Drumbeat: May 9, 2010

David Strahan: Oil production hit for decades after BP spill - A deep sea drilling moratorium will leave global supplies depleted just as demand gets greater

If a ban is unlikely, deepwater drilling will be far more tightly regulated, as happened after the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988. Then British North Sea production slumped for several years as safety equipment and procedures were upgraded, before recovering. The difference is that many forecasters now predict a global oil supply crunch by the middle of this decade, so any pause in US deepwater drilling could have magnified consequences.

The analysts Newedge USA say if the moratorium on new drilling, announced by President Barack Obama after the accident drags on, oil supply could suffer a shortfall of up to one mb/d by 2016 to 2018. Another analyst said: "They wouldn't be able to offset depletion with new drilling". With forecasters predicting peak oil in 2015, this could only make matters worse.

OPEC Sec-Gen says market oversupplied, urges compliance

DOHA (Reuters) - OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri said on Sunday the global oil market was oversupplied, calling for greater compliance among members of the group.

Badri said one of the main reasons for the drop in oil prices was speculative play.

"OPEC already took action in December 2008 to reduce 4.2 million barrels (a day)," he told reporters.

"We just have to abide by that ... I am calling for more compliance."

Oil Demand Rising This Year, Price Stable, Naimi Says

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil prices are stable and producers expect demand to rise in 2010, Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said.

“Oil demand is very good,” he said in an interview at a conference in the Qatari capital Doha today. “It is going to increase this year.”

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members should abide by oil-production levels approved in 2008 even as demand increases, said Abdalla Salem El-Badri, the group’s secretary general. Compliance with the production levels is at 51 percent, he told reporters.

Gulf Arab states unfazed by oil price slump

DOHA (AFP) – Arab oil producers in the Gulf appeared unfazed on Sunday about a week-long slump in crude prices, insisting at an energy conference that there was no need for an extraordinary OPEC meeting.

"I am never worried," Ali al-Naimi, oil minister of OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, told reporters when asked if he was concerned about the sharp dip in oil prices last week.

Imagining a less-driven Florida

Outlying subdivisions have been especially hard hit and, with the toxic brew of crude oil spreading in the Gulf of Mexico, the cost of building a landscape to SUV dimensions is sadly apparent. Prudence and moderation, hardly an American strong suit, were exempt from the machinations that built these places. The lure of quick riches and property acquisition fueled a speculative madness that has left developers bankrupt, Realtors unemployed, construction workers on the dole, and homebuyers, many minorities and recent immigrants, atop foreclosure lists. The cycle of boom and bust is as endemic to Florida as sunshine; the state has recovered before but this time, Carl Hiaasen contends, "something radical must happen."

The Imminent Collapse Of Industrial Society

The collapse of modern industrial society has 14 parts, each with a somewhat causal relationship to the next. (1) Fossil fuels, (2) metals, and (3) electricity are a tightly-knit group, and no industrial civilization can have one without the others. The decline in fossil-fuel production is the most critical aspect of the collapse, and most of the following text will be devoted to that topic. As those three disappear, (4) food and (5) fresh water become scarce; grain and wild fish supplies per capita have been declining for years, water tables are falling everywhere, rivers are not reaching the sea. Matters of infrastructure then follow: (6) transportation and (7) communication ? no paved roads, no telephones, no computers. After that, the social structure begins to fail: (8) government, (9) education, and (10) the large-scale division of labor that makes complex technology possible.

The Coming Oil Price Shock

We need only to recap the experience of the 1970s and 1980s to understand why massive public national deficit financing of Keynesian-type spending to restore global economic growth will almost surely end with a 1970s style oil shock. That is oil price explosion, falling consumer confidence and corporate investment, falling economic growth, finance sector panic, competitive devaluation of world moneys and a catastrophic slump back into recession. Like the 1970s experience, the recession will be very inflationary.

BP Oil-Collection Chamber Clogs, Removed From Leaking Gulf Well

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc’s latest effort to prevent oil leaks from damaging wildlife and tourism on the U.S. coast are being stymied as cold and pressure a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico formed ice that clogged a containment device.

BP Spends $10 Million A Day on Oil Spill Clean - Up: Report

LONDON (Reuters) - BP Plc could be spending as much as $10 million a day on clean-up efforts after a giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, exceeding initial estimates, the Sunday Telegraph quoted Chief Executive Tony Hayward as saying.

We need balanced approach to energy, environment

It's easy and fashionable to turn indignant over offshore drilling when beaches, shrimp and the watermen's way of life are threatened by an oil industry that we all knew was evil anyway.

Then we hop in our cars, drive to our air-conditioned houses and kvetch that gasoline prices are up a dime. Just before the summer vacation driving season! Those so-and-so's are at it again.

We can't have it both ways. We should admit that we've made a deal with devil petroleum for now. Then we should wiggle out of the bargain with the least damage to our lifestyle.

Oil Now and in the Long Haul

It’s clear that the risks of pursuing offshore oil matter more to Americans the closer the petroleum deposits are to American camera crews. There were a lot of proponents of offshore drilling, including President Obama, when the spills were half a world away. Even the prospect of drilling off Alaska’s Arctic coast has largely been an abstraction; after all, that exploratory work is to take place in icy waters that few Americans will ever see.

Now, suddenly, there’s a sea change, with pro-drilling newspaper columnists and telegenic governors admitting they blew it and shifting their stances on sub-sea oil extraction in the face of weeks (which will become months) of withering headlines and video clips.

What's Next for U.S. Offshore Oil Drilling?

Can you hear that scurrying sound?

It’s the sound of expensive shoes scampering across the floor of BP’s legal department, as hordes of lawyers try to minimize the financial damage to the firm from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

U.S. Cites Shortage of Barriers to Contain Oil Spill

MOBILE, Ala.—U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander for the Deepwater Horizon incident, said Friday he isn't certain whether enough barriers designed to hold back oil exist to meet the pressing—and growing—need in the Gulf of Mexico.

In an interview, Adm. Allen said that private companies, local governments and states are all ordering the barriers, called boom, on their own, sapping the amount available for the federal response.

Ala. hopes makeshift locks keep seaport oil-free

MOBILE, Ala.—Officials at one of the nation's busiest ports are hoping that a simple wash-and-go system will keep out the oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Floating balls of tar already are showing up at the mouth of Mobile Bay. So authorities are setting up makeshift locks to scrub incoming ships.

Statoil Examining Snorre B Platform, Stavanger Aftenblad Says

(Bloomberg) -- Statoil ASA is investigating the stability of its Snorre B oil platform after Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority detected weaknesses at a similar structure, Stavanger Aftenblad reported, citing the authority.

Statoil has been asked to examine facilities that have a similar design to the company’s Gjoea platform, which experienced stability problems, the Stavanger-based newspaper said, citing petroleum authority spokeswoman Inger Anda.

Petroplus bullish on Delaware City refinery

Petroplus Holdings remains bullish on the pending purchase of the Delaware City refinery, citing widening margins for heavy crude oil that it would run through the complex.
Timeline: Decade of accidents and litigation at Delaware City refinery

China Huaneng to Build Gas-Cooled Nuclear Reactors in Shandong

(Bloomberg) -- China Huaneng Group, the country’s biggest power company, plans to start operating so-called high- temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors in the eastern province of Shandong in 2013, Vice President Huang Yongda told a climate conference in Beijing.

Siberian Coal Mine Explosion Kills 12, Traps 83 Underground

(Bloomberg) -- Two methane explosions at a Siberian coal mine killed 12 people and trapped 83 others, Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Australia - Molle St loses lane to cyclists

HOBART motorists are about to lose another lane to the bike boom.

The council plans to turn one lane of busy Molle St over to cyclists as a new survey has found rider numbers soaring.

A national census of cycling the "Super Tuesday" count to be released this week is expected to show cyclist numbers in Hobart has almost doubled in two years.

Here’s Your Chance to Drive a Chevrolet Volt

The Chevrolet Volt is the biggest thing to come out of General Motors in years, and the company wastes no opportunity to say the range-extended electric vehicle is a “game changer.” Four lucky readers will get a chance to judge for themselves by driving a Volt at Milford Proving Ground.

EPA, USDA team up to promote farm energy generation

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson recently announced a new interagency agreement promoting renewable energy generation and slashing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock operations. The agreement expands the work of the AgSTAR program, a joint EPA-USDA effort that helps livestock producers reduce methane emissions from their operations.

Water is the coming crisis

In some agricultural areas of California, the ground level has dropped 30 feet from excessive draining of aquifers.

The Colorado River no longer empties into the Gulf of California (Mexico) as all of its water has been taken by irrigation.

Decades from now, when there will be little snow pack in the Northwestern states, some large western rivers will have even less flow, and large U.S. hydroelectric facilities in the West will no longer supply much of their current electric power.

Overseas, the water shortages are worse.

Yemen’s aquifers around some of its cities are nearly gone.

Saudi Arabia is phasing out its wheat crop as its large aquifer will be nearly exhausted in a decade.

In upper China, the large fossil aquifer (which is not easily recharged) is being drawn down several meters a year.

Near Beijing, water wells go down a kilometer (0.6 mile) to get water for the city’s inhabitants.

It is even worse in India as many wells have gone dry and in some regions, half of the electricity is being used to pull up water for people and crops.

At 25, the Ozone Hole Still Matters

The hole in the ozone was discovered 25 years ago. Four years later, the Montreal Protocol went into effect -- in the following year, CFCs and other chemicals that strip away the ozone layer were phased out. It took just four years to put a major dent in a global air pollution problem, one that if left unchecked would've threatened the lives and well-being of every organism on the planet.

India minister says chance of climate deal 'remote'

BEIJING (AFP) – India's environment minister warned Sunday that there was little prospect of a breakthrough in efforts to forge an international agreement this year to fight global warming.

"So far as negotiations are concerned... the prospects of a breakthrough in 2010 are very, very remote," Jairam Ramesh told reporters during a visit to China, the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter.

U-Va. urged to fight subpoena of climate scientist's documents

RICHMOND -- Academics from across the country are rallying against a subpoena issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II seeking documents related to the work of a former University of Virginia climate scientist, even as the university says it is preparing to comply with Cuccinelli's request.

Varied Critics Assail Official Probing Climate Scientist

It’s no surprise to see Daniel Lashof of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Washington Post’s editorial board attack Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II for using subpoenas to seek files left at the University of Virginia years ago by Michael Mann, a leading — and embattled — climate scientist.

It is more remarkable to see Paul “Chip” Knappenberger join in. Knappenberger is a colleague of Patrick J. Michaels, the libertarian climate scientist whose consulting firm unabashedly peddles “advocacy science” (whatever that is) and who routinely challenges research pointing to a dangerous human influence on climate.

Rising sea levels threaten Taiwan

TUNGSHIH, Taiwan (AFP) – When worshippers built a temple for the goddess Matsu in south Taiwan 300 years ago, they chose a spot they thought would be at a safe remove from the ocean. They did not count on global warming.

Now, as the island faces rising sea levels, the Tungshih township is forced to set up a new temple nearby, elevated by three metres (10 feet) compared with the original site.

Green Fields: Ethanol industry seizes on oil spill to tout its benefits.

Ethanol critics compare oil spill to dead zone at mouth of the Mississippi:


Critics say the industry has a lot of nerve to cite the oil spill as a reason to support increased ethanol production when scientists have connected the industry to an existing dead zone in the Gulf. The dead zone has been linked to excess fertilizer that runs off cornfields and into the Mississippi River.

Now let me get this straight. Ethanol which uses only a fraction of the corn crop (about a third) is to blame for the dead zone. The other two thirds used for animal feed, export and high fructose corn syrup among other things doesn’t cause the dead zone. Nor does lawn fertilizer run off from the many big cities located in the Mississippi drainage area. And of course the Louisiana chemical industry located along the Mississippi is totally innocent when it comes to pollution and the dead zone.

There are 405 dead zones world wide:


Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world's oceans, the observed incidences of which have been increasing since oceanographers began noting them in the 1970s. These occur near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated. (The vast middle portions of the oceans which naturally have little life are not considered "dead zones".) The term can also be applied to the identical phenomenon in large lakes.

In March 2004, when the recently-established UN Environment Programme published its first Global Environment Outlook Year Book (GEO Year Book 2003) it reported 146 dead zones in the world's oceans where marine life could not be supported due to depleted oxygen levels. Some of these were as small as a square kilometre (0.4 mi²), but the largest dead zone covered 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 mi²). A 2008 study counted 405 dead zones worldwide.[1][2]

It is pretty obvious then that dead zones are not caused by ethanol since ethanol is produced big time in only a couple of countries and from corn mainly in the USA. So the dead zone argument against ethanol it totally bogus.

Also bogus is the comparison of the dead zone to the oil spill. The dead zone does not float around on the surface, pollute shorelines destroying beaches, killing sea birds and wreaking havoc wherever it goes. Dead zones and oil spills are completely different. They can not be compared. Some dead zones are naturally occurring. Oil spills are not despite what Rush Limbaugh says.

