Drumbeat: March 13, 2010

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Miles below the ocean floor lies enough oil to power the U.S. for more than a decade—and perhaps our best shot at energy independence.

From the window of a helicopter 1,500 feet above the Gulf of Mexico, oil platforms look like Tinkertoys in a swimming pool. Dozens dot the horizon stretching south from New Orleans and continuing out as the water deepens and turns a darker blue. Then, about 50 miles offshore, the platforms stop, and for the next hundred miles there's nothing. This is the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, where the ocean floor is 8,000 feet down and covered in a heavy layer of muck. Below that is an ancient salt bed several miles thick, and hidden under that, trapped tens of thousands of feet down, there's oil—billions and billions of barrels of it. And it's all in U.S. waters.

ANALYSIS - Finding deepwater oil proves tough slog for Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company Pemex is learning the hard way why U.S. oilmen frustrated by failed multimillion dollar wells once dismissed the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico as "the Dead Sea."

The government says 29.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent could lie beneath the seabed in Mexico's part of the Gulf deep waters. But seven years after Pemex started to drill, the the company has little to show for its efforts.

Exxon Mobil to proceed with LNG project

Exxon Mobil Corporation says it will proceed with a multi-billion dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Papua New Guinea.

Sales and purchase agreements with LNG buyers, and financing arrangements with lenders, have been completed, the company said on Saturday.

Saudi, Conoco extend refinery bids deadline-sources

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco and U.S. firm ConocoPhillips have again extended the deadline for bids for a solids handling unit at their Yanbu refinery joint venture, industry sources said on Saturday.

The deadline is now June 1 for bids on the construction of the unit at the 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery, two sources close to the bidding process said.

Venezuela draws up plan to assure food distribution if energy crisis worsens

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - The Venezuelan government and food producers have outlined a plan to guarantee the distribution of food if the South American nation's energy crisis worsens, an industry official said Friday.

Venezuelan Pork Federation president Alberto Cudemus said government and private-sector representatives met the previous evening on how to insulate the food sector from power outages. He said the plan involves reducing water use and investing to make food producers self-sufficient in energy within 90 to 360 days.

How long it takes will hinge on both the private sector's willingness to make the investments, and the government facilitating permits to import electrical generators and giving access to foreign currency to purchase the equipment, Cudemus said.

"We are sort of racing against the clock in the food sector and do not want to let the country down," he added.

Rising energy costs fuel a return to heating residences with a fire

Soaring energy prices are rekindling Britain's love affair with the warm glow of a open fire. Householders are ripping out gas devices and installing wood burners or opening chimneys to make a traditional blaze with coal.

Sales of wood burners are increasing by 40 per cent a year, says the Solid Fuel Association, which represents the industry.

To solve our energy crisis, look to the sea

“Spirit of Ireland”, the impressive volunteer think-tank for energy independence, aims to find empty west-coast valleys to dam and flood with seawater – pumped storage for reserve hydropower linked to adjoining wind-farms. In a similar “Turlough Hill” approach, the Organic Power company would use surplus wind-power to pump seawater up to reservoirs on Glinsk Mountain, above the cliffs of North Mayo. This will feed generating turbines, when needed, as it pours back down a shaft to the ocean.

In the crisis over climate change and energy, attention comes back to nature – even to the rocks the island is made of, and the seabed all around it. There is news of Ireland’s first geothermal energy project, using the heat in deep rock strata hugging the mantle of the Earth. It will bore down to layers four kilometres deep under Newcastle, Co Dublin, and harness their heat, through a water network, to warm half the city.

Out of the endless sprawl

Conservatism itself is rooted more in the community and especially in the fertile soil of tradition than in the individual. In a land of strip malls and ten-lane freeways, of rampant materialism and unending competition, tradition and community become irrelevant – become skeletal ghosts on display behind panes of glass. Anymore, the American right views its historical patrons – Burke, Oakeshott, et alia – as somewhat quaint figures, whose philosophy should be cherry-picked for all the ripest talking-points.

Chris Martenson: Getting the story right

When I had the chance at the UK Parliament talk, I gave one “solution” (more of a ‘response’, really, but people like the word solution) – I proposed that we create a national or even international organization to study net energy and energy flows. It should be extremely well-funded and attract our best and brightest, so that we can answer such simple questions as, “Should we retroactively insulate existing structures, or should we build a new light rail system?” Because we only know the economics of that question, we can’t answer the most important question of all: "Which offers the higher energy returned on energy invested?"

Made in the U.S.A.: Efficiency Materials

While solar and wind manufacturers struggle to fend off Chinese competition, energy efficiency equipment seems to have no such problem.

According to a recent study commissioned by efficiency advocates, equipment like caulking and insulation — basic tools for retrofitting the country’s homes and businesses — is almost entirely made in the United States.

...Matt Golden, the chairman of Efficiency First, said he was surprised that the numbers were so high for caulking, but insulation was easier to explain.

“You don’t want to make it in China, because a container full of insulation costs so little it’s not worth shipping,” Mr. Golden said.

Crude Oil Falls as U.S. Consumer Sentiment Unexpectedly Drops

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil declined for the first time in three days after a report showed that confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly dropped this month.

Oil fell 1.1 percent as the Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index dropped to 72.5 from February’s reading of 73.6. A gain to 74 was forecast, according to the median of 68 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Prearranged orders to sell oil at specific prices, known as stops, may have been triggered as oil declined.

Conoco Proposes Spending $13 Billion on Norway Fields

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, proposed development plans for the North Sea Eldfisk and Ekofisk South fields offshore Norway valued at as much as $13 billion to prolong their production lives.

Déjà vu: Energy Prices

It's hard to believe it's been two years this month since this column first revealed that speculators were running riot in the oil futures market. I pointed out that unrestrained commodities speculators were causing the oil price climb we were seeing, which would send the cost of crude to a peak of $147 a barrel by the summer of 2008. At the time most "experts" quoted in the media were saying that oil prices were skyrocketing because world supplies couldn't keep up with demand, or because we had passed the point of Peak Oil. Neither position was true, of course; just looking at tanker shipments and worldwide oil supplies on hand, those concepts were obviously invalid.

Pakistan’s War on Terror and the New Cold War

A new Cold war is in beginning. This time centre of this cold war is not Europe but South Central and Euro- Asia. Keeping in mind peak oil and conflicting interests of dominant powers, probability of return of cold war is a logical conclusion.

At Strategic level we see shift in policies of all concerned powers in Afghanistan and Central Asia. US Policy has at last tilted in Pakistan's Favor and India is on retreat. Pakistan and US are coordinating with each other against extremism and results are coming both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

China looks to 'combustible ice' as a fuel source

(PhysOrg.com) -- Buried below the tundra of China’s Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a type of frozen natural gas containing methane and ice crystals that could supply energy to China for 90 years. China discovered the large reserve of methane hydrate last September, and last week the Qinghai Province announced that it plans to allow researchers and energy companies to tap the energy source. Although methane hydrate is plentiful throughout the world, the key challenge for China and other nations will be to develop technologies to excavate the fuel without damaging the environment.

Process could clean up water used in natural gas drilling

(PhysOrg.com) -- Texas A&M Engineering is playing a role in a technological breakthrough that could clean up the contaminated water recovered from drilling natural gas wells in shale deposits through the process of "hydraulic fracturing."

David Burnett of Texas A&M’s Global Petroleum Research Institute -- in partnership with the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and Carl Vavra of the TEES Food Protein R&D Center Separation Sciences Laboratory, developed the membrane filtration technology -- which has been licensed to a major oil field service company for commercialization.

Coal brings Wyoming, Queensland together

CHEYENNE -- Though they are on opposite sides of the world, Wyoming and Queensland, Australia, have something in common.


And both states have critical economic interests in keeping coal saleable despite climate-change concerns.

Is Creating Green Jobs a "Sensible Aspiration" for Governments?

That's the topic of an ongoing online debate over at the Economist.com. In one corner, green jobs advocate Van Jones, who argues that governments should engage in the active practice of creating green jobs, by, for example, incentivizing clean energy projects. In the other, Andrew P. Morriss, a professor of business and law at the University of Illinois, who argues that green job creation should be left to the marketplace.

It's a fascinating debate, and one that needs to be had. After all, Spain solar power industry just underwent a painful collapse due to miscalculated subsidies, and policy ideas for green job generation are being considered at this very moment in the US Senate.

Slick, slim rail design to unclog city routes

(PhysOrg.com) -- A driverless, electric-powered light rail system designed to whisk commuters more efficiently around central Auckland (New Zealand) and across the harbour bridge could appeal to people who snub existing public transport, says its creator.

The New Road to Energy Sustainability

Dear Congress,

We, the American People, want a New Deal for energy.

We're tired of watching the rest of the world kick the clean energy industry into high gear while we're still stuck in neutral, debating a weak cap-and-trade bill that doesn't come close to meeting our energy challenge.

Lexicon of Change: The Rise of Transition Culture

You may or may not have heard of the Transition movement — described by its founder, Rob Hopkins, as “an exercise in engaged optimism”— yet Transition’s ideas are informing and even guiding the conversation of how communities confront the twin crises of peak oil and climate change.

The movement is driven by one simple idea: Rather than hand-wringing and lamenting dwindling energy reserves and climate change, Transition wants people to envision and create models for that future — and find much to be cheerful about.

Board Extends Deadline for Everglades Land Deal

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — Facing legal challenges and growing deficits, South Florida water officials on Thursday gave themselves six more months to finance a controversial $536 million purchase of land from United States Sugar for the Everglades.

The unanimous vote by the nine-member board of the South Florida Water Management District will keep the deal alive, but officials said they continued to struggle with whether the agency could afford it.

Is nuclear necessary? Duke study touts power of renewables

How necessary is nuclear power? Renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydroelectric, can provide all but 6% of North Carolina's electricity, finds a new Duke University study.

NRG Says Texas Power Agreements Are ‘Stumbling Block’ for Solar

(Bloomberg) -- NRG Energy Inc. said the power- purchase agreements in Texas, which appropriate money one year at a time rather than several years, are a “stumbling block” to developing solar electricity plants in the state.

Wind resistance: Analysis suggests generating electricity from large-scale wind farms could influence climate

In a paper published online Feb. 22 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Wang and Prinn suggest that using wind turbines to meet 10 percent of global energy demand in 2100 could cause temperatures to rise by one degree Celsius in the regions on land where the wind farms are installed, including a smaller increase in areas beyond those regions. Their analysis indicates the opposite result for wind turbines installed in water: a drop in temperatures by one degree Celsius over those regions. The researchers also suggest that the intermittency of wind power could require significant and costly backup options, such as natural gas-fired power plants.

Aquatic 'dead zones' contributing to climate change

"As the volume of hypoxic waters move towards the sea surface and expands along our coasts, their ability to produce the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide increases," explains Dr. Codispoti of the UMCES Horn Point Laboratory. "With low-oxygen waters currently producing about half of the ocean's net nitrous oxide, we could see an additional significant atmospheric increase if these 'dead zones' continue to expand."

