over the last century or two.

If people who rant and rave about Christians were to occasionally throw in a few nasty comments about Jews and Muslims, followers of Shinto, athiests such as Stalin , etc I would give them much higher marks for intellectual honesty.

I really don't care personally for Christianity.I simply maintain that it is on the whole a positive influence historically and that it is very useful in a day to day way to it's followers.
I do get really really bothered by seeing people attacked in a hypocritical fashion however, regardless of whether they are black , gay , yellow, Irish, Polish etc.

Christianity as such is on it's way out in terms of fundamentalism if it is allowed to die a peaceful death over the next couple of generations.I spend time with kids every week who are in church often.Only the ones who are dumb enought to believe in Santa Claus will still believe in Noah and his Ark and Jonah and the whale, etc, by the time they are teenagers headed for college.

There is simply too much contradictory data too readily accessible to them now.As far as the dumber ones are concerned-well , I consistently maintain that most people don't like to think , refuse to think actually , outside thier own field of interest.This includes people with very high iq's-hence the inability of the economics profession to recognize certain physical realities such as peak oil or population overshoot.

But if people constantly attack them and thier familes as superstitious louts the natural tendency ( and a very powerful one!) is to draw together and fight back.

NOBODY wants to admit he is wrong.

Telling a human being he is not only wrong but ignorant and accusing him of being backward and uncivilized is as close to a sure fire formula to cause him to cling to his current beliefs and attitudes as can be found.

Why is this so hard to understand?

I personally would doubtlessly have been a far happier and more financially successful individual had I grown up in an upper middle class family more attuned to current day to day realities-for instance I still and always will feel like it is not only unjust but actual organized robbery for the medical professions to to charge so highly for thier services.

We might stop to remember that the driving force behind abolition of slavery in this country was Quaker Christianity for instance.Slavery existed a long time before Abraham herded his livestock.

Of course this same Christianity was used to justify murdering the Indians and taking thier land- but does any single one of us actually think that if we had been athiests or Buddhists that we would not have taken thier land just the same?

Geez, Mac, I hope you slept it off. I've avoided this tread so far because, this debate is so old it has become pointless.

Just this: Often, when I tell my Christian friends that I am not a Christian I get the response "I will pray for you". What the hell am I supposed to say to that?! Think about the implications of that statement, a statement disguised as "goodness, concern and caring".
These people have no idea that this implies that I am broken, that my view of things is, somehow, less valid than theirs. In my area, I am in the minority and steer away from religious discussion, which also may invite discrimination. I can't tell you how often my Christian neighbors and friends try to bait me into this trap. And trap it is, because this is the evangelical way. Their mission is to convert me to their view, and is openly stated in their doctrine. If I don't accept their dogma as truth then God does not smile on me (as, of course, he does on them). This is the arrogance of most religions. If I stand my ground, my PERSONAL ground, I am considered a threat and anti-christian. Even refusing to discuss my beliefs can be an invitation for them to violate what is mine alone, to attempt to take responsibility for ME. They have given themselves permission to do this. This is the nature of fundamentalism. I consider this a form of spiritual rape and I get damned tired of it. Their view is that I should just "lay back and enjoy it".

I, for one, don't waste energy bashing the fundamentally religious, as this would be to join them in an inherent lack of respect. The chip is on their shoulder, and theirs to carry.

Rant off.

It's sort of late to be commenting on this thread, Mac. So, sorry if no one reads this.

I have long believed that those who criticize America's history are blinded by some sort of intellectual smog, or something. Yes, when founded, we were a slave holding country. Think, though... it took from 1776 to 1864 for America to end slavery, not only here, but effectively in the entire world! Not bad, if you ask me! And, that was accomplished in large measure by people like my Grandmother and her family, all decent, hard working, smart, and very Christian people.

Though misinterpreted frequently, the Bible does contain the seeds for a decent society.

As, might I add, do the holy books of most religious beliefs held by human beings on Planet Earth. The problem is not with the books, nor is it a question of whether or which of them is literally true. The problem is with the people who, by hook or by crook, become the teachers. And with the students who, intentionally or not, misinterpret or ignore the difficult parts that make them uncomfortable.

One of our TODers asked for an ethical statement from an atheistic point of view. I responded, and cannot locate the post. I can restate what I would consider a fair ethical imperative from any POV, in any religion, and including a good atheist or agnostic's:

Respect one another, and do as little harm as possible.

So long as one person's faith is not aggressively urging that other beliefs should be dealt with by violence, and is not imposed by force, I have no problem. Moreover, I can understand how difficult it might be to discard what one was taught by his or her parents and respected authorities; and, how difficult it is to have cherished beliefs challenged and even disproved. This is the source of much cognative dissonance. We disregard the commonality of our human situation at our peril, and that is, again, the source of much of the friction that abounds in our society today.

Your truly, in the hopes for a more respectful future, whatever it brings.


Yes, when founded, we were a slave holding country. Think, though... it took from 1776 to 1864 for America to end slavery, not only here, but effectively in the entire world!

Are you serious?

One, slavery hasn't ended. There are more slaves today than ever before. (Though of course, there are more people than ever before.)

Two, how does the US get credit for ending the African slave trade? We were among the last to abolish slavery. That gives us credit for ending it?

Hi Mac.

Sorry to see you taking this so personally. I normally don't get into this kind of discussion, as it is so easy to get angry and pissy (see my post upthread, now that I think about it..) and that absolute atheism is seen as intolerant, even by the non-religious. That said, I commented yesterday because there are legitimate areas of discussion here- the effects of religion as opposed to whether there is a god or not. The intolerance is not on this side. If one's religion (or lack thereof)was not an issue, if there was perfect division between church and state, if the Catholic Church did not support uncontrolled population growth (whether intentionally or through old theology), this is the last thing I would want to talk about.

I would feel differently if you were to show some signs of being rational in respect to getting along with other cultural groups.You are obviously quite as prejudiced in this particular respect as any of the Christians you so ardently berate.

The idea that a religious view cannot be challenged because it would be impolite- like calling attention to a person's hairlip, say... is not valid in this discussion. When someone's religious views- or a religion's political apparatus- starts having an effect in the real world beyond marriages and funerals (and even then, considering the backlash over gay marriage), it's open for debate. If the answer to a question is "because it's god's will" or a bible quotation and no modern reference, it's not responsive.

Most people are not mental cripples. To use the excuse that "I have a religion, so I can't have that thought or consider that possibility" merely emphasizes the weakness of the religious argument. If they can't support their ideas from a rational, non-religious standpoint, they should admit their bias and end the conversation.

Black Dog,

I deeply appreciate your posts. Wanted to voice my support in this thread.



There were days I read your posts and was inspired, informed, and appreciated your intelligence.

Then there are days I am deeply offended by some of what I consider your prejudices and hateful remarks.

I never abandoned the oil drum b/c of posts that offend me, nor avoided posts with your name on them. I wait to see what you have to say. That's what I consider civilized discourse.



.well some elistism thrown in as well. .... those derided as 'rural'

Given your postings here started with you claiming how the city folk were stupid and how you were gonna survive being on your own acreage eating foraged food - you really sure you want to be commenting on 'isms and derision based on urban/rural status?

Just in the DB ,perhaps yesterdays, or the day before there was rampant hate comments about Christianity and then degraded as always to 'Tea Baggers' and thence to those derided as 'rural' be it those who live in the south or those of conservative views.

Oh no - people who insult everyone else all the time, have been insulted ?!

Considering that atheists are the most repressed minority in the US, this is rich.

Boy, do I feel better now.
Energy Secretary Chu is clearly on top of it.
What a relief!

Well Jabberwock,

Chu is undoubtedly a truly brilliant man.

Certainly we have no reason to be suprised that he has so quickly mastered the basics of politics, which after all are not nearly as hard to grasp as say nuclear physics or even high school algebra.

Actually he would have never been the head of anything unless he understood the laws of politics from an early age.

My daydream du jour is that he is keeping a detailed professional diary recording his real thoughts on a laptop that will be misplaced and the contents posted on the net.

That ought to go a long way toward evening up the damage caused by the climate gate hack, although the naysayers would probably insist that such a diary could only be a trick.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
--Upton Sinclair

From the first article in the drumbeat today:

"Speaking to reporters with regard to oil supply, Chu said the market would adjust even if supplies were to decline. "I don't see any peak in oil," Chu said, dismissing the idea that global oil production was at or near a peak and is expected to slide because depletion was outrunning new discoveries. "I see a transition to more expensive forms of oil like that produced from harder-to-access fields and secondary recovery schemes."

Dr Chu has both a PhD and a Nobel prize in physics, is a highly regarded scientist in his own right, as well as the current US Secretary of Energy. And when I see statements like this, it reinforces for me that never before in the history of humanity have we had so many highly intelligent and credentialed individuals making a lot of very stupid statements and decisons. Within that one paragraph, he states peak oil isn't a problem while admitting that we need to access the harder to get, more expensive oil we have left. For me, this is indicative of the contempt I really come to feel for our alleged leaders in government, business and academia at all levels. I mean, Dr Chu is obviously not a stupid man, but to say with a straight face such obviously contradictory things really shows that however we are going to get through a time of increasing financial turmoil with severe population stresses and serious resource constraints, it is not going to be led intelligently by those in positions of authority in our society. I had hoped Dr Chu, given his enthusiasm for alternative energy understood the scope of the problems our society is facing. I can see that hope was sorely misplaced.

Pete Deer

You have to run it through the "Generally Assume the Opposite" Filter. When public officials and corporate CEO's talk about energy, one can generally assume that the truth is the opposite of what is being said (loosely borrowed from "Atlas Shrugged"). So, after running it through the filter, we get the following:

"Filtered" Version: "Speaking to reporters with regard to oil supply, Chu said the market would adjust even as supplies decline. "We are close to or past a peak in oil production," Chu said, admitting that the idea that global oil production was at or near a peak and is expected to slide because depletion was outrunning new discoveries is a valid concept. "I see a transition to more expensive forms of oil like that produced from harder-to-access fields and secondary recovery schemes, which should allow us to slow the rate of decline in global oil production."

pete , even this billy beer barrel ( J6P when he's older ) can read between the lines

Don't spook the herd!

maybe he's really smarter than you think...

peak demand anyone?


"one of those sheeple you'll trying to convince"

PS: peak oil will not ever be admitted to under any circumstances what so ever........

back to lurking....

You are absolutely correct here. Do you think Dr. Chu, perhaps knowing the true extent of the peak oil situation, could publically state how bad things are or could be? That would be political suicide, even if we believe it is the moral thing to do.

Pray tell: What is political suicide to this doctor of physics? The Nobel there is a real one, not like "peace" or "economics". He can have a better and quieter job at most any university for the asking. IMHO political suicide is not a factor. Nor do I believe the argument about lack of generalization because he understands the price will go up as crude becomes harder to get. It might be a good question if he ever holds a Tea Party.

Perhaps Dr. Chu was suffering from jet lag. I could hardly believe that he said that Saudi Arabia would become a major exporter of solar energy and that it would reach the level of oil exports. Who is going to buy the solar energy? Kuwait? Iraq? Israel? Egypt? Yemen? I don't think so.

The whole concept is rediculous. And this is our Secretary of Energy.

Talk about selling ice to Eskimos, this takes the cake. My reaction is like that of the fainting goats:


Chu makes sense, considering his audience.
Saudi policy is based on exporting oil but that only has a limited future. It is also likely that CO2 emissions will eventually be capped.
Considering population projections India's demand for electricity is bound to grow.
The Saudi have tremendous amounts of money and could afford to build a Desertec type infrastructure today.


