Drumbeat: February 28, 2010

Kurt Cobb: An uneven collapse (Hint: It's already happening)

When we think of collapse, we often think of a building or bridge or other structure suddenly giving way. We have a tendency to take this physical model of collapse and translate it into the social and political world.

Thus, when Joseph Tainter or Jared Diamond write of societal collapse, we are inclined to think of a relatively rapid process that acts equally across an entire area and even perhaps across the entire globe. But I believe that the collapse of the globalized society we now inhabit will be exceedingly uneven geographically and one that is spread over many years. And, I believe that that collapse has already started to appear in places which might be considered the periphery of our global system.

Govt must get serious about peak oil

John de Bueger looks at the implications of "peak oil" and suggests New Zealand should be getting serious about it.

The other strategic petroleum reserves

In December, Abu Dhabi delivered the first shipment of oil to a new Japanese strategic petroleum reserve.

The crude is being stored in facilities that the Japanese government borrowed last year from Nippon Oil, the national petroleum company, then offered to Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. The UAE company aims to use Japan as a base for Asian oil trading. In return for providing storage, however, Tokyo has priority purchase rights to up to 4 million barrels of immediately accessible crude in the event of an energy crisis.

If oil is relatively cheap, why not buy it and store it? Strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) are a legacy of the Arab oil embargo of 1973, an event that thrust the concept of energy security to the top of the list of priorities for developed oil importing countries of the time.

PDVSA could drop Curacao refinery lease - report

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan oil company PDVSA may withdraw from the 320,000 barrel-per-day Isla refinery it operates in Curacao to protest U.S. military operations on the Caribbean island, Ultimas Noticias newspaper reported on Saturday, citing an interview with Venezuela's oil minister.

Venezuela may order state-run PDVSA to abandon its lease of the Isla refinery because the U.S. military has been staging "provocations" on Venezuela from Curacao, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez was quoted as saying.

Iraq, Nippon Oil group oilfield talks at "dead end"

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Talks between Iraq and a Japanese group led by Nippon Oil Corp (5001.T) to develop the Nassiriya oilfield have reached a "dead end", the head of Iraq's South Oil Co. said on Sunday.

Gazprom Price Change to Last 3 Years

Gazprom on Friday detailed the concessions it was giving to its four largest customers, saying its long-term contracts would take into account the much-lower spot price for gas for only three years.

Energy chief asks Arroyo: Use emergency powers

MANILA, Philippines—A power crisis in Mindanao must be declared in Mindanao to allow the government to use “emergency powers” in addressing the worsening supply shortage in the island, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said.

In a statement, Reyes said his recommendation to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would allow the government to invoke Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

Young People 'Needed To Save UK Farming'

It is feared the UK's farming industry could suffer a critical shortage in skilled labour if younger people aren't attracted into the profession.

The challenges of climate change and food security mean it's vital that a new workforce gets the training so desperately needed.

North Sea oil 'viable for 30 more years'

THE North Sea has a viable future for the next 30 years, or beyond, provided oil heads above $200 a barrel, an industry expert has forecast.

Matt Simmons, the founder and chairman emeritus of energy investment specialist Simmons & Company International, said there was a bright future for the UK sector of the North Sea "if we come up with attractive investment opportunities".

"It's in everyone's interest to keep oil and gas infrastructure alive," he said. "But the game changes. We don't have any fabulous new fields to find, unless we get really lucky.

"Basically, we now need to mitigate the declines while we look at how we can start replacing oil. Oil prices need to go way higher though. You couldn't start to rebuild the oil and gas infrastructure at what they are today."

Oil prices hit a record peak of almost $147 a barrel in July 2008, triggering soaring prices at the petrol pumps. After falling to the low $30s less than six months later, they have since recovered to stand at about $80.

Simmons described even the near-$150 level as "dirt cheap". Asked if $200 was a more realistic price to sustain investment in oil and gas assets, the industry veteran replied: "I'm not sure that's high enough."

Jan Lundberg: Social and Individual Breakdown Pent up toward Collapse

The U.S. appears to be breaking down on all levels, probably taking the rest of the modern world with it. Noticing this helps us understand the hopelessness of our intrinsically flawed system. Also, recognizing breakdown is helpful for seeing impending collapse in a new light.

Breakdown should be seen in such a way to realize that order is becoming an illusion. Breakdown is preceding and adding to future collapse. Simultaneously there are myriad magnificent yet small-scale efforts to improve people's lives and the health of our Earth. Overall, however, I detect a quickened intensity of breakdown across the board that cannot be cured under current conditions. It is manifested in many areas, such as minimal civic involvement in one's own life-and-death interest.

Greenhouse project promotes self-sufficiency

BROOKSVILLE, Maine — A grass-roots project seeks to promote self-reliance and self-sufficiency by making low-cost greenhouses available to interested individuals and institutions.

Ag expertise needed to feed, fuel world's skyrocketing demands for food, energy

World food demand is expected to increase 100 percent by 2050 due to a rapidly expanding population in countries such as China, India and the United States. And, yet 963 million people, 14 percent of the world's population, are already chronically hungry.

"To increase the supply of safe, nutritious and affordable food, we all share in the responsibility to ensure those responsible for producing food have the knowledge required to do their jobs," said Jackman. "For millions of people, it could be the difference between sustenance and starvation."

Additional agricultural crops will also be needed to meet growing energy demands. For example, without biofuels such as ethanol produced from corn, the United States would have used 7.2 billion more gallons of gasoline in 2008. And, earlier this month President Barack Obama announced a series of steps his administration is taking to boost biofuel production to enhance America's energy independence.

Scientists see biochar as promising fuel source

Scientists in Eastern Washington are at the forefront of research into an ancient practice that shows promise as a clean fuel source, a way to improve soil condition and to capture carbon that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere.

Refiners facing tough times

TEXAS CITY — Last year was a dark one for the refining industry. This year isn’t going to be much better, industry observers said.

“It’s going to be rugged,” said Tom Kloza, analyst with the Wall, N.J.-based Oil Price Information Services.

A recession that has curbed demand for fuel, left a glut of refining capacity and deflated margins is behind one of the most brutal downturns in recent memory, putting an end to the industry’s so-called “Golden Age” of record profits.