Report: The Case for Global Warming Stronger Than Ever

One of the many crimes that climate scientists have been accused of lately is that they claim absolute certainty in a field of research fraught with uncertainty. Sure, the planet is warming, say skeptics, but that's happened throughout Earth's history, long before humans were burning fossil fuels. So, how can we be sure this isn't just a natural phenomenon?

Read the letter by Chris Nelder. It's pretty good.

Somehow I have a feeling it will fall on deaf ears.

Nelder wants a policy based on facts and science. Good luck with that in Texas.

"Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change" http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html?hpw

I think that Mississippi is considering a new policy so that if the Federal Government insists on creating any kind of Global Climate Agreements that influence their state, that they will simply cancel all weather events.

Hey, it seems to work with Proms.

Maybe this is a feedback loop that eliminates bad genes from the species.
Then again, maybe homo sapiens (we should think about something other than sapiens when speaking of Texas) have finally stopped taking themselves seriously, and are embracing their coming extinction.

With conservatives it's always about symbolic victories, isn't it? "Mission accomplished."

They don't have any real ideas (or the ideas they have are so odious that if they ever implemented them they would never be elected again), so they play around with the innocent and voiceless - schoolchidren - and pretend that they're saving America from the godless, gays, and Gores.

It's really something to see them removing Thomas Jefferson from the history books. It reminds me of the practice during stalinist times in the Soviet Union when certain recently executed figures formerly in leadership positions were removed from official photos. I see they're also 'rehabilitating' Joe McCarthy.

I wonder when they will start demanding that Benjamin Franklin be declared an enemy of the people and that Thomas Paine be burned in effigy on a bonfire of his writings.

I read Stalin's biography (by Volhogonov) which was fascinating and I highly recommend it. The removal from the photographs really struck me. It really was 1984.


When they figure out that most of the founders were Deists (that was the "in thing" in unversities those days) - they will eliminate all of them and replace them with confederate "heroes".

It is actually a historical accident that American constitution mandates separation of religion and state. Not that it matters all that much - countries where the separation is not part of the law seem to be not so fundamental anyway (like Europe).

Checkout "The Faiths of the Founding Fathers" by David L. Holmes.

Forget Afghanistan or the rest of the middle east, we have our own problems fighting fundametalist, "American Taliban."

Let me be more precise, since a lack of clearity getsme in trouble (rightfully so).

Some conservatives remind me of the Taliban. IMHO, some conservatives would like the U.S. to emulate Afghanistan. It would be Taliban American style.

While, some liberals would like to usher in the "Age of Aquarius;" the day when all of humanity will run naked in the forest, holding hands, making love, not war.

Of course, our future reality will probably satisfy neither side

the day when all of humanity will run naked in the forest, holding hands, making love, not war.

It is nice to run naked in forest making love but unfortunately their are other men trying to steel my vomen(s) ... so I will be forced to start a war.

And the inevitable population boom from all that lovemaking will require clear-cutting some of the forest for farmland, and soon the rest goes for firewood, and the last deer for venison some cold winter.

Easter Island crashed hard without technology, bankers, oil, or debt.

re: we have our own problems fighting fundametalist, "American Taliban."

Well, you know, religious nutjobs are religious nutjobs, no matter where in the world you find them. The religion doesn't really matter, it is the nutjob aspect that is the problem.

They of course, would disagree with me, but I of course would disagree with them. However, I would disagree with them well out of rifle range regardless of religious persuasion.

I'm sure the "American Taliban" have been busy having children and raising their families. Judging from some things I've read on alternet, the progressives have been busy getting vasectomies and aborting themselves out of existence.

I think we can infer from these trends that the more "conservative" groups of people will be around for a very long time. I may not agree with what they believe in but they're free to believe in what they wish.

Read the letter by Chris Nelder. It's pretty good.

I would love to. Which article is it in? Got a URL? Donig a "find" on "Nelder" turned up nothing but your post and a reply.

I find it very frustrating when people quote stuff, usually from a link by Leanan above, but never tell us which one. It only takes a little effort to post your source. When I post something from one of Leanan's links, I always post: From the above link: then copy and past the link from above. That way anyone can just find the above link, click on it, and find my quote.

Ron P.

I like what Chris writes. I think he and Alan Drake need to get together and build some policies for this country. Here's one avenue to start pushing ideas like this...

I just read this article this morning, so I am in no way pushing "The Coffee Party". At first, I chuckled when I read it since it is an obvious play on "The Tea Party", but then I started reading and thought...hey, these folks seem more in-line with what I think. Even if nothing comes of this as a grass roots movement, at least I might find some local folks that I can share some of my "crazy" ideas with.


Meet the people who are percolating in the Coffee Party

They're professionals, musicians and housewives. They're frustrated liberal activists, disheartened conservatives and political newborns. They're young and old, rich and poor, black, white and all shades of other.

Born on Facebook just six weeks ago, the group boasts more than 110,000 fans, as of Friday morning. The Coffee Party is billed by many as an answer to the Tea Party (more than 1,000 fewer fans), a year-old protest movement that's steeped in fiscal conservatism and boiling-hot, anti-tax rhetoric.

This new group calls for civility, objects to obstructionism and demands that politicians be held accountable to the people who put them in office.

"The government has become so broken that the will of the people has been lost in the political game," said Stacey Hopkins, 46, coordinator of the Atlanta, Georgia, chapter. "And the only voices you're hearing are the ones of those who are screaming the loudest. They have a right to their views, but they don't have the right to speak for all Americans."

Once again...let me reiterate...I am NOT endorsing this group, but it may be an opportunity to talk about Peak Oil and get some more folks to understand it and how it affects how our government will work in the future.

I am contemplating starting a group in Lee's Summit or Kansas City.

Yes - the Coffee Party ! May be I can open an Espresso Chapter. Unfortunately as it evolves, I guess the national convention will be sponsered by *Bucks.

Ha...hopefully, they will not allow corporate sponsors. That's what gave us the political system we have today.

Seriously though, maybe our best philosophers of the modern era sit in coffee shops. When my dad was alive, he sold books to small town libraries and would spend the afternoons, after making his library orders, hanging out in the local coffee shop. I urged him to write a book of stories about these coffee shop conversations, but he passed away before that happened.

My grandad was the president of a bank in a small Kansas town. Went to the same coffee shop for years and solved all the world's problems with other guys and gals in town.

Don't knock the power of the coffee shop!!

OK, so lack of much response on The Coffee Party. Does this mean TOD has become massively apolitical and think that really no grass roots movements can have an effect on this country? I can understand that, just surprised me. I thought this would be right up some folks alley here.

Don't put too much credance in the BC Energy Plan that links from the Nedler piece though. The Green Energy (whatever its called) doesn't have that many facts straight. The Green Energy Task Force is a group of advisory panels, and the numbers he is quoting is from the 2006 BC Energy Plan.

BC has a legislature, not a parliament. Its the Provincial Government that has legislated the mandates, not the Federal Canadian government. Good thing he didn't mention the Canadian Olympic Hockey teams, he would have had the U.S. winning the gold.

Furthermore, BC isn't even coming close to meeting the objectives. For all the viable run of river potential in the province, there is huge opposition. Some call this place "Absurdistan".

I like Chris Nelder a lot but in order for any of his proposals to be initiated first we would need...

The health insurance industry to throw in the towel and say we have come to our senses and we pledge our significant resources and infrastructure to rebuild our healthcare system as singlepayer.

The Auto industry to say Ok we have enough cars, now we will stop making them and make trains, windmills, solar...

The military industrial complex to wave the white flag and voluntarily reduce their global footprint, retool for producing necessary goods, and recycle all the weaponry.

The energy industry to come together as one, asses the realistic FF availability and equitably allocate it toward transition.

...and so on and so on through out all industries. In other words eliminate all these companies profit motives.

It is the epitome of naivety to believe you can redirect the profit motive for the good of mankind.

You know...it really doesn't hurt to have ideas and to share them with people...even if the odds are not in your favor for those ideas to come to fruition. Action has to start with ideas. Or you can just give up and do nothing.

Nobody said anything about giving up and doing nothing.

For some reason everyone loves to jump on the cheerleading band wagon when someone comes up with a plan for "solving" the problem, even though they all ignore the facts on the ground. Yea! hooray!

Then when anyone gives a reality based assessment and plan of action everyone says Booooo! get out of here doomer.

It's all very depressing but at least its real. I have never been very good at self gratification.

Anyone under the age of 30 should reject all these market based "solutions" because all it will get you is poor or worse.

Friday night failures:

Regulators shut banks in NY, Florida, Louisiana

NEW YORK — Regulators on Friday shut down banks in New York, Florida and Louisiana, raising to 30 the number of failures this year of federally insured banks.

Weirdly, there was also a bank closed on Thursday this week.

"Weirdly, there was also a bank closed on Thursday this week."

On Thursday, the FDIC closed LibertyPointe Bank, which catered largely to the Orthodox Jewish community in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The Jewish sabbath begins at sundown Friday, which is pretty early in the day in the winter. Most businesses in that area would close at noon on Friday, if they opened at all.

OT - You know you're in the boondocks when...

We had trouble with our phone last week; when you picked it up you'd get a dial tone and then the line would go dead. My wife reported it on the company's web site* since doing it via phone and wastes cell minutes.

The next afternoon I was out pruning blackberries (Triple Crowns - highly recommended) and was bringing a load up with the garden tractor when I heard the outside bell. I went into the house and there was a message, "I was just checking to see it the trouble was fixed. Guess no one is inside so I'll call Ginny (my wife) on her cell. Bye." No name, no nothing.

Being the boondocks, he knew I'd recognize his voice. In fact, the repairman has a been a friend for 30 years but how many of your local repair people know your wife's name and have her cell number. Of course, being the boondocks, I had HIS cell number so I could call him back and tell him it was working from our end too.

*Internet service is interesting too. We'd had landline service for 15 years or so...at about 2K When a couple of guys started up a wireless service we jumped at it since it offered 20-40K. Ohooo! We have an outside antenna that goes to a receiving antenna on another mountaintop about 15 mile away. Works great except when it snows and I have to go out and beat the snow off with a broom I attached to a 10' pole.


Well, another local-interest bit, in the spirit of how 'relationships are a fine substitute for a great deal of energy use'.. if you will.

We just had a potluck and talent show at our UU church last night.. a little bit more homey an event than city churches I've been to in my life.. but it was amazing! We had kids, old folks, barbershop, tap-dance, free-dancing, storytelling, teens doing something from WestSideStory (Krupke), people willing to be a little imperfect in front of their friends.. but I sat there thinking 'wow, a lot of poor schmucks are out there watching TV tonight' It was so much fun.

As a friend at Summer Camp used to say, "If you can't make a fool of yourself, you probably can't make ANYTHING of yourself."


Todd- You must of just had some snow from that storm earlier in the week, as there was snow in Laytonville when I drove though.