Saudi Arabia now produces electricity by burning oil or gas, but as fossil fuels grow scarce renewable electricity
could be their number one export as well as increasing the capacity to export(Exportland).

Chu doesn't strike me as a good communicator but he's making sense IMHO.

I'm sorry, but how would the KSA export this theoretical renewable energy? Part of the tremendous advantage FFs have over other energy sources is portability and energy density. I could see them using Desertec type solar facilities to generate electricity and transmit it to nearby neighbors, but... China, India, Europe or the U.S.? Good luck building and protecting super-long transmission lines that must run across multiple third world countries that are not known for religious moderation or the peacefulness of their desperately poor inhabitants.

They can embed the solar energy in various products and ship those around the world, by dhow if all else fails.

It could be that Chu was advising the Saudis to get planting more dates, as this is a pretty effective way to capture and transport tradeable energy. A kind of low tech bio-fuel.

And dismissing peak oil bacause we are beginning to transistion to the hard to get expensive stuff. In his position he knows he will be the victim of a vicious smear campaign if he utters anything like peak oil. Technically there is more of the difficult expensive stuff, than there was of the easy cheap stuff -so in terms of the total volume cumulatively consumed we are less than half way through the resource -so he can skate by on the technicality. Meanwhile he can warn that cheap oil is over, which in some sense is peak oil lite. PO lite might just (OK its quite a stretch) be salable, but PO most definetly is not.

Money talks, and so does energy, it seems.

Iran is still selling oil. But I do have a hard time believing that the Solar Output would match up with their recent Oil Output, not to denigrate Solar.. but it is what it is. And it isn't oil.

I could see them using Desertec type solar facilities to generate electricity and transmit it to nearby neighbors, but... China, India, Europe or the U.S.?

Saudi Arabia is not that far from India. Riyadh to Surat is 1600 miles - same distance as Houston to SanFrancsco. Edge of Arabian peninsula to India is less than 1000 miles. Currently longest undersea power cable is about 300 km ...

I work with lots of PhDs. For sure, they're intelligent people, but mostly, they're just well educated in a particular field; there's a difference.

What I have noticed over the years is that the ability to synthesize a coherent "big picture" from related but disparate data is a unique and separate skill. One either has it or one doesn't. Unfortunately, understanding Peak Oil requires good solid synthesizing abilities because the supporting data/evidence comes from so many different and in some cases, unrelated sources; geology, oil production data, economic data, environmental science, etc.

I discovered my own ability to synthesize several decades ago while serving on jury duty. I (and three other jury members, out of twelve) were able to construct a coherent picture of a crime (that contained no internal contradictions) from the evidence presented by the D.A. The conclusion the four of us reached was completely different from the other eight jury members, and it made complete sense. But try as we might, the other eight jury members just couldn't be persuaded that we four had accurately summed up the situation. Instead, they insisted upon clinging to completely contradictory lines of thought. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life, but at the same time, it provided a profound insight into the limitations of many people's cognitive abilities.

I was in a group of prospective jurors for a capital murder case, and I was probably not selected for the jury (not that I wanted on the jury) because I answered no when the prosecution asked if we could vote to convict based solely on eyewitness testimony; I said that I would need corroborating evidence.

The obvious reason for being skeptical about eyewitness testimony is mistaken identity, but the witness could also be lying, which is what happened in the following case, where a woman's false testimony sent an innocent man to prison for four years. She has been sentenced to prison for perjury:


Of course, there were lots of people in our jury pool who said that they were perfectly happy to vote to convict based on the eyewitness testimony of one person.

The last time I was called for jury duty, they were rejecting all engineers. Why? They were afraid we would believe our own expertise, rather than their hired "expert witnesses."

And they would be right. :-)


in the US do you get a chance to put questions to the expert witness? In the UK jurors can pass requests for 'clarification' to the judge, who can at his discretion ask of a witness. However, I have never heard of 'expert' witnesses being challenged in this way.

(My only jury experience was a common burglary. A professional lag, fresh out of jail, took a young drinking mate to be lookout on his first job out of the slammer. The police tailed them all the way. The poor kid tried to pretend the car had broken down and his mate did the burglary on the spur of the moment whilst walking (in the wrong direction) back home.

It still took the jury several hours to convince the last of the 12 that his story was a pack of lies.

I don't think so. At least, I've never seen the jury allowed to ask questions on TV. I confess, I've never actually made it onto a jury. Been called a few times, but never been selected. Probably for good reason.

They reject me also. I usually the first one.

Here in Santa Clara County in California, jurors may pass the note to a deputy, who brings it to the judge, who then calls a sidebar with the attorneys.

Not sure if the written question is then asked, or paraphrased.

In the US, jurors are not allowed to ask questions. And the Judge is strongly discouraged from asking questions or making any comments on the evidence.

As a civil trial lawyer told me once, "If at all possible, I reject engineers. Their training and professional experience require that they deal dispassionately with facts; civil cases are more often won and lost by playing on emotions."

This is becoming more true in criminal cases that get to trial as well. In my state, county DAs resolve >90% (some >95%) of the cases they choose to prosecute by plea bargaining. Cases that actually go to a jury trial are generally those where the facts are less clear, or there's conflicting evidence.

Or as Mark Twain said it..

"We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read."
- 4th of July speech 1873


Man I wish he was alive now he would have a field day with what the US has become !
This may sound a bit weird but as I read history sometimes I wish some of the great men of the ages where around today.
Then I realize that this desire is what allows dictators to arise during crises many view them as the saviour of the age.
Then of course you realize that only via the lens of history and of course that written by the victors do you know the great
men of the ages vs the terrible dictators. That does not mean a man like Clemens does not stand above the crowd however perhaps
the real greats where not the beloved political leaders but those that stood on the sidelines and kept their clarity of vision.
And further more just perhaps the true great political leaders happened to be the few that retained a clear vision of the truth and or listened to advisors with such a vision. This is undoubtedly and exception not the rule.

I have to think that the chances of a Mark Twain in this day and age are slim and perhaps this inability of men of perception to actually be heard is the root of our downfall.

Thats not to say there are not plenty of clear thinkers out there esp in the blogsphere the art is not lost however its also not appreciated.

Just a simple tidbit from me.


Volcker was Chairman of the Fed during when the US oil peak was obvious and where where having and energy crisis. Also of course during a time of high inflation. Everyone seems to assume he is involved now because of his financial work.
Of course now we are facing deflation.

Am I the only one on the planet that recognizes that this is one of the few people on the planet that has been in control of the Fed while a oil crises was going on ?

Guess so...
Not one mention ever anywhere in the MSM and to my knowledge even on theoildrum. Clarity of vision is a must this day and age or you won't see the truth.

If Mark Twain aka Samuel Clements were alive today ..
He'd be hosting the Tonight Show ..

Triff ..

Can you imagine? What an excellent idea! Oh man, it would be brutally hilarious!

Actually, he'd might give Jon Stewart a run for his money.

Democracy Now! replayed an interview with Howard Zinn just after his death last month, he was asked who our heroes should be, if we were supposed to take Columbus and other classic (deeply flawed) icons down. He reminded us that Mark Twain was a fierce public activist, as was Helen Keller, while their mainstream legacies have now been carefully tamed to 'Funnyman' and 'Inspiring Handicapped Girl'.


"Slavery and racial equality were not the only issues that Twain tackled. He also was opposed to imperialism. Before the start of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), Twain was in favor of the United States' expanding its territory. He believed that by extending its influence in the Philippines, the United States would bring a better life to its people. By the end of the war, however, he had changed his mind. "I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines," he said. "We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem."

Twain's feelings on the subject were so strong that in 1901 he became vice president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, which opposed the United States' annexation of the Philippines."

The current oil predicament is quite different from the ones back in the 70’s. They were intentionally induced as political messages of displeasure with the US and Dutch stance in the Israel / Arab conflict. (and yes, history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes)…

I've been called up twice already. They like me. Both times i personally knew the arresting officers, so i was released. I wouldn't mind being on a jury. I would base everything on my "gut" feeling. I would use no logic or even common sense. :)

some belive that our memory is not of the original incident, but a memory(simulation) of the last time our mind chemically simulated the previous memory. one can see how eyewitness accounts would drift.


The Russians have a proverb for it:

No-one lies like an eyewitness.

When I was on a jury, I was able to systematically demonstrate to be irrelevant every thing the prosecutor brought up during the two-day trial, excepting the one point of law and one piece of hard evidence that actually was valid grounds for voting for conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. We could have dispensed with all but 15 minutes of that trial and have been done with it. What a waste of time!

The frightening thing is that most of the other jurors were ready to vote to convict without even actually thinking it through and examining the evidence. This experience didn't exactly bolster my confidence in our "right to a jury of our peers"!

Ahhhh, but you forget. The legal industry (the Prosecutor), and all the other riff raff, feed at the trough of the Tax Man.

You pay him (her) a very large salary, with the best of benefits, to make things up and take as much time as possible. After all, they would'nt want the Public to think they are overpaid and underworked?

"First, we kill all the Lawyers", or, so said a man, once upon a time.

... jurors were ready to vote to convict without even actually thinking it through and examining the evidence.

I think you need to think about the word, "think" and whether it has any meaning whatsoever.

What do you think it means?

What is "actual" thinking as opposed to the other kind? '-)

Actual as opposed to pretending

What I have noticed over the years is that the ability to synthesize a coherent "big picture" from related but disparate data is a unique and separate skill. One either has it or one doesn't. Unfortunately, understanding Peak Oil requires good solid synthesizing abilities because the supporting data/evidence comes from so many different and in some cases, unrelated sources; geology, oil production data, economic data, environmental science, etc.

You've hit on an important point, one more systemic problem we face. Our economy rewards those who focus their effort intensively on a relatively narrow speciality. This doesn't just apply to accademia and science, but across the board. Narrow focus pays off. Generalists, on the other hand, have a very hard time ever even getting a grab on the ladder, and inevitably find their way blocked at every turn by highly focused specialists. Those of us who are generalists thus tend to end up off on the margins of the economy. (To places like TOD, for example!)

It is not just even a matter of ignoring generalists because they have been marginalized. Those at the top have spent a lifetime training themselves to focus on trees rather than the forest. I'm convinced that they have rendered themselves pretty much incapable of seeing the forest, even if they tried. The messages and advice of generalists are not just ignored, they are not even understood.

It wasn't always that way. There was a time in this country when calling a person a "Renaissance Man" was a high complement, and such people were held in high regard. One of the best of them - Thomas Jefferson - was among our more highly regarded Presidents, and many more examples can be found amongst the "Founding Fathers" (like Franklin) and in the early ranks of White House occupants. It also used to be that to become a "Captain of Industry", one had to have a very extensive knowledge base and skill set. Even in accademia, faculty didn't tend to be so specialized. After saving the day,and maybe the Union, at Little Round Top, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain went back to Bowdoin College to serve as President, and teach classes in every subject save one, in between stints as Maine's governor. Or think of Teddy Roosevelt: naturalist, author/historian, legislator, rancher, public administrator, Medal-of-honor commanding officer, governor, VP & President, Nobel Prize winning diplomat, etc., etc.

America was built by people like this, people who were not just supremely good at one thing, but people who made themselves good enough in multiple things to be able to rise to the occasion when circumstances demanded and do what needed to be done.