And in another unique view of the world of agriculture, John McCaine and a couple of other leading Republicans sign a letter to Obama challenging Visack on local foods:

The Obama administration's local-foods initiative is diverting money from rural areas to promote "locavore niche" food markets for well-to-do city dwellers, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and two Republicans on the Senate agriculture committee say.

"Unfortunately, this spending doesn't appear geared toward conventional farmers who produce the vast majority of our nation's food supply, but is instead aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets," the senators wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor.

With McCain, the other senators signing the letter were Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the senior Republican on the Senate agriculture committee, and Pat Roberts of Kansas.

Locavore is a new one for me. I think I like it.

Although I'm not a big subsciber to the "fate factor" some things seem to be coming together this Spring that appear rather serendipitous:

The Deepwater Horizon accident occured just as the Goldman Sachs/ Financial Reform thing was heating up. Funny that the first modern CDS was born from the aftermath of the Exxon-Valdez spill. I have seen very little coverage of the GS/financial reform issue since this blowout occured.

This incident happened a few days after an Energy Bill was back in the news and shortly after the Admin. issued its new offshore drilling policy.

From April 16:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday his administration would shift its focus to climate and energy legislation after finishing financial regulatory reform, which he said would take a few more weeks.

"This is one of these foundational priorities from my perspective that has to be done soon," Obama said, referring to energy legislation at a meeting of chief executives and other officials who make up part of his outside economic advisory board.


Also, with Peak Oil becoming more mainstream, will this oil blowout be blamed for rising prices/shortages rather than the fact of declining production worldwide (PO). Is this the event that opens the door to "breaking the bad news" to the people, allowing the Admin. to pursue an aggressive agenda of energy reform, climate change legislation, leading to sweeping financial reform, and agricultural/environmental reform as well? Obama must see an opportunity here.

Seen much coverage on Iraq/Afganistan lately?

Interesting times!

I don't agree there has been little discussion of financial reform lately. Unless one was in a cave since Thursday, since then there has been much discussion of Wall Street and the need to change the rules of the game (which I am all for).

I would not be surprised if there were some emergency financial regulations put in effect by order very soon, to be followed by a very public beating of Goldman Sachs and other firms. Having actually worked in a major Wall Street firm myself, and for a while in the regulatory area, their (GS) position is actually quite bad here. I don't get how anyone can defend them, and why they think they will skate out of this mess. They won't. The funny games are over.

Since we are in the middle of a financial panic (albiet less worse than 2008/2009), and an environmental disaster, Obama has all the 'cover' he needs now to discuss PO - that is if he wants to.

"I don't get how anyone can defend them, and why they think they will skate out of this mess. They won't. The funny games are over."

Their party may be over, but the mess remains, and it's a big one.

No doubt, mess would be an understatement. The best way to correct the problems of finance would be an orderly wind-down - not unlike the solution to PO is a controlled descent.

I don't expect either to happen.

well, my 2 cents is that we in the U.S. would benefit over the longer term by eliminating or greatly reducing the growing of corn for ethanol production and for production of HFSC. Producing ethanol from the inputs of corn and oil/natural gas is a low-EROEI effort which has the main value of keeping corn farmers and their supply networks paid. Americans consume way too many empty calories,and greatly reducing HFCS production and consumption would help us become healthier. We could also benefit from reducing our consumption of meats,much of which is corn-fed.

These reductions would allow the land to be kept fallow, allowing soils to slowly recover and reducing the fertilizer and pesticide/herbicide runoff burdens on the rivers and the oceans.

I understand that corn farmers and their suppliers and distributors would hate these ideas, as will politicians whose patronage to the same buys them votes. Money talks...

We understand that corn farming is not the only contributor to dead zones and other bad consequences, but the fact that is not the sole contributor does not let it off the hook.

Best hopes for less industrial (con-Agra/ADM) monoculture farming and for more diverse, nutritional foodstuffs.

I saw a minutes or so of a news lady on Fox yesterday interviewing an older lady (in her 60s?) about natural oils seeps n the GOM. The older lady on her couch (I know not what her credentials are) said that existing natural oils seeps made tar bars occasionally appear on certain GOM beaches, but said that these balls didn't stick around long and that besides, the bacterial who eat them sure do appreciate them. Then she said that scientists had discovered that the seas around these natural seeps were 'teeming with wildlife'. The anchor lady nodded her head and said 'and there you have it' or something to that effect and now to our next segment...

My initial thoughts were to characterize this as some lame attempt to tell everyone that everything is A-OK and that we all should return to our regularly scheduled BAU.

Does anyone on TOD have data as to the estimated magnitude of oil released into the GOM from these natural seeps? Would these seep areas make good candidates for drilling? Does wildlife really flourish around these seeps?

I don't know every darned thing (although I am working on it :), but somehow I don't think that the existence of natural seeps justifies or excuses blowouts such as DWH.

Some of the news coverage has mentioned the natural seeps, and said the DWH was several orders of magnitude larger.

Here's an article about natural oil seeps, from 2000:

Scientists Find That Tons Of Oil Seep Into The Gulf Of Mexico Each Year

Twice an Exxon Valdez spill worth of oil seeps into the Gulf of Mexico every year, according to a new study that will be presented January 27 at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

But the oil isn't destroying habitats or wiping out ocean life. The ooze is a natural phenomena that's been going on for many thousands of years, according to Roger Mitchell, Vice President of Program Development at the Earth Satellite Corporation (EarthSat) in Rockville Md. "The wildlife have adapted and evolved and have no problem dealing with the oil," he said.

As ever, the poison is in the dose.

Thank you for your reply and the link.

When the 'lets build nukes!' 'tude gets questioned, quite often you see 'hey, you get radiation every day - you are just afraid of fission plants for no good reason' postions.....just like the 'hey don't worry Mother Nature cleans up Oil' defense you see here.

Enough must buy such tripe because the tripe keeps getting repeated.

Thank you Leanan,

You are ever so correct when you say the dose makes the poison;this fundamental truth is generally overlooked in public discussions of environmental issues.

I have no idea whether the estimate of two Exon Valdeses per year natural seepage in the gulf is correct, but the seepage never results in a high concentration of oil in any given spot.

Therefore the local boita has been able to adapt to this trace amount of oil, and it is reason able to assume that many species (mostly microscopic) probably do actually benefit from it.

Of course this absolutely has nothing to do with the harm caused by a large spill over a short period of time.

I am beginning to think that this will be the worst single discrete environmental disaster in American history.Certainly it will be if the well is not somehow plugged in less than two more months.

The idea that the dose makes the poison is only partially true. There is increasing evidence that many biological systems are nonlinear in their sensitivity to various toxins.
This is especially so during the very early stages of life and development and can have profound effects on the later life of the organism. I do not know if oil or the other stuff that is coming out of the ground during this spill will have non-linear effects, but I would NOT discount the possibility.


With references to The Tooth Fairy, "bogus accounting", and the unsustainability of how we've lived for the last half century, I'd swear Friedman has been studying Kunstler. Is Tom beginning to "get it"?

Root Canal Politics

The meta-story behind the British election, the Greek meltdown and our own Tea Party is this: Our parents were “The Greatest Generation,” and they earned that title by making enormous sacrifices and investments to build us a world of abundance. My generation, “The Baby Boomers,” turned out to be what the writer Kurt Andersen called “The Grasshopper Generation.” We’ve eaten through all that abundance like hungry locusts.

Now we and our kids together need to become “The Regeneration” — one that raises incomes anew but in a way that is financially and ecologically sustainable. It will take a big adjustment.

We baby boomers in America and Western Europe were raised to believe there really was a Tooth Fairy, whose magic would allow conservatives to cut taxes without cutting services and liberals to expand services without raising taxes. The Tooth Fairy did it by printing money, by bogus accounting and by deluding us into thinking that by borrowing from China or Germany, or against our rising home values, or by creating exotic financial instruments to trade with each other, we were actually creating wealth.

Dick Lawrence

Fantastic article Dick, thanks for posting it. However I was saddened to hear of the death of the Tooth Fairy.

“The Baby Boomers,” turned out to be what the writer Kurt Andersen called “The Grasshopper Generation.” We’ve eaten through all that abundance like hungry locusts.

That hits the nail on the head. I will have to remember that one.

After 65 years in which politics in the West was, mostly, about giving things away to voters, it’s now going to be, mostly, about taking things away. Goodbye Tooth Fairy politics, hello Root Canal politics.

But they are rioting in Greece and will riot in any other country that declares the Tooth Fairy dead. The people voted themselves and early retirement and lots of other goodies from the government and dammit they intend to keep all those goodies. After all, what's the point of voting if you cannot vote yourself an easy life with early retirement?

Ron P.

So, continuing "A Bug's Life" analogy...if the Baby Boomers are the "Grasshopper Generation", this makes all the subsequent generations the "Ant Generation". See Greece for supporting evidence.

Locusts are a common enough metaphor there may not be a link, but Gandhi did invoke the image way back when, too:

God forbid that India should ever take to industrialisation after the manner of the west," he said. "The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom [UK] is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.

Locusts are a common enough metaphor

Yea, and Americans are so powerful that they are the only nation to wipe out locusts. Yup. Americans killed the American Locust.

USA! USA! Drill Bayyyybeeeee Drill! Spend! Spend!

Looks like we will have a bunch of bored and broke little ants in the US this summer.


A summer job drought for youth

The job situation is starting to look better for grownups. But college and high school kids could be in for a long, disappointing summer.

While Friday's employment report showed employers adding 290,000, the biggest jump in four years, unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds stands at nearly 20% heading into this summer. That's almost doubled from 2007, the last summer before the recession, when it averaged just over 10%.

"As far as summer jobs go, this is going to be the worst year to try to land a job since the Depression," said Heidi Shierholz, labor economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.

The (major) government jobs programs will likely start appearing between 2013 and 2015, is my guess.

I am 100% for this as long as the gov jobs program is for building increased public transportation, alternative energy, and local food production, even if this comes out from the taxpayers pocketbooks.

I fear the jobs program will be marching off to a foreign war to protect the empires "interests" as defined by Sarah Palin. Don't laugh. I work with working class types in large cities, and live in a conservative rural farming community, and they can’t wait for the chance to voter her in. I remember a similar trend back when Reagan was running. Were due. Every country eventually has it’s Hitler, Napoleon, Stalin, etc., to hasten the ride to the bottom. Wheeeee!

If you look at the numbers of people (~70%) who believe that she is unfit to be President, there is no way she could ever win.

Poll finds most Americans are unhappy with government

There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House.

I see her as nothing more than a grifter - trying to scam the system for her own personal benefit.

Is there any politician that isn’t a grifter for personal gain? Being from a very politically connected family from the 11th ward in Chicago I’ve never met one who wasn’t. What were Obama’s poll numbers two years before his election? Many of his own supporters did not feel he had a chance. Would he have won if the housing market did not implode, the banking crisis did not erupt, and Hilary Clinton’s strategist had not had such an awful campaign strategy? Never say never. I never believed people would people would elect a former Death Valley Days actor and mediocre former governor from California. I never believed a former drunk with an incurious intellect could get elected. Stuff happens. Obama could still have the economy blow up in his face. When that happens it will be the one who promises the American way of life can continue who will get elected. Never underestimate the gullibility of the American electorate.

Somebody should tell the kids then...I work at ground level with a firm that employs a fair number of teens, both higher schoolers and post high school grads, and our biggest problem is retention. They will take the training, be ready to work and then essentially "no show" out, as we call it, coming to work so seldom, late constantly, leaving early constantly until we simply have to let them go. If there is one aspect of the job they don't like they are GONE.

Our firm offers the opportunity for local community college kids to stay in the community if they do not want or are unable to move to a bigger college yet, and get up to bachelors level at an accredited college...we have had some go this route and are now making more money than anyone in their community for their age (22 to 25 years old. But few take the opportunity. They get tired, or annoyed or bored after a few weeks on months and seem to assume they can find something better. At street level, all indications are that we are still far from the bottom as of this time.


Hi, Dick. Friedman has been waking up bit by bit in the last few years. I use one of his quotes on a course description page:

What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

His opinion piece above quotes an Onion story that sums it up nicely (notice Kunstler's salad shooters term getting into the vernacular):

FENGHUA, China — Chen Hsien, an employee of Fenghua Ningbo Plastic Works Ltd., a plastics factory that manufactures lightweight household items for Western markets, expressed his disbelief Monday over the “sheer amount of [garbage] Americans will buy. Often, when we’re assigned a new order for, say, ‘salad shooters,’ I will say to myself, ‘There’s no way that anyone will ever buy these.’ ... One month later, we will receive an order for the same product, but three times the quantity. How can anyone have a need for such useless [garbage]? I hear that Americans can buy anything they want, and I believe it, judging from the things I’ve made for them,” Chen said. “And I also hear that, when they no longer want an item, they simply throw it away. So wasteful and contemptible.”