Abu Dhabi Deepens April Cuts for Murban Oil Shipments

(Bloomberg) -- Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., the United Arab Emirates’ state-run producer, deepened cuts for shipments of Murban and Umm Shaif crude in April because of OPEC limits on members’ output.

Shipments of Murban, the largest export grade, and Umm Shaif will be 15 percent less than contracted amounts for April, Adnoc said in a statement today. That’s a deeper cut than the 10 percent reduction in March liftings for those crudes.

BP joins the rush for gas

The global oil group BP is to signal its intention to rapidly increase the gas arm of its business - including controversial shale gas - when it announces its strategic plan for investors this week.

Chesapeake CEO Wins Dismissal of Investors’ Excess Pay Lawsuit

(Bloomberg) -- Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon won dismissal of a shareholder lawsuit claiming the company paid him too much money in 2008.

Russia exports East Siberian oil to Japan for 1st time

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia — Russia has started exporting East Siberian crude oil to Japan for the first time, trading industry sources said. A tanker, which will left the port of Kozmino near the Russian city of Nakhodka, on Friday, will dock at the Keiyo Sea Berth in Tokyo Bay in early March, the sources said.

Argentinian veterans plan protests at Falklands oil rig

Argentinian veterans of the 1982 Falklands war are planning to use civilian ships to mount protests in front of the British rig that has begun drilling for oil off the islands.

They say that their mission is to "spread Argentina's position in international waters". The group also plans to "enlighten" staff at the Argentinian offices of the Chilean airline LAN about the need to halt all flights from Chile's mainland to the islands. It is also calling for a national boycott of all British companies and goods.

India, Saudi Arabia set to sign 10 pacts

RIYADH: India and Saudi Arabia today finalised 10 pacts, including an Extradition Treaty and agreements in the economic sphere for signing during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's ongoing visit to this oil-rich country.

South Korea cuts big gas deal with Canada

South Korea's state run Korea Gas has won a 1.1 billion dollar deal to jointly develop natural gas fields in Canada with a Canadian gas firm Encana.

A natural choice

IN AMERICA'S climate debate, one of the most promising developments of recent months has been the growing recognition in Washington that natural gas may play a key role in curbing carbon emissions. The resurgence of gas comes through the discovery of massive deposits in Appalachian shale formations and elsewhere -- a reserve that offers the prospect of stable domestic supplies and relatively low prices. Since burning natural gas produces half the emissions of burning coal, switching the two fuels could put a significant dent in America's carbon footprint.

China needs more hydropower projects: lawmaker

BEIJING: China should build more large hydropower projects so it can live up to its promise to the international community, Wang Shucheng, vice chairman of the Finance and Economic Committee under the National People's Congress (China's top legislature), said on Saturday.

China in 2007 promised to make renewable resources supply 15 percent of its total energy consumption by 2020, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable economic growth.

China says moving to enforce greenhouse gas goals

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Sunday it will spell out greenhouse gas emissions goals and monitoring rules for regions and sectors in its next five-year plan, with monitoring to show it is serious about curbing emissions.

The Chinese government said in November it would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activity, emitted to make each unit of national income by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

New "Low Carbon World website" to Accelerate Transition to Green Economy

Bali - The internet is successfully facilitating a transition from traditional so called "brown" business models to new green growth strategies. The "Low Carbon World" website, a web-based communications platform - www.LowCarbonEconomy.com - was officially launched today (Thursday) in Bali, Indonesia at the United Nations Environment Programme's annual Governing Council.

The new website, a joint project between Low Carbon Economy.com and the United Nation's Climate Neutral Network (CN NET) http://www.unep.org/climateneutral/ aims to facilitate the move to global low carbon economies, a necessary imperative if we are to combat dangerous and escalating climate change.

Nice little Sunday morning read. Take it as fact or fiction...either way...good rumination.

Prognosis 2012: Towards a New World Social Order

If one studies the collapse of civilizations, one learns that failure-to-adapt is fatal. Continuing on the path of pursuing growth would be such a failure to adapt. And if one reads the financial pages these days, one finds that it is full of doomsayers. We read that the Eurozone is doomed, and Greece is just the first casualty. We read that stimulus packages are not working, unemployment is increasing, the dollar is in deep trouble, growth continues to stagnate, business real estate will be the next bubble to burst, etc. It is easy to get the impression that capitalism is failing to adapt, and that our societies are in danger of collapsing into chaos.

Such an impression would be partly right and partly wrong. In order to understand the real situation we need to make a clear distinction between the capitalist elite and capitalism itself. Capitalism is an economic system driven by growth; the capitalist elite are the folks who have managed to gain control of the Western world while capitalism has operated over the past two centuries. The capitalist system is past its sell-by date, the banking elite are well aware of that fact – and they are adapting.

Capitalism is a vehicle that helped bring the bankers to absolute power, but they have no more loyalty to that system than they have to place, or to anything or anyone else. As mentioned earlier, they think on a global scale, with nations and populations as pawns. They define what money is and they issue it, just like the banker in a game of Monopoly. They can also make up a new game with a new kind of money. They have long outgrown any need to rely on any particular economic system in order to maintain their power. Capitalism was handy in an era of rapid growth. For an era of non-growth, a different game is being prepared.

Re: Greece is just the first casualty, an item linked on Drudge:

California is a greater risk than Greece, warns JP Morgan chief
Jamie Dimon, chairman of JP Morgan Chase, has warned American investors should be more worried about the risk of default of the state of California than of Greece's current debt woes.

Mr Dimon told investors at the Wall Street bank's annual meeting that "there could be contagion" if a state the size of California, the biggest of the United States, had problems making debt repayments. "Greece itself would not be an issue for this company, nor would any other country," said Mr Dimon. "We don't really foresee the European Union coming apart." The senior banker said that JP Morgan Chase and other US rivals are largely immune from the European debt crisis, as the risks have largely been hedged.

California however poses more of a risk, given the state's $20bn (£13.1bn) budget deficit, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is desperately trying to reduce.

I guess that people who live in mortgaged glass houses shouldn't throw stones, or as I have put it, most governments in developed countries are racing each other to the edge of the fiscal cliff.

I wonder how "largely immune" they would remain if the hedges went bad? AIG is on the ropes again, and is likely not alone.

While the article makes sense, Drudge only linked to it because he thinks of CA as liberal and wanted to do his usual liberal bashing. (The guy also denies peak oil and climate change, and basic common sense...) I'm glad I stopped reading Drudge a few years ago, because he's only gotten worse over the years.