It has been a very, very long time since we have seen in the public eye the likes of a Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, or a Thomas Jefferson, or a Ben Franklin, or a Teddy Roosevelt. Our system does not value such, it does not reward and encourage them; it punishes and excludes and ignores them. This systemic flaw has a very, very big deal to do with terminal dysfunction which now besets the USA.

I'm starting to think a dictator, emperor or even a king would be better then the current system. We need someone who can actually make a decision and get something done. This system is a joke. At least the Chinese have the leadership to build high speed rail, nuclear energy.

You are right that an authoritarian system is more able to get things done, but don't wish for it! I dread it, but fear that it is probably on its way.

I think our problem is in thinking that we can have it all - both a high level of democracy AND a big country, a big government, and great power/imperial status. Can't be done, it has to be one or the other.

In some ways, US history has a see-saw back and forth between those two pathways. I'm afraid that phase is over, though. The see-saw went decisively in the bigness/imperial direction, and so now we are seeing our democracy becoming a withering, dysfunctional, pretentious joke.

It is not impossible that we might get our democracy back, but hardly anyone realizes how much we would have to give up and how high a price we would have to pay. There don't seem to be many people around who really value true democracy that much and would be willing to pay that high a price for it.

Which democracy do you want back? Is it the one that defined the majority of adults as non-persons, thus depriving them of any right to participate in the voting exercise? Not that voting matters very much. As the old saw goes, "if elections mattered, they wouldn't be allowed".

In Germany, democracy greased the skids for totalitarianism. The US version of democracy seems well on the way to paving the way for theocracy. Maybe we should just give up on democracy, and instead concentrate on reconciling liberty and social justice.

Lately, I've wondered what Mencken would of thought of confucianism, which appears to be making a comeback in China and seems to have more adherents in the west among those looking for a way to coherently manage the affairs of state, while respecting the dignity of living things.

The United States was never a Democracy, so I don't know exactly what you want back. Yes, it could be a bit more democratic by eliminating the abuse of the filibuster. Then, if we eliminated the Senate, we would be on our way to some sort of democracy. I don't think that rule by the minority, currently an extreme minority, is a democracy. On top of that, our elected officials are largely controlled by the corporations, especially including the military industrial complex and the health care complex.

Our current dysfunctional form of government, whatever you may call it, cannot even manage to put into place a minimally adequate health care system. In the face of rising costs that will soon put almost everyone outside the range of health care, they can accomplish nothing.

Democracies would come up with something that at least faintly resembled the will of the people. Whatever we have apparently cannot do that.

On top of that, let us add how atrocious our media which cannot seriously discuss anything not safely within the mainstream, unless for entertainment purposes they cover the nuttier aspects of the tea partiers and the Palinites.

This isn't to say that democracy would necessarily be a vast improvement. Take the plane't survival, for example. There is nothing inherent about democracy that would yield sufficient wisdom to take care of the planet.

I am all for appointing a philosopher king as long as I get to appoint the king.

I think that most people would recognize a regime as a democracy if it is one in which: one can freely hold and express opinions and beliefs - including opinions critical of the government - openly, in speech and in print, without fear of ending upin jail or worse; people can assemble together and associate freely; and the entire adult citizenry (excepting only convicted felons, perhaps) can vote at least occasionally for those in charge of creating and enforcing the laws, and have a choice of more than one candidate. The US did not fully measure up, especially on that last point, for much of its history, but that has been remediated. It remains greatly flawed, and there are other countries with governments that meet these same tests yet perform much better. Nevertheless, before you think that these things are unimportant and dispensible, I suggest you try living in a place that doesn't have them for a while.

Or maybe we should have less gov't and simply do a LOT less!

Chinese have the leadership to build high speed rail, nuclear energy.

The Chinese may have the 'leadership' to say 'do this' and may have the tech talent to do that which leadership has asked for, but somewhere along the way from 'do this' to 'its done' I'm betting part of the process will involve something commonly called "money" and more than a few people commonly called "contractors" will say to themselves "Hey, if I cheapen up X or don't do Y I'll end up with more money" and thus the Chinese will have the same kinds of problems as non-Chinese do on large complex projects.

What I have noticed over the years is that the ability to synthesize a coherent "big picture" from related but disparate data is a unique and separate skill. One either has it or one doesn't.

I've lost it, but I used to have an article by a couple of psychologists who called this distinction "people who see patterns" and people who don't. Most of the article was about the management problems that arise in an R&D organization when the boss is in one category and the worker is not. My favorite part was the description of a pattern-seeing developer and a non-pattern-seeing boss. To the boss, they wrote, the pattern-seeing worker who keeps taking new approaches to problems looks like they are running up to the edge of a cliff, leaping into the fog, and miraculously landing on something solid. The worker knew the landing place was there, it was inherent in the pattern they saw.

That sounds like the Myers-Briggs sensing vs. intuitive. IIRC, most Americans are S. Though most college professors are N.

Yes, S people see trees, N people see forest. IIRC, the M-B litterature suggested that maybe 25% of the population was N, but that seems high to me.

I have been active on an MBTI-related forum for INTJ's. This Wiki link indicates 'N' are about 16-17 %. My type is between 2 or 3 %.

I am also a generalist, who sees patterns. In my personal experience and continuing online education, the 'N' is much more substantial in information processing that what has been said so far - and is equally far afield of oil/energy issues. Email me if you are interested in search terms to learn more.

I've found that INTs are relatively rare in real life, but extremely common online. (And not just at peak oil sites.) There's a lot of self-selection going on; it takes a certain type to enjoy online forums. (I'm an INTP. I don't think I've ever met another one in person, but they're as common as fleas on a dog online.)

The best succinct description I've read is "Intuition sees around corners." And yes, INTxs are very rare, although I work in high-tech and am surrounded by them, lucky me. The Personality Page site has some very good descriptions of the 16 types.

I'm an ENFP, variously described as The Herald, Inspirer, or Champion. And in true spirit, anticipating co-teaching our Building Community Resilience in Response to Peak Oil and Climate Change tonight. I think it's a Good Thing, generally, when dem rabble-rousing Unitarians get ahold of an idea. ;-)

I've never seen it used anywhere in the serious psych stuff, but remember a classification of people based on the roles of characters in the Lord of the Rings and the old medieval tales that LoTR was based on. I'm a classic "Companion to Hero" type. The one who, when the Hero yells "Rope!" and puts their hand out behind them, has (a) survived all of the same stuff that the Hero has, (b) done it while carrying a rope, and (c) knew enough to bring a rope along in the first place. D*mned heroes never think about mundane things like rope :^)

Reminds me of the crack that Ginger Rogers did all the dances Fred Astaire did -- backward, in high heels. But all the stars who came up through vaudeville could do everything. Burns and Allen dance with Astaire in A Damsel in Distress and they give him no quarter.

The absolute all-time classic along those lines was when Johnny Carson did a mock job interview of Jay Silverheels, AKA "Tonto". If you have never seen this, you have GOT to - here it is

I'm INTP as well. The percentage of population that is, is exceedingly small...and the chance of spotting one in public is even more rare as - we're introverted! Likely at home, absorbing information on the computer or reading...

Is there such a thing as an INSFTP?
Or at least an INSTP.

Each of the four letters is a scale, and it is possible to be at the neutral position on the scale. I think that would be called INxx, or INxP.

I don't have to worry about it, though. They told me when I was tested that I was at the extreme end of all of the scales.

I ended up being a definite no-questions-asked NT. The others varied depending on which way the wind blew, so I usually call myself an I/E NT J/P.

The 16 descriptions worked pretty well for figuring it out, too.

ENTP Entrepreneur. On my better days. If I'm feeling outgoing.
ENTJ Commandant. Egad, no, not me.
INTP Architect. Pretty close.
INTJ Scientist. Yep, that's about right.

Unfortunately, understanding Peak Oil requires good solid synthesizing abilities because the supporting data/evidence comes from so many different and in some cases, unrelated sources; geology, oil production data, economic data, environmental science, etc.

Indeed Jabberwock. But that doesn't mean that KSA solar energy plan doesn't make sense.

Unfortunately, understanding Peak Oil requires good solid synthesizing abilities because the supporting data/evidence comes from so many different and in some cases, unrelated sources; geology, oil production data, economic data, environmental science, etc.

I dunno... seems to me that the words: "tar sands" sum it up nicely.

You wouldn't strip mine a place, then cook the debris, if you had other decent options.

I dunno... seems to me that the words: "tar sands" sum it up nicely.

You wouldn't strip mine a place, then cook the debris, if you had other decent options.

The IOC's saw their own oilproduction declining, it doesn't mean all of them accept 'world peakoil' or understand the consequences of peakoil. And even if it is difficult to understand there will be a few millions in the world who know about PO and understand it.

Sad to see this. Apparently Chu has been successfully assimilated to the Borg.

Resistance [to BAU] is futile. You will be assimilated.

My nephew attends the University of Wisconsin and yesterday was telling me during his economics class that they were discussing how OPEC withholds oil from the market and therefore keep the price of oil high. I told him he may want to research it a little more. They'll keep this from the sheep as long as they can and then when the time comes there will be a refinery malfunction, tanker accidents, etc and shift the blame to the terrorists or what have you...

I took Chu's comment as a shrewd political reply. The concept of Peak Oil is very touchy with the Saudi's. So why offend your host when you can make an innocuous statement that promotes the business relationship. He said "I don't see any peak in oil" which kind of implies that it is an opinion, and not hard cold fact. So, maybe he is peak-aware but is couching it in the fuzzy greyness that almost every politician adopts.

Pete...even Chu has admitted that he can't talk about peak oil, because he's been told that if he did so, it would crash Wall Street.

So Chu is a problem, but mostly because, like Obama, he's a coward. It's always instructive to keep in mind that these individuals don't magically appear out of nowhere...they come from our towns, schools, and universities. So I agree with you, and IMO the failure of our leaders is indicative of an entire society in secular decline.

even Chu has admitted that he can't talk about peak oil, because he's been told that if he did so, it would crash Wall Street.

OS, it wouldn't have to crash WS. Depends on how he talks about it. He can say:"oilproduction will never be higher than now but this is not necessary, because alternatives will keep the economy g(r)oing". 'Everyone' will believe that, not even think about it that it could be otherwise.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu expects that Saudi Arabia will emerge as a major exporter of solar energy and this could reach the current level of the kingdom's oil exports.

He also dismissed fears of a looming crisis caused by dwindling oil production.

Chu, a strong backer of alternative energy, said that there is big scope for Saudi Arabia to tap into its vast solar energy sources.

Great! We're saved! All our energy problems are solved! Now all we need to do is build a big submarine cable to carry all that solar power to the United States.

I'm sorry - did I sound like I was being sarcastic there?

indirectly, big solar farms intsaudi arabia could put some extra gas on the market, or oil. their desalination plants would be greener. it could even lower the price of solar panels. it's all about scale

And, because of economies of scale, a big investment in PV's by the Saudi's is likely to eventually drive down the price of PV's for everyone.

I thought that there was a big project where the EU was funding big solar projects in North Africa with submarine cables going to Europe. Does anyone know the status of that?

Here's the link to the Desertec web site.

see: http://www.desertec.org

Purpose: To design and construct solar power electricity facilities in the Middle East and North Africa including the necessary transmission lines to link with the EU power grid (see Figure 5). The aim is to produce sufficient power to meet about 15% of Europe’s electricity requirements by 2050 and a substantial portion of the power needs of the producer countries.

