Drumbeat: March 5, 2010

Want the Good Life? Your Neighbors Need It, Too

We live in a world of deep inequality, and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. We in the rich world generally agree that this is a problem we ought to help fix—but that the real beneficiaries will be the billions of people living in poverty. After all, inequality has little impact on the lives of those who find themselves on top of the pile. Right?

Not exactly, says British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson.

For decades, Wilkinson has studied why some societies are healthier than others. He found that what the healthiest societies have in common is not that they have more—more income, more education, or more wealth—but that what they have is more equitably shared.

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism

For those concerned with the fate of the earth, the time has come to face facts: not simply the dire reality of climate change but also the pressing need for social-system change. The failure to arrive at a world climate agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009 was not simply an abdication of world leadership, as is often suggested, but had deeper roots in the inability of the capitalist system to address the accelerating threat to life on the planet. Knowledge of the nature and limits of capitalism, and the means of transcending it, has therefore become a matter of survival. In the words of Fidel Castro in December 2009: “Until very recently, the discussion [on the future of world society] revolved around the kind of society we would have. Today, the discussion centers on whether human society will survive.”

Author to address ‘hidden scandal’ of U.S. hunger

Shopping on a severely reduced budget, he found he could afford mainly processed and salty foods — items such as generic cereal, frozen pizza and “the nastiest, cheapest chicken noodle soup in the store.”

The results of his experiment are one part of “Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It.” Abramsky weaves his own narrative in between chapters about high gas prices, rising health care costs, urban development and low-wage employment.

Oil Surges, Gasoline Rises to 17-Month High, on U.S. Job Report

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil surged and gasoline rose to a 17-month high after U.S. employment declined less than forecast in February, bolstering optimism that fuel demand will climb in the world’s biggest energy-consuming country.

“The employment numbers were quite good relative to expectations, so I’m surprised the market isn’t responding more,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, vice president of energy at MF Global in New York.

Baker Hughes: US Rig Count Up 83 to 1,350 for February

Baker Hughes reported that the international rig count for February 2010 was 1,068, up 21 from the 1,047 counted in January 2010, and up 48 from the 1,020 counted in February 2009. The international offshore rig count for February 2010 was 301, up 13 from the 288 counted in January 2010 and up 15 from the 286 counted in February 2009.

Rising oil sands costs 'a worry'

As energy giants rush back into the oil sands, surging demand for labour and equipment threatens to drive construction costs skyward once again.

"It's a worry," said Steve Laut, president of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., one of Canada's biggest energy companies. Mr. Laut in the past had called on the industry to carefully schedule its projects in a bid to avoid overlapping construction timelines, which ratchet up the demand pressure on labour and equipment.

But several major oil sands announcements this year from Husky Energy Inc., BP PLC, ConocoPhillips and Total have made it clear that the race to develop the oil sands is putting pressure on the industry's cost burden.

PIW: Mexico puts finishing touches on new oil contract rules

Mexico is about to inch back its 1938 oil industry nationalisation that started the ball of nationalisations rolling across the oil-rich world. The finishing touches are being put on new contract rules for the junior partners of Pemex, the country’s national oil company, writes Petroleum Intelligence Weekly, the industry newsletter, in its current edition.

Mexican reforms could cause crude oil price rise in 2011

The Mexican government has signed an agreement with Petroleos Mexicanos to revise rules that allow the state-run firm to award cash-based incentive contracts with private oil companies. This comes as the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) threatens energy sector reforms made in 2008. These reforms gave Pemex greater financial autonomy. PRI argues that the reforms give private companies too much control allowing funds to flow directly into their hands. The move may slow oil increases.

FACTBOX - Key political risks to watch in Mexico

Mexico's oil production, a boon for the country in the 1980s and 90s, has slid drastically in the last few years, with output down nearly a quarter from 2004 peaks, due mainly to a lack of new projects to replace the flagging Cantarell field.

Last year was the fifth year in a row that output fell.

The government says it has stabilized production and will pump an average 2.5 million barrels per day in 2010, but some analysts fear another decline if output at state oil monopoly Pemex's flagship Chicontepec project remains sluggish.

Japan Opens Wallet for Mexico Oil, Gas Project

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation will lend $600 million to help Mexico's state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) develop oil and gas fields in the Chicontepec Basin, northeast of Mexico City, the Nikkei reported in its Friday evening edition.

Mexico is a major producer of crude oil, but its output is expected to soon plunge if development efforts flag.

Analysts: Power generation goal hard to achieve in 2010

Energy experts are concerned about the fact that, despite the present energy crisis, the Venezuelan electric system is still "exploiting to the limit" its thermal and hydroelectric sources.

Concomitantly, the measures implemented to reduce electricity demand and increase power generation have failed to bear fruits so far.

Balochistan govt allocates land for oil city

ISLAMABAD (APP): Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani Friday said the government had allocated hundreds of acres of land at Pasni in District Gwadar for setting up an ‘Oil City’ where refineries, petroleum products units and other allied installations would be established. The Chief Minister said this while talking to Lutfur Rehman, Chairman/Chief Executive of a Canadian based Pakistani company, who called on him, said a press release issued here.

Pakistan: Harnessing Sun, Water And Fossil Fuel

Nadeem Babar is addressing Pakistan's severe power shortage right where it's needed the most: in the wheat and cotton fields and the textile factories spread across the vital Punjab province. Under Babar's tutelage the Punjab government is installing several small hydro and solar power plants. The former will generate electricity from the runoff of the 25,000 miles of irrigation canals mostly set up by the British in this agriculture belt. The latter will utilize the sun that shines here for most of the year.

Craig Venter's Hangout

J. Craig Venter, the entrepreneur whose company recently signed a $300 million deal with Exxon Mobil to develop renewable energy sources, uses solar energy to warm the water of his new home and heat his pool. He's installed energy-efficient custom LED lights and drives a solar-powered Tesla.

He also owns a gas-guzzling Range Rover and an Aston Martin. "I try to drive the two motorcycles and the Tesla more often to balance out the others," Dr. Venter said with a twinge of guilt, surveying the cars, motorcycles, surfboards, kayaks and other items parked in what he called his "toys and joys room."

Wind farm faces Oregon fight: Union joins the resistance to turbines

Union, a town of about 1,900 at the south end of the Grande Ronde Valley, is fighting plans to install wind turbines on snow-capped Craig Mountain just outside town. The project, by developer Horizon Wind Energy of Houston, would also install turbines on Clark Mountain southeast of town. Quaint little Union, spitting distance from northeast Oregon's spectacular Eagle Cap Wilderness, hasn't changed much since horseback desperadoes tried to rob the town bank in 1900.

Hawaiian Utility Fights Solar Industry Over Private Installations

If Hawaii's largest utility gets its way, the islands' abundant sunshine may be wasted.

In February, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) proposed a ban on a booming industry of rooftop solar installations, claiming that too much distributed power generation could destabilize the islands’ isolated power grids. It was forced to back off by the public backlash, but environmental groups and the solar industry say the utility is trying other tactics that will stifle the growth of renewable energy in the state.

Environmentalists see oilsands in Avatar

Environmental and aboriginal groups have launched a new ad that compares their fight against Canada's oilsands to the intergalactic good-versus-evil battle portrayed in the blockbuster movie Avatar.

The special Oscar edition of the Hollywood trade publication Variety hit newsstands Thursday containing a full-page ad lobbying for Avatar to take home the best-picture award because of what environmentalists say are its links to Alberta's oilsands.

'Jordan does not owe Israel a drop of water'

AMMAN - Jordan receives its allocated water shares in full under the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty’s second annex and does not owe Israel a drop of water, Minister of Water and Irrigation Mohammad Najjar said on Thursday.

The minister described as false recent reports in the local media claiming that Jordan is not receiving its fair share of water as guaranteed under the treaty or that the Kingdom has a water debt to Israel.

Recalcitrant Carbon

KMO welcomes Albert K. Bates back to the program to talk about the themes of his forthcoming book, The Biochar Solution. Could a form of homebrewed carbon sequestration provide a stopgap measure that could buy us time to implement effective atmospheric remediation?

Embargo Our Way To Freedom?

A quartet of Yale-affiliated economic types have published a modest proposal for U.S. energy policy that would eliminate the specter of oil shortages in 10 short years. Just phase in an embargo of foreign oil imports, a little each year, until by 2020 the dastardly crude peddlers in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Angola are on their own. The cost of doing nothing, they say, is the strong possibility of a disruption in supply that drives world oil prices to $400 a barrel and bleeds $100 billion or more from the U.S. economy.

Hurdles for Saudi power plans

Fuel shortages and other hurdles will put new electricity generation targets in Saudi Arabia out of reach, analysts say, as the kingdom prepares to use more of its valuable crude oil to keep domestic lights on and air conditioners running.

Saudi Arabia struggling with gas needs

Although it has large natural gas reserves - the world’s fourth-largest proven natural gas reserves, according to Oil & Gas Journal (cited by the EIA) but much of this is alongside oil reserves. But low prices for natural gas until recent years, and deliberately low production of oil to meet Opec quotas have both contributed to the relatively low natural gas production levels.

11-year-old spends $44 million on Dubai homes

Officials in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, declined to comment on how the president's son -- or at least an Azerbaijani schoolboy with the same birth date and the same name as the son's -- came to own mansions on Palm Jumeirah, a luxury real estate development popular with multimillionaire British soccer stars and others with cash to burn. Ilham Aliyev's annual salary as president is the equivalent of $228,000, far short of what is needed to buy even the smallest Palm property.

Azer Gasimov, the president's spokesman, declined to discuss the Dubai real estate purchases. "I have no comment on anything. I am stopping this talk. Goodbye," he said when contacted by telephone and told about the names on the property records. Gasimov did not respond to requests for further comment sent by fax, e-mail and cellphone text message.

Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic blessed with plentiful oil and gas reserves yet blighted by widespread poverty outside its glitzy capital, has long had a reputation for corruption. But the Dubai purchases, which have not been reported before, could provide a rare concrete example of just how much money the country's governing elite has amassed and of the ways in which at least part of this wealth has been stashed overseas.

Galileo’s Legacy Conference: Students Learn How to Go Green and Sustain Energy

The second conference focused on the diminishing amount of oil on the planet, and how our reliance on gasoline will play a huge part in our downfall. Presented by Kenneth Deffeyes, Professor Emeritus of Geology at Princeton University, the conference was titled “Beyond Oil: Sustainable Energy”. He spoke of how rising gas prices, the lowering amounts of oil and rampant oil drilling are negatively affecting the planet, leading to a dark outlook of the future.

“Someday, Kansas will look like Iran, with dry holes,” Deffeyes said. “Someday the whole world will look like that. This is how you get there.”

Online gathering spreads worthy ideas and ideals

"You listen to TEDTalks?" asked a handyman who glanced over at my computer screensaver on his way through the house with his toolbox. "I love those talks--they're better than TV!"

TEDTalks? Although it might sound like a cable show hosted by a guy in camouflage pants, it actually stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. The online series is the spawn of an annual, multidisciplinary gathering of the world's greatest creative thinkers, who pitch their insights before an invite-only crowd. But it's hardly a Davos-style congress of privacy-mad movers and shakers. TED was launched in the mid-'80s in southern California, and was a low-key affair until its current "curator," new media entrepreneur Chris Anderson, put all the material online in 2005, turning the website's "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world" into a global phenomenon.

Coastal Erosion Threatens Evolutionary Hotspots In Gulf Region

The loss of coastal barrier lands to erosion and the dredging of deep channels far inland allows salt water to infiltrate any fresh ground water and aquifers contiguous to these. This is exacerbated by over-pumping these sources for potable water and agricultural as is happening in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Salt water is also effecting agricultural lands in the critical Nile River delta. This is due to both the loss of fresh, unpolluted water and its rapid erosion. This erosion is due in part to the loss of sediment now trapped behind the Aswan Dam. Channel dredging and sea level rise accelerate this loss.

We're dealing to coal addicts: Hansen

A leading climate scientist has likened Australia's continued export of coal in the face of global warming to that of a ''drug dealer'' feeding the world's fossil fuel addiction.

James Hansen, the so-called grandfather of climate change and head of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, has become famous for his research on the Earth's climate and his dogged attempt to bring the science of global warming to the world.

His solution is clear: ''We have to phase out coal.''

Oil-rich countries demand a bigger cut of profits

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Two of the world's oil-rich countries may make it harder for oil companies to do business with them.

Both Brazil and Nigeria currently offer fairly good contract terms to international oil giants like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell that operate within their borders. But now they're hoping to collect a much bigger chunk of the profits from the oil produced in their countries.

"Host governments are trying to find ways to increase their share," said Joseph Stanislaw, an independent energy adviser at Deloitte & Touche. "The terms are going to get more difficult over time."

