Drumbeat: July 19, 2010

EROEI of electricity generation

Although the peak for coal is not expected for some time, the energy required to mine and transport coal is increasing. Over time high quality black coal will run short and dirtier brown coal will be substituted. This will carry an energy penalty as brown coal is less energy-dense and takes more energy to avoid sulphur dioxide emissions. Peak gas is expected before peak coal. The energy inputs to North Sea oil and gas have been increasing over the years as more advanced oil extraction techniques have been applied. Another major future source of gas in the UK in liquefied natural gas which is chilled, compressed and imported by tanker with a high energy cost.

On the other hand, wind energy is becoming more efficient. With wind energy, bigger is better for energy return. Energy return increases with the square of rotor diameter. If the rotor is twice as big, it produces four times the power. Turbine size has been increasing for many years, which is the key reason for the steep rise in EROEI.

Kurt Cobb: Adaptation and the long view

One blade of grass is vulnerable to all sorts of shocks: drought, flood, infestation, and various human interventions including plowing and herbicides (if it's not the kind of grass a groundskeeper wants). But the whole family of grasses would be hard to eliminate. They are so various, so well adapted to their habitats, so ubiquitous in their reach. In short, they are excellent examples of organisms conditioned by millions of years of natural selection, nature's form of trial and error.

That's the long view of adaptation. Then, there is the human view. We are a species with a short history--perhaps at most 500,000 years. Our natural way of living--hunting and gathering--has been superseded by agriculture only in the past 10,000 years. And, our industrial way of life might be said to have begun a little over 200 years ago. And, yet we imagine that the least tested of our human systems of adaptation is somehow the most robust.

The Final End Game: The End Isn't What It Seems - Part 1

Jeff Rubin: What the Economy Will Look Like When We Can't Produce More Oil

We scare people off by talking about 'degrowth'

The French have a much better word for it: 'decroissance'. Using ugly and frightening terms like 'degrowth' won't help pave the way for a new and exciting economics.

Why Energy Storage Investors Must Understand Resource Constraints

If you're reading this blog, you used more than your share of last year's global resource production. The only reason you got away with it is that somebody else, actually a lot of somebody elses, used less than their share. That, by definition, is an unsustainable long-term dynamic.

Modernizing Henry George

Economists have traditionally considered nature to be infinite relative to the economy, and therefore not scarce, and therefore properly priced at zero. But the biosphere is now scarce, and becoming more so every day as a result of growth of its large and dependent subsystem, the macro-economy. As the macro-economy expands into the ecosystem it displaces what was there before, namely habitat of other species (and of indigenous and poor members of our own species). Consequently, biodiversity decline is a salient index of the increasing scarcity of nature, as is involuntary resettlement of people to make way for dams, mines, soybeans, and cattle; and of course increasing depletion and pollution. Sacrifice of nature’s scarce services constitutes an increasing opportunity cost of growth, and that in turn means that nature must be priced, either explicitly or implicitly. But to whom should this price be paid?

Britain faces years of blackouts and soaring energy bills: Expert warns of banking-style collapse in power industry

Britain could face years of blackouts and high electricity bills because of the focus on renewable energy sources, an energy expert has warned.

Derek Birkett, a former Grid Control Engineer, has warned that the cost of the energy crisis could rival that of the banking collapse.

And he claims renewable energy targets were 'dangerous illusions' which could see consumers forced to pay out more for their power.

Moscow eyes gas tax boost

Russia may raise its mineral extraction tax on gas by between 10% and 15% from 1 January next year, the first increase since 2005, according to reports.

Petrol Scarcity Looms

A shortage of petroleum products is imminent in Nigeria as many importers have failed to deliver second quarter quota and the NNPC has also imposed new rules for third quarter imports.

Aramco, Dow extend project deadline-sources

KHOBAR Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Aramco [SDABO.UL] and U.S. group Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N: Quote) extended to Monday a deadline for companies to qualify for bidding to build a giant petrochemical project, industry sources said.

The plant, which would be one of the largest in the world, is part of the Saudi state firm's ambition to develop its petrochemical industry as the kingdom seeks to move away from over-reliance on oil revenues.

Clinton unveils $500-mn aid projects for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday announced more than $500 million worth of development projects for Pakistan that focus on improving water storage, the energy sector, food exports and medical facilities.

The aid, which is the part of a $7.5-billion five-year development package passed by the US Congress last year, aims at improving the US image in Pakistan, a key ally in the fight against terrorism.

Pakistan defends civilian nuclear cooperation with China

ISLAMABAD (Xinhua) -- Pakistan on Monday defended its civilian nuclear cooperation with China to build two nuclear reactors and said the plants will be open to the inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Uranium demand revival and relief for investors

Clearly, China is building up stockpiles for its long list of new reactors. According to the China Nuclear Energy Association, China plans to build at least 60 new reactors by 2020. The average 1,000- megawatt reactor costs about $3 billion. Loading a new reactor requires about 400 tonnes of uranium to start. Take 60 reactors, times 400 tonnes each. That's 24,000 tonnes of uranium (over 52 million pounds) - about all of the world's current output for one year.

Laws Targeting Mafia Used in BP Lawsuits

(AP) Using a law originally enacted to combat the Mafia, attorneys are filing lawsuits accusing BP PLC and Transocean Ltd. of committing a longterm series of crimes by concealing flaws in deepwater drilling plans and lacking safeguards to contain a catastrophic Gulf of Mexico spill.

If The Cap Holds: The Long Term Political Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill

With the latest "solution" to the runaway oil well continuing to work, we may be seeing the beginning of the end of this environmental nightmare. If not now, then by the end of the summer, the media will focus principally on the clean-up from this nation's worst environmental catastrophe since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Both the oil leak and its clean-up are major events that will have significant political impact.

Nature's burden: Clean up bulk of Gulf oil spill

WASHINGTON -- BP now faces a Herculean task of cleaning up the region's oily mess.

While BP has hired thousands of people to boom, skim and burn large amounts of crude, the bulk of an estimated 200 million gallons of oil that spewed into the water is actually beyond human reach. As a result, the ultimate cleanup will be left to nature and to colonies of oil-chomping microbes.

Big Oil Makes War on the Earth

If you live on the Gulf Coast, welcome to the real world of oil -- and just know that you’re not alone. In the Niger Delta and the Ecuadorian Amazon, among other places, your emerging hell has been the living hell of local populations for decades.

Factbox: Significant oil spills across the globe

Following is a factbox on other significant oil spills around the world. Information has been compiled from Reuters and industry databases and, where possible, figures have been converted into barrels per day from tons, gallons or cubic meters.

New power plant ready, but must wait for gas

Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) has completing the running of the new 260-megwatt production unit at the Eshkol Power Plant in Ashdod. The new plant will greatly boost IEC's production capacity, which has been struggling to meet peak demand in recent weeks. Just three weeks ago, IEC was forced to activate hundreds of small generators to meeting the record demand of 10,700 megawatts.

However, a check by "Globes" found that the new production unit, which cost an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars, cannot begin full production until March 2011, because work on the hook-up to the national natural gas pipeline has not even begun. IEC says that, for now, the new power plant will operate only during peak hours, using diesel. Diesel is a more expensive and polluting fuel than natural gas.

Transition Towns: Local networking for global sustainability?

Rob Hopkins originally recommended this paper on his blog, as a piece of "high quality research." I concur. The paper does an excellent job of characterizing Transition and putting it into context. In this post, I've selected some of the highlights of the paper.

Does Middle East Oil Get a Carbon Subsidy?

The federal government’s position on ethanol fuel is that it must contribute less to global warming than gasoline does, or why bother promoting it. Yet by some calculations, ethanol is worse because it encourages the destruction of forests to make way for new farmland, many assert. Burning trees releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; what is more, the trees are no longer there to absorb carbon dioxide.

Now, two professors at the University of Nebraska counter that gasoline is an even bigger source of heat-trapping gases than previously believed. While most attention focuses on the obvious sources of gasoline-related emissions — drilling wells, transporting oil, refining it into gasoline and finally burning it in a car engine — they argue that the military activity that goes into protecting and acquiring oil imports from the Middle East takes an emissions toll that doesn’t get factored into comparisons of gasoline and ethanol.

Oil Rises, Snapping Three-Day Slump as U.S. Futures Signal Equity Rebound

Crude oil snapped three days of losses as gains in U.S. index futures pointed to an equity market rebound that may restore confidence in the outlook for fuel demand.

Oil fell earlier as China said export growth may slow during the rest of the year to less than half the pace of the first six months, while concerns persisted about Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. U.S. index futures rose, indicating the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index may rebound from its biggest sell- off this month.

“The fear of a double-dip in the U.S. and a slowdown in China in the second half will remain the driving factors,” said Eugen Weinberg, head of commodity research at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “Much will depend on the technical picture and whether $75 holds.”

China's Shandong Province Faces Oversupply of Oil Products, dzwww.com Says

China’s eastern province of Shandong faces an oversupply of oil products, news portal dzwww.com reported, citing the local petroleum and chemical association.

Hedge Funds Increase Bets on Oil Gains by Most Since 2007: Energy Markets

Hedge funds and other large speculators raised bets that oil would gain by the most in more than three years just as it began to slide, the second straight week money managers lined up on the wrong side of the market.

So-called net long positions on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 67 percent the week ended July 13, the most since February 2007, according to the weekly Commitments of Traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Oil fell on four out of five days on the Nymex last week, ending down 0.1 percent at $76.01 a barrel as of July 16, and extended that decline today. It rose 5.4 percent the previous five days, the biggest weekly gain since May.

Q+A - How do the new anti-Iran sanctions affect oil?

DUBAI (Reuters) - Decades of sanctions against Iran have stunted its economic development and the growth of its all-important oil sector.

WSJ: US Sanctions Cloud India-Iran Projects

NEW DELHI -(Dow Jones)- India's petroleum secretary said the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Iran could complicate the activities of Indian state-controlled companies that are looking to invest in Iran's oil and gas sector.

The official, S. Sundareshan, said in an interview that Indian public sector firms, including Oil & Natural Gas Corp., are exploring opportunities in Iran, a huge potential market as India hunts for energy resources abroad. India also recently renewed talks with Iran over a proposed $7.4 billion pipeline that would deliver natural gas to Pakistan and India.

