Drumbeat: April 27, 2010

Global downturn cushioned peak oil impact

One of the Federal Government's top infrastructure advisers is warning of an oil crunch that could send the global economy spiralling back toward recession.

Curtin University Professor Peter Newman sits on the Government's Infrastructure Australia Council and says peak oil - when demand outstrips dwindling supply - has already hit but that the global downturn has kept prices low.

Professor Newman even blames oil for causing the global recession in the first place, and he is not alone.

It is an issue being taken seriously by some local councils which have drawn up peak oil contingencies.

(Audio here)

'Easy' oil is gone, say speakers

Sometime in the '70s, the state geologist of Pennsylvania warned that the birthplace of oil was about to run out of the black gold.

"That was the 1870s," the Texas state geologist, Scott Tinker, said Monday, delivering the punch line in a joke about the oil industry's short-sightedness.

More than 130 years later, the world is still drilling wherever it can, including in the newly popular Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and adjacent states.

"The energy density in gasoline is unlike anything else — that's why we keep looking for fuel in liquids," Tinker said.

Oil Falls for Second Day on Stronger Dollar, Forecast of U.S. Supply Gain

Oil fell for a second day before a report forecast to show that U.S. crude supplies increased last week, as demand lags behind the recovery in the world’s largest energy user.

U.S. crude inventories probably climbed 1 million barrels last week, according to analysts surveyed before tomorrow’s Energy Department report. Oil prices in New York are trading at their biggest discount to London contracts since August amid mounting stockpiles at the U.S. delivery point in Oklahoma. A report from the U.S. Conference Board today may show consumer sentiment improved for a second month.

Gasoline prices poised to push higher

After a weeklong break, gasoline prices are ready to climb higher again.

A surge in wholesale gasoline prices should push pump prices to an 18-month high and put drivers in many parts of the country on the cusp of having to pay $3 per gallon for gasoline.

Crude Oil May `Muck Around' Before Shooting for $88: Technical Analysis

Crude oil is set to reach $88 a barrel, its highest level for this year, because price dips have failed to snap the market’s uptrend, according to National Australia Bank Ltd.

Oil, poised for a third monthly gain in April, will continue to rise as long as prices don’t settle below $77.10 a barrel on a daily basis, said Gordon Manning, a Sydney-based technical analyst at Australia’s fourth-largest bank. The market will probably “muck around” until early May before making another run higher, he said.

Diesel Margin at 14-Month High on Rail, Farming: Energy Markets

(Bloomberg) -- Profits from making diesel reached a 14-month high as railway shipments gain and U.S. farmers plant spring corn at the fastest pace on record, increasing demand for the fuel.

The crack spread, the difference between the price of crude and heating oil, reached $11.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange today, the highest level since February 2009 and up from a 2010 low of $5.58 on Feb. 25. Supplies of distillate fuel, which includes heating oil and diesel, rose 4.6 percent from a year ago as of April 16, the Energy Department reported last week.

Shale Gas – Miracle Pill or Empty Promise?

As you may be aware, over the past few weeks, much has been made of this unconventional source of energy. Some fine publications have even called shale gas a ‘game changer’ and most people are now convinced that shale gas has made ‘Peak Oil’ irrelevant. So, is shale gas really the miracle pill or is it yet another empty promise from a desperate industry?

Shell Assures on Victoria Fuel Supplies as Cleaners Union Threatens Strike

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it expects no impact on production at its Geelong refinery in Australia, which supplies half of Victoria state’s fuel needs, amid the threat of a strike action by specialist cleaners.

Filling stations may run dry by the weekend if 20 cleaners take industrial action over a decision to terminate their employment by new contractor ISS Cleaning, Jess Walsh, state secretary for cleaners’ union LHMU, said in a statement today. The union has given Shell until 2 p.m. local time tomorrow to guarantee the 20 cleaners’ jobs and pay.

Oslo and Moscow agree Barents border

Norway and Russia have agreed on a maritime boundary in the Barents Sea, Norwegian Prime MInister Jens Stoltenberg announced today, ending 40 years of wrangling over the oil- and gas-rich region.

Russia, Ukraine Ratify Naval Base Accord in Swap for Cheap Gas

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s lower house of parliament approved a treaty that allows the Black Sea Fleet to remain at the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol until 2042 in exchange for about $40 billion of Russian gas subsidies.

The State Duma today unanimously backed the treaty, which must also be approved by the upper house, the Federation Council.

BP Profit More Than Doubled in First Quarter as Crude Oil Prices Rebounded

BP Plc, the energy company battling a 1,000-barrel-a-day leak in the Gulf of Mexico, said profit more than doubled in the first quarter on higher oil prices.

Net income jumped to $6.08 billion, or 32 cents a share, from $2.56 billion, or 14 cents, a year earlier, London-based BP said today in a statement. Excluding gains or losses from holding inventories and one-time items, earnings beat analyst estimates.

“BP has reported a very strong set of earnings,” said Peter Hitchens, an analyst at Panmure Gordon & Co. in London. “There was a strong performance from the underlying operating divisions, especially with exploration and production. The refining and marketing business came in slightly ahead.”

Cook on La. oil rig that exploded recalls escape

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Oleander Benton, a cook on an oil rig that exploded off the Louisiana coast, was sitting at a laundry room table with a friend when the lights went out. Then, there was the blast.

The Deepwater Horizon platform shuddered, debris fell from the ceiling and Benton hit the floor, as she had been trained to do. She scrambled through hallways littered with rubble, following a man in a white T-shirt.

"I could not see anything but that man. He just kept on saying 'Come this way, come that way.' It was like he was coaching me to my lifeboat, because I couldn't see," she said.

Chevron Says Contracts at Australian Gorgon LNG Venture Reach $19 Billion

A Leighton Holdings Ltd. unit is among Australian contractors that have gained more than A$7 billion in combined Gorgon orders, Chevron Australia said in its Frontier magazine. The company plans to add 700 workers in Australia by the end of this year as the country’s importance to Chevron’s global operations grows.

Australian gas developments have become the “centerpiece” of Chevron’s growth strategy as the second-largest U.S. energy producer advances the A$43 billion Gorgon venture, Chief Executive Officer John Watson said in the publication.

Transportation fee hike sign of gas reform

China's top economic planner has ordered for a hike in gas pipeline transportation fees in some provinces, Tuesday's National Business Daily reported, speculating this price hike may be the beginning of an overhaul on the gas pricing systems.

Mukherjee Faces Vote as Indian Parties Want Government to Scrap Fuel Tax

Opposition parties, including the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Samajwadi Party have been demanding a roll back of import duty and excise tax imposed on crude oil and refined products by Mukherjee in the Feb. 26 budget. The levies are fuelling prices and hurting the poor, they say.

Peak Metals - Are we running out of the metals we need?

We can't live without metals. They seem to be in almost everything we use, and we've been digging them up, heating them up, and building them up, for thousands of years.

But virgin metal supplies are finite.

Oil-rich Gulf states look to the sun

Abu Dhabi - The Middle East continues to dominate the world's petroleum production, but by the end of the decade the region could also be a leader in solar power generation.

"The potential (for this) region is huge," said Helene Pelosse, director general of the International Renewable Energy Authority (IRENA).

"Each square kilometre of land in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region receives every year an amount of solar energy that is equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of crude oil," she told the German Press Agency dpa.

Jordan narrows down possible site for future nuclear reactor

A feasibility study has shown that a proposed site near the Red Sea port of Aqaba is suitable for the construction of Jordan's first nuclear reactor, the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) said Tuesday.

Putin Proposes Russia, Ukraine Nuclear Energy Merger for Generation, Fuel

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed creating a nuclear power holding company with Ukraine as the two former Soviet republics rebuild ties.

“We have made massive proposals, referring to generation, nuclear power engineering, and nuclear fuel,” Putin told reporters after a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev today. Any cooperation may be phased, Putin said after the surprise visit to Kiev.

UK. All-Energy 2010 ensure you're part of the renewables revolution

All-Energy 2010, the UK’s largest renewable energy exhibition and conference being held 19-20 May 2010 at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, Aberdeen, Scotland. In 2009, the show attracted total attendance of 5500 from 60 countries; over 380 exhibiting companies from 14 countries; and 250+ speakers exploring all sources of renewable energy, and stimulating discussion.

Japan to Launch `Space Yacht' Satellite Propelled by Gigantic Solar Sail

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to launch the world’s first satellite powered by a giant solar sail to demonstrate next-generation renewable-energy technology, the agency said today.

CLP to Set Up Thai Solar Farm, Wind Plants in India

(Bloomberg) -- CLP Holdings Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest electricity producer, will build a solar farm in Thailand and set up three wind projects in India as the utility turns to clean energy sources to generate power.

Cape Cod Project Is Crucial Step for U.S. Wind Industry

More than 800 giant wind turbines spin off the coasts of Denmark, Britain and seven other European countries, generating enough electricity from strong ocean breezes to power hundreds of thousands of homes. China’s first offshore wind farm, a 102-megawatt venture near Shanghai, goes online this month, with more in the pipeline.

But despite a decade of efforts, not a single offshore turbine has been built in the United States.

Who Will Build the First Offshore Wind Farm in North America?

Canada and the United States are in a race to build the first North American offshore wind farm, but don't expect turbines to turn anytime soon.

Heat on Indonesian palm oil firm

Two leading consumer-goods companies, Unilever and Nestle, have stopped buying palm oil for use in its products from Indonesia's largest producer, Sinar Mas.

The firm is accused by Greenpeace, the environmental activists, of illegally clearing forests in Indonesia for its plantations.

Sinar Mas denies the claims and says it has hired independent auditors to prove its case.

DOE, Masdar To Promote Cooperation On Clean Energy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and Masdar have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote collaboration on clean and sustainable energy technologies.

DOE said that the agreement builds on the strong ties between the US and the UAE to establish a framework for cooperation in three key areas – carbon capture and sequestration, water and bio-fuels, and building technology.

Packed lecture hall for call to anti-capitalist revolution

The preamble and chapter one of the book briefly survey the crisis, and argue that crises are about hold-ups in the circuit of capital. "Capital is not a thing but a process in which money is perpetually sent in search of more money". A crisis is when something "interrupts, slows down, or, even worse, suspends the flow".

Chapter two identifies "six potential barriers" which can spoil the flow - lack of money to start with, of suitable and cheap labour-power, of supplies, of adequate technology and organisation, of worker submissiveness, or of demand for the products.

Analysing these "potential barriers" in chapters two and three, Harvey shows that the "state-finance nexus" and the credit system it runs is crucial to capitalists getting their seed money. Cheap labour-power has been organised by two or three decades of neo-liberalism. Natural limits on supplies (like "peak oil") could be a problem, but Harvey concludes that capital has the flexibility to get round them for now.

Population priorities: Is family planning the key to curbing growth?

Widening contraception usage could be a vital link in the march towards sustainability. But what are the true realities regarding populations and global health?

Bill McKibben: The Surprising Reason Why Americans Are So Lonely, and Why Future Prosperity Means Socializing with Your Neighbors

Access to cheap energy made us rich, wrecked our climate, and made us the first people on earth who had no practical need of our neighbors -- that has to change.

Protected Reef Offers Model for Conservation

Glover’s Reef, about 28 miles from the coast of Belize, is one of the only true atolls in the Atlantic Ocean. It is also the site of Belize’s largest “no-take” marine reserve, a 17,500-acre zone where all types of fishing are prohibited. The no-take zone makes up about 20 percent of the wider 87,000-acre Marine Protected Area here. Within 75 percent of the reserve, some types of fishing are allowed, although there are restrictions on the type of gear that can be used.

According to scientists here, the marine reserve at Glover’s Reef offers a test case for the viability of similar reserves around the world. They are now hoping to apply some of the conservation strategies here to make other places succeed.

Smog in a Rural Valley? Mystery Is Solved

The smog in California’s San Joaquin Valley has puzzled scientists for years. Even though the region is largely rural and agricultural, its smog levels exceed those of densely populated cities like Los Angeles.

Some have speculated that animal waste or pesticides are the cause: both emit ozone, a primary ingredient in smog. But a recent study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology suggests that the primary culprit is actually cattle feed.

Challenges in Reducing Pollution From Ships

HONG KONG — When a pollution index hit a record level last month in Hong Kong, there were plenty of culprits to blame.

Fingers were pointed, in descending order, at a sandstorm sweeping in from mainland China; at the factory-studded Chinese province of Guangdong just across the border; and at Hong Kong’s home-grown fumes, mainly from vehicles and power stations.

Remarkably little mention was made of emissions from shipping.

Obama, Leno and a Low-Carbon Menu

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, an annual black-tie festival of schmoozing, preening and source-greasing, is taking steps this year to reduce its carbon footprint. From decorations to menu choices to recommended modes of transport, the association is trying to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated by its 2,600 revelers.

Attention Whole Foods Shoppers

Stop obsessing about arugula. Your "sustainable" mantra -- organic, local, and slow -- is no recipe for saving the world's hungry millions.