Is it just coincidence that the States now considered in the most precarious position financially are all in the liberal category of governance?

Is it a coincidence they are all donor states?

Federal Tax Burdens and Expenditures by State

Executive Summary
The Tax Foundation’s annual federal tax burden and expenditure study clarifies the geographical patterns of income redistribution that federal tax and spending policies cause each year. The results of the study have been controversial for years because they show that the nation is not only redistributing income from the prosperous to the poor, but from the middle-income residents of high-cost states to the middle-income residents of low-cost states.

Thanks to a steeply progressive federal income tax, states with higher incomes pay vastly higher federal taxes, payments that are unlikely ever to be matched by federal spending directed to those states. Ironically, most of these high-paying states are the so-called blue states that have generally elected politicians who support a more steeply progressive tax system even though their own constituents bear a greater share of the burden as the code gets more progressive.


Thanks to a steeply progressive federal income tax, ...

My distinct impression is that, since the 1950's, federal income tax has become less and less progressive and now qualifies as being termed regressive, especially considering the FICA withholdings which actually go into the general fund at the federal level.

I believe Va is on the list mostly due to the location of Washington dc and the fact that Norfork and Newport News are the home of such a massive concentration of military infrastructure.

That's not true. California gets a lot of press because they're such a big state, but lots of states that aren't liberal are also in trouble. Percentage-wise, Arizona, Nevada, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and many other states are in worse trouble than California, and they aren't exactly liberal. Meanwhile, liberal New York and Massachusetts are not in as much trouble as many "red" states.

California gets a lot of press because they're such a big state, but lots of states that aren't liberal are also in trouble.

No, they really are in a lot of trouble - it's much like Greece, but much bigger (California's economy is the size of France's.)

Don't blame the liberals or conservatives - it's both. Under California's weird budgeting system, it takes a 2/3 majority to increase taxes, but only a 1/2 majority to increase spending. The liberals vote to increase spending, and then the conservatives vote not to pay for it.

And then a lot of the spending is mandated by popular referendum, which is a recipe for disaster because the majority of voters have no clue what is going on.

I realize that this is an oversimplification, but it is hard to explain a budgeting system which is so screwed up. I usually summarize it in one word - Californication. (Not the song, or the TV show, but the politics.)

The Wall Street Journal states that hdege funds have made massive bets against the Euro:

Hedge Funds Try 'Career Trade' Against Euro

But hedge funds are not always right, and here they could very well be wrong (see my prior posts about the Fed issuing $1 trillion in new currency in the same period the ECB has issued -0- new Euros). In fact if the US government didn't bail out the finanicial sector, most hedge funds would have collapsed in 2009 and been burnt to the ground.

Having actually worked in the trading room for one of the largest Wall Street firms, I believe they are very much unprepared for the downslope of Peak Oil and its finanical implications. Mostly they hope the government will bail they out again in the next crisis, which it probably will.

I am also fairly certain that the states will be bailed out to the extent they will not be allowed to formally default. However they will now be starting a cycle of relentless cutbacks, especially concering fringe and retirement benefits.

"...starting a cycle of relentless cutbacks..."

and unrelenting tax increases.

A critical difference between Greece and California, at least from the perspective of someone holding bonds, is the order in which California must meet its obligations. Caveat: I am not a lawyer, but am a former legislative budget analyst who was required to interpret a non-California state's conflicting obligations.

  • First is federally-required spending. For example, all states are required by federal statute to administer the SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) program. California is under a federal court order to provide a certain level of health care in its prisons. Any state's Medicaid program must meet certain minimum standards so long as they are accepting federal matching dollars.
  • Second is spending required by the state constitution. IIRC, the first priority in California's constitution is a minimum amount of K-12 aid to school districts. The second priority is payments on bonds. My reading of it suggests that the state would, just for an example, be required to withdraw from Medicaid if that were the only way to provide sufficient funds to meet the bond payments.
  • At the bottom is spending based on state statute. Most statutory programs don't specify a minimum level of funding. Technically, California has a balanced budget requirement, so their total appropriations must add up to something less than their revenue (including new borrowing). So far as I can tell, California's budget can be balanced by cutting this type of spending, politically unpopular though it may be.

Some of the spending questions will have to get sorted out in court. Private firms are not allowed to renege on vested pension benefits, but may be relieved of those obligations in bankruptcy court. States can't declare bankruptcy or be forced into it by their creditors; one can at least make a legal argument that because Congress does not provide states with the same bankruptcy relief that private companies or state subdivisions enjoy, the states are not bound by the same pension rules.

Given the order in which obligations are to be met, there is essentially zero chance that California will default on its general obligation bonds -- bond payments are high enough on the list that there is easily revenue to cover them. Despite anything the Governor or the Legislature may say, the State Controller will be well aware of the order of obligations, and will deny all sorts of other payments in order to make the payments to the bond holders. Note that when they were handing out IOUs to state employees, interest payments on bonds were made with real money.

Bankers who spread stories that California is likely to default on its bonds are almost certainly trying to sell you something else.

Bankers who spread stories that California is likely to default on its bonds are almost certainly trying to sell you something else.

Are you suggesting that investment banks take actions, largely in private, with their own money that are different from what they say in public, and perhaps damaging to their own clients?

Well put.

the states are not bound by the same pension rules

Essentially this is what I have been saying recently: the states will cut back on various retirement benefits - whether the beneficiaries like it or not. Here in New Jersey, where there is a very strong teachers union, with teachers are already complaining about any cutback in their benefits. I expect in a year or two from now, teachers will be glad to be giving back some of their benefits under the threat of even more drastic reductions.

But getting back to Greece vs. the US, while Greece may be slightly worse off, it does not naturally follow that the Euro vs. the US will do worse. A Euro without Greece would be more, not less, valuable.

Spain(45 million people) has 750 billion of debt
Greece(11 million people) has $442 billion of debt.
California(36 million people) has $1300 billion of debt.
Illinois (12 million people) has a debt of $106 billion dollars.

The US gross Federal debt according to zFacts.com is over $12.5 trillion today. Add $1.6 trillion to the debt this year and Wikipedia has the estimated Federal debt to GDP at 98% by years end. Add Freddie, Fannie and bailout losses and it gets worse. The US dollar has its own problems in the world.

