Drumbeat: September 7, 2010

Kjell Aleklett - Coal and Oil: The Dark Monarchs of Global Energy

The formation of modern society has been dominated by coal and oil, and together these two fossil fuels account for nearly two thirds of all primary energy used by mankind. This makes future production a key question for future social development and this thesis attempts to answer whether it is possible to rely on an assumption of ever increasing production of coal and oil. Both coal and oil are finite resources, created over long time scales by geological processes. It is thus impossible to extract more fossil fuels than geologically available. In other words, there are limits to growth imposed by nature.

The concept of depletion and exhaustion of recoverable resources is a fundamental question for the future extraction of coal and oil. Historical experience shows that peaking is a well established phenomenon in production of various natural resources. Coal and oil are no exceptions, and historical data shows that easily exploitable resources are exhausted while more challenging deposits are left for the future.

The Philippines: Iran eyes to barter oil for ARMM’s bananas, fruits

COTABATO City: While it is true that oil and water will not mix with each other, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is trying to mix oil with bananas and other fruits. This premise would hopefully come true in the near future after the Islamic Republic of Iran brought up the idea of engaging in barter trading its crude oil with bananas and other fruits from the cash-strapped Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a high official of the region announced over the weekend.

U.S. gasoline futures up on Mexican refinery blast

(Reuters) - U.S. gasoline futures climbed back to positive territory on Tuesday following news of an explosion at a major refinery in northern Mexico.

Unconventional gas resources changing more than markets

Only a few years ago, the dominant assumptions were that operators had to drill feverishly just to hold production steady and that LNG imports had to expand to meet whatever demand growth occurred. Now, the main drilling pressures on any given producer are lease obligations and production expectations of investors. With North American gas prices well below energy-equivalent oil values and likely to stay there, LNG once expected to stream into the US is instead competing for sales elsewhere, globalizing the price weakness.

Microbes munch oil, haven't robbed Gulf of oxygen

WASHINGTON – A new federal report says microbes that are gobbling up oil from the BP spill haven't caused problems with oxygen loss in the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal officials say some underwater oxygen levels have fallen by 20 percent, but the levels aren't low enough to create 'dead zones.' They say that's good news because it shows the microbes are working, but aren't causing oxygen loss.

WWF accuses Russian oil giant of disturbing whales

MOSCOW—The wildlife advocacy group WWF is accusing Russia's largest oil company of causing endangered whales to flee their Pacific feeding grounds.

The group said Tuesday that Rosneft began explorations near Sakhalin island, where western north Pacific gray whales feed. An estimated 130 of the species remain worldwide. They filter-feed on crustaceans and weigh up to 30 tons.

Renewable energy touted at Nevada policy 'summit'

LAS VEGAS – Some supporters wore green hard hats and waved signs Tuesday equating clean energy and green jobs as industry leaders, policy experts, investors and public officials began a national "summit" meeting in Las Vegas.

About 40 people rallied outside the event at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, before John Podesta, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for American Progress, urged event organizers to focus on untapped economic potential.

Erratic global weather threatens food security

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – The drought in Russia and floods in Pakistan are part of a global trend of unpredictable weather patterns and rainfall that threaten food security, experts gathered in Stockholm said.

"We are getting to a point where we are getting more water, more rainy days, but it's more variable, so it leads to droughts and it leads to floods," Sunita Narain, the head of the Centre for Science and Environment in India, told AFP on the sidelines of the World Water Week conference.

"That is leading to huge amounts of stress on agriculture and livelihoods," she said, adding that "climate change is making rainfall even more variable."

Bound by oil: Gulf Coast residents seek lessons from Exxon Valdez

Prince William Sound, Alaska (CNN) -- Eyes closed as ice-cold water laps at the shore, one woman is transported to her bayou porch. Staring out at an enormous iceberg, some laugh, convinced it could pass for a Mardi Gras float. Inside a visitor's center, they see a decades-old photograph of an oil-slicked bird and agree: It looks just like the ones back home.

They find easy ways to relate -- some comforting, some not -- as they journey to a place so foreign.

After months of living with uncertainty, a dozen Louisiana residents travel to America's last frontier to get a glimpse into what their futures may hold. They ooh and ah at breaching whales, a calving glacier and waterfalls. But they've come to Alaska because of something unsightly: spilled oil.

Putin says nuclear energy only alternative to oil, gas

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday that nuclear energy is the only alternative to traditional energy sources.

The global gas market has been recovering from the recent economic downturn, but demand for energy sources will soar over the next few years, Putin told a meeting with the Valdai International Discussion Club in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The premier cited the current energy crisis in the United States, where, he said, "the situation with shale gas... is very difficult."

'Floating Chernobyls' to hit the high seas

China and Russia agreed to expand co-operation over nuclear power, specifically on uranium exploration and safer power plants – but also on floating nuclear reactors.

"It's a case of Homer Simpson meets the Titanic," says Ben Ayliffe, a senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace. "The idea is just mind-boggling."

Australia Unlikely to Rival Qatar ‘Soon’ on LNG, Macquarie Says

Australia is unlikely to challenge Qatar as the biggest liquefied natural gas exporter “any time soon” and has too many proposed projects competing for customers, Macquarie Group Ltd. said.

Only a “fraction” of the projects planned in Australia may proceed, analysts Adrian Wood, Gavin Maher and Kirit Hira wrote in a report today. While LNG demand may double to 372 million tons a year by 2020 from current levels, supply is “more than up to the challenge,” their report shows.

Explosion Mexico refinery explosion

MONTERREY, Mexico — An explosion ripped through a major refinery in northern Mexico Tuesday, state oil company Pemex said, but officials were unable to confirm reports that several people were killed.

Local media in northern Mexico reported that seven people had died in the explosion at Pemex's Cadeyreta complex, Mexico's most sophisticated oil refinery and the country's third largest, with a capacity of 275,000 barrels per day.

Ukraine pays Russia gas bill

Ukraine's state-owned energy company Naftogaz said today it paid Russia in full for its August gas deliveries, amid concerns over the country's ability to buy dollars to pay for the resource.

Iran says is self-sufficient in gasoline-state TV

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has raised its gasoline production to attain self-sufficiency in the strategic product and foil sanctions targeting its energy needs, the state TV website reported its oil minister as saying on Tuesday.

"We attained a production of 66.5 million litres a day in the country's refineries," said Massoud Mirkazemi, according to IRIB's website.

He said that prior to the increase Iran had domestic production of 44 million litres and imported 20 million litres to meet the market's needs.

Iraq sets 2011 output targets for 10 Basra oilfields

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's South Oil Co. and its foreign partners have set quarterly 2011 production targets for Iraq's southern oilfields including a 1.25 million barrel per day year-end target for workhorse Rumaila, SOC documents show.

The documents obtained by Reuters show the SOC expects production to rise to 2.285 million bpd from all 10 oilfields it is involved with, including super giants Rumaila, Majnoon and West Qurna Phase One, by the end of next year.

Iraq unable to meet current power demand until 2013

BAGHDAD — Iraq will need at least another three years before it is able to satisfy current electricity demand, the US general charged with the military’s reconstruction efforts in the Middle East said on Tuesday.

But Brigadier General Kendall Cox acknowledged that his projection was based on present levels of demand, which continue to rise as Iraqis purchase more consumer goods for their homes such as refrigerators and air conditioners.

Oil majors say ops unaffected by tropical storm

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Major Gulf of Mexico oil producers said on Tuesday that their offshore operations were unaffected by the one-day passage of Tropical Storm Hermine through the western Gulf of Mexico on Monday.

MRRT fears weigh on resources

FEARS are rising in the oil and gas industry that billion-dollar gas projects could be further delayed amid calls for another tax summit.

As energy players fretted about uncertainty, miners remained split on the Gillard government's mineral resources rent tax that was struck through negotiations with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.