Analysts Split on Direction of Crude Oil Price, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News were split over whether crude oil prices will rise or fall next week amid mixed economic reports and ample stockpiles, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Fifteen of 40 analysts, or 38 percent, said oil will increase through March 12. Fifteen more respondents predicted that futures will decline. Ten said there will be little change in prices. Last week 58 percent of those surveyed forecast that the market would fall.

How Long Until Peak Natural Gas?

The natural gas paradox is this: In the past decade a technology called horizontal drilling was perfected and now shale rock, which was never before seen as a reservoir of natural gas or oil, is being exploited all across the country. This revolution is going full swing in the United States with areas like the vast Marcellus shale in the Northeast and the Haynesville shale in Louisiana, proving to hold trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. Even the die hard prophets of peak oil doom are finally waking up to the fact that we have many more years worth of this resource left.

We suddenly have over a one hundred year supply of natural gas at current consumption rates and that number has been growing by about one decade more each year since 2005. New discoveries such as the Eagle Ford shale in south Texas are adding trillions more cubic feet to the natural gas inventory. So, peak oil, yes. Peak natural gas, no way.

Shell CEO says (costly) oil here to stay

SANTA BARBARA (MarketWatch) -- Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive sought to manage expectations for new, alternative energy sources on Thursday, predicting that oil will remain the dominant energy source for decades -- not to mention one that will become more difficult to obtain, and hence more expensive.

China to link natural gas price with oil

Zhang Guobao, CPPCC member and head of the National Energy Administration (NEA), made it clear March 4 that China's natural gas price will be linked to the oil price. In regards to the current oil price trend, Zhang said that it is involved with too many financial factors and the price does not fully reveal the relationship between supply and demand.

Hayward Gets 41% Pay Raise as BP Beats Exxon in Oil, Gas Output

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc’s Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward received a 41 percent pay increase last year, after the company produced more oil and gas than Exxon Mobil Corp. for the first time.

Norway oil wealth fund has best year ever in 2009

OSLO—Norway's vast fund for oil wealth posted a 25.6 percent return on investment for 2009 -- its best ever -- as international markets recovered from the global financial crunch, the central bank said Friday.

Yukos takes Russia to court in $109b suit

MOSCOW: The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is hearing the biggest case in its history, with managers from the defunct oil company Yukos claiming $US98 billion ($109 billion) in compensation from the Russian government.

Glencore to Sell $1 Billion of Assets to Fund Prodeco

(Bloomberg) -- Glencore International AG, the world’s largest commodity trader, is seeking to sell at least $1 billion of assets in three to six months to help fund its repurchase of the Prodeco coal unit from Xstrata Plc.

Russia's Shmatko says Ukraine gas price not discussed

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Ukrainian couterpart, Viktor Yanukovich, did not discuss lowering the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas when they met on Friday.

Sinopec, Kuwait Refinery Still in Prelim Work, Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Kuwait Petroleum Corp.’s proposed refinery in the city of Zhanjiang in southern China’s Guangdong province is still undergoing preliminary work, Zhanjiang Mayor Chen Yaoguang said today after a meeting of the National People’s Congress.

Lobster prices too low for harvesters' taste

"They are certainly in a financial squeeze right now," he said. "When they fish harder, they use more bait and more fuel, and those are huge costs for them."

Lapointe said fuel cost is consuming as much as 40% of a lobsterman's take, up from 10% to 15% in recent years.

$100 Million in Stimulus Funds for Green Tech

The Department of Energy announced this week that $100 million in stimulus funds would be distributed to help accelerate innovation in green technology.

“The idea is to get a whole ecosystem of innovative technologies,” said Arun Majumdar, director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which is managing the program.

Russia Will Own Majority of Turkish Nuclear Plant, Zaman Says

(Bloomberg) -- Russia is likely to own at least 51 percent of the shares in the company building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, Zaman newspaper reported, without saying how it got the information.

Town Finds Good Neighbor in Nuclear Plant

VERNON, Vt. — A storm knocked out Kathleen Halvey’s power for eight hours last Wednesday, an event she found both disruptive and prescient.

“I said to my husband, ‘This is what it will be like without Vermont Yankee,’ ” Ms. Halvey, 65, a retired nurse, recalled saying on the day the State Senate voted to close the plant here by withholding its operating certificate.

The Newest Hybrid Model

Across 500 acres north of West Palm Beach, the FPL Group utility is assembling a life-size Erector Set of 190,000 shimmering mirrors and thousands of steel pylons that stretch as far as the eye can see. When it is completed by the end of the year, this vast project will be the world’s second-largest solar plant.

But that is not its real novelty. The solar array is being grafted onto the back of the nation’s largest fossil-fuel power plant, fired by natural gas. It is an experiment in whether conventional power generation can be married with renewable power in a way that lowers costs and spares the environment.

Not “The Great Transit Oriented Development Swindle?”

Under a cursory examination of the concrete realities on the ground, in San Francisco, Transit Oriented Development is a Green bait and switch designed to promote developer profits while exacerbating the very conditions which lead to increased emissions, climate change, congestion and slower, less reliable surface transit. Simply because desirable aspects of a policy appear to work on paper does not mean that they work that way in reality, or that other aspects of the policy don’t actually work against preferred aspects. Compact urban development can lead to denser more walkable communities, but only with sufficient investment in regional infrastructure to discourage auto ownership by making transit more attractive. In the absence of that level of investment, the economic characteristics of this type of development in San Francisco will most likely diminish transit reliability by increasing auto trips–the precise opposite of TOD’s stated goals.

Prophet of Doom Finds Joy as Film Stirs Efforts to Survive Oil Crisis

Think of humanity as a herd of caribou living on an arctic island with no predators and abundant sustenance. We reproduce wildly until inevitably the sustenance, the energy source, is overtaxed and collapses.

Then we begin to die. In the case of humanity, billions of us.

The analogy and the dark prophecy are Mike Ruppert’s. And he argues it already has begun, this great dying, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

China May Start Its First City-Wide Carbon Market

(Bloomberg) -- China may start its first city-wide carbon cap-and-trade system by June as the world’s biggest polluter seeks to rein in emissions, a project adviser said.

The northeast port city of Tianjin plans to impose a mandatory limit on energy used to heat buildings in the first half of this year, John Shi, chief executive officer of the carbon credit trader Arreon Carbon U.K. Ltd., said in an interview. Property managers able to reduce energy use to below the limit will earn credits they can then sell, he said.

Humans must be to blame for climate change, say scientists

Climate scientists have delivered a powerful riposte to their sceptical critics with a study that strengthens the case for saying global warming is largely the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

The researchers found that no other possible natural phenomenon, such as volcanic eruptions or variations in the activity of the Sun, could explain the significant warming of the planet over the past half century as recorded on every continent including Antarctica.

Re: Peak natural gas, no way (uptop)

As we have discussed the key metric is the volume of NG delivered to customers, and with luck, one of these years we may yet match or exceed the (so far) peak rate of US marketed NG that we observed in the early Seventies (EIA).

That initial peak was caused by a contraction in demand from the industrial and electrical power sectors, not a deficit of supply:

US Natural Gas Consumption by Sector, 1949-2008

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) - Annual Energy Review

westtexas - do you (or any of our petroleum experts) have access to charts showing natural gas production and or consumption in the US dating back to the early 70's? Is there easy to understand data on imports, exports, storage and sources of the gas: onshore, offshore and type of well? I am skeptical of some of the seemingly cornucopian claims for natural gas??

Afterthought: A broad search for "natural gas production" using our new search capability gives 613 items..

Follow the link I gave. Most of the data series begin in 1949.


Now I know this article states there is now enough natural gas to run our economy at CURRENT RATES OF PRODUCTION, for 100 years. My question is this, is there really enough natural gas to run all cars on this stuff and continue BAU for decades to come?

Is it possible that if natural gas were not wasted on generating electricity, it could be used to replace gas in cars?

(I prefer keeping natural gas for fertilizer).

I worry about BAU and do advocate it because I know there are other limits besides hydrocarbons, such as fresh water (fossil water), top soil, food production, rare minerals used for high tech devices, etc.

I favor the idea of localizing, reducing consumption, focusing on light rail for transportation and voluntarily reversing population, etc.

The "Rock" has addressed this topic several times. Three key issues: Price; Rapid Decline Rates & Personnel/Equipment.

yeah..., I remember the rapid decline rate now. Much faster then traditional natural gas recovery.

This will sound snotty duckie but the NG they're talking about won't last us 100 days let alone 100 years. That NG is buried thousands of feet below the surface. The big "if" they don't add to that 100 year prediction is "if it's drilled and produced." 100 tcf of NG sitting in the ground has zero value. NG prices were starting to rise. But today they are dropping and many in the oil patch are anticipating prices droping below $4/mcf before they get back above $5/mcf. Such price levels won't spur drilling an very many of the SG plays. There certainly are huge volumes of NG "technically recoverable" in the SG plays but none of it will ever be produced unless NG prices/demand rise sufficiently.

I guess where that leads me, is that 'if' PO forces us to look for other sources to replace Crude, that NG demand and price WOULD shoot up, but then we're no longer talking about '(100 yrs) At current rates of consumption' either.

What becomes of 1)that 'hundred year' supply, and 2)particularly if we're not really getting the straight scoop with the speed that these wells usually decline..

Personally, I'm expecting the economy to tank and bring down demand of all fossil fuels in about half the world. A very deep depression will cause a bit of glut until the "spare capacity" is worked off. Of course a financial meltdown (not out of the question) might cause everything to drop in lockstep — production and demand.

Note that in the Thirties that global demand appears to have only fallen one year, in 1930, rising thereafter, and after hitting a low in the summer of 1931, US oil prices rose at 11%/year from 1931 to 1937

A open question I have that I'm pondering is the fate of our secondary energy resources as oil becomes more expensive.

Right now my opinion is that they are never produced. Or not any time in the near future i.e next several hundred years.

The reason is that economic contraction from rising oil prices result in a sort of receding horizon effect on secondary resources.
You never reach the point where expansion of them as substitutes becomes viable.

First coal and natural gas have acted as partial substitutes for oil for several decades after oil became expensive back in the 1970's.
Because of this we already have aggressively exploited our coal and natural gas supplies resulting in ever higher extraction costs and lower EROEI. Now we are exploiting unconventional plays.

However once we get past bubbles and rising oil prices result in a steadily poorer and shrinking economy instead of us expanding the alternatives even more it turns out we can't even afford to extract at our current level as previous extraction has already made it to expensive to extract the remaining coal and ng reserves.

In general the shrinking effect from oil keeps current production unprofitable or at best marginally profitable however if the price of NG rises it does not spur expansion instead it now acts as and accelerate to rising oil prices forcing ever faster economic shrinkage. NG prices rise and when you go to try and raise money to expand production instead of money everyone pats you on the back and suggests you enjoy your windfall while you have it as they have no money to lend and no assurance that the situation won't change resulting in another price drop as the economy shrinks.

Now the higher prices go the higher the expectation of a at least mini collapse in demand and thus the desire to invest in long term production expansion drops even more.

So all the secondary energy resources along with a lot of other stuff gets caught if you will following in the coattails of oil induced economic problems and not only can we no longer expand current production we can't even afford to produce what we do now.

By the time lack of investment results in price increases overall economic decline lead by oil makes significant investment even less likely. Indeed you may well see a number of mini spikes happen with the secondary resources as their price increases add enough pressure to reduce demand overall causing prices to fall. This volatility again drives off investment.

In general for NG and Coal your in this paradox situation that your current production levels are to high for current demand and thus the price falls below profitability. Price levels required to turn this around pressure the economy and also of course require oil demand to expand i.e overall economic expansion thats not possible because you don't have enough oil this demand is simply forced to shrink until supply is ample without expansion of the secondary resources.

Perhaps confusing but the key point is that in and expensive oil regime our secondary energy sources are simply no longer viable period as the cost of existing development is beyond the economies ability to pay much less expansion. High oil price induced poverty should generally ensure that prices for coal/NG will remain either low or volatile as any price increase must be met with falling demand. Attempts to expand them as alternatives fail or to take advantage of price fail as they require increased demand for oil which is impossible.

Said the same thing twelve different ways one way will make sense :)

Indeed. 30 years ago, when I was in graduate school in Austin, I did a bunch of systems analysis related to the methane dissolved in onshore geopressured brine reservoirs. At the time, there was clearly enough NG in those reservoirs to meet domestic demand for at least several decades. The reservoirs are well mapped, they produce at high rates, but... The problem was, and is still, that no one knew how to produce the stuff safely. If you don't mind poisoning most of the waterways in Texas and Louisiana, and much of the Gulf of Mexico, with heavy metals, it's straightforward.

There are at least dozens and possibly hundreds of patents on file for methods to do so -- none of them have worked out. I keep hoping that the materials science folks build a ceramic membrane that will selectively pass methane at relatively high rates that also (a) can withstand the temps and pressures involved and (b) doesn't clog up because the other crap in the brine precipitates out. No luck so far.