You're tripping out, newman.

Ever had a mortgage?

The FHA debt to income ratio for a house mortgage
is 29%.
A 30 year $12.5 trillion dollar mortgage at 6%
is an annual payment of ~$900 billion dollars.
If the US economy is $12.75 trillion dollars (it used to be $14.2 trillion-2009) then that is only a 5.5% debt to income ratio, not 29%.

The US government is financed with zero coupon bonds which only need to be paid at maturity and today that's $187 billion dollars a year.

The US can actually afford a lot more debt.

Why is it that economists and bond traders aren't worried about the debt but dumbass Joe SixPack is?

Because most people have no idea how to manage debt.

One way is to stop the tax cut and end the wars that caused the debt in the first place.

If the US economy is $12.75 trillion dollars (it used to be $14.2 trillion-2009) then that is only a 5.5% debt to income ratio, not 29%.

Hold the phone ... the ratio we are interested in is the size of Federal Government debt ($12.5 trillion) versus annual Federal income - it has nothing to do with the size of the overall economy. Well ... it does of course, but not directly for the purposes of this discussion.

You're begging the question.

My example is for a traditional 6% mortgage but the US pays for its debt with treasury bonds that have a 3% interest.
So a $12.5 trillion debt would require a $632 billion dollar annual payment.

The federal government will take in $2.1 trillion dollars in 2009, so currently the debt-to-income ratio for the US federal government is 30%, 1% more than the FHA guidelines.


If you leave out SS and Medicare, the government raises $1224 billion and is now spending $1995 billion.
SS and Medicare is raising $891 billion but costing $1354
billion dollars.

We are taking in 40% less than we are spending.
40% of non SS/MC goes to paying interest on the debt and non-discretionary spending and 40% goes to the military.
To balance the non SS/MC budget
you'd have to cut $1370 billion in defense/discretionary spending to $403 billion dollars.
Adding the $187 billion for interest and that would be $590 billion that could conceivably go to doing nothing but paying off the national debt.
About we see that $632 billion per year would be required to pay down a $12.5 trillion 30 year 3% mortgage.

So it is absolutely impossible to pay down the national debt
even with the most draconian cuts possible without raising taxes.

Conservatives like to say that the lower 50% pay no taxes--which is untrue, they do pay taxes but don't make enough money to pay that much-- the lower classes only pay 4% of tax receipts.
Raising taxes on the rich by 100%(doubling their tax burden) would add about $900 billion dollars in income and would balance the budget deficit; $1214+$900 = $2114 billion raised ~=$1995 billion non SS/MC.

Having balanced the budget with $100 billion to spare then
we can proceed to reduce the national debt.
We already pay $187 billion in interest. We cut the defense department and discretionary items by 37% saving $450 billion dollars, so a total of $638 billion per year can go to reducing the $12.5 trillion 3% 'national mortgage' over 30 years; $632<$638.

It is the height of hypocrisy for conservatives to complain about the national debt their refusal to pay taxes created in the first place.

As to social security and medicare, clearly payroll taxes have to rise as the pay out is $1354 billion and receipts are $891 billion. SS/MC are clearly pay as you go programs.
To simply balance this deficit payroll taxes must rise by 50%.

The real culprit is medicare/medicaid which is 50% of whole SS/MC payout and increasing, which are why the democrats are glumly pursuing healthcare reform, which they know is going to hurt them with the voters.

Meanwhile innumerate conservative 'budget hawks' are licking their demented lips in anticipation of an electoral disaster.
Conservatives have always hated the government and now have created a mess of unprecedented scale.

The US government is financed with zero coupon bonds which only need to be paid at maturity and today that's $187 billion dollars a year.

For the last decade the US government debt has been financed by China. Now, the Chinese tend to be inscrutable, but they always have ulterior motives. You might want to investigate what those motives might be.

The US can actually afford a lot more debt.

The US is in the position of the man who falls out of a 50th floor window, and as he passes the 25th floor, he yells out, "I'm doing okay so far!"

Now, as mountain climbers know, it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the bottom. The problem here is that I don't see much evidence that the US government is using a safety rope or has put in enough protection devices to prevent it from having a sudden vertical impact.

I'm not a lawyer either, but it is my understanding that states still retain enough residual sovereignty under the US constitutional system to be able to do a sovereign default on all their obligations except those to the FedGov. (I am assuming that the Supremes would rule that they must make good on their federal obligations if this ever came to a test.) This is why states aren't covered by any sort of "bankruptcy" law.

Of course, what they can't walk away from is the consequences of default, which essentially means that they can pretty much forget about borrowing any more money from anybody for about the rest of the lifetimes of all the people living in that state at the time of its default.

This passage will not sit well with us TODers, but we should probably be aware that it is a possibility that TOD could be "used" to spread panic for other's intended purposes...

The nature of the carbon economy has been somewhat clearly signaled. Carbon budgets, and carbon credits, are clearly destined to become primary components of the economy. As we've seen with the elite and grassroots supported global warming movement, the arbitrary scarcity of carbon credits can be easily regulated on the pretext of environmentalism. And peak oil alarmism is always available as a backup. As elite spokespeople have often expressed, when the time comes, the masses will demand the new world order.

Maybe the conclusions make sense, but that article is filled with all sorts of conspiracy theory paranoia...

I agree that the article is loaded with conspiracy theory paranoia, but sometimes paranoia is healthy. For all the distrust of TPTB on here I find it interesting that conspiracy theories are so poorly regarded here. With nutcases like Alex Jones and David Icke leading the conspiracy theory charge, it is easy to see why most people disregard these theories (although of course a true believer knows that Alex Jones and David Icke are CIA disinfo agents)... but clearly TPTB are not especially interested in much other than their sponsor's best short-term interests.

You all must be drinking too much fluoride.

The article is full of "theories"...all conspiratorial?...I don't agree. There is much in there that reflects ideas of Jared Diamond's "Collapse".

[Below added later]
I would also point out that Jeffrey proposed the theory of the "Iron Triangle" a few years back. Was that conspiratorial or merely a mind exercise? What about the Kurt Cobb article up top? Orlov, Diamond, Cobb...all conspiracy theorists? Folks, BAU is slowly changing on a global scale. We need to start asking ourselves how it is really changing and why?

Detroit's mayor is planning for a shrinking city.