More commentary about Friedman's piece from meltdownblog.com:

  • Any attempts to stimulate the economy by encouraging consumers to buy more (crappy stuff they don't really need) will only make things worse in the long run.
  • Decades of misdirected consumption and investment mean we now have unsustainable structures in place everywhere, not just in the financial sector or in the subprime housing market.
  • Being unsustainable, these structures are essentially worthless. This obviously has implications for the value of our currencies (sorry, Chinese T-bond holders).
  • Making matters worse, we've exported our growth model to the entire world. Instead of leading the way into a sustainable future, we kept pretending that billions of people in developing countries would eventually be able to enjoy the same wasteful standard of living as us.
  • Finally, the people who are now in leading positions in the government, the economy and the academic sector have themselves profited enormously from our current system. It's highly doubtful they'll be willing or able to lead us through the necessary changes.

Here is what those things look like for those (like me) who kept hearing the term but didn't know what the heck a salad shooter was:
Salad Shooter

Actually, I don't think I've ever seen a salad shooter in real life. I assume its purpose is to avoid having to use a knife to chop veggies. From the looks of the above picture, this contraption needs frequent cleaning and probably breaks down after a few months.

I've used (and my family has used) our little Black and Decker Handy Chopper for some 10 years now. Plastic, metal blade,one button to make it go.

It chops,and it is handy. It is now some ten bucks at Walmo.

Tis true that may folks have too much stuff they never use or that is crappy and breaks,but not every gizmo is a useless lemon.

in 2002/3 I house shared with three other guys of similar age (and laziness). Back then I wasn't particularly 'awake' to environmentalism and resource protection and lived the consumerist life full on.

Also, back then we could buy a brand new microwave oven for just £19.99, which was £5 each. We actually sat down with a calculator (and a few beers, it has to be said) and worked out that as minimum wage in the UK was more than £5 and as we were all in work, coupled with the fact that cleaning materials cost money too it would be better for us not to bother to clean the microwave but just let it get really gross and then chuck it and buy a new one. We did this at least five times if I recall. It became a standing joke that when we went to the supermarket we would also come back with a microwave oven.

Crazy, but that is what go,go,go economics is all about.

I am now totally reformed and don't even have a microwave oven anymore!

We have an eight year old Kenmore Elite front load washer made by Frigidaire/Electrolux. The bearings are failing and it's leaving large black streaks all over our clothes (bearing grease). Apparently, this is a well known problem with these units (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoIMCVi1m9k and http://www.appliancejournal.com/appliance-repair-help/washer-repair/why-...). I contacted Sears and the salesman who took my call said you would be lucky to get five to seven years out of these machines. I would prefer to go with another brand (e.g., Bosch or Miele), but we require a stackable unit and so if we opt for a different model I'll have to replace the matching gas tumble dryer as well. I'm screwed.


Hi Paul

You don't need a stackable model, what you need is an "all in one" model, where the one unit washes and then dries. This is what I have in my house;


Made in Italy, very good.

Most European ones are like this. It washes, and then dries - just like your dishwasher.

It is ventless - while drying the warm moist air is run through a condenser, and the condensate then is pumped to the drain. You can put these anywhere in a house. They are very popular for doing conversions of apartments to condos. Because you are not venting heated inside air, you save several thousand cubic feet of heated internal air. Studies on multi family buildings have shown this to be a huge heat loss.

It runs on 120V. Compared to a house with a normal washer and (electric) dryer, the peak load from this unit is about one quarter of the washer and dryer working simultaneously. Add that up across a community and you have areal peak reduction.

It also changes the way you do laundry, instead of letting it build up all week, whenever you have enough of something (whites, darks, colours sox and jox, etc) you do a load, so we end up doing a load every 2nd day. Of course, we wait until the evening off peak hours to do it, or, set the delay start timer to start at around 5am, and we get clean, dry clothes out of it before breakfast. In Europe, everyone waits until the evening off peak rates come in before running these things.

Finally, the space on top of it can be used for other things, instead of another appliance.

I cannot recommend these units highly enough - we will never go back to separate units again.



Hi Paul,

Thanks for mentioning this; it looks to be a rather impressive machine. As it turns out, I purchased a Bosch Vision (4.4 cubic foot capacity) with a 5-year extended warranty and matching gas dryer less than an hour ago (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG4BxcE5qkM). Bosch also makes a ventless heat pump tumble dryer (see: http://www.boschappliances.com.au/files/documents/2205_Bosch_HeatPump_Dr... and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scNlVoMrRzk) but, regrettably, it's not available in North America at this time.


OF COURSE it is not available here, there are many efficient appliances (and vehicles) that are withheld from the north american market - very disappointing.

I am sure you will not be disappointed with your new machines either.

But having seen how the other half lives, with the all in ones, I will never go back.

The heat pump approach is theoretically (and in practice) the most energy efficient way to dry clothes. The warm moist air passes over the cold side, where the moisture condenses, and then the cold dry air is run over the hot side, and the hot dry air goes back to the clothes. A perfect case of re-using the latent heat of vaporisation.

For designing new (energy efficient) housing the all in one and ventless is a great step forward. You can put the machine anywhere, don;t need the expense of venting and gas or 240V, and you save 12 cu.ft in interior storage space. This is the equivalent of 2 sq ft of floor space, which does not need to be built, or heated. The (smart) developers of rental apts are catching onto this. Having in-suite laundry allows for a rent premium, and they get reduced energy and water costs.
Not surprisingly, these units have been used in boats and rv's since forever.

There are numerous benefits, Paul, as you point out. In addition, consider the volume of conditioned air that is exhausted from the home when a conventional tumble dryer is in operation -- to be replaced by outside air that is in turn heated, cooled or dehumidified.

BTW, this Bosch front loader has an EnerGuide rating of 130 kWh/year. That's 416 loads of laundry under standardized testing procedures at an average of just 0.312 kWh per load, including internal water heater. Our Kenmore/Frigidaire front loader, without internal heater, is rated at 242 kWh/year, so its energy consumption is roughly half, and presumably much less than half if we don't use any of the high temperature sanitary/anti-bacteria settings.

I'm disappointed that these Frigidaire models are designed to fail in as little as five years. My parent's Westinghouse front loader soldiered on for forty years (and with three active boys, it got a lot of use); at an average of 2.5 loads per week, I was hoping ours would last at least ten.


Interesting thread - I just replaced one line and tightened another two on the clothes line yesterday. I like it because I don't have to wait around to take the clothes out of the dryer right away. Saves me a lot of wasted time. And, I am a little surprised to see that no one else had commented on clothes dryers being such energy hogs anyway. If I recall correctly, saves some 18% of typical energy usage where clothes lines replace electric dryers, somewhat less when replacing gas dryers.

Of course the clothes lines do take occasional maintenance - I replaced all four lines about five years ago.

Hi WC,

You raise a good point. I use to hang dry but have grown lazy. We use roughly 75 litres (20 gallons) of propane a year to operate our dryer, BBQ, fireplaces and cook top; I'm guessing half of this is dryer related. It's not a huge amount, but that, in turn, has resulted in other problems -- our provider has more than doubled our tank rental fees due to our low usage.


clothes lines are great things, when the weather co-operates. In Australia every house has the "Hills Hoist" in the back yard;


Every Australian kid, (myself included) has gotten into trouble for swing around on these things. A neighbour used to wind it up out of reach and then padlock the winch handle so the kids couldn't get to it. I always though it would be better to just build it stronger so that it could be both a clothesline and carousel!

But in Canada such a device is useless for six months of the year, and (hopefully) for two of the remaining months you are away camping or at the cottage etc..

I saw one the other day on a news show, a contraption, that absolutely threw me...A teenage girl was describing her "hand lotion warmer". It stays plugged into the wall and has a tiny heating element, so that she always gets nice warm lotion! Of course like a hot water heater, it heats the lotion, it cools down if not used, and then heats it again! So my latest renewable energy scheme...buy hand lotion in only black bottles and sit them in the damn window and let the sun heat them! We could save dozens of kilowatts nationally! Okay, so it's not a silver bullet, but as the old lady said when she pissed in the sea, every little bit helps...:-)


Friedman has been waking up bit by bit in the last few years.

But he's been so wrong so often that it's hard to give him credit for anything.

  • He was a cheerleader for the Iraq war and was consistently wrong about what would happen in the country and the role Iraq would quickly play in the region. Let me know when we get to that corruption-free secular democracy that inspires the various neighboring monarchies to give up their power he was so sure of.
  • An underlying premise of The World is Flat was that large parts of the rest of the world could raise themselves to the kind of living standard enjoyed in the US/Canada, Western Europe, and Japan. Suddenly in Hot, Flat and Crowded, the rapidly growing middle classes in China and India are part of the problem, not the solution.
  • He could be the poster boy for the problems in Hot, Flat and Crowded. An enormous house on extensive grounds, globe-trotting personal consumption of oil, and married into a family that made (and lost) a fortune on suburban sprawl. But it's not him that's the problem, it's the poor folks in India...

He's clearly a technology cornucopian, and seems to think we can make a few quick decisions in the next few years and be on the path to success. In interviews, he says in effect, "Yeah, if we just had an autocracy like China's for a few days we could get this ship on the right course." Perhaps that's his biggest shortcoming: there's always a quick solution, rather than a lot of hard, painful work.

All true...

Our parents were “The Greatest Generation,” and they earned that title by making enormous sacrifices and investments to build us a world of abundance. My generation, “The Baby Boomers,” turned out to be what the writer Kurt Andersen called “The Grasshopper Generation.” We’ve eaten through all that abundance like hungry locusts.

This is interesting but a little too pat, and that "greatest generations" stuff is sickening romanticism.

After all, someone had to teach the values and build the infrastructure that all those Boomers "ate" through, and at the same time their "greatest generation" parents were busily eating away, too.

This alleged "Greatest Generation" dumped their old values and ways of life like bad habits as soon as the oil started to flow in earnest.

Mike: I am one of those who at 77 now knew "The Greatest Generation" well. They lived through a depression and a war (as adults) which made scars they would never live down. Well into their eighties, my parents were saving for their old age. They kept the same car, the same house, and lived frugally. When they died they had a half million saved for their old age. Us kids blew through that in a couple years. Serious toys and to hell with old age. It is amazing how bright my parents were and how amazingly stupid my grown kids are ... I'm kinda in the middle (sigh).

"It is amazing how bright my parents were and how amazingly stupid my grown kids are ... I'm kinda in the middle (sigh)."

"Wealth does not pass three generations" (chinese proverb)

The other day my 87-year-old grandmother gave me my mother's Ration Stamp book from 1943. It is still full of stamps - maybe I can use them again soon ;)

"Wealth does not pass three generations" (chinese proverb)

One would draw a distinctly different conclusion after reading Kevin Phillips' "Wealth and Democracy" On how the early pirates who ran our country accumulated vast wealth--literally by piracy-- and how this wealth supported the elite families through many generations.


Some few families with forebearers who were both extremely lucky and exceptionally perceptive have evolved a culture of wealth-they learned how to keep it.

There is an American equivalent to the Chinese proverb-shirtsleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.Grandpa makes it;the kids grow up helping make and accumulate it, and therefore possess a work ethic;the grandkids never have to do so much as "strike a lick at a snake" meaning doing anything useful at all.

Being totally "spoiled" as a result of being reared in an affluent environment, when they get thier hands on the family money, they simply spend until it is gone.

An even shorter version runs "Easy come, easy go."

The general thrust of the book is that most huge concentrations of wealth in this country, and in the world, are basically accumulated via nefarious means, such as by raw violence and power.
Even modern day counter-examples (re Bill Gates providing such great value to so many people) are 'second order' wealth accumulators, depending on corporate wealth that somewhere along the line was gotten at gunpoint.

I'll grant that the fossil fuel age has allowed accumulation of wealth that could be called 'legitimate' from the point of view that it has involved more resource extraction than sweat of the brow of the serfs manning the corporate machinery, but this age is quickly coming to an end.

cue the biblical quote involving the 'eye of the needle'

Our parents were “The Greatest Generation,” and they earned that title by making enormous sacrifices and investments to build us a world of abundance. My generation, “The Baby Boomers,” turned out to be what the writer Kurt Andersen called “The Grasshopper Generation.” We’ve eaten through all that abundance like hungry locusts.

In the interests of seeing all sides presented (for the record, I'm also a Boomer), consider an alternate view of what the Greatest Generation did for us:

  • The deconstruction of electric trolley lines in major cities all over the country
  • The construction of the Interstate highway system and the corresponding demise of the rail system as the means for long-haul freight transport
  • Completion of the rise of air transport and the corresponding demise of passenger rail
  • A total commitment to the growth of the suburbs for housing and development and the corresponding decay of the urban cores
  • An enormous fleet of coal-burning power plants
  • A fleet of nuclear power plants, then an abrupt halt of reactor construction in 1979 (one of those is a serious mistake; take your choice)
  • For the most part, a completely missed opportunity to use the peak of US domestic oil production and two Mideast oil crises to break the US oil habit
  • Most of the enormous water projects in the Western US

Is the complaint to be leveled against the Boomers that we didn't start dismantling the infrastructure our parents gave us soon enough?