Participats: Münchner Rückversicherung Gesellschaft (Risk insurance, equity €27 Billion)
Siemens (Power stations, turbines, electronics, 447,000 employees)
ABB Schweiz AG (Electric power grid, 120,000 employees)
Deutsche Bank (Finance, 80,277 employees)
HSH Nordbank (Finance, 5,070 employees)
RWE (Electric power grid, 65,700 employees)
E.on (Electric power distribution, 93,538 employees)
MAN Solar Millennium (solar thermal power stations, 4,400 employees)
Schott Solar (Photovoltaic components, 16,700 employees)
M+W Zanders (Photovoltaic and electronic equipment, 4,500 employees)
Abengoa Solar (Spanish solar technology company, 22,500 employees)
Cevital Group (Algerian company, transport, electricity, 1.4 Million employees)

Phase 1: Will span over the next 3 years to develop a business plan, a financial concept, analyze the technical, economical, social, political, and ecological framework and conditions including project risks, and security.

Phase 2: It is envisaged that by 2020 part of the solar power plant and part of the power grid is established and 5-7GW electricity is fed into the EU power grid.

Phase 3: The project will end in 2050 with a total electricity output of 20GW comprising about 15% of Europe’s electrical power consumption.

The EU so far did not pledge any money. The German government will only contribute 5 Million Euro to phase 1 and said that the project should be carried by private investors. Hence, there is little progress on this project. Mostly talk.

The aim is to produce sufficient power to meet about 15% of Europe’s electricity requirements by 2050 and a substantial portion of the power needs of the producer countries.

They have to do this by 2030 to seriously change ELM in time. Although I don't think that KSA without solar energy will use 8 mbod in 2030 (graph from WT: Drumbeat febr.19) I think that because of a global economic depression the (exponential) growth will stop this decade.

I think they are talking about thermal solar not photovoltaics.

Your right, the main discussion has centred around Algeria - which is much closer to Europe. Though I think it was decided to invest the money in failed banks and highly leveraged opaque derivatives instead since that is what pensioners need to keep them warm in winter time.

They also seem to have a rather abundant supply of sand.

It's not the sand, it's the d*mned scarce impurities that you have to add :^)

The Case Against College Education

People with college degrees make a lot more than people without them, and that difference has been growing. But does that mean that we should help more kids go to college — or that we should make it easier for people who didn't go to college to make a living?

We may be close to maxing out on the first strategy. Our high college drop-out rate — 40% of kids who enroll in college don't get a degree within six years — may be a sign that we're trying to push too many people who aren't suited for college to enroll. It has been estimated that, in 2007, most people in their 20s who had college degrees were not in jobs that required them: another sign that we are pushing kids into college who will not get much out of it but debt.

We've talked a lot about this before. Four years on a college campus - the "college experience" - is one thing (and a hughly expensive thing at that), getting a college-level education is something else.

The truly elite-level institutions have places for the top few percent of the population that can really benefit from top quality education, and that have what it takes to make it through and move on into demanding top-level jobs. Interestingly, in a great many of these institutions you don't see a very great emphasis on the sideshows, such as college athletics, that so greatly define "the college experience"; the students tend to be pretty serious and don't have much time for more than a brief break from their studies.

As for the rest of those that can even cut it through a college-level education that is below the elite upper crust: well, they are not that many. Certainly not 40% of the US college-aged population. Maybe half, or 20% would be a more realistic number. Given the inevitable long-term economic decline that the US is facing, there may actually even be good employment opportunities for fewer college graduates than that.

The point being this: Unless you are among that top-tier elite, then that four-year "college experience" may now be an unaffordable luxury. It certainly is a huge gamble to go tens of thousands of dollars in debt for it if you are not among the elite students attending a elite college. For the non-elite college student, there are better, cheaper alternatives. I'd suggest looking for any way one can to maximize one's opportunities to earn as many college credits as one can off-campus (AP classes, community college, regional state university branches, online/correspondence study), and to try really hard to minimize the amount of time one must spend residing on (or maybe near) campus. While living at home may not be fun, it is CHEAP. If you want to get through college with no or minimal debt, then any way that will keep you home as long as possible will be your best strategy. With some careful planning, it should be possible for most students to earn a college degree while only having to spend 2-4 semesters away from home at most; some may be fortunate enough to live close enough to a campus so that they don't need to leave home at all. The important thing to understand is that getting a credential is not the same thing as getting an education. If you want to get an education, then learn how to learn, and devote your lifetime to keeping on learning. Meanwhile, to get the credential you need to get on in life, just figure out how to jump through the minimal hoops in the minimal time and at the minimal cost.

Now, for the majority of our students that can't cut four years of even mediocre college: Community college or apprenticeship programs will be their best bet, if they have managed to even master basic literacy, numeracy, and other essential skills enough for that. Unfortunately, we've raised a nation of dummies, and there are a great many who are unfit for anything other than mindless labor - and even that only on those things that a robot can't be built to do, or that can't be done overseas by someone willing to work even cheaper. I just can't hold out very much hope for these - except that I very much DO hope than nobody is so foolish as to suggest that any of these people attempt college, especially on borrowed money!

As I attempt to correct two thesis chapters of my Ph.D. student, I have to whine "Kids these days don't know how to read and write!" She's certainly got the results but she can't write them up! She does not know the mechanics of writing! She can't organize and write logically. Ominously...she will learn...They need no tv and more books, any books! Argh! She will hate me in the near future, but appreciate me later...

"Kids these days..."

When I was in high school in the early 60's I made money by typing up theses for graduate students. I did more than a little re-writing and spelling correction. The general language skills may be somewhat worse today, but this has been a general problem for a long time.

Reading the linked post 21st Century Breakdown , I was struck by this:

Not one politician from either political party has the courage to stand in front of the American people and tell them they will not receive the Social Security and Medicare benefits they were promised. Not one politician from either party is even willing to discuss the fact these promises cannot be honored. This train has been headed down the track since the 1960s, picking up speed, and no one is willing to apply the brakes. The Baby Boomers have sold their children and grandchildren into slavery.


So, I've been thinking about my situation within the context of current events and trying to see a way forward. My wife and I have no heirs. We will soon, with any luck, own our home outright. It is a solid home, a bit far from town, but it has much of what a family would need to survive -- a woodlot, good garden space, good water, good neighbors, etc.

One of the greatest problems that the American middle class faces is the relatively high American cost of living and housing is one of the largest components of that COL. Thus, the cost of housing presents a huge obstacle to Americans being competitive in the global jobs scramble. It wouldn't make us instantly competitve, obviously, but if young Americans could have access to affordable housing, it would take some of the pressure off and buy some time.

For a while, I've been kicking this thing around in my head. I'm no real-estate lawyer and haven't researched this even a bit but I'll just toss this out: What if I were to pay off my house and then give it to some young, earnest couple who needed housing? What are the barriers to me doing so and what are the implications? Zaphod? Anybody?

As to the gift tax, there is a 12,000 per taxpayer ($24,000 for two) annual exclusion. In addition, there is a lifetime gift exemption of $1,000,000.00. The second of these ties in to the estate tax, which at present is virtually non-existent, but will be set at some rate of 1 Mil to 5 Mil, and no one knows which.

So... in a single year, you and your wife could give a $2,048,000 property to a young couple, free from gift tax. You would, however, need to file a return.


Thanks for your insight, zap. Safe to say we aren't going to approach the 2 Megabuck limit (Ha! Ha!). We are going to do this. It's just a matter of figuring out how it should be done.

I thought that the estate exemption didn't kick in unless the recipient was a prospective heir to the estate. In any case, one way to work it would be to lease the house to someone for a nominal sum and then give it to them in a will.

The exemption is for when you die - whomever you designated to get your stuff, your estate pays the tax. The gift tax is for when you are alive, and Ianted to emphasize that when you make a $1M gift it comes off of the total exemption as well. In other words, you don't get a $1M lifetime gift without losing $1M of your estate giving power. They are different, but related in that way. In normal times they would be the same, and not so confusing. But then, our tax code is loopey.


Your property seems to me like an ideal spot for a plan we've thought about for awhile a small house on the back of our property that we would move into when father time seems right and sell the whole property with us being the lien holder with a 99 yr lease on our small house and access in case they would want to sell.The advantage to both would be pretty evident,security,dog walker,etc and being a long time home owner and their mortgage banker you could give finiancial security in times of stress by working with them.I'm guessing it almost have to be a search for the right fit for both parties.If you're lucky to live long enough all you want and need is a bed a good tv chair and a hobby and some friends the rest is just extra that you can give or take.

Been thinking of the same thing ... maybe sell with a life estate ??


Rule one: Lawyers are expensive up front.

Rule two:Lawyers are RUINOUSLY expensive later.

Get one well up on both estates and taxes , which go hand in hand.

I would like to hear about anyone who has had a long term guest provided with room and board and possibly a little cash spending money.No records kept.

If there is an informal arrangement that the guest does a disproportionate share of the work nvolved in maintaining the home, and decides to pack up and move some place where they pay rent insteas of helping out, what happens in court ?

If it gets to court, of course.

I know what the law is, but what the judge concludes can be entirely dependent upon his interpretation of the actual facts.I'm more interested in hearing about actual results.

I once had a live in girl friend who needed to stick around but no longer was interested in me as her lover.I was paying the household bills , and she was paying her own personal bills only, such as her school and clotheing bills.

So we worked it out that she started doing nearly all the housework and errands in exchange for me continueing to pay the all the rent and utilities for a few months while she got her act together and finished up a semester at U.I made myself scarce occasionally so that she had a little privacy which was no problem for me.

I have reccomended that several older people I know look into an informal live in helper arrangement, most likely with a relative or long term acquaintance in need of a cheap place to live.

(Having a person in your house as far as I can see is no more dangerous than dating-we need to get over worshipping safety and sacrificing our lives to fear. If I ever move back to the city, I shall walk to restaurants and to visit my frends in the evening, and if some punk a third my age wants my wallet he is welcome to it, if he can take it away from me before I ventilate his mangy hide.)

At least one has done so, although perhaps not as a result of my suggestion , with good results so far.I have no personal knowledge of the specifics of the arrangement, but the older lady gets along well with her new friend and her little girl, and the litle girl is very fond of her new Aunty.

I expect this arrangement to last until such a time as the younger woman finds a serious boyfriend, which might be a fairly long time,considerng that she will probably be more cautious about her next man than the last one.

Mac, that is complex. I will look it over, but don't want to shoot from the hip. Before I could reply, I would want to run it by my old partner who has a LLM in tax, and has a better view of this terrain.

You might want to email me with an address to send my reply.


More than 'Seniorizing,' is needed. We are seeing multi-generational housing return to vogue. That means, the old folks downstairs, the young folks upstairs. We had a family living next door to us, as I grew up, with just that arrangement for many years. At least until their daughter got old enough, and then the young folks moved out, and so did the old people.

For a while, there was a brother/uncle living in the garage as well!

This was all in town, and they raised chickens!


Edit: This belongs below the next post! DK how it got back up here!

I think SuperG broke something with his tinkering. The threading has gotten completely screwed up. Even threads that looked right yesterday are broken today.

Hang on, I'm sure he'll fix it soon.


On second thought, my partner is more reckless than I. Here is what he had to say:

The situation is common, whether it involves relatives or acquaintances, but I do not know of anyone who has litigated the tax ramifications.

If one were a purist (which I used to be), the answer (if the question was on the final exam), would be that there is an “exchange” of services for something that has a fair market value. I suppose that the guest could be an employee, requiring all of the quarterly reporting, and that the reciprocal, hypothetical rent would be income. The landlord could then deduct the costs of his rental property, like a portion of the utilities and depreciation.

