Drumbeat: September 3, 2010

Peak oil and happy cows

Type the phrase 'peak oil' into any popular internet search engine, and you will not be short of results to wade through.

Like the fuel itself, the topic generates a lot of heat and hot air. This week on One Planet, reporter Richard Hollingham seeks to define the term 'peak oil' before asking leading experts whether they believe the event is nearing.

We then sit down with the world's number one energy analyst Fatih Birol. He is chief economist at the International Energy Agency, and advises countries from America to Japan on energy policy. There is plenty we need to ask him about - from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, to drilling off the coast of Greenland, to recent claims that China is now the world's largest energy consumer.... Oh, and what does he think about peak oil?

Peak oil, "Big education" and "Big science"

Regarding my own area, higher education, I take for granted that it will at best shrink considerably in size and scope. As late as in the early 1950's less than 5% of an age cohort in England, France or Australia went on to higher education/university studies - and that still represented a doubling compared to only a decade or two earlier.

Peak Denial about Peak Oil

A funny thing happened on our way to permanent prosperity and unlimited cheap oil. The right to prosperity was yanked out from underneath us by the current Greater Depression. The worldwide economic downturn has masked the onset of peak cheap oil.

US natgas rig count climbs 4 to 977-Baker Hughes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States rose by four this week to 977, its first gain in three weeks, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

FACTBOX - China's refinery expansion plans

BEIJING (Reuters) - PetroChina has won approval from the National Development and Reform Commission to double refining capacity at its Huabei plant to 200,000 barrels per day (bpd), the China Petroleum Daily reported on Friday.

The expansion is scheduled to be completed in October 2012 and the plant will be fully commissioned two months later, the newspaper report said.

Shallow-water platform fire raises wider questions on oil safety

The fire Thursday at an oil platform off the Louisiana coast may not, in the end, do much harm to the Gulf of Mexico. But it could still mean trouble for both the Obama administration and the oil industry - by raising new questions about the gulf's oil fields.

A CEO Fights Feds, But Feds Don't Fight Fair

Todd Hornbeck beat the Obama administration once again on Wednesday, and yet he is still losing.

Hornbeck was first to challenge the administration's industry-crippling moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf. He handily won an order striking down the moratorium in federal district court. He won again in federal appeals court.

Yet with the stroke of a pen, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar simply imposed a second moratorium after the court blocked his first.

Analysis: Security, Regulatory Reforms Revive Colombia Oil Production

After a period of steady decline, Colombia has seen an increase in oil production due to Colombian government efforts to curb drug and insurgent-related violence in the country and implement regulatory reforms to make investment in Colombia more attractive.

Despite strong production growth in the 1980s and 1990s, Colombia production began to decline due to increasing drug cartel and insurgent-related violence, low oil prices and unattractive contract terms that pushed upstream activity into a decline, according to analysts at Barclays Capital.

Comment: meeting the challenge of energy diversity

It’s simple – improve energy efficiency and provide a stable framework to encourage investment in renewable resources. It’s not rocket science and it’s happening successfully overseas. While countries such as Sweden now deliver almost half of their energy from renewables, we languish almost at the bottom of the EU league table, on 3 per cent. That’s despite boasting pretty much the best renewable-energy resources in Europe.

Deadly riots in Mozambique over food prices

"The high-income countries can pay even if cereal prices double. For them, it is not such a big deal. Many people in Asia and Africa simply do not have that option. For them, the only choice is to cut out a meal. That is the only adjustment they can make."

Storm surge a growing menace as sea levels rise worldwide

The large waves, storm surge, and flooding that Hurricane Earl will spawn as it strikes Massachusetts tonight comes with an added dollop of trouble: sea level rise.

Very gradual, and in some cases accelerating, rises in sea level off our coast over the last century will boost the height of Earl’s storm surge — expected to be 1 to 4 feet — meaning the wall of water will be able to travel that much farther inland and over higher elevations to flood basements, streets, and other low-lying areas.

Corporate alliances help keep state parks afloat

CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK, Calif. — A visitor has to look closely to find it, but here, in a remote mountain forest of Southern California, is a sign of what's to come for state parks across the USA: Corporate logos.

From California to New York, states are turning to corporations for financial backing as recession and budget woes prompt cuts in public dollars to maintain parks.

South Africa: Car sales surge 50% as buyers skip carbon tax avoidance

Pre-emptive buying to avoid the carbon dioxide emissions tax on new cars, which came into effect on Wednesday, and sales to the car rental industry drove new car sales last month to their highest level since January 2008.

New car sales rose 49.6 percent to 33 541 units last month from 22 413 units last August.

American Samoa, unlike California, bans plastic bags

American Samoa, a U.S. territory, will soon make it illegal for stores to hand out plastic shopping bags -- a step that California rejected earlier this week.

We need a better understanding of the 'environmentalist's paradox'

We hear lots of concerned chatter these days – not least, here on this site - about peak oil, peak water, deforestation, resource depletion and the like, but a popular riposte offered by those doubting such concerns is something commonly referred to as the "Environmentalist's Paradox".

The argument goes thus: "Why, despite resource depletion and the degradation of ecosystems, is average human well-being improving globally?"

People such as Matt Ridley, author of the Rational Optimist, argue that environmentalists are needlessly downbeat about humanity's prospects. After all, we are a resourceful, adaptable, highly intelligent species more than capable of riding out any current concerns (if only we would de-shackle ourselves from free-market constraints).

As a counterpoint, we have the likes of Jared Diamond, author of Collapse, arguing that we should heed the lessons provided by failed civilisations of the past who extinguished themselves by over-exploiting their available natural resources.

The latest edition of the journal BioScience includes a fascinating paper which examines just this paradox.

Crude Oil Heads for Weekly Decline on Forecast for U.S. Jobless Increase

Oil declined, headed for a weekly drop, on forecasts that a U.S. government report will show the jobless rate rose in August for the first time in four months, threatening the recovery in fuel demand.

Futures are down 1 percent this week. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimate the August payrolls report from the Labor Department will show the U.S. economy lost 105,000 jobs. Crude gained yesterday after an fire on a Gulf of Mexico oil and natural-gas platform prompted speculation that tighter regulations will cut production.

`Bear Flag' Signals a Decline in Oil Price to Near $60

Crude oil is set for a drop to near $60 a barrel, extending a descent started in May, according to a technical analysis by independent analyst Jim Stellakis.

“Last month’s breakdown in crude oil is continuing the longer-term bearish pattern which was started by the May decline,” Stellakis said. The bear flag pattern is signaled after a break occurs below a rising trading range.

Record Russian Oil Premium Vanishes on Refinery Run Cuts

Russian crude’s unprecedented premium to North Sea Brent is vanishing as European refiners switch to higher-value blends and scale back purchases to protect their profits.

Oil May Fall as U.S. Refineries Conduct Seasonal Maintenance, Survey Shows

Crude oil may fall next week as U.S. refineries perform seasonal maintenance, reducing demand, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Fourteen of 34 analysts, or 41 percent, forecast crude oil will decline through Sept. 10. Ten respondents, or 29 percent, predicted that futures will rise, and 10 projected prices will be little changed. Last week, 41 percent of analysts forecast an increase.

Crude warning for policymakers

South Africa imports around two-thirds of its liquid fuels.

The government's strategy regarding security of liquid fuel supply assumes that sufficient crude oil imports will be both available and affordable in the foreseeable future. The emphasis has been on ensuring that adequate quantities of refined products are available to meet rising demand, especially in the economic heartland of Gauteng.

Russia to double gas imports from Azerbaijan in a fresh blow to EU-touted pipeline project

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's Gazprom on Friday clinched a deal to double supplies from Azerbaijan in a bid to expand its control over gas produced by former Soviet republics.

...The European Union was planning to use Azerbaijan's vast energy resources as a key source of gas for a major pipeline project, Nabucco, to bring Caspian and Central Asian gas to Europe, bypassing Russia.

Ukraine May Give Russia Joint Control of Pipe to Cut Gas Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine is willing to give Russia joint control of a pipeline to southeastern Europe in exchange for access to natural gas supplies, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said as the country’s negotiate a gas venture.

The governments are seeking to create the venture between NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy and OAO Gazprom, both of which were once part of the Soviet gas monopoly, by year-end, Azarov said in an interview in his Kiev office yesterday. The agreement would reduce the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas, he said.