See - its all because of enviro-commies. Otherwise we will have all the NG we want (though not much drinking water) ...

Not knowing anything about geopressured brine NG and being a curious sort, I took a look around. Here's a short report written in 2005 for those inclined to read a bit deeper on the subject. Also included are several references and a link to a master's thesis.

E. Swanson

These are either methane saturated deep water reservoirs or brine saturated NG reservoirs depending on who is the chicken and who is the egg.

To be honest what really interesting about methane is how common it is subsurface esp if you leave commercially viable or even traditional sources. Heres something I find really interesting. Sedimentary rock is chock full full of methane, coal, water and salt.
Yet volcanic eruptions don't seem to represent theses in the same values in subduction zones. There is a tremendous amount of chemistry taking place as rock is subducted. Slightly off topic but people fail to realize just how much "junk" if you will is buried below the earths surface and the expense of drilling really limits us. If we could access the mineral content in the top mile of the earths surface we would increase or resource base beyond imagination. It not just hydrocarbons but long buried gold,copper, iron etc etc deposits.

I don't want to excite the cornucopians but if drilling was trivial the actual resource base in the top mile of the earths crust is staggering. This is just one example there are countless others. You name it its there. With just a bit of research if you could say excavate 100 1 square mile cubes of the earth surface in a few well chosen points you would have every single resource known to man in quantities that exceed what we have done so far by orders of magnitude.

Think about the land buried under ice in Antarctica or Greenland the earth itself is very very similar instead of ice its layers of sediment but all the ancient surface is still there buried all over the globe. Getting at it is and issue of course but if you grok whats out there its hard to believe we hit the limits. Indeed in the end its and issue of money not resources at the largest of scales.

If we ever developed nanotechology to the point we could create something like the ultimate tree root resources would be effectively unlimited similar technology to extract from seawater and waster water would yield immense quantities of any element you want.

Assuming we continue our technical innovation one day we will be able to do this but lets hope by then we are a lot wiser then we are now. In the big picture it can be done but do we really need to live the way we do now ? Indeed my hope is that by the time we could do such things we choose not too simply because we have no need. Our population would be low enough that efficient recycling using the exact same concepts along with the lightest of touches extracting the needed replacements would meet our needs.

Indeed in time one would expect that interest would move out of our physical world and into a new cyber world that uses very little resources. Instead of building of natural resources this same civilization could create in a world of thought as the technological level that would allow it to rape a planet almost certainly allows it to create full intelligence and then some in cyberspace where you make the rules.

In addition dark matter and dark energy hint at the existence of a structure that dwarfs the physical universe we know in the same way that the volume of matter beneath or feet dwarfs what we can access with our current technologies. Do we really want to give all this up because we are unwilling to control our breeding ? In the end of course thats the real issue its not resources of how they must be divided using the technology of the day. With just a small amount of constraint to but us just a little bit more time to explore and understand whats possible knowing what we know is also beyond our imaginations. What we are throwing away with our current society is so much larger than what we get that its really hard to believe our willingness to take such a route.

We have finally reached the point in technical evolution that we must choose to not take certain paths even though we could.
Its like some super advanced culture capable of sending any star into supernova just because you can does not mean you should.
In a small way backing down from nuclear war does represent a step in this move to constraint yet this step is just now being tested as the world runs into resource restraints. Did we really back away from nuclear war or where we satiated with other sources of power and simply deferred it ?

At some point you simply have to grow up as a species indeed probably well past.

Like sour or heavy crude and extra heavy crude. It's nice, it will last a long time, but it's production rate will be low.

It's not cheap NG just like deep offshore oil isn't cheap.

There's much more oil out there, but at a much higher price.
There's more NG too, but at a much higher price and it will not last nerely as long as these articles claim.

Denmark makes the slide across ELM territory in 2 years time.


The Danish government's report on energy supply security [] shows that Denmark is the only country in the EU that is a net exporter of energy, and that the country has a modern and well-functioning infrastructure with very high energy supply security in electricity, natural gas and district heating, reports the Ministry of Climate and Energy in a press release.

In 2012, production of oil and gas in the North Sea will however drop to a level that will make Denmark a net importer of fossil fuels.

I was about to point out that Norway is a large net energy exporter, but then I realized that they are not part of the EU.

In any case, here are Denmark's observed rates of change in total oil production, consumption and net exports from 2004-2008 (EIA):

Production: -7.0%/year
Consumption: -0.5%/year
Net Exports: -16.4%/year

I have yet to see an example of a net oil exporting country--showing a production decline--that has cut its production sufficiently to keep their net export decline rate above their production decline rate.

My bet is that we are back to annual year over year increases in oil prices, unless and until the global demand for net oil exports again falls below the global supply, but the problem is that as we get farther away from 2005 I expect to see an accelerating net export decline rate, so going forward it will take ever greater rates of decline in demand to bring the demand below the declining net export supply--and then we have ELM 2.0 effects (developing countries outbidding developed countries for declining net oil exports).

WT, WHT, or whoever,

Has there been an analysis of the marginal cost of production of various fields, from CN oil sands to shale, at least for those with a decent EROEI?

How about for the consumption side -- the cost tolerance (demand slope or elasticity) of various oil users or usages?

My thinking is that as supply wanes, the cost will tend to spike, driven less by marginal cost of production and more by the marginal cost of consumption. Rather than "what can the 86 millionth barrel be produced for?", it'll be "what will the bid be for the 80 millionth barrel available?".

Over time, this marginal consumption cost will drive new production.....for a while.....until a further shortage creates a new spike.

If we had some sort of view of how much various users could actually afford to pay for oil, we might have a better view of when the various users' economies will take a hit and slump into demand destruction.

I imagine this would actually be a set of demand price curves, overlaid and added. US motoring will have a curve for each type of driving and type of car, possibly varying over time (short term, people may drive less; longer term, they may buy VW TDIs, etc.). Farming might have a different curve. Lubricants and plastics still others. Buses and trains would differ yet again.

My worry is that we'd find that Chinese taxis and Indian motorcycles will have a higher cost-tolerance than domestic uses, and almost ALL the initial export drop will turn into US import drops. Is there any quantitative backing for this?

and almost ALL the initial export drop will turn into US import drops. Is there any quantitative backing for this?

That is the crux of my ELM 2.0 argument. If we look at 1998 to 2008 oil consumption data, many developing countries appear to have shown large increases in consumption, especially Chindia, but also countries like Kenya and Morocco, as annual oil prices rose at 20%/year from 1998 to 2008, while US 2008 consumption was back to the 1999 rate, and it has fallen more since then.

My forecast for the US is that we are going to be forced to make do with a declining share of a falling volume of global net oil exports.

While simple linear projections might yield some qualitative value, having some sort of quantitative support could perhaps yield better pricing estimates at various consumption levels.

Given that production will decrease, and ELM 2.0 will happen, it still doesn't answer the question of price or who is most impacted.

For example, some possibilities for a production slide:
- price never stays higher than $100/bbl in 2008 dollars for long, as various economies crash with each spike
- price spikes on shortage, collapses on recession, and then edges up to a new higher base. Lather, rinse, repeat.
- price spikes to $500, the economy adjusts to deliverr nuclear-powered subsea platforms which find abiotic oil in the Marianna trench, and we worry about oil again in 2200.

In terms of who is impacted, having some view of the "least cost tolerant" users and countries might help. I tend to think (aligned with ELM 2.0) that producing countries will be most immune, and high-usage import countries will be the most sensitive, but it's just a guess.

Sam's most optimistic scenario is that (2005) top five net oil exports will be down to about 15 mbpd in 2018, versus 24 mbpd in 2005.

For the sake of argument, if we extrapolate Chindia's 2005-2008 rate of increase in net oil imports out to 2018, their combined net oil imports would be about 15 mbpd.


The secondary issues that make developing nations more likely to pay higher prices than the US for oil appear to be pretty obvious to me. This is not any sort of a statistical support for that position, but rather an attempt at reasoning through the existing situation and determining probable outcomes. As such, this approach has limited usefulness but it may suggest other lines of inquiry.

Mt observations and conclusions are:

1. US wages and salaries are falling, meaning there is less room for discretionary consumption.
2. Developing nation wages are slowly rising, meaning more room for discretionary consumption.
3. US infrastructure is built around a certain level of efficiency expectations for fossil fuels. People have pushed this to the limit, giving rise to suburbia and even exurbia.
4. Developing nations are laying in their infrastructure now and much of that infrastructure is aimed at more efficient usage of fossil fuels than we use.
5. Developing nations have significantly higher populations than the US so per capita fossil fuel costs are still lower than the US even at the higher prices.
6. Replacing existing infrastructure takes longer than building out all new infrastructure, particularly when replacement also means social changes must occur for the replaced infrastructure to be accepted.

This combination of factors, particularly the social problem of acceptance of change in infrastructure, will force the US to do with less for quite some time. If you could wave a wand and have the entire US instantly converted to electric rail and electric commuting vehicles coupled with instant social acceptance of these things as well as seeing wages/salaries at least stabilize rather than continue to decline, then the US might see stable or even slightly growing consumption of fossil fuels against a backdrop of increasing fossil fuel prices. But the reality is that none of those things can occur instantly and the social acceptance problem will drag solutions out even further.

Simply put, the US uses too much fossil fuel per capita to be competitive with the rest of the world given how we have organized our lives at the current time. A social reorganization (such as that frequently mentioned by Alan) must occur that reduces per capita fossil fuel usage. Unfortunately, I do not see this reorganization occurring short of significant economic pain being inflicted on the United States in order to drive the change.

Well said. I don't, however, expect this reorganization to happen at all, at least not in a timeframe meaningful to us. At the very most, we'll drive less and spend less (which of course increases deflationary pressures in the economy) and perhaps make a gradual conversion to fuel efficient vehicles, which will result in a small increase in resiliency in the short term, without having any impact in the long term due to relentlessly decreasing supply and increasing population growth/demand in the developing world. There's an upper limit to the efficiency of ICE powered vehicles, especially given safety parameters, cabin/cargo capacity, etc. (though I don't think we are anywhere near it in the average efficiency of the U.S. fleet). Moreover, increases in efficiency will, at least until some limit, be subject to Jevons paradox.

Moreover, for a variety of reasons the U.S. has been thrust into the position of being policeman of the Middle East, so we are stuck paying for two resource wars. Add the cost of bed pan emptiers for millions of aging boomers and now you're talking serious money. If anybody can show me how we'll get electric rail after we've paid for all this guns and butter, I'm all ears.

IMHO, we are getting so poor that we will have to choose between electric transport, defense, and health care (1 out of the 3). Something tells me defense will win out.

In the US gasoline price/amount supplied followed a common gentle linear trend up, until mid 1978, when the magic price of (horrors) 66¢/gal was broached, whereupon the price spiked and consumption began an immediate downturn. This was when CAFE standards were kicking in with a vengeance, providing motorists with ready alternatives to gas guzzlers; perhaps there was a shift among some to utilizing MT or bicycles or carpooling as well but the data isn't there to assess this.

1978 was also the peak of vehicle sales in the US, at 15,122,000, declining to 10,678,000 in 1981; '82 declined slightly more, then sales began to claw back, hitting 15,437,000 in '85. Yet all through that initial downturn in sales consumption was declining as well. CAFE gains in the 70s were as follows:

1978	18.00	5.26%
1979	19.00	5.00%
1980	20.00	9.09%
1981	22.00	8.33%
1982	24.00	7.69%
1983	26.00	3.70%

Beginning next year, under Obama's mandate:

2011	30.20	8.94%
2012	31.96	5.51%
2013	33.72	5.22%
2014	35.48	4.96%
2015	37.24	4.73%
2016	39.00	4.51%

Whether this will yield a commensurate drop in gasoline demand I'm not sure. Dave Cohen wrote about CAFE, describing it as being more of a suggestion than mandate; also the drop in sales this time has been much sharper, and perhaps further gains in performance will be more difficult to realize. Forget if these figures are writ law, either...haven't looked into this stuff in a while.


You might also add a footnote to your ELM 2.0 to the effect that the US government will likely assure that the armed forces, other essential public services, key industrial and infrastructure customers, and agriculture will get first call on those rapidly declining oil supplies, meaning that what remains available for the general public on the open market will demonstrate an even greater decline rate. Maybe we chould call that ELM 3.0?

Sounds reasonable to me, with a caveat. I am not expecting to see shortages per se, at least not for some time. I am expecting that we will continue, in aggregate, to be outbid for oil exports, but to restate a question I have posed before, to-wit, what is the price of oil that would force Bill Gates to conserve?

I think there are at least two dynamics of note here.

One is 'who can afford to pay?', and that is obviously "those with wealth and/or good jobs". To a lesser degree, "those whose usage is efficient" - a $10 earner with an old Metro will have options that the guy with a 454 Chevy truck will not.

