Drumbeat: July 23, 2010

Scientists: Oil plumes definitely from BP's well

TAMPA, Fla. -- Researchers in Florida say they have the first scientific proof that two plumes of oil beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico came from BP's broken well.

University of South Florida scientists said Friday they linked the oil to BP's well based on chemical tests of two plumes discovered in late May. BP initially denied the plumes even existed.

Tropical Storm Crosses Florida, on Path for Spill Site

MIAMI—Tropical Storm Bonnie was making its way across South Florida on Friday, with bands of rain spreading across the mainland, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.

The storm is on track to reach the site of the BP oil spill 40 miles off the Louisiana coast on Sunday, and engineers prepared to abandon their vigil over the well Friday as ships and rig workers evacuated the area.

The mechanical plug that has throttled the oil for a week will be left closed, even if the undersea robots monitoring the well's stability leave. The only way BP would know if the cap had failed would be satellite and aerial views of oil gushing to the surface.

Deepwater Horizon alarms were switched off 'to help workers sleep'

Vital warning systems on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig were switched off at the time of the explosion in order to spare workers being woken by false alarms, a federal investigation has heard.

Storm could be a blessing and a curse for oil spill

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Bonnie could help dissipate a giant oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, but could further damage fragile marshlands if heavy wind and waves drive more oil ashore, experts said on Friday.

Gasoline pump prices are heading higher

Drivers may want to fill up their SUVs, hybrids and motorcycles this weekend, because higher gasoline prices could be right around the corner.

Retail gasoline prices are expected to increase by as much as a nickel a gallon in the next few days on the heels of a jump in wholesale gasoline and crude oil prices.

The biggest increases will be in the Great Plains, the Southeast and other areas connected to Gulf coast supplies, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

U.S. natgas rig count hits 17-mth high-Baker Hughes

NEW YORK, July 23 (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States climbed for a fifth straight week to a fresh 17-month high of 982, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

The gas-directed rig count, which rose by three this week, is at its highest level since Feb. 20, 2009, when there were 1,018 gas rigs operating.

Mexico June oil output falls 2 pct vs May

(Reuters) - Mexican oil production was 2.546 million barrels per day in June, down 1.8 percent from May, state oil monopoly Pemex said on Friday.

Crude exports were 1.11 mln bpd last month, down 4.2 percent from May. Pemex said some exports during June were deferred due to bad weather.

Iran, Turkey sign 1 bln euro gas pipeline deal

(Reuters) - Iran and Turkey signed a 1 billion euro ($1.29 billion) contract to build a pipeline that will transfer the Islamic state's natural gas to Turkey, a statement by the Iranian Oil Ministry said on Friday.

Support for oil drilling falls, Field Poll shows

BP's three-month oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico appears to have hardened Californians' long-held opposition to offshore drilling, a new poll shows.

Sixty-one percent of California voters oppose drilling new oil and natural gas wells in the state's coastal waters, according to the latest Field Poll data, to be released today. Thirty-one percent favored more drilling, while the rest had no opinion.

Exploring The Geology Of Gulf Oil

How much oil is under the Gulf of Mexico and how did it get there? Columbia University geophysicist Roger Anderson, an expert in deepwater exploration and drilling, explains how the oil formed millions of years ago, and how companies go about finding and extracting it.

Lincoln hybrid costs the same as a gas-only car

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- When the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sedan goes on sale in the fall, the price will probably surprise a lot of people. The sticker price will be $35,180 -- exactly the same as the non-hybrid version of the car.

Couple charged with GM hybrid tech theft

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Federal authorities in Detroit charged a Michigan couple Thursday with stealing information about hybrid vehicle technology from General Motors and attempting to put it to use for a Chinese car company.

Plan in advance for scenarios that might affect your future

So how do you plan for your future if you don't know what's around the corner? How do you know whether your industry will even exist by 2025?

One thing we do know is that the pace of change is accelerating due to "exponential growth of information technology," said Ray Kurzweil, one of the speakers.

First details on China oil spill's cause emerge

BEIJING — The first details emerged Friday on the cause of China's largest reported oil spill, while environmentalists urged the government to do more to warn local residents of potential danger, saying children are playing still off nearby beaches.

Chinese authorities gave no update Friday on the size of the oil spill, which had spread over at least 165 square miles (430 square kilometers) of water after a pipeline at the busy northeastern port of Dalian exploded a week ago.

The disaster has caused China to take a hard look at its ports, some of the busiest in the world.

Steve LeVine: Does China's energy appetite make it a great power?

In The Prize, energy guru Daniel Yergin correlates energy consumption with a nation's greatness. So in theory, by the Yergin Rule, the referee would blow the whistle and end the game now: China has crossed the bar, and is all but certain to become the greatest geopolitical power on the planet. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, IEA chief economist Fateh Birol declared "a new age in the history of energy."

Really? To be sure, many signs point to a Chinese century -- but the IEA report isn't one of them.

China floods put pressure on Three Gorges Dam

BEIJING — Record-high water levels at China's massive Three Gorges Dam have called into question Beijing's claims that the world's largest hydroelectric project could withstand a 10,000-year flood.

On Friday, the water level reached 158.86 meters (522 feet), only 16 meters (52 feet) away from the reservoir's maximum capacity of 175 meters (574 feet), the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing reservoir engineers. Given the continued flooding, the levels could easily rise higher.

Iran reports Turkey gas deal, Ankara stands back

TEHRAN - Iran’s Oil Ministry said the country had signed a 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) pipeline deal to take gas to Turkey, while Ankara denied the Turkish state was involved and a firm called Som Petrol said it was the partner.

“The one billion euro deal to build 660 km gas pipeline was signed on Thursday during the Iranian Oil Minister’s trip to Turkey,” the Iranian oil ministry said in a statement.

What Happened at the ‘Enron of Kansas’?

Hard as it is to fathom, some three years into the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes, not a single Wall Street or corporate executive has been held accountable for it.

BP could face legal claims beyond $20 bln - Feinberg

(Reuters) - The $20 billion fund set up to help compensate victims of BP Plc's devastating Gulf of Mexico spill does not prevent future lawsuits against the company that exceed that amount, the fund's administrator said on Friday.

Travel industry group wants BP to pay $500 million

The travel industry's main trade group demanded Thursday that BP pay $500 million to mitigate up to $23 billion of losses in tourism spending it anticipates along the Gulf Coast in the next three years.

Hands-off approach to oiled marshes — strategic or chaotic?

Three months after the Deepwater Horizon accident unleashed a flood of oil, the image of sweaty workers fanning out along the Gulf of Mexico to pick up tar balls and scoop up blackened sand has become a familiar one.

But very little of that cleaning is occurring in the Gulf’s delicate coastal marshes, which make up more than twice as much damaged shoreline as the oiled sand beaches.

There could be good scientific basis for the inactivity. Among the approaches advocated by experts for cleaning the fragile marshes is doing nothing and letting nature take care of the oil.

Shoppers on a ‘Diet’ Tame the Urge to Buy

The premise was to go an entire month wearing only six items already found in your closet (not counting shoes, underwear or accessories). Nearly 100 people around the country, and in faraway places like Dubai and Bangalore, India, were also taking part in the regimen, with motives including a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing was damaging the environment.

A Big Oil Field in Central Asia Isn't Earning What Chevron Planned On

ATYRAU, KAZAKHSTAN — A single oil field here in Central Asia stands ready to produce nearly as many barrels each day as the entire Gulf of Mexico does, with less danger to the environment.

But 30 years after its discovery, this field, known as the Tengiz, is still running at only about half speed. Blame geopolitics, not geology.

The problem with the Tengiz field, whose lead operator is the U.S. company Chevron, is not a matter of extracting the oil. More than 100 working wells have already been successfully drilled into the scrub desert of western Kazakhstan, near the Caspian Sea.

The challenge is getting the oil to the market.

Oil Drops From 11-Week High on Speculation Prices Rose Too Fast

Crude oil dropped after approaching an 11-week high, on speculation that rising U.S. inventories will signal that prices have risen too fast.

Oil has gained 3.7 percent this week as global stock markets rallied on growing optimism about the world’s economy. Prices may fall next week on speculation that U.S. inventories will climb as imports increase, a Bloomberg News survey showed. Tropical Storm Bonnie is forecast to move into the Gulf of Mexico, according the National Hurricane Center.

Canadian annual inflation eases in June on energy

Consumers paid 2.9 percent less for gasoline in June, the first such drop in prices at the pump since October 2009, after gas advanced 6.9 percent in May. Natural gas prices increased 3 percent in June after rising 4.7 percent in May. Overall, energy prices rose 1.3 percent compared with a 6.2 percent jump in the previous month.

Oil Futures Exodus Biggest Since Lehman on Recovery Unease

Investors are exiting the oil- futures market at the fastest pace since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. amid evidence the global economic recovery is slowing.

North Sea Oil’s New Boom

I’ve been hearing dark mutterings about the imminent ‘end of North Sea oil’ all my life, with the dramatic impact that would have for the UK economy. North Sea oil was a diminishing resource that would be “gone by the end of the century” experts constantly assured back in the 1970s. But the rigs just kept right on drilling and producing into the new century – and the experts just kept right on being confounded. And it looks like they are to be confounded yet again as a new North Sea boom is set to boost oil reserves – and the UK’s economy.

Can OPEC Beat The Black Swans?

Taking oil and by late this year 2010, nothing prevents the present 'Peak Oil plateau' of around 88 Mbd maximum capacity (including about 1.4 Mbd "well-to-wheel" losses in production, transport, storage) from breaking. We would then find that producing any more than around 88 + 1.4 Mbd is already the limit: the only way out of this is another crash dive into global economic recession, courtesy of the Black Swan.

Huge Turnout for E.P.A. Fracking Hearing

With gas prospectors now eyeing a potentially mammoth new gas play stretching from West Virginia and Pennsylvania to the southern tier of New York — and a public newly sensitized by the gulf oil disaster to the potential ravages of under-regulated oil and gas exploration — scrutiny of the industry is at an all-time high.

A ballroom set up for some 800 stakeholders at the Hilton Garden Inn in Canonsburg, Penn., about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, quickly overflowed, and a blooming garden of colorful signs and homemade placards — from “No Fracking” on one end of the spectrum, to “Fracking is our Future” on the other — were already hinting at the fault lines in this debate even before the 6 p.m. meeting got under way.

Energy companies brace for possible Gulf of Mexico storm

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Energy companies in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday were closely monitoring a tropical depression that could become a storm as it crosses the region, with some pulling workers from offshore platforms.

Tropical Depression 3, which is not expected to reach hurricane strength, formed on Thursday near the Bahamas and is likely to strengthen into a tropical storm by Thursday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Tropical Storm Bonnie Accelerates Toward Florida Keys

Tropical Storm Bonnie accelerated on a course toward Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, where it’s already delaying efforts by BP Plc to plug its wrecked Macondo well permanently.

Bonnie, packing sustained winds of 40 miles (65 kilometers) an hour, was about 80 miles south-southeast of Miami and moving west-northwest at 19 miles an hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory on its website shortly before 8 a.m. local time.

Gulf storm Bonnie puts BP spill efforts on hold

HOUSTON/LONDON (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Bonnie threatened efforts on Friday to plug BP's Gulf of Mexico oil leak for good, with vessels and rigs involved in the operation set to move out of the system's path.

"While these actions might delay the effort to kill the well for several days, the safety of the individuals at the well site is our highest concern," the top U.S. oil spill official, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, said late on Thursday.

BP’s Partners in Well Try to Distance Themselves

BP’s partners in the blown-out Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico distanced themselves from the oil giant in a Senate subcommittee hearing on Thursday, though their arguments encountered a skeptical audience.

“Our view is that this accident was preventable,” said James T. Hackett, chief executive of the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, a part owner in the well.

Louisiana: oil moratorium halting much drilling

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – The US government's freeze on new deepwater oil drilling is halting nearly all exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, including shallow water projects, local officials said.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources said this week that approved shallow water drilling permits in the Gulf have "dropped significantly since the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling earlier this year."

BP accused of trying to silence science on spill

LONDON (AFP) – The head of the American Association of Professors accused BP Friday of trying to buy the silence of scientists and academics to protect itself after the Gulf oil spill, in a BBC interview.

"This is really one huge corporation trying to buy faculty silence in a comprehensive way," said Cary Nelson.

Stop the Sand Berms, Scientists Plead

In an open letter to Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral overseeing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill response, almost two dozen coastal scientists from Louisiana and around the country have urged the federal government to halt the construction of sand berms in the gulf, calling the project ineffective in the fight against the oil and a waste of resources that could have heavy environmental consequences.

“As BP appears close to shutting off the flow of oil, we believe that it is also time to shut off the flow of funding and permitting for the large-scale re-engineering of the Gulf Coast,” the letter states. “If this is not done, environmental damage resulting from ill-conceived, poorly reviewed coastal engineering may become an additional and unnecessary byproduct of the spill.”

Reported number of bird deaths grow on Gulf Coast

NEW ORLEANS – The number of dead birds collected on the Gulf Coast has more than doubled in the past month as oil from BP's broken deepwater well continues to wash up on islands and beaches rich in bird colonies.

Officials say 2,599 dead birds had been collected on the Gulf Coast as of Thursday. A month ago, 1,046 dead birds had been collected, according to official death counts.

Along the Gulf Coast: Uneasy feelings, uncertain future

GULF COAST — The sea defines the people who live along the Gulf of Mexico, provides their livelihoods and sets the rhythm of their days. Now it is something many of them fear.

Over six days, USA TODAY traveled 1,000 miles between Galveston, Texas, and Tampa, Fla., and talked to dozens of coastal residents in the five states affected by the oil spill, which began April 20. Many say the disaster feels like a betrayal — one that has altered their lives forever.

BP Sues Six Former Singapore Staff for Misusing Confidential Information

BP Plc is suing six former members of its energy team in Singapore claiming they misused confidential information to help rival Shenzhen Brightoil Group gain a “strategic advantage.”

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car is spunky, fun and promising

Using the "economy" setting on the Mitsubishi i-MiEV minicar, we sacrificed full power in favor of slower battery drain, knowing we could switch into one of two other modes that allowed max scoot if the highway speeds required it for safe going.

No air conditioning or headlights were needed this day — or the outcome would have been different.

Kinks in the Ethanol Message-Machine?

The ethanol industry is feverishly lobbying lawmakers in an effort to hang onto billions of dollars in subsidies that are set to expire — although there appears to be some discord on the message front.