Japan aid program explained

TOKYO (UPI) -- Japan's $15 billion climate aid to poor and vulnerable nations will depend on their support for the Copenhagen Accord, the environment minister said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Minister Sakihito Ozawa explained the requirements of the program, which runs through 2012. He said whether the recipient countries have endorsed the Copenhagen climate change accord -- reached at the U.N. conference in December -- would be an "important factor" when distributing aid to help tackle climate change issues, Kyodo News reported.

Australia Suspends Emissions Trading Proposal

SYDNEY, Australia — After two years of deadlock, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday that his Labor government has put its carbon emissions trading plan on hold.

The proposed emissions trading system aimed to cut Australia’s emissions by 5 percent of 2000 levels by 2020, while giving significant concessions to energy intensive industries. The plan was twice rejected by a bloc of conservative and Green Party lawmakers in the Senate last year, and faced almost certain defeat had it gone before Parliament again this year.

Australian Government Pursues Clean Energy Even as Emissions Trading Fails

Australia’s Labor government remains committed to putting a price on carbon and developing clean energy even as its emissions-trading legislation heads for failure, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said today.

Obama Urged to Take Lead on Climate After Graham Defection Threatens Bill

President Barack Obama vowed to make legislation on climate change one of his top goals. Now, with a compromise bill in danger of falling apart, business leaders and environmentalists are pressing him to deliver.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exelon Corp. executives were set to appear alongside three senators in Washington yesterday to rally support for their version of climate legislation. Instead, administration officials and lawmakers worked to salvage Obama’s signature environmental initiative.

Is China Chortling at Senate Climate Stasis?

Champions of the climate bill warn that China will cheer its failure.

Desertification affects half of Bolivia

LA PAZ - Over 40 percent of the Bolivian territory is affected by desertification caused by climate change, population increase and indiscriminate forest felling, the Science and Technology Ministry said Monday.

The ministry said in a statement that the problem is becoming more serious each year, which puts at risk the food security of the country.

We can fix the economy, we just need a TFR of 4.5 to do it. Infinite growth forever!

This is a classic Ponzi scheme on the grand global scale, for all the marbles. When this game is over and the music stops there will be a lot of people without chairs.

Any comments/verification on the following:

Talking with an acquaintance who is also a realtor. Was told another surge in residential foreclosures was on the way. Also told that many commercial property owners are raising rents (counter-productively) in order to make up for owed payments on the property.

Was wondering if this is just an opinion on a local condition or whether this is being seen over a wider area nationally. This acquaintance seemed a bit more jittery than usual... might have been the coffee; left me a bit un-nerved for a while just hearing this.

I know this isn't as exciting as some of the posts below, but I was hoping for some feedback on this.

Commercial property owners have large fixed costs, so if they have less tenants then each one remaining has to cover a bigger share. Just like with large corporations - if you have a division that is not profitable enough to cover its overhead then you shut it down - but a lot of the overhead stays. That put more pressure on the next weakest link, etc. The problem is that it's the fixed costs who are making the decisions......

None of this should be a surprise if you've been reading over at The Automatic Earth. It ain't over.

Based on Stoneleigh's presentation last week and a couple of the "you are here" type graphs she showed I can draw the following analogy:

We went skiing and got off the chairlift near the top, we then reached the drop off into the upper part of the slope and *swoosh*, down we went - WOW was that exhilerating... but after a while the slope mellowed and we cruised along a bit, catching our breath, while we eyed the next drop off into the bottom 2/3rds of the slope fast approaching.

We paused for a moment upon reaching the precipice - "did we miss the sign...?" we wonder as the fun cruiser slope has changed to a gnarly double diamond run - very narrow, very steep, with moguls, covered in ice since the best snow was long ago skied off of it...

Unfortunately there's only one way to go and it's a long, long way down - and chances are it's going to end in a great deal of pain.

What no trees?

There are skiers who live to ski runs like this. Does your analogy mean to imply that a few people will not only get down just fine but will enjoy the trip.

Right up until they do the noseplow at the end. Actually, a few primitivists can already be found gloating here and there ... but maybe they'll shut up all of a sudden when they need something only modernity can provide, such as treatment for a bad fracture, or food from a distance when normal random storms take out their relocalized harvest a couple of years in a row.

I try never to gloat. But I try also to have backup plants in nature reserves around the gardened areas. But a hard freeze kills some things, and a drought kills others and the mile wide twister takes out the can goods and grain storage. I'll just have to learn to eat more snails and grubs and see if grass is more tasty than I thought.

But I don't think you were talking to me.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future, with more food insurance in the system.

right - I forgot about the trees - I must have overlooked them because they were mostly blown down across the slope making for some very tricky navigating...

I also forgot to mention that in the analogy we are all, for the most part, novice skiers and definitely not comfortable in the glades :)

I was looking for the trees but there's a darned forest in the way.

Based on Stoneleigh's presentation last week

Are you talking about a local presentation? Or was it a post here? I didn't see a presentation on her site last week - did I overlook it?



She was out giving talks in the USA in the northeast, I can't remember where.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Plant of the week Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel). grows almost anywhere, good vitamin C, tart, stem and leaves and flowers and seed pods edible.

Brockville, ON was on her way home, and we were delighted to have her speak at the monthly meeting of the Brockville Climate Action Group on Sunday. Twenty-five came out to hear her, and after two hours with her, twenty-five were shooed out of the meeting room so that the library could close.

lilith -

She gave a presentation in the Hudson Valley last week and like Hugh Campbell says below - she and a few of her listeners closed the place down. Her presentation was great - then she answered lots of questions - and then chatted for probably close to another 45 minutes with person after person. The only other person I saw left in the facility was the bartender :)

The graphs she presented relating to the financial state of affairs were, as I point out in my analogy, "disturbing"...


Thanks, Catskill! Wish those graphs were online somewhere. I'm all ears! I did see on TAE that she is planning to come to Madison, WI (where I live), but no date has been set yet.


I googled Automatic Earth and went to a website and didn't find anything about the current economic state. Do you have a link?

The google works in mysterious ways. When I googled it just now I got http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/ as the first item, which is the blog.

March Foreclosure Activity Highest On Record

"It appears that the banks are starting to clear out the foreclosure backlog."


A realtor I talked to the other day here (MN) said that he thought things were about to get worse--He said that the huge overproduction of high-priced Mc-Mansions (my term, not his) mean that there are still a lot of houses in the $500,000 to 1 million dollar range that are continuing to fall in price, and that is going to continue to put downward pressure on the rest of the market. He mentioned that tax evaluations, a kind of independent judgment on values, have shown steady and continuing declines in housing values.

And what is happening with commercial real estate? I thought that was the next big shoe to fall.

If you want to know how much we have to drop in real estate values, consider that the median wage is $14.28, while average is $18.25 (in a room of 500 people, one of whom includes Bill Gates, the average is well over a Million dollars… both median and average are distorted figures!).


Using $14.28 as our starting figure, and ¼ of gross or 1/3 of net income as the customary industry breaking point in qualifying for a traditional mortgage, the homeowner will qualify for payment of a maximum of $715 per month. This would pay the mortgage at 5.15% interest on a loan of $135,000 (taxes and insurance would be additional, so the house payment would be more on the order of $1,000 or so). Figure the banks would or should want at least 10% down payment, and you have a maximum price of $150,000.00.

Median price of homes sold in March was $214.000.


It looks to me like we have $64 to drop in median price, or more! About 30%.

Meanwhile, wages are dropping, not rising. Other costs are rising, especially the important food and transportation costs, which for some reason are not included in the newly spun inflation rates!

Inflation remains understated. Employment is overstated. We are being lied to from the highest levels of government, and we wonder why no one listens to TOD. People want to believe this crap.

• Wizard's First Rule (from Wizard's First Rule): "People are stupid. [...] They will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true."
• Wizard's Second Rule (from Stone of Tears): "The greatest harm can result from the best intentions."
• Wizard's Third Rule (from Blood of the Fold): "Passion rules reason, for better or for worse."

We are, in a word, doomed. Apologies to Scott Adams.


I can afford to buy some of the lots out in the depressed sections of town, the ones selling for AS IS, or the ones that used to have houses on them but don't now, or have been vacant so long no one remembers them ever having houses. But most of them are in the sections of town I I built I may just as well build a prison cell to keep people out of it.

I only want the bare land, start a garden there, have the local population use it as a green bank.

But the prices of homes in this city are still way over priced, not many people make the kind of money to buy the top priced houses.

What happens when the prices fall to the rock bottom, and what is that level really?

I still can't figure out how they can justify not counting food and energy costs in inflation numbers.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

I've got 7 acres in old torn-down house lots. Most of the neighbors think that anything that grows on the lots must be poisonous even when it is peaches and apricots.The food is never taken.

Nice to have that kind of land. The areas that the lots are in are high crime rate areas, and I might be able to afford one or two in a year or so. I have yet to landscape one of my aunts yards, still in the planning stages. There is a big open right-of-way behind her yard, I want to plant a few things in for the future. The growth in there has not changed in several years, I still have to contact the city to see who really controls the area though.

Lots of planting areas are wasted with non-food plants, and we could do a lot more food planting on lands that cities own, in park like areas where people could pick the produce as needed.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future, and more education on safe foods.

Most of the neighbors think that anything that grows on the lots must be poisonous even when it is peaches and apricots.The food is never taken.

So many people are so stupid. I blame Rupert Murdoch (who gave everyone permission to be as dumb as pig dribble, and proud of it).


Been thinking the ExACT same thing. I had a vacant lot right across the street for sale and was tempted to put an offer in, but it still has a crappy garage standing (which i'd tear down). I'd fence it in and put an orchard on it... The taxes are the killer, however.

Ah, but never forget the evil Credit Score. Examples like the one above always assume a perfect credit score above 800.

I ran my income and credit score through one of those online calculators once, and got the following result:

Maximum monthly payment $350, maximum loan amount $48,000.

And I am in better shape than most around here.

Don't know what you pay per sq ft there, but if it is $100 (a low rate today), good luck with your 480 sq ft home!

Zoning law preclude sod walls in most areas, don't they?

We are in real trouble, here, people.


Okay, even though I am late in reply (having been at work all day) I am willing to wade into the waters, and add a bit of excitement:

There will be folks who will howl that the commercial real estate crisis is an example of peak oil, an example of "economic collapse" and by extension TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It). I have my doubts, but the commrcial real estate situation could be bearish for awhile, and possibly damaging to the recovery of the economy.

Retailing space was HUGELY overbuilt in the 1990's. There are little speciality stores, furniture stores (which rely heavily on home building), service locations (spa's, dog grooming establishments, finger nail emporiums, hair stylists, etc.) We are just massively over built. There are now thousands of feets of abandoned auto dealership floor space in every town of any size.

Many businesses now can be run with no brick and mortar real estate involved, and more will follow. In the office and retail park where my employer resides there is a video rental store going down because people can rent movies online, download movies and games, etc. The "virtual" business is now a serious competitor.

There is a good side to all this: New young businesses and small business will have access to real estate they never dreamed they could afford as prices collapse in some areas.

Note those last words...some areas. This is a very location based issue, and some areas will be slaughtered while others are simply put back into a bit better balance between supply and demand.

The rent increases on apartments in some areas only makes sense...there are now more people forced to rent simply because finding affordable housing and actually getting the money for it still very difficult. I have no doubt there will be more foreclosures simply because the banks will finally decide to get the excess real property off of their books. Again, the good news is that cash will be king, there will be some good buys for those who can afford to pay out of pocket without begging a bank. The bad side of that is that it will further concentrate wealth to the already well off, at least for awhile.

So there it is, good news, bad news, good news bad news, on the one hand, on the other hand...

Makes me think of the great line attributed to Harry Truman...he said he hated economists because every time he asked them for advice, they would say "well, on the one hand....but then on the other hand." Truman said it made him wish like hell for a one armed economist!


It happening in SoCal - but its hitting the outlying area first.

Was told another surge in residential foreclosures was on the way.

I find there are many good articles about the United States real estate, both residental and commercial, on calculatedriskblog. They are a link on the Left-side navigation here at TOD as "Calculated Risk".

Banks have withheld a lot of foreclosure inventory off of the market because there has been way too much supply of foreclosed properties relative to buyers. They will slowly put that inventory on the market and this will pressure home prices.

Home prices are still slightly overvalued, as a result of all the money put into the system as a result of all the bailouts. Nowhere near as overvalued as during the bubble, so if holding period is long, wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea to get in now.

This is a game changer!

The Deepwater Horizon disaster is still gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This will have little to no effect on the near term production from the GOM. But it is a game changer for long term production for all offshore US oil production.

If they are unable to shut off the oil from the BOP and must drill a relief well, this could go on for several months. When oil starts to soak into the wetlands of Louisiana, and pollute the pristine beaches of Alabama and Florida from Gulf Shores to Panama City, when dead dolphins and other sea life starts to wash up on the beaches, you will see a totally different attitude toward offshore drilling.

It will never be the same again. What will be the result? I don’t think that is predictable but it cannot be good.

Ron P.

I agree. It could be equivalent to sinking one Exxon Valdez every 3 years (estimates I hear are between 70,000 liter/day to 1,000 barrels/day) AND NOT HAVING THE RECOVERY EQUIPMENT that was available to Prince William Sound.