Another is "who will be affected by the shift of funds?", and even Bill Gates will divert some minuscule fraction of funds from a vacation or charity to pay for limo and chopper fuel. Those whose livelihood rests on middle/lower-class luxuries will likely be hit hardest.

Those whose livelihood rests on middle/lower-class luxuries will likely be hit hardest.

That is an excellent point, Pal. Only, IMHO the term to be looked at is necessaries vs. non-essentials. For instance, when gasoline is $10/gal, and unemployment is 25-30% stated (and 50%+ actual), cities and counties will not have funds to run public transit. Surburbanites will be stranded; those who can work will be unable to get to work, and employers will need to run the buses out to the suburbs to bring in their hired help.

I believe the medical industry (yes, that is what it has become) will be next to suffer sudden decompression. Given the choice between pills and food, the determinate will be, "which will kill me the soonest? No food or no pills?" Choosing between shelter and automobiles, we will not move under the bridge. Heat in winter, or video games? Heat will win out. Summers will be unpleasant since not cooling will, generally speaking, not kill you. Exception: during extreme heat waves, for elderly folks.

Choices are going to be constrained, and luxuries will be gone long before we hit the hardest of times. The average suburban lot does not have sufficient land to grow food for the family residents. We will probably be farming those 'green belts' the 'burbs are famous for - and the grounds at those ritzy suburban schools. Large corporate campuses may also be called into play as farmland.

An earlier thread dealt with Mike Ruppert "finding joy" in these projections. I suspect the contrary. Mike is as unhappy about it as anyone, and is trying to educate the public. It makes one recall the maxim that, "you can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Still, I am glad he is in the public eye...


There will be rationing before the gas hits $10/gallon.

IMO rationing is elitist..............
Rationing will certainly cause gas to rise well above ten bucks a gallon and all on the black-market.
But because it is elitist, I guess rationing will eventually come about.

The sensible thing to do IMO, is to tax machines which use the fuel. That though would stifle the elitist dependent consumer spend and that would never do.

It doesn't really matter to me when Bill Gates gets affected. I do care when it begins to affect me or my family and friends.

I agree with your analysis but there are far too many variables for the result to be anything other than chaotic oil prices. Your comment about Chinese motorcycles is the core of WT's ELM 2.0 model.

Additionally, there is the usual complaint in the UK about the latest rise in petrol tax, to 76p /litre (about $4 /gallon). However, this represents a smaller tax rate (67%) on the price of petrol than it was 10 years ago (80%). These huge tax rates (similar across Europe) have in practice cushioned the European driver from the oil price rises that has seen US consumption fall dramatically, They have, over a generation, trained Europeans to buy and drive smaller, more efficient cars. Also, a doubling of the price of petrol in the US equated to only about a 30% forecourt price rise in Europe.

Also, the governments also have the option, in the face of future price spikes, of cutting the rate of tax to absorb the entire spike before it hits the forecourts. This will ensure that Europe will continue to buy oil as the US grinds to a halt under $8/gallon gas.

There is a macro effect on balance-of-trade when oil prices go up, even if the EU 'eats' the increase by dropping taxes. And for countries with some internal production, like the US, there will be a wealth-redistribution component as well, from heavy consumers to the local producers.

There may be too many variables, but I don't know that can be claimed as a "given". Most people can only juggle a handful of variables in their heads, so it can seem terribly complex even if in reality a few primary factors might "rule" and be perfectly tractable.

Some factors may be similar across many countries -- impact on rail or shipping, for example. Those areas where the US drastically differs from most -- personal driving, trucking, and military (any others?) -- would seem to drive the relative impact on the US.

The EU does have the remaining (but declining) North Sea oil to offset some of the balance of trade issue. The UK was until recently a net exporter of course, but shock of the rapidly rising costs of imports is doing sterling no favours at all.

I think the tax buffer will give Europe a short term advantage in the event of a price shock. It will not take many months of $200 oil to implode US demand. We do not need to outrun the polar bear, we only need to out run you :)

You are probably right about the dominant variables ruling the economics, but I suspect a real price shock would trigger geopolitical events that render conventional economics redundant.

Europe uses oil more efficiently, but it is just as dependant on the oil it does use, if not more so.

Jeff Vail did an analysis of this that basically lead to the conclusion that because different uses have different elasticities, the easy to save oil is saved first, but then becomes much more difficult after that. Not exactly great news.

One has to commend the Danish government for being honest with their citizens. If I were a Dane, the next question I would ask is: "How did we arrive where we are?" In other words, "What is our energy history?"

Let's do a little historical review of Denmark's situation with charts from the Energy Export Databrowser:

First off let's review Denmark's energy mix in terms of percentages on the left and total amounts on the right:

The "Denmark: Consumption" chart on the left hand side shows that Denmark relied on oil (all of it imported) for fully 90% of their energy needs when the first oil shock arrived in 1973. If you talk to any Danes who were alive then they will tell you about the disruption that caused. It was a true wakeup call for them. With no other options, they turned to coal which was still being exported by the likes of Germany, Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia. The second oil shock, the Iran-Iraq war of 1980, only worsened things and we see, in the "Denmark: Consumption" chart on the right hand side, that the total energy consumed actually dropped every year from 1979 to 1983. These were tough times in Denmark.

Luckily, as we see in the two bottom charts, North Sea oil and gas came to the rescue with oil beginning in earnest in 1982 and increasing annually after that. Natural gas production and consumption began in the mid 1980s and production has increased steadily since then. Interestingly, gas did not initially replace coal as a source of heat but only added to the total energy consumption all the way through the mid 1990's as seen in the "Denmark: Consumption" chart on the right. Then something happened in 1996, nine years before their peak in oil production. Following that year, Denmark's use of coal quickly dropped to a lower base level while oil consumption entered a steady long term decline. The reason for this is explained by Denmark's energy efficiency policy. Here is an excerpt from the IEA summary:

In 1991, energy taxes were reformed into an energy and carbon tax to reflect Denmark's environmental concerns. A large share of the tax revenues was used for energy efficiency measures and since the tax system came into effect in 1992 it has been expanded.

Denmark embarked on a 'green tax' reform to shift the tax burden away from income and towards resource use. This system was put into place between 1994 and 1998. Energy taxes were raised progressively, particularly on coal and electricity consumption, leading to an average increase in taxation on heating and power of 30% from 1994 to 1998. The main effect was that households paid lower income taxes and higher environmental taxes.

In fact, there have been a series of four Danish Energy Plans since the first Energy Policy in 1976. They are beautifully and succinctly described in Chapter 1 of a document from the Danish Center for Biomass Technology.

Regarding the effect of the new taxes instituted in the mid 1990's and their impact on biomass as an energy source, one chart from that document makes it cleear:

Given that Denmark, like other Scandinavian countries, has embraced district heating, biomass is increasingly important as a replacement especially for coal and natural gas. And everyone knows that the Danes are in love with their bicycles. (Watch the billion bikes - Copenhagen you-tube series to truly understand.) It seems like the Danes have prepared themselves for the initial stages of Peak Oil and the price volatility that has brought. Hosting the climate summit has only reinforced their goal of reducing their reliance on fossil fuels that was close to 100% not that long ago.

The Danes have their own interesting history with respect to energy and are carving out their own path toward the future. Clearly, the energy history of each nation is different and studying those histories can reveal how different strategies have resulted in effective (or disastrous) outcomes.

Best Hopes for studying international history and making informed decisions!

-- Jon

PS__ If anyone would like me to write a top post about Danish energy history or biomass and district heating in Scandinavia I'm quite interested in these subjects at the moment.

Thanks, Jon. Well done and much appreciated!


Danes are in love with their bicycles.

Not surprising really when the highest point in the nation is the top of a bridge at 257 metres, well above the highest point on land of ~170 metres - to say the country is flat is an understatement!

However in Denmark the wind is often so strong that when biking against the wind it seems as if you are climbing a hill !

Yup, big hills and winter - two factors chronically and often deliberately overlooked by bicycle advocates who indulge in the one-size-fits-all mentality...

The Danes have winter! And eighty percent of those who bicycle keep going even in the snow. (In Copenhagen they have cute little bike lane snowplows. Bike lanes get plowed before the regular streets do.)

In San Francisco we have hills! The antidote for these is a small electric motor. I first read about electrifying bicycles on TOD, so thank you TOD for a very nice year and a half on my electric bicycle.

When my two eldest moved to San Francisco in the 90s, they got jobs as bicycle messengers. My daughter soon moved into the office as a dispatcher, but my son persevered, dropped 30 pounds, and got muscles hard as rocks. After a few years he moved on but still does mountain bike racing on occasion.

Right, Paul.

Just like our responses to this line seem to be deliberately overlooked by you every time you make this claim.. a big part of your unhelpful hyperbole being that I didn't see Anyone saying this fits ALL..

it could fit a great many people for much of the year in countless places. That's a good start.

For the technical analysts out there with an interest in all things dealing with risk, uncertainty, and validation, check out the Various Consequences blog http://j-stults.blogspot.com/. I only recently discovered this and it is very high quality.

Part of what has shaped my view of investments and why I only do conservative investments has to do with my interest in understanding fat-tail probabilities and Gray Swan events. I have started to dabble in understanding some aspects of the markets with my own spin applied. Here is one of my first real stabs http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2010/03/volatile-investment-trap.html.
To put it concisely, I am trying to understand how we should look at risk in relation to how and when companies get trapped in slow growth and whether growth rates as defined really mean anything.

We have a huge amount of slack in energy use that we could divert to core uses.

I recently encountered the example of a chain drive on a pancake making conveyor. The pancake conveyor is pretty cool: the batter squirts out in jets on thick cast iron plates a foot wide and six feet long, the the plates are fired from below with gas jets, the pancakes flipped with a giant mechanical sheet, fired again and flash frozen, and finally packaged in poster board boxes. The pancake line is in in a regional food manufacturer's factory.

Great example of a chain drive (the system converts the constant output of the motor to the intermittent motion required for all the steps), but it got me thinking about lower energy ways to provide a quick breakfast. Assuming the purchaser doesn't want to make his own pancakes (in which case he could just buy the quite decent pancake mix made by the same company), there are still many solutions in use all over the world. A guy on the sidewalk with a frying pan and a hibachi, German crepe carts, Italian stand up coffee and pastry windows, hole in the wall concessionaires on the ground floors of office buildings, the nearly lost American neighborhood diner with a take out window, kiosks that sell donuts as well as newspapers (still alive in NYC), are all ways to solve the problem which use less energy than processing and storing frozen pancakes, and they all provide gainful employment.

Over and over again, we do things in high energy ways, often with dubious results. No frozen pancake is as good as that crepe right off the griddle, eaten standing up in a train station, or a fresh croissant baked in a neighborhood bakery just hours earlier.

Clearly, frozen pancakes have got to go!

Full disclosure: I have never eaten a reconstituted frozen pancake, nor even seen one. To me, the whole point of pancakes is that you have a free easy morning, and you make the coffee, and then you leisurely prepare the batter and you griddle 'em up. Maybe you fry up some bacon first. Then you eat the whole mess with butter and real maple syrup. Have another cup of coffee. Then go out to the woodshed to get some more wood for the stove.

If you're in that much of a hurry, have a bowl of cereal or some toast with peanut butter and/or some fruit or something.

The very mindset that generates the idea of frozen pancakes is the problem.


PS - to those that loves them some frozen pancakes, I am not proposing making them illegal. :-)

We've got frozen pancakes beat in Texas gage. A company in Austin is sellign spray cans filled with pancake batter. Just shake and spay directly into the griddle. The report on Sunday Morning said they were "Selling like hot cakes!"

Sounds like somebody's discovered an alternate use for Fix-a-Flat.

I am as much a student of human psychology as the next person, but how my initial comment got turned into a discussion on pancakes is beyond me.

Perhaps this is just another example of entropy at work. Unless you enforce some sort of order into the system, the discussion will seek to fill up all the possible narratives.

So I guess it just proves my point that anecdotes about some particular aspect of a problem should get rolled into a continuum of some measurable quantity. Otherwise we are forever in the weeds.

If this seems a tangent, so be it. So is the discussion on pancakes.

Or it could be that it's just Friday afternoon ;-)

Phil (the weatherman, not the groundhog) to the police officer in Punxsutawney, PA: "Too early for flapjacks?"



Perhaps it was too subtle Web. Would a tee shirt with a pic of an aerosol can of pancake batter be fitting as a symbol of how "we" are responding to PO?

I think breakfast is a good place to set up an example about energy use..

to add my own pancake example. (<: ...

We do the 'big batch' on a Saturday.. and have a couple tupperwares full of them for the week. The fresh ones Saturday are one kind of treat, and the quickies on the weekdays are nice, too, and just take a few seconds in the ToasterOven to heat up.. I hope the combined energy is some kind of savings, when all the prep and refrigeration are considered..

Local Butter, Local Wheat, Local Milk, eggs & syrup!