Peugeot Citroen Bets on Vehicle-Lease Programs to Power Electric-Car Sales

PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-biggest carmaker, aims to unlock demand for electric cars with leasing programs that include gasoline loaners for trips beyond the reach of a single battery charge.

Commuters walloped by strikes in France, London

PARIS – Strikes hobbled public transit across France and in London on Tuesday, forcing tourists and commuters to alter their plans as they bore the brunt of a wave of discontent over government cost-cutting measures — a wave expected to soon prompt walkouts elsewhere on the continent.

French unions staged a nationwide walkout over plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, cutting service on trains, planes, buses and subways. London Underground workers unhappy about job cuts closed much of the city's subway system — the first in a series of 24-hour strikes planned for the fall.

Peak Oil and the Doomsday Myth

In the 1990s, a group of retired geologists began flooding the media with warnings that an abrupt and imminent decline in oil supply would soon bring about the collapse of modern civilization. Some even claimed that it would push us 2.5 million years back in time to when our ancestors roamed the east African plains. This alarmist view, still so common today, is preposterous.

Oil, health, and health care

Experts on peak oil and health experts have examined this challenge together at three workshops, and some common themes emerge. These concern the need for simpler more robust systems that are capable of local maintenance, and the importance of fairness regarding access to food, water, transport, and essential health care. The text below summarises possible features identified as characteristic of a healthy prosperous society in the future. Because the workshops explored success not failure the goals may appear idealistic. The alternative could be very different.

New Denver councillor addresses greenhouse rumours

New Denver councillor Kevin Murphy’s greenhouse proposal has recently been hit with some rumours damning the project, according to the councillor. So, in an attempt to clear up some of the fog, Murphy has listed these points so people may understand it better. They are as follows:

1. In February, 2010 the Healthy Housing Society initiated a study, funded by Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), and hosted a series of forums on “Building A Healthy Economy” to determine the best options for community resilience in regards to “peak oil,” climate change and related trends. “Greenhouses” were defined as the idea most likely to succeed.

Iran stores abundant fuel oil on supertankers

Iran has been storing straight-run fuel oil on supertankers for at least three months, in an unprecedented move prompted by China’s poor feedstock demand and financing difficulties faced by buyers due to Western sanctions, industry sources said on Friday.

At least 550,000-600,000 tonnes, two full VLCC loads, are being held at sea at any one time, traders said.

So far, two cargoes have been sold and delivered into Singapore on board Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), a shift from its normal practice of using 80,000-tonne aframaxes.

Crude Oil Falls for a Second Day on Speculation U.S. Fuel Demand Will Drop

Oil declined to a three-day low as falling equity markets reinforced doubts about the global economic recovery while the end of the U.S. summer peak consumption season signaled lower demand from refiners.

Yesterday’s U.S. Labor Day holiday marked the end of the driving season. Refiners often idle processing units for maintenance in September and October as gasoline demand drops and before heating-oil use increases. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.6 percent and the dollar strengthened against the euro, reducing the investment appeal of commodities.

Japanese help ease LNG fears

Japan, the world’s biggest buyer of natural gas shipped by tanker, stepped up imports by 9.5 per cent in the first half of the year, the government reported today.

The new data are the latest sign that a downturn in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market has not been as severe as predicted, and boosts the fortunes of Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and other Gulf exporters, analysts said.

Asia to Buy First European Naphtha Cargoes in Three Months

Asian petrochemical companies will import naphtha from Europe for the first time in three months in September as demand rises in China.

Tropical Storm Hermine Crosses Rio Grande After Making Landfall in Mexico

Heating oil for October is a “stronger” because Hermine may affect operations at three refineries in Corpus Christi, Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston, said yesterday.

Valero Energy Corp.’s Corpus Christi East and West refineries, with a combined capacity of 315,000 barrels a day, made “preliminary storm preparations” before Hermine’s landfall, Bill Day, a company spokesman, said yesterday in an e-mail. “No decisions have been made regarding changes in production.”

Chevron and BP take China deep-water plunge

US supermajor Chevron has taken operating stakes in three South China Sea blocks, and the Chinese government has given the nod for BP to take an interest in some of the deep-water acreage despite the Macondo disaster, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) said today.

Salazar: Arctic oil drilling must wait

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is making it clear that he's in no hurry to open the door to new exploratory oil and gas drilling in the offshore Arctic -- not, he said, until more is known about the potential pitfalls.

Libya denies investing in foreign oil firms

(Reuters) - Libya has no investment in BP, Italy's ENI or any other oil foreign firm, the OPEC member's government said in a statement on Tuesday.

It said the communique was issued to counter previous statements by unnamed Libyan officials about the country's investments abroad.

BP biggest Google Adwords spender in 2010

Beleaguered oil giant spent $3.6 million in the month when Tony Hayward gave his unpopular Congress testimony.

Brazil Extends Sovereignty Over Oil Drilling Before UN Border Approval

Brazil expanded the offshore area where drilling for crude or prospecting for minerals requires government authorization as it seeks to increase control over natural resources.

EU energy boss sees Poland-Russia deal

European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger is confident of finding a compromise with both Poland and Russia over a proposed gas supply deal, his spokeswoman said today.

China to Import More Russian Coal, Lend $6 Billion

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s biggest coal consumer, agreed to increase imports of the commodity from Russia by two-thirds in return for a $6 billion loan.

Unsolved Coal Ash Problem

In December 2008, a gigantic storage pond belonging to the Tennessee Valley Authority near Kingston, Tenn., effectively burst at the seams, spilling a billion gallons of mainly toxic coal ash from a T.V.A. power plant into surrounding lands and rivers.

It was the perfect moment to right a long-festering environmental wrong. The Environmental Protection Agency promised tough new regulations governing the disposal of coal ash. Industry complained. The White House hesitated. Nothing happened.

Pakistan: Policemen exchange blows in public

GILGIT: The level of anxiety and frustration, triggered by the shortage of petroleum products in Gilgit-Baltistan, can be gauged from an incident that took place in Khaplu, a town in the remote valley of Skardu, late Saturday.

Two policemen, one maintaining order in a rowdy filling station and the other, a diesel seeker, exchanged punches and kicks in front of a crowd. Both suffered serious wounds before people intervened to stop them.

Iran: barred U.N. inspectors gave "false" information

(Reuters) - Iran has the right to reject U.N. inspectors who give "false" information about its nuclear programme, a senior official said on Tuesday, rejecting criticism by the U.N. atomic watchdog.

The glittering Gulf states' dark labor secret

Tiny Qatar is just one of the examples. The leading exporter of liquid natural gas is smaller than Connecticut, but state-funded Al Jazeera News is a powerful regional voice, and Education City, built in association with Georgetown, Northwestern, and four other US universities, is seen as a beacon of progress for the Arab world.

But not far from the futuristic campus, Rajan Sapkota and many like him are working in conditions that activists liken to indentured servitude.

Review: "The Witch of Hebron" by James Kunstler

The Witch of Hebron picks up a couple of months after World Made by Hand ended. Returning to the small upstate New York town of Union Grove, the new book further defines the post-apocalyptic setting, adds depth to characters who played only minor parts in the first story, ties up loose ends from the previous book and introduces some all new dilemmas. And it does all of this against the backdrop of a full-moon Halloween, lending a delicious sense of foreboding to the proceedings.

Turkey Joins Europe, Electrically Speaking

Turkey may be frustrated in its bid to become part of the European Union, but by the end of September, it will join Europe’s electric grid.

The Errant Economics of Detrimental Dams and Ruined Rivers

Lessons from the massive flooding that has beset Pakistan, uprooting 14 million people, underscore the need for a new economic paradigm. River engineering (a mainstay of the old economic paradigm) in the Indus Basin reduced small and medium floods, but set up the conditions for millions to be harmed when larger floods occurred.

When It Comes to Car Batteries, Moore’s Law Does Not Compute

Silicon Valley may be an epicenter of the nascent electric car industry, but don’t expect the battery revolution to mimic the computer revolution, one of I.B.M.’s top energy storage scientists advises.