Forget contraceptives, go natural, church teaches

As the pill marks its 50th anniversary this year, the Catholic Church is making renewed efforts to persuade the faithful to practice natural family planning, arguing that artificial birth control not only violates church doctrine, it harms women's bodies and the environment.

But the church has an uphill battle, Catholic leaders say.

Polls show that Catholics overwhelmingly reject the Vatican's views on birth control. And about half of American Catholics who leave their faith cite their unhappiness with the church's teachings on birth control as a reason they left, according to a survey last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Energy strategy too focused on fossil fuels

The Government's draft energy strategy prioritises unsustainable fossil fuels over renewable energy sources, a climate change campaigner says.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee released the draft New Zealand Energy Strategy (NZES) and a draft New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (NZEECS) yesterday.

Australia shirks setting a price on carbon

Sydney - Australia will not bring in carbon trading until other major polluters do and even then only if there is popular support within the country for putting a price on carbon.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in remarks Friday, reiterated the policy of Kevin Rudd, the party leader she deposed last month.

Japan seeks consumer burden to push renewable energy

(Reuters) - Japanese consumers will have to pay higher electricity bills under a government plan to help triple the generating capacity of renewable energy in the next decade and cut CO2 emissions.

Korea negotiates Masdar entry

South Korean clean-energy companies are expected to play a major role in filling Masdar City, the carbon-neutral development at the edge of the capital, but they need better incentives to get on board, the new Korean ambassador said yesterday.

Plans call for a Korean “clean-tech cluster” to occupy 7 per cent of the Masdar City site, said Kwon Tae-kyun, South Korea’s ambassador to the UAE. That would be a significant proportion of the six-square-km city, which is weeks away from completion of a first stage comprising several buildings and a transport network.

Beijing fund warns on Kyoto CO2 offset rule changes

(Reuters) - A Chinese government fund has told a U.N. panel it supports project developers which earn carbon offsets under a lucrative Kyoto Protocol scheme, and which rejects the idea that they are over-compensated.

Not Enough Hours in the Day for Endangered Apes: Warming Climate May Change Ape Behaviour, Resulting in Loss of Habitat

The researchers, from Roehampton University, Bournemouth University and the University of Oxford used data from 20 natural populations to model the effects of climate change on ape behaviour and distribution. The results suggest that rising temperatures and shifts in rainfall patterns alone may cause chimpanzees to lose up to 50% and gorillas up to 75% of their remaining habitats.

EPA Employees Blow the Whistle on Flawed Climate Bills

The major bills before Congress to regulate greenhouse gases to combat global climate change suffer from "multiple unfixable flaws" that undermine their effectiveness, according to a detailed congressional disclosure by two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees, posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). These agency experts' unofficial protest is also testing new agency guidelines on employee free speech rights following EPA's order last fall that the two employees remove a YouTube video they had produced on the frailties of cap-and-trade.

Democrats Call Off Climate Bill Effort

Bowing to political reality, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said the Senate would not take up legislation intended to reduce carbon emissions blamed as a cause of climate change, but would instead pursue a more limited measure focused on responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and tightening energy efficiency standards.

Q&A: How Far Can Existing Regulations & Authority Reduce GHGs?

A new WRI report looks at what greenhouse gas emmisions reductions could be achieved through federal and state regulations that are already in place.

China's Carbon Emissions May Reach Peak by 2030, State Researcher Says

China, the world’s biggest polluter, may see its carbon-dioxide emissions peak around 2030 as the country taps cleaner sources of energy, a researcher at a think tank run by the National Development and Reform Commission said.

Emissions may reach almost 9 billion metric tons in 2030, from about 7 billion tons currently, Jiang Kejun, director of energy and market analysis at the NDRC’s Energy Research Institute, said in an interview in Beijing today.

Experts: Climate change challenges global food security 2010-07-23 13:02

Climate change, such as global warming and changes in rainfall, has become a challenge to food security across the world, scientists said at a workshop in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province.

The workshop, scheduled from Tuesday to Sunday, was held at Lanzhou University, where agricultural scientists and organizations from the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan met to discuss the productivity and sustainable development of agricultural ecosystems.

As rainfall is diminishing and basic resources are degrading, food security is seriously threatened, said Kadambot Siddique, director at the Agriculture School of the University of Western Australia.

Apparently Michael C. Lynch is writing a book on peak oil. I got an email from him in reply to one I sent him last August.

From: Michael Lynch (email address deleted)
To: Ron Patterson (email address deleted)
Sent: Wed, July 21, 2010 8:44:23 AM
Subject: RE: Your Op Ed in the New York times

So. Ron, I'm working on a chapter on the 1970s oil situation, and since you
feel so strongly about this, maybe you could provide me with some citations
of experts, reports, etc., who blamed OPEC for the price increases and other
problems in the 1970s.

It was in response to his Op-Ed Column in the New York Times. ‘Peak Oil’ Is a Waste of Energy
I was particularly incensed by this line from that article:

When the large supply disruptions of 1973 and 1979 led to skyrocketing prices, nearly all oil experts said the underlying cause was resource scarcity and that prices would go ever higher in the future.

I will not post my reply because I am really quite ashamed of the harsh language I used in it. Today I would not use such language because I now realize that Mr. Lynch was not lying, he just didn’t know any better. He really thought he was telling the truth. Of course he could have easily found the truth by going to the archives of any newspaper in the land. However my reply to him can be found in this post from last August: My Reply to Mike Lynch I quoted that Oil Drum reply in the email I sent him.

Anyway here is the reply I sent him last night:


First let me apologize for the strong language I used in my post to you and in
my post on The Oil Drum last August. After thinking about it I realized that you
were probably only a child during the 1970s and do not remember anything about
the situation then. But the Arab Oil Embargo was on the news every night. There
was the videos of the OPEC nations arriving for their meeting in, I believe it
was Vienna, in their limousines and the cheering Arabs waving their machine guns
in the air as they arrived. They were pissed and by god we were going to pay for
our support of Israel. The name “OPEC” was on everyone’s tongue. We all knew
what was happening and why.

That was, if memory serves me correct, in late 73. But OPEC did not begin to cut
production until the next year when oil prices doubled. They cut even further in
1975 and oil price rose even higher. But make no mistake everyone knew exactly
why prices were rising and who was to blame, we all blamed OPEC.

But what happened in the mid 70s was only a prelude to what happened in the
early 80s. Of course that was brought on by the Iranian revolution, the Iranian
hostage crisis and the Iran-Iraqi war and the subsequent “Tanker Wars” in the
Persian Gulf. And everyone knew the cause of the sudden drop in oil supplies.
No one, and I mean absolutely no one blamed resource depletion.

Of course everyone then, as now, wanted to free ourselves from depending on
Middle East oil. We all knew we needed Middle East oil to carry on business as
usual. Almost everyone believed then, as they do now, that the vast majority of
oil reserves left in the world was located in the Middle East. But no one
believed then that there was actually a scarcity of oil in the Middle East.

I was a young man in the seventies, in my mid thirties and I remember it
vividly. And because you were a mere child, you should be forgiven for thinking
that many so-called experts believed the crisis was caused by resource
depletion. But no, almost no one thought that. I was there, and I remember.

Mike, you have resources that can confirm this. Go to the library there in New
York and check the archives. Read the headlines from those days. You will then
understand why everyone blamed the high prices on OPEC and almost no one
believed the crisis was brought on by resource depletion. Hell Mike, almost no
one knew what the term “resource depletion” meant in those days.

Again, please accept my apology for my harsh words back then.

Below are a few links I looked up to point out what everyone believed was the
cause of the oil crisis. You can Google it and get literally thousands of
articles, all saying essentially the same thing.

Regards, Ron Patterson

I will not post the links I posted Mike here but if you google 1970s oil crisis, or something similar, you will get thousands of them.

You're quite right, Darwinian, that the mid-seventies and early eighties oil shortages/gas lines/embargoes, etc. were all viewed by the consuming public as being squarely on the shoulders of OPEC.
However, "resource depletion" was, in fact a medium hot topic in the seventies. But it's true that no one blamed the immediate, OPEC created supply problems on resource depletion. It was a separate issue.

Both issues were very much alive, however, and someone who didn't live through the period could quite easily get causes and effects confused on these issues.

Jabberwock, I agree. And it appears by the late 1970s that the two issues--the oil embargoes and resource depletion--were being associated. At least as a means to introduce Americans to the idea of declining oil supplies sometime in the future. See:

Carter, Jimmy. 1977. "Address to the Nation on Energy." 18 Apr 1977:

The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly. It's a problem that we will not be able to solve in the next few years, and it's likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century.

We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and our grandchildren. We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.

Peach, J. Dexter. 1979. United States General Accounting Office, 26 Mar 1979, Statement of J. Dexter Peach, Director, Energy and Minerals Division, before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce on Standby Energy and Gas Rationing Plans:

The world is likely to continue to experience periods of tight supply and upward pressure on prices in the next few years. The time is approaching when crude oil production capabilities will peak. While we now are faced with the need for quick actions to meet the problems created by the Iranian oil shortfall, we also must face up to the reality that we can not continue to rely on short-term crisis management in the energy area and that now is the time to get our energy conservation act together.

With these kinds of "expert" (or at least from government authority) commentaries, it is easy to see how someone might have concluded that oil supplies would be ever diminishing. Perhaps these statements were the result of fear triggered by the stark reality of US peak oil production in the early 1970s: An assumption that as goes the US, so goes the world (US exceptionalism). Whatever the reasons for tying the two together, there was clearly deep concern about oil supplies, both in the near and far terms.



Resource constraints/depletion had everything to do with the oil price spikes in the 1970's.

When the world's longest standing leading oil producer lost its status as the swing producer in international markets because of geological constraints, the conditions for the creation of OPEC were created.

If US production would have continued on the upward trend Lynch has long predicted for the world, OPEC would have been nothing more than a social gathering.

Lynch has made a living misleading the public on behalf of corporations interested in minimizing the rent they pay to extract public resources and pollute public spaces. (By the way Michael, just when are prices going to $30/barrel?)

The second oil crisis, which began with the frequently forgotten Iranian oil workers strike, is another matter.

Absolutely correct.

It's interesting to think about; the Peak Oil community's low credibility with the general public at this late date. No wonder Ronald Reagan was so successful in making Jimmy Carter look like an idiot in the public's eye back in 1980. After thirty years one might expect a little bit more progress; but, I guess not.

I spent the first half of the 1970's in engineering school and the last half working in transportation planning for a regional planning agency in a major city. We were revising the long range transportation plan. I recall vividly several visits to my office by a high school teacher obsessed with the thought that we were about to run out of oil. He said it was the first thing he thought of in the morning and the last thing he thought about at night.

I ended up running three future computerized scenarios for the year 2000 projections [using punch cards!], one with the 1977 gas price of $0.60 per gallon, one at $1.00 a gallon, and one at $1.50 per gallon (about six dollars per gallon in today's prices.) The problem was that we had little data on elasticities of demand for gas prices; there had just not been many shifts in prices by that time. As a consequence, none of the three scenarios showed a dramatic shift to mass transit.

On July 15, 1979, President Carter addressed the nation for the fifth time on what he specifically called "the energy crisis." [This later became known as the Crisis of Confidence speech or as many now call it, the "malaise" speech, although that word was not in the final version.] He related that he decided to make the speech ten days before, but he had struggled with the issue of how citizens could come together to solve the energy problem. He then recalled how he had invited people from various walks of life to Camp David to discuss the issue. During the speech, he gave some of the responses. He said the most vivid response he got was that "our neck is stretched over a fence, and OPEC has a knife." A labor leader told him we needed to address the energy issue "on a war footing." [NOTE: I think he meant to mobilize with the intensive of a WWII effort, not that we would literally go to war, since the President then said the nation that night was "at peace everywhere in the world."]

After some words about faith and country that would be ridiculed by today's media, President Carter said this: "I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, the nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977 -- never from now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation." [Drill, baby drill? ] He then set a further goal of cutting dependence on foreign oil by one-half by the end of the next decade. He then by executive order set an import quota that "will forbid the entry into this country of one drop of foreign oil more than these goals allow."

Finally, President Carter asked for "the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation's history to develop America's own alternative sources of fuel -- from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun." He went on to say the United States had "more oil in our shale along than several Saudi Arabias." Earlier in the speech he set a goal of 20 percent of the nation's energy being solar by the year 2000.

No one seems to recall that back then we thought we had enough energy here in the states if we went after the shale oil and other unconventional resources, conserved energy, and explored alternative energy sources. From a traffic engineer's viewpoint, some of the policies were counter-productive, such as an artificially low speed limit and right turn on red. Nonetheless, the fear of OPEC was very real. Matt Simmons in his book "Twilight in the Desert" gives the Arabian viewpoint on the crisis sympathetically, but that was not the view on the streets of America at the time.

On November 4, 1979, militant Iranian students stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Carter took somewhat the same approach as King Canute, king of England, Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden, who set his throne on the seashore and commanded the tide not to come in. Of course, the tide did come in, and Canute got his feet wet.

Similarly, Carter commanded the oil imports not to come in, and of course today the US imports 2/3 of its oil. Canute was defying tidal forces, Carter was defying geology, but they were similarly ineffective in doing anything useful.

The cruel truth was that the US had used up most of its oil by 1970 and just didn't have enough left to be self-sufficient, although many people would still argue otherwise, forty years later.

Canute was defying tidal forces ...

This is a very common (almost universal) misconception; Kanute/Canute was not trying to defy tidal forces by royal command - in fact quite the opposite.

He was trying (successfully as it turned out) to demonstrate to his fawning subjects that he was not all-powerful ... and was in fact mortal (or at least there were forces he could not control just because he was a king).

Carter was Defying LIFESTYLE, not Geology.. not that it turned out to be much more movable through mere persuasion, but the way you put it makes him come off as blind in his directive, and not just extremely ambitious and hopeful that we were ready for this change.

Carter still got his feet wet. Wearing a yellow cardigan and putting solar cells on the roof of the White House didn't do much to solve the basic issues, but did make the public skeptical. Most of his policies were unpopular in the short term and counterproductive in the long term. They created an oil glut and steep oil price decline which negated anything positive he did. His solar energy and coal synfuels initiatives stalled out, and his nuclear power plans didn't go anywhere after the Three Mile Island debacle.

Unfortunately for him, Reagan was able to demonstrate that market forces were able to solve a lot of the problems in the short term (although I don't think Reagan actually knew anything about economics). Unfortunately for Americans, Reagan and subsequent presidents didn't do any planning for the long term. They just assumed the problems had gone away permanently.