In my humble opinion, if people actually did that much reporting, no one would let anyone stay in their home under those circumstances.

Unless, of course, it is a meretricious relationship, one that I eventually hope to find with a woman half my age.

I would add that if the landlord was paying the guest for housekeeping services, some of that would probably be a deductible rental expense.

I am not saying that everything would not “net,” but only that, technically, to get to that answer, one might have to go through all of the reporting hoops.

Our tax system is dopey.


I've been thinking somewhat similar thoughts. My wife and I will be transitioning from full-time employment to that part-time employment plus other multiple-income-streams state that used to be called "retirement", and we also will have our house paid free and clear by then.

My plan is to remodel the house to convert our upstairs master suite into an accessory apartment with outside entrance, and for my wife and I to downsize into our main level. My thought is that as we get older, we look for someone of very good character that we can rely upon to move into the apartment for free room and board (and maybe a stipend) in exchange for increasing help and caregiving as we get older. I am thinking that part of the deal might be that, after a very long trial period, and with some legal safeguards for both sides in writing, this person could be given life tenancy in our will. For someone a couple of decades younger than us who is a good person but with limited financial resources and prospects, this could be a pretty attractive proposition. I am thinking that we might actually will the house to a local charity, which means that they would get it after the caretaker dies and their life tenancy expires; bringing that third party into the equation would be helpful both in finding the person we have in mind in the first place, and also in keeping them honest and protecting us from being taking advantage of - or worse.

I'm just starting to think this through, this is still a decade or two off, so lots of details to work out. This is my answer, though, to the inevitable, frequent, and tiresome question: "Without any children, who will take care of you in your old age?"

"Without any children,who will take care of you in your old age?" Just because you have children there is no guranty they would be able to help.In fact part of my wife's work has this problem to deal with along with other problems of the ederly.The cost of ownership is going to become a problem the bigger the house the bigger the problem.I've been working on plans and to expand and contract the house as needed to reduce the size of the interior during peak summer and winter times.My plan without much work and the way the house is layed out I can easily reduce it to 1/4 the current size on the interior. I've in the last six months have run into a half dozen just retired seniors that have wanted to down size but the housing market being down has them on hold.There maybe a new line of remodeling opportunity on "Seniorizing of Homes"Good luck in your plans.

There maybe a new line of remodeling opportunity on "Seniorizing of Homes"

Indeed there will. Between retrofits for energy efficiency and accessibility, as well as remodeling to create accessory apartments, there will be a huge amount of work to be done on the existing housing stock. Good work there for lots of people who would formerly have been building new houses.

Not one politician from either political party has the courage to stand in front of the American people and tell them they will not receive the Social Security and Medicare benefits they were promised. Not one politician from either party is even willing to discuss the fact these promises cannot be honored. This train has been headed down the track since the 1960s, picking up speed, and no one is willing to apply the brakes. The Baby Boomers have sold their children and grandchildren into slavery.

This is why I think we probably WILL get our SS checks, with a vastly devalued (inflated) dollar. I'm getting SS disability right now and, even the relatively small amount it is, am banking most of it and spending on long-term homesteading type infrastructure stuff.

Yes, we'll get the checks for quite a while to come, but they will in reality be worth less and less in terms of purchasing power.

My plan is to use our SS checks only to cover Medicare, Medigap, and any other health care related outlays, and to save any left over in inflation-proofed investments. I am certain the time will come when the expenses will grow and the SS will shrink to the point where I'll need to start tapping into those savings. I can't be 100% sure that this will be an absolutely foolproof plan, but I can be 100% sure that I'll be much better off for a lot longer than will most retirees.

New home sales fall to a record low

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales of new homes plunged in January to the lowest level on record, government figures showed Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of new home sales plummeted 11.2% to 309,000 last month, compared with a revised rate of 348,000 in December, the Census Bureau said. That's a decline 6.1% from January 2009.

It was the lowest rate since the government began keeping records in 1963 and comes after declines in November and December.

The drop surprised many industry analysts. A consensus of economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected January sales to rise to an annual rate of 354,000.

Forget "seasonally adjusted"... what are the "unadjusted" true numbers?`

Right! What, exactly, does 'seasonally adjusted' mean as to housing? And, why do it?

Spin, spin, spin your stats,
gently down the stream...
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
life is but a dream.


In large parts of the USA (and almost all of Canada) it is difficult if not impossible to build houses during the winter.

Sales of existing homes also fall during the winter, especially up north (Personally, I would like to see a house I want to buy without a foot of snow on it).

So, just as early and mid-December always see a spike in retail sales, so all housing data falls in the winter. Adjusting for that is normal.


So, okay. I still don't understand what the 'adjustment' is. Do they say more houses were sold than were sold, like inflating the number? I just do not understand how, and why, "seasonally adjusted" applies to real estate.

You can look year on year, and see what the numbers are from the real numbers. Are all of those totals fudged? I am okay with estates, but not with real estate!


Re: New home sales fall to a record low

I'm beginning to wonder if economic trends north and south of the 49th parallel are becoming completely disconnected. Compare the above to this item from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Few listings mean tight spring market

Sales increased in 88 per cent of the markets Re/Max surveyed in January, according to the agency's 2010 market trends report, led by a 152 per cent increase in Vancouver.

The supply of homes listed for sale has been drastically reduced, housing values are once again on the upswing, and banks and governments are moving in unison toward stricter lending policies

Canadian employment has been rising since the middle of last year, housing prices have reached new highs, foreclosure rates are at record low levels (0.5%) and the banks are asking the government to put tighter controls on mortgage lending because they think people are borrowing too much money.

It's as if Canada and the US are living in different universes. However, one major difference is that Canada is a net oil exporter and the US is a net oil importer. In fact, Canada is exporting more oil and products to the US than it consumes itself.

Re: Nabucco

So they are expecting Iraq, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to fill this pipeline with 31 bcm in 2015. Must be some fine weed they are smoking. Turkmenistan is committed n-ways to anyone other than the EU. China will absorb all of the extra Turkmen production by 2015. None of the current Turkmen production reaches the EU (tin foil hat blather notwithstanding). Azerbaijan does not have enough production or reserves to be an important contributor to Nabucco (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/Azerbaijan/NaturalGas.html). So that leaves Iraq. It's role must be a reflection of the mythical 12 million barrels per day of oil production that are expected any day now.

Instead of all the inanity perhaps the IEA and the rest of the cornucopians should just come out and say it: Iran is the only source of natural gas that would be able to fill the 31 bcm going to over 60 bcm per year supply of this pipeline. All the posturing about Iranian lack of democracy and nuclear weapons program is nothing but a shallow pretext to install a bootlick regime that will send its gas to the EU for some token price. Good luck with that.

I believe him because he works for the President...

Oh, on 12/11/08 post on the oildrum there is an interview with Chu in which he says energy is the "most important" societal problem science has to solve.

Oh, I believe it was on the Oildrum that I recently saw a quote by one of Chu's key ex-analysts (who had an affiliation with Lawrence Livermore labs and very credible credentials) that read something like 'Steven Chu knows all about peak oil but we're not allowed to talk about it because we don't want to panic the public'.

I believe he was at Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

I think what Dr. Chu said regarding PO is perfectly in line with some of his other statements and ideas on energy, like everyone painting their rooftops white to increase Earth's albedo and reduce global warming. He also advocates painting your roses a different color, when you get tired of the look of the old ones. :)

Chevron is planning a 1 MW concentrating solar power installation for generating electricity in New Mexico, using technology developed by Concentrix Solar. Two things make this installation unique (1) It will be the largest in the US, and (2) It is being built on land previously used as a tailings site. Construction is expected to be both started and finished in 2010.

Some links related to this:

This plant is concentrating solar PV plant. from 1984 to 1990 9 SEGS (Solar Energy Generating Systems) were built in California. The 9 concentrating solar therma facilities have a combined capacity of 354MW.


Your are right. The New Mexico plant is a demonstration scale plant using concentrating solar PV--the first of its kind.

So far, I have just seen announcements. It would be better to have some pictures or diagrams describing it more fully.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending February 19, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.1 million barrels per day during the week ending February 19, 335 thousand barrels per day above the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 81.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 3.6 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.1 million barrels per day last week, up 536 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.6 million barrels per day, 836 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 846 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 444 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.0 million barrels from the previous week. At 337.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.9 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.6 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 2.2 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 1.4 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Spoke to a friend who was laid off from Dell this morning (Austin area). They had been hearing rumors of 6000 being let go, company wide. No confirmation on that yet.

His roommate told me it was a good thing I talked them out of buying a lot and building. They had a contract all ready to go... but financing was the big hold up.

From Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet's partner:

Basically, It's Over:A parable about how one nation came to financial ruin

And then came the twin shocks. Hydrocarbon prices rose to new highs. And in Basicland's export markets there was a dramatic increase in low-cost competition from developing countries. .... Suddenly Basicland had to come up with 30 percent of its GDP every year, in foreign currency, to pay its creditors.

A couple of economic messes followed, during which every constituency tried to avoid hardship by deflecting it to others. Much counterproductive governmental action was taken, and the country's credit was reduced to tatters. Basicland is now under new management, using a new governmental system. It also has a new nickname: Sorrowland.

Some commentary on the parable from MarketWatch.

Wha ...? Someone in finance uses 'hydrocarbon prices' in a sentence? In an article, no less?

And this dude talks to ... the 'Wizard'? Warren Buffett? No way!

(falls over, faint ...)

Although I was curious as what Munger has to say, his opening was a bunch of doodle.

Laying the claim to America's rise on the feet of little government regulation is preposterous. No mention of the fact that the new world was virgin resources, controlled at best by indian pesky battles which served to unite the Europeans.

Re: Avatar ...

Cameron explains what it is about ... energy , climate change , society in denial


the Avatar movie was entertaining and I liked watching the next level of special effects. The plot has issues in terms of anything approximating something that makes technical sense. People who try to use it as an example of resource problems might as well use Asops fables.

If your civilization can make interstellar space ships (60% of lightspeed valkyrie style antimatter ship) Then you can travel completely freely around the solar system and you have commercial fusion power. Your society would have resource limits billions of times higher than what is on Earth.

6000 ton space ships going 60% of lightspeed for 4 light years. They have a fleet of about ten of them.

Fighting over food or oil ? Give to me the f*** break. going to another solar system and having a Vietnam style war ??
Why don't I drive a convoy across Asia to fight over a teaspoon of oil, wait didn't that drive just cost a few thousand gallons.

Having to shoot down the big tree to get to the superconducting rock.
Oil drum people know drilling sideways can be done now.

You have asteroids about 200,000 times closer than the next solar system. Plenty of minerals and setting up massive space based solar would be trivial. $100 billion in resources for every one of 7 billion people in the asteroids. Not including the
energy or the moons of other planet or Kuiper belt or Oort comet cloud.

Its a sci fi movie ... we all (hopefully) know that

The message is .... watch the interview

I saw most of the two interviews on Charlie Rose with James Cameron (when they had the topic of Avatar). I know Cameron was making allegorical references. Wanted to talk about the west and native indians, and the new zealand Maori and the situations in the middle east etc...

I have also seen material from the movie companion book and the online websites some of which seem to have James Cameron approval.

I went into detail because of the lead drumbeat article about 2144. Thus the debate about the fictional situation and also what it means for todays real situation was opened.

So what did you find relevant in either of the interviews, the movie, the 2144 article or any of the side material online or offline about Avatar or about technology abundance versus doomers ?