Has anyone explored the possibility of putting blimp bags over the pipe end, let the bags fill up, then float them to the surface and recover the oil?

If it affects the fisheries that is definity going to be a mess.

It is certainly exposing as lies the claims that technology had made oil exploration and production environmentally benign.

"Drill, baby, drill!" will seem to more and more people to mean "Kill baby dolphins, kill!"

Funny you should mention it, but I haven't noticed any of the usual "oil drilling is goooood" ads on prime time this week...you know the one - with the woman in the suit in the elevator (bringing up oil from the deep ocean, doing all that *good* above ground)

I am working on writing a post on the general subject of the oil spill. I will try to incorporate thinking from some of these threads, plus my thoughts.

Oil Drum staff members are also being very helpful in this regard, and have been sending me links and comments, through our staff members Googlegroup, and have offered to review what I write.

It may be a day or so before I get the post finished, though. I appreciate your patience.

A proposed title for the post: Is the oil industry's offshore technological reach, in mile plus water depths, exceeding its technological grasp?

It's pure speculation on my part, but I wonder if a contributing factor to this spill was unanticipated metallurgical failure of seafloor equipment. BP had to replace their seafloor manifold system at Thunder Horse because of an unanticipated metallurgical failure.

Perhaps this hasn't come out yet or I missed it but exactly what operations were being carried out when the explosion happened? Were the stem and bit in the pipe, did they get blown out or are they still in there? From the cooks description it sounds like mud was blowing out the pipe implying drilling at some stage. Where they ready to run a flow test?

My understanding is that they were cementing the production string, when the explosion happened, which is one of the things that is very puzzling, if a blowout triggered the explosion. I think as Rockman pointed out, right now it seems that no one can really explain how the accident happened.

It will be interesting to see if those who have blamed corn/ethanol for pollution at the mouth of the Mississippi take a hard line against deep water oil exploration now.

Clearly this is a much bigger pollution event if the oil spill continues for a while and oil washes up on Gulf beaches.

At least it takes the focus off ethanol and puts it where it should be. And that is on the high cost of "Drill Baby Drill" both financially and environmentally.

High EROEI for oil does not mean it is worth going after. There are high non energy costs for hard to get oil and they matter.

You're hoping a little misdirection will make Algal blooms and dead zones seem more benign in comparison?

Well, they will seem a 'little' better, but if you're drowning, do you blame the 5 pound weight in your right pocket, or the 4 pound weight in your left?

X, today you have made me wish I hadn't backed you up a couple of days ago when the price of corn and pork and the relationship between the two were being discussed-even though the truth was on your side.

I am not sure whether you just don't get the big picture, or whether you do, and are just callously pushing ethanol because you stand to make some money out of it.

But you are not going to make any converts on this site.

I do reluctantly support the idea of a small farm produced biofuels industry, as such an industry could be very rapidly scaled up in the event of a supply crisis , and ensure adequate fuel for on farm and food distribution purposes.

Such a crisis appears to be a very real possibility, and it may not be far off.

But if Joe Sixpack ever fixates on the idea that he can drive his four by on 180 proof moonshine,we are totally and royalled screwed.

Not that we probably aren't screwed anyway, but that's a point you seem incapable of grasping.

Do you ever actually read this forum, or just skim it looking for handy spots to plug the moonshine?

If they were cementing a production string why was there drill pipe in the well? If they had already set a production string and were drilling a plug out maybe they were way too light on the mud weight and it got away from them.

I might be new to posting but I have been lurking for several years.

Yes, this is going to be a game changer, we are already reviewing our testing proceedures for well control barriers, as in what tests from above may not test from below.

The word around the traps (its a small oilfield so no references) is they had run 7" liner and cemented. There is talk of them having loss circulation problems while drilling. Most likely thats where the liner cement job went. Set liner packer, proceeded out of the hole dropping a surface plug with liner running tool, not a good practice. Continued out of the hole and displaced riser to sea water and using the diverter to continue flushing. At some point the liner packer or seal assembly gave way. As they were flushing through the diverter the well was coming in on them. From there the die was cast.

There also seems to be a problem with the BOP. If the oil is leaking from the drillpipe as in the ROV pictures and not from the riser, then possible the pipe rams have shut but the shears have not. Time will tell on that one, but if the ROV can't close it with the hot stab then maybe it is not drill pipe in the way.

Thank you for posting. Very interesting stuff.

I think it's interesting stuff too ... wish I understood more of the lingo ..

Welcome our club. I think you have already given the secret code word.

Thanks for the intel

Good explanation pusher. I had also heard they were displacing the riser.

Now for all those who didn't understand pusher's excellent but tech heavy explanation: they set and cemented the steel pipe across the oil reservoir. The plan was to temporarily abandon the well and leave the well head sitting on the bottom till a later date. Don't take this as patronizing but just easier to explain this way: you have a soft drink bottle with hot coke that has been shakened up. But it can't pop out because you put a cork (plugs/packers inside the casing) INSIDE the bottle neck. And to be safe you put your finger (the riser pipe filled with heavy mud) over the bottle top just in case your cork slipped out. Now you going to put the bottle down and remove your finger (replace the heavy mud in the riser with light sea water) becasue you're confident the cork is holding. But as you do the cork slips out (down hole plugs/packers fail). And the Coke starts to shoot out. But you have a backup safety plan: you put your palm (BOP stack) over the bottle mouth. Unfortunately you hand slips off (BOP fail) and Coke shoots all over you ( well comes in, oil/NG ignite, men die, environment damaged).

There are procedures to test down hole plugs and other elements of the system. I suspect those procedures will be the focus of future investigations if my story holds any water. From past experience these types of safety failures almost always stem from human error. During the entire process of such drilling efforts there are hundreds of decisions made on the fly. There's always a detailed and well designed plan in place. And then there's what really happens. Often the worst accidents aren't caused by doing something wrong but by not doing the right thing at the right time. I've met few engineers offshore who scared me because they were too aggressive in the decision making process. But I've known a few who worried me because they were hesitant to take action for fear of making a mistake and wasting a few million $'s. This guys make it difficult to sleep when you come off tower, right pusher? I'm sure you've had a few restless nights.

Thanks for the excellent explanation ... much clearer. Another simple question - how viscous is the material coming out? Is it mostly crude oil and sludgy like molasses, or a mix of oil and gas, and therefore somewhat lighter and effervescent, or is it oil+gas+water, and rather murky?


All oil wells contain differant grades of oil, from Canadian tar sands that do not flow, to light oil containing large amounts of gas, then straight gas wells. This well based on the pictures only did contain a lot of gas. There is photo when it was burning at night where the flames were horizontial coming from the middle of the rig. This would have been the open diverter line they were using to dump the dirty water from the riser.

As can be seen from the oil slick it also contains oil, but of what grade, I have no idea. I could contain some water but for the boys on the rig not enough.

Just to give you an idea how the gas cause you a problem, in 5000ft of water 1bbl of gas at the BOP will equal 150bbl at the rig floor. From 18000 ft just based on normal pressure and sea water, 1bbl becomes 530 bbl. That is driller like to keep the stuff down hole, much easier to handle!

jog -- still too many unknowns. But there will be drilling mud in the hole whether they are drilling or not. Even during casing runs and cementing efforts you have to keep back pressure on the formation to keep it under control.

Be sure to include some discussion on how this will affect insurance rates in the industry. I suspect that this will have more impact on costs than expected.

If the family members don't object, it may also be (?)respectful(?) to have pictures of the workers... in a few cases of disasters like this you read a name, but many people never fully realize that it was an actual human being that was lost.

Gail, call the article "Drill Baby, Spill!"

Huff Post just took down a huge banner headline that read: SPILL, BABY, SPILL.

I wonder who bitched about it....

Huff Post is becoming the World Nut Daily of the blog world.
Maybe it was harshing Deepak Chopra's mellow.

Actually, "spill,baby,spill" was appropriate. People need to know that there are consequences to technologically risky ventures and how difficult it is to drill in deep waters. We have been assured over and over again that we have come so far technologically that we don't have to worry about oil spills any more. If people choose to support this technology, fine, but there should be full and honest knowledge of the risks.

One of the lowlights of the Sarah Palin campaign was her drill,baby,drill as if she is an expert by virtue of the fact that she lived in Alaska. Same applies to her foreign policy experience.

I agree--
My comment on the Huff Post was its "New Age" direction, its lack of scientific literacy, and its magical thinking that dominates its editorials and content.

ts -- Trust me...I've been doing this for a living for 35 years: there will never come a day when "we don't have to worry about oil spills any more". But that's not a slam at my industry. The PR talking heads might use word games to make such implications but they'll never ever make such a statement directly.

But here's the big "BUT". Will you only fly on an airline that promises it will never crash? Will you not work in a building that isn't guaranteed to never catch fire? Will you never drive a car if the maker didn't promise that the accelerator will never ever stick? Obviously we all take risks every day. And we do so with the assumption that while there are risks we have to carry on and minimize those risks as much as possible. Can you guarantee you'll never accidentally run over and kill a small child? If you answer is no then shouldn't we prevent you from driving to avoid such a horrible accident? But if one goes out into the world and assumes there are zero risks then one has their head up their butt IMHO. But what are acceptable risks? That is really determined by the value one puts on the particular operation. If one doesn't see a benefit in offshore drilling then they shouldn't feel any risks are acceptable. We each have a right to such opinions. But consider the case of your potential driving accident. The over whelming majority of Americans perceive no benefit from your driving. Thus, on the basis of societal needs, we shouldn't allow you to drive, should we?

Of course, that example is silly. But it does make the point that risk assessment is as much a personal decision as a technical one.

How about one based on the amount of oil we'll end up getting now for all the money poured into building and now cleaning up this thing?

Nil, baby, nil!!!

Good point WastedEnergy...now here's a question...do you think any of the cost of the cleanup or the damage that may be done by spilled oil will be counted by anyone into those glowing EROEI stats we often see for oil? Care to take any bets?



It may be a day or so before I get the post finished, though. I appreciate your patience.

Thanks Gail.

Rockman or anyone,

One other thing I'm wondering about from the various reports from survivors is that they seem to say the lights went out on the rig first and then a short time later came the massive explosion. Could this suggest that someone (or some system) had hit an Emergency Stop (and/or possible Emergency BOP Close) prior to the catastrophic blast? Would the Rig Emergency Stop be configured to automatically trigger a BOP close or would that be an atypical setup?

This comment at gcaptain offers this description

Horizon's ESD panels are the Floor, the Bridge and ECR. They control ventilation, engines, fuel valves, fire doors, etc. You could also initiate an ESD from the Vessel Management System. They have nothing to do with the BOP.

The EDS buttons are on the BOP panel on the Floor and on the Bridge. There are none in the OIM's or Toolpusher's office. On the Horizon the OIM and Sr. Toolpusher position in an emergency is on the Bridge, while the on-tour toolpusher is on the Floor, and the off-tour toolpusher assists the Chief Mate on scene. I understand (but I don't know) that they initiated an EDS from the Bridge and it didn't work.

Not my area tow but I can tell you the saftey systems are very automated. In addition to actual activation of the system there are numerous warnings alerts generated. On top of that there are manual observations conducted concurrently. But there comes a point where all you can do is yell for everyone to run. The good hands will hang on to the last moment trying to keep control. They're the one usually injured/killed. Auto systems fail...people fail...equipment fails. Sometimes matters go so bad so fast that the dead don't even realize they are about to die. That's why so much of the system is automated these days. As far as shut down there is a system to automaticly shut off electricity/motors in case a well comes in. Obviously you want to minimize spark potential (one reason metal watch bands aren't allowed offshore). But the rigs run off of electrical and hydraulic power and there's a limit to shut down.

According to the report I heard on NPR the oil slick is from the mile of broken pipe now laying on the seabed and not from the well. Considering that just yesterday they said there was not any oil spill I wonder how long that claim will hold up.

Gail...gotta include this in your discussion.


Feds may set Gulf oil slick ablaze

Coast Guard officials are considering setting the Gulf of Mexico oil slick on fire as it moved Tuesday to within 20 miles of sensitive ecological areas in the Mississippi River Delta.

Officials say it could become one of worst spills in U.S. history.


If the slick is set on fire, it would be a controlled burn using fire-proof booms, and only done during the day, said Landry. It could begin as early as Wednesday.

Wow. For those of you in the know here. Per Dragonfly's link and MSM. This thing seems too widespread. Won't it require continual burning operations as long as the release from the well continues? How about optimal burning conditions? Is this even going to work?

Interesting article (pdf) on in-situ burning

Thanks Gail.
Hats off to Undertow for the follow up and Darwinian for the call.
This tragedy definitely warranted a key post and is likely to be a game and perception changer as well.

As I said the other days, Oil Patch types like yours truly, who asserted that the vast majority of oil spills come from transportation accidents, e.g., Exxon Valdez, now have a fair amount of mud on our faces. While it's still true I think that the volumetric numbers still support the transportation assertion, when the video of crude oil soaked wildlife and shorelines starts hitting the airways, perhaps in the worst case for months, it's going to be a huge problem for the industry.