Hi - Ya, only about 3". It looked like it would be more so we took my wife's car down closer to the gate (It's about 500' lower.) just to be sure. It melted off my mid-afternoon the next day. Got a 1/2" last night...no big deal but it's 26F right now.

Our worst snows come in March. Our really worst one started on a March 28th when we got about 5 feet total and were snowed in for almost 3 weeks and still had to bring in a CAT to get our road opened. So far this year we've only been snowed in once for a week.


That would be Ray, the unofficial mayor :>)

Ok, TODers, bear with me, it's the weekend, I haven't posted much recently and you might learn something about the boondocks.

Here's a good "Ray" story Mike...

Remember when the semi rolled going north earlier this year closing Hwy 101? Well, just as we left our private road we heard them announce that it was closed. Swell, Ginny had a hospital appointment for some tests - two plus hours away.

I drove to town and the traffic was backed up a mile when we got there. After a few minutes I got out to have a cig and "Ray" was behind us. He and I BSed I looked across a half mile of pasture and said, "Man, it would be great if we could get through Peggy's place. Ray said, "I think we can."

Now, I've known Peggy and her husband Jimmy for 35 years. As an aside, Jimmy was a retired professional bronc rider who still cowboyed at ranches around here. One day Peggy and I spent an hour looking at the old scrapbooks of those days. One of Jimmy's routines was to get a cup of coffee, take the dogs, go out on the deck, sit is his favorite chair and watch the sun rise. One morning he sat down as the sun was coming up, had a heart attack and died peacefully.

Going back to Ray...he said there were locked gates and he'd call them but didn't have a phone book and the corp. Blackberry wouldn't help - he's the main phone guy and didn't have a phone book?. Well, we did so Ray started calling and got the combos. But, Peggy didn't answer. We must have looked pretty weird to out of towners with a phone book on Ginny's trunk lid making cell calls.

I told Ray he had to take the lead (and any heat) so we turned around and headed down. He got everyone but Peggy - she didn't answer.

So, we are going around her house which sits on a small hill (and you always drive SLOW around someone's house) and she comes out hollering in her bathrobe, "What you all doing here?" Ray gets out and says, "It's Ray." I get out and say, "It's Todd and Ginny." And, then we have to ford the creek. I saw Peggy at the store a few weeks later and thanked her.

Now Ten Mile Creek can be low or it can sweep your car away so I watched Ray drive though with his little PU. Hum, almost to the bumper and I've got Ginny's Corolla. I figured I could make it by staying out of the tracks. Whoppee. On to SR.

This is how the boondocks works - relationships.


I love it.
My daughter, 3 months out of college, has just been offered a job ($18/hr) by some of our local hippies. Todd probably remembers when Evan started this company.
There are good jobs out there, folks, even in California.

I'm in the process of ripping up my lawn and planting mostly edible plants. Thanks for the tip on the Triple Crowns! I will try them. You think they will grow well in downtown Arcata?

Yah! Good For you, one less grass lawn grower on more saved from the edge.

What is your growing season like where you live? Check out plants that might not grow in your area but will grow in your climate, there are lot more than you think, but you might have to hunt around to find them all.

How much space do you have that you can put into food production?

There are still grasses that grow in my yard, but there are few set patchs of single plant species anywhere in my yard.

The more plants you can grow the more days of food production you can get, though you might have to work hard to get a year around harvest, there are winter hardy plants to be had.

Best of Luck to you.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Wow. The Chinese have been making some pretty questionalble moves lately. Just how cheap do they think "combustable ice" is going to be to extract? I'm betting expensive. What do other people think?

I brought up Jean Laherrère's article on hydrates in a comment at RealClimate:

Peak oil researcher Jean Laherrère published an excellent piece for theoildrum.com on hydrates. He mentions Milkov’s study Global estimates of hydrate-bound gas in marine sediments: how much is really out there?, which shows that estimates have decreased by an order of magnitude since the 1970s; yet these earlier figures are still bandied about all too often.

[Response: Milkov's estimates are an order of magnitude lower, but maybe he's wrong, explaining the ongoing bandiment. The uncertainty hasn't really diminished much over the years; everyone agrees on the area of the sea floor containing hydrate, because you can see bubbles seismically, but the uncertainty is the amount of methane per square meter. David]

So we remain at a loss for the total size, OK. Later on David Archer has this as well:

[Response: Hydrate methane is now considered mineable in the right conditions. They destabilize it by injecting warm water or chemicals. Mostly this is from gas reservoirs on land. This may supply ~10% of methane production in the next decade or so. See Gas Hydrate Resource: Smaller But Sooner , By: Kerr, Richard A., Normile, Dennis, Science, 0036-
8075, February 13, 2004, Vol. 303, Issue 5660. David]

Big Gav posted about hydrates I don't know when (the dates on his posts lack the year of posting for some reason): Peak Energy: Investigating Methane Hydrate Extraction On Alaska's North Slope. Following up on one of the pilot projects mentioned, the Milne Point field on the North Slope, I find this study from January: Realizing the Energy Potential of Methane Hydrate for the United States

They're shooting for completing test runs on North Slope hydrate by 2015 and seabased stuff by 2025. Given the sluggish rate pipeline builds up north I'm not sure why we should care about the North Slope, there's the monstrous gas cap on Prudhoe we could much more easily exploit, or the conventional gas in the Mackenzie River delta.

The Science piece Archer refs is subscription only so I don't know what its conclusions are.

Mar 1: National research council lauds US national gas hydrate R&D effort

Feb 19: No Barrow hydrate research funds; wells will be drilled (subscription required).

The U.S. Department of Energy is no longer funding research into possible methane hydrate deposits in the Barrow gas fields on Alaska’s North Slope, Petroleum News has learned.

The Chinese have been making some pretty questionalble moves lately.

How long have we been making questionable moves?

Re:The Case for Global Warming

When we measure temperature, we measure the trend toward a quasi-equilibrium. I don't think people understand that when we have a forcing function like GHG which causes a shift from equilibrium, that the responses can swing the local temperatures wildly, both above and below the anticipated direction. That is why the skeptics like to use the argument of localized and non-normal cooling to try to debunk AGW, as they realize that most people do not understand this concept.

The same situation occurs with a valuable resource with an abundance constraint, such as oil. The minute that we start detecting scarcity, the pricing becomes very volatile and it will jump above and below the quasi-equilibrium value. Try telling a person that price volatility is caused by a resource constraint and they won't necessarily believe you. They will sooner think the price of that resource will continue to almost monotonically increase, rather than think it will bounce between extremes.

I would really like to be able to work on climate change problems, but the way I see it, the fluctuations remain the difficulty in that they form much of the near-term observable trends, yet the underling relentless long-term trend is all due to deep physics and chemistry. Analyzing oil depletion is much easier in that the trends are easily modeled by a combination of entropy-based statistics and elementary bean-counting kind of arguments. No deep physics is needed to understand oil depletion, no matter what the geologists will try to tell us. That is not to say that we can get by with solely heuristic arguments; the same AGW skeptics who will rail at failings of climate scientists in their modeling skills will just as soon skewer the oil depletion analysts if they see shortcomings in their use of heuristics. Say what you will, but the AGW skeptics attack on conventional heuristics-based depletion analysis will be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel to them. I agree to some extent that the curent AGW science brouhaha is providing a smokescreen to the underlying depletion arguments that will erupt eventually (I think Gail, HO, and others on TOD believe this as well). Both sides have time to sharpen their broad-swords in the mean-time. And that is why I think it is important to keep on the AGW beat, as we can learn much on how to argue with the skeptics.

The problem with using temperature is that most of the "noise" is irrelevant for the underlying change in the energy balance. Everybody knows about ENSO but the fact that the inter-annual temperature variation is dominated by exchanges of heat between the oceans and atmosphere is not made clear. These variations happen on inter-decadal timescales as well given the vast heat capacity and slower mixing rates of the oceans. Of course we have not way of measuring the total energy budget of the atmosphere-ocean system directly but the fixation on atmospheric temperature (even when it comes to the Arctic ice melt) is absurd. Of course there are nonlinearities such as albedo and CO2 exchange with the oceans but in the case of the former there has been no clear trend during the satellite era and in the case of the latter it is acting as a positive feedback. The leading order effect of greenhouse gas accumulation is to trap heat and nothing changes this basic fact.

That people choose not to believe in AGW or that the market price does not respond rationally to a depleting resource just shows their ignorance. But it is the media's responsibility for coddling this. Facts are not established by popular vote and the media does not give equal time to opposing view points for many important topics.

Unfortunately temperature is the most convenient first-order mechanism that we have to measure heat content. Just like weight is a convenient proxy measure for mass.

If we could measure the aggregate heat content of the earth's surface plus the atmosphere instantaneously, then the world would not be having this discussion. This would show very little noise and we could separate all sorts of competing ideas such as solar cycles, etc. But we only have these other proxy measurements which indirectly measure heat content, so we have to deal with it the best we can.

I think you may be missing the point. The problem is not "heat content" so much as the balance between flows of energy. This is especially true, since one can't begin to measure the "heat content" of the whole ball of wax at any instant. For starters, the various thermal masses have different time constants and are forced with time varying inputs, such as the seasonal solar cycle. The internal oscillations, such as ENSO, will also change the "heat content" of the masses at the surface, for example, mixing the waters on the ocean surfaces with waters brought to the surface from the very cold layers below. And you must somehow include the effects of ocean currents, such as the THC.

There have been efforts to measure the energy flows at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) with satellites, such as ERBE, but these efforts have problems of their own. There are similar problems with measurements which have been called "temperature" by some researchers, (Christy and Spencer), but which are not at all like the temperature measurements taken by point reading instruments at the surface of the land or oceans. Worse, the surface time series are impacted by changes in measurement techniques, such as location shifts and changing in the time of day of reading the instrument. Add in the problems with the very large number of individual instruments, which must be repeatedly calibrated and positioned, with changes from mercury-in-glass to electronic types, and you have a fine mess.

Given all the problems, temperature remains the best metric to use, IMHO.

E. Swanson

The bottom line is that inter-annual variability in the temperature does not indicate that the greenhouse gas effect is some ultra-complex process that could swing either way. Recent chatter in the media and even RealClimate claims that the temperature trend in the last 30 years is not statistically significant. This is a load of bollox since it completely ignores the warming in the oceans in addition to the important cancellation of noise in the combined system. Doing the statistics on the total energy of the system would not give the same "insignificant" conclusion. Energy is the ultimate measure of the state of the system and not the temperature of a sub-component.

Recent chatter in the media and even RealClimate claims that the temperature trend in the last 30 years is not statistically significant.

Incorrect. The term was much shorter than that with two years chosen cherry-picked. The statistical significance was something like .94 instead of .95.

If you know stats, you know what the person who asked the question was trying to force the scientist to say. In the same interview, not reported by the idiot (savant?) denialists or the media, generally, was that he said warming is clearly happening.

Yet it seems as if they have to treat the entire system as a whole, because climate is all about how energy flows try to reach an equilibrium in the face of constant stimulations.