In reality most of the oil crises of the 1970s were just short-term market glitches caused by bad politics. Now, in the 21st century we're getting into the long-term issues of declining global production. Carter was just 30 years premature, and picked the wrong solutions.

Reagan majored in economics in college.

As I recall, the largest drop in oil prices didn't happen until Reagan's term in office. The Saudis turned on the taps to flood the market with oil, pushing the world price down to around $10 a barrel in 1985.


E. Swanson

My dad was also in his mid thirties back then. He was really furious about the situation. He never NEVER associated it with resource depletion. EVen now he won`t admit that there is such a thing. He believes the US could easily handle a population of 800 million, no problem. There are no limits to growth, as far as he is concerned. I have always been curious as to how someone could form such ideas and keep them, against all opposing evidence. What is going on in the brain of someone like that?? I wonder if any scientists have checked this out?

Hmm, found an MIT paper of Lynch's from 1986: Fighting the last war : preparations for the next oil crisis. Sounds like he's devoted his career to this stuff. I remember in one of his papers talking about being in Kuwait in the late 80s when the reserves revisions were going on, too.

Will have to take a look at that paper later on when I have the time. Looks interesting.

On the demand side, the world is now much less capable of coping with
an oil supply disruption. Because more oil is used in transportation and
less in areas like electricity generation, the ease of switching to
another fuel has dropped substantially, as has the price elasticity of
demand. 2 1 In 1980, the National Petroleum Council estimated that the
second largest source of short-term oil savings in the United States would
be fuel switching from oil by electric utilities, to the extent of 400
thousand barrels per day (tb/d),2 2 but since that time, oil use in the
electric utility sector has dropped by two-thirds.2

What is going on in the brain of someone like that?? I wonder if any scientists have checked this out?

You could start by reading this...


When science clashes with beliefs? Make science impotent
By John Timmer | Last updated about a month ago

It's hardly a secret that large segments of the population choose not to accept scientific data because it conflicts with their predefined beliefs: economic, political, religious, or otherwise. But many studies have indicated that these same people aren't happy with viewing themselves as anti-science, which can create a state of cognitive dissonance. That has left psychologists pondering the methods that these people use to rationalize the conflict.

I think this song summed up the popular view at the time.

Thanks Leanan, I just posted the link to Mike. I am sure he will enjoy it.


Looking at his article again, and the e-mail you quoted...it sounds like what he wants are experts - economists, petroleum geologists, etc., - not regular folk.

My dad was a young man in the '70s. He wasn't in the oil business, but he was a scientist doing graduate work, then working at a research institute. He remembers that there was a lot of concern about "limits to growth" - but it was about the future. They were expecting peak oil to be a problem in 40 years. The gas crisis was perhaps a preview of coming attractions, but wasn't seen as evidence of peak oil.

Not sure what kind of "expert" publications there are on this, though.

Yes: I was in similar position to your Dad.
Very similar discussions this side of the pond. Sufficient a scare at the time though to send France on a roll-out of nuclear, and for Denmark to put in coastal coal-fired CHP, with District Heating. We in UK just moth-balled our new oil-fired power stations and went on mining and burning coal (we still had some in those days). We got into a lot of labor / industrial strife: a miners' strike and a brief '3-day working week' and 50mph speed limits, among other high lights.

The original "standard run" from the Limits to Growth report has held up surprisingly well after almost 40 years. Population growth is almost spot on; non-renewable resource extraction, per-capita food, and persistent pollution are doing a bit better than the forecast. That there would be some differences are almost inevitable; there was a trend shift in oil consumption around 1980, after the second oil crisis, and the overall resource base is now believed to be somewhat larger than they assumed.

I know that the so-called "Second Report" broke the world down into ten regions. Those were quite large -- eg, the US plus Canada was one region, all the rest of the Americas was another, etc. Are there any studies that look at the viability of regions on a smaller scale than that?

That's a fun song there Leanan. As I listened to it though, I couldn't help thinking that we probably won't be able to produce all that much corn and wheat without the oil anyways... resource depletion is lowering the boom on all of us. I guess we'll all just have to eat yellow cake!

I think if Marie Antoinette were alive today she probably would be pro nuclear...

I remember my dad saying it was a stupid song. He said the oil embargo worked because only a few countries produced oil, but a food embargo wouldn't, because too many countries exported food.

Things have changed, though, and I suspect a food embargo would have some impact now.

I expect there will be an agreement being food-producing and oil-producing countries. A lot of OPEC nations are deep into overshoot, and are desert nations without much water. They can't feed their people without importing food.

I was fortunate that in the early 1970s, while attending college in the Boston area, I was instructed by a professor from MIT who was one of those actually programming the "Limits to Growth" computer model. Being very familiar already with 'resource depletion' by the first oil crisis, at that time I remember no one at all saying that the oil crisis had anything what so ever to do with depletion. The crisis was entirely blamed on OPEC, directly or indirectly, as OPEC was continously in the news - raising prices and then restricting supply. There were some who said US foreign policy caused OPEC to react, but then again, it was OPEC actually cutting supplies and raising prices.

For the record, Ron, there are many times when I'm very grateful at how 'Particularly Incensed' you get over others' misstatements, (intentional or otherwise), and this is one of them.

That was a really good letter to Lynch. I hope a lot of eyes see that here today, and that maybe it makes it into his awareness far enough to plant some reasonable doubt in his otherwise over-assured conclusions..


.. reminding myself to watch my language and tone as well.

This post of mine from a few days ago showed via a 40 year old NYT article the new found belligerence from OPEC in 1971, in the wake of surging demand, not lagging supply, as the article pointed out. But certainly the issue of imminent scarcity was very much in the air in the 70s, perhaps that was what Mike was alluding to.

That demand ultimately collapsed big time, throwing egg on OPEC's face and sending prices through the floor. I charted out the way US demand fell in the article I submitted here, which is the only real question in my mind any more, supply build having tripped over its shoelaces 2005-2008, it seems to me. Who cares what your URR is if you can't get it out of the ground fast enough?

Looking forward to his book. Do enjoy these ripostes.

what i remember from the time was price controls - thanks dick. doe had a scheme going to try to entice domestic producers to produce more. oil produced above a base level, was called "new" oil. every barrel of new oil was not subject to price control and an additional barrel was "released". so every barrel above the base level allowed 2 barrels to be sold at world market price. stripper oil was not subject to price control either. that lead to some crazy projects.

the controlled price was about $ 3.50.

From Gas

Ha, that is me, I guess around 1982, when we thought gas prices were high. I worked in a gas station most of high school, 80 - 84. There was an older hippie that worked with me and between hits of hash he told me stories of how the world was running out of oil.

I think most people know more than most technicians.

'The specialist learns more and more about less and less, until he finally knows everything about nothing.. The generalist learns less and less about more and more until he finally knows nothing about everything.'

(corrollary; 'That's right, women are smarter, smarter than men in every way, that's right..')

I'm very grateful at how 'Particularly Incensed' you get over others'

I'm not. In my view, it makes this site look bad. I've had several people remark negatively to me on the tone of the comments here.

Plus, it makes getting the message out more difficult than it needs to be because it makes us sound like we've lost our objectivity.

Getting angry feels good at the moment and some people would say that it allows them to "vent" but we are all adults here, not teenagers, so self-control should be possible.

Thank you for apologizing to him, Ron.

Aangel is making a very inportant point-I like to vent a little myself but I try to avoid bashing anybody specifically, other than big impersonal industries.

You can't get the word out to the people who need to hear it when you cause them to shut you out as the result of using terms such as "Ronnie Raygun" and "Obamination", or because you mock thier cultural beliefs- most specifically religion.

There is no doubt the conservative wing in this country is behind the curve in respect to environmental matters;they are the ones who need to be reading this site in the worst way, and many conservatives, millions of them, are open minded enough to consider the technical issues fairly-but not if they are driven away by constant bashing of thier values - ignorant prejudices to liberals of course;)

The liberal wing is mostly already on board in terms of it's prevailing attitude, but of course the general public , either wing, -preaching to them is like preaching to the choir;they're "saved" already.

I keep pointing out these things because it seems to me that a few key regular posters may be toning down the political rhetoric a bit;maybe more will follow thier lead..

Global Climate Change has become a political football, with a massive and pervasive propaganda effort being supplied by the denialist camp, many of whom also appear associated with conservative groups. For example, a survey was conducted recently which asked professionals in climate science whether the agreed with AGW science, the answer being that about 97% agreed. Yet, there are repeated claims that there is some large fraction of the scientific community who disagree. That claim is a fiction, promoted by those who would suffer financially if a a serious effort were to be attempted to counter AGW.

Peak Oil and other energy problems also may be influenced by the same opinion manipulators, which have the ability to drowned out any scientific discussion. President Reagan's administration cut the solar energy research budget to the bone, setting research efforts back decades. He also promoted a scheme which Edward Teller sold him on, that was supposed to use x-ray lasers to shoot down ballistic missiles. How many people realize that those x-ray lasers were to be powered by the detonation of nuclear bombs in orbit? Teller's scheme was seriously flawed, yet, once started, the program kept spending money on other schemes to provide a missile shield, the results of which have yet to be shown to work on the massive scale of an all out nuclear attack.

President Reagan apparently not able to understand the science and the implications of placing nuclear weapons in orbit, nor was he able to grasp the need for alternative energy. Also, we are much worse off because of the economic policies which began under Reagan and which still form the basis of conservative thinking today. For the above reasons, I refer to President Reagan as Ronnie RayGun.

The essence of a democracy is free speech and I'm sorry you don't like free expression. Without free speech, how can one find one's way thru the fog of disinformation being so widely spread to promote this or that cause?

E. Swanson


I am not talking about the facts, which can be sorted out and evaluated as to the implications of each one individually or as sets related to a topic.

I am trying to get people to see that such terms as "ronnie ray gun" are simply unnecessary and counterproductive.

I agree with you that the bau leadership -which you conveniently fail to mention generally includes a heck of a lot of your political buddies-committs many sins, and that there needs to be a public debate concerning the facts.

Reagen didn't pass much legislation along party lines.

A working stiff under the influence of people leading him around by the nose needs gentle handling;he believes what he has been told by his leadership, right or wrong.

Calling Reagen an idiot is the same thing as calling HIM an idiot to such a man.

Use your noggin, which is a very good one, to consider the political calculus of communication.

Many liberal leaders don't take religion seriously;I expect Bill Clinton believes in evolution but he often totes a bible and goes to church at least occasionally.

I can't think of anyone dumb enough to address say the NAACP and bring up the subject of evolution and a godless universe, can you?

A savvy liberal leader realizes that a great many Black people, a huge number of black people, are very serious about thier religion and that if they are forced to make a choice between thier God and liberal politics, many of them will abandon the politics first.They can have both-so long as some strident anti religious zealot doesn't drive them out of the fold by constantly saying they are dumb ignorant Baptists or Methodists.

Think about it.

If you want to change people's minds and attitudes, a frontal attack on a broad scale is the worst possible way to accomplish your goal.

When I deal with a redneck uneducated conservative, instead of talking global warming DOWN at him, I simply feed him some TRUE info he will take seriously-such as the fact that the Russians are staking a claim to the Arctic Ocean-after a while it sinks in on him-the polar ice really is melting.But he doesn't have to admit that immediately to somebody who is standing around crowing "I told you so, you IDIOT."

Or I mention that high temperature records are being set faster than lows.

Or I simply show him pictures of glaciers taken a few decades back, and pictures taken recently-but in some other context, as where we might go on vacation if we had the money..

Or I mention that armadillos and gators are extending thier ranges northward.

Or that the local rivers nowadays have more warm water fish (large mouth bass) and fewer cold water fish(smallmouth bass) in them than formerly.

Truth is something best encountered in small doses at first, like spring sunlight.

I don't rant to such a person about the coal smoke from Ohio that darkens our beautiful skies locally sometimes.

I talk about his GOD GIVEN RIGHT to clean air and clean water, and how he would not deliberately pxss in his nieghbors spring.

Then sometime later when the subject arises, I tell him why we can't see the horizon-because of the coal smoke blowing in from Ohio.

Or why it is necessary to spend megabucks on water treatment before it is safe to drink it in cities down stream from us-partly because we use more fertilizer than absolutely necessary, and have cows in pastures along the creeks..I save this one for a time when he is beginning to see the light.

Political judo , ofm style.

It works.

It's slow.

But it is the only way to get thru to an adult.

The kids are mostly getting at least a glimpse of reality in such science classes as they get in the public schools.

Sounds wonderfully simple, but if your approach of slow persuasion really worked, we would all be Darwinist by now. It has been 150 years, after all. Oh, wait, the Texas school board (among others) has decided to include discussions of "other theories" besides evolution when teaching the kids about the origins of life in biology classes. Around here, it's VBS time again, with the proper "education" of the little ones going on full tilt. Sort of like what happens to the kids in the Islamic schools, I would think...

E. Swanson

Look at it like this, BD.

You win them over one at a time if you can't get them in bunches.

Does attacking other people's culture frontally win over ANYBODY?

Of course the best policy is to focus on the science and the facts immediately when dealing with youngsters who are still impressionable and open minded.

That's where the easy fast(not fast enough of course) victories will come, if they come at all.

But older people hold to thier opinions and values because to them they are valid;badsmouthing thier leaders closes thier minds to considering alternatives and accomplishes NOTHING useful.
And like it or not, these people greatly outnumber people such as you and I who happen to possess the technical background necessary to understand the situation.

The ecological and environmental arguments are simply over the heads of such people.Therefore they evaluate the evidence as best they can, given the resources at hand.

Let us suppose for a moment that you are totally ignorant of the complexities of the environmental question but educated as an economicist.You would have every reason in the world to believe as a conventionally educated economist, with tons of well educated like minded colleagues, publications, university chairs, and so on, to believe that substitutes will be found for all the things we are running out of, from oil to phosphorus to living space.

Now let us suppose your brother, who looks up to you, is a business major, or an artist, or a programmer, but in any case also uneducated in the biological sciences.

If and when the question of sustainability comes up,your brother will accept your OPINION(YOU ou course will believe it is factual)that there is no question that the substitutes will be found.

The janitor and the secretary at your brothers office will accept his opinion;after all, he is a PROGRAMMER, HE'S GOT TO BE REALLY SMART, RIGHT?.

None of you will take kindly somebody coming along and calling you and your respected leaders names.

Just getting through to YOU under these circumstances would be a long hard job, even if a cousin who happened to be a biologist tried to convince you of the biological/environmental facts.