No sign of oil after Gulf platform fire: Coast Guard

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – An oil and gas platform operated by Mariner Energy burst into flames in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, but the crew of 13 escaped and there were no signs of an oil spill, the Coast Guard said.

U.S. Probes Mariner Fire in Gulf of Mexico That Sparked BP Spill Deja Vu

The fire started on or near upper-deck living quarters and was not caused by an explosion, Patrick Cassidy, a spokesman for Mariner Energy, said in an e-mail. The company said oil and gas production from the wells controlled by the platform, known as Vermilion 380, has been shut down.

Mariner may be facing BP-style crisis

NEW YORK — Just a few months ago Mariner Energy was celebrating its imminent marriage to Apache Corp.

On Thursday, Mariner found itself in the middle of a potential BP-style crisis, with a rig off the coast of Louisiana that exploded and perhaps was leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mariner shares dropped on the news, shedding more than 2 percent. Shares of Apache also fell.

Blaze Shakes Oil Industry

HOUMA, La.—The fire that engulfed an oil and gas platform Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico heightened pressure on the energy industry, which is battling greater regulation and a deep-water drilling ban.

U.S. offshore oil fire may delay lift of drill ban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama Administration is likely to stay focused on toughening regulatory oversight of the U.S. offshore oil industry and may push back lifting a ban on deepwater drilling after the latest accident in the Gulf of Mexico, analysts said on Thursday.

The fire on a Mariner Energy oil and gas platform in shallow waters of the U.S. Gulf on Thursday was a major setback for companies hoping for an early end to the government's drilling moratorium and raised more questions about the safety of offshore drilling.

BP Says Limits on Drilling Imperil Oil Spill Payouts

BP is warning Congress that if lawmakers pass legislation that bars the company from getting new offshore drilling permits, it may not have the money to pay for all the damages caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The company says a ban would also imperil the ambitious Gulf Coast restoration efforts that officials want the company to voluntarily support.

BP oil spill costs surge to $8bln

LONDON (AFP) – British oil giant BP revealed Friday that the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster has cost it eight billion dollars so far -- with a sharp rise in payments in the last month.

Factbox: U.S. Energy Disasters in 2010

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Energy production and distribution in the United States can be a dangerous pursuit, in spite of strict safety regulations for oil, gas and coal producers and processors.

Following is a look at energy-related disasters that have rocked the United States in the course of 2010, including the deadly and environmentally destructive oil spill at BP's Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, which began in April.

Dreams of ships pass in the night

Fazel Fazelbhoy is a man with a vision. With the age of easy oil passing, the chief executive of Topaz is casting further afield, and that means deep offshore. In the wake of the BP spill, such projects are fraught with risk, but this dreamer’s reveries include Brazil.

Russia Transneft not to increase 2011 oil fee

(Reuters) - Russia's oil pipeline monopoly Transneft will not increase oil shipping fees in 2011, Interfax news agency quoted the company's head as saying on Friday.

"We are not going to raise the tariff at all," Nikolai Tokarev said.

Petrobras May Raise Up to $75 Billion in Sale of Shares

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Latin America’s largest company by market value, will sell as much as 129 billion reais ($75 billion) of new voting and preferred shares to investors and the government.

Wheat Rises on Russian Export Ban; Mozambique Riots

Wheat rose in Chicago after Russia, the world’s third-largest grower, extended a ban on grain exports into next year, raising the prospect of higher food prices that already have sparked riots in Mozambique.

...Residents of Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, were on strike for a second day yesterday in a protest over higher food and utility prices. At least seven people have died in clashes with police and another 280 injured, Cabinet spokesman Alberto Nkutumula said yesterday.

Scramble for food companies a warning of crisis to come

The corporate activity is a storm warning of how food shortages and famine will reshape the world and corporate strategies.

The Economist notes that by 2050 world grain output will have to rise by half and meat production will need to double to meet demand at a time when growth in grain yields is flattening out, there is little extra farmland and renewable water is running short.

Similarly, rising food prices are a poke in the eye that the world needs to remind us of how fragile the food production chain has become. The drought and bushfires in Russia, combined with limits on grain exports, have resulted in a 70 per cent price spike in wheat futures, which has caused prices for soy and barley to go up by 10 per cent.

Police say attacks on Pakistani minorities kill 23

QUETTA, Pakistan – Suicide bombings targeting religious minorities killed at least 23 people in Pakistan on Friday, driving up the toll of sectarian assaults in a country already battered by massive flooding.

The EPA's new gas-mileage labels are good but not perfect

THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency is asking for comments on its proposed new gas mileage stickers for automobiles -- so here's ours.

Rating the new fuel economy labels

The EPA's proposed fuel economy labels range from baffling to genuinely useful.

From Detroit, a fix for smog-belching motorcycles

DETROIT (CNNMoney.com) -- When Americans debate the impact of fuel emissions on the environment, they usually talk about cars and trucks. But what about smaller vehicles like motorcycles, scooters, lawnmowers and ATVs?

Riding a lawn tractor for just an hour spits out as much pollution you'd get from driving a car for hundreds of miles, according to former Ford Motor Co. engineer Kyle Schwulst.

Report Says Heat, Not Smart Meters, Hiked Bills

After Pacific Gas & Electric, the giant California utility, began installing smart meters in the state’s Central Valley, the company was swamped with complaints from residents that their utility bills had increased.

But an independent review of the smart meters released Thursday found that the devices were functioning properly and attributed the high charges to a heat wave last year that coincided with their installation as well as poor customer service by P.G.&.E.

Reactor design poses dilemma

The nuclear industry’s federal regulator will face its first big decision early next year when it evaluates the design of a Korean reactor that conforms to most nations’ safety standards, but was rejected by a regulator in Europe.

The debate centres on a device known as a “core-catcher” that is built under the steel vessel containing the reactor core and serves as a last line of defence in a worst-case meltdown scenario.

Disasters data are our only guide

Nuclear industry regulators have only two sets of real-world data – Three Mile Island and Chernobyl – to draw on when weighing the merits of safety systems to prevent a catastrophe at nuclear power plants.

Mass Extinction Threat: Earth on Verge of Huge Reset Button?

Mass extinctions have served as huge reset buttons that dramatically changed the diversity of species found in oceans all over the world, according to a comprehensive study of fossil records. The findings suggest humans will live in a very different future if they drive animals to extinction, because the loss of each species can alter entire ecosystems.

Some scientists have speculated that effects of humans - from hunting to climate change - are fueling another great mass extinction. A few go so far as to say we are entering a new geologic epoch, leaving the 10,000-year-old Holocene Epoch behind and entering the Anthropocene Epoch, marked by major changes to global temperatures and ocean chemistry, increased sediment erosion, and changes in biology that range from altered flowering times to shifts in migration patterns of birds and mammals and potential die-offs of tiny organisms that support the entire marine food chain.

EPA to issue more rules in climate fight

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will roll out more regulations on greenhouse gases and other pollution to help fight climate change, but they will not be as strong as action by Congress, a senior administration official said.

Climate Risks That Every Executive Should Know About

We often think that climate change is something for the government to worry about -- the news is packed full of debate around government response to global warming, whether it’s the climate bill, or how China is outpacing us yet again in carbon markets.

But there’s a more immediate risk to companies in the U.S., something that is much closer to home and independent of whatever the public sentiment happens to be on climate change. For the first time in history, executives and their companies are being held liable for activities that contribute to global warming. It’s not a debate, it’s already happening.

New website to track climate aid, key to UN talks

GENEVA (Reuters) - A website launched on Friday will help track whether rich countries are keeping a pledge to come up with $30 billion in climate aid for the poor, seen by the U.N. as a "golden key" to progress in talks on global warming.

India needs to shift from coal to other sources of energy: IEA

India will need investment of $4.5 trillion in the energy sector to cut carbon emissions as part of a global initiative to reduce global warming by 2050, the International Energy Agency Executive Director, Nobuo Tanaka, said here Friday.

The United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change has said global emissions of carbon dioxide have to come down by 50 percent to limit the increase in average temperate to between 2 to 2.4 degrees centigrade.