And in Oregon, Aryan Nations is hoping to take advantage of the drop in real estate prices to buy land to set up a survivalist compound.

And in Oregon, Aryan Nations is hoping to take advantage of the drop in real estate prices to buy land to set up a survivalist compound.

Good news, I hope they build a realy good fence and stays put inside it.

I like how the leaders name is Mullet.

Somehow a doomstead where everybody's mad at you from the start doesn't sound all that viable.

Once they've bought up their land, I suggest that they offer a swap with the people of the Maldives. They are looking for a place to relocate (what with sea levels on the way up due to global-warming), so they would probably be open to the idea, and this would provide the Aryan Nations with a really isolated hidey hole. Of course, since they likely deny global warming, they should have nothing to worry about.

I do hope that they know how to swim. . .

To: BP joins the rush for gas

I´m always amazed when an oil company is trying to sell its "new" business model to investors. BP wants to engage in gas, including shale gas. When I look at http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/archive/aeo06/conf/pdf/Kuuskraa.pdf, it appears to me as an act of desperation, because the EIA paper presents on page 23 a well with a gas flow equivalent to 90 barrels oil a day (6000 scf match 1 barrel oil (SEC conversion factor).
The new SaudiAramco Journal of Technology has some very interesting articles about latest technical development, including borehole collapse during shale fracturing (http://www.saudiaramco.com/irj/go/km/docs/SaudiAramcoPublic/Publications... , page 3) and descaling of gas wells (http://www.saudiaramco.com/irj/go/km/docs/SaudiAramcoPublic/Publications...).
I´ve never read about these problems in any article about "game changing" shale gas (It´s really game changing, if one thinks of the mounting problems and the fast decline of those wells). Was it so complicated any time before?

Watcher -- The problems you point out (as well as many others) have existed since the beginning of oil/NG production. In fact, there's a major segment of oil field service industry organized around fixing these problems. From a mechanicl failure standpoint all costs estimates include contingencies for such problems. These's also an estimate for complete failure. Many a conventional/unconventional well has succeesfully found commercial reserves but failed to make a $ profit. We're dealing with such a NG well this weekend.

Two reasons you haven't heard much about these problems. First, they don't fit into sound bites very well. Second, public companies trying to hype their stock don't benefit from detailing "problems".

i have been thinking about shale gas and fracking. i also think about ground water.

often on TOD i see posted links to article about "peak water". water will be one of the resources industrialized military nations will fight over.

and i often see links to arctiles about the "true cost" of oil extraction.

so....fracking compounds are pumped into gas bearing shale to extract the gas. fracking compounds are aromatic hydrocarbons. xylene, benzine, even kerosene and other fuels are used to extract the gas.

i suspect and have read news articles and even posted a few on TOD pointing out the fact that fracking contaminates ground water.

pundits say the fracking compounds can be recovered. all of of it?
and how many ppm's do you want in your drinking water? what is the "true cost" of fracking shale gas?

we will go through peak shale gas then peak water. BAU from TPTB.

which just goes to show:
only reducing wages and benefits and eliminating soc. sec will avoid PO.

"no one gets out of here alive"-greetings from the humungus

"it's all good"-anon.

fracking compounds are aromatic hydrocarbons. xylene, benzine, even kerosene and other fuels are used to extract the gas.

what you call "fracking(sic) coumpounds" are usually found in their highest concentration in the vicinity of oil refineries. these are naturally occuring (more or less),indeed scary compounds not designed for human injestion or inhalation, such is the world we live in.

frac'ing* is relatively safe.

*abbreviation for hydraulic fracturing.

frac'ing* is relatively safe.

Absolutely, and High Altitude Bombing runs are relatively accurate.

It ALWAYS gets so messy when the relatives are involved!

maybe, i was comparing frac'ing to oil refining. happy motoring !

I have yet to read one article that states as a "fact" that a frac job contaminates ground water. There has been a lot of speculation. There has been a lot of sensationalism. There has been a lot of ignorance. But there hasn't been any proof.

Anecdotaly speaking, as in this proves nothing, In North Texas there are thousands of wells that were completed using a frac job, yet there has not been one single report of a frac job contaminating ground water. In an area with 6MM+ people, one would think that contaminated groundwater would be a big story.

Hum -- Contamination should be a concern. But let me refocus your thoughts. Frac'ing a deeply buried shale gas reservoir won't endanger surface waters IF NOTHING GOES WRONG. There's virtully no chance of those nasty chemicals perculating up to the fresh waters. Now, what can go wrong? The pump pressures used are very high and can rupture the steel casing that's used to protect the fresh waters. In Texas this is monitored and heavily fined if it occurs. Accidents still happens but companies do all they can to avoid such a situation if for no other reason then their own financial position. The bigger risk IMHO is the disposal of produced frac waters. But this is the same problem these local folks have with the disoposal of all hazardous materials. I have no doubt that the volume of frac fluids for disposal is very small compared to how much other nasty stuff local industries generate. Again, up to the regulators to the keep this from being a problem. Again, I'll use Texas as an example. Hazardous fluid disposal here is very closely monitored. But accidents still happen. But, again, the penalty structure pushes companies to make a serious effort to avoid the problems.

Bottom line: frac fluids shouldn't represent a significant risk AS LONG AS THE REGULATORS DO THEIR JOBS. I get the impression that this has been the big problem. The local regulators have had to deal with such issues for other industries so I'm a little confused why this appears to a problem. No doubt there are many millions of gallons of nasty chemicals besides frac waters being disposed of in these states. The only new twist would be the well bore operations themselves. But again, enforced regulations should handle most of the risks.

Bottom line: frac fluids shouldn't represent a significant risk AS LONG AS THE REGULATORS DO THEIR JOBS. I get the impression that this has been the big problem.

Indeed. Any number of articles have pointed out that New York and Pennsylvania drastically increased the number of well permits being issued, but did (at least initially) very little to increase their monitoring and test programs. There have been a wide range of organizational problems reported.

Put much of the problem down to failure to think things through by the state legislatures in areas where large-scale drilling is a new phenomenon. I'm sure the drilling companies played up new revenues and jobs when they were seeking changes in state law, rather than saying, "Oh, by the way, you really ought to fund and staff a substantial increase in your hazardous materials programs before you let us start..."