This thread has made me decide to have a pancake morning tomorrow.

Best Hopes for local pancakes!

I'm already soaking flour for the waffles!

It has taken me awhile but I now understand how the market has two almost orthogonal components. The traditional component concerns investing based on long term potential and rewarding those who have worked productively with few obstacles to overcome. The other component deals completely with speculation and market manipulation designed to reward the players who understand game theory best.

I say these are othogonal components which indicates that we can potentially separate out the two effects, but I sense that exists only conceptually as I don't have any brilliant ideas of how to separate them.

I think energy investment versus energy speculation works exactly the same way.

That's an interesting way of putting it Web. I'll think on it over the weekend too.

Long term the fundamentals assert and short term the games can have large impacts.

And long-term, the fat-tail probabilities start appearing. While short-term it is all gaussian Normal statistics (look at the way rates can balance out day-to-day, much like a random walk)

My thinking is that the quants are trying to make the short-term effects as strong as possible so they can do their Black-Scholes trickery, while they try to completely suppress the fat-tail effects.

And the fat-tail effects are what has everyone completely afraid. The long term outlook for anything based on productivity is completely uncertain as I show in the blog post. And this should effect commodities I would think as well (there are winners and losers in that outlook).

Very interesting.

I got ya.
The more time passes the more the chances of a gray/black swan to skew the bell and at the same time the short term speculation is tailing off.
That would be your orthogonal or two uncorrelated components of price action canceling somewhat.
I never looked that much into this stuff when I was trading.
I was a seat of the pants or as you would scold Heuristic type but with good money management.
But I was a much short time frame player than you are.

I am going to have a look at your post.


I think you need some pancakes.

My side of the discussion has found a home further down the thread. Thanks for the offer.

Web, correct me if I'm wrong but my understanding of orthogonality is that two perfectly orthogonal components have a correlation of zero and that they can only show zero correlation if they are perfectly orthogonal, non?

Right, but you have to get them aligned on the correct "axes" to get the correlation to go to zero. The problem is to find that axis, if it does indeed exist. I would like it to exist, because then we have some hope of coming up with a way to separate the effects.

Alas, so far the potential orthogonality only exists conceptually in my mind.

There is no way you could come up with anything but a probability relationship between short term and long term since many players are making many decisions at many different times for many different reasons.
But I bet they cluster pretty well over a long enough time frame....more heuristic thinking again told ya I was seat of the pants.

If you are still here. I don't see how in the world you could pin down the "axes".
It seems that even if the quantity of trades was constant (which it won't be) that the timing between the investors and the gamers would vary randomly. Maybe over very long time periods. Seems like they might find some fairly narrow angle zone to float in maybe.

And lets not forget the uncertainty principle effects of the actual trading changing the outcome but I am not so sure that matters.

Downthread WNC was proposing two systems that would deal with "private goods" and one that would deal with "private goods". Those might be the orthogonal axes I am looking for.

This is potentially one way that we can separate the short and long-term effects. The public goods market would not be based on profit but on beliefs of success on some service, technology, process, or commodity. On the other hand, the private goods market would be given free reign to adopt any strategy that they want.

Really the only reason that we are concerned about this at all is in how the current market can negatively impact The Commons without us understanding anything about game theory.

The question then is whether short-term effects and gaming the system will have an impact on the public goods market.

Economists distinguish between four types of goods, which can be arrayed in quadrants. Starting from the upper left hand corner and moving clockwise, these are private goods, toll goods, public goods, and common pool goods. The distinction along the X axis is between goods that can be used up on the left and goods that do not become exhausted (at least not immediately) from use on the right. The distinction along the Y axis is between goods where it is feasible to exclude users on the top, and goods where it is less feasible to exclude users on the bottom. I personally have found this to be an extremely useful model for thinking about economics.

And at some point, Cain's Law™ comes into play: Any situation in which it easier to become wealthy by manipulating financial instruments than by producing the underlying goods and services will end badly.

Well we are certainly living the Cain's Law moment now!
Or is that John Law??!!

What about bad information ie. accounting shenanigans.
You are trying to treat investing as though it were a natural process and nature doesn't lie.
The whole problem with this fraud we call the investment markets is that no one tells the truth............they just make the numbers they want appear and reverse engineer the books.
It is all just fairy dust anyway but as always I respect your keen analytical skills.

I guess oil since it is a commodity could work for your model but stocks are more messy.


Last I looked at the above link, oil had gone up today to 81.80! Seems like its starting to break past the 80 barrier enough to stay there. Gasoline in CA went up just this past week, from about 3 to 3.10-3.14 for regular unleaded.

This is only early March. What will be the price of fuel by July 4th!

Last I looked at the above link, oil had gone up today to 81.80! Seems like its starting to break past the 80 barrier enough to stay there.

And that with a relatively strong dollar !

No, Han. Not with a relatively strong dollar. In fact, our dollar is now tied to oil. Want to know the value of the dollar, look at the top rung of oil price.

A few weeks ago it was $77-79. Today we are bobbling in the $80-82 range. That, my friend, is inflation in action. And sets the value of the greenback. The fact that it is strong relative to the Euro is a sad reflection on the Euro. Even the Yen is in bad shape, and the buck is falling realtive to that.

So... some of the increase may be from PO, much is from inflation.


The fact that it is strong relative to the Euro is a sad reflection on the Euro. Even the Yen is in bad shape, and the buck is falling realtive to that.

Craig, that is why I wrote some weeks ago that all the currencies are weak.
I noticed the past months (before the problem with Greece started) that when in 1 day time the dollar dropped against the euro, oilprices rose within 1 day and vice versa. Inflation plays a role, but when the dollar gets stronger against the euro and even then oilprices rise than PO is hitting hard.

Granted, PO is having an impact. Demand, though, has not risen much (notwithstanding the econogarbage we read every day), and recession remains the offering de jour. IMHO real inflation almost has to be demonstrated in the price of comodities, and especially of oil. I haven't paid much attention to gold here lately. Mostly because you can't eat gold, and it doesn't burn very well in an ICE. Like the greenback, gold is somewhat tied to oil as a measure of value. In fact, oil is the real measure of our money, our economy and that includes the entire world. Consequently, given relatively steady demand, rising oil prices connote declining monetary values. As the Fed pumps ever more money into the economy, the value of what is there declines. Hence, it takes more of these weak dollars and euros to purchase oil.

I have maintained for some time that the Fed recognizes that our debt has become impossible, our needs insurmountable, and default unthinkable. Therefore, they have undertaken intentional inflation, and are very disappointed that the banks are not playing their assigned role in the drama. If the banks were loaning to businesses and consumers, that would be a true engine of rapid inflation. Instead banks are loaning to the US and low risk, using dollars borrowed for less interest from - well, the US, I guess. Not a bad deal for the banks. The more they borrow from the Fed, the more they can make loaning it back. It's crazy, I know. In fact, it drives me crazy as well!!!!

Ah, well. I'm just a retired schmuck trying to get along, worried about the grandkids' future. Not much I can do, especially when the guy I voted for doesn't get it, and continues the same crap with the same people. Wierd! And, sad.



In fact, oil is the real measure of our money, our economy and that includes the entire world.

Yes, the economy is powered by energy, oil being a very important part of it.

If the banks were loaning to businesses and consumers, that would be a true engine of rapid inflation.

In the U.S. people are starting to borrow more again.

L.A. middle school, students struggle under budget cuts

For most of this school year, Sharail Reed has dreaded going to her third-period history class. In a very real sense, the class hasn't had a teacher all year. Instead, a parade of no fewer than 10 substitute teachers has been placed in charge of the class.

...Reed attends Markham Middle School in the tough South Central Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. Last summer, the Los Angeles Unified School District laid off half the school's teaching staff. Districtwide, more than 2,000 teachers were let go as state budget deficits and the recession ate deeply into school budgets across California.

In Los Angeles, as elsewhere, the layoffs started with those teachers with the least experience. That hit Markham Middle School especially hard.

I'm surprised teachers from other schools aren't required to go where they are needed if they want to keep their jobs.

The really ominous milestone I am looking out for will be the news that a public school district somewhere has had to shut down completely, leaving their students with no school at all to go to for the year, or maybe forever. I do expect that to happen sometime within the next few years. Most states are constitutionally required to make sure that doesn't happen, but many states are on their way to bankruptcy and may have to default on a whole bunch of obligations.

Once the first district shuts down completely, a tipping point will have been crossed, and many more will quickly follow.

What will parents do? Homeschool, either independently or banding together in a local neighborhood group. Eventually, some neighborhoods might be able to afford to pay one of the otherwise unemployed mothers to teach their kids full time. Eventually we might be back to the old one-room school house.

Of course, if local governments can no longer educate the children, property owners will quickly start asking why they should still be paying property taxes.

I don't see why students must physically go to school when they could simply telecommute. I'm sure that could greatly reduce costs as well.

That's a possibility as well. Some American kids already attend online schools.

However, I would guess this is an option only for the relatively well-off. You need a computer and a high-speed connection at home to telecommute.

Schools have a baby sitting function too while both parents work. Counter idea: As unemployment increases there will be more stay-at-home parents. As long as the internet stays up, there is no need for the teacher to be at school either.

If big cheeses can't arrange a climate change teleconference, I can't see how anyone else will..

I would guess districts will be merged rather than students left without school.

And I expect the exurbs to be most affected. Many of them have new schools, or schools that never made it off the drawing board. It won't be worth running a school for a development that's become a foreclosure wasteland.

I also expect school districts to become stricter about checking to make sure students are entitled to attend. Some schools on the border are doing that. Mexican families send their kids across the border to attend school, and the cash-strapped schools are starting to check to see where the kids live before letting them enroll.

Classes will get larger, and electives will shrivel as well.

I would expect localities would default on bond servicing before they'd close the schools themselves.

As for the stranded classes, that probably has more to do with union transfer rules and political currency between schools than physical mileage.

I think we'll have to go down quite a ways before most schools falter, though. Bond issues just passed here despite the recession, and public schools are doing better monetarily since private-school kids are transferring back.

Note that when a private school parent moves their kid back to a public school, the district gains in several ways while the parent saves money. Since the parent isn't paying for private school (and transportation, and uniforms, etc.), they tend to have more money to spend on fund-raisers and general support, and they tend to be involved parents who go to games (and buy concessions), support electives, and so forth. They also tend to feel a bit guilty, so they're likely to work hard at making their student successful, and so the school gets volunteer labor as well.

Such transfers aren't going to troubled schools though -- it's going to the better suburban schools around here. Troubled schools are always struggling financially.

This is Tainter in action. As we realize the decreasing returns on supporting this much complexity, which ones shall we support?

I expect higher education to take the big cuts before elementary education. Literacy will be needed longer than PHD's, arithmetic will be needed longer than English Lit. etc. Basic literacy and Math has a much higher return on investment and will in most cases be cut last. If I am wrong then the empire is closer to demise than I thought

March 5, 2010 As many as ten thousand students, parents, school faculty and union members took to the streets of San Francisco yesterday as part of a coordinated day of action to protest cuts to education.

Dubbed “The Strike and Day of Action to Defend Public Education,” the largely peaceful statewide rallies were held to protest severe cuts to education resulting in thousands of teacher layoffs, class and course terminations, higher student fees and increased class sizes.


Cities and counties will more likely be rethinking the role of public education, and returning to the original purpose for which it was begun. The first public schools were part of the Northwest Ordinances, and were intended to educate voters so they could read, write and understand enough to cast an intelligent vote. Hence, the "3-R's" were the primary emphasis. A much simpler course plan, and less expensive.

Paying property taxes, though? That presumes that homeowners will have jobs and money, doesn't it? And, that all of their money is not being sucked out by the cost of energy and necessary expenditures. When they stop making their house payments, they stop making their tax payments as well. And their insurance payments.

My comment in another thread noted that medical payments will be put on the list of necessaries, and we will begin to triage how we spend our money based on this new criteria. It will, ultimately, come down to, "what will kill me first." Food, medicine, energy (heat, cooling, cooking, hot water, transportation), shelter, clothing. IMO, medicine will come in last in that grouping. For those with jobs, transportation to the job will rule; then food, shelter, heat in winter. Of course, everyone will have slightly different needs. The point is there will be no 'niceties' and no luxuries. The end of the luxury goods industry for low and middle class people will spell the end of the niceties as well, since it will also propel unemployment to new levels.

Makes me so mad... why didn't we listen to Jimmy Carter?


Makes me so mad... why didn't we listen to Jimmy Carter?

But, zaphod, think of all of the wealth-building opportunities that we would have missed out on!

"Makes me so mad... why didn't we listen to Jimmy Carter?"

Because he was the Malaisemeister.
And he screwed up bigtime in Iran, no points for machismo there.

Instead, we'd still to this day, much rather deify the guy who ripped those solar panels off the roof of the White House:(

You refer, of course, to St. Ronnie the Wrong?