They gave us the Vietnam War too ...

Citibank issued a report on sovereign debt defaults on April 26, which is up on Scribd. Since it is a couple of weeks old, it may not be completely up to date, with everything now happening. Its summary says:

Most advanced industrial countries in worst ever peacetime fiscal shape
- Sovereign default can become the least bad solution for a country
- Sovereign default risk outside Greece low but non-negligible
- Most countries will eventually choose a ‘fiscal pain’ solution
- Debt restructuring, possibly with haircuts, likely to be part of the ‘fiscal pain’
- Inflationary solution to public debt burden highly unlikely in Europe, unlikely in
- Euro Area needs mutual fiscal insurance mechanism to survive and prosper
- Restoring fiscal balance will be a drag on growth for years to come for years to come.

IMO, it is not surprising that we are seeing increasing debt defaults. In a finite world, we cannot expect growth to continue forever. World oil production hasn't grown since 2005, and this is having a limiting effect on world economies. It seems likely to me that the situation will continue and get worse.

More evidence of problems in the debt markets: It looks like Freddie Mac needs more money:

Ignoring the Elephant in the Bailout

IF you blinked, you might have missed the ugly first-quarter report last week from Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giant that, along with its sister Fannie Mae, soldiers on as one of the financial world’s biggest wards of the state.

Freddie — already propped up with $52 billion in taxpayer funds used to rescue the company from its own mistakes — recorded a loss of $6.7 billion and said it would require an additional $10.6 billion from taxpayers to shore up its financial position.

The results were reported to be the result of an accounting change that required Freddie Mac to bring back $1.5 trillion of assets and liabilities to its balance sheet. It seems like the original accounting left a lot to be desired. The underlying situation doesn't seem to be getting better. One wonders how soon the new estimate will be revised upward again.

And from my neck of the woods comes this prize article:

The great growth debate ...... in perspective

The weakness of Jamaica's economic and social indicators in the new millennium is directly related to its anaemic economic growth in the last quarter of the 20th century. Jamaica has to generate much stronger growth for realisation of Vision 2030 (Jamaica: the place of choice to live and work).

Over the next five years, capacity to service debt will be crucially dependent on stronger growth to generate revenue and eliminate fiscal deficits. The problem is how to get from debt and stagnation to economic growth.

That's right buddy, that IS the question and it is made even more challenging by the apparent inability of world oil production to rise above the May 2005 peak, not to mention the later July 2008 peak.

I am getting increasingly anxious about the future. I'm hoping to attend "Windpower 2010" in Dallas in the next couple of weeks to have a look at the latest wind power technology. Doing my best to "Get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy."

Alan from the islands

Good discussion this morning (soveriegn distress/defaults, etc.) on Fareed Zakaria/CNN, with Martin Wolf. Repeat at 1:00pm EDT.

Most advanced industrial countries in worst ever peacetime fiscal shape

I call it the "Thelma & Lousie" Grand Prix of Debt Race (to the edge of the fiscal cliff)

The edge of the fiscal cliff being the point at which government can't borrow, from traditional sources, enough money to finance their deficit spending.

Gail and westexas

Basically, as you already know, the aim of the government is to absorb pretty much most all of the losses in the collapse of the housing bubble.

This results in an actual or implied increase in US government debt, as well as the debt of other countries. The CBO calculates the implied US government debt at $100 trillion, this from an official source and not some unknown web poster like myself.

The US has been very lucky in that it transferred some of its mistakes to hapless countries like Iceland - who have already gone through a default of sorts.

Greece and southern Europe had their own credit bubble, but since they can't issue trillions of new debt like the US can at a low rate of interest, it has become a problem now.

This all started with the theory (discussed elsewhere here today) that government spending can get an economy of out of problems - like the economic effects of PO.

It's just a matter of time that debt problems will catch up to the US, because ironically, the US will be allowed to go much further into debt than anyone else.

The fall off the cliff for the US, while delayed, will be the Wile E. Coyote moment - and we might not even see it until we are already in mid-air.

I think you're right about the "US will be allowed to go much futher" in to debt, and that it will at some point catch up the US too. And "then we are already in mid-air" as you put it.

Just think, we could already be "in mid-air" and not yet realize it.

I hope our local governments are prepared for twitches and gliches in the just-in-time delivery systems (mine is not, i've checked). I wonder if "Government asks stores to stockpile food" in case of "strikes" is even in the back of Obama's mind.


Gail, accepting projections from Citibank concerning the worldwide meltdown is like accepting projections of Jewish influence on European culture written by the National Socialists in 1938.

Citibank and Citicorp are a disgrace to decency and should not even be allowed to sit at the banquet table among decent folks. They are NOT reliable trading partners and not reliable co-partners in any transaction, whether you own their shares, have them hold your accounts or borrow money from them. They are CERTAINLY not to be trusted to issue honest projections, the projections they peddle are designed to benefit themselves alone and worthless for the purpose of reliable discussion. This is true for the projections made my almost of the big international banks and brokerages by the way, so Citicorp is no worse than most of the wolfpack but no better. End of story.


In other bad news this morning, we had temperatures around 30 degrees F locally last night. One thermometer said 28. And this is near the house on high ground.

I walked out in the corn field and found about a half inch frozen crust. Luckily my corn is not up yet.

But the neighbor's corn is 2-3 inches tall. I walked into his field and picked up one of the seedlings. It was still bright green and crisp but as it melted in my hand the leaves turned a sickening frozen green.

It is now nearly 10 AM and the bright green rows of corn seedlings have disappeared. They are now a dark frozen green and hard to see.

Perhaps the corn can come out of it, but it will be delayed in any case as it will take time for it to recover.

Those farmers who have the expensive fancy equipment and looked so smart getting their corn planted around the 15th April have been punished by Mother Nature.

I expect this to be a big commodity story Monday. Corn should be up.

What's the climate like where you are, i.e., when's the last freeze date? If one plants before then, there's always a chance of a freeze. Sounds like the locals think AGW means that climate just gets warmer in a uniform way such that they can forget about those old time late freezes, which is likely to be a bad idea...

E. Swanson

In the northeast, the National Weather Service issued a warning that freezes were likely after the last freeze date this year. I know, that makes no sense. But people who are used to being able to plant by a certain date were warned that this year there were likely to be late frosts.

A lot of fruit trees had their buds frozen off this week. And I nearly tripped and fell on my face this morning. My neighbor moved all her potted plants into the foyer to avoid the freeze last night.

I've always thought that that would be the worst element of climate change - increased variability/unpredictability. It's brutal on farmers, be they huge agribusiness or small subsistence farmers.

A few years back, we had a hard freeze in late May. The early warmth of the preceding weeks had fooled the trees into going to full leaf. The result of the freeze was a near total loss of all the leaves. Not just a bud killer, but an instant return to Fall like brown colors. Fortunately, most of the trees survived. However, such sharp freezes are known to kill the flowers, if the freeze hits at the exact time that the flowers are budding out. The same thing happens to the oak trees and the result is no acorns the next fall.

We had a few record high temperatures in the Southeastern US the past few days. Many of the new records were in the 90's. At the same time, there were numerous reports Friday and Saturday of record lows in the low 20's in the Northwest. It was in the high 80's here Friday and this morning, the lows were in the mid-30's.

I agree that increased variability may be the bigger problem, much beyond the mental concept of just a few degrees of warmth added on top of the usual climate cycles. It's something I've been watching for more than 20 years...

E. Swanson

Here in Central New Hampshire, we had an early flowering of fruit trees, and the lilacs are in full bloom right now. We are due for a frost tonight, and perhaps a harder freeze tomorrow night. I'm most worried about the peaches. They flowered in such abundance - I was looking forward to a bumper crop, but we'll have to wait and see how they fare.

At least I wasn't fooled into jumping the gun in my garden, as many were around here. I've been gardening in the same place for 17 years, and I know that frost can come at any time in May...

Leanan, you said,
"In the northeast, the National Weather Service issued a warning that freezes were likely after the last freeze date this year. I know, that makes no sense."

Well actually it does. The so called "last freeze" or "last frost date" are based on historical averages. This means that for the average to hold there must be some years that the last freeze or frost occur after the last freeze or frost date...if they all occured before the last freeze or frost date, the average would keep moving backward! If they always occured EXACTLY on the last freeze or frost date that would indicate sorcery! :-)

My granddad and dad used to make it a habit to get seeds and plants out that were pretty much immune to frost (such as radish, Brussel sprouts, turnips, etc., and wait to later to get the other plants out, and then not all at once, but do part of a row now, wait a week or so and do the second part, and on certain plants wait another week to do the last third...this made harvesting MUCH easier to manage, and since Kentucky and points south have a relatively long growing season, there is usually enough time for everything to be ready to harvest before the first frost of autumn with room to spare! I will say that when I was a child I NEVER suffered for lack of vegetables, in fact at the time I thought there were far too many!


I walked out in the corn field and found about a half inch frozen crust. Luckily my corn is not up yet.

Yeah, don't you just hate it when Global Warming goes wrong?

It's snowing here in the Canadian Rockies. The skiing is really good. We were skiing on the glaciers last week because we had about half a metre of powder snow on the Continental Divide. The glaciers are at no immediate risk of melting, from what I see, and the word from up north is the the polar bears are doing very well.

I was going to mow the lawn today, but I think I'll wait until the snow stops.

The problem is Global warming has not changed(gone wrong). We are basically changing the system that we have had for a long enough time to get used to it in terms of overall human habits. All this flux is one reason I have always liked Climate Change versus Global warming. When you see that the overall temps are trending warmer, you get to many other fluxations, and increased water vapor which has a feedback loop involved in it.

Warm the world at X spot and cool the world at Y spot and have droughts in X1 area and have floods in Y1 area.

All we can say for certain right now is there is nothing certain right now.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future, even if we have to plant everything under glass.

'From what I see..' would be the operative part of your response, RMG.

My icebox is also busy disproving Climate Change..

RMG, in my opinion the best skiing at Lake Louise and Sunshine Village is always in April/May. Not as brutally cold as winter, and still good snow. I had a day in 1st week of May at Sunshine years ago with 2ft of fresh overnight, and the snow was the 2nd lightest I have ever seen (after Utah). And there's hardly anyone else out there to track it out - like heli-skiing but at a $700/day discount!

A friend of mine was driving last week from the coast here to Toronto, and managed to get stuck in that storm from BC to Sask!

What are people in the Calgary oilpatch saying about the GOM situation? There must be some quiet pleasure that this sort of thing simply can't happen in the oilsands.

Actually, this time of year is excellent for spring skiing. It's kind of sad that Nakiska in the Front Ranges often gets its best snowfall after it has closed for the season. Sunshine really only closes due to lack of interest. Often it has snow into July.

My wife is talking about doing the French-Haig-Robertson Traverse on Tuesday (up the French Glacier, across the Haig Glacier, and down the Robertson Glacier). Apparently the snow conditions are the best people have ever seen, and the avalanche hazard is low.

Yes, the guys in the Calgary oilpatch are quietly pleased with themselves. If you have an oil sands spill, it basically goes nowhere. If you have an oil spill in the middle of winter, you can clean it up with a power shovel and a dump truck.

Here's a link to an article on the subject: Disaster could boost fortunes of Canada's oilsands

The United States, though, has a real problem now. Most of their new oil found in recent decades has been in the Gulf of Mexico. If drilling is curtailed, it will make their supply situation even worse, and it was bad enough to begin with. Unfortunately most Americans don't realize how bad.

I noticed the blight of cold weather in most of New England, and the Pacific NorthWest. I don't know the planting schedules of anywhere but my own area, but it's early May I am sure something has been blooming even that far north. What is it going to be like for orchards in a few days?

One bad day on top of another. One place is peachy then another place gets floods. Nashville and the rest of that region had crops in the ground, now they are all underwater, some will likely have to replant, if and when the ground dries out enough.

We are getting to that point where our population is so high that to many crop failures will extend into famine.

The top article about water's future failures due to all we are doing with it, is another worry.

Rain is fresh water that in most cases can be used to refill aquifers if there is not to much of it and it all runs off.

Its not to cold here, but it is a bit cooler than normal, with a heat wave heading into the area later in the week.

Strange weather to say the least.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Blight of cold weather in the Pacific Northwest??? Unless I was dreaming this last year, its been one of the most mellow Winter/Springs that I can remember. Remember the whole no snow in Vancouver thing for the Olympics? Our cherry blossoms all bloomed way early, in late February if I remember right and the tulips came up early as well. Most of my yard is in full bloom right now. We've had no snow at all on the west side of the mountains in Washington and the warning is that power prices might need to increase due to the low snowpack reducing our ability to export Hydroelectricity. If anything, its been unseasonably warm for us.

Happy Mutta's Day to any mothers on TOD. I'm curious how many tune in here? Let yourself be known.