As I posted the other day about the Vermont Yankee plant, one whistleblower, Arnie Gunderson, had this recollection about the Regulating Agency involved, the NRC.. (years before the Vermont Yankee issue)

"Oh, I was sued by the company I worked for, Nuclear Energy Services. They were the licensee, and I was the senior vice president there. And their claim was that I had defamed their reputation by talking about the license violations. And, of course, you know, Senator Glenn and his subcommittee clearly proved that I was right and that the NRC was taking illegal gratuities, so the—but it didn’t stop the process, because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refused to get involved."


It can be very cost-effective to continually paint Regulators as the bad guys.. the 'problem', the obstructionists to Progress (Profit)..

If a company is unscrupulous enough and money is tight, it won´t be stopped disposing frac fluids illegally.
You can obtain a list with fracking chemicals from the EPA or by Google search. (e.g. http://www.earthworksaction.org/fracfluidslarge.cfm). None of them is by any means harmless. In Germany it would be strictly prohibited to use any of them in the vicinity of towns or groundwater sources, even if the intended place of application is several hundred meter below the groundwater strata. The likelihood of an accident is just too big. And one can be sure that the chemicals will find their way into the groundwater. When the shale is fractured, it does not only conduct gas, but also tainted water. It works in both directions.

And if by the high applied pressure a steel casing is broken, who will find out? Will the regulators order the company to stop production, so that a casing inspection can be carried out? It´s simply not bearable, neither for the company because of losing profit nor for the state because of the necessity to compensate (in the USA as well as in Germany; both countries are financially broke).

Watcher -- I can only report how they handle potential casing failures in Texas. Casing integrety has to be certified by third party companies. They have no incentive to lie: get caught falsifying results and they're dead meat.

Frac'ing is down thousand of meters deep and not a few hundreds. As I said the physical possibility of frac fluids leaking up thru the rock is virtually zero. Disposal is still THE big risk. And companies generally won't break the law. But there's a little trick: pay a disposal company to get rid of the fluid and the companies are free of liability. But who are these disposal companies? Many operators don't want to look too deeply into how these companies function. A fly-by-night disposal company can under bid disposal fees of legitemite companies. Again, this is a responsibility of the regulators to keep track of these disposal companies. And there's lots of room for corruption here. Just give a local inspector a couple of thousand $'s and he looks the other way. And then there are the "midnight haulers" as we call them in Texas. A disreputal disposal company will make a late night run with a tanker truck and dump a load into a creek along side the road. Get caught doing this in Texas and your butt is grass. But don't get caught and you might make an extra $2000. Where's there a financial incentive there will always be crooks. And yes, I've got credit for busting 2 midnight haulers during my years running up and down Texas backroads in the early morning hours. Felt very good indeed.

Watcher The Rotliegendes is frequently fractured in Northern Germany. Exxon is exploring for Shale Gas in Germany as we speak.

"Two major companies involved in hydraulic fracturing acknowledged pumping thousands of gallons of diesel in the ground despite concerns about the practice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to information provided to a congressional committee."


Nothng too shocking there enigma. There are hundreds of millions of gallons of diesel-based fluids routinely pumped down well bores in the Gulf Coast on a DAILY basis. Always a concern. Very seldom a problem.

How the G.O.P. Goes Green
Tom Friedman explains (via Congressman Lindsey Graham) how the moribund Republican Party might address climate change and regain some of its relevance with the younger set and hispanics.

I am sitting with Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, who, along with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, is trying to craft a new energy bill — one that could actually win 60 votes. What is interesting about Graham is that he has been willing — courageously in my view — to depart from the prevailing G.O.P. consensus that the only energy policy we need is “drill, baby, drill.”

What brought you around, I ask? Graham’s short answer: politics, jobs and legacy. We start with politics. The Republican Party today has a major outreach problem with two important constituencies, “Hispanics and young people,” Graham explains:

“I have been to enough college campuses to know if you are 30 or younger this climate issue is not a debate. It’s a value. These young people grew up with recycling and a sensitivity to the environment — and the world will be better off for it. They are not brainwashed. ... From a Republican point of view, we should buy into it and embrace it and not belittle them. You can have a genuine debate about the science of climate change, but when you say that those who believe it are buying a hoax and are wacky people you are putting at risk your party’s future with younger people.”

So Graham’s approach to bringing around his conservative state has been simple: avoid talking about “climate change,” which many on the right don’t believe. Instead, frame our energy challenge as a need to “clean up carbon pollution,” to “become energy independent” and to “create more good jobs and new industries for South Carolinians.” He proposes “putting a price on carbon,” starting with a very focused carbon tax, as opposed to an economywide cap-and-trade system, so as to spur both consumers and industries to invest in and buy new clean energy products. He includes nuclear energy, and insists on permitting more offshore drilling for oil and gas to give us more domestic sources, as we bridge to a new clean energy economy.

For another view of the deep problems the GOP faces, see Frank Rich's column at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/opinion/28rich.html

Dick Lawrence

Hmmm...perhaps this article fits into my article discussion up top?

It appears to me that the national Republican Party has, for at least the last 15 years, sacrificed strategy for tactics. Long-term trends seem to be working against them. The country is becoming less white and less rural. In terms of traditional "urban" problems like poverty, gang violence, and decaying infrastructure, the suburbs are looking more like urban areas and less like rural ones.

Tactically, they've been very good at maintaining discipline, finding hot-button items to get "the base" excited, and delaying the other guys (for example, unprecedented use of the filibuster so that major legislation requires a 60-vote majority in the Senate). But strategically they're fighting a rear-guard action, defending what are basically untenable (in the long term) policy positions.

I have a natural tendency towards what I regard as traditional conservative positions: be very careful about foreign entanglements, run a balanced budget during the good times, try to keep government simple (why do we have Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, Tricare, VA health care, and private insurance for millions of federal employees instead of a single federal health plan?). The Republican Party really ought to be able to attract voters like me. But their lack of strategic vision makes them look like a dead-end.

Well said.

mcain6925 I couldn't agree more with your post. I would add that personally I would be embarrassed at this point in history to be identified as a Republican. Pragmatic conservatism is what I saw when I was younger. Bush I to Bush II pretty much summarizes why I've gone from voting mostly republican to mostly supporting democrats. It wasn't possible to be thrilled with Bush I, but at least with him we had an adult in the Whitehouse.