Deora rules out rollback of fuel price hike

New Delhi (PTI) Petroleum Minister Murli Deora today ruled out any rollback in the increased prices of petroleum products, saying the hike has been reasonable and minimum.

Huge plant to boost Oman power

Oman will build a huge power plant south-east of the capital to keep up with galloping growth in consumption, the state utility announced yesterday.

The multibillion-dollar, gas-fired plant at Sur – set to be the country’s largest by far – indicates the government has shelved plans to build the GCC’s first coal-fired power plant, analysts say.

BP, RWE developing Egyptian natural gas field

LONDON (AP) -- BP PLC says it has signed a new agreement with Egyptian authorities to develop a deep water natural gas field.

BP said Monday that the first phase of the agreement covers development of an estimated 5 trillion cubic feet of gas and condensate in the North Alexandria and West Mediterranean concessions.

Sinopec Shengli First-Half Crude Oil Production Reaches 13.5 Million Tons

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the nation’s second-largest oil producer, said crude output at its largest field reached 13.54 million metric tons in the first half, without giving year earlier figures.

Daily production at Shengli field in Shandong province dropped to more than 1,400 tons below the planned volume at the beginning of this year because of cold weather, according to a statement on the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission website today. It didn’t elaborate.

U.S. Demands More Test Data From BP as Seep Found in Seabed

U.S. government officials demanded to see BP Plc’s plans for opening its sealed Gulf of Mexico well after tests found a suspected leak seeping from the seabed.

In a letter addressed to Bob Dudley, BP managing director, National Incident Commander Thad Allen said tests had detected a “seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head.” The letter was posted yesterday on the website of the joint information center for the spill.

Well testing continues; government gets BP answers on seep

(CNN) -- Testing on a capped oil well in the Gulf of Mexico will continue for another day, officials said Monday, as the federal government says it has received satisfactory answers from BP regarding a seep near the well.

Thad Allen, the federal government's oil spill response director, said Monday that a federal science team and BP representatives had discussed several issues during a Sunday night conference call, including the "possible observation of methane over the well."

Rig's Final Hours Probed

Federal authorities investigating BP PLC's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are zeroing in on bad decisions, missed warnings and worker disagreements in the hours before the April 20 inferno aboard the Deepwater Horizon that spawned one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

In particular, the panel is examining why rig workers missed telltale signs that the well was close to an uncontrolled blowout, according to an internal document assembled by the investigators and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The document lists more than 20 "anomalies" in the well's behavior and the crew's response that particularly interest the investigators.

BP Well Boss Could Shed Light on Cause of Gulf Oil Disaster

BP Plc’s chief decision maker on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig is scheduled this week to give his version of the events that killed 11 workers and triggered the worst U.S. oil spill.

BP's Oil Spill Costs Near $4 Billion Mark

(CBS/AP) Oil company BP says that the cost of dealing with the Gulf of Mexico spill has now reached nearly $4 billion.

The company, which last week managed to place a temporary cap on the leak, said Monday it has made payments totaling $207 million to settle individual claims for damages from the spill along the southern coast of the United States.

BP Talks With Apache Said to Stall on Selling Prudhoe Bay Stake

BP Plc’s talks to sell half its stake in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay oil field to Apache Corp. stalled twice over the weekend, raising doubts about whether the deal will be completed, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

Halliburton Profit Rises as Onshore Drilling Increases After Gulf Oil Leak

Halliburton Co., the biggest provider of land-based oilfield services in the U.S., said second-quarter profit rose as gains in onshore drilling made up for a halt to new wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

China seals oil port after spill; PetroChina cuts runs

BEIJING (Reuters) - One of China's biggest ports, Dalian, shut on Monday after an offshore pipeline explosion triggered a major oil spill, forcing a refinery to cut processing and importers to divert cargoes elsewhere.

The aftermath of the weekend fire could disrupt shipments of oil, iron ore and soy and add to pressure for stricter environmental standards in China, already reeling from a toxic copper mine leak in the south of the country which burst into headlines last week amid accusations of a cover up.

Dalian Port Falls Most in Two Months on Oil Spill Caused by Pipeline Blast

Dalian Port (PDA) Co., operator of China’s largest crude-oil terminal, fell the most in two months after explosions at pipelines operated by a PetroChina Co. unit caused what may be the biggest oil spill in the country’s seas.

Over 500 fishing boats join Dalian oil spill cleanup operations after pipeline explosion

DALIAN (Xinhua) -- Over 500 fishing boats Monday joined a massive oil spill clean-up operation underway off the coast of northeastern China's Dalian City, three days after pipelines exploded near the city's oil reserve base, one of China's largest.

A dark-brown oil slick has stretched over at least 183 square kilometers of ocean near blast-hit Xingang port, with 50 square kilometers severely polluted.

China Says Oil Spill May Be Cleaned in 5 Days; Pipeline Blast Shuts Port

An oil spill caused by pipeline blasts at China’s Dalian port may be cleaned up this week, allowing country’s largest crude-oil terminal to resume receiving supplies for two PetroChina Co. refineries.

Post-BP cap: What's in store for big oil cos?

And among experts there seems little doubt that it is big oil that will triumph, particularly in the more difficult terrain where much of the biggest reserves lie. The huge size of potential liabilities will mean that smaller oil firms (such as BP's partner Anadarko) will struggle to justify investing in riskier projects, despite the high potential rewards, argues Mr Christopher Skrebowski, founding director of London-based Peak Oil Consulting.

“It's only the biggest companies that effectively will be able to conduct such projects. Other boards will be intensely reluctant to expose themselves – there is no point saying the risk is 1 to 10,000 if it could lead to total wipeout.”

Over A Barrel: Peak Oil per Capita

Most people have enough trouble dealing with the reality of peak oil. It’s like being married to someone who says, “I’m not an alcoholic, I just sometimes drink too much.” But perhaps to soften the blow, or maybe just to simplify the numbers, what is generally left out is the fact that it’s not really peak oil that matters, anyway, but peak oil per capita, the date of which was 1979. In that year there were 5.5 barrels of oil available for each person on Earth; by 2009 it had gone down to 4.3.

Attack of the Malthusians! (Again)

Now, I’m used to having Malthusian nonsense preached at me by confused environmentalists or college kids with new beards. But I was now being instructed by a woman with a dulcet NPR voice (in my head, anyway) to share these ideas with my own child. At that moment I realized the discredited thought of Thomas Malthus had been thoroughly recycled.

And this kind of stuff just keeps coming and coming and coming.

Truth & Lies of The Financial "Crisis" (Peak Oil and Peak Ponzi)

The corporate media usually presents the financial crisis as if it were due to bad apples, sloppy accounting practices or other localised phenomena, whereas in fact it is systemic. Ponzi schemes such as the modern fiat currency systems must expand or die. Our main talk this week is by Nicole Foss from The Automatic Earth. Speaking to a Transition Towns conference in June 2010 at the Seale Hayne Agricultural College, Devon, UK, she takes peak oil/resource depletion as a given and explores the implications for a world money system based on unpayable debt, concluding that the years ahead hold increasing repression from centralised power increasingly desperate in enforcing untenable debt. People currently uninterested in what is really going on will be forced to pay attention as resource shortages bite and the 'business as usual' mirage never arrives. Our second hour concludes with a reading of Michael Hudson's 2009 article "The Language Of Looting" which explains how economic history has been censored to allow the term "free markets" to be used to mean the opposite of its historical use.

Toyota Prius Success Runs Into Soviet Emigrant's Patent Claim

The success of Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius, the best-selling hybrid car in the U.S., may stall if Alex Severinsky doesn’t get paid.

The Soviet emigrant, who began his career developing antitank-warfare instrumentation, is getting his day in court over his claims that the idea he patented in 1994 for a high- voltage system to power gas-electric hybrid cars was used by Toyota without permission. Severinsky, 65, has spent years trying to get the automaker to pay royalties, and a hearing that starts today may lead to the U.S. blocking imports of the Prius.

Wind power might require a costly grid expansion

The Midwest could be crisscrossed with a new network of high voltage power lines to move wind-generated power from the windiest spots in the Dakotas, Iowa and Minnesota.

A group of utilities in 11 states, including Pewaukee-based American Transmission Co., is studying three alternatives, each of which would cost at least $23 billion over the next 20 years.

BP to take over biofuel business from US company

BP and Verenium have signed an agreement for BP Biofuels North America to acquire Verenium's cellulosic biofuels business, including the company's facilities in Jennings, Louisiana, and San Diego, California, for $98.3m.

New York Is Not Just Hot, but Parched

So last week the city’s parks commissioner urged people to water the trees on the streets. The parks department issued a press release that said trees needed 15 to 20 gallons of water once a week. “That’s three to four large buckets,” it said, offering how-to advice: “Poke small holes at the bottom of a large trash can. Fill it with 15 to 20 gallons of water and leave the trash can next to the tree overnight.”

Beyond the five boroughs, some towns have imposed water restrictions. The result is brownish lawn next to brownish lawn, as David Reardon of Glen Ridge, N.J., knows only too well. “If mine was the only brown lawn, I would be concerned,” he said. “But now you don’t want to be the only green guy on the street.”

Britons need more incentives to cut emissions - MP

(Reuters) - Controversial measures to force Britons to use less energy and cleaner forms of transport could be necessary to aid Britain's fight against climate change, a senior Conservative member of parliament said on Monday.

Bad science: Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause

This is a phenomenon that should worry not only environmentalists, but also conservatives themselves: The conviction that global warming is some sort of giant intellectual fraud now has become a leading bullet point within mainstream North American conservatism; and so has come to bathe the whole movement in its increasingly crankish, conspiratorial glow.

Please remain calm: The Earth will heal itself

Stanford University physicist Robert Laughlin says governments – and people generally – should proceed with more humility in dealing with climate change. The Earth, he says, is very old and has suffered grievously: volcanic explosions, floods, meteor impacts, mountain formation “and all manner of other abuses greater than anything people could inflict.” Yet, the Earth is still here. “It’s a survivor.”

Writing in the summer issue of the magazine The American Scholar, Prof. Laughlin offers a profoundly different perspective on climate change. “Common sense tells us that damaging a thing as old as [Earth] is somewhat easier to imagine than it is to accomplish – like invading Russia.” For planet Earth, he says, the crisis of climate change, if crisis it be, will be a walk in the park.