“Forget Moore’s Law — it’s nothing like that,” said Winfried Wilcke, senior manager for I.B.M.’s Battery 500 project, referring to the maxim put forward by Gordon Moore, an Intel founder, that computer processing power doubles roughly every two years.

Uranium reserves to be over by 2050

Energy experts warn that an acute shortage of uranium is going to hit the nuclear energy industry. Dr Yogi Goswami, co-director of the Clean Energy Research Centre at the University of Florida warns that “the proven reserves of uranium will last less than 30 years.”

Current nuclear plants consume around 67,000 tonnes of high-grade uranium per year. With present uranium deposits in the planet having been estimated at 4-5 million tones, this means the present resources would last 42 years.

Garbage-to-energy? California has second thoughts

The Long Beach plant, for all its promise when it began operations roughly 20 years ago, still churns out megawatts. But it is a relic, a symbol of how California, one of America's greenest states, fell behind other countries in the development of trash-to-energy technology.

"I am having a hard time explaining why California is so far behind," said Eugene Tseng Tseng, a UCLA law professor who spent the last three months leading delegations on overseas tours.

Commuters' bodies to heat Parisian building

A Parisian public housing project is hoping to lower its carbon footprint by harnessing excess body heat and using it to produce energy. Paris Habitat is planning to redirect the heat created by commuters' bodies from the underground passages in the city's subway systems to heat exchangers and pipes in one of its properties on rue Beaubourg.

Greens Seek `Fast, Furious' Movement on Climate If Gillard Leads Australia

The Australian Greens plan “fast and furious” action to establish a climate change committee and impose a price on carbon emissions under a government led by the Labor Party’s Julia Gillard.

London's Capital Markets Can Spur Green Investment, Climate Minister Says

London should be the clearinghouse as private investors provide at least half the funding needed to fight global warming in developing nations, U.K. Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said.

“It’s likely that at least half, if not considerably more” of the $100 billion a year that will be required to fund new infrastructure and cleaner sources of energy will come from private financing, Barker said today in an interview before his speech at the London Stock Exchange.

Japan to Sell Carbon Credits Backed by Home Solar Power, Electric Car Use

Japan’s government plans to sell carbon credits backed by greenhouse-gas reductions that households make using solar power systems or electric cars, a trade ministry official said today.

The government will earn credits when homes use subsidies to install equipment to lower their carbon footprints under the program, Tadahiko Kozaki, deputy director of the environment office at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said today in an interview. The credits will be sold to companies that want to offset their own emissions, he said.

Rainforest Carbon Monitoring Gets Boost From 3-D Satellite Mapping Model

Monitoring carbon emissions from remote tropical forests is becoming easier with the help of 3-D and satellite technology, giving a boost to efforts to reduce output of the global warming gas, scientists said.

Climate change not linked to African wars

In his popular 2008 book Climate Wars, the US journalist and military historian Gwynne Dyer laid out a daunting scenario. Climate change would put growing pressure on fresh water and food over the coming century, he wrote, triggering social disorder, mass migration and violent conflict.

But is there real proof of a link between climate change and civil war — particularly in crisis-ridden parts of Africa — as many have claimed?

Climate: New study slashes estimate of icecap loss

Estimates of the rate of ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica, one of the most worrying questions in the global warming debate, should be halved, according to Dutch and US scientists.

Gloomy vision of the future

On one side we have pessimistic doomers. Doomers foresee a future of resource wars, shattered economies, disease, famines, social strife, mass migrations, global warming and eventual societal and civilization collapse unless we immediately implement strict population and economic contraction policies.

On the opposite side are the optimists, who seem to have iron-clad faith in man, God, America and science. These guys admit there are serious problems, but nothing we can’t handle.

Reading this article this morning it suddenly dawned on me why I am such a doomer. Well, one of the reasons I am a doomer at least. I have no faith in man, no faith in God, no faith in America and only a little faith in science.

Science, after all, was what got us into this mess. Science brought us modern medicine which enabled many more humans to survive and live longer lives. Science brought us the industrial revolution which enabled the exploding masses to find gainful employment. And science brought us the green revolution which enabled the world population to more than double in half a century.

And science is almost entirely anthropocentric. It concentrates on human welfare and only gives lip service to the welfare of the rest of the world’s species. Ocean fisheries are being depleted with the aid of science. The world’s lands are being cleared and then depleted with the aid of science. Rivers are drying up and water tables are dropping because of the science of mechanized irrigation.

So with no firm foundation to place my faith in the future, I am just a damn doomer.

Ron P.

Ron, with all due respect, I think that you are confusing science with the application of science, otherwise known as technology. Science doesn't do anything, accept add to our knowledge of the natural world. It is the engineers, people who hold "science" degrees but who did not get far enough to be called scientists, that create the applications which take advantage of scientific knowledge. And, those applications must live or die in the marketplace, thus the result is only the applications which turn a profit, usually in the short term. As one who was trained as an engineer, I have long been aware that my education lacked any extensive discussion of the natural world. We did what we were trained to do, i.e., build lots of stuff. My personal awakening came later as my educational efforts continued beyond engineering.

Oh, yes, notice the add for the expensive Napa Valley houses along with the article...

E. Swanson

Eric, with all due respect, you are nitpicking. You and everyone else clearly understand what I mean. You are speaking of science in the abstract, I am speaking of science in the general sense. For instance when I, or anyone else for that matter, speak of "medical science" we are talking of MRIs Xrays, modern medicine, and the whole nine yards. Who on earth would use the term "medical technology" instead?

When the author of the article spoke of "iron clad faith in science", did he mean science or technology? Was he confused? After all, if science does not do anything, then what would a person have faith in. No, I clearly knew what he meant. He meant the application of science, or what you would call technology. Anyway I knew what he meant even if he was confused.

Which means I am not confused. Well, not on this issue at least. ;-)

Ron P.

Ron, with all due respect, the problem is not with the scientist, but with the general public and the marketplace which ignores the scientist when they try to tell the public there are problems with the application of science thru technology. There are numerous examples, such as the scientists who tried to prevent the US military from dropping the first atomic bomb on a city. A blast in the middle of Tokyo Bay would have served the same purpose. The second bomb was totally unnecessary, except that the military insisted on unconditional surrender from Japan. As for medical "science", how many people understand (and therefore except) the fact that medical science (and technology) is based on the science of biology, especially the theory of Darwinian Evolution?...:-(

E. Swanson

Eric, the problem is always with people. Nicotine and alcohol kills people but it is people who smoke and drink. I know it is the people who use science, or the things that scientists developed, that is the root of the problem. That simply goes without saying, and that is exactly why I did not point that out.

The problem is always people, whether it is people smoking, people drinking, people driving or people dropping the bomb.

Pointing out that I did not point out the obvious is what is called nitpicking. You are still nitpicking Eric.

And I point that out with all due respect. ;-)

Ron P.

Ron, I've been a doomer for decades, perhaps because I've worked on political campaigns and have seen first hand the disinformation which is fed to the people out there. It's not nitpicking to point out the basic lack of comprehension on the part of the public. Small wonder the public has such poor understanding that they think that the Tea Party offers the solution to the sense of dread which is rampant in society as the economy worsens. I just ran across one of their candidates, Allen West, who is running for Congress in Florida. Here's an example of his thinking and there are longer, more detailed versions also available from the associated video links. West appears to be quite intelligent and delivers his message clearly, but I doubt that he would spend 5 minutes on anything a scientist would say about environmental problems. As a military man, he is an environmental problem...

E. Swanson

Eric, I am a liberal just like you. But I go further, I am a card carrying bleeding heart liberal. And by that I mean I hurt when a child is hungry, I hurt when a poor farmer cannot feed his family for a whole year on the meager returns from his drought stunted crop. I hurt for the poor ghetto child with one parent learns behavior from the crime ridden block he lives on. And I don't think I have ever voted for a republican in my life.