IMO, it's now self evident that the industry's technological reach, in these mile plus water depths, is exceeding its technological grasp.

And the next shoe to drop is when some MSM outlet finally "breaks" the story of the huge production crash on the main Thunder Horse structure. If Thunder Horse is a a prime example of how deep water reserves can boost US production, and if the URR from the main structure (if not both traps) is a small fraction of what BP originally claimed, it's only going to further support efforts to restrict drilling.

Huffington Post Headline today:

Spill Baby Spill: Big Oil Fought Off New Safety Rules Before Rig Explosion

EXCLUSIVE: BIG OIL FOUGHT OFF NEW SAFETY RULES BEFORE RIG EXPLOSION: Spill Covers At Least 1,800 Square Miles.. Headed Toward U.S. Coast.. See Incredible NASA Video, Photos Of Spill.. Clean-Up Struggle.. Oceanographer: 'We've Never Seen Anything Like This'.. Florida Senator Wants Probe Of Oil Safety Claims

Now that the oil is really starting to spread, the mess will crank up even more. Even without the slick, the visuals-pictures and video- of the explosion are just too much. Hazelwood didn't have near so extensive a coverage.

I've mentioned before my thoughts of how big this will be, of it's impact on the offshore debate. It seems from your link that the lawsuit angle is going great guns, and spreading quite a few pieces of evidence and reports in the new internet age, another different angle from Alaska.

Also seems TOD will do a top post, but with all the contributors on this site, I think the coverage has been very good. In fact, I think I prefer the daily updates on Drumbeat over a central post.

Somewhere there will be an exact cause of the failure - in other words it will be assigned to a person that made a specific mistake, or a piece of equipment that failed, etc. But in reality it is a consequence of the fact that we're now going after the oil tat is more expensive and more difficult to get. This is just one manifestation of those costs, and a demonstration of the fact that it is not possible to obtain and use the amounts of energy that we do without a downside.

Still, it's pretty easy to paint it as a one off accident, so it will be interesting to see how much it effects public opinion - and even if it does, what are the options? Would we seriously consider not going after that oil?

I'm still waiting for the "Nobody could have anticipated X" statement from "officials."

Then an "accident" with coal ash, with nuclear facility, with a large fracking operation, oilsand operation, LNG facility...

It just amazes me how dismissive we can be about all this.

No one really cares, Eeyores! They want BAU, the like BAU, the will have it no matter the costs.

See my post, above... and Wizard's rules. People are stupid, they believe what they want to believe or are afraid is true.


Take a deep breath! Breathe!!! Exhale!

Sorry, bad day!


Sadly all I can do is agree with you zap. There will be lots of political/industry/environmental postering. Films of dead oil soaked birds and grieving windows of the hands killed in the bowout. On and on and on. And it will have no effect on the future IMHO. The American people/politicians/oil company execs/environmentalists will all offer the politically correct responses. And all BS as far as I'm concerned. Americans will demand that everything be done to preserve BAU as best as possible regardless of the costs. If the public is willing to sacrifice a few thousand troops and a few hundred thousand civilians to help BAU along, who is going to care about a few thousand dead birds.

If folks don't like what they see now they better find a hole to hide in. It's only going to get worse IMO.

Very good points. The increase in expense of the harder-to-get oil in our (present and) future is not just a matter of monetary cost and EROEI. There are going to be greater and greater direct "costs" to the immediate environments around the exploration and extraction sites.

(Not that much oil production, especially in the third world, has been particularly pretty in the past--see Peter Maass's "Crude World," among many other sources, for a good overview of some of worst cases.)

Would anyone be interested in creating a main post on this topic: past and (likely) future local environmental costs of oil production (besides the obvious--to most--GW issues)?

I don't think it is possible - you would have to make major arbitrary decisions about what is a cost and what is not. What percentage of the (over) population and the costs of our existence to you assign to oil production?

I am sympathetic with the idea that we should not go after the oil, just as it is off limits on the California coast.

However,unfortunately, I know people who support the no drill position and express their love for the fish, the birds, and other wildlife who drive big SUVs and jet around the world constantly. So, I am also sympathetic to the idea that we should put up or shut up.

Sorry to be a broken record but going back to Jimmy Carter, we have been warned about our reliance on oil, especially foreign oil. Well, so called domestic oil ain't so great either.

Forty years since the first Earth Day and we still don't have a clue.

tstreet, I agree with your assessment of many of the "jet set" environmentalists, unfortunately it is not only those who consume the most oil who must contend with the environmental and other consequences of unconventional oil drilling. And it certainly is annoying to be among those who feel they are making a legitimate effort at curbing personal consumption, yet still being saddled with bad behavior from those who fail to recognize the connections between the personal and the political. It becomes too easy for those on the Right to say "Silly environmentalists, they hate drilling for oil but they are just as dependent on it as anyone else." Well, that may be true to a certain extent, but at least some of us are doing our part to work for real alternatives, devoting our lives to causes like renewable energy and living it ourselves through DIY energy saving projects at home, really taking a critical look at personal consumption and asking how much we can do without or how we can build a world where we can get those things we really do need without depending on a resource that is being depleted.

So it may not be true for everyone, but I will say at least the following for myself: I ain't go no money, I ain't got no car to take you on a date! Not every environmentalist is someone who already owns a house in the woods ;)

Absolutely, I agree with you. And I am not criticizing environmentalists in general. I am one and I clearly do not fall into the same category as the people I said I new. But, as an environmentalist, I am annoyed by the people who cannot seem to connect their lifestyle with their positions. On the other hand, many of us have evolved over the years. So, in part, I just see it as a blindspot that some people with the best of intentions seem to have.

Some of the people consider themselves leaders in this part of the world and actually call themselves members of the environmental community, whatever that means.


I don't know about total volumes which must include innumerable small spills but the ones that catch public attention are the big ones. NOAA's incident response site has a page with ten of the world's largest oil spills. Here are the first few in order:

  1. Gulf War -- 37 Billion gallons [=900 million barrels] (Iraqi army retreat)
  2. Ixtoc I -- 140 million gallons (exploratory well blowout)
  3. Amaco Cadiz -- 68 million gallons (tanker)
  4. Exxon Valdez -- 10 million (tanker)

The rest are under 10 million and include mostly tankers as you surmised. But the blowout at Ixtoc was a whopper!

-- Jon

I was primarily talking about spills in US waters. So, even with this recent spill, it's a good bet that increased reliance on foreign imports will increase the risk of an oil spill, but try convincing people who are seeing, or experiencing, crude oil on the Gulf Coast. But of course, I anticipate that we are going to gradually become free of our reliance on most sources of foreign oil, as we are probably outbid for declining net oil exports.

If this blowout lasts 100 days before it is capped, and if the report of 1,000 barrels per day or 42,000 gallons per day is correct, then this spill will eventually come to about 4.2 million gallons.

Ron P.

It's interesting to me that when oil is recovered it's reported amounts are in barrels. Spills are always reported in gallons.

Might be because some spills are smaller than a barrel. A gallon has 231 cubic inches in it, how thick a layer in on the water? 1/8 inch maybe. say a 1/4 for starters.

1,000 barrels a day give you a spread of a little over 6 acres, so that is 12 for 1/8 inch, 24 for a 1/16. Choppy waters. The miles and miles of spill is a lot of oil, I guess we will never know how much until they declare it a safe zone, and we can count up the recovered oil as a best guess of part of the spill.

I wonder how much a gallon of oil really covers on the water. But the EPA is used to small spills, so that might be why the figures are used.

Just like Ethanol is measured in gallons instead of barrels in most things I read.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future, without many oil spills.

Satellite pic of the oil spill, if this has been posted, i apologize :)


...If Thunder Horse is a a prime example of how deep water reserves can boost US production, and if the URR from the main structure (if not both traps) is a small fraction of what BP originally claimed, it's only going to further support efforts to restrict drilling.

It has been a number of years for the Thunder Horse project to 'come to fruition' as it were. I'm wondering if the total EROEI of this project isn't still in negative territory.

A crude economic model would have prices rising steadily to cover the risks of increasingly hard to get oil. From WT's and ROCKMAN's posts on the subject, it seems evident that there is a cutoff point of risk past which the oil companies simply won't go, and it seems we are fast approaching that point for deepwater, arctic, etc. oil projects.

EDIT: echoing dhoboi's comments that I just read

Yes, our lawmakers here in Florida are apparently just discovering that drilling 4 miles deep for hot, explosive liquids and gases might be dangerous! Who knew? And just as a new push to approve drilling close to the coast was about to be made by the incoming state Senate president...


It's also a game changer because it sunk. A billion dollars of capital went to the bottom of the GOM.

Oil is going to have to be a lot more expensive that $85/barrel to risk a billion dollars going forward...

New equipment to replace this rig will not be getting any cheaper. Material costs plus new safety measures plus new environmental controls = $1,000,000,0000 + ?00,000,000.

I agree. If these ugly effects are on the news regularly, it will be the death knell for expanded offshore drilling. California had a problem in the Santa Brabara channel in the 60's and other than a few grandfathered locations offshore development has been a political third rail ever since.

And do we think this is a bad thing?

Matt Simmons sure thinks so.

He's said that the SB spill gave the Greens too much ammo and ruined that avenue. Darn Shame, that.

You know, I was just thinking about how we all need to have a lot less patience for idiots spouting opinions.

And do we think this is a bad thing?

As I think about the potential future trajectory of things:
(1) Nasty spill & PR causes restrictions on drilling.
(2) Big oil shock comes.
(3) Drill-baby-drill crowd blames environmentalists for the shortage.
(4) Environmentalists are found hanging from lampposts.
(5) Ememgency drilling program causes more new spills, than would a non-desperate continuation of the old (prespill) program.
Rinse, and repeat.

It will be interesting to see how the GOM disaster impacts the credibility of THC (tree hugger community).

From a 2008 news story regarding Artic oil exploration in Canada.

In June [2008], after a federal government auction of oil and gas exploration rights in a 202,000-hectare section of the Beaufort Sea, it was announced that the British oil giant BP had secured the licence with a bid of nearly $1.2 billion - the single largest amount ever committed to search for oil and gas in Canada. (...)

"By issuing these licences to explore northern oil and gas resources," [the Conservative minister for northern development] said at the time, the Harper government was "advancing economic growth and investment in the North, helping to create jobs for northerners, bolstering our sovereignty, as well as ensuring the North’s unique and delicate environment is protected for future generations." (...)

In 2007, Exxon Mobil and its Canadian subsidiary, Imperial Oil, pledged $585 million for permits to explore a 205,000-hectare swath of the sea adjacent to BP’s new petroleum target zone.

BP’s huge expenditure commitment in the Canadian North was hailed by experts as the strongest sign yet of a new Arctic oil rush in this country.

But the auction was denounced by the World Wildlife Fund as a potential threat to the Beaufort Sea ecosystem, described as a "key habitat" for polar bears and whales. The group had urged Harper to postpone the issuing of permits until a Beaufort Sea management plan being worked on by federal scientists and other stakeholders is completed.

The WWF’s criticism of the auction, however, drew fierce reactions from Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland - who expressed "frustration with southern-based advocacy groups promoting decisions which impact the lives and economic future of northerners"


Having classed myself as a tree hugger, I can say that lots of methods of getting our energy needs can be bad for the environment in one way or another. In my BioWebScape design process I try hard to need as little outside pumped in energy use (from a grid), while trying to find a way to power some things on site, depending on the needs of the design being offered. Some people say they can live without much energy, besides wood for heating and cooking, and maybe a little solar for an internet connection. Even that is not as needed by some people.

Tree huggers have been warning people for years about all this trash lurking in our futures if we weren't careful.

I hope the spill is not as bad as it could get though, I don't wish that kind of thing even if it might sell t-shirts and bumper stickers.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future, with less FF energy use.

The WWF’s criticism of the auction, however, drew fierce reactions from Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland - who expressed "frustration with southern-based advocacy groups promoting decisions which impact the lives and economic future of northerners"

For God's sake, don't do anything to imperil the economic future of northerners! Please!


A really, really, bad day!

I don’t think that is predictable but it cannot be good.

And--my Goddess--right before the onset of hurricane season.

We have had Northern winds for last few days (at least here in Pensacola),
keeping the pool away from coastline, winds predicted to shift from the
Southwest tomorrow. It's frontpage news on the coast now, but it's just
another RIG thingy of some sort.

This is a game changer, but we are still in the very early innings.

Higgins: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, (an oil spill) right? In (two to five years), food. Plutonium. And maybe even sooner. Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?

Turner: Ask them.

Higgins: Not now — then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!

Three Days of the Condor

We have met the monster and he is us.

Wizard's First Rule (from Wizard's First Rule): "People are stupid. [...] They will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true."
Wizard's Second Rule (from Stone of Tears): "The greatest harm can result from the best intentions."
Wizard's Third Rule (from Blood of the Fold): "Passion rules reason, for better or for worse."


So, what is the Chess term? I resign? (!)



DO you need a hug today?

Hugs Craig, hands him a beer and invites him out for some pool.

It is cold outside and I worry about my tomatoes, I bet the lettuce is loving it. I know that in a few days it'll be hot out and the lettuce will be screaming.