I will also make this plea, don't let your sons and daughters grow up to be politicians, Oil Co CEO's or barrista's. I would much prefer more environmental engineers, alternative energy researchers and youtube musicians (like Pomplamoose http://www.youtube.com/user/PomplamooseMusic).

Check out their cover Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" which is appropriate for Mother's Day.


I am a mother. My kids are ages 31, 28, and 26 now. I believe Debbie Cook is a mom also, with a grown son.

The majority of our readers are male (as is the majority of our staff).

I have three children, ages 19, 16 and 12. I don't post a lot because it seems more useful to actually do things. But many of my projects the last two years have been a direct result of info I've gotten on TOD. So thank you TOD!

In the last two years we have: put solar panels on the roof that produce (over the course of a year) as much electricity as we use in a year; solar hot water system (for 2/3 of our house); got rid of our van and acquired electric bikes; joined a carshare coop; increased carpooling; am walking/biking/taking public transit for half of my trips; put in vegetable garden; got ten rain barrels; installed drip irrigation system in veg garden (set it up myself!); put in energy-efficient windows; had insulation blown into uninsulated walls; had downstairs heating system ductwork insulated and system upgraded; improved weatherstripping of house; turned off upstairs heating system completely; ultra-low flow (1.5 gal/min) showerheads; put in some LED lights; reduced vampire loads; composting less with city and instead for own garden; reduced the packaging I buy; buying more local. We're using a third less electricity, we've dropped our natural gas usage by 2/3rds, and we've cut the miles we drive by 30% (as well as use a more efficient car for many of those miles.) We'll probably save $1600 this year on energy bills; we'll save $6000 by owning and maintaining one less car. We save over $2000 by not having to insure our two teens for driving. (Neither seem in any hurry to get driver's licenses. They take public transit.)

Just got bees and am hoping they know what they are doing. They seem to. (I took a six hour beekeeping class but I'm still somewhat daunted.) Next projects I'm mulling: fruit trees in front yard (on a steep hillside); replace more windows; on demand hot water for our downstairs (on separate system from rest of house); getting a plug-in upgrade for our Prius. Am working to encourage biking, transit and carpooling at my daughter's school, and am advocating for bike lanes and liveable streets in my community.

I find I can handle about one major project a month, so I just keep plugging away. Will any of it make a difference? If you have children, there seems no choice but to try.

Congratulations, taomom. You've accomplished a lot in the span of two short years. Way to go !


Thank you, I have a nice litter of young adult furry rodents.

Dragonfly41 said
"I will also make this plea, don't let your sons and daughters grow up to be politicians, Oil Co CEO's or barrista's."

OR HEDGE FUND MANAGERS or international bankers!!!


Muttas, teach you sons and daughters to sire and raise no more than two children in their lives, and you will have done a great thing with your gift of wisdom.

Yes, my wife and I have two children...after the second, I was fixed.

Now to oil-related news:

A rather large jet fuel spill has been spreading underneath Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque NM for some 10 years now. USAF said they 'were on top of it' years ago, and turns out they weren't. Out of site, out of mind. Turns out, Albuquerque gets most of its drinking water from wells under the city, including several near KAFB which will be contaminated in the future.

How many other locations have underground plumes of oil-derived products which are out of site and out of mind?

The State of NM is on the warpath against the USAF...methinks the USAF (meaning us taxpayers) need to dig deep into our pockets (and the ground) and fix this spill, and others like it.

I like my water without JP-8, thanks. I would also like my water without perchlorate, but that is in many water tables, sadly.


The Albuquerque Journal article at the link embedded in this person's blog is behind their paywall...

Fairly reputable rumor has it that the groundwater under Regina Saskatchewan is contaminated by spills from the petroleum upgrader located in the city (supposedly verified by engineering firm Stantec). The city is now dependent on a long (energy intensive?) aquaduct from Buffalo Pound Lake about 60 miles away. Groundwater contamination and depletion is a serious issue but out of sight, out of mind...Doesn't give much hope for Regina's long term viability.

Oh, come on! Regina was built in the middle of a featureless, waterless prairie whose only hydrological resource was Wascana Creek. The natives called it "Pile-of-Bones". The only reason it exists is that the Canadian Pacific Railway didn't want to run their line through the obvious location, Fort Qu'Appelle, because other people owned the property rights there. The CPR was more about land development than it was about railroading.

It's completely artificial and it's the Provincial Capital of Saskatchewan. It will be there as long as they can persuade the people of Saskatchewan to pay their taxes.

Saskatchewan is doing really well at this point in time. It's all about natural resources, of which water is the least important. If you've got money, the water will come to you.

Erh...that only works as long as we have money... You're quite right about why Regina is where it is, sigh.

Funny - Mother's Day was 14th March in the UK. Not sure why, but there we are.

My partner just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy two days ago - he will be the only child we have, we're sure of that. My concern is whether or not he'll have any kind of life. If Peter Goodchild's article is to be believed, it seems not. Mind you, his arguments do tend to be dogmatic and repetitive.

On the positive side, oil was apparently struck in the Falklands. Whether or not the UK will ever see any of that oil is anybody's guess. Damn Argies!

One more interesting thing - I organised a World War Two Veterans' Day at my school last week - students got to meet with those who had been involved in the conflict. Our guest speaker lived on the Island of Jersey when it was under German occupation (which lasted 5 years). He was talking about how they ran short of just about everything. They ended up making tea out of carrots and coffee out of parsnips. What's more, when fuel ran out, people hitched up their vans to horses, and ran buses on wood gas. He also said that electricity was intermittent at best. However, he was still around to tell the tale, and he said how exciting those times were. Maybe there is a flicker of hope...


The USAF has a history of fuel leaks since.. there was a USAF.

90% of underground tank installations leak and a good portion of above ground ones do too.
Any fuel storage that was built before about 1990 is more likely than not to have leaked and contaminated soil and possibly water underneath it.

These things can be cleaned up, sometimes easily, sometimes not so easily.

just another external cost of an oil economy.

If, for example, the transport fuel (where it is not electric) was CNG/LNG and/or methanol, this sort of thing just wouldn't be a problem.

First off, I hope I didn't insult anyone with my rant in the oil spill thread above. Apologies if I did, I did not intend to. I am just about at boiling point and about to flip. Thank God we don't own semi automatic weapons here in Britain or I might just be tempted to flip out big time. There is just so much crap going on at the moment; the rich are just fine but the poor and shrinking middle class are being squeezed like never before. I got on my high horse about the oil spill and American hypocrisy because I had just seen an interview on BBC news with a fisherman based (I think) on the Alabama coast. He was a fat ball of lard and could hardly get out of his SUV to answer the questions. Something just really pissed me off seeing a man who obviously had more calories in his daily diet than was necessary having a real ugly rant at BP standing beside one of the most gasoline-thirsty vehicles ever to come out of Detroit. He also reckoned that as a matter of last resort the UK government should compensate him if the oil kills his fish. Well fatty, just come and try and get me to pay for it!

This article is in a similar vein:


Totally surreal. I am numb with rage. A British chancellor who has got no legitimacy because of the hung parliament has just put the British tax pay on the hook for 10% of any sovereign debt defaults in the Eurozone!!! Britain isn't even in the friggin' Euro for Christ's sake! For every 100 billion euros of default we will have to pay about £8 billion !!! To the bloody too big to fail banks. With 60 million citizens of the UK that means every man, woman and child will be liable for £133 for every 100 billion euros of default. Does anyone understand the moral trap this creates? Why would Greece not just go ahead now and default? Don't worry I will pay for it for them - even though I can't even bloody well afford to buy my own house or a new pair of shoes. And where the f*** are we going to get the money from to bail them out exactly? We need to CUT at least £80 billion from our spending! Our debt to GDP is actually worse than Greece's !!!!! So if we are now forced to pay for some other country's default we will have to borrow the money ourselves or print it up. You couldn't make this load of BS up. This just the epitome of the rich helping themselves. Ask your selves, what exactly does the average working man in Britain get out of this deal? The whole stinking pile of crap is just unbelievable. I have a VAT return to file tomorrow. Stuff that. What's the point if the robbing unelected government is just going to waste my taxes on some country I have never even been too. Why the hell are we even in the bloody European Union anyway?

Christ, I am bloody furious. I really am. Can anyone lend me a semi-automatic and a few clips of ammo please?

Watching events unfold in Europe it looks to me like there is a 50% probability that next week we will officially shift from the greatest recession to the greatest depression. Buckle up. Cash and gold are your friends.

Forget the semi-automatic weapons. They're a waste of time.

Try the "Nobody here is qualified to make a decision at this point in time" defense. There's also the "We might agree to it but in return you should give us the rest of the Parthenon to put in the British Museum" gambit. Beyond that there's the "We'd like a few scenic Greek Islands as security, we'll give them back if you pay us back" approach.

Or you could just print up a few billion British pounds and use them to pay off the Greek debt. When they complain they no longer have any value, you can feign ignorance and ask, "What's your point?"

Or there's the WWII approach. Just deposit the entire British national wealth in the underground vaults of the Bank of Montreal, and don't tell anyone where it is.

there's the "We'd like a few scenic Greek Islands as security, we'll give them back if you pay us back" approach.

Please, no. The last thing the UK needs is more foreign outposts like Gibraltar that breed Englishmen/women with a sense of entitlement to anything they want from the UK government who don't actually produce anything. At least the Falklands have the vague possibility of oil rights that might one day actually produce something.

My proposal is that we make the UK a dual currency state, with the domestic pound and the "eurozone bailout" currency denominated in 75 ft tall 3-D wooden tokens (in a shape that vaugely corresponds to Equus ferus). At least if they decide to take them then we can use the hollow interior instead of (currently grounded) airplanes as a means of getting UK tourists to their Euro holiday vacations.


"KaBoom: Britain And Now Germany

Britain is refusing to underwrite the so-called "Euro Stability" fund:


But the loan guarantees are too much for the UK to swallow, and the Treasury will have nothing to do with them. Without them the package looks pretty thin.

It also appears that Merkel lost her majority in the German Parliamentary elections, which means her Greek bailout support has now cost her the coalition government she previously enjoyed.

That, in turn, means that it is very likely that Germany has provided the last support it is going to be "contributing" (more accurately, being extorted from German citizens at gunpoint) to Euro "stability" as well.

Here comes the fun folks, pretty much exactly as I expected.

Anyone want odds on the Germans returning to the Deutchemark?

To the banksters: Bonne chance."

I am numb with rage...You couldn't make this load of BS up. This just the epitome of the rich helping themselves. Ask your selves, what exactly does the average working man in Britain get out of this deal? The whole stinking pile of crap is just unbelievable

This, your perfectly understandable and reasonable outrage, is exactly the reason Britain has a million cameras covering every square meter of public spaces, the DNA of every citizen on file, and full continuous monitoring and storage of every computer and cell phone in your country...and no guns. They've been planning this for a long time. "National security! National security!" Yes...securing the rich against their own fellow citizens. Or is it time to resurrect the word serfs?

Or is it time to resurrect the word serfs?

They're called consumers now.

Just to inject some facts: I used to work on, amongst other things, researching algorithms for controlling and analysing CCTV camera footage, and as such had to interact with Home Office and police liasons to try and understand their priorities. Everyone that I talked to was basically going on the grounds of "well, putting security cameras up has got to help, right?". Pointing out "But you don't have the manpower or algorithms to actually make use of them" again leads to "they've got to help somehow, right?". (None of the algorithms I was able to develop was more than a tiny step towards making CCTV effective for "threat detection", regardless of who the threats threatened. But it was research, and some useful things were learned for general image processing.) And I never saw any evidence that these people were deluded puppets with a shadow government actually making sure the technology was actually effective in spite of these people. I don't have any direct knowledge of the status of UK communications recording, but I really, really doubt that they've got algorithms effective enough to data-mine anything from that volume of communications data (and by putting the responisbility on the ISP to store the records, rather than regularly ship them to government controlled storage, they aren't exactly ensuring the data they want will actually be there when they ask for it.) They probably have algorithsm effective enough to assist with things when conventional intelligence gathering gives them a restricted set of suspects to focus on, but "they've got human beings to inform on people" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

I'm extremely, extremely sceptical that "they've" been planning this for a long time. The (to me) more worrying thing is that "they" haven't got any realistic plans whatsoever, and are basically making it up as they go along. (This is smilar to the situation in the US with FEMA, where I remember in the late 90s various right wing groups claiming the case was incontravertable that FEMA was the super-efficient shadow government waiting for the appropriate moment to assume power. Very strange how there's been no repetition of this cast-iron case in the years following Hurricane Katerina.) That's not to say that there aren't rich who want to take money from the people, but my experience is that they tend to create their extortions, threats and lies on the spot (eg, AIG, Goldman-Sachs, etc) rather than have some cunning, many years plan.

Well said. There is no conspiracy. Just evolutionary behavior unfolding as one might predict.