But that being said, I try not to let my liberalism distort my view of the world as it actually is. Homo sapiens are not the loving benevolent creatures most liberals believe. People behave in accordance with their needs and environment. That is everyone can afford to be a philanthropist on a full stomach. Everyone can be a pacifist from the warm safe confines of a home and a nation safely removed from harm's way.

The Tea Party is 90 percent nuts but about 10 percent of the time they get it right. It is this 10 percent correctness that gives them life and allows them to, 10 percent of the time, make liberals look like fools. It is very hard to say what I am trying to say. But I have made a lifetime study of world religions and lived in an Islamic country for five years. What I am trying to say is that Allen West gave an accurate history of the historical events he spoke of.

But those peoples of the past were only following their nature. And their nature, like our nature, does not remotely resemble the human nature that most liberals would like to believe is true. As I point out below, people desire to believe what they desire to be true. Most liberals desire to believe the best of people and the best of all religions. Nature, human nature, don't really give a damn about what liberals desire to believe.

And in that same post please read my Reg Morrison quote. That about sums it up.

Ron P.

When I think about human nature, I can't help but be reminded of the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

The comments in the Napa Valley posting are informative re human nature:

[(1)] Hey Jim, what about all those predictions you have made about "peak oil"? How's that working out? Weren't we supposed to have depleted the world's oil by now and all living in caves?
I wouldn't give up my day job if I was you; you don't seem cut out for the fortune teller business...

-- 9/6/2010 at 9:57am

[(2)] Jim
A little Prozac might help. Seriously...

-- 9/6/2010 at 4:25pm

[(3)] There is going to be huge demand for Medical Assistants, ... across the nation. We can help you get a training during weekends and evenings and get a degree in few months. With the degree finding a job will be easy, free consultation available at http:/....

-- 9/6/2010 at 9:17pm

[(4)] Isn't there any sensoring here?

Ron, I agree with much of what you write. I don't think of myself as a "Liberal" as the term is taken on meaning in a political context. Using Hayek's division of US political thinking as Conservative, Liberal and Libertarian, I don't fit in anywhere because all three accept the basic notion that it's OK for mankind to exploit the natural world, only differing on the distribution and control of the resulting wealth. As I think mankind must eventually return to living within the local environment, without destroying that environment, I think all three of those divisions of society tend toward BAU and thus eventual failure. Reg Morrison's viewpoint is similar to mine in that I am aware of the fragile nature of human perception. Morrison's ideas about brain function in particular are quite interesting.

I also agree that a few of the Tea Party concepts are likely to be correct and Allan West's depiction of the threatening nature of Fundamentalist Islam is similar to my own, except that I do not limit my concern to Islam but include Christian Fundamentalism as well. Dogmatic Fundamentalism has been a problem since the Dark Ages and the Islamic world view is much stronger than that of the Christian variety as seen in the West. One of my doomer fears is that we may devolve back into a "Crusade" between the Fundamentalist, in which people with strong Christian and Muslim faiths entering into global combat in the name of their respective world views. The radical Muslims already call our "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan "Crusades", with some justification...

E. Swanson

At least your crusade eventuality addresses the need to deal with overpopulation, and all those pesky poor people.

It's not my crusade. However, I could see some of the real behind-the-curtain string pullers pitching the crusade to the Fundamentalist with the unstated reason being that it would result in a reduction of population. Such a crusade would be much closer to genocide. Those who also believe in polygamy might join as well, because, after the warriors had killed off substantial numbers of each other, the women left behind would become easy targets for marriage. To the victors go the spoils! Women on the losing side who survive seem to continue to suffer after the fighting is over...

E. Swanson

Nicotine saves me, I don't abuse it, I rarely if ever have to smoke more than a pack a day, those are bad asthma days, or days I have a deep chest cold like today, on a good week I can go 4 days without a smoke, in a good month, one pack lasts a week, then 3 weeks without.

As to drink, the term a dram a day keeps the doctor away, is good.

Hugs to you, did you by chance get my last e.mail?


The Japanese War Cabinet was debating whether to surrender or fight to the "Glorious Death of 100 million" when word of the Nagasaki atomic bomb reached them. The vote was 3-3 so they went to the Emperor to break the tie.

Would it have been 4-2 without Nagasaki ?

Totally unnecessary ? I don't think so.

Earlier in the war, one goal advocated for Japan (from some internal memos/debate) was an "acceptable peace" that would allow a rearming (like Germany after WW I) and a second war to avenge the loss of WW II.

A surrender that would allow a reformation of Japanese society was a reasonable war goal.


So, when the Taliban demand the US surrender, and the US refuses, it will be ok for the Taliban to nuke the US. Simply because the Taliban believe the US will continue to fight on unless they nuke'em. And also a surrender would allow a reformation of US society which the Taliban believe is a reasonable war aim. ;)

The Taliban will do whatever they feel like it irrespective of what you, or I, or "we" might think. So philosophizing about it is a waste of time...

As a DM in several world of wars games, or even the masters of the whole darn place game set, one of my own creations. War is faught best between friends, rather than enemies, friends at lest know where to slice your knees at to lame you not kill you.

As I state above , stab in the back, you better have ahold of hte knife, I can disarm you, by takening it in hte back or front, spinning and you have no knive.

BOB God of war.

Hi Alan,

This historian has perhaps a different view of the events.


"...in his new book, "Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan" (Harvard University Press), Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, presents a broader view that the New York Times has called "a brilliant and definitive study of American, Soviet, and Japanese records of the last weeks of the war.

Examining in detail the deliberations of the Japanese leadership immersed in squabbling over how to end the war with the emperor system intact, Hasegawa claims the bombs were not the most decisive factor in Japan's decision to end the war. Only when the Soviets, jockeying with the United States for post-war influence in Asia, declared war and invaded Japanese-held Manchuria did the Japanese leadership capitulate to prevent falling under Soviet dominance."

I hate to nipick, but I don't really think he was nitpicking. I will admit that I did not clearly understand what you meant. Maybe that represents a defect in my thinking. But there it is.

Well, did you read the article? The author used science in the same context as I. Did you understand what he meant?

Ron P.

I think objectively you are correct Darwinian. If science never existed, as in humans were never aware of it, then I think we could safely say the Earth would be in far better shape than it is. Although I'm not sure what state the humans would be in.

Science is a bit like inflation, it benefits the originator, but is disastrous for the people further down the line.

So to sum up I say that science is harmless as long as humans are blissfully unaware of it, otherwise disaster ensues. :)

There is "science," and there is "technology." Science is the observation and interpretation of nature. Technology is the application of science to the man-made world.


Science and technology are so intricately linked that for arguments sake they're basically the same thing. Like a soldier and his weapon, which one does the killing and which one is responsible for the killing? We don't tend to differentiate as it serves no purpose.

But if you like we can add technology. So if humans were blissfully ignorant of science and its sidekick technology, then undoubtedly, the Earth would be in better shape than it currently is. Unfortunately, science and technology are obliterating Nature and we seemingly have no power to stop them. It also seems that people are wholly unaware that this is the case.

But in the greater scheme of things, "Earth would be in better shape" is an equally human-centric observation - a moral judgement, really. Neither science nor technology cares. Neither does the Earth. Maybe it is fitting that people don't care, either?

Maybe the dolphins would agree, in which case it would be a dolphin centric observation. Anyway, I am not sure we have much choice other than to posit human centric observations give the fact that we are human. There may be, some,however, that are tuned in sufficiently to other species so that can make other species centric observations.

Science and technology are so intricately linked

Having been trained as a scientist, I consider the difference to be a least as great as between scientists and engineers. The former want to understand the big picture. The later want to design/build stuff. Then there is another equally big gap between enginers, and business types. The former want to design and build high quality stuff that lats and performs as well as possible, the later want to make the most money.

If the world listened to the natural scientists, we would have controlled our population, and our appetite for non-renewable resources. Much industrial stuff doesn't have a high science content, its a little bit of engineering, and a lot of logistics and business operations mainly.