Good points nano. But my memory isn't clear. Was there an implication that this magic mineral was needed for commercial benefit? Or that it was just very, very valuable for other reasons: extended life or a super drug high? Just grasping but such an effort would seem to need some extreme and unique motivation as you imply.


Unobtanium makes interstellar commerce possible - it improves the interstellar ships -superconductors that make the
engines smaller and more efficient

Power Source: Hybrid deuterium fusion / matter-antimatter annihilation.

The ISV Venture Star is one of a twelve vehicle fleet which provides commercial space transportation between Earth and Alpha Centauri. As with the other ships of the “Capital Star” class, it was designed to carry a large payload of cargo and passengers to the worlds of the Alpha Centauri star system, especially the rich world of Pandora. The ships of this class are not exploration ships, they are commercial freighters. The ship's mission is to be part of an endlessly looping supply chain which enables the exploitation of the indigenous resources of Pandora. The ISV Venture Star, and the other ships of its class, represent the highest technological achievement in human history. Only the great need for unobtanium and the energy which it allows human civilization to produce could justify the cost of creating these vessels. In fact, the unobtanium itself enabled the creation of this class of ISV’s. It is used in the superconducting magnet arrays which contain and direct the energy of the matter-antimatter annihilation which propels the ship. Without unobtanium, interstellar commerce on this scale would not be possible. Unobtanium is not only the key to Earth’s energy needs in the 22nd century, but it is the enabler of interstellar travel and the establishment of a truly spacefaring civilization

There are wikis and websites that discuss the unobtanium and some of them seem to be semi-blessed
with backstory by James Cameron

room temperature superconductor worth $20 million per kg.

Info from James Cameron movie companion book presumably semi-canon material


early avatar script supposedly by James Cameron

the kind of scarcity talked about in the movie makes no sense. Ecological damage to the earth being a problem makes no sense.
10,000 fusion spaceplanes that have the capacity of a 747 for solar system transport can move as many people as existing planes. You can move 100 million people per year within a solar system. 50,000 fusion spaceplanes and you 500 million per year. Easier to do then the multiple interstellar trips going 4 lightyears with 12 ships.

You can also use the energy of one interstellar trip and make living facilities on Mars. You adapted people to live on Pandora and you cannot adapt plants and people to live on Mars or on a somewhat ecological compromised earth or use bioengineered plants and microbes and algae to repair earth environment ?

Going 4 lightyears in spaceships is like sending an army up everest. Fixing the earth, living on Mars and making a solar system abundance would like climbing three flights of stairs.

The actual real technology that is emerging is also why the doomers are wrong in the real world.

the movie itself just says it is a valuable superconductor but not how it is used.
Why it would defy molecular analysis and reproduction is not said.

There will be at least two more movies.

Spoiler alert on speculation for next two movies
I think because Pandora is a worldmind (stated in the movie, 100 trillion living nodes) that they will
introduce the aspect that they have met a post technological singularity civilization.

Here are the designs (from real life researchers) for the starship upon which the movie used

"Why it would defy molecular analysis and reproduction is not said."

Because it is SCI-FI, as jmygann said.

It's really very simple, we just get Capt Jean-Luc Picard to order up a few servings of Unobtainium in his Replicator, and then we're all set.. we put it into our Metaphor-drives and shoot off into a world of Deeper Meanings!

Ooh, I missed the part about the 'Actual, Real Technology that is Emerging..' .. Sounds like you've got a screenplay to pitch as well!

It was Cameron's view that we are in deep denial about the planets current situation.

The movie is sci fi .....the denial is real.

What's so interesting is that our ability to produce science fiction about other worlds and space exploration remains intact...largely due to the creativity of writers/directors and computer graphics...but this, even as our actual ability to explore and exploit space continues to decline (NASA budgets being cut recently). We simply don't have the energy or the money to do it. Not to mention the fact that the universe seems to be structured so as to be prohibitive to interstellar travel. Not to mention the fact that there's no evidence, whatsoever, that there are symbol using, "intelligent" life forms in our solar system, galaxy, or universe. Not to mention the fact that even if there were, there's no evidence that communication is possible.

Face it, science fiction is a remnant of the fossil fuel powered industrial age which gave us the ability to escape our atmosphere and land some of us on an orbiting body. Science fiction as we know it will more or less die along with the oil age. It was fun while it lasted, though.

NASA overall budget was increased. What was cut was the Constellation project and some other programs.

The budget numbers will show that the administration effectively plans to kill the Constellation program that called for a return to the moon by 2020. The budget, expected to increase slightly over the current $18.7 billion, is also a death knell for the Ares 1 rocket, NASA's planned successor to the space shuttle.

The cuts do not harm any capability to explore or exploit space, because the Bush junior proposal to return men to the moon was never sufficiently funded. Also, the effort of putting a dozen men on the moon using Apollo on Steroids was a deadend.

The new programs and support within the budget for private industry like Spacex is a moderate improvement.

So your assumptions that there will be a decline is not based on any facts.

Also, implicit in your statement about NASA is that you expect what is mostly government pork with a space program label to be where hoped for space development would originate. NASA budget mostly goes to ground facilities and general research in the states of powerful congressmen and senators. Makework PHD jobs. Similar to most other government spending (that have different labels)

True space access will only come from efforts that greatly reduce the cost of access to space.

Inertial electostatic fusion work, dense plasma focus fusion work, field reversed configuration fusion.

the incremental path did get a boost with the new budget - space propellant depots to reduce the cost beyond low earth orbit to closer to low earth orbit access. Low earth orbit access can be as little as $2000-3000 per pound. Geosync costs $10,000 or more. Having low earth orbit refueling means geosync would cost closer to $4000 per pound. The Spacex support will also help lower the costs. Spacex is targeting $500/lb.

The inflatable space stations will also help. There are two space hotel efforts for the 2012-2014 timeframe. There is also a path for the suborbital tourism market to develop into orbital tourism.


No intelligent life statement - that is pretty overreaching statement when last year

We have new estimates that the Milky Way is 50% bigger than we thought.

We are discovering objects larger than Pluto inside the solar system still.

A spaceship the size of the Star Wars deathstar could roll behind Pluto and we would not be able to detect it.
We would have to hope that a Deathstar passes in front of stars or planets that we have telescopes actively observing.

Your statement is like an ant who has never left his anthill saying that there is no other life outside the anthill.
You do not know what it looks like and have not tried to look.

Within our technological reach of a couple of decades are space telescopes that fly in formation to improve their light gathering abilities. These would be able to image continents on other planets out to 20-100 light years. some of the existing ones can perform some spectrographic analysis of an atmosphere and using observation of wobbling of stars determine if there are earth sized planets in orbit.

some improved communication designs - Radio links via gravitational lensing

Maccone posits a human probe in Centauri space trying to communicate with a typical NASA Deep Space Network antenna (70 meter dish), using a 12-meter antenna aboard the spacecraft (probably inflatable).
Put a probe at the Sun’s gravitational lens at 550 AU, we now tap the tremendous magnification of the lens, which brings us a huge new gain. Using the same forty watts of power, we derive a completely acceptable bit rate. In fact, Maccone’s figures show that the bit error rate does not begin to become remotely problematic until we reach a distance of nine light years, when the increase in BER begins slowly increasing.

40 watt transmitters and 12 meter inflatable antenna - yes, I had to go into science fiction technology to find a solution for this "impossible" interstellar communication problem. the key of course to making it a lot easier is going to the gravitational lens points. Even current tech can handle that challenge but it is slow and we would only have the one end. Getting a telescope to the gravitational lens point would be good but there are plenty of things to do prior to taking that step.

You find no evidence for positive things because you do not want to find evidence. the only evidence you want to find is for evidence of decline.

The fun is just getting started. the oil age is meaningless to a true space age (Apollo - sending 2-3 guys at a time on a camping trip to the moon is not the true space age). The true space age will be nuclear fusion and molecular nanotechnology.

the intermediate thing that we will have from 2012-2020 with plasma rockets, solar electric sails, suborbital rockets, inflatable space hotels and more people be able to spend $80,000-250,000 to go suborbital or ten million to go to the space hotels (possibly declining to $200,000-600,000 to go to the orbital space hotels) will be more interesting than Apollo.

Science fiction as it has been may then change. Hopefully some of it will become more scientifically accurate.
As can be seen, I am perfectly clear on what is fiction, what is science, what is in or not in budgets, what happened, what is happening and what will probably happen. a lot of facts and effort to keep bias to a minimum.

Know the scale of problems and the scale of potential solutions.

I've had similar thoughts regarding NASA's manned space exploration programs. At least the current administration had the smarts to call an end to the waste of it. If we had a few more Ghawars, perhaps we could have colonized the Moon and Mars, perhaps some asteroids, too. Then what? Well, visiting the interiors of the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn would have been a stretch, but are not entirely out of the question. Then what? The nearest star is light years away. There may be habitable planets out there in our galaxy or in some other ones, but unless there is a profound breakthrough in the physics of space travel, even our robots can't get there.

I appreciate a dream and dreamers as much as many do, but we have to face up to our fate, which is the same one as all the species that came before us, and that will succeed us. Were we special? Yes, I think so. Who will appreciate that? Let's ask some whales and dolphins what they think. (Rather like asking a Canadian what they think of Americans, and hoping for a polite response.)

Cheap oil is and was meaningless to colonizing space.

what can and would do it is to use project Orion external pulsed propulsion.

There are over 20,000 nuclear bombs in US inventory and similar numbers with the Russians.

Those could be repurposed for space craft propulsion.

I have a variant of this which would be permitted under the Partial Test Ban Treaty.
Underground nuclear explosions are permitted up to 150 kilotons.

Dig a deep 2 mile hole (like the deeper oilwells but a bit wider). Cost about $10 million.Conservatively round up to $40 million.

Then place the 150 kt nuke at the bottom. Pack it with boron and other elements that will be converted into plasma.

Place the launch projectile on top - solid refined metal and solidified liquids (pykrete - ice mixed with newspaper).

3500 ton projectile. Set it off and launch it at 5000Gs into orbit or towards the moon.
Set off a chemical charge to cover the hole as the projectile clears to contain the nuclear material from the bomb.
(similar to the hundreds of underground tests)

$10 million for the projectile and the propellant.
$20 million for the work of setting it up.

Launch costs for supplies and refined metals would become $10/lb. (assuming the nuclear bombs in stockpile are donated)

Launch people and delicates the regular way. The supplies and refined metals would allow for industrialization of space.

Your nuclear launch sounds just great. Have you been reading Jules Verne lately? Just one problem, how does this cannon produce the tangential velocity required for orbit? And, what happens to the capsule as it blasts thru the atmosphere at the hypersonic speeds required?

E. Swanson

Upper stage would be the same as the Quicklaunch gas gun system.

Use a plug nozzle booster which would survive gun launch.
but it would be a smaller nozzle booster for the nuclear launch.
Electronics are easy to g-harden. As shown by those who are developing the Quicklaunch.
Cellphone electronics are G hardened, just replace the transformer components and use better epoxy.

Passing through the atmosphere the highly aerodynamic shape can take it.

A lot of this was tested to 80% speed with the SHARP (Super High Altitude Research Project) light gas gun in the nineties


An alternative is to launch to well over orbital velocity and allow for impact on the moon. (so do not produce tangential velocity.) Yes the projectile gets shredded on impact with the mooon but you would have shredded refined metals. It is like putting a refined metal deposit where you want on the moon. Valuable resources for any moon colony. Pykrete (ice concrete) might stay as ice buried in the impact crater. Worth an experiment to see if could easily supply ice which can be turned into fuel and other supplies for a colony.