Ministry sets up task force to study North Pole policies

TOKYO — The Foreign Ministry said Thursday it has set up a task force to examine Japan’s policies concerning the North Pole, as melting ice due to global warming opens the door to increased ship navigation and chances for resource development in the Arctic sea. The panel comprises deputy directors general of various bureaus at the ministry as the matter concerns such sectors as economy, security, environment and international law, a ministry official said.

World cannot afford worsening disasters, warns UN climate change chief

The world cannot afford escalating disasters of the kind recently witnessed in Pakistan and Russia, the top United Nations climate change official said today, underscoring the need for governments to take swift action to lead the world towards a low-carbon future.

Tibetan nomads struggle as grasslands disappear from the roof of the world

Like generations of Tibetan nomads before him, Phuntsok Dorje makes a living raising yaks and other livestock on the vast alpine grasslands that provide a thatch on the roof of the world.

But in recent years the vegetation around his home, the Tibetan plateau, has been destroyed by rising temperatures, excess livestock and plagues of insects and rodents.

The high-altitude meadows are rarely mentioned in discussions of global warming, but the changes to this ground have a profound impact on Tibetan politics and the world's ecological security.

Energy engages participants at cross-border conference

In the not-so-distant future, wind turbines may rise high, miles out along the Maine coast, while beneath the waves, turbines of a different sort churn with the currents, both helping to meet the state's ever-increasing thirst for energy. This vision of a state less reliant on fossil fuels was part of a two-day event held in the Bangor area aimed at promoting increased ties with Atlantic Canada, which shares geographic, economic, energy and cultural similarities, say organizers of the event.

"We have more in common with Atlantic Canada than we do Iowa or other states," says Tanya Pereira, deputy director of economic development for the city of Brewer.

Investments on either side of the border, whether it's Maine companies setting up shop in New Brunswick or vice versa, means benefits all around, from jobs to taxes and the economic spill-offs that come with them.

See: http://www.mainebiz.biz/news46841.html

Best hopes for stronger ties between Maine and Atlantic Canada.


If you come from Maine, I don't recommend vacationing in Nova Scotia, since you will wonder why you left. They are too similar. Vice versa probably applies.

Hi CM,

No doubt true for a lot of folks, but I enjoy vacationing in Maine because I genuinely like the people. I've had the good fortune to have travelled throughout much of the United States and it has always been a pleasurable experience, but the Pine Tree state is kinda special for me. Perhaps it's in large part the old slipper effect that you describe, but I'm mentally more in tune with the people here than perhaps anywhere else in the great fifty.


Chuckle, a few years back, I saw a yahoo news story about a possible terrorist taking a flight out of London for the US. Homeland security or TSA decided he was a risk and would not allow the plane to land in the US according to the story. So... they diverted the plane to Bangor Maine. I guess we're not considered part of the US anyway. Heck the whole state went for Ross Perot. Maybe Canada could just annex us, I doubt many would notice or object.

Don in Maine

Hey Don, we want you back ! After all, much of the great state of Maine rightfully belongs to us (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aroostook_War).

You may already know this, but some 40,000 to 45,000 passengers on international flights travelling to the United States were refused entry into American air space on September 11th and these planes were subsequently diverted to Canadian airports. Most landed in Halifax, but over six thousand passengers were given refuge in Gander, Newfoundland which has a population of just 10,000 (see: http://www.extremegivers.com/911-and-gander-newfoundland-351 ; see also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxaxrlusQC8). I can assure you the citizens of Gander made we Canadians damn proud.


Oil recovers from seven-week low but price uncertainty continues – Friday Fuel Watch

Saudi Arabia debunks peak oil with their estimate of remaining reserves.

The Saudi state oil company has also pushed aside concerns about peak oil, pegging oil and natural gas reserves at 13 trillion-15 trillion barrels, including 6 trillion-8 trillion barrels of conventional or easily obtainable fossil fuels (oil and natural gas). Known oil reserves around the world are estimated at 1.3 trillion-1.4 trillion barrels.

Okay, we have used about 1.1 trillion barrels of oil so far but we have 6 to 8 trillion barrels of the easy to produce stuff left. Of course that's barrels of oil equivalent but at least half of that should be crude oil only, say 4 trillion barrels. Then we have another 7 trillion barrels of oil equivalent of the slightly harder to produce stuff. Say another 4 trillion barrels of crude, or about 7 trillion barrels of crude oil left in the ground. Good! I was getting worried there for awhile. That should put peak oil off for about 200 years or better.

But wait!

Saudi Arabia estimates that peak oil production will not be reached until around 2020...

Errr... What's going on here? With 7 billion barrels of crude oil left in the ground, with at least half of that the very easy to produce stuff, we are going to reach peak oil in only 10 years? How is that possible?

Well, at least we know that the Saudis never exaggerate so there must be a logical explanation there somewhere. I just haven't figured out where it is yet.

Ron P.

For a "slightly" different point of view from the Saudis, Sam's most optimistic projection is that post-2005 CNOE (Cumulative Net Oil Exports) from the 2005 top five net oil exporters, including of course Saudi Arabia, is only about 132 Gb (0.132 Trillion barrels), and that by the end of 2013, three years hence, they will have shipped about half of their post-2005 CNOE.

Methinks most people prefer to believe the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia estimates that peak oil production will not be reached until around 2020...

Of course, interested as they seem to be in pushing a later date for peak oil, this means 2020 is an upper bound. It's the latest peak oil date that is even remotely plausibly defensible.

clearly, something is lost in the translation or re-translation.

Errr... What's going on here? With 7 billion barrels of crude oil left in the ground, with at least half of that the very easy to produce stuff, we are going to reach peak oil in only 10 years? How is that possible?

Well, at least we know that the Saudis never exaggerate so there must be a logical explanation there somewhere. I just haven't figured out where it is yet.

Such are the perils of talking about 'Peak oil', and the multiple definition of this.
Oil is certainly finite, and affordable oil is more finite.

Also it is important to remember, that multiple 'peak oils' are 'good for business' - anyone selling Oil, will under-report reserves in order to talk up prices sooner, and thus get more area under the curve.
As their customers begrudgingly get used to a new price point, they quietly find the capacity to meet demand...

None of this means Oil is infinite, rather it is the human factors in maximizing price (area under the curve) from a finite product.

It does mean that the wildest arm-wavings seen , are quite unlikely, but that the Oil Vendors themselves don't mind a little arm waving, as that helps condition customers to price movements.

The smart money (& countries), will continue to advance their post-oil migrations, as that helps ease the tail.

From the "Eco paradox" article up top:

"Why, despite resource depletion and the degradation of ecosystems, is average human well-being improving globally?"

Let's rephrase that:

"Why, despite depletion of open agar space, is the average yeast well-being improving throughout the petri dish?"

How do they come up with such idiotic questions and false "paradoxes"?

Why do they always look only at Homo sapiens? How about asking about the other few million species? Are they getting better off each year? Better ask them quick, most of them won't be around much longer.

Ron P.

You know the answer Ron: All species are created equal. Just some are more equal than others. Kinda sad how that old line has so many applications today.

Isn't that from George Orwell's Animal Morgue ??

I only poach from the best joker.

Animal Farm I believe.

I guess I only ever saw the George Romero version..

(Kidding.. )

You should know :<)

We only need look at species that evaluate their historical energy us and project future energy use and where to obtain it!

Why do they always look only at Homo sapiens? How about asking about the other few million species?

Because that would require acknowledging that homo sapiens (homo collosus) is causing the 6th great extinction of those other species. That, more humans are born everyday than all the other primates total population put together. Admitting only a few of the hardiest species will still be in existence in a few decades to come is a difficult thing to admit. Easier to presume all the luxuries for homo collosus will just get better as society encourages and rewards bigger families. Easier to go back on previous promises and start killing more whale species in greater numbers. Much easier because it doesn't require a shred of moral decency.

The paper focuses on only the biosphere and does not consider depletion of easily exploited mineral resources, including oil, gas, coal, uranium, etc. used for energy production.

It does not analyse the effects of outputs from the human systems back into the ecosystem, e.g. CO2 output as a contributor to global warming, or the impact of a myriad of chemical and radiological waste products.

It does not consider the role of technologies that support the current population densities that are known to be temporary in nature, e.g. antibiotic drugs.