Hmmm. I'm a Left Libertarian, haven't voted Republican since Ford (does John Anderson count?) and I completely support your conservative positions:

...be very careful about foreign entanglements, run a balanced budget during the good times, try to keep government simple ...

These guidelines look like good, pragmatic governance, nothing conservative or liberal about them. Both political parties have followed them, and both have broken them.

(here comes the flame bait)

For every Bush entangling us in Iraq, there's a Kennedy going into Vietnam.
For every Johnson running up the debt, there's a Reagan doing the same. (Note: Eisenhower and Clinton both managed to run surpluses)

And actually, for your third point, I'm hard pressed to find anyone in any branch of government who's tried to keep thing simple. Even ignoring lobbyists for the moment, the system seems to be set up to legislate new layers onto existing layers. Maybe you just can't legislate "simple".

Although I think Frank Rich's columns are often tilted toward the neocons, today's is rather good exposition of the problems the Republican Party faces. If they can't co-opt the anger and frustration of the Tea Party folks, they could easily end up with a split vote.

In my state, North Carolina, all national races have Republican candidates and some have two running in the primaries. If the Tea Party folks can't find a voice, they may hold the Republican Party and start a third party movement. That would tend to split the conservative vote, making it more difficult for the Republicans to capitalize on the opportunity to blame the Democrats for the on going problem of unemployment.

We've seen this before with other third party attempts. John Anderson won 6.6% of the popular vote in 1980, taking votes away from Jimmy Carter. If those votes had gone to Carter, who knows what might have happened? Instead, we got Reagan and Bush the First. In 1992, Ross Perot captured 18.9% of the vote, presumably most of these votes would have gone to Bush the First had Perot not run...

E. Swanson

Anderson and Perot both had ideas, it wasn't just a protest vote.
What's the tea party's platform? We're mad, scared, and hate having a black guy in the whitehouse?

The Tea Party platform is denial. Baggers can't accept that Reaganism was a political head fake.

I'm not in the "tea party" camp, and don't really know what most of them actually believe (as opposed to the direction in which Republican political operatives are trying to hijack them). I do know that there are a very great number of people around the country that are just plain pi$$ed off, and it has a lot less to do with the color of Obama's skin than it has to do with the megabucks showered on Wall Streeters, courtesy of a clique of Wall Street "advisers" and Wall Street "donors" surrounding Obama and the congresscriters, while Main Street closes up shop and unemployment hits double digits.

Absolutely. Most don't realize that the "just plain pissed off" folks are from both the left and the right. And the center.

Meanwhile, I read that the GDP economy is on the upswing in a strong V-shaped recovery, but the employment economy is flat at best.

WOT but it might save someone's life...

I recently bought a copy of A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine by Eric A. Weiss, MD, ISBN 0-9659768-1-5, from BePrepared.com. $14.95 + S&H. It's a 4x6" paperback with 202 pages - small enough to fit in a glove compartment, briefcase, etc.

The book covers what to do in a wide variety of medical emergencies along with work-arounds (improvised techniques).

I am very impressed with it and recommend it. It's one major failing is that there is not a reference section with signs and symptoms and possible causes, i.e., it assumes you will be able to recognize a likely cause and go to the appropriate section. Recently I experienced minor anaphalxis (and it scared the crap out of me) yet even with my understanding of symptoms, I did not recognize it until after the fact...and was very lucky. So, if you buy this book, take the time to read and study it ahead of an emergency.


US/Canada Hockey Final

As I was finishing off my breakfast of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and French fries this morning, I saw a clip from Colbert's show wherein he noted that Canada losing to the US in Hockey is like the US losing out in a deep fat frying competition.

A proposal, and the more that participate the better: If the Canadians win, I will donate $100 to The Oil Drum; someone want to take the opposite side?

I'll do you one better WT: if you pledge to not eat one donut or french fry for one month I'll donate $200 to TOD.

Gives me a warm cozy feeling: Not only am I supporting TOD but I'm giddy at the thought of WT fighting those cravings. The best of both worlds.

Sorry, but after reading about you guys eating Cajun deep fried pork ribs, I have this incessant craving for deep fat fried foods.

OK WT. I'll back off ragging you about fried foods if you leave me and my Blue Bell ice cream alone. And since you covered the hockey loss I'll still make the contribution to TOD.

Westexas, you can't be eating that vile mix for breakfast, can you? Ough! Your coronaries!

US/Canada Hockey Finish. Wow!! What a finish! A lot of people turned blue holding their breath.

No one else could have given us Canucks the run for our money as did Team USA. Well done, though it's hard in this country not to get caught up in the surge of national pride. There's a touch of truth in the cliche, there's only one gold that counts. The women did it the other night. I'm sure glad the lads proved their worth, too.

Hockey is where the heart is. I don't think there is a dry eye across the Great White North.

westexas, a good Nova Scotia boy, Sidney Crosby, helped to make you a hundred dollars poorer.

Mind you, I can think of no better cause than the Oil Drum.



A very proud moment for we Cannucks, Tom, but I have to tell you I was gnawing off the lips of my stubbies all through the third period. (Pssst.... you forgot to mention that Windsor, Nova Scotia is also the birthplace of hockey !)


Paul, you certainly were not alone with the gnawing. Third period was a tad bit too close for comfort.

Yes, hockey was first played just a short distance from here... at a place called Long Pond, in Windsor, N.S. A legacy and a gift to the world the local folks hold with much pride.

kudos to westexas for the challenge!! You're a good sport.


Paul, Zadok:

Congrats on a good game. I am just so proud of both our countries, North America really showed the rest of the world a thing or two this Olympics.

Thanks, WNC. It was a phenomenal game and the U.S. team certainly proved themselves to be formidable players. Like you, I think we can all be extremely proud of their respective performances last night.


Just sent my $100 to TOD, but did any Canadians take the other side of the proposition prior to the game?

No one did so on line. I read your challenge mid way through the second period when Canada was up 2/0. Didn't think it would be kosher to take on a wager with stacked odds.

President Obama owes Prime Minister Stephen Harper a case of beer.

Regardless of outcome, still a good idea to encourage people to donate to the Oil Drum.

By the way, IMHO, the closing ceremonies were very anti-climatic - a bit too gushy, sappy, and self-congratulatory for my liking. Pretty bad when they had to take Captain Kirk (William Shatner) out of mothballs.