Given enough lazy Sunday afternoons spent together drinking beer, he MIGHT succeed.If he habitually calls you an idiot , you more than likely won't be drinking beer with him very often.

Incidentally while I agree with you and just about everybody else here in respect to the hard sciences, I disagree strongly in respect to certain political questions such as Reagan's military initiatives.

The difference is that I would describe my beliefs as beliefs or opinions in this respect rather than as facts.

It's a FACT that the old USSR collapsed.It is a matter of opinion as to the actual causes of the collapse, since we can't run a repeatable experiment under lab conditions to determine exactly what happened.

Many tens of millions of people including some suprisingly liberal professional military types know to me personally believe Reagen beat our worst enemy without an actual fight.

Of course maybe we don't have any enemies;but as a Darwinist with almost enough biology credits for a biology degree(not properly distributed for biology, I was an ag major)) who does not believe in either any religion or any particular political philosophy other than pragmatic realism and conservatism in principle(don't believe in something for nothing fairy tales and don't jump out of the pan until you are sure you won't land in the fire) I am of the "opinion" that we do indeed have enemies.That the old USSR WAS AN ENEMY.

This is not to say that we have not stupidly made some of them unnecessarily. We have,especially over the last couple of decades.

It is a matter of opinion as to the degree , if any , to which the old USSR represented a threat to us and the rest of the "free " world.iT'S ANOTHER matter of opinion, I suppose, as a few people here on TOD seem to think we are not "free" in this country.

I certainly agree with them to the extent of believing we are less free from year to year.

I have wandered way off into the far corner of the ball field here with the intent of trying to get everybody to SEE , to visualize, what I'm trying to get across.

There is the fact that Reagan suffered from Alzhiemers through a significant part of his time as president. Perhaps demented is a better term than idiot. What is to be made of his claim that homelessness was a lifestyle choice? Don't know if he backed a statement by a member of his administration that ketchup be counted as a vegetable in the school lunch program. Then their was the failure of trickle down economics in improving the lot of working families.

The correct spelling is Reagan...President Ronald Reagan.

If you go to bat for his honor, please at least spell his name correctly! He was President for 8 years.

With respect to religion comments: I have made my position clear: You (and everyone else)has freedom of religion to believe whatever you want,or believe nothing at all.

I do demand that religious believers of all stripes NOT attempt to dictate how others live their lives...either individually or especially through legislation.

Here is an idea: Maybe we all stick to mortal, Earthly subjects and leave religion at the door, since open discussion of it from both believers and non-religious people seems to cause so much angst.

Oh, and the current Republican Party and their rabid so-called conservative talk show hosts and FOX Noise propaganda organs aren't exactly oozing credibility by going off the rails of their crazy train...

I would be the first to agree that keeping this place snark and insult free is a good thing. I don't always practice that (I'm only human) but nonetheless I think it's a good idea. As for your assertion that the liberal wing in this country is already on board regarding environment and energy matters, I would have to respectfully disagree. As a member of the local Unitarian Church (where you are likely to find more than a few liberals), it has been my experience through the interaction of my fellow parishioners that many of them have just as much of a 'business as usual' take on things, that all we have to do is invest in alternative energy or stop using plastic shopping bags or buy a Prius and things will be just fine...in short, I find many (not all) of them to be just as clueless to environmental problems and resource constraints as the average talk radio listening conservative.
Just my two cents worth...

Pete Deer


I can back up your claim on many liberal UU's not getting it and continuing to think in BAU terms. I eventually gave up and left my UU church over it. I had been very committed to the church, but they couldn't accept the need to question BAU and were supporting silly 'green' causes that very little effect.

Sometimes language might be the barrier in getting someone to accept something, and sometimes strong language might push people to actually rethink their position. In general it is probably better to try and control ones language, but that causes stress, and in my case the stress made it impossible to be around such clueless people anymore. Especially since they hypocritically claimed to be open and wanted to be green.

Absolutely agree. When I read a post that starts attacking an idea as socialist, or this and that, I get turned off real fast - really takes down the quality of the discussion. Its a trademark, typically, of emotionally impaired individuals who may have a bit of technical knowledge behind them. Cut the garbage; stay on point. No matter what your politics this is not the site to vent. Go vent on a political blog and save us our good senses.

That's very true. These types of flawed arguments don't impress intelligent people and definitely take down the quality of the debate.

Most people are aware these techniques are fallacious, but most people don't realize why because they never got any training in logical thinking.

They're known as informal fallacies, and for people who want an explanation of why they are fallacious, here's a link to a list of them: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

In case I wasn't clear, I was trying to say that there are TIMES to get riled, and I do believe this.. but surely there are also many times to keep a lid on it. I was similarly glad that Ron forwarded an apology for going too far, and that he channeled his anger into a really well managed response.

The conversation can get feisty here.. but impassioned contests don't always descend into childish rants. Sometimes a little heat brings out a candor that is unavailable with all the proper constraints on.. and yet there are also posters here for whom Angry Sneering and Barking is simply an ongoing tactic disquising itself as 'brutal honesty'.. and I hope those people notice how much it costs them (us) when it is resorted to too much. I do think a clear distinction needs to be allowed between the two. I don't think letting SOME emotion out invalidates everything you have to say.. while it can often come with a big efficiency hit.

We have often seen as well, a type of commentary by some who may behave very cool and 'civilized', and yet will be forwarding ideas which soon show themselves to be backwards, divisive or provocative, and then repetitive and unsupported or without being responsive to the rebuttals of others. Even with manners that are above reproach, I find such (EDIT) Superficially calm and confident writing to be just as antisocial as the occasional, honest outburst when someone has just had it with a line they've tried to reply reasonably to one too many times.. 'Sometimes satan comes as a man of Peace..'

But losing one's temper a little is normal. I think it`s human. Frankly I often get upset and yell at people in my family when they`ve done something dumb.

Some comments on TOD also make me upset, like if someone is defending the US military-industrial complex a little too strongly. People need to hear the other side, and they need to hear it in sharp relief. ANd they need to know that if they have doubts too, they are not alone.


Agree in spades about some folks going off the deep end defending the MIC...as if it needs any more cheerleaders.

We spend WAY too much money on the military and get a lot less bang for our buck than most people realize...but a lot of folks seem to whole-heartedly endorse corporate welfare...

Oh, and I am retired ~ 2 years ago from 20+ years of military service...and I am still 'in the community'...most armchair generals have zero idea of the waste...

Of course we need a REASONABLE level of military capability...but we can't afford a blank check and we can't afford to be Team America - World Police. Not to mention that the blow-back is going to bite us in the rear end...bad.

Eh, my bad, too, on going over the top. I try to let the technocrats hang themselves, or stick with data, but it takes a lot of work, and after about two rounds with the same topics, we're just going over the same ground with different people. So I apologize to those at the tail end of the repeating rounds. It's like teaching a course too many times and forgetting that it's a new semester with new faces. Except that here, the new faces sprout every day as supposed authorities, who haven't read recent posts arguing the same issues. That may be fun for some, but I've watched these arguments for a long time and the repetition just gives me a sense of hopelessness. There's no way to build a history and move forward through the arguments. The topics of the posts are focused on why we can't do x, y, or z, a la groundhog day, thus creating the need to frame everything in a negative light if you want to argue against BAU and towards something smaller and better. Are TOD editors are ready to take the discussion forward into the brave new world of how we can descend gracefully as a civilization? That would take TOD past skeet shooting practice and into effecting real change. The system will sort out what's net and what's not. The science has been out there for 40 years on this, and endless repetition just burns everyone out (including the editors, I imagine). I'm with Greer. I would love to chime in when we get to the conversation about how to move things forward, starting with the long descent, so that the Oil Drum can start reframing in a positive manner.

Summer in Alaska. I'm headed out tomorrow to Afognak Island to go fishing for the week. I was planning yesterday to go do some urban packrafting with a girlfriend on the creek by the trail featured below, that winds through the middle of Anchorage, until I saw the picture below on the front page of the ADN. LOL. Maybe some other, larger creek elsewhere. That's not a family--thats a gang.


You would be more confident encountering just one?

You would be more confident encountering just one?

Yes, Mom's presence is especially problematic, and least amenable to bear spray. This creek starts getting salmon runs in July, and we start avoiding this trail because it turns into a corridor between town and the mountains. I was going to put in lower past the woods, but decided to skip it completely after I saw the cam image.

Several runners and bikers were mauled on this trail in the past two summers. An early morning bike commuter last month got knocked down, got up too fast from playing dead, and got nailed again. He had enough sense to stay down the second time. So. Fork Campbell Creek is small and bendy, with no place to go if you come around the corner and surprise bears. Note to self to be more consistent bringing bear spray along.

Hi Ron -

I too was just a kid in the seventies - I do have some very fuzzy memories about watching the world news on TV with my parents and hearing the nearly relentless coverage by Walter Cronkite et al of OPEC, Saudi Arabia, Arabs, and oil.

Your response to Lynch was a great summary for me of what was happening back then - could you continue the narrative a bit and describe what occurred as "the rest of the story" - i.e. what happened once Reagan took office and we "re-entered (?)" the age of very very cheap oil and perhaps our last big orgy of consumption (currently winding down) that resulted from it ?



"The Prize' is a good history of oil in general. Quite long but you can skip to the 1970's-80's if you wish.

Thanks neon -

I'm assuming that's a book and not available (to read) on-line ?


That is Daniel Yergin's book. The book that made him the go-to oil expert.

Yes, thanks, I should have been clearer.

It's a great overview of the history of oil, touching on all subjects but extensively exploring none.

I have a few more tomes on the shelf like The oil muddle , control vs. competition, specifically about that era of petroleum. It's all fascinating to me - prepped me for 2008. Little about that year surprised me, really, I kept waiting for some Congresscritter to actually spout the words "obscene profits" and no doubt a few did. 365 days of not paying attention to the man behind the curtain or the 800 pd elephant in the room.

It is an incredibly GOOD book,and I have read enough to be an authority on books.

But as they say in the ads for inverstments , past performance is no gaurantee of great future results.

Yergin is a fine lay historian, and he is a technically adept writer.

But as a prophet or forecaster of the future, I am convinced that he either believes his own pronouncements, or that (more likely imo) he has decided to take the money and run.

Having once written the book, he was superbly positioned to become the leading cornucopian poster boy.

The field is crowded on the pessimist side, but it is was and is wide open on the cornucopians side, in terms of making it as an author..

Here's a video clip of Daniel Yergin talking about a recent revision of The Prize.


Btw, he's still an unrepentant.

One of the hottest questions right now is: are we going to run out of oil? Are we in a period of peak oil? And there are serious people who believe that peak oil, the end of oil, is coming.

We don't see that.

We see very substantial resources still to be developed around the world.

But I would have to say though that as we look at population growth and economic growth, the challenge - whether you think we're running out of oil or you don't think we're running out of oil, or you think supplies are there or not - it is going to be a major challenge to develop these resources and meet environmental targets on the scale of a growing global economy.


The way to get the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box is by finishing off the Cracker Jacks.

Do we get a similar prize - in fact, "The Prize" - by finishing off the oil?


Excellent response. I remember the arab oil embargo like it was yesterday. I was in my freshman year of college and when I went home for Thanksgiving we had to think about which car to take -- the one with the best mileage or the one with the biggest range -- we ended up taking the car with the biggest range even though it got lower mileage. We did so because we were unsure when we would find a gas station with gas to sell.

Everyone blamed OPEC. I don't remember any discussion of resource depletion. And the rhetoric was mighty strong. There were plenty of political cartoons of arabs holding a gas pump as a gun to the head of an american (and others of a similar vein).

There was absolutely no discussion of resource depletion that I remember. It was all about being held hostage by the arabs and the needs to develop energy independence. Synfuels -- yeah, that was the ticket. Nobody knew what synfuels were but they were going to save us.

Mr. Lynch, as anyone who didn't live through that time as an adult, can be excused for not recognizing the tenor of the times. But it's easy enough to learn -- look at the political cartoons published in the newspapers -- they, more than anything, speak for the common view of what was going on.

King - Adding a little more history to the OPEC story it might be interesting for some to know that there was a prior cartel controlling the flow of oil. It was the Texas Rail Road Commission. The TRRC set the amount of oil producers in the state could flow every month. All wells had a schedule production rate. The TRRC would monthly set the “allowable”. Oil prices drop too low and the TRRC would set the allowable lower…say 60%. Prices rise and they might jump it up t0 80%. The TRRC could effect world oil prices since we were one of the largest oil producers. By the 70’s that control shifted. Eventually, as Texas production slide, the ME countries gained more control. By the 70’s the TRRC set the allowable at 100% and it has been there since. FYI: that law is still in effect. The TRRC resets the allowable every month. If for whatever reason it feels the need to the TRRC can limit Texas oil production.

And prior attempts at embargoes failed, during the 1956 and 1967 Arab/Israeli Wars (and I think in 1947 too), because the TRRC threatened to increase production. In 1973, with the exception of a couple of fields, Texas was at 100% of allowable, and at the start of a long term decline in production.

But Texas is a region that Lynch pretends doesn't exist, i.e., on Fantasy Island, oil producing regions don't decline.

I do not think Lynch is either stupid or dishonest. He has been misinformed by authoritative misinformation and misinterpretation of the facts. My conjecture is that he is open to reason and may change his mind as Ron and others communicate with him.

To me, Peak Oil, and the fact that we are at or soon will be at Peak is obvious. But it is only obvious to me because I've been studying theoildru.com for more than four years. For most laymen, the authority and credibility of CERA far exceeds the credibility of TOD. Let us try to convert Mr. Lynch--and not villify him for sayings that reveal ignorance.

Ignorance is curable.

I've actually debated the guy, and you and I will have to agree to disagree. When confronted with actual production declines like Texas, he basically pretends they don't exist. It's basically another case of CPSR--Cornucopian Primal Scream Response:


But of course, Lynch is actually much closer to mainstream thinking that most of the nutcases who think that a finite world has finite fossil fuel resources.


When you debated Lynch, did he give your ideas and facts a serious hearing or did he blow you off?

Perhaps I am too optimistic, but as a teacher for thirty years it was my job to be optimistic about the learning abilities of my students. I am hesitant to put the fallacy label of invincible ignorance onto anyone's position unless there is overwhelming evidence to support the accusation.