Just to correct myself: poking around the web, there apparently are still some people claiminig FEMA is a shadow government. Their claims are based on photos of things like Amtrak train servicing facilities which are apparently "FEMA concentration camps". I haven't found anything that purports to explain the transition from "super-efficency" to "muddling through without an overall plan" though.

"wack job pablum", as one member of the Maine GOP described the GOP platform.

Ack! I don't believe in shadow governments or conspiracies! Geez, just one poorly chosen word can do so much damage- in this case "they".

Allow me to rephrase, please. Numerous individuals in positions of power, independently of each other and without any kind of group consulation, make decisions that they feel will be conducive to maintaining the current government/power structure/socioeconomic structure. Acting in their own self-interest, as is to be expected from humans, the aggregate of their decisions results in the initiation of policies and installation of technological systems that result in constraints on unfettered human behavior and communication. These policies and systems require prior planning to implement. The planning is undertaken in response to perceived threats, which motivate the implementing persons through fear. Fear, in humans, tends to lead to an exaggerated response, both in evaluation of the nature/severity of the threat, and in the nature/extent of the defensive reaction.

Well over a hundred words to say 'the leadership fears the masses, and has for quite some time now'. I think fear is the key. I have not thought about this before, but it must be very scary to be a world leader or a giant of finance right now. The majority are baby boomers, who grew up their whole lives on how everything was supposed to turn out so wonderful. And now all this horrible stuff comes, financial chaos and limits popping up everywhere, and no solutions in sight. Once the hubris finally cracks, it must feel to them like everything is just slipping away, and the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and that goes for paradigms as much as people.

Everyone that I talked to was basically going on the grounds of "well, putting security cameras up has got to help, right?".

I gotta think it is useful after a crime has been committed. And that presumably has some deterrent effect. But, trying to obtain reliable and actionable intelligence before a crime is committted (Minority Report like), has got to be almost impossible. Sure you might get lucky on occasion, but for the most part it is about deterence and post incident evidence gathering.

Just in case anyone is still reading this: you're again assuming that it ought to be beneficial without completely understanding in what way. And it may be beneficial. What I do know is that actually analysing the resoultion and field-of-view of cameras along with the monitoring manpower and trying to estimate utility was something that's almost never done. Instead the various bodies that can put up cmaeras tend to put them up on similar unvalidated "hunches". The problem is never trying to see if your hunch actually matches the data.

VictorianTech, your exactly right, which is why I would do something I do not do on TOD, but I am doing it for his own good and telling HAcland to SHUT THE HELL UP!

Now is not the time for the type of terms he is using to be bandied about, every government and security service in Europe is already as nervous as a cat on a box of firecrackers right now...do not give them an excuse to make a target out of you...and let's give our British brothers and sisters credit where it is due...keeping some distance from the Euro and the EC overlords has proven to be some bit of cleverness on their part, plus they retain the pride of being willing to resist the authority of Brussels when it was viewed as the only path forward and actually bothered to think independently...Britain didn't allow Napoleon or the Nazi's to take Britain, and even though bonds are more powerful than bombs I don't see them letting the bond traders take Britain either...:-)


Something just really pissed me off seeing a man who obviously had more calories in his daily diet than was necessary having a real ugly rant at BP standing beside one of the most gasoline-thirsty vehicles ever to come out of Detroit.

And yet those are the least of his predicaments. His oil consumption via the SUV will be merely a rounding error as against his oil consumption for his fishing-boat, with his overconsumption of food being a tiny rounding error in that rounding error. And as I've said before, he's selling an expensive luxury product into a geographically widespread market.

So he needs moderately priced oil to fuel his guzzling boat. He needs moderately priced oil so his luxury priced product will still attract buyers after being shipped long distances. He needs moderately priced oil to support a robust economy in which buyers can afford his luxury priced product. At least for the time being, all those needs can be met only if there continue to be unrestricted supplies of moderately priced oil.

Due to the blowout he's now got an obvious risk of business interruption. But if offshore production is terminated or allowed to decline precipitately (due to new drilling being banned), then he's got an obvious risk of business termination. (Especially if other offshore-producer governments decide that if the largest consumer refuses to take any risk, then why should they.) The oil he uses so profligately, directly and indirectly, for business purposes will be found where it is found, not necessarily where its extraction poses him absolutely zero risk. Such is life.

I feel for you and what's going on in the U.K. but there are alot of proactive steps you can take to get back at the system, if you will. These are merely suggestions, I won't be offended if you disagree with them. In no particular order, here they are:
1) Don't vote. Democracy is mostly a sham in the U.K. and U.S. now as our politicans are bought by the big banking institutions.
2) If you do vote, consider third parties. They are not perfect or fashionable, but send a strong message to the establishment the more support they have.
3) Save money and stop spending so much! Banks and politicians love for you to spend money, because that's more profits/tax revenue for them. Refuse debt you don't need, and don't speculate on things like the stock market and real estate. Don't buy government bonds as that only feeds the Ponzi.
4) Consider taking some of your money out of the banking system and into physical cash. It won't earn interest, but at least it helps to decapitalize the banks.
5) Consider investing a good portion of your money in taking physical ownership of precious metals, particularly gold and silver, and to a lesser extent palladium and platinum. All of the converging trends bode well for precious metals, and at the very least your purchasing power should be preserved. Not to mention the fact that banks and politicians hate them since they don't have counterparty risk, which is all the more reason to own them.
6) We likely have another 5-10 years until things start to get really bad. This gives all of us a window to consider strategic relocation. Since you are an English speaker, if you have the means you might want to consider various parts of U.S./Canada/Australia/N.Z., if you feel that no part of the U.K. is going to be a good place to live in a post-peak depression. Of course, this is a very complicated, multifaceted question that has no easy answer, but the point is that the peoples of the Anglosphere have more options than most people around the globe, and that can be used to advantage.

Basically, nothing is off the table. Take whatever steps you need to. And cheer up mate! (Is that something the Brits would say?)

It seems that at least one person here other than myself seems to have a glimmering of the rage driving the tea partiers.

As for outting your hands for a pistol and a few clips,if you really be lieve you might actually NEED the same,I suggest you move to America and I will buy you an NRA membership.You will have to pay for your own pistol.

But you gotta swear a blood oath to use it only in self defense in order to get the membership..

For a clinical examination of Eurozone blues, check out The Automaic Earth today. Stoneleigh has a very nice article entitled "The Imperial Eurozone (With All That Implies)"

I liked her characterization of human structures as "predatory". Her discussion of EU imlies that it was set up more as a response to natural constraints on economic growth (people wanted to be able to generate more access to credit in the face of declining growth)

We`ve been fooling ourselves for a very long time!

A lot of what we have done in the past was an attempt to wriggle free from the clutches of natural limits.

But I think our date with limits is rapidly approaching.

I used to think decline would happen slowly but now I thihk it might be rapid and involve failures of credit and finance that shut off a lot of oil production and transport suddenly. (Gail has been saying this). Couldn`t the mess in the EU set up the global economy for just such a turn of events in a "contagion"?

I think this might become quite dramatic, involving more than just 1000 point plunges in the DOW.

Maybe what is happening is that the idea of limits has reached the big banks, hedge funds, large investors, etc. and they are cashing in their paper en masse.....leaving everyone eventually---maybe soon?---staring at a "Sorry No Gas" sign on their local station.

I agree that collapse will be much quicker than history suggests. The combination of extreme complexity, extreme interdependencies, ubiquitous sovereign bankruptcy around the globe, and high speed communications/computers will ensure a speedy collapse. Then we are likely to see what Nate Hagens has been predicting: A perpetual oil glut because no one will be able to afford it and the floor production price will prevent economic growth.

I don't see the oil glut lasting for very long because as the credit contraction continues there won't be enough capital to drill all these $100 million exploratory wells. In my view, once the credit switch is flipped to "off" and industrial civilization loses its capacity for projects of this scale, most of the (very capital-expensive) conventional oil left will remain underground more or less forever.

I explain this point of view in my May newsletter (with diagrams, of course):

Peak Capital and Shark Fins

"In February 2009, George Soros said the world financial system had effectively disintegrated, adding that there was no prospect of a near-term resolution to the crisis.[24] "We witnessed the collapse of the financial system[...]It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."

most of the (very capital-expensive) conventional oil left will remain underground more or less forever.

Exactly my sentiments. Once we are a certain way down the net energy ladder, the system collapses and whatever oil's left stays put.

Paris' Plan to Kick Cars Off Its Riverbanks

On a recent Sunday in Paris, stroller-pushing parents, rollerbladers and cyclists eased their way up and down an unusually tranquil stretch of the Seine's left bank. Normally this road is filled with thousands of cars zipping along, but once a week it is transformed into an oasis of calm as part of an experiment by City Hall to see what happens when cars are banned from Paris' riverbanks. So far the experiment, which has been going on for the past few years, is proving popular. Delphine Damourette, 31, a Montmarte resident whose cobblestoned neighborhood is a rollerblader's hell, says the traffic-free Sundays give her a taste of her city as she most loves it — during summer vacation, when Paris slows down, cars disappear, and pedestrians reclaim the Seine. "It would be great if Paris were like this all year long," she says. Soon, she may get her wish.

If Mayor Bertrand Delanoë has his way, by 2012 the 1.2 miles of left bank expressway between the Musée d'Orsay and the Alma bridge will be permanently closed to automobiles, while traffic on the right bank will be slowed, all with the goal of turning the urban highway into a "pretty urban boulevard." The estimated $50 million project — dubbed "the reconquest of the banks of the Seine" — calls for the development of 35 acres of riverside, with cafés, sports facilities and floating islands. "It's about reducing pollution and automobile traffic, and giving Parisians more opportunities for happiness," Delanoë said at the April 14 project unveiling. "If we succeed in doing this, I believe it will profoundly change Paris."

The estimated $50 million project — dubbed "the reconquest of the banks of the Seine" — calls for the development of 35 acres of riverside, with cafés, sports facilities and floating islands.

The trouble is, the good Mayor seems deaf to the social explosion in his suburbs, aka les cités, aka, occasionally and more formally, les banlieues interdites. Well, actually, local government is fragmented, so they're not his off-limits suburbs, and that's part of the larger problem.

Paris is quite unlike most US cities - Paris proper is for the rich (and for tourists feeling rich by squandering at rates they can sustain for at most a week or two), with the poor relegated to the suburbs. "Cafés, sports facilities and floating islands" are essentially costly playthings for the rich or highly affluent. It follows that as a practical matter the Mayor is making the suburbanites - who could never afford to move into the city proper - a little more miserable so his well-heeled buddies can enjoy a few more toys. Not exactly a recipe for social peace, but then again one supposes he can blithely continue to ignore that for the time being.

Such a negative and narrow comment. The mayor of Paris can't close a road in the city centre because there are social problems in the banlieus? Totally illogical. Silly me for thinking that TODers might support an iconic project that begins to redress the imbalance between cars and other travel modes.

It follows that as a practical matter the Mayor is making the suburbanites - who could never afford to move into the city proper - a little more miserable so his well-heeled buddies can enjoy a few more toys. Not exactly a recipe for social peace, but then again one supposes he can blithely continue to ignore that for the time being.

The poor who live in the suburbs certainly do not have cars, so their lives will not be made more miserable by restricting auto traffic on the banks of the Seine. And even the poorest in France can afford to ride the Metro and travel into Paris to enjoy the free amenities along the river banks. Plenty of immigrants, youth, and unemployed enjoyed the trucked-in sand for the summertime "Beach" on the Seine, while the elite vacationed elsewhere.

The idea that a small amount of additional car-free space in a city makes anybody miserable is just weird. Walking in Paris has always been a pleasure and the current Mayor has made cycling in the city much safer and more pleasant too. Paris was designed and built before the automobile distorted urban planning, so it has always been designed for human needs instead of the mechanical requirements of the automobile. Most French cities include car-free or pedestrian zones and I never noticed any miserable people while enjoying them myself.

Please elaborate as I don't see the connection between what is being done and the exacerbation of social problems in and around Paris. I say this quite honestly because I do not understand the issues which may be obvious to you and others here. Will this make housing more expensive?

Personally, I would like to see car free cities everywhere. If one combined this with free public transportation, it seems like this would be beneficial to the less well off.

That expressway would be worthy of Robert Moses - when I first saw it I was astounded to find it such a place - but it is now a link in a city that, like most, is clogged with traffic. Had it not been built, one assumes the city would have developed differently, so that no one might have noticed its absence. But time machines remain in short supply, so the Mayor doesn't get to remove it in that smooth manner. It can only be removed the hard way, now that it has become a necessary and accustomed part of the regional fabric. (In this respect, the trouble with idealists is that they often act as if one can just slip at cost-free whim into any flippantly desired alternate utopian reality.)