If the world [had] listened to the natural scientists, we would have controlled our population ...


A true "scientist" would understand that we are irrational apes evolved randomly from the primordial soup.

Evolution encourages only those who reproduce.

The mutants that survived in our species are the reproducers.

Hello Ron and Eric,

I’d like to join in just a little in this discussion...(before heading off, coincidentally, in the pitch black night on my bicycle, anticipating a dark ride home, as the power is out over quite a large area locally)...

I took the author's meaning in the context in which it was given, which I took to be a shorthand view of "most people's" view of the science-to-technology process. This latter is, in turn, a compressed view of human history - is how I might describe it. I run into it *all* the time, when I attempt to talk about "peak oil" or anything related, even if the other party initiates the chat.

In fact, this happened just this evening, and, two days ago, as well, in a conversation that was more disconcerting because it was an exchange with a physicist (one would think might know better).

Anyway, this view is that "science" - (whatever "it" is) - will come up with a cool "technology" that will solve the energy "problem."

My physicist friend was more specific...fusion might pan out. "Or, something."

It was funny, too - I was accused - (though I didn't take it personally, thank goodness) - of being a "linear thinker." (Whatever.)

When I read your reply, though, Ron, I took the word "science" to be a little more along the lines of how I might describe it, which is more in line with (though not exactly) the interpretation offered by Eric. I find this interesting, because I was assuming your meaning to be more in line with one I would give to the word "science.”

Unlike Eric, though, I currently am continually saddened and disappointed - and shocked, really, - that scientists themselves - my physicist friend from two days ago, other physicist friends from days gone by, who, unlike the one I spoke with recently - are not retired, but quite hard at work, gaining awards, nominations, prizes, and what not - anyway, upset, I am, that these folks avoid what I consider to be an ethical imperative granted them by virtue of their education and position(s) in society.

I only wish they would take some - some! - action, if they understand, or face it, if they don’t. (On the latter: Please, Steven Chu.)

Unlike Eric, I see part of "the problem" (somewhat narrowly defined, but please bear with me) - as being exactly what Eric describes, when he says that it's not scientists who are the problem, but "others." (i.e, Eric says scientists do care and have tried to speak out).

First, no, scientists do not speak up, at least not to my satisfaction - (in fact, far from it) - when it comes to the issue of "peak oil" and our current "overshoot" challenge. I can badger, plead, cajole, inquire, exhibit the utmost in deference/politeness or not...and I get zip, nada, nothing...and, along with this, do nothing, as a response.

It’s the view that the problem is someone else’s that’s a critical feature of "the problem."

I’d also characterize this as an essentially defeatist position. (And to add to above: The ethical part, it seems to me, is continuing to reap the benefits of one's position while not saying anything, if one clearly understands what's coming down.)

Defeat is different than “doomer,” as I see it.

scientists do not speak up, at least not to my satisfaction - (in fact, far from it) - when it comes to the issue of "peak oil" and our current "overshoot" challenge. I can badger, plead, cajole, inquire, exhibit the utmost in deference/politeness or not...and I get zip, nada, nothing...and, along with this, do nothing, as a response.


"Scientists" are people.
People are irrational.
Ergo ...

But the irrationality cuts both ways.

Just as we will not be "saved" by some magic technology, neither are we doomed (except in the grand sense that nothing lasts forever).

Tomorrow will look a lot like today on the large scale, some people will be doing worse and others will be doing better. Odds are really good that if we do have another major collapse that it won't be any worse than large chunks of the 20th Century for most people.

Hi step,

Yes, I know. (Please don't laugh *at* me!)

I was just trying to say...the topics we concern ourselves with, and our discussion of them, can be framed in scientific terms.

Some people devote their entire lives to (what they consider to be) science, and receive salaries for doing so. In parallel tracks, other scientists study topics such as oil, including it's decline, population biology, and so forth.

The components exist for the scientific narrative to play a role in alleviating the suffering that appears to be coming - a situation of distress magnitudes greater (by sheer numbers) than the human suffering that already exists.

For this narrative - and it's practical application - to function in a positive way, scientists speaking up is required, it seems to me.

(Please don't laugh *at* me!)

OMG Aniya. I don't laugh at anybody, except myself of course.

Always am I reminded that I am sheeple and so am I.

On the other hand, scientists are sheeple too. None of us can help it. It was coded into our gene pool way back when we swam about as as schools of primordial fishies. There was an evolutionary advantage back then, and there still is an evolutionary advantage even now to being part of a large cooperative group. I mean, after all, if that were not true, why do any of us bother coming to TOD.com in the first place?

All I'm saying is that the human brain cannot be neatly divided into a "rational" part and an irrational part, where only the rational part is active and the irrational is somehow asleep.

The irrational part is always ticking away, doing its thing, even when we are in the midst of some heavy "number crunching" or some other allegedly pure science narrative.

As Nassim Taleb explained in The Black Swan, about all those Wall Street gurus who do all the heavy lift number crunching and the speechifying in monotone voices and the wearing of blood-flow cut off devices around their necks (a.k.a. suites and ties); at the end of the day, those golden tongue narratives that they spin are merely false narratives. Well disguised, but nonetheless false.

But then again, we are all suckers for that stuff because we are all sheeple and so are we.

Doomers will ultimately be right for one simple reason- exponential growth. The human cognitive process can only deal with linear systems. For the last 300 years or so punctuated equilibrium (radical new technology) has worked in favor of the species. At some point it will work against the species.

The only question is whether it will be "doom" that restores the natural balance or "DOOM" in which homo sapiens as a species ceases to exist. All recent experiences - fires in Yellowstone flood control in Pakistan etc show that in avoiding "doom" it makes it more likely that "DOOM" will happen.


Spooky, but true. You ruined my day.


The concept of exponential growth is often used as an argument for doomerism and, if exponential growth were the only possibility, then I would have to agree. But there are large regions of the globe where exponential population growth is not the norm.

As a believer in a very heterogeneous world post Peak Oil I wonder how different the experience will be in these two nations and whether population growth rates in either will decline even further.

Big picture thinking is important but I would encourage everyone to begin addressing local conditions and start coming up with local scenarios. Yes, parts of the world will experience war and food shortages (as they are today). But other parts of the world will transition to a less energy intensive, still first world lifestyle (as they are today).

(Charts from the Gas Trends databrowser)


Dividing the world into nations is a very strange concept ... when things get tight I expect the Pakistanis to move (walk?) to where the resources are ... like an area of the Earth arbitrarily called Sweden.

Well I don't think it is all that strange. The earth has been divided by tribal boundaries since the dawn of man. Dividing up territories is simply what tribes do. Powerful tribal chiefs have always formed alliances with other tribes for protection. This created larger and larger tribal boundaries. National boundaries was just the final evolution of this practice.

I doubt that Pakistanis would ever walk from Pakistan to Sweden. Way to far and far too much hostile territory to cross. But if you are really interested in mass migration by overpopulated countries to countries where they see the resources as being, then I have the best book ever written on the subject. It is fiction but it is really good. It is called The Camp of the Saints.

In this scene from the book, five million Chinese are gathered on the Russian border. One Chinese, with a bullhorn is yelling at the Russians to let them cross. The Russian General addresses his second in command:

"Come, Zackaroff, let's drink! And close up that peephole. I don't want to have to hear that loudmouth! He sounds like a priest, and he's getting on my nerves. Now that every last padre has his pen or his mike, you can't even hear yourself drink anymore. Yes, it's padre time, Zackaroff, that's what it is. All over the world. They're oozing out of every country. Thousands of everyday priest, ready and willing to poison the minds of millions of idiots. Bleeding hearts puking out gospels galore."
Jean Raspail, "The Camp of The Saints".

Ron P.

Which is why any competent nation must secure its borders.

Whoops! Here are the two images mentioned in my post above that accidentally got deleted:

Thanks, a 100's thanks for your website and charts!