My greatest fear is that some human culture will arise that is as hardy as hell and capable of almost complete decoupling from the environment via technology and bizarre forms of cognition. Call it the Human Superweed Scenario.

"Why, despite resource depletion and the degradation of ecosystems, is average human well-being improving globally?"

The answer seems fairly simple: we humans are exploiting and using up resources at a faster and faster rate as time goes on (see 29th day allegory) and will end up running into a brick wall as a Leibig's Law maximum gets reached on one or more critical resources. With each human using progressively more resources and the population still growing at ~200,000 net per day, the resource exploitation machinery of human civilization is beginning to overheat pretty badly. What can't continue forever, won't.

And in our next hard-hitting thought-provoking issue:
"TAKING ON THE CRACK-IS-BAD-FOR-YOU THEORISTS: Why, despite losing their jobs and homes, completely alienating their friends and families, and finally finding themselves begging, stealing, and having unprotected sex with strangers for $20 or less, do addicts report that the crack has never tasted so good?"

Dmitry Orlov: Peak Oil is History

Now that the matter has been largely settled, I feel that the time is ripe for me to weigh in on the subject and declare, unequivocally, that Peak Oil is indeed bunk...

To see what I mean, look at a typical Peak Oil chart (Fig. 1) that shows global oil production climbing up to a peak and then declining.

Observe that the upward slope has a lot of interesting structure to it. There are world wars, depressions, imperial collapses, oil embargoes, discoveries of giant oil fields, not to mention the ugly boom and bust cycles that are the bane of capitalist economies (whereas socialist ones have sometimes been able to grow, stagnate and eventually collapse far more gracefully).

It is a rugged slope, with cliffs and crevasses, craggy outcrops and steep inclines. Now look at the downward slope: is it not shockingly smooth? Its geologic origin must be completely different from that of the upward slope. It appears to be made up of a single giant moraine...

This, you must agree, is extremely suspicious: a natural phenomenon of great complexity that, just when it is forced to stop growing, turns around and becomes as simple as a pile of dirt...

(apologies if this was posted previously)

Thanks for the link Aardvark, I have not been keeping up with Orlov. I will try not to overlook him in the future. The slide show at your link is quite interesting. Slide 5:

USSR: What Collapse Looks Like

Big changes happen slowly at first, then all at once.

1989: Business As Usual

1990: Shops empty or closed, no traffic, factories idled, people out in the country trying to grow/gather/catch food

1991-93: Economic collapse, hyperinflation, crime wave, political limbo, plummeting life expectancy

Political response: talk talk talk talk collapse talk talk talk talk ...

Slide 6:

USA: The Predicament

The country is close to 100% car-dependent; cars run on oil
US domestic oil production peaked in 1970
World conventional oil production peaked in 2005
All world liquid fuels production peaked in 2008
Oil price spike to $149/barrel caused a financial collapse
Solution: Huge expansion in public debt
Next problem: Treasuries plummet in value, commodities spike
Next solution: Print money!
Next problem: Hyperinflation!
End result: A population that is largely penniless; commerce at a standstill; government in limbo.

Ah hell, this guy is just another damn doomer... like me.

Ron P.

Thanks for posting this. It helps me to understand the basis of your confusion.

It seems that it is hard for you to grasp that the run up in oil prices could be anything less than the 'cause' of the financial crisis, but why don't you at least try to think in terms of contributing factors, at least for a moment. Lay them all out, taking a little bit of time to consider the impact of financial deregulation in the context of increasing asymmetry in information flows.

Orlov's financial crisis to a penniless population scenario is a variation of the trash the WSJ and other purveyors of nonsense have been offering the public as they seek to influence policy choices. There is no hyperinflation on the horizon. There is a need, if anything, to cause some inflation, as disinflation takes hold and deflation looms.

But even with Orlov's minimal grasp of economics, I'm surprised that he doesn't recognize the opportunities staring him in the face.

USA: The Predicament

The country is close to 100% car-dependent; cars run on oil
US domestic oil production peaked in 1970
World conventional oil production peaked in 2005
All world liquid fuels production peaked in 2008

Why I wonder doesn't Orlov appreciate the opportunity offered by the three peaks listed. But there in the first line is the answer: he's confused about the nature of the country's mobility dependency. It's not dependent on cars, they are just the means to achieve the degree of labour and goods mobility required to maintain prosperity. And, whadayaknow, there are 3 or 4 empty seats in most cars on the road.

So there you go, there's not even a real need to ramp up investment in alternatives to ICE vehicles, for quite a while yet.

Though given the levels of unemployment in the US, and the evident long term need for other means to maintain goods and labour mobility, big investments in electrified rail transport would be wise.

I agree that we could make considerable cuts in gasoline use with a comprehensive program to encourage and facilitate car pooling, but do you see any evidence that anyone is doing this at any level?

To say we COULD do this or that is very different than saying that we will or that we are doing it.

In one of the articles above (sorry I can't remember which now), the author ends by saying he's even more doomerish about our response (current and probable future) to PO than he is about PO.

Car pooling can cut gas usage some, but driving to work accounts for only about 35% of miles driven. You have to make the kids walk or bike to school and soccer practice.

Orlov's financial crisis to a penniless population scenario is a variation of the trash the WSJ and other purveyors of nonsense have been offering the public as they seek to influence policy choices.

Nonsense! Orlov and the Wall Street Journal are polar opposites. How can you possibly paint them with the same brush?

There is no hyperinflation on the horizon. There is a need, if anything, to cause some inflation, as disinflation takes hold and deflation looms.

Well, watch this video and you will likely change your mind.

Bailout Big Lies & Your Savings

Ron P.

Hi Ron. I like Dmitry's point that the other side of the Peak is not going to be the smooth, gentle slope so many of us seem to assume.

When these four factors are considered together, it becomes difficult to imagine that global oil production could gently waft down from lofty heights in a graceful smooth and continuous curve spanning decades. Rather, the picture that presents itself is one of stepwise declines happening in more and more places, and eventually encompassing the entire planet.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are, you are likely to experience this as a three-stage process:

Stage 1: You have your current level access to transportation fuels and services

Stage 2: You have severely limited access to transportation fuels and services

Stage 3: You have no access to transportation fuels and severely restricted transportation options

... But there is one thing of which we can be quite sure: that Peak Oil's Rosy Scenario, which projects a long and gradual global oil production decline, is bunk... If we wish to prepare, we most likely have a few months, we may have a few years, but we certainly do not have a few decades.

Peak Oil's Rosy Scenario, which projects a long and gradual global oil production decline, is bunk...

I have argued this point for years. Several things could disrupt the now smooth flow of oil around the world. Once peak oil becomes wildly accepted there will be hording by some countries and a deep cut in production by other exporters. Global transport could be interrupted by war, especially a Sunni Shia war in the Middle East. Iran with the bomb could play hell with shipping out of the Persian Gulf.

In short the ride down the back side of peak oil will be jerky at best.

Ron P.

Iran with the bomb could play hell with shipping out of the Persian Gulf.

Assuming "the bomb" is some backhanded reference to fission/fusion atomic weapons:

You are, for some reason, choosing to ignore things like plain-old explosive mines and missles.

Others who have bonafides claim that if a tanker is struck in the waters off of Iran the insurance rates will stop oil from leaving the Gulf.

And one does not need "the bomb".

Eric, the term "the bomb" is not a backhanded reference. Everyone, even an Eric Blair, knows instantly what the term "the bomb" means. But I know, you were just trying to be a hor...

And I was not ignoring anything. Mentioning one method does not necessarily mean you must mention the dozens of others else you are ignoring them. Of course Iran could use many other methods to interrupt shipping through the Straights of Hormuz. That is why I mentioned a Sunni-Shia war.

Of course one does not need the bomb. But if you have it you can sure raise a lot of hell. If Iran says: "Stop or we will bomb the hell out of you", then I expect that would have some effect. But I would not speculate on just what effect it might have.

Ron P.

I have made the same comment that Dimtry makes about the geological decline being a best case scenario. In this post, I talk about the possibility of a financial crash leading to a big drop in oil production.

Also, at the ASPO-USA conference last year, my presentation was called What's Ahead: Two Scenarios.

I talk about the slow slide and the quick crash as two alternatives.