If you are saying that various escape hatches for radiative heat exist then I can kind of see what you are saying. By my concentrating on a global heat content as opposed to an ensemble of localized energy flows with their own lossy channels appears to be where I am missing the point. Is that right?

I really enjoy studying anything to do with disorder because it seems to explain many of the most tricky problems in science.

Well now, just how do you propose to measure the heat content of the entire ocean? What's done now is better than it used to be, but measuring the temperature of the entire ocean to enough accuracy to be meaningful is still quite difficult. The new techniques using autonomous Lagrangian floats which periodically surface to transmit their data to satellites is still rather coarse and is not an instantaneous snapshot. Are the oceans warming, that is to say, is the heat content of the oceans increasing? Still a subject of considerable discussion, I would say. Now, how good are your measurements of the top few meters of the material across all the land surface?

E. Swanson

Just asking the questions. I never bite off more than I can chew when working these problems.

While you are chewing, don't forget to include ocean circulation. You surely wouldn't want to choke on that one. And, it would appear that the oceans are not in equilibrium with the atmosphere, being decades behind the forcings from above.

E. Swanson

If we could measure the aggregate heat content of the earth's surface plus the atmosphere instantaneously, then the world would not be having this discussion.

I'm not at all convinced of that. One source of short term variability, heat transfers among terrestrial heat reservoirs (atmosphere, ground, ocean water, volume of ice etc) would be eliminated. But I'm not at all convinced that a lot of natural short term changes couldn't be due to short term changes in the radiative balance. If a particular mode of an atmospheric short term mode (ENSO, AMO, AO, PDO) or whatever favours more or less cloudiness, at different heights, that could change the radiative forcing. A few watts per metersquared is pretty significant, and it seems quite plausible to me that a goodly portion of short term variation in measured global temps, may reflect changes in system heat content brought about by perturbations in the radiative balance.

If we could measure the aggregate heat content of the earth's surface plus the atmosphere instantaneously, then the world would not be having this discussion.

Yes, and if I could fly to San Francisco for a sour dough bread bowl filled with clam chowder and France for a fine steak dinner once a week, I would.

If people would be honest, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

If people were prosecuted for defaming scientists, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

If people would just open their eyes and look at the effects of AGW, we wouldn't be having this discussion.


That last is the only one that will finally get a large majority on board in the US.

You know what, I usually start these discussions as a jumping off point to better understand how to do oil depletion analysis. Science works best when you can create analogies and search for commonality.

As usual my focus is on how to incorporate uncertainty into the analysis and figure out some common abstractions. Atta way to mistake open creative thinking for close-mindedness.

I was reinforcing your point, not arguing it, while pointing out the question is a bit of a Quixotic windmill.


Fair enough. I was ready to bring up Don Quixote myself since it provides an example of a noble folly.

Yeah, you see many of the same approaches used to shore up arguments, the latest massive subsalt field being held up as evidence that depletion is irrelevant. Some myths or waves of the hand straddle both fields, Al Gore's 10 Year Plan for divesting civilization of its hydrocarbon dependence for instance. I have a feeling that this approach, made manifest, would equate globally to what drug addicts term "cold turkey."

I don't see the AGW crowd gaining any ground, though, quite the contrary. Really doubt the man on the street gives a crap about the intensity of this season's ENSO's impact on record setting Feb temps, either. The fact that you have bloggers with time on their hands to post at sites for both issues (KLR, FMagyar, dobhoi) makes me think that this community of strident voices in debate online really is that, a community, perhaps less than 5k people all told. Would like to see a study of that.

Still waiting for these hydrocarbon denialists and their pitchforks, too. If we had academic funding and decades of institutional props we might warrant attention; not the case.

Finished my article. It's all meat and some potatoes, heuristics all the way down. Exciting stuff like this:

Product Supplied %s  late 70s late 00s #2 Comparison

Percent of product supplied from peak volume. Note comment in the story I'm linking to on refining further down the Drumbeat.

The community of analysis-oriented climate science skeptics is huge compared to what we have here on TOD. If you monitor a skeptic site such as http://ClimateAudit.org, you will find dozens of analysts looking at the data from the AGW scientists and trying to outdo each other, or else complement and then repost when someone finds some inconsistency. The whole community of analytically-oriented climate science skeptics is really quite an effective propagation mill. They are also very focused and determined on what they are trying to do, almost myopic in their quest to find fault with the climate scientists research.

From a sociological perspective it is quite fascinating yet it also makes me wonder what they can do when they redirect their focus.

I don't think the size of the community is that important (you say 5k). What happens is that the echo chamber is much bigger than that. I listen to some right-wing radio stations and am continuously surprised how often I hear mention of the ClimateAudit site. This stuff propagates directly through the channels and is fast.

I find it fascinating the discussions that take place about getting the right to understand and admit there is global warming. People obviously do not understand their mentality. They don't care if it's true or not, they simply enjoy opposing the idea. It's rebellious, and we usually don't attach the idea of rebellion to the right wing, so the idea of them rebelling against AGW seems on the surface like it must be due to their lack of understanding the facts. They don't care about the facts. They just want to ignore AGW, and they want us to ignore it too.

It's not much different than ignoring the 47,000,000 people without health insurance. Even though many of those 47 million are right wingers, they still oppose heathcare changes for the same reasons they oppose AGW. Hatred of change - its a form of war - they love and adore war and any form it can and will take.

The right wing enjoys being the stick in the side of the left. So its not a matter of coming up with the correct data to prove a point. Do yourselves a favor and let that idea go. You could no more convince a right winger of AGW verbally or in writing, than you could compress coal into diamonds with the strength of your hands. You have to realize the goal is unattainable.

People have spent their whole lives experiencing a world where there is always more. Higher GDP. Bigger cars. Faster cars. Bigger houses. More exotic vacations, More stuff for everyone. Faster, Faster, Faster, Bigger, Bigger, Bigger. This is the prevailing paradigm. Anything that call this paradigm is a threat to a way of life and what people feel as their entitlement by virtue of the fact that they live in America. To threaten this paradigm is to threaten their reason for being, their ability to get up in the morning with the promise of a new, better, and richer day.

Global warming and peak oil brings this all down and does serious psychological harm to those who believe that the future will be just like the past, only bigger and better. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of wealth. That is the credo and anyone who threatens that is obviously a dirty socialist who just hates our way of life, and just hates America.

Any constraints on this hell bent ride to oblivion is just unacceptable and would be imposed by the Devil's spawn if not the Devil himself.

I agree that no amount of data is going to make one wit of difference. The truth simply cannot and will not be handled.

All of us, of course, are subject to lack of objectivity based upon our being tied to a certain position. We let confirming data in and keep contradicting data out. The filter can even be subconscious.

And I am no exception. But I would love to see a convincing argument that AGW was bogus.

But then there is peak oil and peak everything else. So really, nothing is going to get us off scot free.

Very good post tstreet. I hadn't thought in terms of the bigger, faster, more etc., but that is a valid point. It's not just that people won't give up BAU, they want even bigger badder BAU. Give them the most massive SUV, with the deepest gurgling after market muffler, a cheeseburger with 2500 calories and 210 grams of fat, and then give them more!

There is a line in the movie Key Largo, in which Edward G. Robinson is asked what he wants. He plays a Cuban mafioso type character, and he says, "More, that's what I want, sure, more!" That about sizes up America. Our family immigrated here from the UK, but sometimes I can't believe this place. Sometimes it seems great, and sometimes it seems so inmature.

But like you say,

But then there is peak oil and peak everything else. So really, nothing is going to get us off scot free.

Living on less, not more will have to be faced sooner or later.

I still have serious doubts they'll ever bother. After all, the contrary position to ours has funding that vastly outweighs what pittance goes into any study of resource limitations, and as I stated before, we don't really have any true allies either. I listened to leftie talk radio for the novelty value when Air America started up; rarely I'd hear about peak oil, much more frequently I'd hear the meme about the mythical Gore fantasy world where oil was a historical curiosity 10 years after the ink was dry on Operation Wind Turbine.

As for real science, there are just a few bona fide published papers I know of; some, like Hanson's - only submitted/rejected but it has citations - conclude that peak oil is just a red herring, a bump in the road to building out all the CTL and oil shale we'll need to fry ourselves completely.

I'd like to conclude that I'm delusional to ever think oil supply will peak in the near term - what could I possibly know about resources that the USGS doesn't? But all we see happening is Brazil slowly increasing production, to only merrily gobble up all of their gains. USGS thought the US had 4 times the URR Hubbert did, too.

It is strange that the "lefties" would ignore/deny peak oil. The notion of destruction of habitat and depletion of resources was supposedly commonplace with environmentalists. I guess that must have been an older generation. The current public has swallowed the limitless growth koolaid. Propaganda works.

As for the climate scientists not being aware of peak fossil fuels arriving sooner rather than later, that is an unfortunate side effect of them being regular media consumers outside their field. I was brainwashed in the 1990s that there was lots more oil to be found because I didn't do my own research and gave the news media the benefit of the doubt when covering the subject (I did not see a reason why they would lie). Until people find resources such as TOD and see all the information that the media is not giving them they will not be aware of a problem (before shortages hit them). Your 5000 estimate is right since there is not that much initiative amongst the rabble.

The IPCC fossil fuel scenarios were not produced by climate scientists and are more than likely based on EIA and IEA forecasts. But at the same time there is a gross underestimation of the methane feedback. So even with the worst case fossil fuel reserves we will see over 500 ppmv CO equivalent by 2100 and at least the A2 scenario deals with this regime.

Most lefties do deny or ignore peak oil.
Most believe that if there is a problem, we will be saved by green technology.

Alternative energy will more than make up for any loss due to peak oil, and we will continue to usher in the "Age of Aquarius."

Most liberals are "Green Cornucopians"

as opposed to most conservatives who are just plain..., cornucopians...

My view..., neo-malthusian..., is most assuredly, the minority viewpoint.

That was my cursory impression anyway. There are nuanced thinkers on the left with regards to energy of course, but talk radio is by definition not a very nuanced venue.

Doubtless this is the mainstream opinion, that we can divest ourselves of oil tout suite, whatever that's good for. Pieces like SciAm's don't do the world any favors. All we can do is look to historical examples, analyze current trends, and try not to develop ulcers when our Nixons and Carters start talking about oil shale's bounty.

IPCC scenarios are IEA on steroids, if I remember correctly. When you balance out the effect of these far fetched projections of CO2 with that of a growing renewable civilization removing temp dimming sulfates from the atmosphere within weeks of their sources being shut down, overall my estimation is that we're pretty fracked. Again, people will need to have these problems empirically impacting them for any overnight change to occur. Decadal change, not totally dire - we are building renewable this and that, after all - but the political and resource/atmospheric cycles are reallllllly out of sync.

Maybe a President for Life would do the trick - ostensibly they'd start to think past the next round of campaigns. Plus trains running on time etc. ;) How about a dummy leader of that sort? Just a figurehead, they could make speeches and the like, purely as an example of what a pol with some sense of the long term would think like. Hmm, call that Coffee Party thingamajig, might be on to something here.