According to it, Spain's population growth since 2000 has been 13%.
I wonder whether our destiny is going to be more like Pakistan than Sweden's.
Most of the population growth happened because of immigration from South America, Africa and Eastern Europe, lured by the boom in building. Unemployment is now more than 20%, and growing (another 200.000 were added the last day of August, between unemployed and people opting out of the Social Security). Miguel Boyer, ex-Minister of Finances and CEO of the biggest construction business in Spain (Construcciones y Contratas) said that until a lot of them went away, somewhere, no hope of dropping these figures.
Sorry I don't know how to post your graph; it looks like Pakistan's something awful.

The concept of exponential growth is often used as an argument for doomerism and, if exponential growth were the only possibility, then I would have to agree. But there are large regions of the globe where exponential population growth is not the norm.

Indeed. During the Great Depression, the US fertility rate dropped precipitously. Japan's population, following 20 years of the country struggling with a stagnant economy, has begun to decline. Russia has suffered through a variety of economic crises and now has a declining population. Absent immigration, the US fertility rate has dropped below the replacement level (note that in real terms, the US median household income has barely budged in 20 years).

An economist friend of mine puts the hypothesis this way. In an undeveloped country, you have eight kids because that's your only option for a retirement plan. In a developed country, you have as many kids as you think your long-term earnings will allow you to support. A Robert Rapier-style Long Recession should pretty much put a halt to population growth in the developed countries. How those countries deal with immigration pressure may be "interesting" in the sense of the Chinese curse.

But other parts of the world will transition to a less energy intensive, still first world lifestyle (as they are today).

No they won't. All resource intensive economies are going to collapse at approximately the same time. There is no difference between the Homo sapiens living in Pakistan and the ones living in Sweden. Greater access to resources have meant that first-world countries like Sweden have low infant mortality, high per-capita incomes, and good social safety nets. That has meant that people in Sweden naturally choose to have smaller families than people in third-world countries like Pakistan which has had high infant mortality, low per-capita incomes, and no social safety net. When Sweden collapses, as it must, I think you will see conditions there will be similar to those in Pakistan.

You make some interesting points, but you can either continue to live in your bleeding heart fantasy or accept what your lying eyes tell you.

There definitely are differences between different populations of human beings. I don't want to get into a whole discussion encompassing anthropology and ethnicity/race, but physical differences only scratch the surface of the very real differences that exist between populations that have developed under different evolutionary pressures, extending for millenia. Modern genetic studies only serve to confirm this.

This is not a comfortable subject, but that's fine. People in the past, no matter what their ethnicity or background, accepted it as a matter of obvious fact that there were differences between peoples. And it didn't necessarily make them into murderers. It was only after Hitler went nuts did the West try to make believe that all populations were the same. And by the way, not all cultures believe this BS. Do you think the Israelis or Japanese believe that everybody is the same? To their credit, they do not.

As far as basic motivations and drives, yes, homo sapiens are basically the same the world over. Yet there is enough difference that it actually does matter, especially at the national population level.

It is insulting to both Swedes and Pakistanis to say they are the same.

Do you think the Israelis or Japanese believe that everybody is the same? To their credit, they do not.

Yep Sachs you are a racist. Probably a white middle class one and your post is an embarrasment to TOD.
A close relative can have a different blood type, yet I bet you would accept a new liver or heart from a person from any race if you needed it.

So how do you group people? By how they look or behave, or is it a combination? Is it their beliefs or intelligence or maybe where and how they live. Are handicapped people different, what about Dwarfs, Down Syndrome, Albinism, cleft palate, blindness, psychopathy or are those afflictions only an exception to the rule.

It's the human race you clown and as a whole we behave the same. If you were raised from birth as a Pakistani or Inuit you would think and behave differently also.

Like all animals humans require genetic differences to continue to be a viable species. If the population of the world was ever reduced to a few dozen breeding pairs, you had better hope that as much genetic difference is available as possible.

The study of human genetic variation has both evolutionary significance and medical applications. The study can help scientists understand ancient human population migrations as well as how different human groups are biologically related to one another. From a medical perspective the study of human genetic variation may be important because some disease causing alleles occur at a greater frequency in people from specific geographic regions

As your link points out, there's actually surprisingly little genetic variation among humans. So much so that it appears we passed through some sort of "genetic bottleneck."

you are a racist. Probably a white middle class one

Apart from the demographics of this site making your comment extremely likely, I find the irony delicious.

Middle-class whites don't have a monopoly on racism, yet somehow if someone makes a comment on the internet that someone wants to discredit as racist suddenly they are white and middle class.

Doesn't that strike you as racist?

Doesn't that strike you as racist?

Yes I agree with you. I was out of line and apologize.
I wrote a bit of a spiel and just deleted it, I'll just leave it with the apology.

For myself, accepted.

It's tricky communicating in letters, and very easy to let experiences unrelated to the current company get in the way of one's thinking (I'd definitely be in for some embarrassment in that area myself if someone were to search the archives aggressively...)

On OMS's comment, it is apparent that all populations start with the same capabilities to within our ability to measure. The differences that do exist are more to do with culture and access to resources than to any innate characteristics of the people involved.

That doesn't make the differences any less real, it just means that whether a particular difference is viewed as good or bad depends to a large extent on your own cultural background and access to resources.

Yep Sachs you are a racist.

And you can apparently make ad hominem attacks. People all over the world are different. They are born into different cultures, different religions, different climates, different mores and live entirely different lifestyles.

You talk about human genetic variation as if that was all it was. It is not. The cultural and climatic environment people are raised in is half of it. But that being said, people who have lived near the equator for the last 30,000 years will have evolved different survival traits from those who lived the last 30,000 years near the poles. And likewise those who were hunter gatherers in a dry desert setting will have evolved different survival traits than those who were hunter gatherers in the rain forest.

As I acknowledge above, I am a bleeding heart liberal, but one of the stupidest things liberals do is deny the difference between cultures. And one's cultural evolution is just as important and contributes to who a person is just as genetic evolution does.

To deny the difference in peoples of different cultures is political correctness gone to seed.

Ron P.

But he's clearly not talking about cultural differences, which no one denies. He's talking about genetic differences.

Do you think that D will admit that cultural differences are not genetically based?

Why harp about differences, what about similarities. Humans are capable of interbreeding across the planet. Another human can take your life or save it. All of us are and will be complicit in the demise of our species.

Throughout time tribes exchanged breeding partners to assist in diversifying the gene pool. Cultures can and do change. When cultures begin to change, disappear or evolve the "bleeding hearts" want to preserve the culture.

The language we use, the gestures we make and our religious beliefs change but our humanness does not.

But that being said, people who have lived near the equator for the last 30,000 years will have evolved different survival traits from those who lived the last 30,000 years near the poles.

I don't think "evolved" is correct, each "learned" survival techniques and humans have been able to adapt to many extremes as long as there is a food supply. An Inuit baby could be raised by an Arab and an Arab baby could be raised by an Inuit and survive well in the climate.

Anyway who is denying differences? You would have to be a moron not to notice the different appearances we all have, that itself was an early survival technique and why we can instantly recognize our family and friends. It's when the differences in appearance, behaviors and even beliefs inspire division and airs of superiority that make for trouble.

You cannot learn genetic adaptations. Dog breeds can have interbreed with one another, yet they are obviously not the same.

Did I say learn genetic adaptions? Dogs and humans, there you go.............

In the first place, many mammals have a high degree of genetic similarity (Spetner, Not by Chance, page 69). For example, the cytochrome C of a dog is about 90 percent similar to that of a human, and the hemoglobin of a horse is about 88 percent similar to that of a human. In view of this, a 98 percent genetic similarity between apes and humans is not surprising. It is interesting that some sources put the difference between humans and apes much higher, as high as 10 percent. At least for one gene, human and chimpanzee alleles seem to differ by 13 base pairs out of 270, for a difference of about 5 percent.

DNA of humans and chimpanzees share 97.5 percent.

So why don't you look for the similarities if you want to go down the genetic path. Your primitive brain though, just wants to see the differences so you can discriminate.