Very interesting 1 hour presentation made to Google. These folks are serious and they've done it already. Before anyone becomes a complete skeptic about this approach I'd recommend watching the presentation. Hope they get the 2 mil. to go for the 180k record. Hell that's way less than we spent on
Turtle Tunnels in Tallahassee (which I'm sure is a great cause) but hey this does stir the imagination a bit.

"Cheap oil is and was meaningless to colonizing space."

Au contrare, cheap oil was the enabler. Even the equation "oil = money" is too mild. Oil is much superior to gold or fiat money, but we go to great lengths (wars, even) to make fiat money as equivalent to oil as we can. When we had lots of cheap oil, we could afford a manned space program, at least a limited one to the Moon. Mars has always been more problematic.

Anyway, as the song goes: "sweet dreams are made of this" [cheap oil]. Without it, we become a much more modest presence, but I think the other species we co-inhabit the planet with will certainly not object to our living more humbly and modestly going forward.

The US budget is over $3 trillion per year.
$257 billion is spent each year on space related industry the vast majority is satellite television service.
NASA has the 18 billion budget but over 90% was spent either on the ground for make work PHDs and buildings or on the not useful for space colonization International space station and edsel-pinto space shuttle.
the space shuttles $20,000/lb to get into space. More than the price of gold for everything you are putting up. How much cross ocean traffic would there be at the cost of gold by weight. That is a hefty carry-on luggage fee.
Double the NASA budget is the dept of defense space budget -mainly for spy satellites and space weapons research.

How does cheap oil effect the $20,000/lb price of the space shuttle ? It is not the fuel that makes it expensive. It is the fact that your system needs 100,000 people to make the launch happen and the bloated supply contracts. How often would you launch a boeing 747 if you had 4 of them and you needed 100,000 to launch them and you had to put in a few hundred million in repairs after every launch.

50 years of a space program. Nearly 1 trillion in todays money (for just NASA's part). $3 trillion including NASA and DOD. How much was actually spent on making launches cheaper and actually trying to broaden access to space or to put up robust manned exploration ? $200 billion max. but the plant the flag goals and having 2-3 or three guys. Even with continued funding how does that lead to something like the 1600's where you have fleets Caravel ships taking hundreds with supplies to colonize a new continent ? It never does and was never designed to do it. Portugal was one of the main countries that did the colonizing and they had an economy 50 times smaller than either China or India at the time. the right plan and the will to do it and execute is what matters.

Chemical rockets will never be good enough -at the very, very best $200/lb.
Need nuclear propulsion or some more exotic things like laser propulsion or a 100 kilometer tall space pier to get down the cost of electricity. $2-5/lb or so.

the trillion dollar of the last 50 years was geopolitical public relations and then state level pork. Just like most of the rest of the $3 trillion/year of federal spending.

Can't afford it ? But we can afford the 10, 11th and 12th aircraft carrier fleet group ? we can afford $200 million each for fighter jets. We can afford triple per capita spending on medical care versus several other developed countries.

You say oil is the main thing. I say it is paying 100,000 people to do stuff unrelated to achieving things in space.
Let say it now costs $30 per gallon to run a truck across the US. five mpg across 3000 miles. $18,000 in gas. ten trips per year. $180,000 in gas. 50 times more expensive. 10 times higher gas price. 5 times worse mileage. but suppose in order to get the permit to do it, the city and state and federal level have you to pay for 100 people to study plants and shuffle papers while you are doing it all year long and to also check the tires and wash your car etc... 100 people at $100,000 per year, plus the buildings they are in and other overhead (3 times wages). $30 million.

If you had an older Roman ship with slaves rowing you could get tiers of people rowing and trying to design it so you can go large distances, but the slaves are working hard and have to eat, you have to bring too many supplies. So it is never as efficient as the sail ships used for colonization. the system has to scale and have the performance parameters to achieve the goals.

Nuclear propulsion and launch automation could lead somewhere. A city of people where 5% are involved in launching big reusable firecrackers would not ever lead to squat and has not lead to squat. Some plans will never work no matter how cheap they get or how much more sustained effort there is. Larger and larger armies to empty the ocean with a bucket brigade. Does not matter if you can afford it. The plan would never work. It is a bad plan and bad goal.

The only space project or plan that would have achieved anything was Project Orion (nuclear pulse propulsion). your statements and conclusions are wrong.

advancednano, you raise some good points about spending priorities. I can only assume the USA spends as much as it continues to do on the military because it still perceives a threat to its security. Obviously, one is the oil supply, mostly foreign now. Then there are other valuable commodities, but gold is not among them. All those aircraft carriers are expensive, but they serve a purpose (hint: it's a water planet), and give the USA options that they might not otherwise have. War might not be the answer, but it sure is an option, if supplies are threatened. And who knows what surprises the US military may have in store up on the "high ground".


I've always said that the answer to Fermi's Paradox is that intelligent life from other planets hasn't visited Earth because they are intelligent, and thus are cherishing their home planet and enjoying the precious, short life they have on it rather than wasting it zipping around cold dark space in a metal can like a bunch of stupid fools - like us.

I'm sure that there probably is life on other planets around the galaxy. I'm also pretty sure that on just about all of those, that life is pretty much just a bunch of crappy little extremophiles. Maybe interesting to study, especially for a biologist. Worth bankrupting the entire planet to get there? Not in my book.

I'll just throw out here, one of my arguments against us finding intelligent life.

   People always seem to be thinking about this spatially, not temporally. If there is/was/will be intelligent life out there it is/was very likely to be millions or billions of years in the future or past.

(Also, does time occur at a different rate in the slow moving center of the universe than in the fast moving outer reaches? :)

- Ron L:

Interesting thoughts, but the universe has no center and no edge. (I know, it goes against everything we would intuitively think. Yet, the astrophysics behind is are pretty sound at this point.)

but the universe has no center and no edge.

Right. I guess I used the wrong terminology.
Aren't there very distant galaxies that are 'traveling' at high rates of (relative) speed away from us? And wouldn't the elements nearer to where the "big bang" was be moving more slowly? (Of course, relative to what?)

Just an old lay-theory of mine.

Thanks nano. I'm an old fart so I mostly paid attention to the shoot outs and half neked gals.

Yesterday's DB had a few threads on the effects of oil transport cost and global shipping. Points not considered include:

Early trade, ie spices and silk, involved items not able to be produced in area vs. another. Today it is cost determined, items can be manufactured anywhere.

There are presently downward wage pressures in developed world, vs upward in China. There are other factors lowering the wage differential.

If an item can't be economically shipped overland to the buyer, say LA to Chicago, it won't be ocean transported to LA.

A quick look didn't find Rubin's original material, as I'm not an economist, and without his numbers, I must take his analysis on the wage differential vs cost of oil at face value. Not sure I can side either way on the demise of global trade in a PO world. One point I recall Rubin also inserted was the effect of tariffs, a probability he feels will happen with climate change. The defining variable is oil cost, with much disagreement as to where it will go. Thanks to all yesterday.

Is this what you were looking for. If not it is a fantastic video anyway.

Jeff Rubin At ‘The Business of Climate Change’

Ron P.

Thanks Ron.

Good video, though I didn't find much in the way of figures. His example with steel has oil at $120, producing $90 increase in cost, that offsets a wage differential of 1 1/2 hours/ton rolled steel. As he mentions, inputs must travel first to China, then product back to US, doubling transport cost. I had an uncle, long since passed, whose business relied on the lake state steel industry. He always felt steel would be back, that at the time, cheap Great Lake fresh water for cooling and local ore would offset the south's(US) advantage of cheap labor. This was back in the 80's.

I got quite a kick out the rationale for the recession being oil, not sub prime loans. "Why did Japan and Germany crash before Cleveland if it was all about subprime mortgages."

re: As he mentions, inputs must travel first to China, then product back to US, doubling transport cost.

Except that China can obtain both coal and iron ore in Australia, which is considerably closer to them than the US, and can move it to their steel mills by ship, which is very cheap compared to truck or train transport.

The Chinese car companies can build entire cars for less cost than American car manufacturers have to pay for the steel in them. But they're probably not going to export them to the US. The Chinese people are buying more cars than Americans these days.

Apples and oranges. Are you comparing the same size car? US cars currently ave 2400 lbs steel, pickup/SUV ave less than 3000 lbs, steel prices around $600/ton, depending hot or cold, location. I do not know the ave steel in Chinese cars, if like a Nano, I feel we could produce that style of vehicle. But at a little over a ton of steel, I don't think the even the Chinese will sell a US vehicle for a little more than steel price. A quick look at end of year prices for Chinese HRC exports to North America was 508/tonne, vs US HRC at 549/short ton.

China can and in the future probably will source more of their raw materials from Asia/Australia. That isn't the case at present. But even lowering the ocean transport distance will not affect overland costs, unless you think it will be by rickshaw.

$508/tonne is $461/short ton, which is significantly cheaper than US steel if it's $549/short ton.

It could well be an apples versus oranges comparisons, I didn't run the numbers myself, I just read the results of a study somewhere. I don't expect the Chinese to build American-size vehicles, I expect them to build smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient ones. They could sell these anywhere in the world, whereas American cars are basically only salable in the US. Maybe not even there any more.

However, as I said, I don't expect the Chinese to begin marketing Chinese cars in the US. The Chinese car market is already bigger than the American one, and will become considerably bigger as the Chinese become more affluent. There are four times as many Chinese as Americans.

But my basic point was that China will not be buying raw materials in the US, moving them across the Pacific, turning them into products, and shipping the products back to the US. They will source their raw materials in Australia, which is more or less straight south of them, and has vast reserves of iron ore and coal which are close to tidewater and are largely unexploited. They will move them to port with electric trains, load them on giant ore carriers, ship them straight north to China, and then move them to Chinese mills on Chinese electric trains. Chinese mills will ship steel to factories on electric trains.

After that, the factories will move the manufactured goods to port on electric container trains, ship the products around the world by container ship, and that will be cost-effective since they are not bulk products but high-value ones.

Now, in pursuit of this goal, the Chinese have inked an A$69 billion (US$60 billion) deal with Australia for coal, and they will build the railways and port facilities in Australia. They are already doing a massive expansion and electrification of the Chinese rail system, and are already able to run double-stacked container trains under 25 KV wires across the country, which is a bit of a technical feat.

All this is going to be good for China, since they will have cheap raw materials and cheap transportation, and great for Australia since they will be able to pay for Chinese manufactured goods with all those resource dollars, but I think it's going to be a problem for the US. The US is not going to have anything to export to China to pay for all those cheap Chinese goods that will be available to buy. And with cheap Chinese goods available everywhere, nobody will be interested in buying expensive American goods.

That's my reading of where things are going, in any case. I don't think expensive oil is going to stop the Chinese from exporting - they've already factored that into their plans. They're not using rickshaws, they're using 12,000 horsepower electric locomotives (the world's most powerful), and they have 100 nuclear reactors on order just so that electricity supply does not become a problem. I think they're getting ready for Peak Oil.

That instantaneous steel price quote still does not provide enough "cheapness" to make an auto.

The point of the discussion brought up is whether globalization can continue in the face of PO and high energy prices. Jeff Rubin believes not, that the wage differential is negated by transport costs, and I think his example with steel proves a point. The point with autos is that no matter how large the Chinese economy might become, it will probably be cheaper to make the car here than import the same size vehicle.