Another reason I'm optimistic about people's ability and willingness to learn is that I'm a sailing instructor. Over the past forty-three years I've taught more than a thousand people to sail, and with the exception of one mentally ill person, I've never found anybody that I could not teach to sail. Some learn quickly, some take a long time, but all can learn. The toughest cases are people who have acquired bad habits from inadequate or misguided instruction in the past, because it is hard to get people to unlearn things--or to recognize that long-cherished beliefs are flat-out wrong.

By the way, let me here repeat my longstanding offer to teach (free) any member of TOD to sail.

Don, you are talking about an entirely different kind of learning. Learning is one thing, changing one's world view is something different altogether.

You are talking about overcoming ignorance, when one fully realizes they are ignorant of the subject. A person who knows nothing about sailing can learn to sail if they wish to. You can teach kids geography when they wish to learn something they fully realize they do not know.

But convincing a cornucopian that world oil production is near peak and will very soon start to decline is another matter altogether. It is like trying to convert a Baptist to Catholicism. They know what they know and by God you are the one who is wrong, not them.

You cannot teach someone something when they are already convinced that they have the absolute truth and you are completely wrong. It is nothing like teaching someone how to sail when they really wish to learn.

Ron P.


You are of course correct that it is impossible to argue a person out of religious convictions or quaisi-religious beliefs such as that in Naziism or Communism or Behaviorism. The question at issue is what classification do the beliefs of Michael Lynch fall into. If he has a dedicated unwavering faith in the unlimited ability of technology to create resources, then he is indeed a lost cause.

But if he is utterly blinded by his faith, then why is he in communication with you?

Where there is honest communication, there is hope. The man is writing a book on Peak Oil; my guess is that he wants to look seriously at alternative opinions in order to write a serious book instead of mere propaganda fluff. O.K., I am giving him the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps your response will be: "There is no doubt. The man is utterly brainwashed by CERA." But I keep coming back to the fact that he is in an apparently sincere dialogue with you. Why would he answer your e-mail if his mind was utterly made up?

Earth to Don.

Recently, you were speculating that Matt Simmons may have dementia following a series of small strokes.

Frankly, reading you piously pronouncing on Lynch makes me wonder if that was a case of a bent wire calling a branch crooked.

Lynch makes money and enjoys some public renown by defending a set of 'facts' which serve oil industry interests at the expense of the short, medium and long-term public interest.

You are of course correct that it is impossible to argue a person out of religious convictions or quaisi-religious beliefs such as that in Naziism or Communism or Behaviorism.

Don, you are indeed a man after my own heart. I have studied behaviorism extensively and indeed it is a quaisi-religious belief. That is the ultimate faith that nurture is everything and nature is nothing. But we digress...

I had several on line discussions with Mike when we were both members of the Energyresources list. That was about four years ago if memory serves me correct. I don't think he has unwavering faith in the unlimited ability of technology to create resources, he just thinks that existing oil reserves are much greater than most people think. He also believes strongly in reserve growth. In other words he believes the oil we do know about will grow by at least 50 percent and we will find at least as much oil as we have found so far. He argued that most of Saudi Arabia is still unexplored.

So you see his faith is in reserve growth and unexplored areas of the earth, not in technology. He sees no peak in sight, not even by 2030. He is not looking for serious alternatives he simply thinks it will be many decades before we even have to worry about alternatives at all.

But why was he communicating with me? Easy, he wanted to get all his ducks in a row when he wrote the book that would squash peak oil once and for all. He did not want to make any mistakes that people could point out as silly errors and thereby making him look foolish.

I do not think he has been brainwashed by CERA. It is more likely that he brainwashed CERA than vise-versa. ;-)

Ron P.

You are of course correct that it is impossible to argue a person out of religious convictions or quaisi-religious beliefs such as that in Naziism or Communism or Behaviorism.

This is ridiculous! Rather - the examples are badly chosen for the point being made, on several counts.

1) Nazism, Communism, are, if we consider ‘belief’ (vs. actions!) are not quasi-religious; they are political ideologies, the former not much theoretically worked out, the second perhaps reaching the level of a ‘political theory.’ Behaviorism was a strand of 1900s psychology, a quasi-scientific and not religious, theoretic stance and frame of reference. (Rather like PO in fact. OK there are big differences, dealing with ‘fact’ vs. ‘interpretation’.)

Now of course one could argue that ‘belief systems’ or 'world views' are kinda all the same - lumping religion with politics with denial of global warming, racism, enthusiasts for homeopathy, and so on. But that renders the point meaningless, as it boils down to “people are reluctant to abandon their beliefs” which in the larger scope is a good thing, because if ppl changed their minds every day on important issues society could not function.

2) Nazis, Communists, and Behaviorists made very speedy about-faces when WW2 was lost, when the USSR collapsed, and when Behaviorism came under attack. (Some die hard believers exist but the fact that I can’t name good examples while typing this shows they are few and far between.) They were, of course, not convinced to change their minds by individual argument, but by social change, by adjusting to new circumstances, by a change in the political landscape, by new ideologies, and thus by the ‘beliefs’ of the crowd. (Behaviorism, being ‘scientific’, has a different history.)

Religion is not the same, because it is pure, immaterial belief. (Of course it is also socially instituted, etc.)

I’m not nit-picking, really not. Such points are important to consider if one is seriously trying to effect large-scale change in knowledge, world views, opinions, that will be followed by action (which I presume to be one of the aims of TOD.)


Your standing offer is truly generous.

May you have fair winds and following seas...

the authority and credibility of CERA far exceeds the credibility of TOD.

I was fixing a gent's machine today and over the pictures was a handwritten note to the effect:

Before you believe it, check the newspapers.

TOD isn't "authoritative" to many people. They will get blindsided with Peak Oil.

The US allegedly supported OPEC's evolution from a talking shop to an effective organization in the early '70s. By raising the price of mid-East oil more European and Japanese dollars could be funneled into US client states like Iran, who would then spend the money in the US on things like F-14s and other products of the military industrial complex. The US would not be too much affected by the higher prices, since we were self-sufficient, and the main effect would be windfall profits for the oil companies. What's not to like?

Of course, the '73 Yom Kippur War between Egypt/Syria and Israel and the US support for Israel resulted in the Oil Embargo. Things continued to slide out of control during the '70s, with Iran eventually ridding itself of the Shah.

Footnote -- The US oil consumption had ballooned during the early '70s because Congress had passed anti-pollution laws which the auto manufacturers met by building very inefficient big-block V-8s. Another unintended consequence (maybe).

I think your footnote is off a bit. The Pony Car craze began in the 1960's. I well remember the Pontiac GTO which had a 26 cubic inch V-8 and the option for a 3x2 carb setup. I had a 1964 Chevelle with a 327 and a 4bbl carb, then bought a 1968 Camaro Z-28 with a 302 and a 4 bbl carb, along with a 300 degree duration cam and a 4-speed transmission. It had a high compression ratio and needed super high octane fuel which only Standard of CA sold. The Camaro was fast, but it only managed 10 mph. By the 1970's the cars with big V-8's took off, as seen in the Smokey and the Bandit movie which sold the kids on Pontiac Firebirds and Trans Ams. The Trans Am was part of a series of "special" cars, built for SCCA racing.

As I recall, it was 1975 or 1976 when catalytic converters began to be required, which necessitated unleaded gas. There was nothing in that progression which forced the use of V-8 engines based on air pollution. The Chevy Vega was sales started in 1970, lasting until 1977 and the Ford Pinto was sold from 1970 until 1980. Cars made by foreign companies continued to arrive with small engines, with Subaru and Honda building cars with small engines which did not require cats for a number of years. There was nothing in that progression which forced the use of V-8 engines in order to meet air pollution regulations...

E. Swanson


I love typos such as the 26 cubic inch V-8 and the 10 mph Camero It really made my afternoon. Honest!


yeah, and the 302 camero, i believe that was a ford engine.

The Z-28 engine was a 302 cubic inch design, which used the block from a 327 and the crank from a 283, which produced an engine which would turn 7,000 rpm with some degree of reliability. The later 305 Chevy was a somewhat different design for the sedans.

At one point, I think Ford used a 289 in the Mustang, then went to a 302, eventually going to the 351 Cleveland engine. Both companies had 427 engines for NASCAR rides.

E. Swanson

i'm sure you are correct, my motorhead days were few and muddled.

The Chevy 302 was quite the engine. It was basically a 327 destroked to 302 cubic inches to get it under the 305 cubic inch limit for racing, which gave it a very oversquare bore/stroke ratio and excellent breathing. Since it was basically a racing engine stuffed into a production Camaro, it could rev like there was no tomorrow. I think it produced about 350 horsepower at 7000 rpm, although Chevy rated it at 290 hp to avoid frightening the insurance companies.

The Ford 302 was a 289 stroked to 302 cu. in., so it wasn't in the same category as the Chevy 302, although it had its moments. Unfortunately Ford got obsessed with putting oversized engines in the Mustang, culminating in the 429. It made the poor car very nose-heavy. I used to drive a Dodge Dart with a 340, and I used to enjoy leaving the 429 Mustangs uselessly burning up their tires in a cloud of smoke at the stop light while I drove off across the intersection. I had more traction than they did, and also a bunch of them had weak valve springs which would float the valves at 4500 rpm, while mine were good for 6000. And I got about 12 mpg while they got 9 mpg. Fortunately gas was only 25 cents per gallon, and I got mine for free because my Dad owned a gas station.

However, we were all living in a fool's paradise. The American V8 engine in general was a dead duck after the 1973 oil crisis. It was fun while it lasted, but the days of the big-bore gas-guzzling V8 are gone and they're never coming back. Unfortunately some people, notably US car company executives, didn't get the message and were burned again by the 2008 crisis.

See the "History" section of Vehicle emissions control, which is consistent with my memory of things as a former owner of a 350 inch '68 LeMans. The original legislation curbed polutants by limiting the percentage of unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust. The manufacturers met these regulations by increasing cylinder size so that the smaller ratio of surface to volume would reduce wall effects that left part of the charge unburned. They also changed cam profiles and timing to detune the engines so as to reduce polution at the expense of power and efficiency. Hence the gas hogs of the early '70s.

Only when the fuel economy standards legislation came into being were they forced to go to unleaded gas and catalytic convertors. Removal of lead from gas was a good thing, although I don't recall it being promoted as a great advantage environmentally. Catalytic convertors also allowed retuning for efficiency and lower NOx emissions.

Catalytic convertors also had the advantage of sending money to South Africa to further our geopolitical goals of the day.

Your referenced link says nothing to indicate any need for larger engines to meet air quality requirements. I'm well aware of the efforts to reduce both unburned HC's and NOx with very lean mixtures, air injection and retarded spark advance. The first attempts in the 1960's resulted in increased NOx, making emissions worse, as I recall...

E. Swanson

See Environmental Chemistry, page 357

The primary cause of unburned hydrocarbons in the engine cylinder is wall quench, wherein the relatively cool wall in the combustion chamber of the internal combustion engine causes the flame to be extinguished within several thousandths of a centimeter from the wall.

So the increase in displacement compensated for the lack of power due to lean mixture and retarded timing, and it improved the surface area to volume ratio of the engine cylinders.

In the late '60s and early '70s Chrysler, Ford and GM produced many engines with displacements of 426, 429 and 427 cubic engines respectively.

Those big engines were the rage because they were the ones used in NASCAR machines. There were even larger ones, such as the Buick 455, and I think that Cad even had one with a displacement of 500 cubic inches. Some fraction of those large engines were de-rated and put into trucks too. Big, slow turning engines last a long time, compared to small, high revving engines in the econo box cars of the time. There was no necessary reason for selling those large engines, except that the consumer had been sold on the idea that fast driving (i.e., performance), was a wonderful thing to experience and freeways were just being constructed which allowed one to drive very fast, if one didn't mind an occasional speeding ticket.

The US car companies later tried to maximize their investment in production equipment, with GM producing a V-6 of 231 Cubic Inches using a 90 degree "V" arrangement, which could be machined on the same equipment that was used to make their V-8's, also using the same connecting rods and crank layout. As a result, their first attempt necessitated an odd firing sequence, with an offset in the distributor to accommodate the imbalance. They later changed the crankshaft, using different rod positions compared with the V-8 setup, thereby producing the "even fire" engine.

E. Swanson

Big, slow turning engines last a long time, compared to small, high revving engines in the econo box cars of the time.

They did, until the Japanese moved the goalposts on them. I can remember my father (an old mechanic) taking apart his first modern, overhead camshaft, fuel injected four. He looked inside it and said, with some astonishment, "There's no wear on this engine! The cylinder walls look like they're brand new!"

Of course, the car makers could have always built engines that lasted twice as long as the car, but there was no incentive to do so, particularly since they wanted to sell you a new car. The American manufacturers used to have engineers go through the repair statistics on their cars and, when they found a part that never wore out, they replaced it with one that did. Of course, they engineered them so the cheap cars wore out faster than the expensive ones. It was called "value engineering".

Then the Japanese came along and screwed up the whole system by building high-revving little four-cylinder engines that lasted a lot longer than the cars. People kept driving them until they were mostly rust and you could see the road through the floorpan. Prior to that time you had to buy a Mercedes Benz to get a 200,000 mile engine. After that time, people used to boast of putting 500,000 miles on a Toyota. And of course after the Toyota collapsed in a pile of rust, they bought a new Lexus with the money they had saved, not a Cadillac or Lincoln.

Indeed. It is always interesting to note that when OPEC was starting up, the TRRC was the model they cited explicitly. OPEC's big problem has always been enforcement. This problem was recognized early on, when one analyst, asked what the difference was between OPEC and the TRRC, answered, "The Texas Rangers."

This site, in the section titled "The Oil Wars", has a lot of interesting material about the struggles of getting the Commission into position to do the job.

"Democrats Call Off Climate Bill Effort"

I have to jump in on this one.

I imagine there are two sets of reactions in play right now - deep disappointment and distress in one camp, and celebration and champagne in the other camp.

For anyone out there feeling down and depressed about this, like I do, there's only one thing to do. Call, write a letter, do anything rather than nothing. I started my day with a letter to the President.

Laugh, if you will, but if one doesn't try, what's the point ?

/sermon off.

I feel better now.

Write your letters if it helps you feel better. Profits, politics and the election cycle trump progress and common sense every time. This, more than anything, feeds my doomer side.

Our ability to respond to climate change or the other predicaments we (collectively) face is totally disconnected from the realities. Small, local, extra-political response may be our only effective choice.

Writing letters is part of my small, local response. While I seriously doubt that TPTB will come through and do anything useful, given the politics, all I can do is whatever I can.

On one or two occasions, I've gotten a personal response from my Senator. His frustration is palpable.