There's a word for president for life...,



I've used that term as well.

Lefties are invested in making a better world for everyone. Peak Oil means they can't. Thus it invalidates that in which they have invested their hearts and souls and sometime lives.

Bit of a crock concerning Air America Radio. Granted, it went defunct, but the hosts consistently discussed peak oil. I do lots of writing and keep the radio on when I write so my ears perk up whenever discussions of peak oil come up.

All the original Air America Radio hosts could talk peak oil, and they eventually brought in Thom Hartmann, who wrote ACTUAL BOOKS on the subject. You can call him up if you want and discuss PO.

"Lefty" talk radio is as much of a novelty as writing on a blog. They share the same fate as neither one makes money, and since smart people are immune to advertising, the progressive radio struggles along while the regressive variants live on. Blogs don't die because they have lower overhead.

But to your attitude of if they will ever bother, yes they will. Why do you think they bothered with AGW in the first place? They puff up the worthiness of their opponent and then attack, usually attacking their adversaries' weaknesses but often attacking their strengths by using an arsenal of lies.

EDIT: I wanted to add that I am listening to a progressive radio show called Ring of Fire that used to be Air America supported. The host Mike Pappantonio JUST NOW said that "Peak Oil is an issue" as he is talking to Washington senator Maria Cantwell (D).

I live near Portland and have called Hartmann's show a time or two to talk about things like royalty leases. Like where his heart is and he seems sensible enough, but I'm simply dubious anymore about grassroots change and the like; instead I spend my time reading about things like times in the FSU, as that's where we will likely wind up if things really go downhill.

I remember hearing Kunstler on Morning Sedition, which was quite a riot (i.e., funny) and fully archived somewhere too. Don't doubt that Pap and RFK Jr know about peak oil, can't recall their take on it, again, they're pretty sharp. But I've heard the 10 Year Plan stuff out of the gobs of more than a few others, Randi Rhodes especially. People need to research all this in depth before jumping to conclusions like this, it's as bad as pols taking the EIA at their word that peak is decades away, if that.

People are in radio, even lefty radio, to make money - hence the commercials. That doesn't have to get in the way, but between that and the compressed format as they race to get a word in before commercial breaks it's not an ideal. And some of them are real salesmen. Used to puke listening to Ed Schultz hawk miraculous engine additives.

Like I said, Pap was just talking about Peak Oil on today's installment of RoF. He is on top of it.

On the other hand, the only right-wing radio host I have ever heard even bring the topic up was Glenn Blech.

The balance is overwhelmingly tipped toward the progressive side.

Didn't say they weren't aware of it, just that they seem to have an undue faith in its solution being simple to carry out. To a man/woman they're big into the distractions of castigating Big Oil - on one of my phone calls I pointed out the paucity of non-NOC reserves, which was met with an "interesting..."

The listener supported station in Stumptown, KBOO, is an order of magnitude more sophisticated; have heard Kunstler, Savinar, Ruppert, Klare interviewed.

Don't really bother with radio anymore in any case. iPod and Text To Speech renditions of books for me. How about a podcast? Are you familiar with Grinning Planet? Pretty amazing collection of news on MP3 there.

Awareness gets them 90% there. After that they will start deferring to the experts. I place some trust based on my experience observing the way that progressives typically operate.

Do most of these Climate change models take depletion into account???

Why should I care if global temperatures rise a little???
Didn't dinosaurs have it worse?
Did the globe even have ice caps during most of the Triassic, Jurassic, or Cretaceous???

Aren't we currently in an interglacial in an Ice Age?

I know my ancestors didn't evolve during past global warming periods when gas I burn in my car was formed..., but....

Deep time proxies are quite rough.

CO2 levels during the late Ordovician

The one period that until recently puzzled paleoclimatologists was the late Ordovician, around 444 million years ago. At this time, CO2 levels were very high, around 5600 parts per million (in contrast, current CO2 levels are 389 parts per million). However, glaciers were so far-reaching during the late Ordovician, it coincided with one of the largest marine mass extinction events in Earth history. How did glaciation occur with such high CO2 levels? Recent data has revealed CO2 levels at the time of the late Ordovician ice age were not that high after all.

The image I added to make a point shows a wide range of possibilities regarding CO2 levels. I understand we don't not know with exact certainty how much CO2 was in the air in the Triassic.
Or the exact temp. for that matter.
That's not the point.
There were periods of global warming in the past.
I do believe it's safe to assume temps. were hotter, much hotter in the past then they are now.
The existence of oil, coal and natural gas, is proof of past global warming.

As I said, peak oil and depletion in general is far more scary to me than AGW.

No complex, agricultural civilizations survived those previous warm periods. The most diverse group of land plants -- the angiosperms, vast majority of what we think of as plants today -- have only been around since the Cretaceous. What we think of as mammals only date back to the Triassic. Even subtracting the machines, roads, and buildings, the world we see today is young and temporary.

Peak oil and depletion are more pressing issues, the oncoming locomotives at the grade crossing, and the ones we have more tools to directly combat. They're the shock scares that make folks jump watching horror movies. Climate change, anthropogenic or otherwise, is an six-year-old's realization that everyone she knows is going to die.

There were periods of global warming in the past. ... As I said, peak oil and depletion in general is far more scary to me than AGW.

Keep in mind that warmer periods in the deep past had very different biospheres; there's no reason to think that agriculture and human civilization could have survived during those epochs.

You might be right, but I doubt it. There are a number of differences between now and past interglacials, which are the only real exemplars for us. Going beyond that may teach us some mechanisms, but they are not useful as proxies for today because the glacial/interglacial cycle is very, very young, geologically speaking. Within that cycle we know this:

1. CO2 is higher than at any time during the glacial cycles by a lot, and is rising.

2. Methane has been between 0.4 – 0.8ppm. Now? 1.85ppm.

3. Speed of change is very, very rapid compared to most changes in the past.

4. However, whereas just 15 years ago scientists thought climate changed over thousands to hundreds of years, we now know it can change rapidly in a few years, possibly even months.

The assumption we have more time to deal with climate than PO is, imo, a foolish one that ignores one simple fact: PO will not ever put all of human society in danger. There are many societies living with almost no energy now. Climate changes can, and likely will, obliterate society, and may leave us nearly extinct.

I also ignores that while the severest changes may occur in decades, and eventually in centuries (in terms of ending society and near-extinction), the triggers are now.

It's like betting that because the sniper's bullet - shot from a half-mile away - didn't hit a nano-second after the pin fired, it's not going to hit at all.

An unstable world does not deliver a stable supply of food, shelter and water very effectively.

It's a Perfect Storm, not a One-Spiral Storm. You won't fix all by fixing one. You must fix all to fix even one.


Do most of these Climate change models take depletion into account???

I think most don't. But even if they account for diminishing amounts of oil and coal used they probably don't account for additional trees, furniture, buildings burned. The foreclosed houses are already being dismantled for copper wire. When you have no other way to cook wouldn't a few 2x4's make a nice cooking fire. Those who have axes or saws will be cutting down trees for heating and cooking. So we will add that carbon and remove that carbon sink. Probably a wash.

Heck we are probably already into positive feedbacks that can't be stopped such as the methane bubbling out of the seas and peats in the north regions.

Do read "When Life Nearly Died" by Michael Benton about the Permian extinction
or for a short review see http://www.energybulletin.net/node/3647 excerpt below

Geologist Michael J. Benton lays out the scientific evidence for this epochal tragedy in a recent book, When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time. As with the PETM, greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide from increased volcanic activity, warmed the earth and seas enough to release massive amounts of methane from these sensitive clathrates, setting off a runaway greenhouse effect.

The cause of all this havoc?

In both cases, a temperature increase of about 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit, about the upper range for the average global increase today's models predict can be expected from burning fossil fuels by 2100. But these models could be the tail wagging the dog since they don't add in the effect of burps from warming gas hydrates. Worse, as the Arctic Council found, the highest temperature increases from human greenhouse gas emissions will occur in the arctic regions - an area rich in these unstable clathrates.

If we trigger this runaway release of methane, there's no turning back. No do-overs. Once it starts, it's likely to play out all the way.

While writing another story last night I had a question that I could not answer and did not know where to look for that answer. It was a story about sustainability and growing your own food and carrying capacity of the earth, which are topics we talk about here almost on a daily basis. So here goes.

Man needs about 2,000 calories of food a day to live, coming from carbs, proteins, and fats, along with a set of vitamins and minerals, and a certain amount of water and air. Normally he gets this from plants and animals, they get it from the sun one way or another.

So How much sunlight does a human need to hit the earth a day for him to get 2,000 calories of food a day?

That is the question.

We all know that FF are old sunlight stored, and now used in factory farming to supply our foods. But what amount of new sunlight do we use to eat with. There are a lot of other questions, but the basic ones that first needs to be asked is how much sunlight do we need to use to get a 2,000 calorie diet every day.

A tree uses a lot of sunlight to make it's seeds, be they covered in a shell or fleshy parts the the various ways that they can be produced, some of those we eat in the form of nuts, fruit, seeds, leaves, sap, bark. But where a tree stands, there are other plants growing on it and under that we can eat parts of as well. It goes by many different names this growing method, but it is the most densely packed (plant-wise) piece of land exposed to the sun.

Until we know how much sunlight we need to have our needed calories each day, I don't think we can give ourselves a really good estimate of how many people can survive on planet earth in a sustainable long term way. I would not count using any products from the worlds oceans like we do now, just to be on the safe side of an estimate, and would only count plant products just because they are the base unit of all most all life, besides the SUN.

Any help in figuring this question out, can be discussed here, or sent to me via e.mail.

I have bandied about living on 5,000,000 sq miles of land on here before, saying that if you scattered those pieces of land all over the globe you could feed all of the current population, well if the sunlight numbers don't help then my figures might be wrong. To do the above design, you would have to totally change how we work as a society and have without a lot of our avarice, greed, selfishness, hate, and conflict. Which has not happened a lot in our past history, so might have to be forced on us in the future. But still the question looms, how much Sunlight hitting the ground do we need?

Thanks in advance,
BioWebScape designs for a better future.

From wiki


Ignoring clouds, the average insolation for the Earth is approximately 250 watts per square meter (6 (kW·h/m2)/day), taking into account the lower radiation intensity in early morning and evening, and its near-absence at night.

You can get organic yields of crops - and thus get efficiency of converting this solar energy to food calories.

But I think, the main bottleneck will be water & fertile top soil. I've seen calculations where the entire energy used by the world (including all FF) can be generated using a fraction of Sahara desert. But Sahara is a misnomer and can't produce much food ...

The soils can be built up, the plants can use just ground water and rainwater like they have always done before we started carting in water from elsewhere. We can recharge depleted landscapes, we just have to work at it and not go back to the old ways of distruction that have gotten us into this mess.

We should be able to restore things back to a better balance. Haven't we as a whole grown somewhat further along than kill or be killed?