UN CO2 Regulators Juggle Conflicts of Interest in Debate on Future Supply

Some United Nations-overseen regulators of the world’s second-biggest carbon market need to resolve conflicts of interest as they debate on the supply of emission credits from industrial-gas projects next week.

Nations to seek clean energy cooperation

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Energy ministers or senior officials from 21 nations are gathering in Washington, DC Monday for a two-day meeting aimed at finding ways to work together on clean energy amid an impasse in drafting a new climate change treaty.

The US Energy Department said the meeting will feature announcements of joint initiatives among the major economies, who together account for 80 percent of the world's gross domestic product.

Eastern Europe struggling to meet EU climate targets

The EU's Eastern European newcomers, who still need to catch up with the rest of the Union in terms of economic and social development, face an uphill battle to attain the 'climate targets' laid out in the bloc's 'Europe 2020' strategy, a round-up of articles from the EurActiv media network reveals.

Low-lying nations pledge climate action

Six countries seen as most threatened by rising sea levels have vowed to cut their carbon emissions as a gesture of their commitment to fight global warming, the Maldivian government says.

The countries, mostly low-lying nations, met at the weekend in the Maldives and pledged to drastically cut their emissions while pressing others to follow suit.

Chinese firms cashing in on EU carbon trade

European industries are subsidising direct competitors in China and India by buying international credits to offset their carbon dioxide emissions, an NGO said in a new report.

'Climategate' fallout may impact legislation

Five investigations into the "Climategate" scandal have now cleared a group of scientists accused of twisting data in an effort to prove the world is getting warmer.

But many environmentalists and climate researchers fear the damage has already been done.

New Report Highlights Impact of Climate Change On UK Waters

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) launched its latest annual report card on 15 July 2010 providing the very latest updates on how climate change is affecting our seas.

Almost 100 scientists from 40 leading UK science organisations, including Natural England, contributed to this peer-reviewed report, which covers 30 marine and coastal topics. The report includes a new regional seas climate change impacts map, which highlight important differences in climate change impacts across UK regional seas. These maps show that whilst many impacts are being seen in southern UK waters, future climate change will lead to impacts across all UK regional seas.

Link up top Link up top: Over A Barrel: Peak Oil per Capita

...it’s not really peak oil that matters, anyway, but peak oil per capita, the date of which was 1979. In that year there were 5.5 barrels of oil available for each person on Earth; by 2009 it had gone down to 4.3.

Well, that’s true but a little bit misleading. World per capita oil consumption did peak in 1979 at 5.23 bp/d but then it collapsed in only four years, as OPEC oil production collapsed, to 4.14 mb/d. It has been on a bumpy plateau ever since. (That is Crude + Condensate. Peter Goodchild is probably using all liquids.) Anyway from 1983 until 2005 oil production rose at about the same rate as the population increased, with some fluctuation of course.

It was if there was a race between the rate of oil production increase and the rate of population increase. They ran almost neck and neck for over two decades.

In 2005 the figure was still about the same, 4.16 mb/d. But in 2005 oil production stopped increasing but the population kept right on growing. By 2009 per capita oil consumption was down to 3.89 bp/d. The population will keep rising but oil production will not. 2005 will mark the year we fell off the 22 year bumpy plateau in per capita oil consumption.

The Chart shows barrels of C+C produced per capita, 1970 thru 2010. (Four months of 2010.)


World oil production is from the EIA's International Petroleum Monthly and the population data is from the U.S. Census Bureau

Ron P.

That's a chart we haven't seen in a while, thanks for updating it.

If Peak Oil per Capita is the reason for Americans' general decline in standard of living, how is the rising standard of living in some other countries explained?

I'm thinking about China in particular. The Chinese standard of living has improved from 1980 to 2010 has it not? Now with falling oil per capita they are buying more new cars than ever for example.

Clearly it is not Peak Oil per Capita that is behind America's decline but something else.

Clearly it is not Peak Oil per Capita that is behind America's decline but something else.

*BINGO* Absolutely correct. Americans could get by quite nicely using half the amount of oil they use now, and have a higher standard of living in the process.

The problem is that they have been convinced that in order to have a high standard of living, they must drive a car that uses twice as much fuel as it needs to, and live in a house that is twice as large as they really need.

People who live in other countries that have no such misconceptions can get along quite nicely using considerably less oil, and save a lot of money for the future as well. You can be middle-class in a lot of countries without owning a car at all, and that saves a lot of money for fine dining and good wine. And in most cases they get free health care as well.

Americans could get by quite nicely using half the amount of oil they use now,..

Of course they could. They could drive a lot less, stay home instead of going on vacation, or to the beach, or to the mall, or to the movies. They could stay home and cook instead of eating out. They could buy a lot fewer products made from oil.

The problem is that all those folks who's jobs depend on them going all those places and buying all those things will be out of a job. Excess energy has created jobs for our every growing population. When we stop consuming that excess energy all those millions of jobs will go away.

I know, it just seems so simple. We consume much more energy than we really need. But it is just not that simple. Millions of livelihoods are dependent upon us traveling and consuming. We became dependent upon it simply because it was there. And our population grew, and grew and grew. If we consumed half the energy we do not then half the people employed right now would not be. And there is no real way of backing out other than.... Well, I don't really feel like going there right now.

Ron P.

I believe that a viable alternative is to divert some % of our consumption towards investing in infrastructure. Long lived and energy efficient or energy producing infrastructure.

Certainly a different economy, but potentially a good one.

BTW, "Over investing and under consuming" seems to work for the Chinese.

Best Hopes for more Investing,


If Americans cut their energy consumption by such sensible measures, some jobs would go away. But, they would have money to spend on other sorts of economic activity -presumably less energy intensive. Its a change that needs to be made. A sudden coldturkey cutoff of course would have severe repercussions. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to move in that direction, but that we don't try to do it all at once.

And, as Alan states, we could divert the saved cash flows towards investment in "sustainable" infrastructure.

Instead, they could drive more efficient cars, or walk, bicycle, or use public transit instead of driving. They could shop and enjoy entertainment closer to home. It doesn't necessarily mean they can't work any more. They just have to work closer to home.

It's all a matter of a more efficient lifestyle. The problem is they have come to equate a high standard of living with a high rate of energy consumption, and the two are not necessarily related.

There is generally an inverse relationship between counties with high average (or median) income and counties with high gasoline consumption per capita.

The county I will be meeting in this week, averages about 280 gallons of gasoline/year/capita vs. a national average of closer to 580 gallons/year/capita. It is also one of the wealthiest counties (top 20 I was told) in the USA.

Best Hopes for spreading the wealth,


The county I will be meeting in this week, averages about 280 gallons of gasoline/year/capita vs. a national average of closer to 580 gallons/year/capita. It is also one of the wealthiest counties (top 20 I was told) in the USA.

Oh, aren't you going to DC this week? A county filled with a parasite class consisting of congress critters and their staffs, lobbyists, attorneys, regulators, and all sorts of blood suckers who are living off the productivity rest of the country. Spreading the wealth? No, these parasites are taking it from us.

It may be true that wealthy counties have lower per capita gas consumption, but those areas often are cities, which require that most resources be brought in from outside. That process of supply is typically met thru long haul trucking and truck based distribution to the final consumers. Those high income people thus consume indirectly and this consumption may be allocated to other counties outside the city. An other issue might be the fact that wealthy consumers tend to travel more and thus their gasoline purchases would likely fall in counties outside that in which they reside. As an example, when I lived in San Francisco decades ago, I worked 38 miles down the freeway, which was 2 counties away from S. F. The gasoline was less expensive at the work end of my commute, so I often filled up there, not in my "home" county...

E. Swanson

"*BINGO* Absolutely correct. Americans could get by quite nicely using half the amount of oil they use now, and have a higher standard of living in the process."

Let me fix that for you.

*BINGO* Absolutely correct. Americans could get by quite nicely using one tenth the DEBT and financilization they use now, and have a higher standard of living in the process.

Course there will have to be years of serious painful de-leveraging first.

The real reason Americans have so much debt is they use twice as much fuel as they need to, and live in houses twice the size they really need. If they had just downsized both their cars and their houses, and put the money they saved in good investments, they'd be much better off today. (I was going to say, "in the bank", but then realized that was a bad choice).

Of course, they needed to do this starting a couple of decades ago, because now (after the bubble has burst) is much too late. I mentioned this to many people a couple of decades ago, but they didn't seem to be listening, or even understand the basic concept. Their motto seemed to be, "spend everything you make and then borrow as much as you can", which is a really bad approach and led to the current debacle. My motto is "Never trust anyone trying to sell you something or lend you money."

I'm waxing philosophical about this as I sit in my cozy post-and-beam framed ceder house, high in the Canadian Rockies, with the VW Eurovan camper and the Toyota Matrix in the driveway. All fully paid for. No debts and no financial obligations, other than to answer calls from my financial adviser wondering where to what to put the latest cash dividends from my investments into. The Eurovan gets 25 mpg and the Matrix considerably better, even with a couple of kayaks on the roof and a couple of bicycles on the rear. No problem taking long trips now that we're retired.

It seemed so simple when I planned it out. Buy a smaller, more fuel-efficient car than you need. Buy a smaller house in a really nice neighborhood close to work. Walk and take public transit to work. Borrow as little money as possible and put a quarter of your income into good investments. Always think, "If I can't pay cash for it, maybe I can live without it." Don't let people sucker you into buying things you don't need or can't afford. Don't let people sucker you into borrowing money you might not be able to pay back.

We all knew the energy and financial crunches were coming, didn't we?. There was lots of warning, so why didn't everybody else prepare for it? I don't understand other people. They just don't see things coming.

You summed it up nicely!! I did leave the US when I was 30. Have never needed a car since, commute with a lovely aging but peerless Miyata..

X, I don't know who is making that claim. I just explained that oil consumption per capita has been on a bumpy plateau for over two decades and has only recently began to decline. Also, oil consumption per capita is different in every nation. In some it is going up while in others it is going down.

At any rate, the price of oil will be one of the driving forces of all economies. If the price of oil starts to rise in China, due to peak oil, then you will see their economy start to falter.

But the price of oil will only be one of the factors affecting their economy. A collapse in the real estate market will likely be an even bigger factor as it was in the USA. But then the price of oil is tied, indirectly, to the real estate market.