Do yourself a favor and do a bit of research.

Of course there is shared DNA between humans and other mammals. That is not in dispute, what is disputed is how much traits such as intelligence, testosterone level, etc are based upon genetics. Much of our DNA is simply "junk DNA". Obviously I am not a dog or a horse, or is a sociologist going to tell me that species are a mere social construct and I can be a horse if I try really hard?

Perhaps it is you who wish to discriminate as you do not wish to recognize the genetic diversity of humans.

Obviously you didn't educate yourself.
Did you go to the link? "geneticvariation"
You are so desperate to find differences that you refuse to accept that humans are so alike it's hardly worth arguing about.
Mitochondia has been traced back to a primordial eve, there is a suggestion we may may have interbred with The Neanderthal. You need to get over yourself for a while, you are only an individual within a small group, the larger the group gets the less individual you are and you belong to a group 6.7 billion strong.

As I said above, if the human race was reduced to less than a hundred or so you had better wish for as much genetic diversity as possible, because there is a very good chance they would die out without it.

You can have the last word though, I'm finished with this.

I know about the bottleneck event, and the reasons for distinct Y-DNA haplogroups. Simply because I was closely related to someone 85,000 years ago does not make me similar today.

You are very similar today whether you like it or not.
Humans have recessive and dominant genes, selecting for brown or blue eyes, red or black hair, height etc. We select our breeding partners on perceived attractiveness and only isolation on a timescale measured in millions of years would allow for significant evolution.

Last century heads and noses were measured to try and determine "race" is that what you are about?
For evolution to take place some sort of genetic alteration must occur which provides for increased survival and breeding capacity.

That is unlikely to occur in humans. Even if we deliberately tried to breed a certain type of human, there is no guarantee those people would be better equipped to survive if left in isolation.

So we are all alike. A blind person does not see the superficial differences, under the skin we are all alike.
Probably because people "looked" different is why different groups emerged due to migration. We discriminate, love and hate, we are jealous, dogmatic, superstitious, vindictive and we grieve. Our brain is what has made us so successful and destructive to this point. Our brain could very bring about our undoing.

Of course humans are similar, but that does not make us the same. I'm not talking about "race" but obviously different population groups do exist. For instance, we are capable of measuring the average intelligence of the Ashkenazi population.

Obviously I am not a dog ...

On the internet, one can never tell for sure. ;-)

Spider Robinson is awesome enough to make me forgive Canada for Nickelback :)

Yep Sachs you are a racist. Probably a white middle class one and your post is an embarrasment to TOD.

I don't think Sachs is racist. I am not white and I agree with him. There are huge cultural differences between people of different nations/regions/religions. Those cultural differences determine how people in aggregate behave and respond to stresses and strains (including environmental stresses and strains). The cultural differences may be shaped by differences in geography, climate, religious philosophy, resource availability, etc. but that is a different topic.

Are you reading impaired? "Modern genetic studies..."


Oh, I get it. You are rational enough to accept peak oil. You are rational enough to accept AGW. You are likely very educated and secular minded.

But...to think, even for a second, that there are genetic differences between populations of human beings that inhabit different parts of the planet and have been subject to different evolutionary pressures and selective mating for hundreds of thousands of years? No, can't be!

I obviously opened up a big bad Pandora's box and I regret it. And, btw I'm pretty much an atheist liberal; I'm no nutty right winger.

I will not debate this with you, anymore than I would get into a discussion with a creationist regarding the age of the earth. Besides, it's just not worth going down this road here.

People in the past, no matter what their ethnicity or background, accepted it as a matter of obvious fact that there were differences between peoples.

Actually...they didn't. Marco Polo did not comment on how different the Chinese were from the Europeans at home. Perhaps because when you're traveling via caravan, the change is so gradual it's not noticed.

A few hundred years ago, religion was considered a much bigger issue than skin color. We tend to assume that whatever our prejudices are, they were the same in the past, only worse. But that's not true. They were often quite different. There was a case in the 17th century where an English boy and man from India were caught having sex on the deck of a ship. They were lashed. The problem wasn't having sex in public. Nor was it same-sex relations, or a man taking advantage of a boy. All that was pretty common at the time, and not usually punished. The problem was that the one of the participants was Hindu. Having sex with someone of a different religion was the scandal.

People in the past, no matter what their ethnicity or background, accepted it as a matter of obvious fact that there were differences between peoples.

Actually...they didn't.

Strange Leanan, your first sentence denies that people of the past accepted the difference in peoples. Then you proceed to explain the difference in peoples of the past.

Okay, I guess there is no contradiction there. You are saying, apparently, that though there were tremendous differences in peoples, it just was accepted by those peoples that there were any difference.

It just occurred to me that most people of today cannot accept that there were/are differences in peoples today. The whole argument hinges on the word accepted.

Ron P.

It's not at all strange, if you were following the discussion. Cultural differences are not genetic differences. And what seems like "natural" differences to our eyes were not so in the past.

Skin color became a big issue more or less when slavery did. Before then, the religious view was that we were all equal, all descended from Adam and Eve.

Okay, but now we are not talking about differences of the past, we are talking about differences of today. And culture evolves just as genes evolves. It simply makes no difference, evolution is evolution and a difference is a difference.

People get hung up on genes, and that is just dumb. It simply makes no difference what makes the difference, genes or culture. It really pisses me off when anytime someone mentions the difference between peoples they are called a racist. To not recognize that there great differences in peoples is just plain dumb.

This kind of politically correct thinking leads to more misunderstanding than light. It creates far more problems than it cures.

Ron P.

Again, if you followed the discussion...we were talking about both the past and today. And, by implication, the future.

People get hung up on genes, and that is just dumb. It simply makes no difference what makes the difference, genes or culture.

I could not disagree more. It makes a huge difference. Cultures change when circumstances change. Genes do, too, of course, but it takes a heck of a lot longer.

If peak oil means suddenly Sweden becomes as poor as Pakistan, do you really think Sweden will continue as they are, rather than becoming more like Pakistan?

It really pisses me off when anytime someone mentions the difference between peoples they are called a racist.

In this case, I think it's justified. He wasn't talking about cultural differences.

do you really think Sweden will continue as they are, rather than becoming more like Pakistan?

Yes. Education will not change in Sweden. Social & democratic relations & institutions may change, but not to anything like Pakistan. Long lived infrastructure will remain. A logical approach to problem solving and policy making will likely survive.

One thing to remember about Pakistan. All was sacrificed for the Army for over 50 years. It was assumed that India was out to annihilate Pakistan and most resources were diverted to the Army, while the rest of society and the economy suffered. Education failed, infrastructure did not expand with the population, etc.


Wow. This is so wrong I'm not sure where to begin.

Tribalism is a fundamental aspect of human nature. Visible differences as an identifier of who is in the "out group" go back for as long as there have been such differences.

In the absence of dramatic skin color differences, people over time have made very good use of slight differences. In the absence of skin color variation, the shape of one's nose, or hair color, or any other visible differentiator has been pressed into service.

There has never been a period of human history where racism among all peoples has not been widespread. Ask the Gypsies or Irish if being "Caucasian" is a protection from racism.

That there are now places where the color of one's skin or hair makes little difference to the opportunities available is possibly one of the most impressive feats of modern humanity. Don't belittle it by claiming that there was a better time where such things didn't matter.

Tribalism is a fundamental aspect of human nature.

I don't deny that. What I'm saying is that the "markers" for who's an outsider are not always the same.

I am not saying there was a better time in the past. Just that it was different.

Skin color became a big issue more or less when slavery did. Before then, the religious view was that we were all equal, all descended from Adam and Eve.

Maybe I read this wrong then, or it didn't come out as you intended.

What I meant is that religion was the big issue back then (as it is in many places now).

Is being lashed for fraternizing with heathens "better" than being lashed for miscegenation? No, it's just different.