In that grandiose vision of China, getting ready for PO, the age old problem of famine remains. I don't think she's around that corner. Throw climate change induced drought into the mix and that ship of state is listing badly.

$80 oil, in spite of the downturn and world liquid production nearly the same as before, is still expensive compared to only a decade ago. Even with electric modernization, transport costs and wages over land and water are sizeable from source to factory and factory to market. High value articles might make it, commodities are a different story.

I would disagree with Rubin that the Chinese will be stopped from exporting by high oil prices.

The point I was trying to make was that China is not that dependent on oil prices to produce its goods. The whole point to electrifying the railroads is to take oil costs out of the transportation system.

China now produces nearly half of the world's steel according to the World Steel Association :

China’s share of world steel production continued to grow in 2009 producing 47% of world total crude steel, an increase of 9 percentage points compared to 2008.

By contrast, the US produced less than 5% of the world's steel. It's not really economic to produce steel in the US any more, and the only reason it continues is (illegal) trade barriers to imports.

The other point I was trying to make was that the US is not able to export its cars to the rest of the world (nobody but Americans will buy them), leaving open the question of how it is going to pay for its oil imports. The cost of oil imports is killing the US economy, and not importing oil is no longer an option - US domestic production is simply too low to supply more than a fraction of demand.

China can pay for its oil imports by exporting cheap manufactured goods to the oil exporters.

re: In that grandiose vision of China, getting ready for PO, the age old problem of famine remains. I don't think she's around that corner.

The Chinese put the problem of famines behind them a couple of decades ago. It was the simple application of modern economic theory to farm production. Basically, they switched to a free-market system of producing food, and that solved their food production problems. The socialists hate it, but that's how they did it. The Chinese economy is very close to being pure, laissez-faire capitalism nowadays. Marx must be spinning in his grave.

American Indian reservation reaping oil benefits

Tribal officials say the oil has helped right a wrong done to the tribes in the 1950s, when more than a tenth of the reservation was flooded by the federal government to create Lake Sakakawea, a 180-mile-long reservoir.

Oil companies are now drilling beneath the big lake, using an advanced horizontal drill technique. Recently completed regulatory paperwork removed the last obstacle.


Most of the time the peak oil issue is framed as one of technology or policy. I'm coming to the conclusion that the central issue is one of narrative, all else being tertiary.

What is all this energy - wind, oil, nuclear, solar, etc - going to be used for? There is never a good, concrete answer; the promoters have a plan within a narrative vacuum, nobody else does and nothing changes.

The outcome is the entire world becomes a giant industrial site. We all live inside the machine.

I got news for everyone, cockroaches live inside machines. Is that us?

We won't lose the aesthetic and spiritual values. The turbines themselves will carry an aesthetic beauty of their own outer gracefulness and inner value.

What a bunch of crap! The marketers have no value assigned to anything other than the amount of megawatts they can sell. When the megawatt market is obsolete or disintegrates on its own, the promoter walks away leaving behind his mess for others to clean up.

The 'Son of Avatar' concept at the head of the post is part of this dystopic piece. What for? What is the point of the contest? Some will say, "the elimination of poverty". Wouldn't it be easier and smarter to reduce population and associated demand? How can the current regime succeed when the outcome of 200 years of industrialization has been a worldwide increase in poverty? What is going to change? How is adding more and more industrialization, more energy gobbling infrastructure, more claims on labor and invention ... going to work? Where is the compelling 'success story'?

According to the current, overused narrative, the success is just one more development away, one more power station, one more strip mine, one more sweatshop nation, one more float of interest rate swaps or SIV's or super- prime mortgage loans. One more bailout, one more Ronald Reagan/Newt Gingrich clone with his dirty, sh@t covered hand out for a payoff under the table. One more war, one more freeway, one more mega- high- speed rail fantasy, one more ... always one more. The success is never here and now, it's always just around the bend. 400 years of the same lies and nobody ever gets wise ...

Humans are stupid, they never learn! Humans deserve to be annihilated. We have the technology. Let's get it on!

The success stories are all about businesses screwing their customers and bankrupting them: banks, hospitals, doctors, universities, auto companies, real estate developers, hedge fund managers, government employees, lobbyists, etc, etc. etc. Where is a different narrative?

I propose that there be no new nukes, no new windmills, no new solar arrays, no new dams, no new highways or rail systems ... until we come up with a plan that rationally manages what we already have. Adding to a tottering structure makes absolutely no sense at all! Adding will simply make the structure crash harder and faster.

A moratorium on 'innovation' would focus the mind. The innovation narrative is a lie, a false promise. Right now, the lack of focus and realism is the greatest problem that we all face. Not ONE economist, not ONE planner makes our hyper- consumptive, energy dependent 'blessed way of life' the centerpiece of our current credit unwind. Not ONE! The economists are pointing fingers at who was not considered to be aware of credit imbalances deriving from bad mortgage lending and underwriting in 2007. The energy crisis is ongoing and accelerating and none of these same economists - who have influence on the policy makers in all the world's governments - bother to see it!

Un- Fu@king believable! It's like a sailor who cannot see the ocean.

The miasma at the policy level reflects on the narrative that people use to rationalize their approach to ordering their lives. It's always 'all or nothing', business as usual or the alternative of 'stone age survival'. This is not an alternative narrative it is a cop out! It neglects that the bulk of humanity has been rendered by industrialization to a level that is not much different from the stone age that is proposed as the trap to be escaped from.

No part of the narrative contains any element of elevation of the common citizens. It is the enriching of the already wealthy and manifestation of 'trickle down' the harsh and punitive expression of insider feudalism and clan/crony corruption.

I've got mine, Fu@k you!

A new narrative - one that relegates hoarding more and more 'made in China' crap to the trash - is necessary. Progress itself needs to be reinvented. Progress linked to more and more demanding machines is the ultimate losing proposition. It's 'something else' or societal annihilation. Our machines are more powerful and abusive than we assume! They cannot out think us, but they certainly out- compete us for resources.

An America where everyone is a poet or a gardener or an artist or philosopher, towns that can support a master stone mason and a blacksmith in every one ... real towns and cities and not an auto habitat ... has a chance. Otherwise ...

My motto for America up until a couple of years ago has always been; "There is no penalty for stupidity in America."

There is now.

I've been harping on this narrative thing for years. My fear is, It's only going to get worse as mass advertising has hit the rest of the world like a piano out of a skyscraper. my hope, american's can pull there collective cranium out of there collective keister and change the this narrative/story/dream.
but alas, I don't think we are :(

steve, thanks for that. We face a historical restructuring of society. Shame on us if we merely rebuild the machine.

Please recycle that China crap. Unfortunately, I am currently typing on a piece of that crap and directing my cursor with that crap. So I may have to retain some of the crap for a bit longer.

The machine may come down of its own accord so the new narrative may be how do we construct a decent, livable society without the mass amount of throughput that we have traditionally processed. I don't think the Darwinian model will suffice. Survival of the fittest will just be death and misery for the vast majority of us. We have staved off the hard decisions with the promise of never ending growth. The peddlers of progress can not envision a society without growth; therefore they have no reasonable prescriptions for the future.

Unless we choose a life that is nasty, brutish, and short we, as you say, must construct a vastly different narrative.

Yes, we must reduce our reliance on crap. But we must construct something in its place.

But we love our machines. And they will be pried out of our dying hands.

I am currently typing on a piece of that crap and directing my cursor with that crap. So I may have to retain some of the crap for a bit longer.

Me too ...

Not Me! My computer was Made in America! (Actually, I "built" it myself, assembling parts purchased off eBay and from internet suppliers, such as Tiger Direct and CompUSA.) :-)...

E. Swanson

What are you, part of the Hate America First crowd?!

Back to Fox News for me.

Always with TOD we learn. Today I learned about the UCLA "Pulse of Commerce Index." Being an inquiring mind, I wanted to see what it did.


Which, summed up is:

New Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index sees gloom

Like I needed a whole new index for that?


Warren Buffett's long-time partner, Charlie Munger, is warning us "It's Over" for America. Yes, "o-v-e-r," America's in decline, at the end-of-days, coming to "financial ruin," says Munger.


"over the long-term, through many centuries, historians give nations an average of about 200 years before they burn out. Why? Because the "blind optimism" that makes a nation great in the early years of its rise to power and glory becomes, paradoxically, its worst enemy in the end-days.

Their arrogance traps them in a self-sabotaging cycle that weakens their resolve, makes them vulnerable to new, unpredictable challenges, ultimately destroying them from within. That happens over and over throughout history, even as their optimistic brains tell them they're still the greatest."

Kirkpatrick Sale said much the same thing in an article, Imperial Entropy: Collapse of the American Empire;

(W)e can isolate the values of American society that have been responsible for its greatest triumphs and know that we will cling to them no matter what. They are, in one rough mixture, capitalism, individualism, nationalism, technophilia, and humanism (as the dominance of humans over nature). There is no chance whatever, no matter how grave and obvious the threat, that as a society that we will abandon those.

Hence no chance to escape the collapse of empire.

As does Jared Diamond (quoted in the same);

"The values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs over adversity."

Since Leanan decided to delete my post on today's DrumBeat, here is a repeat of the quote from the article, "Imperial Entropy: Collapse of the American Empire" which I thought best expresses the difficulty we face.

It's hard to believe that the great mass of the American public would ever bestir itself to challenge the empire at home until things get much, much worse. It is a public, after all, of which, as a Gallup poll in 2004 found, 61 per cent believe that "religion can answer all or most of today's problems," and according to a Time/CNN poll in 2002 59 per cent believe in the imminent apocalypse foretold in the Book of Revelation and take every threat and disaster as evidence of God's will....

I think it will be next to impossible to convince this large fraction of the US public that Peak Oil or Climate Change are problems which they must address, given the basic conflict between their world view and the reality based scientific view point, as exemplified by in these poll data. If folks don't understand the science, how will they be able to assimilate the facts behind these two issues, both of which are based on science? It seems obvious to me that only coercion would be effective, if such were possible, given the fact that the group of anti-science believers represents a majority. The alternative is to roll over and except the situation as inevitable, that is to say, we are doomed to failure...

E. Swanson

OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate on Wednesday reduced by about a quarter its resource estimate for Royal Dutch Shell's Ormen Lange gas field which supplies up to 20 percent of British gas needs.

Why does this always happen to Shell and never Saudi Aramco?

Why does this always happen to Shell and never Saudi Aramco?

Well, if Shell was a sovereign country with a propensity for imprisoning or beheading people who broke the rules, and one of the rules was that oil reserves are a state secret, they would have fewer problems, too.

And to add to Rocky's point I don't know it for a fact but I suspect the Norwigian gov't requires full and complete disclosure of all geologic and engineering data as well as detailed production history from all wells on their leaseholds from each operator. RDS might shine up their fields as much as reasonable but in the end the basic data is there for all to review. The man behind the curtain can only get away with so much once he is exposed in the full sunlight.

I'm pretty sure that the Norwegian government requires full disclosure of all data to the government.

Comparing it to the Canadian situation, the Canadian provincial governments (primarily Alberta) required the companies to hand over all their drilling cores and well logs on every well. The well logs and production data were available to all interested parties on massive databases, the well cores were stored in government archives and available to anybody who wanted to run tests on them. If you disagreed with a company's estimate of its reserves, you could go and pull all the cores and logs and look at them yourself to make sure.

It kept cheating on reserve estimates to a minimum. You knew that if someone had doubts about them, they would just get all your raw data and make their own estimates of your reserves.