You refer, of course, to St. Ronnie the Wrong?

If you're not part of the delusion, you're part of the problem.

If you're not part of the delusion, you're part of the problem.

Shouldn't that 1 liner read:

If you're not part of THEIR delusion, you're part of the THEIR problem...

E. Swanson

And yet ... that City on the Hill Still Doth Shine
In memory of that lone star cowboy
And his stone of Rhine

The reason they didn't listen to Carter, was because he was a progressive, a visionary. I still remember to this day the sickening, empty feeling in my gut when I heard on radio news while driving, about the removal of the solar panels from the White House roof and the halt to tax cuts for renewables. It was a nod for Big Bus. and we are now paying the price for that turn at the Y in the road.

Carter also initiated a huge project to develop algae into fuel. That project was also stopped by Reagen, and most of the algae strains were lost, along with all the R&D information. His vision was for the U.S. to grow their own fuel. Just before the axe came down, they had isolated a strain and were scaling up for a trial run but were stopped by the cuts.

Isn't that a crying shame?! Not to the Republicans, who view Reagen as the Greatest Human ever, period.

Research is still being conducted on algae fuels, it really appears to be going nowhere from what I've read. I believe TOD had a few stories about it a while ago.

Wow, very interesting perspective. Makes W. seem tame.

Not much needs to be said in regards to algae fuels; they are a pipe dream.

Peak, The National renewable energy lab cancelled algae programs under Bill Clinton in the mid nineties. I don't recall Reagan doing anything with them one way or the other. At least get your facts straight. The strains were not lost. and the Univ. of New Hampshire had a significant short term push on algae fuels for a period of time using the strains researched at NREL. The Univ. of Hawaii has some of them as well. Strains of algae are not the problem. It will be ten years at minimum before algae is anything other than a lab experiment or developed on sucker money. Check R2 blogs for the reasons why.

If you wish check out the history of the US DOE algae program. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/fy98/24190.pdf Caution 3.8 Meg

I'm curious, why is it when it can be couched as political, people feel they have the right to lie to support their argument or spew their venom.

Good question. Why do you say things like "States now considered in the most precarious position financially are all in the liberal category of governance" when a few seconds of Googling shows that is not remotely true?

Strains of algae are not the problem.

Treeman, from what I read last year, the problem is to develop algae that produce and a lot of oil and fast at the same time. Now algae that produce a lot of oil grow slow, and the ones that grow fast produce small quantities of oil.

Sports and busing have to go first.

Marvin Harris argued that the real purpose of public schools was to get kids off the streets. Lots of kids on a farm are great. Free labor. Lots of kids in the city are trouble. They ended up hanging out on the streets, intimidating adults and committing petty theft. (Think Oliver Twist.) This made business owners unhappy. Public schools and truancy laws were meant to fix that problem. So they are a product of the industrial age.

The other benefit of public schools to business owners was that with parents free of child care during school hours, they were a ready source of labor. The kids in school are being socialized to accept the industrial work day as a given. And they learn to think of themselves as part of a group. So much so that any important action must be group action under the guidance of a leader.

On the farm group action is less important than individual initiative, perseverance, hard work and imagination. Group action seldom benefits farmers much and they are notorious for their independence.

These qualities are often counter productive for business owners. What they need are workers who do as they are told, can follow instructions, do not question everything and keep their mouths shut. Public schools have done very well supporting business in this regard.

A manufacturing line supervisor or small-minded manager might value those attributes, but most businesses do gain value from those who think, show initiative, and provide ideas. Some sense of knowing when to shut up and work versus when to argue has value too, of course......and schools do little to impart that nugget of wisdom if my teens are any indication!

Yes, yes. Exactly. In 18 years of public schooling, I never heard the names Malthus or Hubbert. Darwin maybe got a slight nod in a small paragraph in a 9th grade biology textbook. Nor did I ever once learn what the Federal Reserve was, or even anything about finance in general. But forced attendance at pep rallies? Check. And that's just the tip of the melting iceberg.

Thanks to time and the internet, I thankfully have a much broader perspective now.

Yes, but did you Pledge Allegiance every morning?
That's all that matters.

Schools shut down all the time. Dozens (at least) will be closed across BC next year to close budget shortfalls.

Yes, but other arrangements are made for the kids. I have not yet heard of a school district shutting down and leaving families to fend for themselves - though I suspect it is only a matter of time before it does happen.

""leaving families to fend for themselves"" ?????????

Sorry, but gotta step in here....One of the most fundamental responsibilities of being a parent, is the education of ones child. It is not my responsibility, or the governments, nor anyone elses, to pay for the education of someone's child. It has been a luxury built on free energy. Soon to be gone. Certain circumstances do warrant the public care of a child, and that includes education, but that is sooooo small a percent of the whole education mess, as to be a minor money issue.

If it comes to the gov not being allowed, or able, to tax everyone to death, so be it. Home school is always an option and always has been. Way too much lip service is given to the "poor parent", who must "fend for themselves", whose kid is an uneducated mess.

As the power down of the US moves forward, the parental responsibilities for education, among many others, needs to be moved to the forefront of the education pyramid. Not tests, unions, schools, sports, or a million other things that truly will be a waste of energy in the near future. 95% of the dollar taken by the tax man is wasted already....soon it will be 99%

Turn off the Boob Tube and spend the time with ones child.

Yes and No.

There's nothing unusual about education being a community function, and not just the domain of individual families. I agree that people must be able to take responsibility, but part of that is responsibly joining with the other families in your society and combining efforts on redundant tasks like teaching kids to read.

The US still carries such a puritan/pioneer calling that we are supposed to do it all, and getting any help from each other is some sort of failure. We'd better figure out how to keep letting go of that Calvinist isolationism.. we've got enough work cut out for ourselves already. "Pioneer House" was like that, expecting each clan to do it all alone, and this was modern people who didn't grow up around these tasks in the first place. Even on the wild, 'self-made' frontier, people helped each other herd up strays, build homes and bring in the crops.


I always assumed Capitalism was not really the problem.

I just figured industrialism feeds on burning hydrocarbons and there are no substitutes that will allow for BAU, thus industrialism will eventually begin to starve.

Then I skimmed this article: http://monthlyreview.org/100301magdoff-foster.php, and now I have to think this through.

After all, Europe is Capitalistic but not growing like the U.S. and I always figured, excluding the UK, northern Europe is in better shape to handle depletion then we are.

I know fractional reserve banking or the debt based economy is a problem.

I’m not greedy nor do I feel the urge to exploit anyone; is capitalism really a problem?

The problem I have with articles like this is that they are premised on "capitalism" or "socialism" being the only two possible alternatives for economies to be organized. They are not. Their conclusion - capitalism is bad, therefore socialsim is good - is thus also faulty.

For the record, I am not a fan of EITHER "capitalism" or "socialism". I consider both to be deeply flawed, both in theory and in historical implementation.

My take on "capitalism": Free markets are an elegant mechanism for efficiently allocating scarce private goods (i.e., goods which can be individually consumed and from which other consumers can be excluded)amongst people - IF there are a large number of buyers and sellers with none dominant, and there are no externalities or other market failures. Unfortunately, there are few markets for few private goods where these conditions are met, which means that at least some minimal government regulation (a public good) is necessary. (Something anathama to "capitalist" true believers.) As if that wasn't bad enough, the true believers also claim that capitalism is so wonderful that it should also be allowed to take over ("privatize") all other sectors of economic activity: toll goods, common-pool goods, and even as many public goods as possible. Their vision is for the state to wither away, but not at all as Marx meant it. The problems with such an approach are manifold. The privatizing of toll goods leads to creaming off the most profitable business, and abandonding the rest of the public. The unbridled predation of capitalism on common-pool goods is responsible for Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons", and inevitably leads to such things as the overexploitation and collapse of oceanic fisheries, for example. We are also witnessing what happens when the public sector is taken over and becomes a subsidiary of capitalist titans. Capitalism, to put it mildly, has huge problems.

So does socialism, unfortunately. It certainly makes abundant sense for governments to be run in the public interest, and to produce and provide needed public goods; this is the one thing they really can do well, if they are managed reasonably well and don't over-reach. If a little government is good, however, that doesn't mean that government control of everything is better; it is not, as we have seen over and over. The central problem with the extension of government into ownership of the means of production in the toll goods, common-pool goods and private goods realms is that this sets up a fundamental conflict of interest. One of the most important public goods that governments provide is to protect the public safety and public interest through its regulatory and police powers. However, when a government is also trying to operate the same thing it is regulating, a conflict of interest is created. Inevitably, the government-owned enterprise is initially operated inefficiently (on behalf of "the people"), and then when it starts to become too much of a drain on the government's coffers, proper regulatory oversight is neglected, endangering the public. That isn't good either.

So are those the only possible alternatives? NO! There is another way, although I don't believe it has ever been tried, and doesn't really even have a name.

What I am suggesting is that the government be confined to operate within its proper sphere: providing public goods. The free market (with regulatory oversight to assure that monopolies or externalities are not allowed to emerge) should be confined to operate within its proper sphere: providing private goods. That leaves toll goods and common-pool goods. Who is to be responsible for these? My suggestion is that these should be publicly-owned, but not government owned. This can be accomplished through some form or another of a cooperative form of organization. In the case of a larger scale enterprise - an urban mass transit system, say, or an electric or water utility - imagine these being run by a board of trustees, directly elected by the public. That last point is very important. If they are appointed by the government, then the government really runs it. It is essential that the enterprise's management be directly elected by the people who are the customers or beneficiaries of the enterprise. By doing this, two distinct feedback loops are established: the ordinary market operations of supply and demand in response to service quality and pricing, and the political operations of voter approval or disapproval for the way the trustees are running the enterprise. This is an elegant solution for the problem of finding the right balance between the needs of providing high quality and low cost service. It also gives some voice to the long-term interests of future generations, presuming that at least some voters have a conscience and are motivated by something more than maximizing their own immediate marginal utility through market transactions.

I don't know what you would call such a system, although I am tempted to call it "cooperativism" - an awkward term, but I've yet to find a better one. I'm not aware of any place that has implemented anything like this on a systematic basis - but they should. I'm also hard pressed to think of a system that would actually perform better in the zero-growth, steady-state, sustainable economy that we are going to have to have in the future.

I don't know what you would call such a system, although I am tempted to call it "cooperativism" - an awkward term, but I've yet to find a better one. I'm not aware of any place that has implemented anything like this on a systematic basis - but they should. I'm also hard pressed to think of a system that would actually perform better in the zero-growth, steady-state, sustainable economy that we are going to have to have in the future.

I think the essence of the point you are trying to make is made quite well in the article linked up top:

Want the Good Life? Your Neighbors Need It, Too

We in the US and much of the western world live in societies where wealth distribution is unequal.And getting more so. The Health Care debate is in my opinion an example of this mentality of I've got mine and if you don't, tough! We need to find a way to get past this way of doing things to arrive at a much more equitable distribution of benefits and responsibilities.

I would argue that if toll goods and common-pool goods were cooperatively owned and operated, and if governments properly regulated markets to assure that there was no excessive concentration of power or any externalities, you would find that the degree of economic inequality would be considerably less. There just wouldn't be the scope that would allow the few to amass huge fortunes.

WNC's point-of-view is on track I think. The problem is that we still need something to indicate that the public goods market is making optimal decisions and going in the right direction. That's what market investments do, and why they form a potentially workable metric (ala stocks). Unfortunately our current system is completely screwed up in game theory with the private markets providing a toyland for speculation. And this means the utility of gauging progress has been completely obscured. Europe probably handles does this better as leduc suggested.

The wealth distribution is completely understood by this concept. The weird bend in the wealth Pareto curves are completely dominated by speculation:

http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-certain-people-get-rich.html (this is an old post that I am revisiting)

Look at that, the wealth of the wealthy is completely dominated by the market's compounding erratic speculative growth year-over-year. These are all speculative valuations since they bounce around every year.

I started a comment thread upstream on just this topic but it got hijacked by discussion of pancakes.

I could go on about this topic so keep up the discussion!

These are all good points but what our classically liberal founders understood well was tyranny and the abuses of government. So they deliberately set up a system where it would be really, really hard for such abuses to occur.

Ultimately, they failed, as their experiment has gone awry and the government has in effect been captured by military and financial interests, who have rolled back the protections from government that existed in the initial framework.

All of this serves to prove, and perhaps to emphasize, the point of view held by libertarians. Namely, good government isn't possible. It's literally beyond the ability of our species. The moment we have good government, different groups react against it. It follows that limited government is best. And if this violated, the only solution is armed revolt against government, much like our founders did. In time, of course, government dissolution and failure through currency implosion will occur. This is the endgame we face, but it can take much longer-longer than you can even stay alive.

Some of you liberals and moderates may recoil in horror from my view...but understood that my viewpoints stem directly from everything that I've seen happening in realtime since 2000 and even more so since 2008.