Then again, as long as the athletes enjoyed themselves, all is right with the world.

I was too busy watching the game to bet on it. It was great game, a real white-knuckler until Sid "The Kid" Crosby put the final goal in the net in sudden-death overtime.

We're really sorry for upsetting the US team like that. They looked really crushed. Some of them were crying.

Of course, we have to apologize for winning. It's in Canadian constitution somewhere. We have to feel really bad for the losers.

At least the Canadian men's team wasn't out on the ice drinking beer and smoking cigars like the women's team after they won the gold - particularly the 18-year old. Many Americans thought there was something wrong with that, but we have to point out that she's from Quebec where it would be legal, and she hadn't read up on the local liquor laws. But we'd like to apologize for that, too.

And I'd like to say that the "Own the Podium" campaign was a bit over the top. 14 gold medals are enough for us - we've never won a gold medal in an Olympics in Canada before, and we kind of overcompensated. We'll just take the top step on the podium, and you can have the rest.

Sorry about that.

Rocky, Catherine O'Hara couldn't have said it any better.


And, "I'm sorry you thought Canada was one great big frozen tundra"

Sorry about that, too!

Hi westexas,

I was going to take you up on your wager, but thought it wrong to steal money from you like that. ;-)

In any event, I want you to know there are one-hundred and seven, point zero-nine Canadian loonies winding their way to the Drum to match your kind contribution. Well, at least that's my hope, as the Paypal donation screen insisted that I enter a U.S. state, even though I indicated that I live in Canada (wonder if we Cannucks can read anything into that).


Attention: Anybody in the western New York area: From April 16-18 2010, students from across the Central and Western NY region will be meeting to participate in workshops, panel discussions, and a direct action at the Power Shift NY Western NY 2010 Regional Summit! Power Shift New York is a not-for-profit, volunteer driven network dedicated to uniting a diverse movement of youth and student leaders to work collectively on advocating and promoting a sustainable and equitable future in New York. Contact Email: powershiftny@gmail.com

If anybody is interested in doing a thing on peak oil at this it would be great. It scared the **** out of me when at the national power shift I was told in front of a group of hundreds of students by a Sierra Club organizer NOT to bring up peak oil. I'd be more than happy to do something myself on peak oil (i've made a presentation before). If anybody would like to contact me personally my email is daa1@geneseo.edu

Good for you Dax. A glimmer of hope. Curious: did the SC rep say why they wanted to avoid PO discussions?

Well we had a lobby day (actually the largest environmental lobby day ever), and Energy Action Coalition's main focus is on climate change, so I think they wanted to keep the messaging only on that. I understand why they said not to say anything, but I also understand that they don't understand the severity of the issue. Most of the environmental movement hasn't even heard of peak oil as far as I can ascertain.

Thanks Dax. That's what I suspected. Probably a good idea. Easy to get drawn off the focus. Try to address all the problems at once and you probably end up not accomplishng anything.

re Cobb's article, he takes death rate driven population decline as an index of collapse. I think it may be too early to dismiss a former Soviet recovery. CO2 per capita is another proxy, one that is now showing recovery.

I made this chart a while ago:

From: Collapse and Climate

I do think the dissolution of the Soviet Union is the best model we have for global scale collapse though.

What's the expression, the future's already here just not evenly distributed yet.

Nice article. Do you have a link to an updated graph for world CO2 emissions? How big of a dip did the recession of the last couple years cause? How much deeper of a depression/collapse would bring about the needed reduction? It's grim stuff, all around.

And example of how the US can show productivity increases and lower oil consumption.

We are good.


Schaefer employs 20 people, down from 40 when the WTO began. It is considered a manufacturer, but only about 25 percent of the product is made on site. What choice did he have?

"I'm a distributor technically," said Szalay.

Except for the few machinists filling spot orders, the menial jobs consist basically of removing screws from a box that says Made in China, counting the bits, cleaning them and putting them into new boxes that do not say Made in China.

There are machines that can count and clean screws more quickly and efficiently than a human being, Szalay said, but the machines cost $50,000 plus maintenance and software. In today's America, a human being is cheaper than a machine in the short run.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100225/METRO08/2250419/Blue-collar-work...

You can bet that the new boxes that don't say made in China where made in china.
This sort of thing lies at the heart of American productivity.

Evidence is accumulating that the February rise in OPEC's output will be short lived. The expected decline in March oil exports, first reported by Oil Movements (see my recent post) is being confirmed by renewed conviction of OPEC members to get output back in line.

But as I said before, probably this will not create much worry in the market until we see US oil inventories decline - after recently being temporarily inflated by bringing onshore oil that been stored offshore in floating tankers.

Abu Dhabi Deepens April Cuts for Murban Oil Shipments


I'm not so sure. Russia's (and Italy, Japan, etc,etc) population decline is in many ways a logical response to changed circumstances .. to a new new resource/energy poor environment. Matbe they are just ahead of the adaptive curve.

Now if it continues forever then you have extinction, but if it drops to a lower level then levels off then you actually are having a move to sustainability (ah lah Ireland, the poster child for this scenario).

Take the US, population in WW2 approx 150 million, now 300+ milion. That 150M was more than enough to manufacture tremendous amounts of stuff, field a huge army, then later drive infrastructure and technology at an amazing pace for decades.

Is the US better off at 300M?

Take the UK, its actual sustainable population is around the 20M mark (it can feed itself then) how much wealthier is it actually with 60M (its not, it needs debt just to feed itself)?

I've got a gut feeling that those countries that have already started dropping their population have a head start and maybe, just maybe, will have a better chance in the future. The one's (in the OECD at least) that are still growing (ie US, Australia, etc) are going to have terrible problems adjusting.

Russia's (and Italy, Japan, etc,etc) population decline is in many ways a logical response to changed circumstances .. to a new new resource/energy poor environment.

OS, I didn't believe they expect that to happen soon and I searched, not long though. From Wikipedia:

Death rates in the Eastern Bloc have fallen dramatically over the last decade, especially in Russia. It has been predicted with better living standards, a more vibrant economy and better social institutions, that Russia, (whose population fell from 147 million in 1991 to 142 million in 2009) may start to stabilize and grow in the next couple years. Northern and Western Europe have generally stronger growth than their Southern and Eastern counterparts. Turkey, Albania and Ireland have strong growth, all hitting 1%.