That is, all these things are interconnected and each affects different nations in different ways at different times.

And the term is "oil consumption per capita" not "peak oil per capita". Oil consumption per capita peaked in 1979 but has hardly changed in over two decades. Though it has declined since 2005, the decline has not been that great, not yet anyway.

Ron P.

Apples and oranges. China is not remotely like America. China's economy is based on coal consumption; America's is based on oil consumption. China's poverty line is the equivalent of $91 per year; America's is in the region of $8,500. And so on.

You weaken your argument by comparing America to China. Try using Canada or Australia instead.

People here seem to have the idea that America is declining. America is not declining by GDP measures. Even American manufacturing output is as high as it's ever been, and still growing. It's only the things that matter to people, like jobs and wages, that are declining.

China is using a huge amount lot of coal. It is also continuing to increase imports (small on a per capita basis). Look at Energy Export Databrowser.

Access Tunnels from land to tap sensitive offshore oil

A Norwegian company is studying drilling an access tunnel from land, excavating a large cavern and operating drilling rigs and production inside the cavern.



Best Hopes for Extreme Measures,


-In case of an uncontrolled spill, the oil will stay in the tunnel and can more easily be handled, company CEO Erik Karlstrøm says.

Guess it would be good for the fish and bad for the workers.

It seems unnecessarily complicated. It would be easier to drill horizontal wells from onshore.

No, impossible. The oil fields are located so far offshore it would be impossible to drill that far horizontally.

Ron P.

So, in what way is boring a tunnel, putting a cavern at the end of it, and drilling wells from the cavern any cheaper than boring a big horizontal well, and swinging multilateral completions off it?

I'm just reasoning from the experiments that led to SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage) in the oil sands. The original experiments involved sinking a mine shaft, and then boring horizontal wells out from it. And then the oil companies came along and said, "Actually, it would be a lot cheaper just to drill multiple horizontal wells off a gravel pad on the surface". The rest is history, and an extra 170 billion barrels of proven reserves.

This is somewhat similar. Horizontal well technology is highly developed, and if you wanted to, you could probably drill a horizontal well a man could walk through standing upright. But I think you could get away with something a lot smaller if nobody has to walk through it. But realistically it's probably cheaper to drill off a floating platform.

Rail Capacity to be increased 2000% in Northeast Brazil

Significant new tracks (+1,740 km for a total of 4,200 km) but also many of the steps that can economically expand capacity; double tracks, higher operating speeds, fewer grade crossings, better signals and in this case, going from narrow gauge (1,000 mm) to broad gauge (1,600 mm).


Brazil to add 10,000 km of new railroads by 2020, up from 5,000 km

The driving force is lowering the cost of exports "trucking has average cost of US$117 per 1,000km, compared with a cost of just US$27 by rail" and congestion (and wear & tear) on roads. Decreased oil use is not mentioned.


And more on Brazilian railroads


Best Hopes for Brazilian Railroads (and their future electrification),


For planet Earth, he says, the crisis of climate change, if crisis it be, will be a walk in the park.

Straight forward idea, but I believe the concern is also for all of us who just happen to live pretty close to sea level, and the change of climate, eco systems, etc etc.

That's like saying, "don't worry if that suspension bridge kills more and more people, the river will still flow underneath it".

The ramifications of displaced millions, resource wars, migrations, and the pain and suffering of countless species besides man, is an important consideration. If we could do things differently and alleviate these problems by actions, surely this is worthy of our concern.

He sounds like an apologist for BAU.


The planet will survive; just the inhabitants will perish and/or suffer big time. Not to worry.

Re: Please remain calm: The Earth will heal itself

Oh No, Not Neil Reynolds again!
Here's a link to the original article by Robert Laughlin. He presents a discussion of the geological history of Earth, which is interesting in itself, but of little importance in the short term problem of Global Climate Change. His focus on the very long term changes misses the fact that human civilization did not exist before some 10,000 years ago and during this period, the Earth has experienced a rather unusual period of warm weather. He speaks about the Ice Ages, but misses the fact that they are a relatively "new" phenomena which began between 3 and 3.5 million years ago. Thus, all the discussion of earlier geological history has little bearing on the present problems of humanity.

E. Swanson

has little bearing on the present problems of humanity.

Or the diversity of species that also along for the ride through humanity's uncontrolled chemistry experiment with "our" atmosphere.

The Earth will be orbiting the sun till the Red Giant phase exerts too much orbital drag and pulls it in. So "it" will be OK. But what of life on this orbiting rock ?


One thing AGW and PO have in common is that there are plenty people out there, with letters after their names, writing straw-man after straw-man ladened articles which prove quite effective in confusing the general populace of what exactly the issues at hand may be.

Export Land in Persian Gulf Aviation

Look at this list of planned new aircraft (to which Emirates added 30 new 777s yesterday).


Quite a bit of aviation fuel will be required for these new fleets.


Another step towards the development of the Lower Churchill Falls?

N.B., N.S. pitch regional energy measures
N.B. Premier Shawn Graham, N.S. Premier Darrell Dexter to make announcement on Tuesday

The New Brunswick and Nova Scotia governments will announce a series of regional energy co-operation initiatives on Tuesday.

New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham and Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter will be joined by representatives of NB Power and Emera, the parent company of Nova Scotia Power, for the energy announcement that will be held in Fredericton.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/07/18/nb-energy-cooper...


Energy: Minister says Graham and Dexter will cement a co-operative relationship by announcing a partnership on Tuesday

A call for regional co-operation in the energy sector stems back to a unique joint cabinet meeting in Sackville in 2008 where the four Atlantic Canadian premiers signed a series of new agreements, including a memorandum of understanding on energy.

Discussions on that agreement were renewed last week at a meeting of New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers in Lenox, Mass.


Nova Scotia Power Inc. has already started initial planning for a multi-million dollar second electrical inter-tie between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which could see the province obtain power from a possible second nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau.

In documents filed with Nova Scotia's energy regulator, Nova Scotia Power says the second inter-tie would allow the province to tap potential power sources outside its borders, such as hydro power from Labrador and nuclear power from a potential second unit at Point Lepreau.

See: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/front/article/1140490

Addendum: And on a somewhat related note...

Chemist finds new way to conduct electricity

SACKVILLE - A Sackville chemist is currently in the development stages of a new technology which could shave millions off the cost of transporting power.

The work of Mount Allison University chemistry professor Andrew Grant may also make projects such as the transmission of power through New Brunswick from the proposed Lower Churchill Falls hydroelectricity development viable, at the same time drastically reducing carbon emissions in the process.

Grant's research aims to eliminate line loss - the loss of power in its transmission stage - something that had dogged the Newfoundland and Labrador project from securing markets across the northeastern seaboard due to the need for an underwater cable.

See: http://nbbusinessjournal.canadaeast.com/journal/article/1140467

It would be great to displace some 3,000+ MW of fossil fuel generation with hydro.


Amen to electrification, particularly hydro.

Pressure for changes in the grid are being felt: the good news is that the political stakeholders seem to be on board.

As the Electric Light Orchestra (appropriately named) says, "Hold on tight to your dreams".

Now, if only we can convince the N.B. government to forgo a second NEW-CLEAR albatross. One is one too many.



Hi Tom,

I'm hopeful that the pieces are slowly falling into place for us. As you know, Nova Scotia Power has applied for a hefty rate increase just to cover-off the cost of switching to a "cleaner" blend of coal -- 12 per cent for residential customers and 18 per cent for commercial and industrial -- and federal and provincial regulations call for the complete phaseout of this fuel once our existing plants reach retirement. The cost advantages of burning coal are quickly diminishing as environmental regulations become increasingly more stringent. Presently, coal accounts for just over half of our generation mix, so we certainly have our work cut out for us.

As you probably know, I don't personally support nuclear power; I think the Lower Churchill Falls, local wind and DSM are better alternatives. First and foremost, we need to use electricity more wisely which is why I hope NSP will continue to pursue this option aggressively -- let's fix the hole in the bucket before we turn on the tap.


Now to colour that big chunk of gray into a nice turquoise hue.

Getting rid of the purple would be helpful, too.

This is one of the reasons I'm excited about the prospect of another Labrador current (pun intended) reaching our shores. The less dependent we are on fossil fuels, the better.

Here's to a cleaner energy future.


The superconducting article highly illustrates the differences between scientist and engineer. Although I would like to see the final energy comparison results of Green's research vs. existing technologies, I suspect when all the numbers are added up the cooling mechanism will eat up a lot of the line loss savings.

But it's not just the line losses to take into account with a transmission system. If we were to work from a purely theoretical point to reduce line losses, we would be using gold for conductors as it is much better than copper. I've worked on high current rectifier transformers where the connectors were multiple solid copper straps 3" wide with silver plating on the ends. Each connector weighed about 20 lbs. and there were 36 per side (2 sides with a double secondary for DC rectification).

Oil filled submarine cables are used often, so maybe pumping liquid nitrogen would be possible. But, the oil is also used as an insulating medium. Which materials would be used to insulate the conductor without fracturing it under dynamic loads at liquid nitrogen temperatures? The cost of putting cable in the ground is usually ~5-times that of overhead lines per circuit-km. If Green's system were to work, it would look more like a pipeline than transmission line. BTW, the "leakage" is due to the capacitance of the cable - much higher than overhead - thereby losing reactive energy in an AC system. The way to get around this one is to use DC. O.k., job done, where's the beer? (too bad its 9:30 am my time).

Saying it does work, the biggest impact will be the upgrading of existing power lines on right of way (ROW). The lines, technology, etc. are not the hard parts, it's the land issues that take time and a toll on human patience and energy.


Appreciate your thoughts and insight. Securing a right of way can be an especially tricky issue as you say. We might hold a slight advantage in that these lines wouldn't be routed through densely populated areas. Also, I think there's strong political and public support for this initiative. Not to suggest there wouldn't be local opposition but, on balance, I think we'd have an easier go of it than say Hydro One.

[And, remember, Tom and I will keep a supply of Keith's at easy reach whenever you're in town and the cab ride is on us too.]


Actually, a work colleague is in Halifax right now on vacation and family business. He'll have to have my share I guess! I like Keith's, but more of Sleeman's man. One good thing to come out of Ontario. (zinger!) Local animosity towards our overlords in Ontario is an ongoing complaint. On this side of the Rockies, we say BC stands for "Beyond Canada".