According to the article, eliminating the expressway will raise commute times. This should be blindingly obvious: it pushes the traffic somewhere else, and every possible somewhere else is already clogged. (Despite the beloved pipe-dreams of visionaries, traffic never seems to disappear by magic.) There's no indication of planning to cope with the problem, just handwaving and beefing up the already overtaxed transit services the little bit that's actually feasible. But if the latter even works, it will mainly help the few who just happen to live near an RER line that just happens to go where they need to go (and who can afford it), plus Metro users in the city proper (who can afford to live in the city.) The rest, the middle class who may drive, and the poor who mainly go (i.e. crawl) by bus, will be mired in traffic that extra bit each day. It's said to be a small effect - though we can expect to discover as always that the advocates have lowballed it- but it's yet one more straw on the proverbial camel's back. The plan is undeniably nice for affluent tourists and city residents since it provides them new expensive toys (bait and switch: cafés, sports palaces, and the like, facilities that are costly to use, unlike the temporary summertime plages of the original experiment), even if that's by burdening most everyone else with a longer work day.

Oh, and I expect to see major expansion of "free" transit about the same time every eight-year-old who claims to want a pony actually gets one. Nothing in this world is "free"; everyone's already head over heels in debt; and transit generally seems to be about as costly per passenger mile as solo driving. Many train lines couldn't even handle more trains. And the main beneficiaries in Europe would be the highly affluent, who can afford to live in the well-served central city areas. So the idea strikes me as another yet manifestation of the fatuous entitlement mentality that has already gotten the USA, Greece, and many other countries into so much hot water.

I am currently in Texas visiting TOD and TAE readers. I will be speaking on energy and finance at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Austin at 7 pm for anyone who might be interested. Later this month I will be taking the roadshow to New England and the eastern seaboard.

No engagements in Houston?

I was in Houston briefly yesterday on my way through, but I don't have a talk organized there. I'm in the neighbourhood until the afternoon of the 12th though, and I'd be happy to get together with anyone who would just like to chat :)

Shucks....would have been glad to buy you lunch but I'm tied up on a rig demob for a few days. Maybe next trip

Stoneleigh, good to hear from you. You hold a bit of celebrity status on this blog. Particularly now that events are in flux.

And I hear you'll be writing again for the Automatic Earth. Look forward to your contributions.

PS: is there a Halifax stop on your eastern seaboard presentations?

Thanks - that's very kind of you :)

I've been hanging out in the comments at TAE answering questions all along, but didn't have time to write many articles because of the time my day job required. I wrapped that up at the end of April so I could concentrate on writing and speaking. I'm planning to write a book. Life is about to get interesting again from a financial perspective IMO, and I wanted to be able to warn people, and help to turn virtual communities into real ones.

So far the eastern seaboard trip is NH (May 18th), VT (May 19th), MA (May 21st), DC (date to be determined), NC (May 25th) and possibly ME. I'm not quite sure of the distance to Halifax from here in eastern Ontario or from the other fixed points, but it might be possible to add something to the roster at either end. At least I'll be closer to Halifax than I usually am, and I must admit it's somewhere I'd very much like to see at some point.

After the eastern US, I'll be in Europe for two months touring around a fair few countries. Details as they emerge will be posted on the right-hand sidebar of the front page at TAE. If anyone would like to talk about the schedule, they can reach me at StoneleighTravels(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thanks Stoneleigh. Will check the sidebar at TAE for upcoming talks. Maine is close by. May give me a good reason to get away for a day (will depend on my work schedule) and enjoy an overnight trip.

Keep up the good work!


Maybe to maintain BAU eternally, all that is needed is bigger loans. E.g.


EU Crafts $962 Billion Show of Force to Halt Crisis

Sure, let's just throw close to a trillion at the problem and forget about the cause. And while we're at it, let's also not think about what it will take to try to pay it back. Hmm, I feel better all ready.

In fact, it will give all the markets a temporary sense of confidence (until the next bill comes due) and the pre-market US will go sky high with an estimated Dow increase of 215 points!


Conservatives in Germany Suffer Defeat at Polls

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc lost its grip on the upper house of Germany’s Parliament on Sunday, as voters in an important regional election dealt her party a strong setback seen as the first significant political fallout from the Greece crisis.

A wide majority of Germans had opposed bailing out the heavily indebted Greek government, but Mrs. Merkel pushed Germany’s part of the $140 billion rescue package through Parliament last week.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc lost its grip...

A wide majority of Germans had opposed bailing out the heavily indebted Greek government...

See, now this epitomizes one of those Mysteries Of 'Democracy'. Is anyone delusional enough to think the non-conservative parties are less likely to bring in such bailouts on their watch? As usual, the political structure ensures that voters are permitted to show displeasure only by voting against themselves...

See, now this epitomizes one of those Mysteries Of 'Democracy'

This is very reminiscent of the US reaction to our internal bailout. The government feels backed into a corner where it has to bail in order to avoid an even worse crisis. The voters see undeserving people getting bailed out with their tax dollars and become infuriated. Whatever party is not in power seizes the opportunity to be anti-bailout and cleanup in the next election.

"Sure, let's just throw close to a trillion at the problem and forget about the cause."

But what is "the cause"?

People are starting to realize what is going on. Said Finance Minister Anders Borg of Sweden, one of 11 EU nations not in the euro. “We now see herd behavior in the markets that are really pack behavior, wolfpack behavior.”


The "wolfpack" he is referring to is of course the bond traders, hedge funds, derivitive speculators, backed by the big banks and institutional money lenders.

The pattern is clear...after fueling speculation to idiotic levels and fueling leverage to an extent out of all reasonable proportion, at the scent of blood, the pack turns on the currency and economy of those they have led to massive debt and begin to short the currency and culture they recently had endorsed.

Of course the bond traders and lenders have done this to third world and economies attempting to develop for years, but only recently realized they could do the same thing to the once powerful economies of Europe, Japan and the United States. Some of the earliest victims were the developing Asian nations, and then Japan. Japan was the first test of whether the bond holding community could first help build up and then turn and bleed a first world developed nation. For one stunning and astonishing account of this, see the book Ugly Americans: The True Story of the Ivy League Cowboys Who Raided the Asian Markets for Millions".

Despite hedge fund and derivitives traders attempts to distance themselves from the activities described in this book, so far no one has discredited its basic premises. And history has proven Japan to be a perfect test case for the strategy of the hedge funds, derivitives traders and bond traders, as the pattern has began to spread around the world like a virus. Japan has never fully recovered from attacks on its economy a decade and a half ago, the U.S. is now in a struggle to avoid a decades long economic stall, and now Europe comes under full attack. Europe may be more combustable, however, given already existing cultural and ethnic strains present there, and what was an economic attack will soon be viewed by many Europeans as the murdering of the Euro as a currency and the end of a centuries old dream of European unification by peace instead of war. The backlash against the financial community could be profound and lasting, and they must pray for the sake of their families and property that it does not get personal.

The banks and the powerful lenders are now essentially without national loyalty, this brought about by the technology of the jet age and the instant communication of the internet, they are world circling flying vultures, leaving wreckage wherever they go and then moving on to safe havens. Wolves would envy them in their predatory skills. As the economies they feed on begin to come unraveled, how many safe havens for them, their property and their families will be left, how many rich playgrounds with good elistist schools and colleges can survive the collapse of the culture around them?

The most dangerous thing for a predatory parasite to do is kill the host species on which they rely for blood and sustenance. For their own survival as well as for the survival of the cultures who have created this parasitic species, they MUST find a way to reign in their thirst for power and wealth. The death of a viable but sane investor class will finish the modern age faster than any shortage of raw materials ever could.

Only a concerted response by the nations of the developed world, a SANE effort(not some reborn extrme socialism) and fair to humanity (not some Fascist attack on the first available targets) but a workable table of internationally accepted restrains on wolfpack capitalism can bring stability to the markets and currencies of the world. This is not a time for politics: If the wolfpack is not restrained, the liberals and conservatives, the leftists and the right wing will all sink into slave poverty together.


But what is "the cause"?

I was thinking it was the high cost of oil and damage done by derivatives.

If the wolfpack is not restrained, the liberals and conservatives, the leftists and the right wing will all sink into slave poverty together.

So is it high priced oil as the root problem or the wolfpack? Or both?

A wolf prefers sick and weak prey. No one forced these countries to go into debt. They chose to live wildly beyond their means. Now they are sick and weak and will pay for their stupidity. Humans badly need a lesson about the importance of living within their means.

Kye Bay,

In one respect you are correct, but it is not as simple as that...

The pressure to borrow to expand can become almost unbearable if a nation is being left behind by the nations around them. Said nation will be portrayed as primitive, inflexible, lacking guts, whatever it takes to "get them in the game". The political pressure is huge when citizens of a nation see the citizens of nearby nations growing wealthy by comparison, and they are remaining relatively poor. "Safety" and "prudence" are invisable, they exist as concepts. Big homes, modern office buildings, sports stadiums, marinas for the yachts and new Mercedes and Bentleys on the street are VERY visible. This is why it is always easier to sell wealth than safety and frugality.

Nations are told they cannot, MUST NOT fall behind...they must take risk, borrow, invest, develop, or they will fall out of the rank of developed and dependable trading partners...it is hard to see how these nations can throw off the pressure to borrow, develop modernize and build.


I think your narrative suffers all the problems of conspiracy theories everywhere. It implies a critical mass of in this case hyper competitive predatory types are able to get together and hatch a conspiracy. It is far more likely to be a simple case of the individual actors making narrow minded decisions based upon their individual greed and imperfect understanding. Aided very likely by groupthink. The result may be the same. And the cure clearly has to involve some pretty strong regulation of financial engineering (which will be deeply unpopular with those who make their living off of financial engineering). And in the English speaking world they have a lot of ideological fellow travelers that can be harnessed as "useful idiots", who do their bidding with little hope of personal gain.

enemy of state says,

"It is far more likely to be a simple case of the individual actors making narrow minded decisions based upon their individual greed and imperfect understanding. Aided very likely by groupthink. The result may be the same."

Exactly correct...I am not for one moment a believer in "conspiracy theories. But I do believe that if you send people to the same schools and they learn the same predatory capitalism together they will, like a pack of wolves live up to the parents who trained them.

When a pack of wolves behave in concert, do we consider it a conspiracy? Hiding our eyes by calling anything threatening a "conspiracy theory" is to me ostrich logic...hide our eyes and the threat disappears. And trying to attribute this catastrophe to peak oil simply makes NO SENSE whatsoever to me. This virus is loose in the world, without or with "peak" anything. The normal restraints have been torn down. The investor/trading/speculating class used to know the danger of shitting in their own nest. Somewhere along the way, this fundamental lesson has been lost. Even wolves keep on the move when acting as predators, but wolves do not want an Ivy League education for their cubs and safe and sunny castles in the sun...


The underlying cause is peak oil, which lead to various social and political events (such as the World Trade Center attack and Iraq war) and economic policies to counter the effects (most notably - a housing credit bubble).

But it also true that financial wolfpacks are accelerating the economic destruction on the downside and increasing financial instability. Financial instability by itself causes investment to pull back (remember what even temporary $40 oil did to energy planning just a year or so ago).

Frankly it is not in our best interest as nations to allow speculations to get out of control. George Soros and others (notably at Goldman Sachs) have made billions by adding to instability and influencing events which have contributed to economic failure. I could give many examples. Their greed doesn't appear to have any bounds and they want billions more. Soros is an enemy of the state dressed up as a friend sprouting capitalism.

I am not sure what to call our financial system but it is now a system with a bias towards failure.

Peak oil is bad enough without so many trying to wreck the economy to make even more money.

But it also true that financial wolfpacks are accelerating the economic destruction on the downside and increasing financial instability.

I was in the early part of this thread, and am jumping in here with a response of my own, but don't want to interfere with you two.

I agree with the above, but see it as a reaction to a constricting economy. In other words, as those in a position to commit financial crimes see the writing on the wall of an approach to collapse, they reduce their morals to grab as much dough as possible, while it is still possible, in an effort to survive better once it occurs. At first I saw it as wanten greed, but now see it as a response to feeling desperate, and I think we need to consider it as a possibility.

Peak Earl,
"At first I saw it as wanten greed, but now see it as a response to feeling desperate, and I think we need to consider it as a possibility."

Actually, that is a fascinating thought, and I admit I had not looked at it from that angle. It has become a theme in popular culture recently, with villians such as the both the villians and heroes in "24" who control the actions of the murderers and terrorists (and anti-terrorists) with the justification that their allegiance (a word born from "lineage" or family roots) is to family even before any obligation to any rule of moral conduct. Such is the case of the hero in the wonderfully written AMC series "Breaking Bad" where the character Walter White justifies his cooking and selling of meth as "for my family" even as his crimes risk getting his family killed...in recent episodes this has become an almost Shakespearian aspect of the program.

Perhaps the rich speculators foresee a world of declining resources and increasing populations as a world they can survive in with no great loss of power and comfort...somewhere...if they can get the wealth and power NOW and then get to sanctuary. Just as the French aristocracy just before the revolution, they run the risk of over-estimating the safety of the havens they have in mind and may provoke exactly the backlash against themselves they are surely hoping to avoid. This world is getting harder to hide in. But your logic, Earl, is worthy of more thought and consideration.