Thanks for the link, The listed math is a bit beyond me right now, though I might have been able to mull through it once in my life, I can't wrap my head around it right this minute.

All I know is I have a plot of Jerusalem Artichokes in the back yard that have self seeded for over 25 years, yeilds from the less than 100 square feet with enough left over to reseed is about 40 pounds a year. I don't water them, unless I have rainwater stored and use that during dry patchs. I don't weed them, I only dig them once a year and let whatever grow there is in the soil plant wise grow. Yeilds have been averaging 40 pounds a year for a long time. So roughly about 13,000 calories for 100 sq feet. In a year I'd need a lot of calories, and a lot of minerals and vitamins too, and water as well. But if you grew just these on my 8,000 sq ft Plot (see previous posts about living on 1/4 arces ) I could get on average enough base calories from just them.

I have a lot of database work to do to prove that you can live on just 1/4 acre per person, so people will stop telling me its a shear fantasy. But it is a fantasy if no one wants to live that way, besides a few.

One a side note am enjoying the spring greens of henbit, dandelion, sorel and others, just growing naturally in my yard, I don't plant them, I don't tend them, I just pick them, No Work involved but picking and eating.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Charles, Jerusalem Artichokes are great plant,i grow them (and love) a lot, but they are not really good as energy source(not for us humans).they have inulin, substance similar to starch but non digestible.but it is one of the best plants to have in the garden.

It will digest in some people's system, it's like milk and milk products have issues with some people. If your system's bio-digesters will work with that food you are fine, if not you might have issues with it.

I have eaten them a lot for a long time with no worries. But each person's inards are different, and foods need to be mixed as much as possible.

Years ago I drank coffee to stay awake, Now I drink it to put me to sleep, Age changes your system.

If you just plug the numbers of 2,000 calories per day of life, and figure on 75 years of life, how many calories would you need? I come up with 55 million, just raw numbers, don't mean much but it's a start to understand what it is like to feed a human for all his lifetime. We know that now most of the world is eating old sunlight with all the use of FF's in our food system.

I am still searching for good information about things like, Land covered by cities in the US, Land that has enough annual rainfall not to need ground water inputs to water plants, Number of acres under cultivation world wide (not all that land should be used, most of it should be left back to nature, basically restored by us and then left alone). There is a lot of numbers out there and some of them are wrong. It reminds me of my days doing digital mapping then looking at how bad some the maps are that are offered online today. Errors in the system get repeated and then no one has the ability to set things right again, but people with knowledge of how they are collected and some of the real data sources can see the errors in the online info.

I still maintain that with just 5,000,000 square miles you should be able to feed all of the people living on earth right now, without FF inputs. Use the FF's for something else besides growing our food. But lining up all the people on earth and handing them on plot of land each, and giving them the seeds to plant it, and the mentorship on how to survive on it, and not letting anyone come along and change the system is an impossible task.

Now we have countries that war over land till the land dies (Cyprus for example), We have countries that don't want to change their way of life because of greed and politics. And in the end the system we have in place is doomed to failure, and people will die, and others will clap when it happens. Humans are their own worst enemy.

BioWebScape designs for a better Fed future.

Another case of a bank repossessing a house by mistake.

This story is getting a lot of attention on CNN today. A woman returned home to find the locks on her house changed, her possessions scattered, her carpets ruined, the hoses to her washer and dryer cut, her utilities turned off, the water meter removed, and antifreeze put in all the water lines. Worst of all, her pet parrot was missing.

A notice on her door told her to contact Bank of America, which "initially falsely denied responsibility or knowledge of the invasion and refused" to help her, the suit said. The bank also acknowledged they knew the parrot's whereabouts, it said.

In further calls, Bank of America representatives told Ms. Iannelli they couldn't help her, told her to stop calling, said they were "tired of hearing from her" and put her on hold, told her to call back later and hung up on her, the suit said.

They did eventually give her back the parrot (actually, they made her go get it, from a town three hours away). They did not offer to repair the damage they did until she got a lawyer.

And she was not even behind on her mortgage payments, let alone being foreclosed on.

Excellent link.

With all the complaining about banks, right and left, you'd think more would step up to the plate.

People seem to dislike taking personal responsibility, they feel they only have to yell and the world is magically changed for them. And if not changed, they can complain. And to state an old WWII infantry saying, they can complain when they don't have anything to complain about.

Clark Howard did a segment on this this week. He says most people put up with bad banks because they think it's too difficult to switch. If we got bad service at a restaurant, we'd never go back. Ditto if we got ripped off at a store. But people just keep going back for more at bad banks, because switching is perceived as a huge hassle. He says it's not that bad, and that small regional banks have kits to help you make the switch.

I'm not sure I agree with him. I had to switch banks when my main bank became one of the first Friday night failures, and it was a huge hassle. Some of the transactions I had been doing via automatic electronic transfer could not be switched without a lot of paperwork and a notary stamp (which for most people would mean having to take time off work to go to the bank, since they don't do that stuff on weekends). And there were other myriad smaller annoyances, too.

Worse, you may end up leaving for nothing. A couple of friends of mine have repeatedly changed banks to avoid Fleet Bank, which they had a bad experience with...only to have Fleet take over the regional banks they had switched to. (We used to have a dozen local banks around here; now they are all owned by either HSBC or Fleet.)

I hear that complaint, too much hassle, often enough. That I guess is my point. It's easier to complain.

It is more than a mouse click.

But banks are open Saturday, if your branch isn't, we have no compunction of taking time off when a child or spouse is sick. When you move, which most do relatively frequently, you change banks. Why not now?

I often suggest, to no avail, just move part. Spread your risk. Open another account with a small, stable bank, just savings and maybe a checking and do it gradually as you feel comfortable. Most carry a pocket full of credit cards, that they are gradually consolidating. Do same with bank.

Look at safe credit unions. Most never use the myriad of "services" banks offer. Small community credit unions aren't the takeover targets like banks. Not enough return is the complaint. At most a couple percent, the difference not worth a evening at the movies to most. Still not enough, then try stocks, but say goodbye to security.

Which is why I use a credit union. We belong to two credit unions and two banks. One bank is convenient (branch in the grocery store), the other has good on-line bill pay. The latter has zero fees with direct-deduction, which maps directly to auto-pays, so that takes care of everything that more or less occurs routinely month after month. The banks are faceless and we are numbers, but it works just fine.

The credit unions is where we keep balances, loans, and so forth. We stick with the credit union year in and year out -- we know everybody there on a first-name basis, and I shoot the breeze with the head honcho whenever I can. He works hard to be very fiscally conservative, and counsels all his clients about getting out of debt (he got us headed that way long before I became PO aware).

I do have a mortgagee with a big bank. Honestly, I like that better...if anything ever goes really wrong, FM and FM can eat the losses along with the big guy, and the credit union will be fine.

I can't claim any special expertise, but this arrangement has worked fine for us so far.

Sorry to hear about your experience. My bank was also among the first to go down (NetBank), and for me, the transition was pretty seamless. About 1-2 hours total to get everything straightened out. Now I am at a credit union and do everything with them.

If the woman is smart, she will refuse to settle and take it to a jury trial.

That's what I'd do.

Except that the jury trial won't come for another 10 or 20 years, if ever.

The first thing she should've done was go to the DA and file criminal charges, insist that BofA be put in jail with bail set at $10Trillion. Go to the press and publicize her demands. After all, the US Supreme Court has just recently declared that BofA has personhood. If that's the case, that personhood should be treated like every other criminal vandal personhood who breaks and enters and destroys another citizen's life.

Bank of America has a long history of bilking their customers whenever possible. I'm not surprised they wouldn't care what happened to this women's house or bird. I agree with WT - lean on them.

How many readers here use Bank of America???
Quite a few I bet...

When will people learn?

Tsk, Tsk, Tsk,

I left B of A many decades ago. They kept making errors in their favor.

I have been trying to influence my local decision makers by sending them info and links to articles (usually on TOD). I'm hoping the following story means some headway is being made. The only stories about additions to the local power company capacity recently have been about renewables. If I ever see news about the institution of netmetering and/or legislation to encourage distributed (renewable) generation then I'll know we've really made a breakthrough.

Wind Farm expansion to begin Wednesday

The project will include the installation of nine new two-megawatt wind turbines that will generate 18 megawatts of power, increasing the total amount of energy produced by Wigton to 38.7 megawatts. The power will be sold to the Jamaica Public Service for domestic use.

Right below this article is another one tha illustrates why this is a necessary move. Demand destruction at work.

Vendors cut off, High light bills force disconnections at Musgrave Market

Abuse of electricity

According to the mayor, the necessary steps to bring the abuse of electrical power at the market to a halt were being fast-tracked, as he had already taken it upon himself to secure the services of an electrical contractor with a view to removing the entire electrical supply, with the exception of ceiling lights.

"Vendors, who, therefore, need to use electricity for other purposes, are being advised to get their own light meter(electricity supply), so as to foot their own bill," Mayor Patterson added.

The mayor told vendors that following the termination of electricity to the market by the parish council, they could apply to the council individually or in groups for permission to secure their own lighting(electricity).

Italicized text in parentheses mine. I have noticed an increasing amount of complaints about the price of electricity and unfortunately most of my fellow countrymen do not have a clue about the predicament we face. The wealthy continue to happily driver around in their SUVs and European luxury sedans, instead of investing in solar PV which, is a no brainer with electricity at 26c/kWh for the first 100kWh and 36c/kWh for any amount over that.

Here's hoping for more enlightenment.

Alan from the islands

Oil companies look at permanent refinery cutbacks - latimes.com

"None of us will sell more gasoline than we did in 2007," Tony Heyward, group CEO for oil giant BP, said during a recent earnings teleconference.

For 2009 gasoline volumes delivered to market were at 96.75% of their 2007 peak, 3.25% diff. Cumulatively 1989-1991 contracted -2.00%. Intervening years saw average growth of 1.77% YOY. I believe they doth protest too much, but these companies have a lot of incredibly expensive kit to pay for.

Gasoline demand grew 1979-1988 thus:


Heyward must be taking his cue from CERA that gasoline ist kaput. But demand is currently rising in lockstep with VMT; 1978 was the local peak for its time and by 1987 we were back up to 97.22% of the 1978 volume. This was a sharper contraction than what we're experiencing now, you notice, even with our vaunted hybrids and biofuels. 1980 gasoline volumes were at 88.76% of 1978 levels.

None of which seems to matter much to the refining industry at any case. If the US were dependent too heavily on product tankers we could possibly wind up fracked even without a worldwide drop in supply, owing for instance to limitations on shipping such as that imposed by the Jones Act, which states that all local shipping must be manned by domestic crews. Or there simply wouldn't be enough overseas refined product capacity to meet our needs, or tankers to ship it in in the first place. Ack!

If Cap and Trade were implemented, wouldn't it cause more refinery bankruptcies / closures?

Of course: Cap and Trade refinery - Google Search Lots of vitriol, industry sponsored studies, etc.