One of the strengths of a cooperativist system like I have described is that it assures that the role and scope of the government is strictly limited to providing pure public goods only. Good government is near impossible as it is just being focused on that; when government expands beyond that into toll, common pool, and private goods, then things really start going downhill quickly.

I don't expect the present constitutional regime to embrace anything along the lines of what I advocate. Then again, I have become extremely doubtful that the present constitutional regime will continue for a great many more years. A regime change is coming - not this year, not this election cycle, maybe not even this decade, but quite possibly not much longer than that. I don't expect the replacement regime to implement a cooperativist system, either. Eventually, though, when all the other alternatives have been exhausted, somewhere somebody will stumble across the idea and give it a try.

Oilman, I would say rather that all governments of people in groups larger than a hunter-gather tribe become bad in some way, and the larger the unit of people governed the worse it gets. We are programed for small bands and somewhat larger tribes of about 100 to 150 people. I read somewhere that even an average of Christmas Card lists runs in that range. That is the number of people we can relate to well.

When you live in a unit of people that you know well and are interdependent what is good for the tribe is good for the individual.

But we don't live that way. For instance we live in a world where someone in China might be putting melamine in your baby formula. Where someone in the US might be letting salmonella grow in your peanut butter. We individuals need government to regulate that which we can't test ourselves since few of us are equipped and knowledgeable enough to do product testing. We live for instance in a world where public health almost eradicated TB for a while by treating everyone and thus protecting the whole society. If you have enough money for a nanny don't you want her to be healthy. Public Health was a boon to the whole society. The less intrusive government of the early years of this country gave us the horrors related in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle

I was lucky enough to go to high school in NYS and thanks to Nelson Rockefeller we had an excellent school system where I could read as part of my English assignments such books as The Jungle, 1984, The Grapes of Wrath etc. I didn't think much of Nelson later, but I treasure the education a progressive state afforded me. When I went to College and took World History in a special group of top students, our professor asked how many in the class had had world history before. I was stunned that myself and a student from Indiana were the only two who raised their hands.

I think the government should have limits, but providing services for the people they serve is their sole purpose. The exist to provide services that are best provided by a larger group. Electricity for instance should be provided by our government and should never have been privatized (thank you Enron). Health care should be provided by our government. The government exists to serve the people, they are the servants of the people. If they don't serve us by providing for our group welfare they have failed and should be replaced.

But at the end of a civilization typically they come to serve themselves and the elite and thus "they all fall down" .

I live in California.
I remember that disaster.

Deregulation of electric utilities was stupid.
Enron really stuck it to us.

I could read as part of my English assignments such books as The Jungle, 1984, The Grapes of Wrath etc.

Hey, weren't you in my English class?

I think you're projecting your views on the whole world. Northern Europeans seem to be fairly stable and less crazy then us.

Which is why we resent and envy them so..

The U.S. has been, since it's founding, one of the most stable political and economic structures in the entire world - Civil War notwithstanding.

Mind you, I think this is coming to an end and we are likely to have another civil war(s), and this time the union won't be preserved.

and having a fresh continent full of extractable resources, extractable people and the shelter of two great oceans in the days of cloth sails didn't hurt that equation much.

I do think there are some really strong ideas in our foundation.. but we had a lot of 'providence' that helped it along, too. Time to test those ideas on their merits again.

There certainly is quite a bit of frustration, fear and anger out there in the flyover world. Add in the large numbers of newly unemployed workers and there's certainly an explosive mix. I've done a bit of reading lately about the Civil War, not really about the War as a fight but about the causes of the War Between the States. Many people in the South appeared to think that the Constitution, like most contracts, had an "out" clause. This was at a time when the Revolution was still close behind in the rear view mirror of history and the ongoing addition of new states and territories was also very real to everyone as it was happening every few years. The idea that Cuba should be added as a State was considered back then.

These days, that intense sense of history is lacking, except in the minds of those extreme conservatives who study the formation of the US. Their discussions focus on the Constitution, especially the original dialogs among the Founding Fathers, such as the Federalist Papers. Thus, the Tea Party Movement, which stresses a world view from the beginning of the Republic but which tends to ignore much of what has happened since. There's no way that the Founding Fathers could have contemplated American life as experienced in the 20th Century, much less what's happened so far in the 21st.

At the time of the founding of the US, the total population was about 3 million people in the 13 states. There are now more than that living in Atlanta and several times more living in both the New York City and Los Angeles metro areas. Our massive population implies that those concepts so widely debated from the Founding Fathers haven't a snowballs chance in Hell of working. Yet, the Tea Party snowball rolls on, to what end we can't say...

E. Swanson


The reason we have a speculation-soaked financial system is because of a massive regulatory failure on the part of government. The biggest single mistake is to double-tax dividends while lightly taxing capital gains. If we had a government that was seriously regulating the financial system in a manner that assured a sound economy, then we would do the exact opposite. I could go on at great length about all the evils that flow from this one huge error.

I'm inclined to agree with you. This article was very black and white. If he'd complained about capitalism in conjunction with something else like are our financial system and industrialism or something else, it would have been easier to swallow.

It’s obvious to me that a system that privatizes almost everything would be a disaster as would a system that privatizes nothing. Maybe that’s why some European countries seem better off especially in the long run.

As for your suggestion of adding "cooperativism," that would be very interesting to observe in real life.

The next several decades will be fertile ground for experimentation.

Monthly Review is a socialist publication, so yeah, they have an agenda.

However, I do think there a couple of reasons why capitalism is incompatible with sustainability. There's a reason why usury (charging interest) was so despised in the ancient world. It's toxic for steady-state economies.

I had a post up last week on diversity, and one of the commenters made the point that "We will control nothing about our destiny until we change the way money works." and went on to state that it is hopeless to try to control our destiny.

I have started looking at the similarities between the ways that species diversify and the ways that wealth disparities occur (which is partially the theme of the Monthly Review article). Whether we can ever avoid the dispersion in wealth accumulation is up in the air. If nature can't control relative abundance of species, I wonder if human kind can control its equivalent mechanism for species success=wealth.

If I remember correctly, M. King Hubbert wanted to change the financial system or the monetary system arguing that we needed a different system in order to create a steady state economy.

I'll have to look that up again sometime.

Yes, the "technocrats". I haven't studied that philosophy at all.

I e-mailed you on this very topic.
At your yahoo address.
I think this topic is worth looking at.

And one other thing is that it is debt that is time based interest that is the huge problem.
It is the only thing in the system that doesn't obey the 2nd law of thermo like physical products do.

Think about it, timed based interest grows with time regardless of what is happening in the real economy so we end up chasing the carrot of debt with production instead of the other way around. At least if it was equity interest instead of time based it wouldn't force activity to keep up with time but promote actual success since it is sink or swim profit wise for the creditor and the entrepreneur.

Hubbert basically advocates an a priori accounting of available energy flow rates and then creating money to match it.
The part no one is going to like is that it is not a free market.
I went back and forth with John Carter on this very topic maybe 2 weeks ago.

The more I discover about Hubbert the more I appreciate his universal brilliance.


There is a lot more.

I have to say that I am very surprised that this isn't known well by TODers.

Maybe there could be a series on Hubbert say once a week look at something.

He was the chief architect of Technocracy Study Course and the organization might be worth contacting looking for guest post material.

I learned about it back in the early 1990s poking around with these types of ideas in my head and then everything took off economically so I got involved with other stuff.

I also understand that they were taken very seriously by the federal government during the depression.

Personally, I think Adam Smith has had his run and so has the earth and both need a break.

Concerning time-based interest, this is one curve I generated which shows the bend caused by compound growth and other positive feedback mechanisms. It's like an adaptation channel or evolution path that allows the wealthy to become super wealthy. If not for this, the curve would bend downward.

This is normally a hard solution to come by but I used a parametric substitution on the common growth term and the inflection point bend popped out.

The researchers who first found this in empirical data called it thermal and superthermal income classes. It makes perfect sense to me because the upper part is simply entropic dispersion of income growth. The lower superthermal part compensates the natural exponential decline by generating an exponential increase through compounding growth.

That part looks totally unstable but a gold mine for the wealthy who can tune into it. It just takes a certain amount of income (or corporate profit) to generate enough of a pool of money to play around with. You can see why the elite establishment does not want to see this go away.

There are still many wealthy that somewhat earn their keep, mainly technology innovators, but the exponential adoption of technology by the public probably plays a part in this as well.

I imagine no one teaches this stuff in economics, do they?

I have never seen it but then again I don't have an economics education but it shows the absurdity of compound interest.
All throughout history there have been bans on charging interest and they didn't even have to show it mathematically as you did with that cool graphing software. They just knew it intuitively and I am sure saw the havoc that was wreaked.

The system is massively rigged to force all money upward and concentrate it.

As soon as one examines the debt based monetary/finance system it becomes obvious it was devised by those that had the money for them to keep and increase their share.
That quote you threw up about not being able to control our destiny without changing the monetary system is true.
I am beyond frustrated screaming about it......very few seem to understand.

Also, Hubbert is correct about at the very least getting rid of this abomination and if I had my druthers I would get rid of the parasites that took advantage of it as well.

Your graphic shows it clearly but if the observer doesn't understand a normal dispersion they won't see the stark and I might add gross tail due to the exponential reverse bend.

Simple interest is just the rent charged for the use of other people's money, and there should be nothing wrong with that - especially if the loan and the interest payments on it are limited in time. It is compounding of interest without limit that is the problem.

That is it exactly, compounded interest. Thanks for the insight!

Actually, both are problems. Compound interest is the hare, simple interest the tortoise. Both are heading for the same cliff, however, because require the creation of something from nothing.


My contribution to this thread was only about how certain people get wealthy.
Money earned on simple interest will not add to a diverging wealth spread among individuals. I have a few comments in this thread that discusses the model.

You are likely right on the greater picture.

What about an arrangement like sharecropping?
The problem is in what is used as payment not that there has to be new wealth created.
All wealth comes from harnessing nature.
Money has detached us from this immutable truth.
That is the big disconnect.

The only way anything can survive long term is to get in cyclical harmony with nature this has always been the case.
Man took himself too seriously and got drunk on oil.

I completely agree that compounding is the problem on top of the smaller problem.
But if the actual payment has to be made in nothing but the currency then it limits the debtor and gives the creditor unfair advantage.
The "Legal Tender" gives the creditor the right to demand nothing but some abstract digits or a piece of paper with numbers on it and allows him to put pressure and use leverage on the debtor.
Hence Pawn shops and other liquidation processes.
I think that there is some merit in competing currencies but of course Uncle Sam hates that idea as history proves.

Yes you are right though that the part of time interest that is in violation of nature is the exponential aspect of compounding just like the absurdity of exponential population growth or anything else I guess.

Slippery issue I guess.

Regarding "Legal Tender"

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of
men living together in society, they create for
themselves in the course of time a legal system that
authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it"

Frederic Bastiat - The Law

A steady state economy needs a steady state money supply. I can't imagine anything else working. In a no-growth economy, avoiding waste will be a very big deal, one of the main things that everyone will be focused upon at all times. If you want to avoid waste, then you don't want to make any wrong allocation decisions. Monetary inflation/deflation lead to just such misallocations, because either leads to wrong price signals being sent.

This is why I am just a little doubtful about claims that charging interest is impossible in a steady-state economy. Interest is just the rent paid on other people's money being used. If you don't charge a rental price on every asset, then the use of that asset essentially becomes "free", and this must inevitably lead to huge misallocations and waste. I do think that in a steady-state economy, there will be very little borrowing and lending going on, but mainly because so few will be able to afford it.

I don't think we need to invent a "new" form of money. Maybe we do need to invent a new type of central banker - one that actually will keep the lid on the money supply and resist the temptation to monkey around with it.

It's not impossible. Obviously, it was possible. Otherwise there wouldn't have been such strong prohibitions against it. You don't make laws banning things people aren't doing.

But it's toxic. It's a bad thing, and people recognized that. In steady-state economy, it becomes extremely difficult to repay a loan, let alone with interest. People borrowed only in desperate straits, so charging interest was taking advantage of the vulnerable. Also, interest was "unearned wealth." You weren't producing anything, yet you were getting paid. In the ancient world, it simply wasn't possible to support a lot of people who weren't actually producing anything. Usurers were rightly seen as parasites.

The problem is when "rent" has to be paid in the money and not that some compensation shouldn't be paid.
I agree with WNC that the use of an asset/capital should be compensated but it could be other than the money.
It could be in goods or even work this could be done on credits.
The details I don't have but there is no reason compensation has to be in "money"
One reason that this may be the case now is that the Federal government has made "legal tender" and also requires you to pay your tax in "money".
As long as something gets produced for the payment and the debit/credit gets reversed then who cares?
Satisfying the rent is the critical part.
We have freakin monetized everything because the government has created legal tender and charges taxes that are payable no other way.
It is rigged system!
Time based interest violates natural law.
It should not be able to grow just because time passes.
Equity arrangements are better because they depend on success to pay back rent.
A priori energy accounting to determine the potential for activity a la Hubbert is the best I have seen yet.