As stated previously, I work with the engineer whom did the initial transmission system technology comparisons and capex report for the Lower Churchill generation in question. Of course, at that time it was routed through Quebec. And that's the answer to the problem... Let Quebec secede and all the land up in that region is federal and will be under Ottawa control. Takes care of a few problems all at once - Brilliant!!

If the routing is changed to underwater to Nfld, and then over to NS and then NB, I would think HVDC would be the choice due to submarine cabling required. BC Hydro runs this type of system over to Vancouver Island. In the end, the Maritimes would end with a system closely resembling Scandanavia with hydro power from Norway reaching Denmark. I did a quick calc using Google map and the total circuit length to reach Moncton would be approx. 2,000 km. This transmission system project would put it in the $4-$6 billion range. The overhead HVDC towers run about $1 million/km, then there are the converter stations, submarine cable systems, and gratuitous engineering exorbitances ;-) (I think the submarine cable from Nfld to Cape Breton would be in the $1 billion range).

Agreeing in principle with Zadock, getting off coal by retiring plants is the best course. As the coal fired percentage decreases, the ascendancy and focus could be on an integrated wind energy system in the region having the functional equivalent to a virtual firm power supply.

Perhaps in that particular problem area, this would be a more immediate solution:

Thanks, Jumper, for the link; much appreciated.


JHK has quite a bit to say this morning about Matt Simmons expertise and his theories concerning the Macondo blowout.


I have read stories on TOD that Matt is losing it or something else. Matt really is a "straight shooter". There is no "dimensia" or whatever else. TOD followers need to at least start listening to what the guy has to say and make a determination whether he is right or wrong.

Its scary to think he's right. I trust Matt Simmons.

I have read stories on TOD that Matt is losing it or something else.

Methinks it is more comments than stories.

But consider the sources of the 'Matt is nuts' meme here. Are these people who have pushed a discredited message of "there are no conspiracies" - because part of Matt's message of bad tide-ings is 'there is a conspiracy - you are not being told the full truth'.

Consider the official positions and what Mr. Simmons was saying at the time of the official position. Mr. Simmons was 'closer' to what we are accepting as reality than what was the official position.

(I'm still looking for independent conformation on the 'the Russians used nukes to close some wells' - IE seismic records that correspond to the dates. Extra points for 'google maps' of the wells. And while on the topic of 'not truth' - I've heard a reference to reporting about Chernobyl that said 'and today everything is fine in Chernobyl' on that bad day.....where's the you-tube of the talking head saying it?)


From what the Ruskis say, there was nothing about Chernobyl on Radio Leningrad that day. There was no mention at all for the better part of a week, then a brief comment about "cleanup of an industrial accident is well underway". The full gruesomeness came out over months. They were there, they speak Russian, that's the first hand account.

Thanks for that additional data point. I hope the guy pushing the 'and nothing happened today at X' meme will respond/respond with his source.

It is always possible that the real situation is a little of both. Dementia does not happen overnight. I have seen it come on first hand. It is possible for someone to slowly lose their grip, whilst still having something important to say. It is often subtle social skills that are lost first. Simmons is used to filtering the 'truth' to the media, or he would not have reached his previous level of success. Poor judgement of difficult decisions could easily be an early symptom of decline.

We should still listen to Simmons, but we need to make our own minds up on the evidence presented.

For example, plugging the well with a nuclear blast sounds possible, but we do not know the local geology nearly well enough to judge, and the little technical problem of inserting a nuclear bomb deep enough down a narrow bore hole under deep water against a massive upwelling of oil in a timeframe of days or weeks seems to be insurmountable to my novice opinion.

Sometimes problems don't have solutions.

we need to make our own minds up on the evidence presented.
For example, plugging the well with a nuclear blast sounds possible

Hence my search for other data to show some explosions were used. The collapse of buildings can be detected via seismic data. The use of fission weapons to close a well should be detectable via the radiation-detection birds in space, seismic data and a few other methods. Seismic data is most likely obtainable by mere mortals like me.

Sometimes problems don't have solutions.

The 'problem' of the leaking well has a solution - don't make the well if you can't manage the failure.

The only real action option for the US of A government was blowing up something. The US couldn't realistically throw money at the close the well problem (to hire more people/move more material) as the people and material to close the well are limited and more money wouldn't make more resources appear.

Matt Simmons.

I will comment on the form, not the content. His speech (I did watch one vid but it was not good quality enough and I didn’t see anything to comment on.)

Now, this is off the cuff of course. I did not make a transcript, or take any measurements. Nor am I familiar with his speech in other circumstances, or 5 years ago, 10 years ago, etc. So please take this as it is offered - a personal impression from someone who has done too many hours of speech analysis for hmmm, various purposes. I can’t back any of this up. I find it interesting, OK, and perhaps it is pertinent to other issues (climate change, PO, etc.)

1) Matt is absolutely sincere, he believes what he says, and he is not being manipulative or deceptive in any way - shading his ‘truth’ by distorting, omitting, false emphasis, calculated repetition etc. I’m sure readers agree with me here. (The general situation speaks to this as well, no motive for ‘lying’ suggests itself.) He is alarmed, and feels very alone.

2) People who are certifiably ‘mad’, such as paranoid schizophrenics (skipping discussions on definitions of ‘sanity’, obviously) often truly believe ‘weird’, ‘strange’ or blatantly counter-factual things. Such as that their wife is trying to kill them, they are Napoleon, etc. However, a careful examination of how these beliefs are expressed, often shows tentativeness, over-emphasis, and so on. Perhaps simply because they expect to be disbelieved. However, the content (not just the form) expressed often shows a lot of ‘shading’ or ‘doubt’ around the belief...”When I was Napoleon” (for ex..) .. “Napoleon said...” etc. - the belief or ‘fact’ is not very consistent, it waxes and wanes. Simmons, I figure, is not in this camp.

3) Senility, dementia, Alzheimers. Speech shows none of the typical characteristics, such as word-need (word groping/substitution), planning gaps, dropping the ends of phrases. These can be very subtle, and ppl like aphasics can learn to circumvent them.

So that is partly, independently of reputation, why Matt sounds so credible. Many listeners have semi-sensitive radars for these dimensions, although they use ‘false cues‘ a lot as well. Think of speech defects, slurred speech, a high number of fillers such as errrr and emmmm, which will be judged negatively. (These belong to other ‘registries’, not directly relevant to sincerity or belief or dementia.)

Professional speakers such as Alex Jones do a good job of obscuring the cues, in this case with a bombastic cover-all style, one can’t tell if Jones believes what he says or not. The listener believes him because he is viewed as an authority and/or because what he says fits in with previous knowledge or doubts. In a way, Jone’s own belief is immaterial, unimportant, and he knows that as well.

Why do ppl believe things that a majority, or established opinion, the PTB, or Science, the present reading of the facts, etc. consider to be outright false, mostly incorrect, stupid, outdated, totally wacky? Well, there are dozens of different answers, a veritable smorgasbord of approaches, dating from the dawn of writing.

The short and simple answer is: Because someone else told them so. Because their community believes and they go along.

So as Ralph says, a little of both...which raises the qu. who is giving Simmons information?

It's really hard to think he's right. The ideas that oil and gas are being released at a great rate and are pooling at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and that none of it rises to the surface are pretty hard to believe. Even harder is the idea that the original well blew out completely and that BP is now showing off a Potemkin well several miles away, and that no one noticed that it's at a new location.

Matt Simmons' past work on peak oil has been quite credible. The stuff he has said over the last couple months is clearly a bit nuts.

The surprising thing is that most discussion about these recent opinions seems to center on his past credibility rather than the apparent disconnect between what he's saying and what is possible.

For instance, I believe I heard him saying that the entire drill string including the BOP had shot out of the hole and was lying on its side on the bottom. Yet the live video feeds showed a vertical BOP with pressurized oil coming out. In other words, in order to reconcile what he was saying with physical reality, you'd have to ALSO believe that the video feed was fake. And that the US government is in on the conspiracy to hid the huge "real" leak miles away. And so on.

I'm a bit surprised that a sage commenter like JHK - no slouch when it comes to logic - doesn't apply basic logic here. When Simmons says there's a huge lake of "black oil" on the bottom of the gulf, charged with methane, what is supposedly keeping it down there? Where'd it's extra density come from? (and no, rarified plumes of emulsified oil in ppm concentrations are not what he has been talking about).

There's no better current demonstration of the perils of "argument from authority" than the current situation in which Simmons calls for nuking the well. I suppose the inference is supposed to be "Well, he made himself rich trading oil and wrote a decent peak oil book in the past, ergo he must be privy to the 'real facts' of massive oil conspiracies and qualified to direct the use of nuclear weapons."

Setting off a nuke anywhere near the caprock strata of a gulf oil reservoir is beyond boneheaded.

Smart people sometimes overreach, and sometimes they go off the deep end. Steven Hawking says we'll need to move to Mars someday to get away from environmental problems on earth; shining a light on the perils of a primarily-reductionist mindset. That's OK as long as we realize that such folks can be quite functional in their areas of expertise.

Until they're not, of course.

Simmons was privy to information about the oil industry as an energy advisor to President Bush, early on in his adminstration.

It would be reasonable to assume then he probably has access to information that others don't have.

Since no one has a perfect recod of predicttions, Simmons could simply be wrong here. Being wrong does not necessarily mean that someone has gone off the deep end or lost their faculties.

"Twilight in the Desert" is an important book in the Peak Oil genre - that said;

Matt is making extraordinary claims, claims that seem to defy logic, geology and verge on gigantic nefarious cover-ups and conspiracy theories. I think such claims need to be backed up with cold hard facts - show me this gusher 6 miles away, show me the blown-off BOP lying on the ocean floor, show me the giant underwater "lake of oil" - explain to me the geology of a "giant sinkhole causing a tsunami that wipes out the gulf coast" - explain to me again all these seemingly unscientific claims, otherwise I am going to disbelieve pretty much all of it - in fact, I am going to put it down to his admission that he is an an energy investment banker who holds short positions on BP stock, and therefore benefits from all outlandish claims that cause BP stock to drop.