One slide says:

Mythology supports slow slide
• Myth goes: Oil will never “run out”
• • We will have a “dribble forever”

• But what are the real limits on oil production?
• • Globalization—high tech machinery; expertise
• • Credit—producers and buyers
• • Distribution—who gets available oil

• Perhaps “slow slide”is a comfortable myth
• • “Overshoot and crash” should be considered as well

In this post, I talk about the possibility of a financial crash leading to a big drop in oil production. 'Gail's Forecast'

The manufacturing data is actually quite positive, so a near term widespread collapse, is not looking likely.

Within the oil sector, there is also a strong negative feedback.
So whilst it's easy to scribble any red line on a whiteboard, you need to consider the
area under the curve.

Suppose someone struggles to pay ? - the Oil vendors will be very quick to offer loans, to preserve the price, as they know extending the price, gives more total revenue. They have trillions to play with here.

With the focus of knowing they sit on a finite pool, they are very motivated... ;)

Yes indeed! Orlov is the undisputed king of late night comedy. Err.. I mean, late civilization comedy. Keep it coming Dmitry.

I had been thinking about doing that graphic a few times in the past. Here's a quick version, a bit sloppy...

I agree the "forecast lines" for decline may be misleading. Whether the hubbert slope or the stair step decline representations.

Of course, it's not like I would claim this is an accurate representation, but this kind of 'chaos' in the lines may get people thinking a bit more about variables.(?)

Earl Update

Hurricane Earl is keeping on course with the really good news that it is losing potency quickly.

Hurricane watches are in effect for Nova Scotia's southern counties - Yarmouth, Shelburne, & Queens - with rainfall and wind warnings issued for much of the rest of the province. People are breathing a sigh of relief since Earl is likely to make landfall (probably at Digby Neck in the Bay of Fundy) as a Category 1 Hurricane (not as a Category 2 as previously anticipated).

Hurricane warnings are issued for much of Cape Cod. The easterly shift of the storm will likely spare Massachusetts (and the rest of New England) heavy damage.

My hope is to see this baby put to bed with the minimum of fuss by tomorrow afternoon.

Had this hurricane tracked slightly westward it could have tore through the U.S. northeast corridor wrecking havoc from Washington to Boston. The recent warming of the North Atlantic means these hurricanes are not losing their punch as in former times.

Which makes the History Channel's prognostications of a category 3 hurricane hitting New York City a distinct possibility for the future. I wouldn't want to be on a clean up crew afterward.

Meanwhile, continuing to hunker down here for whatever last minute surprises Earl may have in store.

Edit: Hurricane watches issued (as of 1 p.m. AST) for five N.S. counties: Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens, & Halifax.

Hi Tom,

It's another hot and hazy day along the coast with temperatures in the low to mid-30s, and although it's quite glorious right now, there's a certain impending dread with the anticipation of Earl's arrival.

I keep thinking of the 1937 John Ford film "The Hurricane". The skies in the initial scenes are bright and beautiful and it looks to be the perfect tropical paradise, but as time goes on the clouds start to gather, the skies begins to darken and various other suitable clues foreshadow what is to follow. I feel like we're in the early stages of Act One but that I've had a sneak peak at reels five and six.



Act 1 has been steamy indeed - and not because of any romantic activities. Romance tends, in this heat, to be anything but appealing.

Earl's eye (or what's left of it) is still projected to pass over the Windsor area late Saturday morning and since Halifax is to the east of the track, it looks like you folks might be bearing the brunt of the winds. A hurricane watch was issued for Halifax and county as of 8 a.m. this morning.

Finished bringing in the rest of my outdoor belongings and I'm heading out for one more trip to the hardware and grocery store for supplies. Enjoying this evening and then it's batting down the hatches and waiting on events.

The town of Digby is hosting anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts for its annual Wharf Rat Rally. And guess where Earl is expected to make landfall?


There is so little appetite by organizers to spoil the fun, that everything is still a go. Guess if you're on the back of a Harley Davidson then you'd be accustomed to 100 km/hr+ winds and rain and flying projectiles in your face. A hardy bunch they are.... motorcycle cowboys and their mommas are noted for their brawn not their brains. Prime candidates for the Darwin awards if you ask me.

Stay safe. Keep in touch,


Thank them kindly, but tell them I'm staying in California this year, and they should all go home.
Thanks, and good luck.


Wharf Rat, yes they should all go home, but unlike their namesake (i.e. you and other real wharf rats) they don't have the good sense to get away from the rising tide.

Not looking forward to what the next twelve to twenty four hours will bring, but thus far a pleasant, cooler and star lit evening. The proverbial calm before the storm. By morning, however, I might be California Dreamin' and wishing I was there.

Take care,


Hi Tom,

Call me a chicken[####], but I won't drive anything unless it has eight air bags and I can pull the seat belt so tight it cuts off the circulation in my nether regions. ;-)

This was, in fact, the lead story on CBC Nova Scotia's Maritimes Late Night (see: http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/Local_News/NS/ID=1581464724).

Hang in there, Tom and keep an eye out for flying apples (I guess we can be thankful that the projectiles won't be pumpkins).

Update: The latest CBC evening newscast with extensive local coverage on Hurricane Earl is now available at: http://www.cbc.ca/ns/ (click on the video on demand link).


Hi Paul,

Tomorrow morning may bring new expression to the phrase, 'bobbin for apples'. We're so nice in the Valley we may even send a few flying your way:-)

Halifax appears to be on the receiving end of the wind. Stay vertical if you can.

All that's left to do is to hold tight and hope the ride isn't too rough.

Take care and stay safe,


You too, Tom. As you say, there's not much more we can do at this stage except sit and wait. Here's hope'n you get the rain you need without the damaging winds and that the tidal surge doesn't breach those 400-year old dikes.

BTW, there's a nice cool breeze blowing through the den windows and it feels mighty good.


I think both the US east coast and the maritimes dodged the bullet this time. Its already been downgraded to a propical storm, and it hasn't even gotten even with capa cod yet. You by the time it gets to you top winds will probably be 60mph or less. Still nothing to sneeze at, it would be start to stay inside and not take any chances tomorrow. But I don't think there will be heavy damage from this one.

The really good news is that Earl is losing potency very quickly which is causing more than a few of us to breath a sigh of relief. Still a few hours away from direct touchdown landward so the forecast is hopeful but still guarded.

enemy, yes looks like we dodged the bullet (fingers crossed) this time, but the trend towards more intense storms in ever warmer Atlantic waters doesn't bode well for anyone who lives near the ocean. Not long ago most people in temperate zones could count on diverse but rather safe and boring weather. The nasty stuff was the anomaly and the really nasty stuff was extremely rare.

Almost on queue with the advent of 24/7 and hyped-up newscasts, these anomalies are becoming uncomfortably regular. At some point the worse case scenario will unfold for a gawking world to witness live and in HD.

Right now, I would really welcome a traditional winter with a foot of snow every other week and a cold January and February signaling the annual arrival of arctic troughs. Maybe then we could expect a fairly tame spring and summer to follow.

Here's to normal being something other than a cycle on a washer machine.


Morning, Tom,

There are just a little over 1,200 customers without electricity at this time, clustered in the Chester area, so we're looking pretty good so far.

You can keep an eye on things by visiting: http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/default.aspx and clicking on the Live Outage map (assuming you're not one of the unfortunate ones).


Hi EoS,

I think all of us are greatly relieved that Earl is weakening rapidly. The winds are just now starting to pick up (from the SE, gusting to 61 km/h). So far, so good !

Update: Getting a tad wonky out there. Very heavy rains and the winds are ramping up (now gusting between 70 and 80 km/h). Power is holding steady for us, but approximately 7,400 NSP customers have lost service as at 09h23 ADT.

Update #2: Winds now in the 80 to 90 km/h range but no reports of damage. Our lights have been flickering, but holding.... as at 10h06 AST, more than 30,000 customers without service. NSP dumping excess generation into New Brunswick.


Update 3:
As of 2 p.m. Nova Scotia Power reporting 162,000 residents without power. For a vast majority, temporary until linesmen clear debris.

Paul, we the good folks in the Valley decided to send Earl your way -- didn't skirt the Bay of Fundy, instead skirted the South Shore and came aground near Lunenburg, closer to Halifax. Lights flickered off and on in the Windsor area but no sustained loss of power. Got intense for about an hour this morning, but most trees in the neighbourhood are standing upright. Helps to be on the westward side of a hurricane system.