Recently, I've been shaking my head over the firing of the USDA employee, wondering if anyone researches the facts of a case anymore. We are sorely missing true investigative newspaper journalism, and blogging, with due respect to this site, is not filling the gap.

After having looked into this firing, and her history, I believe the lady is the victim of a hard core preemptive political damage control campaign directed from the White House.

She should be allowed back on the job after undergoing some (totally unnecessary) sensitivity training, which is the usual punishment forced onto a conservative who screws up in a similar fashion.

But she was maybe on a bit of slippery ground to start with, having been involved in some lawsuit involving the dept as I understand it-firing such a person when a good excuse arises is a good way for a dept head or Secretary to get the message out about organizational loyalty.

She sacrificed herself like a good soldier and did not immediately dispute her firing but resigned as asked.

The one that makes me burn is the recent dismissal of the case against the guys charged with voter intimidation against the wishes of the career prosecutors running the case- this is or was even more cynical, and imo was no more or no less than extremely unethical damage control.

The administration threw her under a bus.

It snatched the guys from the hands of a prosecutor who would soon have had them in jail.

This is not to say that the repugs haven't often done worse,but they are out of power at the moment.

I guess the election of judges is subject to the desires of large corporations too. I'm finding the behaviour of SCOTUS very troubling.

Thanks for your earlier comment about toning down the partisan sniping. I've got plenty of blogs I can go to for that kind of stuff, I prefer that TOD stay as far out of the political trenches as possible. Like you said, no need to p*ss people off unnecessarily.

That being said, did you notice that you used the word "repugs" in your last line? :-)

It was also career prosecutors at DOJ that recommended dismissal of 3 of the defendants based of the fact that not one single voter claimed voter intimidation.

DOJ requested and received an injunction against the member who had carried the nightstick.

Yes, there is hard core political damage but it is being directed toward the White House.

Andrew Brietbart had the edited tape of Sherrod's speech (the USDA lady) for months but decided to release the edited version 2 days after the voter intimidation dismissal - fortunately Brietbart overplayed his hand with the edited tape

Wingnuts can't win honest arguments so they spin lies and keep on repeating them. If they manage to fool somebody they congratulate themselves and laugh at the 'fool'.
This is what they call 'educating the public'.

I hope they keep it up.

“You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”--G.W. Bush

OFM: A 'good soldier' makes the enemy sacrifice for his country not the other way around.


My response to feeling impotent about these policies is that old serenity prayer again..

"To change what I can change, Accept what I can't change, and be wise enough to know the difference."

Of course, at an individual level, it also takes a lot of trust that making 'small contributions' to these issues, like Grassroots Organizing, as McKibben urges, or Teaching People locally, or writing letters to representatives, or working directly (and visibly) on your own carbon and energy usage.. that these, like voting, are actually important steps for individuals to engage in.

'No Raindrop thinks that it is the monsoon..'


Try http://www.lumpsofcoal.org We are organizing an campaign to send lumps of coal to Congress on Oct 10, which is the same day as 350.org is organizing their actions.

I agree, we have to try. We have to keep rolling that boulder back up the hill. Two points:

1) From my canvassing days, it takes 12 contacts to get your message across.
2) Saw a youtube of the first "Get Smart" a couple of days ago. Max and the Chief are under the Cone of Silence. Throughout the ENTIRE SCENE Max is smoking a cigarette and flicking the ashes in an ashtray. When was the last time you saw that happen in an office?

Point being, that attitudes, opinions, and behaviors can be changed. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Our conundrum here is that we may no longer have the time we need.

Yeah, I remember "Get Smart" - it was on British tv.

It only took 45 years to finally stop people smoking in public buildings. Half a century, basically ! And I hear complaints about it all the time, from smokers I know.

We really don't have that kind of time left.

Like the health care bill was not about health, the climate bill was not about climate - it was about making wealth transfers to a certain political class.

I suspect the shipping problems may be just a red herring to distract attention from real problems at the Tenghiz oil field in Kazakhstan. There are 107 wells, and only nine of them shut in (or perhaps dry)? That hardly seems like a field producing at half capacity. The geology is certainly difficult there: the reservoir is a carbonate with 2% to perhaps 10% porosity and very low permeability, and the associated gas is heavily laden with hydrogen sulphide.

This is another example of difficult, expensive oil. As we keep saying, the cheap oil is just about gone.

I don't have personal experience with the field, but I have evaluated several nearby properties in recent years.

"heavily laden with hydrogen sulfide"
Yup. Very sour crude.

Yet, note the ridiculous comparison to GOM production, as if volume is what counts.

Having decided to look at permaculture again, but am getting sick of trawling through the zillion permaculture courses that google throws up. Anyone got any interesting links showing permaculture being used in farming for real world food production? And without being some kind of sales pitch for a freaking permaculture course/ponzi scheme. Books are fine though.

Permaculture? Organic? Forget the labels. Just do it and decide what works for you and what is the most sustainable over time. Visit other gardeners in your area. Better get going, though.

Permaculture? Organic? Forget the labels. Just do it and decide what works for you

What G.Hung said.

Why garden in a straight jacket? It's difficult enough without the added stress of DOGMA.

In fact, if you run across anyone attaching a prefix or adjective to the words "gardening" or "farming," just run--in the opposite direction.

I only disagree with Ghung on the word "sustainable." Forget about that as well. It's a myth.

I recommend a book titled "Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times" by Steve Solomon. He's an experienced (read: old) guy who has tried everything in the book. And in his book he discusses practical farming from a peak oil perspective, and he discusses the shortcomings of permaculture, especially in a resource depleted world. Well worth the price of admission.


Just jump in and play around with edible perrenials. Take a rhubarb and plant it there, get some berries and put them behind there, a fruit tree over yonder. There are no rules, the plants will thrive where they feel good. Just read up on sun/shade, soil conditions, water needs and keep the plants happy.

BTW, potatoes, carrots, some onions, etc. can last several years from one planting.


You might check out "Giai's Garden" by Toby Hemenway. It's a home scale intro to permaculture. I also 2nd the recommendation of Steve Soloman's "Gardening When It Counts". Thanks to Airdale for that one.


I'll second Gaia's Garden as a good general permaculture book, especially as an introduction to the principles so you can apply them to your situation.

I'll also support everyone who said just do it. Practice is the most important thing, especially on something with an annual learning curve cycle.

I'll have to check out the Gardening When it Counts book.

Definitely mix a little of both. Do some stuff now just to get things started.. and also look for good books or local groups who are already going through their own trial/error with relevant land types..

There is already a lot of information to be had out there.. and some of these wheels would take a long time to reinvent.

Why not look into Brad Lancasters books on saving the water that falls on your land. Matters not what you opt to do that way - even if you opt for growing everything in strawbales.

Permaculture methods won't be 'real world' production in the us of a due to the laws. Go ahead. Try and get crop insurance (you'll need that to get a bank loan) on something not recommended by USDA. Same with the permaculture animals - try and sell 'em to the public - the public doesn't want live critters. Now add in the animal ID act laws.

(and yea, most of the permaculture is a bit of a scam because most need the off farm income.)


Read "Permaculture One", the original book by Mollison and Holmgren. Then read "The Complete Guide to Self Sufficiency" by John Seymour. Then spend two or three years growing annual and short term perennial plants ( and maybe small livestock) whilst you think about what would work well in your circumstances. By then you should be ready to start on a long term design for your property, or have realized that you will need to live elsewhere to achieve your goals.

Although the basic principles of permaculture are very straightforward, implementation is highly site-specific. Until you can achieve almost self-sufficiency for your own food needs, it is probably unwise to attempt to set up a permaculture regime as a production unit for generating income.

If feasible, try to spend some time as a wwoofer working on properties that have already implemented a permaculture program. Likely to be cheaper and more relevant that attending a design course on a property that is much different from yours.


Pacific Gas and Electric Time of Use Tariffs

We've had a TOU meter for over 20 years. Our "peak" hours are noon to 6PM week days. Everything else is "off peak." To date, and I hope in the future, our tariff has been grand-fathered in.

What I find interesting is the new tariffs for people who have TOU metering but aren't grand-fathered in like us. To wit:

Summer peak - 1-7PM M-F, Partial-peak - 10AM-1PM and 7-9PM M-F plus 5-8PM Sa-Su. Off-peak all other times and holidays.

My concern is how in the heck people are going to make that tariff work to their advantage. In our case, we simply switch to the PV about 9:30AM when I'm done irrigating (I need the grid for the well pump) and back to the grid at 6PM when we start dinner.

Why oh why do they have to make something that should be simple complicated?


I'm confused. If you have grid connected PV, then you don't have to think about it, your daytime use will either be small or net negative. As a grid connected solar customer with an undersized system I basically pay tier1 rates for any excess on the net meter. So my marginal cost to use/save is the tier1 rate.


I'm not grid tied but rather have a large battery bank. I put the system in over 10 years ago and at that time it was my understanding that we would have had to give up our TOU meter. I don't know about today.

I put the system in because grid power is/was unreliable during storms. In one case we ran out of gas for our back-up generator and the gas station in town didn't have power either. So, we opted for a large PV system so we'd always have some juice.


PS Plus I like alternative stuff. I put in our first little PV system 25+ years ago along with solar hot water. FWIW, this PV system had a mighty 500watt modified sinewave inverter; our current inverters will do 10kW.

Britain is “very likely” to face an oil shock within the next decade

“The world we’re going into isn’t going to be a world where the oil price will be $80 a barrel flat for ever, or $150 a barrel flat for ever,” he said. “It will be a world where we will have very substantial oil price spikes, which have an enormous capacity to provide shocks to the domestic economy and to the world economy, exactly as they did in the 1970s and 80s.”

A UK energy minister getting at least some of the impact of the UK's energy position, and admitting it - must be new to the job.

Certainly he's naive enough to think that little 'nudges' will be sufficient to address the 'orrible hole that's coming over the horizon. The scale of investment, rather than cutbacks, that are needed seems to continue to pass him by. He thinks its a rerun of the 70s and 80s.

Still, its more realistic than they've been in ages...

He should read the article above, "North Sea Oil's New Boom". He would then realise that our troubles are over as a resurgent UK North Sea oil industry nullifies panicky peak oil assessments.

oh I read that , seems confusion over gas and oil fields, confusion over real new finds other than buying another company and counting its finds as yours , and mostly confusion over mb/pd and gb/pd size fields that are required .

blame for taxing for the poor oil companies than relization that oil fields deplete and no matter how many smaller fields are found - geolology wins .


I read it too. From the article,

... the large Catcher prospect, held between British independents Encore Oil, Premier Oil, Wintershall and Agora Oil and Gas ... is estimated to hold 150-300 million barrels

300 million barrels of oil in place, maybe 30% recoverable. This is not "large" -- that's why independents have it, rather than majors.

Further on, a crack appears in the boosterism:

BP’s local energy representative Jake Molloy put it, “Clair is one of the biggest developments BP has...”.

From the Wikipedia article on Clair Oil Field,

The Clair reservoir was discovered in 1977 ... further wells were drilled in 1991, ... 1992 ... 1995. ... In 1996 there was a breakthrough ... Development ... was approved in 2001. The production facilities were installed in 2004. The first stage of the development was inaugurated on 23 February 2005. ... Plateau production is expected to be 60,000 bbl/d (9,500 m3/d) of oil and 20 million cubic feet per day (570×103 m3/d) of gas.

So one of the biggest "new" developments in the North Sea is expected to be 60,000 barrels per day. They only need another 20 just as big, and happy days will be here again. Any sign of that scale of "resurgence"? I didn't see the BP guy saying, "Clair is just one of dozens of developments in the North Sea. Nothing special."

Clair contains a fair amount of oil: 1.75 billion barrels. But only 250 million are recoverable. And only at 60,000 barrels per day. Reserves don't rule, ROI (return on investment) rules. And that's our dilemma. As long as oil is too expensive to buy, it's profitable to produce.

The rest of the article was the usual mix of talking about oil in place as though all of it can be produced--and instantly; talking about gas as if it were oil; blaming the government; half-truths; and appeals to non-expert authorities. (As it happens, I think the chemist was quite right in saying that reserves have nothing to do with production rates -- Rockman has said the same thing several times -- but that doesn't mean that production is about to boom.)

"Old Horse Face" is docking his foreign built Yacht in RI to save some bones...

BOSTON — Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is docking his family's new $7 million yacht in neighboring Rhode Island, saving roughly $500,000 in Bay State taxes.

The Boston Herald reported Friday the 76-foot, New Zealand-built sloop has two cabins, a pilot house fitted with a wet bar and cold wine storage. It is owned by a limited liability corporation in Pittsburgh, the longtime home of Kerry's wife, philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry.

If the boat were docked at the couple's summer vacation home on Nantucket, they would be liable for $437,500 in one-time sales tax. They'd also have to pay $70,000 in annual excise taxes.

Wonder who paid for it?


Maybe his wife;)
Teresa Heinz; Heinz ketchup and all. She's not exakatikly hurtin' for doe-re-mi.

The fuel of the future This is the trend folks.

"Evil weed in Baltic Sea puts marine life at risk"


"Record summer temperatures, farm fertilisers and a lack of wind have created a gigantic carpet of evil-smelling weed covering large areas of the Baltic and threatening both marine life and seaside tourism, scientists warn.

The 377,000 sq km of blue-green algae, covering an area the size of Germany, has been identified by satellite cameras."

It may take a while but theres oil in them there algae.

Or maybe at least some livestock feed if it can be scooped up cheaply.

I assume you are tongue in cheek.


Blue-green algae produce two toxins, each with different symptoms. Signs of neurotoxin poisoning usually appear within 15 to 20 minutes after ingestion. In animals, symptoms include weakness, staggering, difficulty in breathing, convulsions and ultimately death. In humans, symptoms may include numbness of the lips, tingling in fingers and toes, and dizziness. Signs of liver poisoning may take hours or days to appear. Liver toxins can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in humans and death in animals.

Yes, shellfish poisoning, or paralytic shellfish poisoning. The build up of bacteria and toxins released by them higher in the food chain.

Mostly-I don't actually expect that it will ever be possible to collect wild algae from open water cheaply enough to feed it to livestock, and the necessary processing would probably involve drying it out by heating it up quite a bit, which is partly why the process is not likely to be economical.

I don't know anything about the toxins, but I have seen some discussion indicating they can be nuetralized by heat and that they can be removed or neutralized economically with chemical treatment.The sources I read were only speculating but they didn't seem to think toxins were much of a problem.