The man seems to have fair understanding of economics. His grasp of physics seems rather low. Two days with a differential scanning calorimeter and some clathrate ice might give him a "bingo" moment. The "runaway methane release" is measured in years, not instants, according to this:
which seems plausible yet leads to nothing like tsunamis.

It would be reasonable to assume then he probably has access to information that others don't have.

Of course a lot of people are making that assumption, which is why we see him on TV making such far-fetched claims.

Matt made wild predictions of imminent doom at ASPO a couple of years ago. But he made them based on a lack of understanding of gasoline inventories. I told him that he was wrong, and I said in my ASPO presentations that we would soon see gasoline inventories recover. And we did. The problem with Matt lately is that I think he fails to realize the limits of his expertise, and so he often says things that are laughably incorrect.

Thanks for the direct report. Sounds like a correct evaluation of what Matt says. Sometimes we lose track of what are limits are.

If you are ever holding meetings in the NYC area, concerning those other discussion groups you talked about recently, let us know.

It would be reasonable to assume then he probably has access to information that others don't have.

Hmmm, that access to information would probably be from former Bush administration officials or Bush people still working in government agencies. Maybe they fed him information to raise hell for Obama and get Simmons for his peak oil writings , kill two birds with one stone. Nah, that is too outlandish, fabricating information to advance political objectives. It could never happen.

To rephrase the old chestnut 'when the facts change, I change my mind' to 'when previously lucid individuals start talking rot, I no longer listen' does not seem much of a jump to me. We should not let reputations cloud judgement in such clear cut cases as this.

Next time I'll have to remember the sarcasm tag.

Re: The lead article -'Does Middle East Oil Get a Carbon Subsidy?'

It's about time that the whole subject of US military spending as it relates to oil imports got the attention it deserves.

While the article primarily deals with the carbon emissions associated with US military presence in the Middle East, I think the far more immediate and important question is: what fraction of the nearly $1 trillion a year the US is currently spending on its defense budget and various overseas military adventures can be reasonably directly attributable to our interest in controlling the flow of Middle East oil? And when that is compared against the amount of oil flow we are 'protecting', then what is the real cost of that oil to the US taxpayer/consumer?

It's easy to dismiss the question as being too subjective and too difficult to pin down, but I don't think it is, particularly if one approaches it from sort of the reverse direction. Accordingly, one could ask: if we suddenly discovered another Saudi Arabia right in our own backyard, and if the pro-Israel lobby in the US ceased prodding the US to stick its nose into the Middle East for Israel's benefit, then what would be the US annual military expenditure?

Even if it were reduced by say only 25%, that would amount to almost $250 billion annually, which ain't exactly chump change, particularly in our current capital-constrained financial environment. Let's see, if a nuclear power plant costs about $6 billion, that could pay for over 40 nuclear power plants per year. (Or use whatever, non-petroleum energy-generating infrastructure you prefer. One can do a LOT with $250 billion a year!)

Notice that I have mentioned nothing about the deaths of US troops or native civilians , nor anything about the morality of what we've been doing. For now, I want to keep this a strictly dollars and cents issue.

This is the part that gets swept under the rug when people look at the cost of oil. If you only consider the cost of oil in $ per barrel, then you miss a big part of real costs, but I don't know how to account for it. Once the US peaked in the early 70's we kept the party going, but it cost us a lot more to get that oil - although you would not see that in nominal $/barrel. It really extends much farther back than that, as a large part of the reason for building an empire have to do with securing energy resources.

In my view this is the link between oil and our culture of debt - we simply could not afford the oil we were getting once the true costs are included, so we went massively into debt. Once we became used to such enormous debt levels, it became pervasive and people lost perspective. Then it blew up.

we simply could not afford the oil we were getting once the true costs are included

I suspect that this general condition - the vast distance between "true cost" and "market cost" - is the case for a vast majority of the things we buy as part of the "consumer" society we have built. It is the essence of modern capitalism - the extraction of profit from labor and resource by exclusion of "externalities" from the cost/price.

Very true, but I think energy is a special case. The stored energy in fossil fuels is what has enabled all of the rest of it. To a great extent the material resources can often be reused, but the energy is a one way trip.

Energy or fossil fuel energy specifically? (Serious question, not sure I've thought that aspect all the way through). Is it a coincidence that widespread use of fossil fuels, industrialization and modern capitalism are time cohorts or is their a special relationship there?

Both really. Energy is different from material resources as it cannot be used twice - it's all heading for dissipation as heat. I can recycle iron (if I have energy).

But FF are a very special case as a one-time bonanza of stored solar energy. I certainly believe industrialization was only possible due to the incredible abundance of stored energy in FF. As to modern capitalism - I guess I'm not sure how to define that. It's great at maximizing the rate of resource exploitation, and was going pretty strong in North America before coal (nothing like an entire continent of minerals, soils, wood, water and game). But without FF the process would have been drastically slowed. I definitely see the problems of our industrial society as stemming from a root cause of the discovery, use, and exhaustion of FF.

I think Greer has it correct in his analysis detailed in The Long Decent.

The difference with renewable energy is that you are tapping into natural energy flows that are heading for disipation anyway. Particularly true of wind and solar. With large scale systems like hydro and tidal barrages, the intervention has significant side effects, like flooding large areas of land, devastating local ecosystems, and diverting river sediments that silt up the dam and degrade down river farmland. These are renewable, but ultimately not sustainable sources of energy.

Hydo has been a disaster, and the emerging Colorado River drama is unfolding, with possible horrific consequences:


I'm sure hydropower can be drawn sustainably. The problem is when we extract power, we want it to be power like Oil has given us.

'Too much is not enough' ..

Sustainable is a matter of knowing when to stop, and we're in a culture that won't even be told 'slow down'.

That transition is going to be a tough one. Suicide rates are probably going to jump for a while as a result.

While my eyes tell me that as a nation we aren't going to make that change until forced, I refuse to give up the hope that it will be a relatively peaceful transition (yes, I know it could go the other way).

I saw the suicide rate jump several multiples post-Katrina.

The John Goodman character in HBO's series "Treme" jumped off the ferry at the end of the season. Quite believable (as is the rest of the excellent series).

Also true of men in the transition away from Communism in the Soviet Union/Russia-Ukraine et al.


I find it possible that pre industrial universities could have tinkered with copper coils and magnets untill they develop a telegraph and basic three phase systems and start electrifying water mills. Thus they create a demand for larger forgings togeather with the ability to invent and run small scale arch furnaces and thus get a charcoal and hydropower pathway to full industrialisation. A few hundred years with tinkering in electricity, metallurgy, industrial processes and research and we get another pathway to the late 1800:s and the ability to create mass train mobility, a chemical industry, a green revolution, nuclear power and solid state physics and its semiconductor devices. Less steel and freight volumes but no reason to achive lower cultural sophistication and technologicla provess.

A smaller fossil fuel bounty to get out of the ground might have been a blessing for us... :-(

What pre industrial universities could possibly have done and what they likely would have done are two entirely different things.

Without the aid of fossil fuel they develop mass transit, blast furnaces, nuclear power, a chemical industry and even a green revolution no less! Really Magnus, are you serious? Naw, that post was just pure sarcasm.... Right?... Right?

Ron P.

Significant ammounts of iron, copper etc were produced in forest rich countries using charcoal. Telegraphs, early generations of fabric machines, and three phase equipment that carry a few hundred kW some km do not need massive ammounts of equipment. Iron etc is recycled and accumulates providing an ability for larger projects and support of further knowledge accumulation.

Finding fossil fuels do of course help a lot but I think it is more important to have enough competition to motivate change and knowledge accumulation instead of stagnation but not so much that it results in devastating wars.

My post were as serious at alternative history can be. Imagine Europe with very little fossile coal but the same competition and slower development. We might now had been in the early era of hand dug canals, telegraph and ferroconcrete used for canal locks and machine frames instead of cast iron. The richest families in europe might have owned the electrical furnaces used to recycle iron into steel and turn limestone into cement and everybody would be spying for advancements in other countries.

There were series production of goods, accumulation of new knowledge, technical advancements and practica use of scientific reasoning before the industrial revolution. It could have limped along on that path untill unlocking other resorces then abundnat fossil fuels put humanity on an exponential curve.

We are anyway over that hump now. There are knowledge and hydropower, etc to keep hundreds of millions of people living a fully industriaised middle class lifestyle and thus keep this culture going indefinately. Proper investments and life style changes might make it possible for billions, it is not physically unreasonable.

Significant ammounts of iron, copper etc were produced in forest rich countries using charcoal.

And where did they get those magnets you said they were playing around with? Perhaps they used magnetite, a rock with some small magnetic properties? I really don't think they could do much with magnetite.

Yes, they would have had copper, bronze or even iron axes and weapons, but they would never have had silicon wafers or anything even remotely close to modern day technology. It simply would not have happened without all that cheap energy from fossil fuels.

And the population would be a fraction of what it is today. We would have hit the Malthusian limits three hundred years ago. In fact we did hit the Malthusian limits. The population was only able to grow by expanding the habitat of humans and by clearing more land for cultivation.

Life was very different 300 years ago. It was not very conducive to technological research. What might have been possible if the conditions were exactly right for such research and development was not possible because conditions were never right for such research.

Of course there was the rare exception. There was Leonardo da Vinci who lived 500 years ago. But he made a lot of sketches but was famous for his art, not any invention he produced.

Water power brought about the grist mill but that was about as far as water power got. Even the first power loom, built in 1785 was powered with steam, not water.

It was a different world in those days. In hindsight we can sit in our armchairs and think of what they might have did without fossil fuel... if... only if they had the hindsight we have today. But they did not and it is just silly to imagine that they might have eventually invented modern technology, like the silicon chip and other innovations. Without fossil fuels and all the power slaves that came with that fuel, it would never have happened.

Ron P.

It is reasonable that with less coal and hence steel, there would have been more interest in materials research, including ceramics and bio-plastics. Doped silicon seems a likely find, although the thirst for electricity may have made solar PV the first application.

"Everyman" need not have a their own car, and there need not be hundreds of millions of urban residents, for industrial progress to be made.

There are some ages where individual genius rises and contributes and the late 1700s and early 1800s was one such era. Electricity was an area of special interest and focused attention. I found this interesting website. China is a good contra-example of a society that progressed, and then chose to stop (or slow innovation to a crawl).