Turned into quite a pleasant afternoon, temperatures in mid 20s, sunny, and a slight breeze blowing. RCMP are advising people to stay put until clean up crews can work their magic. So far, traffic is light.

Paul, hope where you are in Bedford you're standing upright on the flip side.



When we had Kenna come through the local electric company turned off the power before things got too bad. Reckoned it would reduce the damage rather than having shorts, live ends flying around and backing up to switchgear.


Reckoned it would reduce the damage rather than having shorts, live ends flying around and backing up to switchgear.

NAOM, sounds like good preventative maintenance and thinking ahead. My question, did it work?

If it did, wonder do other utilities follow suit? If not, why not?

Not being critical, just curious.


Once the storm passed and the problem areas were isolated then they turned the town back on. Maybe off 10am on 4 or 6 pm. Kept the damage to just those bits that took physical damage such as one near me where a radio mast came down and took lines with it. It meant that things like transformers and switchgear were not damaged by surges from lines shorting and there was less risk to life in those incidents. Lines could get blown together and not short out. It seemed to work unfortunately I have no inside track.


Funny you mention this. After realizing TOD is spot-on wrt Peak Oil, I've been re-watching my Sci-Fi movie collection with the new understanding that the scenes of the future will probably never happen, unless Oil stops being used as fuel for personal conveyances. For example, the worlds depicted in Minority Report, or even a bit less extravagant, Repo Men, and certainly not as in Blade Runner, with all the neat futuristic contrivances that were Oil to never run out, will never be - because Oil (at this time, and probably always) will be required for their existence.

From now on, whenever I watch a movie that's set in the future, I'll see it as a wistful dream rather than a potential reality. Thanks a lot TOD.

Still quiet here, just south of Bar Harbor, but blissfully cooler. Earl seems to be losing steam and that's just fine. Watching what the storm does when it moves over Cape Cod and into the gulf of Maine, I think we'll know more then. Looking forward to a good soaking rain we can use it.

Don in Maine

Don, blissfully cooler here across the Fundy, too. Just finished throwing open every window upstairs to take advantage of the moderate temperatures outside. New England and Maritime Canada have had one of hottest and driest summers on record so the heavy rain associated with Earl (as long as it doesn't wash everything away) will be a welcomed reprieve.

I think the consensus is that if we can avoid serious wind damage, this storm might bring pleasant weather for the long weekend. The wind, however, remains the big unknown factor. Even at a 100 kms/hr (60 mph), it can do a number on leaf-laden trees, power lines, and roofing shingles.

The good news is that these storms pass quickly. It will all be over within a few hours. The most critical period to listen to updates is a few hours ahead of a hurricane. Until then, it's all a guessing game.

Godspeed and safe landing,


Thanks, Don, for the update. The downgrade in Earl's strength over the past 24 hours has been welcome news indeed. Hope to hear how you made out tomorrow. Stay safe.


A few days back, the Drumbeat had a WSJ article by Robert Bryce,

"Wind Power won't cool down the Planet"

and today Renewable Energy World issued what is essentially a rebuke to Bryce and this general line of attack on Wind, saying that there is a renewed burst of cash from the FF companies to protect their trade..


...The group has continued trumpeting the report’s myths at public events around the country and on their website, and these myths are now beginning to spread through the pro-fossil fuel blogosphere. In recent days, these myths have re-appeared in columns by Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the fossil-funded Manhattan Institute.

... Unsurprisingly, government studies and grid operator data show that this is exactly what has happened to the power system as wind energy has been added. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released in January 2010 found drastic reductions in both fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions as wind energy is added to the grid. The Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS) used in-depth power system modeling to examine the impacts of integrating 20% or 30% wind power into the Eastern U.S. power grid.

I would love to hear some perspectives on these two sides, as it starts becoming as much an issue of personality and characterization, as it is one of battling Stats. (Not to say the right studies and facts aren't the ultimate deciding factor, but that in these public debates, squeakier wheels can hold sway over public perception of who is 'winning')

Renewable Energy World issued what is essentially a rebuke to Bryce and this general line of attack on Wind, saying that there is a renewed burst of cash from the FF companies to protect their trade..

Wind has a long way to go, before it displaces all FF, so the Oil industry can ignore the volume side of wind, for a while yet.

That said, in the Electricity sub-sector, Coal is fast moving to the sidelines in many countries, and Gas vendors can get a better return on investment, from smaller wind. [NB: Coal should not be dismantled; it may yet become strategically necessary]

They can also see, that for renewables to ramp capacity, the Grid Control is going to have to change, and many WILL fear that.

The ideal scenario from a FF company perspective, is to keep the pesky renewables from ramping too quickly, as that will depress both prices, and volumes, and slash the area under the curve.

If the Grid morphs into a 'Renewable First port of Call' model, their revenues can take quite a hit.

Wind is already cutting into natural gas fired generation, and is partially to blame for the current low prices for NG.


Steam engines. This one looks interesting:

Our solution is the all-fuel, earth-friendly Cyclone Engine

The Cyclone Engine is a Rankine Cycle heat regenerative external combustion, otherwise known as a “Schoell Cycle” engine. In short, the Cyclone is a 21st century, high efficiency, compact and powerful steam engine.

Anyone looked at these engines? Any thoughts?

I also saw that engine in the GG links. I had not heard of them before, but the 2009 copyright web site claims they are "very close to putting the first of these engine models into small-scale commercial production."

More obtainable than the ST-5 perhaps?
(background as I understand it. They were in production, their was some kind of buy-out with a goal of making even more of 'em and the production dead-ended.)

I have been following the profress of this company (and steam and stirling engines) for six year. You can consider this a modern redux of the piston steam engine (used in Stanley's etc), using everything that has been learned from 100 yrs of steam turbines. Running it at supercritical pressure (3400psi) means that it is very compact, and high power density, but there is a big question mark over the longevity. It is water lubricated (no steam cylinder oil) and at those pressures wear can accelerate fast. Not an issue for turbines as no metal to metal contact.

They have claimed 28% thermal efficiency, though have not released detailed results. If they can get that over most of its operating range (a characteristic of steam engines), it's a good alternative to the gasoline ICE, which has a peak eff of about the same, but rarely gets to operate in that range.

The best thing is that it can run on any fuel, even crude oil, or gas, coal, wood, other biomass etc. That, in my opinion is the single biggest benefit. If you can get 20+% efficiency burning wood for a vehicle, that is way better than trying to turn it into ethanol!

That said, Harry Schoell has been working on this for almost 30 yrs, the last ten seriously, and has yet to have a single product for sale. I would think they would produce/test/sell a stationary version first before worrying about cars. Their website even has rendering of the engine on such useless applications as a push lawnmower. They have joined an American team trying to break the steam car land speed record.

It seems their actions, at present, are aimed at generating/keeping interest/funding, rather than producing a product.

If this guy can make 1,3 and 20hp steam engines and sell them, at small volumes, cyclone should be able to do the same;

That said, Harry Schoell has been working on this for almost 30 yrs, the last ten seriously, and has yet to have a single product for sale.


Guess its back to the WhisperGen as my external combustion engine porn.

If and when ordinary fuels-liquid-are no longer available, we might concievably see such a steam engine;that sucker looks as if it might last week and cost five frand for a lawn mower sized engine.

It will be far easier to make a gasoline engine or something more or less equivalent operate more efficiently.

I'll got ten to one that they will not succeed commercially.That thing has more parts in it than a three thousand piece puzzle, figuratively, and they left half of them out of the illustration.

Seems like Russia is getting a second helping

Russia suffers new forest fire outbreak

In the south of the country fire swept through villages and towns, destroying hundreds of homes and other buildings...Meanwhile, east of Moscow, although there has been heavy rain and much cooler temperatures recently, peat fires are still burning, and firefighters are still hard at work trying to prevent another major outbreak of fires near the capital.

Elsewhere in the news
Most new farmland comes from cutting tropical forest: researcher

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study led by a Stanford researcher shows that more than 80 percent of the new farmland created in the tropics between 1980 and 2000 came from felling forests, which sends carbon into the atmosphere and drives global warming. But the research team also noted that big agribusiness has largely replaced small farmers in doing most of the tree cutting in Brazil and Indonesia, which may make it easier to rein in the trend.