Forget if the Deloitte study forecasting about 2 mb/d in lost capacity in a few years covered C+T. Refining business is pretty unstable in the first place, not too profitable compared to comparable industries and beset with a whole host of woes: shutdowns, legal action, fines, huge capital outlays for expansion/cokers to deal with increasingly heavy/sour oil, exceedingly volatile commodity, etc.

I think we'll know in a few months if the growth in gasoline demand will be evident as a long term trend up, which should, in theory, put the spring back in refiners' step(s), at least until we hit the supply ceiling and demand craters all over again.

Actually to play devil's advocate shouldn't we be cheering on the demise of refiners and stringing up speculators? Let's make oil even more volatile; maybe if enough minor players are out of the picture we'll be at a $100/bbl floor, spot shortages everywhere, etc. Slap people upside the head, in other words.

I dunno. It wouldn't directly effect demand for product. They'd sure raise a stink as if it were the reason though. I I bet Joe 6 Pack would beleive them too. Of course if it were poorly done, and foreign refined product could escape the carbon charge, it would then favor imports. A decently designed program would impact imports more -because of the additional carbon for transport.

It seems like higher prices would affect demand for the petroleum products. Consumers wouldn't really be able to pay the higher prices for refined products, but refineries would still have to pay the full cost of oil, so the refinery would get squeezed. That is pretty much what has happened recently. I believe. It seems like that is what would happen, only worse, with cap and trade.

If oil companies actually owned the refineries, and the system were one integrated piece, I would not worry about the problem. But now refineries are separate, or are treated separately. It seems like all of the "pressure" gets focused on one piece of the oil system--the refineries.

We will be hurting badly, if we lose the refineries.

From the "Daja vu" item:

Until consumer confidence rises enough that most people feel like shopping again, oil shouldn't be where it is today -- assuming you believe in market fundamentals. Until the average family can see a correlation between their own circumstances and the prices of the things they must buy regularly -- not just of high-ticket consumer goods -- oil prices should echo demand.

The article began by asserting that there was no peak supply, but there was a peak demand. Then this...

For some reason these people don't understand that peak supply can trump "the unseen hand," and that what is occurring is that people in the know are purchasing oil while the price is low! If I had the facilities to store oil, now would be the time to buy it. Later, when production is declining by 3-5% per year, the value would go up. About the time oil is at $147, profits are $61/BBL, with no production costs.

Meanwhile, in the Journey to the Center of the Earth piece, we learn that our salvation is deep water wells. The one cited as successful is touted at production 125,000 bpd and uses 6 wells. The platform cost $2.3B US, and each well $100M US. They want to add 5 or 6 more wells, so that capital expense will end up at about $3B US. While the overall oil in places is claimed to be 40B barrels (I may have misread that figure... it was written in a very confusing manner) and the total at the Tahiti platform is not stated, so I cannot figure the captial cost for just that small part of the overall. Also not stated is ongoing cost of operation, including insurance, labor, etc.

Conjoining these two articles, is it unlikely that the reason oil prices are remaining high is that costs of new oil have increased to that extent? In addition, of course, to purchases to increase stocks for later sale at increased profits.


2009 production was 98.22% of 2008, thus by all rights 2009 prices should be $97.90/bbl = 98.22% of WTI 2008 average of $99.67. Ooops, I'm using world averages, can't have that. $61/bbl didn't cut it? The mean of price changes YOY 2004-2009 was only $4.09/bbl. Median was $9.41. Have cake and eat it, dude.

78 Tahitis to replace foreign imports. In the words of Sonic Youth, I don't think so.

I would like to ask Leanan and the TOD staff a question on the open Drumbeat. A week or two ago, Leanan made a comment that the general consensus amongst the TOD staff is that we are well past peak production. I agree, but this was a pretty bold little line to drop as an off the cuff remark.

Has the staff ever thought of putting out an "official" TOD statement about the above. I know it would be putting themselves "out there" for criticism, but I think it would add weight to other "high level" pronouncements that have come out this year, especially since we have a number of "experts" in several different fields.

Perhaps, this will start a trend of companies, websites, organizations to endorse the theory of Peak Oil as reality. "We proudly admit the reality of Peak Oil and embrace the opportunities it brings to the planet"...something like that...put a positive spin on it.

Just a thought.

I didn't say "well past." Just past.

And it's because of economics, not geology. I would guess there would still be disagreement were it not for the financial crisis.

How about just a % chance that the peak of 2005 will be exceeded by 2014?

Myself I give it a 50% chance in 2010, going down by 20% per year after that.

I don't think there's much chance of that happening. Again, not because of geology but because of economics.

A lot of people thought that geology was the only issue in peak oil--but I am doubtful about this.

I think geology is the only issue in whether an individual field peaks.

When it comes to how many oil fields are exploited, and whether non-liquid oil resources are pursued, to me it seems that the major issue has to be economics.

If you stop and think about it, with every resource on the earth's surface, in the end, it is economics that will determine how much of the resource will be exploited. People have only so much income. They will spend it in one way or another. We won't have the resources to extract uranium and gold from sea water.

Oil has been a special case because the liquid form of it can be extracted more easily than solid forms. But it still is subject to the same economic laws as every other resource.

I couldn't care less when oil Peaks or if it already did.
I assume light sweet crude Peaked in 2005
and maybe, with help of heavy crude, it peaked in 2008....
Maybe not....

All that matters to me, is that we are on a plateau.

World oil production has been flat since 2005.

What also matters to me is when we end up in Terminal decline .


What can be done to minimize pain throught he transition to what ever low high quality energy future comes next.

Exact date of peak means nothing.
That we're on a plateau and that it will eventually give way to terminal decline..., plus what comes next and how do we get there, that's what matters to me.

Plain old probability and statistics plays a bigger role than does geology in analyzing peak oil once enough data starts coming in. That is true of lots of subject areas that have to do with disordered yet large-scale aggregated sets of data. For many of these disciplines, it is becoming more and more apparent that having a good knowledge of entropy and combinatorics plus problem solving is much more important than the details of the physics or science in general.

Which brings us to economics. In reality, perhaps we can also understand the macro aspects of economics purely by application of appropriate statistical models. This does not concern the individual one-on-one game-theoretic models but on the aggregated set of economic players which fill the space of behaviors enough so we can start to use entropy arguments.

Here is an example from a recent (yesterday) post where I can readily deduce the employee size distribution of USA firms.

We need to know very little about how or why the size of firms distribute the way they do, just realize that this comes about due to an entropic trend. It may not dawn on you the potential usefulness of this model until you realize that it works well for about 5 orders of magnitude on the horizontal scale translating to 10 on the vertical! Can you imagine the number of theories that barely work at the level of even one order of magnitude?

So I would suggest that we start combining the ideas that transcend the boundaries between geology and economics, and those are simply mathematical models (prob & stat) of reality.

Agreed. All our other systems depend on the financial system. When it stops working, the machine stops.

I've been mulling modifying the white line below, which is already starting to look like a shark fin, to be even more pronounced:

It's intended to represent how the world oil market will occur to ("be perceived by") an oil importing country due to Jeffrey and Sam's Export Land Model.

But it could look like that just as easily because we lose the capacity to get the remaining oil out due to our impending financial collapse.

Immediately before that graph is this one, which shows the overall production decline and increasing exporter country consumption:

Hmmm....I think I can show the top graph as the "BAU" case (i.e. growth resumes) then create another graph, perhaps with a steeper decline, that represents the "financial meltdown" case and essentially show that we are boxed in.

When it comes to how many oil fields are exploited, and whether non-liquid oil resources are pursued, to me it seems that the major issue has to be economics.


Oil has been a special case because the liquid form of it can be extracted more easily than solid forms. But it still is subject to the same economic laws as every other resource.

If that's the case Gail, then you're still not getting it.

Some "resources" (note: this is an economist's trick word for hiding reality behind a veil of abstractedness) are elemental (elements in the Periodic Table) like iron (Fe) and silicon (Si) and carbon (C). They never go away. They just get recycled into one landfill item or another.

But oil is a chemical compound (or more accurately, a mix of such) that is combustible and crackable.

Once you've combusted the oil (usually into the form of CO2 and H2O) it doesn't come back out of the landfill. It's gone forever.

So, no, oil is not like every other "commodity" (iron, copper, pork bellies, etc.)

Our exploitation of this "resource" is a one time deal.

Being off on timming of Peak Oil by five or ten years means nothing to me. I expect to live another 40 or 5o years..., hopefully....

so, 5 to 10 years means nothing to me.

I find all this emphasis on the absolute number at the peak oil top to be more than a little beside the point. Personally I think we passed the peak in the absolute number of barrels in December 2005, but it really doesn't matter all that much.

What matters is that the numbers for both people and vehicles continues to rise each year around the world. Some places like oil exporting countries and Chindia are adding people and vehicles at a fast rate. Others not so much, but still the numbers of both increase overall.

People increase the demand for oil by their need for food and other basic necessities. So if vehicle numbers are not increasing it is a safe bet that vehicle use and therefore oil use is increasing.

The result of all this is that the per capita peak is long in the rear view mirror whether we have another absolute peak or not. The trend is clear. Both in per capita or per vehicle oil production.

There is not even a hint of change in this trend. Oil is subsidized to the tune of $500 billion per year worldwide. And I'm pretty sure this doesn't count the billions spent on Wars for Oil Security. If anything the situation deteriorates faster and faster. Renewables are regularly attacked by oil companies, environmentalists and the public at large.

Subsidies for renewables are held up to ridicule or threatened. But subsidies for oil are seldom questioned around the world or in the United States. In the United States oil subsidies continue even as oil production has declined in the last 40 years contrary to economic theory which says subsidies increase the production of the item subsidized. The same is true in some exporting countries like Venezuela.

But when ethanol is subsidized and we get more corn and more ethanol many complain.

Peak Oil per capita:

Consumption of World Oil Per Capita

Year BBL/P Year BBL/P Year BBL/P Year BBL/P Year BBL/P
2008 4.62 1999 4.59 1990 4.52 1981 4.83 1972 5.09
2007 4.69 1998 4.55 1989 4.52 1980 5.05 1971 4.84
2006 4.69 1997 4.59 1988 4.51 1979 5.35 1970 4.70
2005 4.70 1996 4.52 1987 4.46 1978 5.38 1969 4.39
2004 4.68 1995 4.41 1986 4.45 1977 5.31 1968 4.09
2003 4.58 1994 4.40 1985 4.40 1976 5.34 1967 3.86
2002 4.55 1993 4.37 1984 4.47 1975 5.13 1966 3.65
2001 4.55 1992 4.46 1983 4.52 1974 5.29 1965 3.45
2000 4.57 1991 4.50 1982 4.63 1973 5.45 -


Consumption per capita peaked in 1974-1979 area. The plateau we are now on is partly enabled by non conventional production which is outside Peak Oil theory since it is based on the depletion history of conventional oil wells.