I do not see the need for much in the way of materials, but just a desire to "tinker" and understand (and communicate with others).

Best Hopes for a Resource Depleted Future,


Using Wikipedia as a primary reference here. This is a purely speculative post, so shoot me...

The electric motor was not invented at all until 1821, with the Industrial Revolution already gathering "steam" with Watt's engine, and with the first high-pressure steam engine having been developed some 20 years before. This motor was about on par with Hero's engine from ancient Greece.

The first practical electric motor was invented in the 1880's, some 60 years later, and was developed from electric generators that had already existed for some time at that point.

Hmmm. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_electromagnetic_theory says that electrical conductors weren't identified as such by Western science until 1729. As this is before the Industrial Revolution had a chance to get going, and given that much of the further was not dependent on heavy industry, it is reasonable to hypothesise that a lack of fuel for steam engines would not have seriously impaired the development of electric motors (once the utility of electric motors was revealed it may have even enhanced it).

Assuming that fuel starvation restricted uptake of steam engines to high-return applications, or applications where continuous output was essential (such as mine pumps), it seems likely that electric motors would have been the driver of the Industrial Revolution in this hypothetical scenario, approximately a century later than occured in reality.

Needless to say, this would have changed a great many things.

I look at the work of Franklin and others and see it could have been possible. Batteries were developed before coal was extensively mined. Rechargeable batteries would have come next, coupled with a means to recharge them.

The development of the telegraph owed little to coal or fossil fuels.

Water mills were important and optimizing the limited supply of them would have been important.

A relatively peaceful group of societies that accumulated knowledge and optimized the application of knowledge could have, IMHO, easily lead to hydroelectric (and perhaps wind) generation and electric motors.

Not the wild rush of the last two centuries, but development none the less.

Best Hopes !


Considering that the "steel age" was only possible due to the availability of coal, it would have been quite a different world. And just because the extensive mining of coal happened later, early development of batteries and such were very dependent on the other technologies and materials existing at the time -- which were dependent on coal. And then there is concrete.

Point being, extracting coal from the world you know is not as easy as you think.

I was thinking of a world with much less coal, not none.


FYI, my basic calculation of the externalized cost of the Iraq War:


I ran across this article, but have not been able to look into the original study yet.

Study: Middle East oil security cost U.S. $7.3T over last three decades http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2010/04/study-m...

Seems like $7.3 Trillion over the last 30 years would have paid off the national debt when interest costs are considered.

Off Topic ?

I will be in the DC area (also Baltimore) this week for some technical discussions with a "well known national group" about creating a vision or plan on how to get the USA off oil as much as possible as soon as possible. Not "secret", but nothing to announce yet.

If anyone wants to meet with me, etc. please send me an eMail.

I previously alluded to a "well known international group". I can now say that group is the United Nations Environment Programme. I will be a "contributor" (< author) to the Transportation section of the Green Economy Report and had some input into the Energy report. Due out in November.


Best Hopes ! :-)


Michael C. Lynch has an article in the Oil & Gas Journal that is not behind a pay wall, probably because it is labeled as an advertisement.

E&P costs: permanently high or cresting a cycle? Jul 19, 2010 By Michael C. Lynch

The arguments are broadly held: Non-OPEC has peaked (more or less); demand will soar, as Asian economies boom and prices prove ineffective in reducing consumption; members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries won't (or can't) raise capacity to meet new demand; and costs have risen, forming a new floor. The amazing thing is that all of these arguments were made in the early 1980s, when prices had dropped from the 1980 peak, but remained two to three times higher than pre-1979 levels.

And of course he is still predicting lower prices but is not saying how much they will drop.

Most important, in the long run, higher costs appear unlikely to provide a support for higher prices, and the argument that a price of about $70/bbl is a new "floor" price due to high marginal costs does not appear to be valid.

Ron P.

Here's an interesting article from the WSJ today:

China Passes U.S. as World's Biggest Energy Consumer

"China is now the world's biggest energy consumer, knocking the U.S. off a perch it held for more than a century, according to new data from the International Energy Agency.

"The Paris-based agency, whose forecasts are generally regarded as bellwether indicators for the energy industry, said China devoured 2,252 million tons of oil equivalent last year, or about 4% more than the U.S., which burned through 2,170 million tons of oil equivalent. The oil-equivalent metric represents all forms of energy consumed, including crude oil, nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewable sources such as hydropower.

"The figures reflect, in part, how the global recession hit the U.S. more severely than China and hurt American industrial activity and energy use. Still, China's total energy consumption has clocked annual double-digit growth rates for many years, driven by the country's big industrial base. Highlighting how quickly its energy demand has increased, China's total energy consumption was just half the size of the U.S. 10 years ago."

The U.S. is helping some "special guests" in Tehran leave and find new homes in the land of the free.

They are none other than several children of Osama bin Laden in limbo since 2001.

US 'offers help' to bin Ladens

The fourth son of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's leader, says the United States has offered to assist members of his family being held in Iran.

Washington has "offered to help my brothers out of Iran" and has "no objections to receiving them in the United States," Omar bin Laden told Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language broadcaster, on Sunday.

Around 20 members of the extended bin Laden family are reportedly being held under de facto house arrest in Tehran.

Omar bin Laden

Wonder what ever happened to the dad, Osama? Don't hear much from him lately - or about him for that matter. Wonder if he's still alive?

"Hurry up Alice, we're late, we're late for a very important date!" Because that's just about what it feels like right now. I'm all on the side of 9/11 Truth and even carry a picture of the conveniently severed WTC central column on my phone, but this goes that much farther into Bizzaro world.

Next thing you know, the whole Seinfeld reruns will be replaced with the un-Jerry, un-George and un-Kramer. shivers-s-s.

Should I expect side-effects if I take a bunch of the Red Pills in a Blue State?

Never mind, it's the side-effects that are making me hanker for the pills in the first place.

At risk of being too snarky, I heard that he's Rooming with Emmanuel Goldstein in Brazil someplace.

Were these kids the ones that we were shipping OUT of the country on the week of 9/11 when noone else could fly?

Between this and the 'Sarah Palin Mosque' down near ground Zero.. it sure feels like something is up. My Canary isn't keeling over in that little cage, but ever since he started singing Russian Folk Songs and asking for a tailored pair of Lederhosen, I've just been feeling uneasy. Can't put my finger on it..


The Bush family stays with the bin Laden's when staying in SA (at least they have frequently in the past).
This is BAU.

From March, apologies if linked already: New! Browse the Complete PopSci Archive | Popular Science. The infamous flying car issue was May 1933, in case you're already going "Where's my flying car!!!???"

May 1931 talks about reviving the Bradford oil field in PA, and how "experts" promise that it won't peak for decades. Actually hit 4th highest peak in its history (many peaks) in 1937 before declining again. Oh "experts," will you ever learn? Oil Field History | American Refining Group, Inc.

Noctilucent clouds, those mysterious night clouds only visible in the summer, may be a key to understanding the impact our activities are making on the atmosphere.

"These clouds have been called the miners' canaries for climate change or harbingers of climate change, because there is evidence this increasing activity is the consequence of long term changes in the mesosphere, the part of the atmosphere where these clouds occur."

Fascinating audio slide show. Much about noctilucent clouds remains unknown. Pretty to watch.

So, this is where the "real" TOD is...in trying to read the threads regarding the BP oil spill I noticed an interesting pattern: kalliergo, gmf, fdoleza, snakehead, deadman, esarlls3, hiver, porker, wrb, crazyv, avonaltendorf, R2-3D, RioHondoHank, passsingby, Greg Colvin,Thane Morgan, solius all signed up to post on TOD exactly 7 weeks x days ago.
Amerman, cag505, James in SA and bbfellow all signed up 6 weeks x days ago. Sharkman, rovman,JETT and brianb all signed up 3 weeks ago.
Velox, gringoloid and DavidE.Brown signed up 3 days ago. I expect some “newbies to start coming on right about now....and here they are andrewo and heiro.

Many (not all) of these posters seem to ridicule and confuse rather than trying to seek to understand what is truly happening in the Gulf.

It really isn’t that difficult to sign up multiple accounts on TOD and then post away. Try reading these threads by only those who have had accounts on TOD for more than 100 days and you will get a very different flavor....

In fact, Professor Goose, why not try one or two days by allowing only those accounts who are “older” than 100 days to post on the BP oil spill thread? It would be an interesting experiment.

Is that so surprising? According to Alexa, our traffic is up 100% since the Deepwater Horizon blowout. A lot of people are coming here who are interested in that, rather than in peak oil.

I've long followed Peak Oil, (since reading the Club of Rome report back in high school) and The Oil Drum, but it was indeed the current hemorrhage that motivated me to register and join the discussion. I've tried to keep my contributions brief and on topic, and even PayPaled a little of my meager funds into the pot. Thanks to all the more informed posters who keep me up to date, and better able to calm the apocalyptic fears of my friends on other forums.

I have a similar history. Interested in peak oil and energy issues ever since I waited in gas lines in the 1970s. I'm a fairly recent TOD'er (less than a year) but have been reading the site since Hurricane Katrina. It's not always easy to tell whose a newbie based on sign-up dates. Sometimes it's a single post after a couple of years of reading where you realize you've got expertise to contribute that pushes you into getting an account.

Those gulf oil spill threads are so crowded no one ever posts there anymore.

Thank you for that insightful comment, Mr. Berra. :-)

Leanan, I think you missed my point. Of course it's no surprise that TOD traffic has greatly increased since the Deepwater Horizon blowout. This may be an event that will profoundly change the way we live. I'm sure many people are coming to TOD to try to get more a more accurate assessment of what is really going on.
I'm just questioning the integrity of many of the posters on the oil spill threads. Because of TOD's reputation and how high the stakes might be because of this blowout, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if that aren't several paid shills to post on TOD to create a climate of confusion. There seems to be clusters of posters signing up (like all those ones I mentioned at the 7 weeks ago mark)and it is easy for just one or a couple of people to have many TOD accounts.
I'm just suggesting as a way to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak, why not experiment for one day by limiting the posts on the BP spill thread to those who have accounts that are more than 91 days old? This is your website afterall.

I don't think that's possible. Or desirable.

We always gets clusters of new members when something big happens. The hurricanes (the reason I signed up!), price spikes, etc. I don't see anything sinister about it.