And it looks like the US is on the same page as the German Army in regards to Pipeline Security (from the GAO)

Earth from space: Giant iceberg enters Nares Strait

ESA's Envisat satellite has been tracking the progression of the giant iceberg that calved from Greenland's Petermann glacier on 4 August 2010. This animation shows that the iceberg, the largest in the northern hemisphere, is now entering Nares Strait - a stretch of water that connects the Lincoln Sea and Arctic Ocean with Baffin Bay.

That's about four Manhattan's big, or about a tenth the size of the state of Rhode Island.


I've uploaded a new version of my free Peak Oil software to my website.


* The Region Dialog has been given a makeover

* Added new Hubbert Curves for Peru, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago

You can download it here: http://sokath.sourceforge.net/

U.S. cargo plane crashes in Dubai
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An American cargo plane attempting to land at Dubai's airport instead crashed nearby Friday, setting some cars on fire and killing several people, Al Arabiya television reported.

Airline Era Ends as Carriers Cull 50-Seat Jets ‘Nobody Wants’

Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The 50-seat jets once prized by carriers such as Delta Air Lines Inc. are being culled from U.S. fleets as higher fuel and maintenance bills make them too expensive to fly.
By 2015, U.S. airlines will have about 200 jets with 50 or fewer seats, down from about 1,200, said Michael Boyd, president of consultant Boyd Group International Inc. in Evergreen, Colorado. More than 80 have been scrapped in 2010, he said.
“These are litters of aluminum kittens -- nobody wants them,” Boyd said. Their only value is for recycled metal, he said. “The next stop is the Budweiser factory because that’s all they’re good for.”
“The small-jet airplane era is over because the economics simply are not there,” Boyd said. “They couldn’t make money with $50 oil, and they sure as heck can’t make money at $75 oil. The only people who love these 50-seaters are the chiropractors who have to fix what they do to peoples’ backs.”

Back to turboprops for the smaller airports (if that).

New Oil Drum reader Joe0Bloggs posed a comment on the Electricity thread, and I responded--but it was sort of off topic there, so I took it down there, and will repeat it here:

Joe's comment:

Peak Energy?

It seems that Peak Oil has already occurred, but the people who predicted Armageddon the moment we reach the peak are wrong. Is this because the effects of Peak Oil will actually be gradual, or because the actual peak that matters--Peak Energy--has not yet been reached?

This series of articles argue that alternative energy sources won't be able to step up to the plate in place of oil, so I suppose that means that after Peak Oil, the declines in oil production will someday eclipse the increases in alternative energy production, and we will reach Peak Energy, at which time the real S will HTF...

Where can I find historical plots of total energy produced worldwide and projections on Peak Energy?

And BTW, are all comments on TOD attached to stories? I seem to have heard somewhere that there is a separate place for general non-topical discussion on peak oil.

My response there was as follows:

More general discussion on peak oil (and other topics) can be found on each day's Drumbeats.

Different people have different views on what the expected impact of peak oil is. My view has been that it would initially mean recession, and that part seems to have happened. I do not necessarily expect high oil prices--recession brings low oil prices and low prices for alternatives as well. If prices were very high, in some ways there would be less of a problem--oil companies would be willing to drill in places where costs are very high; alternative would be much more scalable.

Jon Callahan has done a nice job of making BP's summary of energy data available through his Energy Export Data Browser. Jon shows two graphs in this display - the top graph is the sum of the various types of energy, all converted to "Barrels of oil equivalent". The bottom graph is the individual types of energy sources separately. This is an image from his data browser regarding world energy supply:

As you can see from the bottom graph, world coal production has really ramped up (at least through 2008). In total up through 2008, this kept total energy supplies rising (top graph).

This ramp up in coal was especially the case in China and India, and helped keep their economies humming. There has also been a smaller ramp up in natural gas production. Wind and solar have ramped up, but from very small bases, so they don't make a big impact. But the flattening in oil supply has been enough to cause considerable recession, in the parts of the world where oil is used to a great extent (like the US), and no huge ramp up of coal took place.

...but the people who predicted Armageddon the moment we reach the peak are wrong.

It rather angers me when folks twist things to make peak oilers look like blooming idiots. No one in their right mind would predict Armageddon the moment we reach peak oil. I have seen no one post any such nonsense on The Oil Drum, either on Drumbeat or elsewhere.

That being said, peak oil does matter as there is no quick useful substitute for transportation energy. When oil prices go up we see gasoline prices go up. We do not see, or at least have not yet seen, vehicles switching to natural gas in mass and I know of no service station that has installed natural gas or propane service for vehicles.

What will happen is likely a gradual worsening of economic conditions. But there is a thing called the tipping point. I don't know exactly how far down the back side of peak oil the tipping point lies but I would guess it would be slightly before we get half way down. But that is just a guess, it could be sooner or it could be later, but undoubtedly that point will be reached sooner or later. That will trigger the collapse of our economic system.

I have no idea what happens then.

Ron P.

I have written more on the subject of what I think is happening. (Of course, not everyone agrees with me.) In one of my earliest posts from April 2007, I talk about high oil prices being expected to give rise to recession and long term economic decline. Eventually, it looks like our financial system which is based on debt cannot survive.

Some of my financial related posts are listed on my user sheet, which you get by clicking on "Gail the Actuary" in the side column. There are also quite a few of my posts accessible from the Peak Oil Overview label at the top of the page.

It seems to me we might simply be teetering along the edge of the cliff right now. Oil got us up to this height, height of population, height of consumption and 'disposable culture', etc.. and it carries the momentum of both habit and built environment, so it looks like we're settled at this ponderous height.. but that the 'Tip' which reveals out instability is one of those black swans that would require a massively energetic response (Big War, Big Quake or Tsunami, etc..) and where we are faced with the reality that the expenditure for that crisis is not being replenished into the areas that become the safety net for the next ones..

IE, The lackluster responses to things like Katrina, which looked like simply poor priorities on the USGovt part, are also signals that the surpluses which make such rescues possible without 'much' pain are getting thinner.. and yet the efforts at our Wars still seem pretty robust, since these poor priorities allow us to spend beyond our means, oblivious to the other parts of our system that are actually paying the price and backsliding as a result.

Yes I agree that we`re "teetering on the edge of the cliff".

For example, GM sales plunged 25% and Toyota`s declined 34% (I think these are US sales figures), but also here in Japan auto sales are expected to plunge 23% from now `cause the govt ended the stimulus (tax credit you could get for buying a Prius). But as car sales continue to go down, I`m thinking that this time the govts will be strangely silent: "Sorry, we cannot help you this time!" No more "cash for clunkers"

There will be some crisis fatigue setting in, as the massive debts govts have piled on act to prevent further commitments to help people. They`ll stop fixing roads, stop ordering stuff, and people will be thrown on more and more their own devices to get by.

But the cumulative effects could take years before they add up to where lots of things really stop functioning, that is over the cliff. By then many might not really care. They will have been managing OK anyway.

On the other hand, the "days supply" of vehicles was down to 52 days in July. The industry does not have a lot of 2010s to move off the lots with incentives. Profitability counts, not volume.

I have seen no one post any such nonsense on The Oil Drum

No, but Matt Savinar over at LATOC did, and John Kunstler does too.

Hi Joe,

It might be a good idea to respond directly to the people who say the things you wish to respond to.

Hi Ron,

re: "I have no idea what happens then."

Me, neither, however, I would wish you, Jokuhl (Bob himself), and others of what one TOD poster once described as "you...my invisible friends" to be in my nearby neighborhood, quite visible.

I've grown quite fond of you all.

I have no idea what happens then.

Typically, a dictatorial fascist government takes charge, followed by a world war.

Just ask the Germans.
Been there, done that.

Maybe we should call our reich: Tea Time for Beckler

No one in their right mind would predict Armageddon the moment we reach peak oil. I have seen no one post any such nonsense on The Oil Drum, either on Drumbeat or elsewhere.

Please, are you saying that I can find one of those and you haven't ever seen it?

Or don't former energy analyst types count as authentic enough? Or isn't there enough Armageddon involved in Walmart trucks running out of fuel a day or three after peak hits?