Free hugs for everyone.
BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Interestingly, my grandson, who is one reason I am so concerned, just came in and gave me a nice hug!

Things look better now.


ps I'll call when I am in the area for that beer!

Mine was putting my daughter to bed tonight. We read a good book and she got her back scratch..

Grabbing onto whatever little rays of sunshine I can..

You are welcome to anytime, that's the reason the phone number is there in the profile.

Hugs make the world seem less scary. I come from a hugging family.

Glad you feel better.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Forgot - "The law of unintended consequences".

I admit to a fear that in the not-too-distant future that the heavily populated but energy-resource-poor areas of the US are going to adopt a "colonial" sort of outlook towards the areas that are more sparsely populated but relatively rich in energy. Fear because I live in a "colony" area, and colonialism seldom works out well for the colonies.

Very interesting point you make. I live withing a gas-tanks distance from several metropolitian areas.

It seems like there is a pattern to collapse. Russia, Argentina etc - it seems the story is usually the same. The rural folks suffer to keep the city folk from rioting. I think it's been discussed here before, rural vs urban, and some interesting exchanges took place between posters from each locales ("oh, so that's how it's gonna be" type of stuff).

Jim McDonnell (Virginia Gov.) (yelling Drill here, Drill Here!) is not looking so good now.

As if he needed help...

Apparently some swans might be black because they are covered in oil.

There seem to be many game changing aspects of this event. Another is that this tarnishes the typically asserted image that private oil companies are technically superior to national ones. The sovereign oil companies will potentially use this to bolster support for national control.

Russia-Ukraine deal: Fists fly in Ukraine parliament punch up

Is this what's to come with shale drilling?

Maybe that's what the US Congress needs more of... egg on the face. We already have enough smoke screens. At least they're passionate about issues :-) When our congresspeople start beating the crap out of each other maybe we can finally make some progress. At least C-Span ratings could compete with the WWF.

LOL. Typical Slavonic temperament on the part of the Ukrainians here.

With the smoke one could mistake it for the Japanese Diet.

One can say about Fidel Castro many things. But he certainly is one of the few politicians who frequently refer to Peak Oil - though mostly in terms of general resource depletion.

One can say about Fidel Castro many things.

Given that the implication is "many negative things", I'm curious about what those might be exactly and honestly? One thing i think can rightly be said is that even despite the most viscious economic blockade ever imposed on a group of people, in place for nearly half a century, those people are still better off on average than many paragons of the US's recommended "how to do things properly", such as Haiti, Nicaraugua, El Salvadore, Panama, etc.

Hello lengould, I've been living in Cuba, so I could tell yo some details about cuban reality but I would like to focus on the more general energy issue - and avoid any political polarization.

Not Guantanamo I hope?

Not to mention that Cuba actually has lower infant mortality as well as higher life expectancy then the US have.

Infant mortality rate is difficult to compare due to issues about what you declare as a "live birth"


That's not to say anything about the more general plusses and minusses of cuba, but just to point that the infant mortality statistic is very, very difficult to interpret.

Cuba actually has lower infant mortality as well as higher life expectancy then the US have.

This is true but just barely, 77.45 years for Cuba verses 77.34 years for the US. Cuba is 38th while the US is 39th.

List of countries by life expectancy

I found the chart very interesting. Russia has a life expectancy of 66.3 years. Most importantly, the bottom 45 countries are all in Africa. (Unless my eyeballing the chart missed one.) The lowest non-African country is Cambodia with a life expectancy of 62.1 years. The lowest is Swaziland with a life expectancy of 31.88 years. Oil rich Angola is second lowest with a life expectancy of 38.2 years.

I have argued for years that the slowdown in the population growth rate is not caused by falling fertility rates but rising death rates due to Malthusian factors. Those same Malthusian factors, in third world countries, are the primary cause of falling fertility rates.

It is true that life expectancy has been rising in some countries but it has also been falling in others. The countries with falling life expectancy are mostly in vastly undernourished and overpopulated countries while it has been rising in well fed countries.

Ron P.

I have argued for years that the slowdown in the population growth rate is not caused by falling fertility rates but rising death rates due to Malthusian factors. Those same Malthusian factors, in third world countries, are the primary cause of falling fertility rates.

Like the argument that abiotic oil is replenishing oil reserves, this one suffers from a dearth of evidence. Into such vacuums prejudice rushes.

For anyone curious about the subject, here is an interesting website: http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/

Note the downward trend in a number of southern African countries that coincided with the spread of HIV-AIDS. Why does HIV-AIDS take such a toll in some poor countries and not others? Malthusian selection? Or cultural differences pertaining to heterosexual practices in the countries being compared?

Note the increase in life expectancy in Chindia, countries with comparatively recent
episodes of mass famine. Even as their populations grew and grew. Famine feeds population growth.

Like the argument that abiotic oil is replenishing oil reserves, this one suffers from a dearth of evidence.

I half expect to see articles like the following soon.

Well let me tell you the truth. You see, the oil companies recently discovered that due to a natural conflatulence of the subtrustystic marzipnaium (the very existence of which they completely deny in public!), abiotic oil would soon be leaking in large quantities into the Gulf of Mexico. So guess what the oil companies did? Yes you are seeing it now. They staged a massive accident as cover.

This is abiotic oil folks. This should be powering America, but the oil companies with all their state of the art safety equipment claim it was an accident drilling a "normal" well. They are prepared to let many more of these so called "accidents" occur and destroy the coastline rather than use their computers to plot the abiotic oil (which they are deliberately programmed not to show except to the elite) and intercept it with drills safely and cheaply. But then they'd make less money and not be able to scare us with their fake "Peak Oil".

This is the real truth folks.

Obviously I made that up in case anyone misses that...

However I do believe the top financial movers and shakers and their whizz-kid servants likely understand Peak Oil all too clearly and may well have a much clearer picture than is ever presented in public. And they've understood that for quite some time. And I'm not making that bit up.

Why does HIV-AIDS take such a toll in some poor countries and not others? Malthusian selection? Or cultural differences pertaining to heterosexual practices in the countries being compared?

Primarily the latter. A country where 25% of the adult population tests HIV-positive, and whose culture demeans the use of condoms, is going to have nasty mortality rates.

OTOH, researchers have now found a small cohort of sex workers in Kenya who appear to be naturally immune to HIV infection. About 2%, IIRC. Evolution considers that an acceptable situation: the population will be restored relatively quickly.

OTOH, researchers have now found a small cohort of sex workers in Kenya who appear to be naturally immune to HIV infection. About 2%, IIRC. Evolution considers that an acceptable situation: the population will be restored relatively quickly.

I believe the HIV virus has an astonishingly high mutation rate. So I wouldn't count on that.

Hopefully it mutates away from being deadly- maybe ending up just like the common flue virus or some such. Think positively..

But what common flu virus though? The "common" strains have almost been completely removed from human circulation by the dominance of swine flu. Just in case anyone thought it had gone away...


2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 15 ending April 17, 2010

During week 15 (April 11-17, 2010), influenza activity decreased in the U.S.

* 37 (2.1%) specimens tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories and reported to CDC/Influenza Division were positive for influenza.
* All 20 subtyped influenza A viruses were 2009 influenza A (H1N1).
* The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was at the epidemic threshold

And now it turns out that the vaccines aren't very useful:


I found myself wondering if it isn't more a matter of the residual effect of decades of vaccination against various strains being more of a factor than the current year's vaccine.


Actually, we already have a segment of the population that is resistant.


Agreed, but it's not that simple.

The reason some African nations have such a high HIV rate is because they have a cultural practice of long-term simultaneous relationships. Often because the men are away for long periods - working in the city, taking the cattle to market, or something like that. They'll have a wife at home and a girlfriend in the city.

This is actually more risky than picking up prostitutes on the street. It usually takes multiple encounters to get HIV, and a "john" is not likely to end up with the same prostitute too often. But when you have a network of people in long-term relationships - if one gets HIV, eventually all of them will. Not least because in a long-term relationship, people usually dispense with condoms.

I find it interesting that the US Virgin Islands are ranked 24th (female 83.3 years, male 75.5 years) while the US stands 38th (female 80.8/male 75.6). Solution: all aging Americans should retire to a Caribbean paradise.

The Kokomos

Better get there fast while the beaches are still pristine.

BTW, Good luck finding an island called Kokomo anywhere near the Florida Keys.

BTW, Good luck finding an island called Kokomo anywhere near the Florida Keys.

Come on, Joules. Don't burst my bubble. Next thing you'll be telling me the Virgin Islands are not full of virgins!

Nope. Virgin martinis.

So, who is going to go anywhere for a virgin anything?


suicide bombers, it seems

The prophet never say 'don't have fun'. We just luv havin' fun.

So, who is going to go anywhere for a virgin anything?

Richard Branson?

Nope. Virgin martinis.

Just the way Mr. Bond likes 'em, "shaken, not stirred."

Also a very high literacy.

"The Cuban Literacy Campaign (Spanish: Campaña Nacional de Alfabetización en Cuba) was a year-long effort to abolish illiteracy in Cuba after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.[1] It began on January 1st and ended on December 22nd, 1961. The period of the Literacy Campaign is referred to as the “Year of Education” in Cuba.[2] During 1961, the literacy rate of Cuba increased from 76% to 96%, and has continued to improve.[3]"

"When you're lost in the rain in Juarez And it's eastertime too And your gravity fails And negativity don't pull you through ..."

Which reminds me, How's life in Mexico? If only Castro had been overthrown, then Cuba too could be enjoying the confluence of free enterprise initiative and access to credit card America. Cuidad Juarez: bright lights and store shelves stocked, everything that Cuba isn't.


I won't go there except to say that as dictators who run police states and win reelection by over 99 percent every election and so forth go-
well , considering his peer group , Castro is a pretty nice guy.

And he treats his citizens at least as well as I treat my cows.They ( the cows) get a minimum but adequate diet, basic medical care, they live in reasonably safe and secure barns and pastures, and I make sure the bully cows don't hog all the feed by spreading it around so the weaker cows get enough to eat.

I guess they would like to be free-they make a dash for it anytime they find a fence down.

And I going to take care of my cows the same way Castro has his citizens-leave'em to my brother.

I must say that so far as I know that Castro doesn't actually eat his citizens;I blush to admit that I can't say the same about the cows of course.

Now we had this bully hog last year that developed the habit of climbing into the old cast iron bathtub we use as the feed trough and stretching out on the feed, so the other hogs couldn't get anything to eat.

We solved that problem by putting a few large sharp edged rocks in the trough which made it impossible for him to lie in it. He soon learned that he could not both stand gaurd over the trough and also get some sleep ,and gave up the idea of owning all the feed forever.

I'm not sure if this story has a moral or not, but folklore experts may be able to find meaningful correlations with the story of the princess and the pea. ;)

I surely wouldn't want the job of defending American policy in respect to Cuba over the last half century or so, and I freely admit that Castro has accomplished some remarkable things, and actually admire him in some respects.

Now if we could only figure out a good way to get lots of large sharp rocks in the right places........

OFM, just make sure your hog doesn't get a hold of a copy of Orwell's "Animal Farm" ;-)

One can say about Fidel Castro many things.

A leader. Highly intelligent. Deeply committed to social justice. Learns from mistakes. Baseball fan.

When Castro dies the sense of loss throughout the Americas, with the exception of certain brainwashed quarters, i.e. the USA, will be an order of magnitude greater than that caused by the Kennedy assassination.

When the history of these times is written, Kennedy will be remembered for the manner of his death, and Barack will be remembered for the colour of his skin, but Fidel will be remembered as the greatest leader in the Americas during the second half of the 20th century.

Toilforoil, you are probably right. But take note that most cubans have the famous american way of life as their idealized goal. One thing is to understand problems by dialectic analysis - a completely different one is to be forced to have to acknowledge facts by a doctrine. The problem of socialism is that it is moved by envy - as capitalism is moved by greed.

The problem of socialism is that it is moved by envy - as capitalism is moved by greed.

I might have agreed had you written that 'a' problem with socialism is that greed, envy, sloth, etc. are persistent tendencies in the population and in the elites that emerge in any hierarchical system.

In my view, a serious problem with many, if not most, socialists is the unwillingness to abandon the idea that the newborn human is a tabula rasa.

our modern idea of the theory is mostly attributed to John Locke's expression of the idea in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in the 17th century. In Locke's philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that the (human) mind is at birth a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences. The notion is central to Lockean empiricism.


An even greater problem for socialism, is a common failure of socialists to understand, as Georgescu-Roegen did, that our use of exosomatic instruments in the economic process leaves the human species "subject to an irreducible" social conflict. (Georgescu-Roegen, 1971) Simply stated, how do we establish the value of the manager's work?

In my view, capitalism is a dead end. It has gone from a mercantilist form, to a corporatist form, and is now emerging in a quasi-mercantilist, quasi-corporatist, corrupt-statist, form in the so-called developing countries. But in the end, capitalism is a growth system. When capital is not growing, the system is in crisis. Steady state capitalism is an oxymoron. Capitalism is a growth system that will consume its own pre-conditions.