If algae are ever collected for the oil content, the leftover biomass might be suitable for feed after the extraction treatment.

Most waste materials these days that can be put to some good use.If it ever becomes necessary to remove algae in quantity physically from the water, for instance to clean it up before desalinating it, a use will be likely found for the algae-perhaps as fertilizer if not as a feed stock.

This is way outside my limited field of expertise,and I have not researched this -I just read a little aboutit while enjoying a "random walk" thru the websites that cover such topics as futuristic farming.

Hardly any of the schemes you can read about will ever become realities.

Yes I have had my tongue surgically attached to cheek for a couple years now.

In case anyone has not seen it I highly recommend "Crude; The incredable journey of OIL"


It illustrates how algae blooms millions of years ago created the FFs we now use.

This is a fantastic piece to educate newbies because it is fast action," Jurasic Park" like.

Unfortunately we are recreating the conditions that will produce massive algae blooms so this is also a good illustration of PO meets AGW.

Hey, I wonder if we get to have T-rex again?

That's just being prudent folks laying up a supply of oil for the next civilization that happens along a few million years hence.

Rutgers’ Chinese Solar Panels Show Clean-Energy Shift

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- At Rutgers University in New Jersey, 7,600 panels convert sunlight into electricity, saving some $200,000 in energy costs this year in the biggest solar-power experiment at a U.S. college. Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., China’s second-largest solar-panel maker, supplied the $10 million project. Yingli is one of several Chinese manufacturers that have slashed costs to reduce global prices for solar modules by about 50 percent in two years.

This article shows how the Chinese subsidies to their solar industries are different from most western subsidies; they actually buy and install billions of dollars worth of product in their own cities.

A fifty year payback? Ouch.

Since they went into operation in May, the $200,000 savings would be for 8 months, May-December. The actual payback period will depend on how fast the price of electricity goes up.

OK, so a 33 year payback. At current prices. Agree, electricity will probably go up in the next 33 years :)

A lot could happen in the next 10, it seems.

I wonder if anyone has come up with a basis for the value of electrical power during blackouts?

Naturally, there would be a broad range of situations to try to build that from.. but of course the point is that during a blackout, you're ostensibly getting a much higher payback rate than during normal grid operation. At the very least, the overall value of that source is going to be greater in a power-crisis.

A large system like what Rutgers has might even choose to sell power to various customers in a community, if there is an extended shutdown.. and I wonder what kind of contingency pricing would be devised for such a circumstance.

If these systems are roof mounted there could be a significant savings in cooling costs over time. These are usually not figured into energy benefit calculations but under certain conditions they can be large.

I wonder if anyone has come up with a basis for the value of electrical power during blackouts?

Sure we have...

My small gas 110volt 2kW generator cost about $325 (1/2 a gallon/hour)
My large gas 220volt 8kW generator cost about $1,900 (1 1/2 gallon/hour)
My huge diesel three phase 23kW cost zero - it was given to me and I never use it.
My 220volt PV system cost about $26-30k.

Why? Well, I can't pump water for my family and our tenant. The 40 cubic feet of freezers will thaw. I won't have hot water except from the solar collectors - and that is zip in winter but I do get some from the heat exchanger in the wood stove. Plus, the reality that it is a pain even with these systems; much-less sitting in the dark for days on end.

I'll have heat since I heat with wood.


Thanks, Todd.

So with the 2kw Gennie, and a generous $3 gas and feeding full power, that would be .75/kwh just in fuel.. and of course if you're only using a fraction of the available power, it multiplies the KWH cost to a considerable degree.

The 8kw would be 3x that amount (or $2.25/kwh) , not counting oil/maint/replacement, with poorer numbers for underutilization.

And that doesn't count people's making emergency trips to refill gas cans, etc.. I've done some numbers before on what people pay in KWH for things like flashlight batteries, which gets up towards $100/kwh, etc.. So yeah, that makes the payback look better than ever! (But it makes one seem to be wishing for Blackouts and Armageddon.. tough badge to wear!)


Here's one of the Battery calcs I did.

Cost of Battery Electricity in KWH

I pay Central Maine Power around 17 cents per kilowatt-hour for my electricity, and I’ve been trying to find ways to reduce my consumption of that ‘imported power’.. but while fretting over that monthly expense, I’ve found I overlooked the dozens of little electrical doodads all over my house that charge a much higher rate than that. At about $0.75 each, your typical AA Alkaline battery is selling you electricity for at least $175/kwh, and a AAA battery is running you some $400 plus per kwh, while the unassuming and practical 9-volt transistor battery can be rooking you for an astonishing $755/kwh or so.. portability is profitable, huh?

Capacity - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_battery
Costs - AA $.75-$1.75ea AAA $.75-$1.75ea 9volt $4.25-$5.29 (source; CVS Pharmacy website, single, double and 16packs )

AAA 1250mah – ( @ 1.5v x 1.25ah = 1.875wh ) 533.33* x $399.99 to $933.33

AA 2850mah - ( @ 1.5v x 2.85ah = 4.275wh ) 233.92* x $175.44 to $409.36

9v 625mah - ( @ 9v x .625ah = 5.625wh ) 177.77* x $755.52 to $940.40

*number of cells to provide 1kwh

Charles Mackay: I read with great interest your analysis (and occasional forecasts) of the weekly API and DOE oil inventory reports. I wonder whether you could take the time to answer a couple of questions for me:

1) What's the difference between the two sets of figures? I know API is based on voluntary returns whereas DOE is mandatory, so presumably API includes an element of estimation, but are there methodology differences between them as well (does one count something as inventory that the other doesn't? Are there any timing differences between the two? That sort of thing).

2) More specifically, what in your opinion explains the DOE surprise rise in oil invesntories in the latest report?

3) Any chance of you making a regular weekly forecast in advance of the numbers coming out? It would be interesting to see how much closer you get to the reported numbers than the analysts' estimates often quoted in the press.

Many thanks

On a recent trip, it seemed that the number of recreational vehicles and motor homes on the road has declined somewhat.

Here's an egregious waste of FF that can't go to zero fast enough.

When was the last time you, flew in a plane to go anyhere?

Air travel is an egregious waste of FF that can't go to zero fast enough.

I recommend the following book:

PRACTICALLY GREEN: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making by Micaela Preston, 2009.

It is by far the most useful book I've seen on living green. I checked it out on impulse from the new book shelf at the library, and now I'm off to the bookstore to buy my own copy. It is a good book to keep, and also a good one to give away.

Re: Canadian annual inflation eases in June on energy

Canadian grocery stores are seeing price deflation.

Loblaw seeing price deflation
Markets 'pretty aggressive'

Brampton Ont.-based grocery said Thursday it's feeling the pinch from price deflation and doesn't see any signs that will ease anytime soon.

Loblaw president Allan Leighton told investors on an earnings conference call that deflation has deepened at a quickened pace in recent months, which has challenged the company's overall growth.

"In the second quarter for Loblaw Companies we deflated at a faster rate versus the first quarter, and we were deflating at a deeper rate as we exited the quarter than as we entered it," he said...

"Most of the customer base in Canada is much more value conscious than they were … two years ago"

"We see this (deflation) trend continuing well into the third quarter, and it's more difficult to predict when inflation will return to the market," Leighton said.


The Feds have no clothes, they are fighting price deflation in the nude, and losing badly.

I can't speak for Loblaw, but according to "Statistics Canada" (the official Canadian Government agency responsible for keeping these kind of figures) the inflation rate in Canada for June "slowed to 1.0%".

Statistics Canada Consumer Price Index


Canada Raises Key Rate to 0.75%
Published: 7/20/2010 11:04:44 AM By: TradingEconomics.com, Bank of Canada

The Bank of Canada raised its benchmark lending rate for a second month, and said that slower economic growth through next year means any future moves will be “weighed carefully.”

Bank of Canada Statement

The Bank of Canada today announced that it is raising its target for the overnight rate by one-quarter of one percentage point to 3/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/2 per cent.

The global economic recovery is proceeding but is not yet self-sustaining


Overall and core inflation will advance at about a 2 percent pace through 2012 as the economy returns to full capacity after last year’s recession, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said yesterday. The bank’s forecast anticipates a “gradual” rise in interest rates to keep inflation at that pace, Carney said.


So, take your pick for deflation in Canada. On one side we have the Statistics Canada showing an overall rise in the Canadian CPI of 1%, the Bank of Canada forseeing the inflation rate running at about 2% through 2012, and putting it's money where its mouth is by raising the Bank Rate to keep inflation in check. On the other side, the president of some grocery chain that most people have probably never heard of said that deflation deepened at a quickened pace... which is why his stores missed their earnings forcasts. Hmmm....

Guys and Gals... please. Its not deflation until it shows up in the CPI!

Guys and Gals... please. Its not deflation until it shows up in the CPI!


One, you know of course that some people believe inflation and deflation are about money supply, not prices.

Two, many of us have never accepted the CPI as accurate. It doesn't show inflation accurately, so why expect it to do so with deflation?

Leanan, you and I disagree a fair amount on inflation versus deflation, but I'm at a bit of a loss on this one. Lets start with a definition of inflation...

In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.[1] When the price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation is also an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a loss of real value in the internal medium of exchange and unit of account in the economy.[2][3] A chief measure of price inflation is the inflation rate, the annualized percentage change in a general price index (normally the Consumer Price Index) over time.[4] (wikipedia)

If you want to claim the CPI isn't perfect, I'm fine with that. However, if you are going to throw out the CPI, you are throwing out the best tool we have in the bag. What price index would you choose to use in its place? I, for one, am not confortable with the "Loblaw Missed Earnings Conference Call Index".

Going to the second part of your argument, if you want to argue that inflation is really about an increase in money supply, I would agree to a point. The full truth is that an increase in money supply is the root cause of inflation. So, since you set the standard, lets search out the numbers on money supply.

Data on money supply is published as the "M"s. M0, M1, M2 and M3. The higher the M, the more broad the measure of the money supply. Details on Money Supply Definition. In 2006, the US government convienintly decided to stop publishing M3, the best measure of the growth of the money supply. It was argued at the time, and still is believed by many (including myself), that this is to muddy the water a bit and hide inflation, but thats another topic. (For those who care (an interesting read): The End of M3) The point is, M2 is the now the best measure we have for money supply in the US. So, what does the data show then.

Jan 2009: 8313.1
April 2009: 8471.6
July 2009: 8425.9
Oct 2009: 8436.0
Jan 2010: 8477.7
April 2010: 8614.0
May 2010: 8598.8
June 2010: 8624.6

Full Money Supply Table

So, if you choose to measure inflation via the money supply, inflation has run 3.6% over the 18 month period since Jan 2009 (about 2.4% annually), or 1.7% from Jan to June 2010 (3.4% annually). If you are expecting to find deflation through watching the numbers on money supply, I think you will be even less likely to see it than by using the CPI numbers. Consumer prices and the CPI do fall on occasion, but with our (US) current national debt and enormous deficit, it is unlikely that we will see much shrinkage in the money supply over the course of time. As a nation, we can't afford to not "print money" because we have been, and current are, so freaking irresponsible with our finances.

Finally, since this comment was originally about Canada, lets go back to the statistics Canada data. Every piece of data currently shows inflation. Canada's CPI: up 1%, Canada's Industrial Price Index: up 1.4%, Raw Materials price Index: up 6.4%, (even the)New Housing Price Index: up 2.9%, GDP implicit Chain Price Index: up 3.4%, M2: up 6.5%, M3 (still published in Canada): up 5.8%. Source There is not a single stat showing deflation anywhere.

So, show me a statistic somewhere which indicates deflation, as there is zero statistical evidence that I can find, only unsubstantiated statements. Remember that housing is an asset, not a good or service, so falling home prices are neither an indication of deflation or inflation.

I kind of like Shadowstats. They aren't perfect, but they at least keep the measuring stick the same.

Look at M3 (the blue line). It's gone negative.

If we use Shadowstats adjusted CPI (using the 1980 methodology) it shows inflation running at around 8% today. The regular CPI shows a bit over 1%.

If we consider M3 to be inflation/deflation, then we experienced almost 18% inflation in 2008, with an eyeballed average for the year of around 14%, and averaged over 8% inflation yearly between 2006 and 2009, a 25% increase in the level of prices for the three years. I don't believe inflation ran anywhere near that high over those three years, which is why I stated that growth in the money supply is the root cause of inflation.

Regardless, the chart was valuable and I appreciate it for the M3 estimate info alone. I personally hope that shrinking M3 trend steepens and continues, as it would allow the US to print our way out of debt, moderating the decrease in M3 by printing more money, with few real negative consequences.

Notice the CPI actually went negative for awhile. By your measure we had deflation, and look to be heading toward it again.

But my point is that you can't expect everyone to accept your measure. That's like coming here and announcing that "We're not at peak oil until Daniel Yergin says so." Sure, he's considered an oil expert, perhaps the oil expert....but we've never accepted his authority here. And it's the same with the CPI.

Re: Kinks in the Ethanol Message-Machine? up top:

Ethanol supporters are not perfect but neither are the well financed anti ethanol jihadists.

The video heading the article flashes a message that Brazil's ethanol tariff is zero. Brazil can have no tariff since it does not subsidize ethanol but instead puts a steep tax on gasoline. Ethanol opponents are comparing apples and oranges. The ethanol programs in Brazil and the USA are completely different.


Since 2005, ethanol prices have been very competitive without subsidies,[3] even with gasoline prices kept constant in local currency since mid-2005,[96] at a time when oil was just approaching USD 60 a barrel. However, Brazilian gasoline taxes are high, around 54%,[97] while ethanol fuel taxes are lower and vary between 12% to 30%, depending of the state.[98] As of October 2008 the average price of E25 gasoline was $4.39 per gallon[99] while the average price for ethanol was USD 2.69 per gallon.[100] This differential in taxation favors ethanol fuel consumption,

If Americans paid a 54% tax on gasoline, ethanol would not need subsidies and the tariff which in effect stops those subsidies being paid to foreign ethanol producers. The comparison of ethanol policies in Brazil and the USA is fallacious. Things that are different can not be compared. If they are anyway the result is silly nonsense.

Those clamoring for removal of the blenders credit are in fact asking for a tax hike. Removal of the credit will increase tax revenue for the government and that is a tax increase.

The tax increase on ethanol will most likely reduce the demand for ethanol at a time when the ethanol infrastructure is ramped up to the point that the blending wall is near.

And most likely blenders will pass some if not all the cost of the tax hike onto consumers.


So removing the blenders credit is based on faulty logic in comparing two different ethanol policies and a misrepresentation that a tax increase will lower costs for taxpayers who are also consumers.