The way it is done now by creating money and even worse money that bears time interest is a horrible scam that has absolutely no basis in natural process what so ever.
Everything in nature degrades with time and money should at the very least be modeled this way or as I said be linked to the most basic of all necessaries for any process ENERGY.

Very interesting concept ... automatically decaying_in_value money:

Value= Vo * exp(-kt)

(pun not intended, ... about it being "interest"-ing.)

There is a post from Big Gav from late 2008 that is about an Austrian Town that issued time decay scrip during the depression and their economy took off gang busters.
Now that is not the solution for our situation since it would accelerate resource use.
The best way to do it is to link the scrip a priori to either resources in general or energy specifically and that would be a governor on economic activity.Big Gav Story here.


The bottom line is that if the human child of mother earth is already 7' 9" and weighs 450lbs we have to get off the consumption binge and go steady state and refine into an adult.
And I didn't get that analogy from this guy either.


(I made the child analogy during a back and forth with Phenshaw a while ago but can't find the post.)

The only way to do that is to develop a new set of cultural memes by using the media and education systems.
Jimmy Carter tried back in the late 1970s and got stymied by Cantarell, North Sea and Alaskan oil finds.
We had a great chance back then to create a very efficient and more mature culture and economy but nope.

I do think that we are up against hard limits this time but I don't see anything ever remotely resembling the will to bite the bullet.
It is all "The market will do it through price and substitution." Bullsh@t

There is going to be massive resistance from the puppet masters to do the right thing and I think it comes down to a revolt.
I am more than ready.

Share cropping is an example of compensation because the use of the land produced more wealth.
I see more and more of these arrangements in our future.

Usery will not survive depletion. It's days are numbered.

An interesting take on this issue is a curious little (but packed) book titled "Ecology Into Economics Won't Go", by Stuart McBurney, published in 1990.

Some very interesting stuff there - recommended for the open-minded.

Leanan, One of the "Dawn breaks on marblehead" moments came to me a couple of years ago, from this blog, concerning the incompatibility of growth and sustainability. Since Capitalism requires growth and, specifically, growth in the money supply, it is by definition, not sustainable. The creation of the various toxic financial instruments came about as a requirement for capitalistic growth. It is why FDR called in all the gold, why Nixon took us off the gold Standard, why we did away with both gold and silver certificates and why Glass Steagall was repealed in the 90's. The money supply demanded those changes. We have run out of ponzi's. This is why we are now so inevitably screwed.

Well put, treeman.

Any smart 10 year old can easily explain why capitalism is destine for failure. Economist are stumped, but they live in a superstition based system, and the general populace is so brain washed that the meme that has used them as a host has rewired their parasite addled brains so thoroughly that reason and observation are not possible.

Technically, it is not so much just "capitalism", but also any economic system that allows fractional reserve banking - all of them necessarilly require continuous economic growth or they will collapse. As I stated above, a steady state economy will imply and will need a steady state money supply. A steady state money supply is utterly incompatable with a fractional reserve banking system.

If you prohibit fractional reserve banking, then you also preclude most lending and borrowing. No need to prohibit the charging of interest, if you've banned fractional reserve banking then you've already done everything you need to do to shut down the debt system.

Well put. I must say, I'm kind of surprised to hear this from you.

WNC I agree that we have reached the end of the utility of the current system/paradigm, one that has served our standard of living well these past 500 years - from joint stock companies (East India etc.) to today's multinationals.

And I have begun to think that the successful transition models will have elements of cooperatives - a model that tries to include the efficiencies of the free market capitalistic characteristics as well as long term stewardship of the commons. I particularly like how you distinguish the classes of goods.

The only critique I can offer is how do you solve the human characteristics of when things go well for an extended period of time, people tend to take their eyes off the prize and allow the elected to be dishonest, opaque, and eventually fradulant because people do not want to upset the apple cart. For example, shareholders in public companies have an unadulterated interest to insure the companies they invest in are led by honest, able, and forthright individuals yet when things are going well, inevitably scores of companies are later shown to have been dishonest in their accounting and reporting requirements. Another example, we have continually elected leaders who promised to push off the paying of today's benefits to tomorrows payers until the future is now (Let's keep this party going for 2-4-6 more years). To me the critical requirement is that their is direct accountability and that can only be insured by a populace who are informed, educated, and cannot have an expectation of receiving more than they put into the system - whatever form. I am speaking long term here.

I like your ideas, but in the long run, until we evolve some sort of long-term(multi-generations) discipline, I see us repeating cycles of overshoot. This may be a problem to solve later, rather than sooner, but perhaps those reading this in 2200 ad will keep this in mind.

Yes, the human herd requires culling, just as we (humans) cull herds which grow too big for their respective habitats.

But there is no one to cull us, we have engineered ourselves into overshoot and that's the bed we must lie in.

Engineering solutions which spiral us deeper into the crisis is simply a part of being at the top of the food chain. We do what we do because we are what we are. If there was a god, he or she would have stepped in long before this.

Shareholder governance is so poor because we double tax dividends and tax exempt capital gains. People are thus discouraged from investing for the long term, and rather encouraged to chase after short-term speculative jackpots. The average share of common stock is not even held for one year. Were we to reverse our tax system so that we preference dividends and penalize capital gainst, I am confident that shareholder attentiveness over corporate governance would be very, very different.

When it comes to the toll goods and common pool goods, the type of cooperativist organization I have suggested provides an elegant solution to the problem by balancing the feedback system of the marketplace against the feedback system of the ballot box. It is still not magic, and people cannot be absolved of their responsibility for their own fate. However, when people can vote both at the polls and also with their pocketbook and feet in the marketplace, then they are not powerless, and cannot blame anyone else if they don't like the way things are being run.

Getting and maintaining good government is a problem; someone else here claimed it was impossible, and it may damn near be. This is an argument for limiting the scope and focus of government to the provision of pure public goods. If it is hard enough to keep a small government good, it sure isn't going to be any easier with a large government.

WNC ..

You need to do a 'key post' on
your cooperativism concept ..

Triff ..

I wish I could, but I just don't have the time to do key posts right now. Maybe some day I'll write a book. . .

I call it "libertarian-progressive."

Sounds like an oxymoron.

And, I am putting together a philosophical statement of purpose for such an animal. It is not as contradictory as it sounds... simply requires some thought about assumptions and definitions. Framing is what Thom Hartmann calls it.

Meanwhile, WNC, if you want to start a political party espousing what you deliniated above, I am with you 100%!


I saw the authorship on that article and thought can that be the Fred Magdoff that I knew back in the 70's? The answer is yes - I studied soil science and ecology with him at UVM in 1978-9. He seemed pretty mainstream at the time, but maybe that was because I was so far out.

We're dealing to coal addicts: Hansen

There is a strange disconnect in Australia that we should have restrictions on CO2 at home yet we should be proud of increasing coal and LNG exports. India doubled coal imports last year and China increased imports six-fold. Neither country clearly has any intention of serious carbon cuts which means their industry gets a pollute-for-free advantage. Perversely Australian coal generates more CO2 overseas (over 600 Mt a year) than does the entire local economy including transport.

To break the deadlock over the stalled emissions trading legislation there has been a suggestion of a $20 a tonne carbon tax. I suggest it should be applied to fuel exports which I estimate will add $48 a tonne to thermal coal now priced around $90 and $27 to LNG now priced around $400. The tax revenue will be paid back to a green fund of the importing countries. Even if it goes to corrupt officials at least the upfront price is higher.

Australia not only sets a bad example in per capita emissions but it is also a carbon pimp that helps others to pollute. Nonetheless I expect Hansen's claim to fall on deaf ears.

Neither country clearly has any intention of serious carbon cuts which means their industry gets a pollute-for-free advantage.

Precisely because of such lecturing - many in India & China are arguing that the whole reduce CO2 emission is designed to make sure they can't improve their lot. Kind of moving the goalpost and changing rules, as soon as they learn to play well.

Esp. once we understand that US emissions are TEN times per capita than India's - and yet we want them to reduce emissions.

The only equitable way to do this is to set a per capita emission target for the whole world and each country should move towards that target. US, Japan & Europe would reduce emissions. China, India etc can slowly increase and try to get 2 square meals a day to all their citizens.

REE-rare earth elements. mining in china is destroying a huge swath of land. the processing of REE has severe environmental side effects. REE is used in almost all modern electronics. what do consumers do? why they throw them out.

recycling. why not mine discarded electronics for the REE?

talk about low hanging fruit. uhmerika has the richest and most concentrated garbage in the world. in the future wars will be fought over our garbage dumps.

when will we reach peak garbage?

have you reduced your lifestyle today? if not, have you reduced some one else's?

what's up with all the recent earthquakes? is the crust of our planet going to slide 30 degrees? are earthquakes good for oil fields or bad for oil fields? who cares about people?

some senator sez we shouldnt continue unem extensions unless the goobermint can pay for them. but he doesnt question if we can pay for WW3 going on right now (misallocation of resources).

peak oil can only be prevented by reducing wages and benefits of the working class and eliminating soc. sec. PRAISE GOD that our enlightened leaders saw fit to deny a $250/month increase in soc. sec payments to senior citizens. this money should go instead to the likes of gold man sacks. let the old farts die like flies.

"no one gets out of here alive"-greetings from the humungus
"it's all good"-anon.

Yes, The irony in your questions expresses my feelings also.

I have relocated to Phuket , Thailand on my boat. This has solved a number of problems; I'm oblivious to US problems, get reasonably priced food and medical, enjoy living every day and have the satisfaction of positive response to 'America, love it or leave it '

I've given up on changing the world. Now I just enjoy the moment.

These are the good old days.

Personal to do list to save the world...

1) industrial lighting -- check
2) Prius -- check

Hey, how about this?

Watt guzzlers to get green retrofit
Ontario Power Authority scheme to invest millions in a bid to help big industry become more efficient

The cheapest megawatt is the one that's never used.

That's the driving force behind an ambitious provincial program that, when revealed later this month, will help Ontario's biggest industrial players become more efficient users of electricity and stronger competitors on the world stage.

See: http://www.thestar.com/business/article/774106--watt-guzzlers-to-get-gre...


Very classy way to get your comeback, Paul.

I wish I had the restraint! .. and the Job. But did I mention that the movie is now going to be shot in 3d? Same budget, one more lens and a year of FX headaches, but it'll be cool!

I'm running down the street to grab that blue tarp that's been lying there as one of my bluescreens, so I can tell TOD that I at least used recycled materials for this escapist fantasy.

Thanks, Bob. I don't mind a few verbal jabs every now and then... kinda goes with the territory. I learned yesterday that Nova Scotia Power will be helping one of our school boards upgrade the lighting in one-hundred and forty of their schools. These facilities vary widely in size so the potential savings are all over the map, but an average of 100,000 kWh/year per school would be a rough guess -- thus, some 1.4 million kWh in all. That's another 1,170 tonnes of CO2e, 12.6 tonnes of SO2, 3 tonnes of NOx and 18.2 kg of Hg that won't be dumped into our atmosphere each year. In addition, whereas their current F34T12 fluorescent lamps contain 5 to 10 mg of Hg (and perhaps two to three times that in the case of older stock), their replacements contain just 1.7 mg. Plus, nominal lamp life doubles from 20,000 hours to 46,000 hours which effectively cuts the amount of mercury consumed by half again (all lamps removed from service will be properly recycled).

So why do I natter on incessantly about such things? Nova Scotia Power is a small utility that serves a modest population base. As I type this, our total provincial load is just over 1,600 MW -- one-tenth that of Ontario. But it has some pretty big ambitions. The utility's DSM initiatives are intended to shrink total electricity demand in this province by 1.5 per cent per year for each of the next twenty-five years. And if NSP can pull this off, or at least give it a damn good shot trying, why not everyone else?

I'm fascinated by your film work, Bob, and amazed by the amount of effort that goes on behind the lens. I guess you know you've done well when you've convinced everyone else that it must be easy (another one of life's ironies). Hope to see the final results when you're done.


US may be headed for long decline. You don't have to follow.

Unless Leanan already hit this one.. somewhat dark predictions, even for the Monitor.

He suggests getting rid of excesses like, your Cell Phone.. doesn't really take on the Big House and the Long Commute yet, but he'll get there.

CSM publishes some pretty extreme stuff, at least as editorial pieces. They were talking about peak oil long before most other papers.

That, however, doesn't strike me as that dark. It's basically a BAU scenario. Globalization continues, and we have consume less because everyone else will be consuming more. AKA, "Why should we pay a financial analyst in Manhattan $200,000 when someone in China will do it for $20,000?"

However, this is why I think we need to plan for a poorer future, even if peak oil turns out to be a non-factor and there's no WWIII.