Socialism, on the other hand, is not necessarily committed to growth, even if most of its 20th century advocates were.

But socialism has no hope if it doesn't incorporate the knowledge gained from the evolutionary sciences into its framework. In my opinion, this means, among other things, learning to appreciate that markets are social constructs which can serve the common good.

In any case, capitalism, while troubled, remains dynamic and is going nowhere in a hurry. All the more reason to appreciate the strength of Castro's leadership in the effort to develop an alternative model.

Pinker would agree.
Have you read The Blank Slate?

Your final line is interesting:

All the more reason to appreciate the strength of Castro's leadership in the effort to develop an alternative model.

I really don't know much about Cuba, but I wonder if Castro's strength is actually important in the success, vs the more diverse local coping mechanisms forced by the US embargo? One of the things that is striking is that all the communism and some of the more far left socialist systems have had a "collective good" ideology inextricably linked with a high degree of central planning. One of the interesting things about the mildly socialist western European states (classifying them from the european view of what counts as mild socialism rather than the american view) is how they manage to avoid the fragility of acting under only central planning.

(Obviously Castro is significant in that parts of American politics (including cuban emigrant community) are strongly motivated by his existance to maintain the embargo, but that's independent of any of his policies.)

the mildly socialist western European states (classifying them from the european view of what counts as mild socialism rather than the american view)

I'd just add that there can be only one "definition" of mildly socialist, and I think the Danes and Swedes have it. Whatever definition the US propaganda machine uses for "mildly socialist" is clearly simply wrong. You can use a couple of acid tests to identify that. Are they railing against government by dictatorship? Then that's a legitimate criticism of eg. FSU system of communism. Against absolutely any restraint on activities of capital? Against worker organization (but capital being allowed to organize in any way it wants)? Against wealthy paying a fair share of taxes? Against taxes being used to support anything but offensive military? That's propaganda.

Do you have an email address toil? AFAIK TOD does not have a PM function. (I need to create a more anonymous one for myself).
Edit: imtbkona at the yahoo commune

Yes but.

There is no or little freedom of expression in Cuba. Say the wrong things and you will spend years in jail. Cuba is the nearest thing in history to a working socialist state, and it does many things very well - health care is far, far better than in the US , for example. Equality for women is good, too, at least at a legal level. Education levels which would make parts of the US jealous. But it is not a paradise.

In a way the US embargoes have done Cuba a huge favour. It has taught them to be as near sustainable as possible whilst the rest of the world was on the exponential path to collapse. Even Butan is beginning to join the consumer society.

One could ask if Cuba could be a role model for post peak societies. But one would have to say goodbye to western freedom and democracy as we know it. I still hope the 2000 election fraud and the Goldman Sachs fraud are mere failures of an imperfect but basically healthy political system.

Here in the UK the upcoming election has been a game changer. Instead of having two neoliberal parties in the pockets of the banksters to choose between, we now have three neoliberal parties in the pockets of the banksters to choose between.

The only party that acknowledges peak oil is the racist BNP and even the greens talk about 'sustainable growth'.

At least in Cuba you know what you are getting!

Not the only party. The Green Party also acknowledges peak oil.


Plaid Cymru too.


Yes they are a regional party but they will almost certainly have at least 3 MPs in the new parliament.

"But one would have to say goodbye to western freedom and democracy as we know it."

I think that's a given. Sans copious energy supplies, I think the default mode of humans is fighting bands and clans.

Hope deeply that Mad Max stays exclusively a part of the movie world. There should be certain bandwidth between dictatorship and anarchy. I believe mankind is on it's way TOWARD something that deserves the name civilization. Peak Oil might teach us the right lessons. Though the outcome of all this is uncertain.

I hope we go more towards an Amish model (in my opinion, a good collaboration society) than Mad Max! :)

"Sans copious energy supplies, I think the default mode of humans is fighting bands and clans."

Well, that's one opinion.

Another possibility is that, when there is a widespread understanding that the total pie will be shrinking forever in the future, people will not tolerate anyone having an enormously larger piece of that shrinking pie than anyone else, and that people will want to insure that the poorest are taken care of.

When everything is growing, everyone imagines they will be the next millionaire and so don't want any limits put on millionaires.

But when everyone realizes they are in the midst of a forever downdraft, they know they could become very poor at any time and will insist that the poor are cared for and the rich are relieved of their overburden of wealth to insure that the poorest are cared for.

Just a thought.

Cuba had austerity imposed from the outside and used socialism to cope. The only other modern example that I can think of is Switzerland when the Fascists were in power around it. How much resource shortage did Switzerland have to cope? Arms were probably indicted but what else? Their oil imports dropped by a factor of 10 over the war years. What was the impact on the sustainability of their society and political life?

No. I agree, Cuba is "not a paradise". It is simply a lot closer in every way, including personal freedoms for the masses, than say Haiti, Panama, etc. etc. But how much sooner might Cuba have approached a much more ideal condition (eg. Denmark, Sweden, etc.) if Castro were not driven to paranoia by CIA assasination attempts, or if there had not been imposed a crushing 50 year economic embargo on it?

Fabian Escalante, who was long tasked with protecting the life of Castro, estimated the number of assassination schemes or attempts by the CIA to be 638. .... Jose Maria Aznar, former Spanish Prime Minister, wrote that the embargo was Castro's greatest ally, and that Castro would lose his presidency within three months if the embargo was lifted

I wonder how many of us USA people have ever read Castro's 1960 speech in the UN.
He spoke truth to US power and any who'd listen. A trait we need today, IMO.

I was 24 when I heard it on a "transistor" in Washington Sq. Park -- listening with a crowd of long-haired freaks and other marginalized fellow citizens. It seemed like the truth to those people then and it seems true to me today.

Here's a link:

The GOM spill is very good for Alberta's tar sand developments.

Yes and I'm sure there is no ecological damage possible way the heck out there where it doesn't matter anyway.

"Alberta approves two oilsands tailing pond plans from Syncrude, Fort Hills"


What's your point?
It looks like Alberta is planning to phase out the tailing ponds over the next decade.
That's what you want, right?

"...phase out the tailing ponds over the next decade".

Thats what they have been saying about coal ash ponds for decades.

"Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been considering the issue for years, it never has enacted guidelines for dealing with the ash waste, which is packed with health hazards such as arsenic and cadmium, known to cause cancer, and lead and mercury, which can damage the nervous system...."


I find your willful ignorance of the travesty disgusting.

There is a lot less chance of uncontrolled damage like we are seeing in the GOM.
Most of the new projects will be in situ, so there is much less need for tailings ponds.
When they are finished, you have oily ground, covered by trees, which is pretty much what you started with, just with less oil in the ground.

Oilsands may be expensive, but they are far less risky than any offshore operation, and many onshore ones at that.

Yes the oil company environmental experts I know tell me that onshore oil spills and other problems are far easier to control than offshore ones. If a well blows out or a pipeline breaks onshore, they can just get a fleet of bulldozers and build dams around the oil. If an offshore well blows out or a tanker hits the rocks, it's going to go all over the ocean.

The problems of oil sands tailing ponds are vastly overstated. Basically it's just a matter of waiting a few decades until the silt settles out of the water, and then reclaiming them. They're not going anywhere.

So this means what? That the next round of headlines will be about birth defects instead of exploding platforms?

Birth defects?
Can you cite anything to support that insane suggestion?

It was sarcastic humor I believe.

Not that the tar sands are a clean way of getting at a FF.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

"Not that the tar sands are a clean way of getting at a FF."

Nicely understated. They are a disaster on pretty much every level.

I don't know if the oil sands are a disaster on every level. This blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is making them look pretty good.

You have to realize that in the oil sands, the natural environment is naturally contaminated. It is the biggest oil spill in the history of the world. It has been leaking oil into the rivers for millions of years, and if we don't gather it up and burn in our cars, it will continue to leak oil into the rivers for millions more.

Now, now RMG - I always enjoy your posts and insights ... but this is taking ingenuousness a little too far. I expect the Athabasca River was just a little cleaner 200 years ago than it is now, and you seem to have overlooked the impact of scraping the top couple of metres off vast areas of Alberta countryside. The mining of tar sands is not a simple, cost-neutral extension of natural processes.

I expect the Athabasca River was just a little cleaner 200 years ago than it is now,

That's exactly correct. The Athabasca River was slightly cleaner 200 years ago than it is now. However, even then raw bitumen was flowing out of the banks and into the river. It has been doing this for millions of years. It is a pre-contaminated environment.

and you seem to have overlooked the impact of scraping the top couple of metres off vast areas of Alberta countryside.

No I haven't. The natural environment there is not really great. The soil quality is poor, the ground is boggy and contaminated with oil, and the forests all burned down a few decades ago. The oil mining companies actually intend to improve the quality of the land and turn it into pasture for buffalo.

Organizations like Greenpeace tend to portray it as some kind of natural wonderland, but in fact it is mostly peat bogs and scrawny trees, of which Canada has millions of square kilometres. Try driving through Northern Ontario on the Trans Canada Highway some time, and you'll see just how much there is. It's a mind-destroying experience.

The oil sands are only about the size of Florida, which in the Canadian context is not very big at all.

From the lead story:

Professor Newman largely blames the global financial crisis on oil prices.

"Subprime mortgages were mostly out on the urban fringes miles away from work. People had to drive and when the price of fuel tripled in American cities they couldn't pay their mortgages," he said.

As the global economy has strengthened in recent months so has the oil price, and Professor Newman says it does not bode well for recovery.

"As the demand increases again the supply crunch will happen and the price will go up," he said.

This is the view That Dare Not Speak Its Name. I've suspected it all along but simply cannot make much sense of the newspeak and gobbledygook of the "financial crisis" to evaluate it properly.

I will say this: it's apparent the "financial crisis," with its Goldmans and Bear Stearns and AIGs, certainly makes a better "narrative," and we all know how the Homos like a good story, with Bad Guys and put-upon Innocents.

Peak oil just ain't a good story. Never mind that it's probably true.

We want anecdotes, not statistics.

A Six Pack of Problems

* We prefer stories to statistics
* We seek to confirm
* We rarely appreciate the role of coincidence...
* We can misperceive our world
* We oversimplify
* We have faulty memories
Don't Believe Everything You Think, Thomas Kida

"Bankers did it." End of story.

The bankers did do it. Fraud on such a scale that it beggars the imagination.

Peak oil just wasn't far enough along to have that much of an impact. It will be, maybe as soon as this year, maybe 2-3 years down the road, but it wasn't there in 2006-7 when this started to go pear shaped.

Different narratives appeal to different people. Hubris and malfeasance vs resource constraints. The "Big Crash".

What stories do you tell yourself?

Peak oil just wasn't far enough along to have that much of an impact.

Wrong - US peak oil was in the 70's. From that time onward our energy cost us much more - not in nominal dollars per barrel but in the costs of empire and the military to secure foreign oil at cheap nominal dollars - and we ran up a huge debt to do it. Debt became part of our culture as it never was before (when we had such an abundance of everything), leading to the fraud on a massive scale you describe. It turns out that you cannot have 5% of the world's population using 25% of the resources without a cost.

The party ended years ago, but we were too drunk to see it and too drunk to notice the crooks coming in to pick our wallets. But the crooks are always there, and they were not the cause, just a symptom.

That's the story I see.

Good points. I would just add that we could stay drunk, and maintain the delusion that there would always be more of everything, because the world had not yet peaked and we were taking an out-sized piece of that ever expanding pie. When oil production stopped growing, the vast amount of fraud--that could be covered up as long as the ponzi bubbles could be kept inflated by rising energy availability--all came to the surface and collapse on themselves.

The head line "Global downturn cushioned peak oil impact" struck me as a bit narrow minded or callow or both. The global downturn crushed hundreds of millions of people economically, so it's like saying, "The destruction of millions of people and of many entire countries cushioned the impact for some of the rest of us."

Agreed - the world peak had such an effect because we spent 35 years getting ever further over extended and vulnerable. The cause gets assigned to the last thing that happened, but Wall St. fraud has been going on for over one hundred years, and the same (valid) complaints about Wall St. owning the government were heard at the end of the 19th century too. That kind of exploitation is what the US is about - it just hurt more because we were more vulnerable.

Until peak energy, we are by definition, growing - that's peak ENERGY not peak oil.

'The economy' may grow without standards of living growing generally though, they may even shrink as the economy grows. As resources are shifted toward energy production, those resources become relatively more expensive, but rate of resource use may still increase. As long as it is feasible to grow energy ( and other resource ) extraction I don't see growth ending.

Defining economy size as rate of energy and resource use is open to the objection that by being more efficient more can be done with less, so why shouldn't that 'more' be counted as growth?

Generally doing more with less gets you a bigger piece of the pie. As the economy shrinks, keeping your piece of the pie will require doing more with less.

Basically, during growth of the pie, it's better to turn on the afterburners and waste fuel to get to the pie first, rather than try to get there with remaining fuel in your tanks. If you do that, someone else will eat your lunch and you'll be left at the finish line with no pie and only half a tank of fuel.