Projections are that world vehicle numbers will increase from 800 million in 2002 to about 2 billion in 2030:


And per capital vehicle ownership is projected going from about .13 to .25 or doubling. All the while per capita conventional oil production peaked about 30 years ago and we are on a base trending down using technical market analysis terms.

So there is a major conflict happening whether we reach a new absolute high in conventional oil production or not. The forces are in play. Between a rock and a hard place is where we are at right now.

But few seem to care. Fewer still understand it.

Bravo, X. You are right when you say few care or understand. I've tried over the years to blow this horn to little avail. And when you add NET energy to the equation, the peak happens at essentially the same time, but the decline is steeper, and we are staring a relative precipice in the face. But green shoots and all, and nobody notices... yet.

I also second this:

"Oil is subsidized to the tune of $500 billion per year worldwide. And I'm pretty sure this doesn't count the billions spent on Wars for Oil Security. If anything the situation deteriorates faster and faster. Renewables are regularly attacked by oil companies, environmentalists and the public at large. Subsidies for renewables are held up to ridicule or threatened. But subsidies for oil are seldom questioned..."

I tried to get Gail to acknowledge as much in yesterdays post on Energy Basics - the playing field between FF and renewables is anything but level when it comes to subsidies. The real costs are deeply hidden from view as a result.

I tried to get Gail to acknowledge as much in yesterdays post on Energy Basics

Just cause you don't always get a response doesn't mean that there are not a lot of lurkers out there reading your comment and agreeing with your position.

Keep up the good fight.

Thx Step Back. Always appreciate your posts - have learned valuable insights from you over the years...

Myself I give it a 50% chance in 2010, going down by 20% per year after that.

No, not a snowballs chance in hell of the peak being exceeded in 2010. We are already into the third month and we are currently way below 2005 production levels. OPEC would have to start producing flat out and even then I doubt that 2005 production could be exceeded.

Non-OPEC will probably produce more this year than last year but will still be well below 2004 production levels. Non-OPEC probably begins a steep decline in the last half of 2011.

If OPEC had removed all quota limits the first of January then there is a possibility that 2010 could have been a new peak. They did not and will not when they meet this month. Five OPEC producers are producing flat out right now but the rest still have some excess capacity.

Ron P.

Five OPEC producers are producing flat out right now but the rest still have some excess capacity.

Two days ago on 'CNN en español' was talking an 'energy expert' (Jaime Brito) and he said that OPEC is cheating on their quota and producing much more. How he could know that ?
I can imagine OPEC does that with this oilprices and that may also be the explanation for not wanting to raise the quota. For the simple reason that they can't.

The Oil Drum: World Oil Production Peaked in 2008
ace, The Oil Drum
As everyone knows, there is never a post on The Oil Drum that the entire staff agrees on. Nonetheless, Tony bases his findings on solid research, and a staff survey shows that most agree with a 2008 peak. A post discussing whether an alternate scenario with a second later peak might be feasible is planned for later.

World oil production peaked in 2008 at 81.73 million barrels/day (mbd) shown in the chart below. This oil definition includes crude oil, lease condensate, oil sands and natural gas plant liquids. If natural gas plant liquids are excluded, then the production peak remains in 2008 but at 73.79 mbd. However, if oil sands are also excluded then crude oil and lease condensate production peaked in 2005 at 72.75 mbd.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) should make official statements about declining world oil production to renew the focus on oil conservation and alternative energy sources.
(17 March 2009)

Hogwash. Boulderdash.

Hogdash? Boulderwash?

Dec '09 was 85472 kb/d, add in 5300 kb/d spare capacity, set BS blender to "puree," and voila, 90,772 kb/d. Watch where you aim that champagne bottle's cork!

All liquids? Not the same thing. Spare capacity? You're kidding, right?

Pretty much, yeah. 5.3 mb/d is the EIA's official figure - to raise itself by .37 mb/d by year's end. They say 1.47 mb/d gain in demand for 2010; S Staniford figures "The overall pace of recovery is 2.9mbd/yr, with a 90% confidence interval of [1.5, 4.4] mbd/yr." This is simply following current trends out to their bullish conclusion. Not sure why the EIA are lowballing, or what they rely on to give such a call.

Liquids, sure. It's a standard used all over the industry, I'm not interested in the ultimate utility or EROEI of NGLs etc, I'm not a btu bean counter like some. The C+C curve is headed in the same direction anyway.

A very good article in Barron's (subscription required) on the public pension mess, basically a preview of the upcoming virtual civil war between current and retired government employees on one side and private sector taxpayers on the other side. There is a chart in the article showing the percentage that each state pension plan is funded (generally underfunded). I wonder if we will see an a death spiral many of these states with severe budget problems, like Illinois, where people with the ability to move leave the state in ever greater numbers.

Note that even to get to the funding percentages referenced in the article, the pension fund managers are assuming a positive return on investment, in many cases up to 8%/year.

The $2 Trillion Hole
Promised pensions benefits for public-sector employees represent a massive overhang that threatens the financial future of many cities and states.

LIKE A CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE, populist rage burns over bloated executive compensation and unrepentant avarice on Wall Street. Deserving as these targets may or may not be, most Americans have ignored at their own peril a far bigger pocket of privilege -- the lush pensions that the 23 million active and retired state and local public employees, from cops and garbage collectors to city managers and teachers, have wangled from taxpayers.

Some 80% of these public employees are beneficiaries of defined-benefit plans under which monthly pension payments are guaranteed, no matter how stocks and other volatile assets backing the retirement plans perform. In contrast, most of the taxpayers footing the bill for these public-employee benefits (participants' contributions to these plans are typically modest) have been pushed by their employers into far less munificent defined-contribution plans and suffered the additional indignity of seeing their 401(k) accounts shrivel in the recent bear market in stocks.

And defined-contribution plans, unlike public pensions, have no protection against inflation. It's just too bad: Maybe some seniors will have to switch from filet mignon to dog food.

Oil Futures Contango All But Dead

The contango in Oil Futures continues to deteriorate as seen in this graphic from the Energy Futures Databrowser:

I first called attention to this sea change in a Feb 20th post right after the Fed's first, tiny rate hike.

These minor changes in the slope of the futures chain are not dramatic and therefore not very newsworthy. Subtleties like the shape of the futures chain are difficult to pin down with only a few numbers and are best seen in a data-rich visualization like the one above.

However, the difference between contango (futures prices that increase going forward) and backwardation (futures prices that decrease going forward) is colossally important from an investment perspective. If one believes that inflation is anything over 1% then we in backwardation right now in terms of real dollars and this has real consequences for those investing in oil infrastructure.

What does this mean for the wider economy?

Well, it might be an early sign that one of the most important parts of the economy has returned to the deflationary mode one would associate with a Depression.

Alternatively, it could simply mean that the market has absolutely no clue about how to factor in asian growth or Peak Oil.

In either case, I expect to see some interesting times in the Oil Futures markets before 2010 is over.

-- Jon

Morgan had some charts of backwardized futures in Oil 101. It's not the end of the world. Traders are more prone to fainting than Scarlett in Gone With the Wind.


Indeed, backwardation was the norm until very recently.

I'm not a trader myself. I'm only interested in sort of reverse engineering what the oil traders have built into their models. I think most of us at TOD would think that any rational analysis would have the futures chain pointing upward, perhaps steeply. When the futures chain reflected this understanding things made sense. But how are we to make sense of this current trend toward backwardation? What are the traders thinking? Or the Wall Street quants writing predictive model thinking that would result in this change of attitude for long term prospects?

Are they really buying the Peak Demand meme?

More questions than answers,

-- Jon

Game theory and the efficient market hypothesis. As much reverse psychology as forward psychology plays into predictive models.

How can I hedge against oil price increases to 2013?

I do understand futures as a financial instrument, but I don't know how to actually go about using it.

Say I'm going to burn $10,000 of fuel a year for the next three years. $85 dollar oil is fine for my budget.

Instructions are at the NYMEX site. If you're bullish on oil you're better off with an ETF for service companies and the like, though. Are you thinking you can accept delivery of 1k gallons of RBOB or something? I don't think trading is set up to cater to builders of doom bunkers.

Nah, I'm traveling the world in a truck camper for the next decade. I need to budget reliably.

Or have someone do it for you--
Try DBO, and sit back and watch the fun.
Truthfully, it might be a fools game.

Can I just buy USO and sell it as I use diesel?

I want to be able to set my diesel budget at the beginning of the year and then not worry about price. I'm not interested in speculating for fun and profit.

USO has some really wierd language in their literature and the way they are set up to do business. Unless they have changed the way they do "business" you need to be careful or you could end up having to cut the IRS quite large check when you sell to buy diesel. John

BTW, given our collective outlook, that is, shall we say, somewhat less than positive, I propose a one day break, an annual Joke Day, on April 1st of every year. Everyone posts their favorite jokes.

I suppose we could comb through The Onion and come up with a list of fake news stories for Leanan; however, on some days it's hard to tell parody from real news stories (consider the recent Glenn Beck interview with a Democratic congressman):


Or this Huffington Post headline:


Education Board OKs Radical Changes, Thomas Jefferson Cut From Curriculum

-The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, "replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin."

- The Board refused to require that "students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others."

I'd rather not. There are plenty of other sites where people can post their favorite jokes.

I have a better idea.

I'm a young, single neo-malthusian doomer....,

I think TOD should start an online dating service.

That way I can easily find a young, beautiful, sweet, vegetarian, permaculture / nature loving, hippie chick with similar doomer views, in my area.

What do you say Leanan?
Gail the Actuary?

The first time that topic came up here was four years ago.


great minds think alike.

It's kind of strange that my fist name is very close to his username.

LOL I remember that conversation, gades Have I been here that long.

I wonder where Don the Sailorman is these days?

Three times was enough for me, unless she has land, then I might reconsider.

I think we have enough other things to worry about.

Also, our readership is about 92% male, so I think we would probably have a hard time getting enough female applicants. We would have to team up with a gardening or sustainability site to get a better balance.

Women don't believe in PEAK or they juct don't care?

I think peak oil aware women tend to hang out at other sites. Men tend to be more into the charts and graphs stuff, which is our forte here. Also, as someone noted recently, the sexism here can be more than a little off-putting for women.

Honestly, while there is a good bit of chest-thumping testosterone on occasion, the sexism doesn't seem that thick to me, but I realize I'm certainly not attuned to it.

How do you tolerate it, Leanan?

I guess I went over the top with that censored post.
Sorry about that.

I guess men and women do think differently and often we can't put ourselves in the other's shoes.

"I think we have enough other things to worry about."

so do I....

It wasn't meant to be taken seriously.

For me, April 1 is always a joke: it's the day my father was born.


From top story - enough oil to power the U.S. for more than a decade—and perhaps our best shot at energy independence.

So a decade's worth = independence? What was I worried about?

Anything that extends us out on the plateau merely makes the cliff steeper. Good thing you are clifman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ulxe1ie-vEY&feature=PlayList&p=4928EBCED1...

The first link, the Newsweek article contains nothing but delusions and dreams.


I had some fun tearing it up on my blog.


Hope you all enjoy it!