Where in that article does it say that there will shortages must occur right after the peak hits?

Despite the need to be prepared for imminent, final energy shortage - which could happen now or in several years at the latest

Therefore, the curve will be truncated to a cliff just as the gap between supply and demand is felt and hits.The damage that several days' oil shortage and outage will do will soon wreak permanent damage that starts with companies and consumers not paying their bills and not going to work.

The design of this wet dream appears to be that peak, and the ensuing gap between supply and demand (a common thought back pre-peak, that price can't mitigate demand) causes a cliff rather than the downside of Hubberts peak.

On a related topic, I thought I would run through some of the po.com archives.

Here's the lead in, What's that? You say you're calling from the year ought-four and you want to know what it's like now after the Peak? Well, let's see...

and the consequences post peak (not specific to a matter of days, just post peak...like now!)

I don't have to get a smog check for the car, pay insurance, or worry about traffic.

Nowadays McPeaksters don't talk about their car hatred, but it was usually on full display back pre-peak.

I don't have to worry about being overweight. Fatty food is hard to come by, and daily life requires many more calories than PPO (pre-peak oil).

Interesting, considering the ongoing obesity problem in America. Post peak.

Pigeons, snails, and stray animals are no longer seen as problems. Amazing how your tastes change when there's not much protein.

I didn't realize I was supposed to stop backyard beef barbeque's in favor of snail!

Horses would be the primary way for law enforcement to get around, but there should still be radios.


Civil wars and ultra-mass rioting will definetely happen if a draft is reinstated.

I had forgotten the claims of the draft being reinstated.

And my favorite:

It's the dentistry or rather lack of that worries me.
In a post peak world, a tooth will have to be taken out Tom Hanks Castaway style.


All electric airplane EADS Cri-Cri takes to the skies

The EADS all-electric Cri-Cri made its official maiden flight on 2 September at Paris Le Bourget airport.

The four-engined aerobatic aircraft - jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association - flew for 7min without a hiccup.
"Take-off and climb were smooth, no vibrations could be felt, manoeuvrability was excellent and all systems performed well,"
The single-seat Cri-Cri - based on the Colomban Cri-Cri homebuilt aircraft - uses composites to reduce weight and compensate for the extra mass of the lithium batteries.

It is powered by four brushless electric motors driving counter-rotating propellers. EADS says the Cri-Cri emits no carbon dioxide, will be able to cruise for 30min at 60kt (110km/h), perform 15min of aerobatics at speeds up to 135kt and climb at 980ft/mom (5.3m/s).


I already have an EV, now I want one of those babies!

Isn't it the guy with the most electric toys when he dies who wins?

Here's a wish for the world's jet fighters and all other high-speed conveyors of sad consequences to be replaced with the new Cri-Cri, dropping water-balloons and chocolate bars w. parachutes.

1,354 Years in the Making:
The "NEW" War
That Could Rocket Oil
Past $220 Before 2011
by Byron King


that dude's a Bleepin hay head. where are the adults?


I know, I know, the guy is a Capitalist War Monger trying to make a buck by hawking his newsletter. But... what he says about the 1354 year war between the Shia and the Sunni makes sense. Anyone who thinks there will be peace in the Middle East in the next 100 years is living in a dreamland. Things will get a lot worse before they get better. In fact, it is my opinion that things will never get better between those two schisms. Well, things won't get better until only one of them is left standing.

Ron P.

I'd have to agree with some of this guys points concerning the Middle East, but I'm not buyin' what he's sellin' on the other bits, so I guess I'll just have to stay poor and watch anyway.

What he's right on is that we can contemplate and anticipate as much as we like on Peak Oil and its likely effects, but if the Middle East "goes up" (or the Markets even think its coming), than all bets are off. I can think of eleventy leven or maybe leventy twelve things that would light the fuse there. Somebody sinking a couple or so tankers in any of those "choke points" would make the digital gas price signs light up like pinball machines.

Well, things won't get better until only one of them is left standing.

They've been at it for 1354 years, but mostly its just a low intensity simmering thing. There have been periods where Shia and Sunni got along pretty well. I doubt it will break out into full scale war. Probably more of the same; Sunni fundamentalist extremist suicide (or car ) bombings of gatherings of Shia killing roughly fifty at a pop. But, reprisals by the Shia have been remarkably rare. This has been the way its been in Iraq and Pakistan recently. Most of those big attack tolls are Shia. But, still you hear fools telling you Iran will give the bomb to Al Qaeda.

The fools have been at it for a long time. In the semi-recent past, the fools told us Red China was going to help the North Vietnamese topple the dominoes and turn all of Indochina Red. Not quite noticing that the Vietnamese and Chinese had been fighting each other for centuries. Which resumed around 1979, IIRC.

Making a profit from war is not a bad thing unless you are a communist (against profits) or you started the war to make a profit. If a shia-sunni war starts then is it wrong to have financially prepared? Whether you prepare or not that war will happen anyway and millions will die anyway so you may as well try and prepare.

While Israel and the United States are doing their very best to fan Sunni-Shia conflict, it is unlikely to work. It is too transparent.

This is classic:

The Gathering Hordes, Rome, Italy - CE 400

Proponents of the so-called "barbarian invasion" theory today warned of the "potentially disastrous" effects of hundreds of thousands of Visigoths, Huns, and Vandals plundering the imperial capital, including death, despoilment and dismemberment of the populace, and destruction of the city's ancient architecture and temples.

Senator Titus Claudius scoffed at the authors of the Foreign Barbarian Invasion: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management report, saying, "Obviously, these people have warned of barbarian invasions before - and look - Rome is as rich and prosperous as ever."..

The Foreign Barbarian Invasion report is the most strongly-worded warning yet about the conquering hordes problem, and was issued by a respected think tank commissioned by the Roman Legions to study the Barbarian issue....

Everyone here should be able to recognize the "roman" characters.

Here's an article regarding fracturing in the Marcellus Shale:

'Fracking' yields fuel, fear in Northeast


Dimock, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Bill Ely walked into his chicken coop with an empty five-gallon water jug. The jug, punched with several finger-sized holes near the top to keep it from overflowing, was capped with a white plastic pipe. Using a garden hose fed from his water well, he filled the jug. Leaning over the contraption, he flicked his yellow lighter above the pipe, and a blue flame appeared.
"I knew it [the water] went bad because we could light it," Ely said.

During its investigation that year, the Pennsylvania DEP collected samples from water wells that provide drinking water to 13 homes near the Cabot natural gas wells. Tests revealed the water contained elevated levels of dissolved methane gas, court records show.

Ok, so how did the methane get into the water if the fracturing process is taking place so much deeper underground, and is considered so safe? And, if methane can migrate from the shale up into the water table, then can the chemicals being used also make the transition?

A more likely cause is that improper drilling or casing techniques allowed gas to seep up the wellbore from deeper gas formations to shallower gas formations. It's unlikely that the hydraulic fracturing itself caused any contamination, it's more likely that the drilling of the well itself allowed contamination to occur. The subsequent fracturing of the deep formation is irrelevant.

However, it may also be true that they have always had methane contamination in their water and didn't realize it until somebody drilled a gas well nearby and they decided to test their water. Natural methane contamination in gas-prone areas is hardly unusual. This would be be an example of the wrong direction fallacy - they are assuming that drilling gas wells is leading to methane contamination, whereas it could be the case that methane contamination is leading to drilling gas wells.

I'm just reasoning by analogy with the Medicine Hat gas field, which is the largest in Canada. It was discovered in 1883 when a drilling rig owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, drilling for water for their steam engines, exploded, caught fire, and burned down the railway station. In that area, you're more likely to find gas with a little bit of water in it, rather than water contaminated with gas. Residents know that, so they don't get excited by flammable water - they just hook their furnaces up to the water well. Similar situations occur frequently in Southern Ontario. I believe Pennsylvania also has numerous shallow gas fields.

I believe Pennsylvania also has numerous shallow gas fields.

Shallow coal mines do the same thing. I was drinking methane infested water (in Pennsylvania) as a kid before anyone imagined that hydraulic fracturing was the culprit. I grew up on top of both, shallow coal mines and 3 gas wells drilled and hydraulically fractured back in the late-70's. The water was methane infested way before the wells were completed.