When pie in the hand is worth more than pie in the sky, then you concentrate on keeping in the race until the other competitors drop out. It's like a bicycle 'slow race' where the last one to the finish line wins and you can't touch the ground with your feet. You have to go forward to keep your balance ( if you're 8 ), and competitors drop out as they try too aggressively to conserve speed. You scavenge pie from competitors that have dropped out, not race to find new pie. Less consumers of pie = concentration of wealth = more efficient in terms of energy/resource use.

"doing more with less"

And what is it exactly that we are "doing" more of? Of course, we could sit around swapping money back and forth and not use many resources while engaging in "economic activity." But most "doing more" means destroying more of the environment in one way or the other.

As for "Less consumers of pie = concentration of wealth = more efficient in terms of energy/resource use", it is hard to imagine a situation where we have more concentration of wealth than we have now.

As I posted above, I think it is quite likely--as people realize that capitalism is dead and what's left is morally repugnant, and that there will be less and less forever--that they will insist that no one has an over-sized piece of the pie, and that no on be left without any pie.

In the past, nearly everybody imagined that they would be the next millionaire or billionaire, so there was no strong movement to limit the amount of wealth concentration. But as everyone starts to see themselves at on the verge of joining the ranks of the poorest, toleration for great wealth concentration will dissolve, and the rights of the poor will be a high priority.

And what is it exactly that we are "doing" more of? Of course, we could sit around swapping money back and forth and not use many resources while engaging in "economic activity." But most "doing more" means destroying more of the environment in one way or the other.

Getting more and destroying it. The purpose of life is to turn usable energy into unusable energy by increasing entropy. It turns out that the best way of being responsible for the most entropy is to turn all you can into more biomass similar to yourself as quickly as you can. As you fall apart ( as every gram of biomass is guaranteed to ) the energy used to create it becomes unusable and entropy is increased. Consumption that is not necessary to creating more biomass is inefficient and will be minimized unless it provides a competitive advantage such as speed.

"The purpose of life is to turn usable energy into unusable energy by increasing entropy."

Well, I guess that age-old question has now been definitively answered--thank goodness I don't have to spend any more time wondering about the purpose of life.

It would be a more helpful answer, perhaps, if what follows the above were not utter gibberish.

People's perception is often colored by their goals, and people's goals are born of their wants and fears. Of course the purpose/goal of 'turning usable energy into unusable energy' seems unattractive/unromantic artistically destitute etc, but it also seems clear that all the things to which people attach 'good' attributes ( like life on earth including people and the good and bad aspects of human nature ) are also somehow in service to this end or artifacts of processes in service to this end.

Death and entropy are similar. This goal doesn't avoid them, but is rushing toward them, and human nature doesn't include instinctual pleasure in destruction. Stipulating this goal doesn't provide comfort or pleasure which gives it the ring of truth - it's not wishful thinking.

Only when one notices that one's wants and desires are already in service to this goal does one begin to realize that it is not only encompasses all that is cold but also all that is warm. And there is no prescription about what one's behavior SHOULD be inherent in this goal. It's useful only in understanding what one's goals ARE and why they already ARE that way. It's an observation and doesn't inherently have an agenda.

Life having a 'purpose' and knowing what it is it makes it possible to reason about life as if it were mechanistically pursuing the goal without life needing to be actually intelligent or intelligently designed. It's useful. It clears the fog.

Ends not in service of the goal tend to become irrelevant over time. It doesn't make the pursuit less relevant to the present, nor does it guarantee that the ends will not continue to be pursued if the process that causes the end to be pursued is helpful toward the ultimate goal of turning low entropy energy into high entropy energy. Consider mutations. Most mutations are reduce fitness, yet exist in the present, and the process that produces mutations, being essential to adaptation will continue to produce mutations into the future.

As for moral repugnancy, nature doesn't have morals, individuals do. Observations are inherently neutral. They can be correct or incorrect, but have no moral color.

The article throws some effort into trying to make peak oilers look like chicken littles. The claim about exponential price increases in the first decade of the millenium is a lie. I have never seen such a claim made by peak oilers and in addition it has been mostly true anyway. Prices are over $80 even after the massive 2008 downturn. The price was around $11 in 1998 and the Economist was boldly predicting $5. How about taking a poke at that instead of burning a straw man.

Peak oil just wasn't far enough along to have that much of an impact.

If the 2005 peak holds, then the "crisis" occurred about two-three years later.

And fuel prices "just happened" to reach all-time highs at the onset of the crash.

And historically, high oil prices have preceded recessions.

And please notice that I did NOT say that "fraud" had nothing to do with it.

I'm a coincidence theorist: the fraud coincided with the peak. They BOTH have their teeth in our flanks.

my very simplistic take on it:

Banking schemes (fraud) were already occuring.
These rely on ever growing mortgages and home values etc...
Which relied on more people demanding/buying/building homes
which relied on low interest rates.

Peak oil happened (crude if not all liquids)
Prices started rising (not just fuel, but food and everything else)
Greenspan reacted by increasing Fed funds rate by a 1/4 point every time they met.

Increasing the fed funds rate "popped" the housing bubble and the whole deck of cards came down.

To me it was two things - a bubble, and a pin. Peak oil (or the bumpy plateau causing price spikes) is the pin. The pin is still there and its getting sharper and slowly moving closer ready to pop the next economic bubble too. Eventually there wont be room for a bubble at all and the concept of permanent growth will be forced to an end.

I don't buy that bubbles are necessary for growth.

All of our ff generated growth has been a bubble (or a ponzi scheme, if you prefer). It is now starting to deflate.

Our bubble economy -- DotCom, Real Estate, Hey, What's Next? -- is what you get when fiat money chases fewer goods and fewer real investment opportunities. Expect the bubbles to keep coming until the guys with pitchforks burn the printing presses. Stay tuned....

Here's my even more simplistic take on it:

We have a debt-based money system. Money is created by borrowing, so the borrower must first assure the banker that the schedule of regular payments can be met. Money accrues not to those requiring funding for innovative solutions to problems, but to those who can convincingly promise no surprises.

Over time this has led to a Tainter-esque rigidity in the money system. We build a Burger King next door to the MacDonalds because it seems likely that it will capture half of the customer base. We build more houses because its a big market that can be described statistically and shows that prices always increase.

Then something comes along (pick your favorite peak) that makes the future hard to predict. People no longer behave the way the 20 year business plan / mortgage said they would. People miss payments and financial panic follows.

Its easy to say 'get out of debt, pay cash', but we can't all do that because one person's cash is others' debt, and hoarding will feed the panic. It is also difficult to save for a purchase, when everyone around you is bidding prices up with borrowed money (ie.. real estate).

Many people have suggested permanent money systems. These require people to aquire all the resources required for a project before it is built. The motive then shifts from predictability to materials and energy efficiency.

my very simplistic take on it:

I suspect that the machinery which forms our civilization is a complex one with many gears all turning at once:

1) 1960 was not just the dawn of the Sputnik/Apollo age but also the dawn of the all-kids-go-to-college and get MBA's age

2) MBA's were taught to just turn the mechanical cranks of the maths given to them and to not question the underlying fundamentals (only TOD readers dare to question fundamentals)

3) The churning math gears pointed to greater profits through job out-sourcing, exponential mortgage sales growth and continuance of the drill-baby-drill BAU model

4) They (the MBA wunderkind) did as the math gears told them to do. They do not understand today why accusatory fingers are pointing their way. We merely followed orders. We did as the Market told us to do.

All true, but concurrent with the oil production peak we had the mother of all property bubbles pop, said bubble blown largely by bankers' fraud as is finally coming out into the light.

That bubble started to collapse before the 2008 spike got moving in a serious way, and probably contributed significantly to the height of the price spike as money ran from real-estate to commodities.

Fraud, and the collapse of the bubble blown by that fraud was the primary factor this time. Peak oil was just an aggravating factor.

Fraud, in the sense of granting loans to people who clearly had no chance of paying off those loans, was certainly a factor. However, debt fueled bubbles are a feature not a bug of our system. Fractional reserve banking, as currently practiced, will inevitably lead to bubbles and I don't see any reason why this won't happen again. Eventually, bankers gotta loan and loan to the max if they are to continue the life to which they have become accustomed.

Which gives a sufficient how and why to explain the current predicament. It looks a lot like the Japanese property bubble crash.

Peak Oil is just salt in the wound so far.

Peak C&C was '05; in '06, people were starting to eat their seed corn..

Apr 20, 2006 11:16 pm
Texans Going To Pawn Shops To Get Extra Gas $$

"Some of the construction people tell us they are having to pawn their tools to buy gas, but when they pawn their tools they can't go out and work in the construction business 'cause their tools are in pawn. So it kind of a catch-22," Costner said.

Quest For Gas Money Leads To Pawnshops (Orlando)
As Fuel Prices Climb, Drivers Hock What They Can To Fill Up.
May 03, 2006|

"This morning there was a contractor who pawned his tool set to go out to a job," said Jack Mulvihill of Action Pawnbrokers, in the 3700 block of N. Andrews Avenue in Oakland Park.

"Many of the roofers in town are pawning roofing tools for gas for their trucks. We had a teacher pawn a television set."

Yes. Funny how when the "little people" were suffering early on because of peak-oil-induced high prices, there was no "crisis" in the media babble.

But when the financial elite started crapping out they couldn't shut up about it.

Those stories go back as far as I have ever seen.

People overextend themselves and have trouble paying for stuff. It was happening before 2006, too. It just wasn't "newsworthy" then because it was just people digging their own graves without Evil Oil Companies to blame for their trouble.

Where was the money going that they needed for fuel? To pay off credit cards that the bankers had helpfully handed out like candy at a Halloween party for the previous 20 years?

I still blame the bankers.

Jeff Rubin of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and many contributors to the energy bulletin (.net) have also been saying this for quite a while. Kunstler's been daring to say it too... for many years.

While I can certainly see the power of these shared narratives in forming opinion, such as the tales being spun within the tea party movement, I tend to think that the various huge financial bubbles that have been blown and burst post US peak are related to declines in net energy, energy per capita, and energy quality.

That may only be a bit different than saying high fuel cost sank suburban and exurban borrowers below their viability threshold ,but the RE bubble did artificially contribute to buyers sense of wealth and their actual ability to borrow up or cash out on same way beyond what legitimate practices and a true energy accounting would have allowed.

My contention is that peak oil also necessitated such financial games in the first place and that politicization of the process allowed bankers intentionally and greedily to exploit these trends for short term profit. To be sure willing participants can be found all around when free money is the draw. Currently government borrowing and cheap credit to banks will perpetuate the bubble and the story we are being told to buy into is that the economy can truly recover on this basis.

It's another expanding balloon inside a box made of needles and pins.

[The] "Bankers did it." End of story.

And we, your government, are here to help you by rooting out this evil-doing which oh so innocent us had no knowledge of --even though we did repeal Glass Steagal and even though we did always praise the wise powers of the "Free" (for the looting) Market


Another, "too cute for words" picture:


Call this one: Goldie Sachs and her Congressional Guard Dog

(or mash in with your own caption)

Meet the Real Villain of the Financial Crisis
It was Congress that spread the politically convenient gospel of home ownership, despite data and testimony showing that much of what was going on had little to do with putting people in homes.

Of course here on TOD, we need to back up our cutesy pictures with real meat.
Check out the above linked NY Times editorial. It points the fickle finger of blame back at those who today have their fingers proudly outstretched to point at the next guy.

So, that sounds like an attempted argument to vote against present congressional incumbents in the next electoral cycle. Hmmm, wonder who that might benefit? Could it be the competing congresscritters who repealed Glass-Steagal?

westexas - would you mind reposting that graph you made of texas and north sea production superimposed? i was hoping to steal it for a transition town website. actually, if you or someone else here has the graph where it shows us lower 48 production, then alaska production makes a sort of outcrop on the downslope, bringing us almost back up to the lower 48 peak before declining. that's another good one. thanks in advance.

Texas & North Sea peaks lined up with each other (Texas in blue):


And this link has several useful charts:


Incidentally, check out the comments by Scott Tinker, Texas State Geologist, in the linked articles uptop. You have to appreciate the irony of the State Geologist, of a state whose production is down by close to three fourths from an early Seventies peak, speaking in a state, Oklahoma, whose production is also down by close to three-fourths from an early Seventies peak, more or less claiming that Peak Oil is a figment of our imaginations. To once again quote the matriarch from the remake of "Sabrina," "Do I look stupid?"

'Easy' oil is gone, say speakers (uptop)

Sometime in the '70s, the state geologist of Pennsylvania warned that the birthplace of oil was about to run out of the black gold.

"That was the 1870s," the Texas state geologist, Scott Tinker, said Monday, delivering the punch line in a joke about the oil industry's short-sightedness.

yup, those are the ones. nachos garcias (many thanks).

Here is another that includes our increased reliance on natural gas liquids (NGLs) to make our oil production numbers look better.


And this one is the same graph with the oil import added to it to show the disconnect between US production and consumption in the post-peak (US) era.


Greek bond rated as junk by S&P (BBB-)


Oil down Euro down. Markets down.

Gold up.

"We at Goldman Sachs use our position as a market maker to screw as many people as possible. This strategy allows us to maximize our personal bonuses with the full backing of the US taxpayer in the event we screw ourselves."