If Americans want an ethanol policy like Brazil's, I'm all for it.
Put a 54% tax on gasoline. Raise the blend rate to 25%. Make my day.

China - Now Number 1 in energy consumption

This week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that China had passed the United States in overall energy consumption. While this may not seem seem significant to many, it is a stunning change in the world's energy consumption pattern. The United States had been the world's largest energy consumer for over a century and has been overtaken by a rapidly growing economic powerhouse...

The IEA statistics show that in 2009, China consumed 2.252 billion tons of oil equivalent compared to 2.170 billion tons of oil equivalent for the United States.

While these numbers are interesting on their own, looking at them on a per capita basis is more revealing. With a population of 1.3247 billion people, per capita annual energy consumption in China is 1.7 tons of oil equivalent. By comparison, with a population of 307 million people, per capita annual energy consumption in the United States is 7.07 tons of oil equivalent.

This is interesting. Each Chinese consumes 24 percent as much as each American, almost one quarter. I would have thought it was less.

Ron P.

That kind of number makes it look like it should be taken as a 'Lifestyle' indicator, but of course the number includes their entire industrial energy usage, so I have to wonder if there's a better comparison than Energy/Capita to gauge our relative Energy pictures with.. in fact, it makes me wonder whether all the products bought by Americans from Chinese factories shouldn't actually count as US energy/capita use, and not Chinese..

But in case anyone over looked the last Para..

As a geoscientist, I firmly believe that we have reached (or passed the point) of peak oil and this week's IEA report that China's total energy needs have surpassed that of the United States will have a huge impact on the world's geopolitical picture in the coming years.

My guess is that a fair bit of the energy used in China is implicitly exported, primarily to the EU and US. What would be interesting to see is some measure of domestic consumption or a metric which breaks out what the embedded energy of exports is.
According to Wikipedia their GDP is about 5T, and exports are 1.2T, so on a pro rata basis 24% of total production is exported. I don’t know if energy is proportional but it is place to start: if we assume that 76% of energy is for local consumption their use would drop to 0.76*24%=18% of US consumption.


Each Chinese consumes 24 percent as much as each American, almost one quarter. I would have thought it was less.

Lots of interesting factors making up the trend over the last 10-15 years. Consider the top four countries in the world for 2008 steel production, in millions of tons:

European Union
United States

China produces over 37% of the world's steel now, the US less than 7%. Steel-making is energy-intense, as are a number of other areas where China has expanded its economy. For example, China also produces more than 10 times as much cement as the US. Lots of countries, including the US, have exported energy-intense production to China.

OTOH, producing a stack of mortgage-backed securities with a nominal value of a bazillion dollars takes very little energy at all.

That puts another face on the idea of 'Energy Slaves'..

From 'North Sea Oil's New Boom' up top. As the pull out indicates, this is an agenda-laden knock on Peak Oil, that as usual falls short of the mark on a careful read. Some of the interesting bits:

More significantly, there is no reason to doubt that the North Sea story of renewed viability and new, if more difficult to extract, prospects can be replicated in other parts of the world. And it makes a nonsense of peak oil theories that predict steep and imminent decline for global oil reserves.

The author turns Peak Oil into a strawman by the simple (but calculated) choice of the word 'reserves.' Rest assured, as consumption declines, reserves will grow as measured in years of available consumption. In this way, we will never 'run out of oil'. Which, in turn, 'disproves' the peak oil concept. QED! Note also if more difficult to extract...

The following paragraph is also quite good.

Energy insiders are only too aware that it is in the long-term financial interest of the oil companies to understate energy reserves. Announcing less conservative figures would likely attract higher taxes from covetous politicians. So too, anti-carbon political zealots would be eager use higher energy tax cash to further subsidize highly expensive wind, solar and other alternative energies.

The author can ignore the OPEC counterexample (higher reserves = higher production quota) since he is talking about the North Sea, but how can he ignore the Shell reserves scandal? I have no doubt reserves are at times underreported, but they are just as often embellished as a company positions itself vis-a-vis shareholders. The statement is idealogical mush, pure and simple.

Now, had the author asserted that as a result of these finds the North Sea would (or even could) surpass its late-90s production peak, we would all need to listen carefully. But you will find no such assertion. This 'boom' is more like a rifle crack.

Production Peaks? What Production Peaks?

The regions that the oil industry and cornucopians try to pretend don't exist:


I'm not sure what is worse: pretending that Texas and the North Sea fields don't exist, or asserting that any example in which the production decline rate slows down as a result of new discoveries, 'makes a nonsense' of peak oil theory.

I apologize if someone has covered this. I'm just curious if anyone here is planning to participate in "The Life In A Day" thing tomorrow.


Life In A Day is a historic global experiment to create a user-generated documentary film shot in a single day, by you. On 24 July, you have 24 hours to capture a glimpse of your life on camera. The most compelling and distinctive footage will be edited into an experimental documentary film, executively produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.

Who knows, in a thousand years someone may dig this thing up and wonder why we haven't done ourselves in before now.

The Pemex data for June is out. C+C production was down 47,000 barrels per day, from 2,593 kb/d in May to 2,546 kb/d in June.

Pemex Petroleum Statistics

Ron P.

Just my own two cents about plume reporting - odd that news noted yesterday that the major secondary plume "in the news" was tested not to be from BP's well, then we year tests show plumes are from BP's well. Is this all on the up and up? And BTW, I don't want a great forum for discussing technical and general socio-political issues about oil and energy to get into partisan bickering. But we need some good objective discussion about what human forces are triangulating on here or we'll never understand what happens, how it's reported, etc.

Interesting to consider that the EPA was requiring the skimmers to meet a 15 ppm discharge level and many objected that this was too strict. The 'plumes' reported today are described as 500-750 ppb. In case you missed that, it's parts per BILLION. Think peoples' preception would be shifted if the press reported that these 'plumes' are 20-30 times cleaner than the EPA discharge limit?

The anti-PO conservative voters will take PO seriously as soon as they actually trust the messenger.

Messengers are trusted when the listener does not feel insulted and does not feel like they are being sold anything.

So far most of the pro-PO crowd has been failing miserably on those two points. Most of the POers that I know would rather stop trying to talk to conservatives at all rather than just backing off the patronizing & insults long enough to get their point across. IMHO the Blue's massive resentment over the GWB presidency is a big portion of the problem.

The anti-PO conservative voters will take PO seriously as soon as they actually trust the messenger.

Regardless of your other points, I'm not at all convinced about this. Just take a look at any discussion forum, including overwhelmingly very conservative ones, and you'll see a pattern recur: there'll be someone who says something that, for a variety of reasons, the readership agrees with and he's a great guy, a genius, etc. Then he/she will say something -- in the same tone, using the same language/terminology, maybe even something they always believed but haven't talked about yet, not in connection with any damascene conversion -- that, for a variety of reasons, the readership disagrees with and you'll see almost everyone proclaim how the person has "lost it", they were engaged in deception all along, that they were an idiot, etc. To a large extent the "trustworthiness" of the messenger is "computed" after-the-fact once their message is known.

I think speaking decently matters, but I don't think Cons or even the BAU-UU's as mentioned above will give it a second's thought until they can't refill their tank. My wife included. (But she does better at bills and thankyou cards than I do)


Hole in One

There will be plenty more plumes from leaks on the seafloor and the open hole spewing 100,000 to 120,000 barrels per day to keep the Gulf well lubricated into the distant future.

The ROV media sideshow with its carefully constrained, selective views of the crime scene has ended but the slick continues. It never went away. Funny, isn’t it? It’s going to be great entertainment watching what the hurricanes do as they bring up the toxic lake of oil and throw it upon the lands.

There won’t be any more fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, that outdated activity will be replaced by the hauling in of toxic creatures by desperate fishermen who lost their morals along with their jobs. If it looks fine it sells fine - perhaps after a cosmetic detergent wash to clear those oily streaks. One evil breeds another, does it not?

Their catch will be nicely saturated in arsenic, mercury, carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons and the nasty chemical solvents misleadingly called ‘dispersants’. There ought to be plenty of room in the fatty bellies of overweight Americans for these extra poisons.

Conservatives don't have any monopoly on the habit of suddenly reversing their trust in people when they say something controversial. Both sides are guilty of that.

The anti-PO conservative extremists aren't the problem. Nobody and nothing is EVER gonna convert them. Decades from now we may be totally out of cheap oil, have lost our worldwide prominence, and reverted to a 3rd-world country, and that won't convert them. The Sarah Palins & Rush Limbaughs will still be calling PO an an environmentalist & oil industry scam.

It's the moderates & milder conservatives that need the attention. They are not brainless and they are reachable. IMHO the pro-PO leftists have not been keeping their anti-conservative urges in check well enough to convert this bunch.

Throwing up hands and declaring that half the states of the Union are full of "hopeless idiots" may be emotionally gratifying, but it's not helping the problem. It's taking the easy way out IMHO.

How does the recognition of physical limits have anything to do with contemporary politics? If they believe in perpetual growth on a finite planet, they are not conservative and they are not liberal. They are merely ignorant.


Quite so...and yet above and below ppl equate ‘conservatives’ (Republicans..?) more with an agenda that desires to continue BAU, and Dems with a more open mind, enviro friendly, and what not.

The truth is somewhere in between:

global warming *in general*, see details:


PO I guess has been similary affected.

Different issues of concern (Jan 2010), some differences in % of ‘concern’

dem / rep

global warming 43 / 11

protecting environment 60 / 34

dealing w US energy prob 56 / 43


PO is not included in mainstream polls, as we all know.

There are other poll results out there, this is a typical, representative example.

Some of us who are firmly convinced of peak oil happen to be politically conservative and Christians as well. Some on this board seem to paint with a very broad brush. I could do the same with my liberal friends, but what would be the point? Apparently, trashing other human beings with the most limited information about those people is quite the sport these days.

Moreover, many Christians, including evangelicals, do not have this big issue with evolution that has been implied on this board. People who have had some level of formal education regarding biblical interpretation understand the difference between literary and literal understandings.

About the only thing missing from this forum tonight is an attack on people from the southern portion of the United States, but I expect that to come soon. I signed up on The Oil Drum because I thought this was a forum to address energy issues. If I wanted the Huffington Post or the Daily Kos, I would have gone there to be insulted.

I'm not your average liberal, and by the standards here, I'm downright wingnut.

But even I can recognize the problems of the South.

Guns, pickups, heat, preachers, and gluttons...but neither oil nor AC nor NASCAR.

But I'm supposed to believe southerners will be happy, productive, and capable of adjustment in the years ahead? Don't make me laugh!

That didn't take long. Thanks for making my point.

People lived in the south before air conditioning, cars, or anything else related to oil. I'm not even 60 years old and yet was raised in the south with a single window air conditioner in one room of the house. My elementary school had no running water, much less air conditioning. Yes, my school had outhouses, as did the majority of my neighbors. We had mules up to 1956.

There was a fully functioning civilization in this country before the age of oil, and there will be a fully functioning one long after oil is a memory. People adapt.

I too grew up in the South (Atlanta, which was fast becoming a more Northern city) and we didn't have A/C for the first 20 years, living in 2 different houses. However, as the trees were cut down, more asphalt put down and more people moved into the city, A/C offered a great improvement, especially when driving a car stuck in the usual traffic nightmare.

The big problem we all face is that later generations in the South no longer have the connection to the Earth thru farming, having grown up relying on the commercial world to supply their every need. There's been a massive increase in population in cities of the Sun Belt, as people moved away from the country and migrated down from the Snow Belt. Because of our dependence on oil and cheap energy in general, I think we have forgotten how to do even the most basic activities associated with obtaining a living from the land. As a result, going back to the land won't be possible for the majority of the population, IMHO. That's where the Doomers get their ideas about population crash and it's not just the South which will be hit with this, but the entire world...

E. Swanson

Some of us who are firmly convinced of peak oil happen to be politically conservative and Christians as well. Some on this board seem to paint with a very broad brush. I could do the same with my liberal friends, but what would be the point? Apparently, trashing other human beings with the most limited information about those people is quite the sport these days.

Moreover, many Christians, including evangelicals, do not have this big issue with evolution that has been implied on this board. People who have had some level of formal education regarding biblical interpretation understand the difference between literary and literal understandings.

About the only thing missing from this forum tonight is an attack on people from the southern portion of the United States, but I expect that to come soon. I signed up on The Oil Drum because I thought this was a forum to address energy issues. If I wanted the Huffington Post or the Daily Kos, I would have gone there to be insulted.

That's partly what I was getting at.

I used "extreme conservatives" and "anti-PO" people as if they were interchangeable terms for the purposes of this discussion. But I realize that opinions about PO (and other things) are not exactly a uniform opinion among that group either.

I just think that the PO issue might be a decade farther into the public consciousness if the average PO believer showed a bit more humility & respect for those who don't know or don't believe PO already.

Please use the "reply" button.

If you are responding to someone else's comment, click on the "reply" (underneath their post). That way, your comment will appear as a reply to theirs.

Much less confusing that way!

I just think that the PO issue might be a decade farther into the public consciousness if the average PO believer showed a bit more humility & respect for those who don't know or don't believe PO already.

Really now! There are several million PO believers. And you are saying that if the average peak oil believer would just be different....

Do you realize what you are saying? You are asking a few million people to be different than they are. People are people and they are not going to change, not the peak oil believers nor the peak oil deniers.

Anyway arguments do not change people, whether they are nice arguments of mean arguments it makes no difference. Only one person in a hundred, or perhaps a thousand, will seriously change their mind about some profound belief with logical argument.

But keep on preaching Spectator. You may change how peak oil believers behave if...

Ron P.

Oh Please, Ron.

There's nothing wrong with reminding each other to be nicer. It's not some wiley experiment to change fundamental human nature, that we would occasionally encourage our fellows to behave the way their parents would have asked them to.

THAT is part of human nature, too, and when asked in a friendly way, a person who adjusts their behavior a bit (and it doesn't usually take much) .. might not be 'changing for the better', but returning from a detour into their worser sides. Consider that, since life in America today surely has the ability to make many of us act WORSE than we think we are inclined to.. I hope THAT change is figured in your calculations of 'whether people can change'..


(Thanks jokuhl.)

I just say what I say because nobody is born with a strong belief about PO. It's a formed opinion. Much of the "PO nonbeliever" population has only a moderate or conflicted opinion about it. They may be very open to changing those beliefs if PO doesn't get taken down the same road as GW/climate change and become hopelessly politicized.