Because of TOD's reputation and how high the stakes might be because of this blowout, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if that aren't several paid shills to post on TOD to create a climate of confusion.

Really? And who would be paying them and why would they do that? That is why would anyone want to create a climate of confusion? What would that accomplish? I might want to sign up myself. That would be some easy money.

Seriously, don't you think you are being a little paranoid? I find the whole idea of anyone wishing to create confusion on TOD more than a little hilarious. Are they being paid by BP? ;-)

Ron P.

Hilarious indeed! We are more than capable of creating confusion on our own, for free!

..why would anyone want to create a climate of confusion?

the same reason climate change deniers want to create a climate of confusion ?

because they have skin in the game.

the same reason opponents of universal health care want to create a climate of confusion ?

because they have skin in the game.

the same reason the ones with wda(wingnut debt amnesia) want to blame the debt on obama ?

because a lot of voters will be confused.

the fact is(yes i said fact), anadarko petroleum wants to put the blame on bp, so they dont have to pay up. anadarko might have a motive to create a climate of confusion. no way to prove anything, but one poster claimed that the failure of the blow out preventer had nothing to do with the blowout. some reading between the lines and connecting of dots is called for.

Wow! I am sure that one poster will make the difference if the Anadarko case ever goes to court. Without his post Anadarko would have been in big trouble. Or will his post hurt Anadarko instead. Anyway it will carry a lot of weight.

And the sad part is Elwood, you're serious. ;-)

Ron P.

the sad part is, ron that you want to deflect attention from your weak argument with a lame attempt at trivializing my example, a single example.

you asked why anyone would want to create a climate of confusion? i told you.

Just to add grist to the great inflation/deflation debate and the issue of how cash strapped countries will maintain a balance of trade in the post-peak world (debates that seem to have been ongoing here since, well, probably even before I signed up here five years ago), the IMF appears to be siding - again - with inflationary ideas. Granted they are not going to issue new loans without any pledges of austerity, as apparently they were not satisfied very recently with Hungary's plans.

IMF to Seek $250 Billion Boost to Lending Capacity
July 19, 2010, 1:47 AM EDT

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- The International Monetary Fund is seeking a boost in its lending capacity to $1 trillion, from the current $750 billion, at a Group of 20 summit in South Korea in November, according to a Korean government official.

The increase would help strengthen a global financial safety net to counter crises, the official said on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. South Korea is chair of the G-20 this year. IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told the Financial Times that a boost to $1 trillion in IMF lending firepower was a “correct forecast.”


As a reminder, I posted in some detail before how in late last August 2009 the IMF essentially just 'printed up' about $300 billion US$ worth of Special Drawing Rights, and distributed them to all IMF members.

The Financial Times specifically mentions how such loans (above article) will be given to Mexico. Perhaps needless to say, the collpase of the Cantarell oil field has also been discussed here since 2005, and it is not clear how Mexico will survive without financial aid when its net oil/oil products import balance turns negative.

Please note that I am have never said that the inflationary plans of the IMF, or the Fed, or ECB, will turn back the downhill effects of PO very long. However it does appear to me that remaining world resources will be allocated through financial methods that usually have inflationary results, at least in the next few years.

Sooner or later inflation will return. My guess is sooner, because I think the U.S. is going to run bigger and bigger deficits over the next three years, and the Fed will monetize these deficits by buying U.S. Treasury securities on the open market--in effect the Fed lends money made from thin air to finance these deficits.

The recent stimulus package is not the last one we're going to see; rather, I think that stimumlus was just a first installment on increasingly aggressive spending by the U.S. government to try to get unemployment down to lower levels. If a $1.6 trillion stimulus is not enough, then try a two trillion dollar one. And if the two trillion dollar stimulus does not do much, the next deficit could go up to three trillion dollars. At some point, years of sustained multitrillion dollar deficits will force the inflation numbers up.

We've seen disinflation up to now--no deflation in price levels on a yearly basis. The Fed and the treasury both want to get inflation up into the two percent per year range; I think this is doable--but who is to say that the inflation rate three years from now will be only two percent and not six or ten percent? Half a dozen years of six percent inflation would be enough to get real estate prices back up to where they were in 2004 or 2005. Thus it would not surprise me to see the Fed and the Treasury work together to bring back substantial rates of inflation.

Falling living standards are likely to result from a combination of stable wages and rising prices, and post-Peak I think this process will go on for decades. The next fifty years of the dollar's declining value may resemble the last sixty years history of the Mexican peso.

Nice post. There is a close relationship between deficits and the Fed's monetization of those deificts, and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

As time goes on, it looks less likely that real estate values will ever recover to a level anywhere near where they were before without significant inflation. Bernanke was already known to promote ideas about creating inflation some time before joining the Fed, and I actually expect that his theories about inflation (whether they work or not) will be put into effect.

But I do expect them to work, and I do expect the Fed to achieve its inflationary 'target' later on (although such a target - or real estate sub-target - may not be discussed in public). I strongly advise everyone not to invest in long term US treasury bonds.

Will it pass the Senate, or a new Rep house?

"Falling living standards are likely to result from a combination of stable wages and rising prices, and post-Peak I think this process will go on for decades. The next fifty years of the dollar's declining value may resemble the last sixty years history of the Mexican peso."

Agreed, but we do live relative to others and as far as I can see everyone is in almost the same boat with a few aussie and canuck burps. If the US goes down we are all screwed.

I don't think buying airline stocks or time shares is a good idea. Do they still have time shares?



Can a Chevy have cachet? Will vegans and locavores be the Volt's only customers?


No, the Vegetarians and Unitarians will be lining up for some of them, too.

It'll all depend on the price of gas for how many of the various fringes will apply.

I'd like to add an article to include in the news roundup from the Wall Street Journal on July 17, 2010:
Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up the Pavement Asphalt Is Replaced By Cheaper Gravel; 'Back to Stone Age' (excerpts at bottom of post below)

Historians have written volumes about the hundreds of factors causing the fall of the Roman Empire. That will be true of the collapse of nations after the brief "age" of oil as well -- that is, if any people survive the ecocide we're committing as we devour and foul the planet in so many ways (Rockstrom). Yes, homo sapiens is a clever species, but no matter how smart we are, we can't breathe a hydrogen sulfide low oxygen atmosphere (Ward).

One sign of being on the downhill slide to collapse is declining infrastructure. Yet because people filter their views through political, economic, and social blinders, the inability to build or repair existing infrastructure will be seen as an economic one, even though it's really a sign of declining energy.

Rockstrom, J. Planetary Boundaries Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity. 2009. Ecology and society vol 14 no 2

Ward, P. books:
"Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future"
"The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?"
"Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, And Earth's Ancient Atmosphere"

Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up the Pavement Asphalt Is Replaced By Cheaper Gravel; 'Back to Stone Age'

SPIRITWOOD, N.D.—A hulking yellow machine inched along Old Highway 10 here recently ... But instead of laying a blanket of steaming blacktop, the machine was grinding the asphalt road into bits.

"When [counties] had lots of money, they paved a lot of the roads and tried to make life easier for the people who lived out here," said Stutsman County Highway Superintendant Mike Zimmerman, sifting the dusty black rubble through his fingers. "Now, it's catching up to them."

Outside this speck of a town, pop. 78, a 10-mile stretch of road had deteriorated to the point that residents reported seeing ducks floating in potholes, Mr. Zimmerman said. As the road wore out, the cost of repaving became too great. Last year, the county spent $400,000 on an RM300 Caterpillar rotary mixer to grind the road up, making it look more like the old homesteader trail it once was.

Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls.

The heavy machines at work in Jamestown, N.D., are grinding the asphalt off road beds, grading the bed and packing the material back down to create a new road surface.

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as "poor man's pavement." Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel.

The moves have angered some residents because of the choking dust and windshield-cracking stones that gravel roads can kick up, not to mention the jarring "washboard" effect of driving on rutted gravel.

But higher taxes for road maintenance are equally unpopular.

Rebuilding an asphalt road today is particularly expensive because the price of asphalt cement, a petroleum-based material mixed with rocks to make asphalt, has more than doubled over the past 10 years. Gravel becomes a cheaper option once an asphalt road has been neglected for so long that major rehabilitation is necessary.

"A lot of these roads have just deteriorated to the point that they have no other choice than to turn them back to gravel," says Larry Galehouse, director of the National Center for Pavement Preservation at Michigan State University. Still, "we're leaving an awful legacy for future generations."

Some experts caution that gravel roads can be costlier in the long run than consistently maintained asphalt because gravel needs to be graded and smoothed. A gravel road "is not a free road," says Purdue University's John Habermann, who organized a recent seminar about the resurgence of gravel roads titled "Back to the Stone Age."

Over the years, many of the two-lane arteries that connect country roads with metro areas have deteriorated under rising traffic and the growing weight of farm combines, logging trucks and other heavy equipment.

This is what happened in our area...."Over the years, many of the two-lane arteries that connect country roads with metro areas have deteriorated under rising traffic and the growing weight of farm combines, logging trucks and other heavy equipment".

broke logging companies got rid of their off road trucks and contracted out hauling with hwy trucks. In 5 years our roads turned to crap. This summer taxpayers footed the bill to redo the hwy for fifty klics. The companies have just switched back to industrial roads trying to lessen the hauling distance.

The margins are so narrow that every dollar saved allows a company to survive. No one is making any money and tax revenues are dropping.

This race for the bottom is so interesting. Thanks Nike...Thanks Walmart. We now see it everywhere.

Weyerhauser was the company that made the switch. They slunk away and we are still trying to get back on our feet.


And more good news...

"Scientists baffled by unusual upper atmosphere shrinkage"

"(CNN) -- An upper layer of Earth's atmosphere recently shrank so much that researchers are at a loss to adequately explain it, NASA said on Thursday.

The thermosphere, which blocks harmful ultraviolet rays, expands and contracts regularly due to the sun's activities. As carbon dioxide increases, it has a cooling effect at such high altitudes, which also contributes to the contraction.

But even these two factors aren't fully explaining the extraordinary contraction which, though unlikely to affect the weather, can affect the movement of satellites, researchers said...."


There you go - proof that the atmosphere is cooling. Things shrink when they cool. Sometimes uncomfortably.

Ask George Costanza about shrinkage and being uncomfortable.

But that was dew to moisture and it wasn't fair -LOL