Yes and ,as you allude to, the fear of contagion is setting in. Even the first of 129 billion in this weeks US treasury auction did not benefit so much from the expected flight to quality.

Greece 2 year bond is now over 15 per cent and they are functionally unable to borrow, pay it's gov pensions ,maintain services, despite bailouts on the way. A cripplingly steep yield curve prevents it.


Greece's two-year government bond yield soared to nearly 15 percent on Tuesday, meaning any fresh borrowing from the debt market would be ruinously expensive for Greece. Trade in its bonds has almost halted as bid/ask spreads have ballooned to prohibitive levels.


Investors in Greek bonds may get back between 30 percent and 50 percent of the value of their holdings should the government default or restructure its debt, S&P said.

Portugal was also downgraded 2 notches by S&P. And several other countries are being considered. Debt based economies are not faring well. Door #1 Default (restructure, QE, services cut to nil) #2 Government shuts down #3 Bailout (not possible for large economies) Of course folks at TAE have foreseen this and people here have been talking about this sovereign debt crisis as an inevitable outcome of peak oil for quite some time.

According to zFacts.com, the US will pass through $12,800,000,000,000.00 ($12.8 trillion} in Federal debt in 2 hours. As housing begins a second fall because $14 billion in Federal subsidies end April 30, the mortgage derivatives that the FED took in return of money to banks may decrease in value adding to the effective Federal debt. As mortgage foreclosures increase, Freddie and Fanny debts will increase and that also should be added to the Federal debt. If austerity is called for in Greece and Portugal today, when will austerity be called for here?

Yup, that's the elephant in the room. The Fed ,in buying up 1.3 trillion in mortgage backed securities, has set itself up as the provider for the loans and the supporter for the price. 73% of all the deals sold in the last year were backed by our government. Then you have the first time home buyer credit of course.

Like you say with these programs expiring we will probably see several things happen. Rates are likely to rise, number of sales will fall, and more importantly values will decline. That hits tax receipts , employment, and adds more inventory to a market already bulging at the shadows.

This in combination with the sovereign debt woes for the consumer nations will mean the next round of bailouts will be tougher to finance until we finally get to the position that we find Greece in today. For awhile there will more flies on their piles of dung than on ours and so floating 129 billion additional t-bills, like we are doing this week, is no big deal, until it is.

Well given what we are talking here this elephant is going to provide us with plenty more attractant that no buyer in the world can shovel out. This fear of a larger default, the CDS implicatioms, and lenders balking is the contagion worry IMHO, it's spooking the markets today, but that's not where the biggest impact will be felt. Yes austerity is coming one way or the other, we should have transitioned when we had the chance.

A friend of mine sent me this:

Saudi oil chief fears domestic risk to exports

“We estimate that, through improved efficiency, while maintaining the same economic growth, the increase in energy demand can be cut in half,” Mr Falih said in a recent speech released by Aramco on Monday. “If no efficiency improvements are achieved, and the business is as usual, the oil availability for exports is likely to decline to less than 7m barrels per day by 2028, a fall of 3m barrels per day, while the global demand for our oil will continue to rise.”

Actually, Sam's best case for 2028 is not too far below 7 mbpd. Looking that the following net export chart for Saudi Arabia, it looks like his best case for 2028 is about 5 mbpd. Actual and projected Saudi Net Oil Exports (data through 2006 are shown):

The projected 2005-2010 net export decline rate is shown.

And a related article:

Saudi Arabia global oil exports to wane post-2010

"Saudi Arabia is running out of oil and Ghawar field will exhaust itself in the end," says Kryuchenkov. "It has been producing oil since 1948, which is unprecedented for any field and still accounts for around 55–60% of exports. The decline will accelerate from here and I think these are more immediate concerns than its consumption growing. As a rule of thumb in the oil industry, Saudi Arabia is seen as the following: a 5% decline in production and a 2% rise in consumption is approximately 15% decline in net oil exports. However, this is not the case just yet."

I would reword the title of this article to read as follows: Saudi Arabia global oil exports to wane post-2010, after being below 2005 net export rate for five years

It's interesting that even the Saudis are beginning to acknowledge Net Export Math, as illustrated in the simplistic ELM. Given a production decline in an oil exporting country, if they don't cut their consumption at the same rate that their production falls (or cut consumption more than the production decline rate), the resulting net export decline rate will exceed the production decline rate, and the net export decline will tend to accelerate with time.

The whole foods article does not mention peak oil anywhere in how he talks about food supplies in other regions.

I got a little irked toward the third page, when he started talking down to the local food movement people. It almost seemed he wanted to continue business for the Monsantos of the world as usual. Call it a piece leaning toward telling us everything is fine we can keep on fueling the spread of the Western way of living.

In Africa, where many foods are still purchased in open-air markets (often uninspected, unpackaged, unlabeled, unrefrigerated, unpasteurized, and unwashed), an estimated 700,000 people die every year from food- and water-borne diseases, compared with an estimated 5,000 in the United States.

Likely what we are seeing is the poor water conditions not the open-air markets. We have them in farmer stands all over our coutry and still have only 5,000 deaths, so the open market idea is not the killer here, it is the lack of clean drinking water. If you can't wash your food off with clean water, you can't have safe food.

There is another use of slippery wording when he defends using FF feedstock for fertilizer, because without it he says they would only have animal manure to use for it. Several plants can be grown to help make soil more fertile.

Blaiming the US for wanting to spend less FF to live life, as if that would be a problem. And avoiding other issues, while not even mentioning that the Green Revolution added 3 billion people to the world.

It's cool here today, not as warm as it has been, the article just made me warm up a bit.

Basically he seems to be yelling at the Organic movement. Which I am not really a member of, but it still makes me think he is not peak oil aware, and certainly is padding his logic to fit his thinking.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future, being peak oil aware.

"he wanted to continue business for the Monsantos"

I had him pegged as a tool for Monsanto after about the first page. As you point out, most of his points are cleverly constructed, but ultimately quite flimsy, lies or half lies.

Maybe I was in a daze, or maybe its my policy to believe the best of people till they prove me otherwise.

I guess I should have clipped more little passages out and torn it apart more.

Peak oil haters have spawned permaculture/tree hugger haters. But then again I wonder if he is a Republican. best not to decide for or against that till we ask him.

Most of my family is Republican, but they also know about peak oil, climate change, and don't much like the Tea Party folks, and are tree huggers to some extent or other.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

I googled Paarlberg and got more than I can comfortably ingest and all I need. He seems to be beyond just being a simple repug IMO .... more like an Elite Guard. He's bigtime invested in Monsanto-ism and waves the Science shibboleth with great assurance of its rectitude.

check this out for starters: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/experts/934/robert_paarlberg.html

and this: http://www.amazon.com/Starved-Science-Biotechnology-Being-Africa/dp/0674...

What africa needs is better water resources, better governments that care for the people more than money. There are ways to feed the people if they had access to better tools, more water purification products, and got back to how they used to farm before all the strife that has racked them from HIV to Genocides.

Just throwing GMO/seeds at them won't help them because most of those can't be kept for next years crops and will if the rules are such like they are in the West make them slaves to the makers of the seeds.

I won't add him to my reading list.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future, where the seeds of change are already found in nature.

I'd just like to add that one of the greatest problems of most African nations is trying to find the resources to educate their populations even rudimentarily. In some countries, the average age of the population is below 25 years, meaning that as much as 1/3 or more of the total population is of school age. We in the "west" complain about having to pay school taxes for the 1/8th of our populations at school age, from a much larger per-capita GNP. They're often in a viscious circle of not being able to educate their people well enough that the women will gain sufficient control of their reproductive lives to reduce the birth rate because they haven't been able to do so in the past. Combine that nut with the fact that many of their educated people who should be working as teachers are lured away to work in developed countries, and the remainder are hired away by local branches of multi-nationals to sell running shoes, jeans (or weapons) to their neighbours.

"compared with an estimated 5,000 in the United States."
bleep'n hayhead, add four zeros and by my "estimation" you'd still be short


the US has created the only diet in human history that will actually MAKE you unhealthy. Plenty of studies out there, look for the ones not financially backed by cargill, unilever ,adm, tyson, monsanto, ect ect ect.

I'm still kickin' around the Mcdialysis Co. One on every corner around the country. Any one want to back me?

LOL, Sorry I have sank my funds in the Taco Insulin-shot stands with the gravity fed bags of Liver de-tox.

They are on the other corners your places aren't and we need some new Big box store for this to all make sense.

Maybe Hearts Replaced Here otherwise known as HRH the big box store with extra wide MRI machines for sale.

Is this called sick humor?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future, in a healthy way.

End of the line for the Bamboo Railroad.

"For decades the precarious bamboo platforms have ferried people and goods in the nation's hinterlands. But increasingly there is little room, or need, for them....

"They worried that the bamboo would break, but bamboo is very strong," he says. "If I can carry eight cows, I can certainly carry a few fat foreigners.""


Me thinks that we should learn something from them. And that the Norries will be back sooner than they in the government think.

But it goes to show you that the will to survive is strong.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Australia Suspends Emissions Trading Proposal

I'm not surprised but I think it is dishonest and weak. The Rudd government was elected on two major promises; to repeal union busting legislation and to sign on for Kyoto. Part of that deal I believe was putting a price on CO2 emissions. Rudd could have set up public acceptance with the home insulation scheme which was botched, causing several deaths and many house fires.

The planned emissions trading scheme was weak to the point of irrelevance. 5% CO2 cuts by 2020 are not enough: we need ~40%. Major polluters were offered generous compensation eg to switch from brown coal to gas. But they had 20 years or so to see it coming so many think they deserve nothing. Meanwhile coal exports are booming with China rapidly going from a minor to a major customer.

(Strong language warning) I suggest the Australian government is a liar, a hypocrite and a carbon pimp. Each Australian causes 20 tonnes of net CO2 emissions a year but high exports of coal and LNG means Australian fossil carbon is in over a billion tonnes a year of CO2. That's 3% of world emissions from 0.3% of world population. Australia's major river system now depends on freaky and unpredictable storms in the headwaters. You'd think it would be both a moral obligation and in Australia's own interest to help lead the climate change movement.

Glass half full Boof - Bob Brown called the ETS 'the ten billion dollar payday for polluters' and now the Grattan Institute report http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2010/s2879611.htm has priced the waste at $20bil (Greens unrealistically moderate again). Sure we need to stop screwing with our life support system, but the corporate welfare would have bankrupted the country! Hopefully Rudd will opt for a cheaper scheme of tarring and feathering the polluters lobbyists.

Euro/Dollar parity? On the joys of coming home

Update from the early morning hours: The nervousness in Europe is almost palpable, one bit of the wrong kind of rumor could send everyone looking for the exits.

The key word is contagion, as more and more Euro zone nations are afraid of catching the Greek flu, and Portugal is showing symptoms.

Could we be looking at U.S. dollar/Euro parity? It may sound like a stretch, but people forget that it was not that many years ago that a dollar would buy a Euro:

Interestingly, Greece and Portugal combined are only 5% of the GDP of the Euro zone, but the problem is that no one has any idea how much debt has been built like a house of cards on top of the 5% and which banks may be left carrying the bag.

The Germans are essentially being asked to carry the burden for trying to keep the legs under the Euro, but surely the German citizenry may have some doubts about how much German money should be poured into Greece and Portugal, which the German electorate surely feels very little in common with.

Of note is also the rebound in Japanese bonds (!) Japan is a nation with high debt and essentially no home natural resources, even less per capita than the Europeans! One commentator made the astounding statement this morning that Asia was "essentially immune" from the Euro contagion, because "China is the engine of growth here, and as long as China doesn't slow down, we are stable." (!!!)

Ahhh, China, who now becomes "the big engine that could"...maybe, is tagged as the "don't you blow it or we're all screwed" king of Asia in the same that Germany "the little engine that could'...maybe, has become for Europe. And the U.S., having already been slapped on our ass may be able to step aside and watch it all hit the fan from a distance....well....maybe. The U.S. has pretty much married itself to every region of the world, betting on the skill and talent of everyone in the world, except for the aging U.S. citizen of course, who can pretty much look out for themselves it is presumed.

As for me, I like those TVA bonds, insured credit union CD's and nice old southern homes more everyday...:-) Sometimes happiness may be in your own backyard.


Are humans smarter than yeast?

That's the basic question posed and answered in this editorial piece:

The fact that we are ignoring the thousands of scientists who warn of rising flood waters due to global warming, dust storms and mass famine due to excessive cultivation and overpopulation, and untold damage to our ecosystem as thousands of species go extinct, proves a terrible point: As a society, we are nearly as stupid as our bosses and public officials.

Some more vignettes from same editorial:

"All too often, bosses and officials are insecure. Worried more about losing face than doing a good job, they instinctively reject anyone and anything who threatens their prestige. Better to lose a war than to lose face."

"As long as business schools crank out automatons and companies are willing to hire them, as long as voters reward the smarmiest and godliest over the straight-talkers, as long as playing it safe (i.e. boring) is valued more than taking chances, our society is going to keep screwing up. And it’ll all be perfectly avoidable."