People are starting to realize what is going on. Said Finance Minister Anders Borg of Sweden, one of 11 EU nations not in the euro. “We now see herd behavior in the markets that are really pack behavior, wolfpack behavior.”

The Europeans worked late into Sunday night and early Monday morning to come with a rescue deal for the Euro.

What was meant to be a two-hour meeting of European finance ministers turned into an 11-hour negotiation - but in the early hours of Monday morning here officials and politicians had a deal.

For weeks confidence had been draining away from eurozone economies with high deficits and debt. This package is designed to show financial markets that weaker countries, or those suffering speculative attack, will be defended.

The European Central Bank is also involved; it has confirmed that it will for the first time buy European governments debt.

EU ministers offer 500bn-euro plan to support currency

Looks like the Euro is experiencing a slight surge in overnight trading in the Far East. Should be interesting to see what the predatory parasites bond traders will do tomorrow. If they decide to murder the Euro, then it will be difficult for member states of the E.U. not to take it personally. For it will then be very personal.

RC you hit the nail on the head. Governments are powerless against the arbitrary and whimsical actions of bond traders. First it was Japan, yes, then applied elsewhere. Traders forced the Pound out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism on 16th September 1992, known afterward in Britain as Black Wednesday. Black Wednesday left no doubt that it was the money markets not the government or the Bank of England that ran the economy. Sobering, but these are the rules by which every government and institution on earth are obliged to abide.

Wolf pack is a fitting description for the behaviour. It will continue unchecked since these predators are following the scent of blood and power. For many of these testosterone riddled lads it is purely a game = considered even more potent b/c the stakes are so high. Who gets hurt in the deal is not their concern; they'll cry all the way to the bank. The fact that in the end it will be self-defeating doesn't even enter into the picture. That's too far down the road to contemplate. What matters is the head rush today.

Sovereign power has slipped from the hands of the many to the fingers of the few.

Pity help us all.

I agree with what you say except the part about the value of the Euro, which I think has put in a significant bottom.

As I have been saying continously for about three months, the Euro will not fail, the ECB will start printing up more money, and the IMF will contribute to the rescue.

The exchange rate of the Euro as of last Friday essentially valued in a Greece default. This may still happen one day, but not yet.

In any event, I remain unconvinced that a Euro without Greece would be worth less, as almost everyone seems to think. Anyone who thinks the dollar is a better investment should consider - what exactly is a dollar? A dollar in 2010 is backed by about 50% home mortgages of uncertain worth and 20% various toxic assets taken from bank and broker failures and 30% US debt.

Comparatively, the Euro seems like a great deal.

Charles Mackay,

I agree with you that Greece and Portugal per se are not the central issue here...the danger is contagion. Spain is already coming under attack, and recently Bulgaria withdrew its bid to join the EU due to massive unacknowledged debt that had been kept off the books by the prior government.

The problem is confidence and contagion. Many EU nations who had previously been seen as immune from this type of soveriegn nation crash now look very vulnerable. We are alreaedy seeing, to use a word popular here, "peak EU". It will be many years before the EU can attempt to grow beyond its current size and scale, in either population or capital, and in fact we may have already seen the largest Euro Union we will see in our lifetime (assuming no one attempts to unite Europe the way Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon or Hitler tried to unite, i.e., by force) Many people had already been very resentful of the old men in Brussels, but accepted their omnipotent despotism on the promise that they were making Europe more rational and prosperous. Can you imagine the barbs in Europe now..."yeah, while they wrote regulations about smoking in the cafe', Europe was being raped by Yankee bankers..." I repeat my earlier contention that for Europe this is not only a financial crisis but could rapidly expand into complete loss of authority and respect for the EU overlords. We are facing in the next few months a very decisive moment in European history that could decide the future of Western culture in many ways, and the nature of "capitalism" in relation to the survival of national states and cultures. The first containment must address holding at bay the ugly forces that are out there, and avoid serious cultural damage.

Lastly, do not underestimate the CRITICAL importance of Germany in this situation, and do NOT dismiss the possibility of Euro/Dollar parity, possibly within the next 8 months, probably by late summer (August) I seldom make predictions of that type, so lets see how I come out...it is educational to make an ass of ones self now and then, and record it so ones detractors can wave it in ones face later. :-)

Argh... sometimes I just can't stand it!

How does it happen that having 15 other nations borrow money to help the 165h get out of debt is somehow a sollution to a debt problem? Doesn't that just make everyone worse off? I say, no bank, no industry and no nation is too big to fail. The wealty idiots who lent the money to a profligate nation deserve to lose it. QED.

And, the stupid banks deserve to go under. And GM.

Postponing it just makes matters worse. Passing the debt on to the taxpayers makes everyone worse off, except the bank owners and C-level execs who get the really big bonuses.

The lesson here is that the political payoffs by the money folks have really paid off in a big way for them. They own the governments and the lawmakers, and in the US at least the courts as well.

All this talk about quick decline is probably correct. And, that none of the stupidity that got us here was planned.

We are watching the culmination of years of neglect, compounded by more years of greed and avarice. It is manivested through social unrest, political incivility, polarization of attitudes in almost everything, and an absolute denial by the sheeple of facts that are clear and consequences that cannot be avoided.

Covergent trends include, in no particular order:
economic upheaval (banking crisis, Greek credit crisis, PIGS of Europe crises)
peak oil
peak water
population growth unchecked
soil degredation
widespread dsertification of farmlands
emerging diseases (HIV/Aids, Hanta viruses, resistant disease vectors, etc.)
religious intollerance
pseudo science and anti-intellectualism
widespread cults. including cults of personality ala Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, etc.
growing fear (VIX up 88% according to reports)
growing reports of dispair
Anger - riots in Greece for example
expanded differential in wealth between the rich and poor
reckless acts to support continued wanton use of fossil fuels
antropocentric global climate change
blame shifting and finger pointing by all persons in charge
total failure of leadership at every level. corporate, local, institutional and governmental.

When did we hit the tipping point? Was it just the spill in the GOM, or was it the 2005 or the 2008 peak in production of crude oil? Or some other point? Maybe the attack on 9/11, or the invasion of Iraq? Or was the actualy tipping point as early as the refutation of Jimmy Carter, denial of the need to become sustainable, and the concometant election of Saint Ronnie the Wrong? I think that may be the real point of no return, where America, and the World as they followed America, left reality and began the sojourn that we are now ending. We have seen, in the US, 30 years of unrestricted greed, corporatism, and marginalization of the individual lead to a possibility that the unrest our unprecedented profligy has engendered could well help to engineer the election of someone who combines the worst facets of Reagan, Bush, Clinton Bush and Obama, and who would sell out her country as quickly as she sold out her state to make a buck. The ultimate American... Sarah Palin.

Drill, baby, drill!


How does it happen that having 15 other nations borrow money to help the 165h get out of debt is somehow a sollution to a debt problem? Doesn't that just make everyone worse off? I say, no bank, no industry and no nation is too big to fail. The wealty idiots who lent the money to a profligate nation deserve to lose it. QED.

I agree. Why is bailing out Greece or any of the Club Med countries so vital to the EU? Why not cut loose the bad apples and keep the cream of the crop? I think they are certain these economic hard times are temporary. But what they are going to find out is we are post peak oil, and these economic problems are only going to get worse. How many years will it be before the EU regrets this massive bailout? How many trillion dollar bailouts does this latest one make for the world? I've lost count. It's desperate, it's sad, it's stupid, and worse of all it ignores the basis for the situation, we are post peak oil! Why is that so hard for the leaders of this world to understand the implications of?! Are they that dense?

Wow, that was a good rant!

Peak Earl asks,

"Why is bailing out Greece or any of the Club Med countries so vital to the EU? Why not cut loose the bad apples and keep the cream of the crop?"

This is critical to the understanding of the crisis facing the Euro community:

If the EU were to decide to "cut loose" the bad apples and keep the cream of the crop" it would end any justification for EU membership. If you have an economy that is "the cream of the crop" why weaken it by joining up with other gold plated triple AAA+ economies? You could simply have a few "co-ordination" meetings each year (much like the OAS (Organization of American States) but take good care of your own economy and retain your triple AAA+ status.

On the other hand, if you threw the "bad apples" over when they showed signs of weakness, what advantage would it be to for them to join? They would have to put up with the EU rulesmakers but at the fist sign of trouble, they would be told, "thank you for your interest but your account has been closed."

The whole point of the EU is that it mutualizes or socializes the risk and aims to bring all the nations in the area of influence into co-ordination. The way this acceptance of co-ordinated rules and regulations is accomplished is by way of promising protection and assistance. It is like an insurance policy, wherein the owner of a home will comply to fire safety and buiding codes so that he/she is provided insurance against catastrophic failure.

The Euro Community MUST come to the aid of the weaker members or its very reason to be will be brought into question, will in fact disappear. The goal of the modern fully developed European nations in creating was to bring in the weak less developed nations so that they would become pools of labor, pools of talent and pools of customers and contributers to a larger, safer more fully integrated Europe, and the whole ship floats on trust and confidence. If that trust and confidence were to be shattered the European Union will disappear as fast as the Soviet Union did...

Oh yeah, remember them? The Soviet system was based on the same premise, with the Red Army to back it up. Even given the threat of violence the Soviet could not hold this "Mutualized" socialized system together...understandably the Europeans do not like to think about the Soviet example, because they are attempting to mutualize Europe with no army to back it up, only theory and money...

OUCH, which brings us to why an attack on the money or currancy of this mutualization scheme is such a profound threat to the whole European Unification idea...

But enough thought for now, back to our main point...European credibility is at stake here...if they cannot stand behind Greece, Portugal and possibly Spain (we will talk about Poland, Slovenia, Romania and Italy another day, okay?), the European unification dreamers and planners know that no European nation will trust them to come through in a pinch, and soon, will no longer tolerate the centralized meddling and planning of their cultures. So far, the U.S., through its centralized "one nation" planning system has weathered the storm without having to call out the national guard...but Europe must deal with 27 nations and has no national guard to call on...not of any size and force that can cope with European rebellion against the whole EU idea, which was hanging by a thread anyway.

To repeat, this is a CRITICAL moment in European history, as important, or perhaps more so, as the collapse of the Soviet Union, and we have almost certainly seen "peak EU" in our lifetime, as the European Union shifts from a an espansion mode to a survival mode for many years to come.


zaphod42 asks,
"When did we hit the tipping point?"

Go to the Wiki article on the Glass Steagall Act, which was first passed in 1933:


Now go to the act that repealed the Glass Steagall Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November, and created what become known by the misnomer of the "financial services industry":


Now, go to your chart of say the Dow Jones, set on maximum the time frame, and look at the stock market since the end of 1999:

Let us look at the broader market, the S&P 500 since the death of the Glass Steagall Act and the birth of the "financial services industry":

Again, look at the progress the shareholders have made in the "lost decade" since the death of Glass Steagall and the birth of the "financial services industry". IMPORTANT: Take the time to look at the bottom of each chart, the volume traded graph. That's right, more and more investors pulled into the markets,(so there was no shortage of investors) to a losing game.

The tipping point you ask? November, 1999, the death of Glass Steagall, when the wolves were turned loose with trillions of dollars of government insured cash to run over the globe, building up and then wiping out economies one after the other. If they won, they kept the money. If they lost, the government by way of insuring the depositors of the giant "too big to fail" banks had to stand behind it and insure the loss, doing away with any "moral jeopardy" on the part of the wolfpack speculator predators.

Those who created and voted for the repeal of Glass Steagall should go down in history as among the most destructive class of legislator's in American history. They should not be allowed to sit at the table with decent folks and should be shunned for the remainer of their lives. Look at what I have shown you above...and recall that Glass Steagall was repealed because it supposedly reduced investment opportunity for the investor and slowed the efficiency of the money markets...how ironic that we had 66 years of shareholder wealth growth before the destruction of Glass Steagall, and none afterward!

It is astounding to me that the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER we have created and are now living with (and as Japan and Europe have now learned, they are also living with) is all but ignored in the media of the world. The legislative wall that protected us from the wolfpack survived from one massive financial meltdown for over 60 years, and when the wall was torn down, we had the next financial meltdown. How stupid do people have to be, how willingly blind, to be able to ignore this?


And if I'm correct Gramm's motivation for pushing thru the repeal of Glass Steagall was because his wife was on the board at Enron - the repeal opened the door for their shenanigans... Activities that resulted in the first cracks and bits of plaster falling off the facade of the global e-CON-omy...

I think Gramm was acting out of conviction, including his marriage to the idea that greed is godly.

Re: "A deep sea drilling moratorium will leave global supplies depleted just as demand gets greater."

I can't even follow the news because thinking of the harm to wildlife makes me sick. However, if this brings on peak oil, at least something good would come of it. The faster oil prices go up AND STAY UP, the faster we all move to solar and wind.

These technologies won't make a difference until prices remain high. When every sunny-climate roof has a solar panel, and every wind corridor has wind mills, fossil fuels will no longer rule us. Go, high oil prices! The sooner the better.