We are led back to a discussion of what constitutes human nature? Has the social glue of group identity been with us long enough to impact genetic evolution, i.e. has there been culture-gene co-evolution in this regard?

In any case, race, in its traditional use, is not the only basis of group identity, and often, and apparently increasingly, not involved at all with self identification of groups.

One of the aspects of tribalism, or should we call it groupism, that is usually ignored by the tooth and fang crowd, is the use of groupism to enforce conformism. In the other words, the violence of groups, is often inner-directed. The most egregious recent examples of this are the acid in the face attacks on non-conformist women in South Asian communities.

I suspect that the impulse to enforce conformity is an emergent behavior rather than one of genetic source.

In the absence of global mobility, populations tend to homogenize over time. Since people seem to have a psychological need for an out-group this makes clothing and behavior of great importance for group identification. If the out-group is seen as more powerful than the in-group this results in people changing their behavior to attempt to change groups, and power factions in the threatened group taking actions to attempt to prevent these defections and preserve the group they have power in.

It is a shame that understanding the problem doesn't really help in finding a solution.

1% growth is still exponential growth, though obviously at a lower rate than 21% growth.

1% growth leads to a doubling time of about 70 years, while 21% growth leads to a doubling time of about 3.5 years.

Both lead to overshoot eventually.



When Sweden collapses, as it must ...

Can you elaborate on why Sweden must collapse? I imagine that they will do everything possible to avoid collapse and that their population/resources ratio and overall educational level will allow them to make many smart choices to power down gracefully.

Doomer Dan,

I thought it was obvious from the graphs that population growth rates change with time. Tell me. What is the doubling time for the population of Eastern Europe?

There is no one-size-fits-all forecast for the future.


Obviously with -3% growth Eastern Europe has no doubling time at the present. I'm not sure the point you are trying to make.

Of course population growth rates change over time. I thought we were talking about growth, not decline.

Many governments have a policy of growth, which I believe is ill-advised. These policies encourage growth not only in their economy but also in their population when we should be discouraging it to get our populations back to a sustainable number. The object of my post was to remind people that a seemingly small amount of exponential growth still has large repercussions over time.


Many governments have a policy of growth, which I believe is ill-advised. These policies encourage growth not only in their economy but also in their population when we should be discouraging it to get our populations back to a sustainable number. The object of my post was to remind people that a seemingly small amount of exponential growth still has large repercussions over time.

I'm in complete agreement with you there.

I guess my point was that it is difficult to predict how population growth rates will change in time. A nation that is growing this year may be shrinking in a couple of decades. The developed nations offer up plenty of historical evidence that growth rates decrease during tough economic times. I fully expect even more of the industrial or newly industrializing nations to have negative growth as we move forward.

What is the doubling time for the population of Eastern Europe?

Minus 23.5 years. Yes doubling time has a sign, and if it is negative it tells you how far back in time you must go to see twice as many.

Hello Jon,

Unfortunately you oversaw an important fact in your reasoning: energy!

It is explaned here:


The reason why Sweden has so little offspring is, because it uses a lot of energy.



Thanks for that link which clearly demonstrates a correlation between increasing energy use and decreasing population growth.

There is no question that mechanization of farm labor and subsequent urbanization has had a lot to do with decreasing fertility and, in the absence of immigration, reduced population growth rates. What I question is whether an advanced society like Sweden will necessarily return to higher fertility rates as a response to reduced fossil fuel input to their society.

Here are several reasons why I think that need not be the case:

  1. The Peal Oil (coal, gas) scenario is about reduced availability of fossil fuels only. Without being a cornucopian, I think it is quite possible that Sweden, with plenty of biomass and hydro/wind potential, may successfully transition to an all-electric future including electric farm machinery.
  2. I believe that efficiency and conservation, combined with 'smaller', 'localized' lifestyles can help a lot in this transition.
  3. I do not see evidence in the historical data for countries reverting to higher population growth rates in the face of the 'collapse' of the Soviet Union.

All of Eastern Europe is experiencing negative growth rates today and everyone's favorite powered down society -- Cuba -- has seen its growth rate decline substantially since it was forced to go cold turkey on fossil fuels.

I'm not arguing that reduced access to fossil fuels will never result in increased fertility rates. In some cultures this may be the response. Hypothetically, it is possible. I'm just saying that an examination of the existing data argues against this outcome.


Hello Jon,

Thank you for replying.

I like the Chafurka-site a lot, for example he made a renewable-energy forcast:


Look at Figure 12! Call me a doomer, but in the long run I don't think that there will be one single country in the world, which can maintain an industrial society on wind, solar and wood. I wrote an article about all the hoax going on in Germany about Geothermie:


It is in german, but I know that you at least understand german.

So much for that. Concerning the correlation between energy and offspring, I follow Einsteins rule: keep it as simple as possible! Nature wants us to have as much children as possible to choose the best. That is what evolution works like. We can aberate from this rule with the input of energy (finally it comes down to thermodynamics, you need energy to swim against the current). Without energy, you have to obey natures laws. Of course there can be exceptions (for a while). Cuba maintained an incredible health care and education level, russians have maybe a tradition of small families, etc... but in the end you cannot oppose to nature.



You have sort of become the baseline here for doomerism. You are the doomer of all doomers and cannot be matched. I am also a doomer but still try to find glimpses of hope. Can't say I have become terribly successful so far.

But actually I think that the religious based refusal to accept what science is telling us about the future of the planet is part of the problem.

But then, I admit, it is difficult to counter your basic argument that it is all hopeless. I see no significant changes occurring in the behavior of the other members of my species. They are determined to engage in mass suicide. Which is not all bad, considering the benefit from what other remaining species are left over.

But actually I think that the religious based refusal to accept what science is telling us about the future of the planet is part of the problem.

Naw, I can't really blame people for simply following their nature. People desire to believe what they desire to be true. Only a very tiny minority can overcome this strong predilection and actually consider that what they least desire may be true.

- As for pointing to our mental failures with scorn or dismay, we might as well profess disappointment with the mechanics of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, the degree of disillusionment we feel in response to any particular human behavior is the precise measure of our ignorance of its evolutionary and genetic origins.
- Reg Morrison, The Spirit in the Gene

Ron P.

I do not have faith in humanity, or God and I have little faith in America (I have more faith in Europe and Japan).

Science is a process; a way of thinking. Science is not the problem. It's the individual who's doing science that may or may not be a problem.

Scientists are human beings. They tend to be more logical than the average non-scientist, but they are still human.

God may or may not exist, I don't know, no one can prove it one way or the other, but I do not believe in an active God -- a God that interferes.

America has a great document and system of govt. complete with checks and balances. But our system can and has been subverted by coruption. When things start to go bad, we can either rise to the occasion, or we can take the low road. I think, in the current climate, the U.S. is more likely to take the low road. I hope not, but I'm not all that confident.

Science may help deal with peak oil but, long term, it cannot solve the problem of infinite growth on a sphere. It did give us contraceptives and the birth rate has dropped in the developed world, but it has done nothing (I can think of), to limit or reduce conumption.

I'm also a doomer, but I think we'll eventually, muddle through with a lower population.

you say science is a process and a way of thinking, and you seem to conclude from that that science cannot be the problem. are processes and ways of thinking ineligible to be problems? i would bet that at the heart of our problem is a way of thinking.

maybe science, the way of thinking and the process, is the problem. i haven't considered it all that much, so i can't say, but your conclusion doesn't seem to follow from its premise. unquestioned assumptions are the real authorities of any culture.

This is a dangerous line of thought -- IIRC the Taliban went down this path with their goal of reattaining utopia from a previous millennium.

Science (in all its forms) is information, or a toolset, and human nature makes of it what it will. Science can't be a problem, per se, as a problem requires a human-specific viewpoint.

Once we first picked up a sharp rock and used it to spit a coconut one day and somebody's head the next, we pretty well set the direction through today.

Perhaps the most significant difference between a psychopath, a conservative, and a liberal is where you draw the boundary of tribe? A pity that few in any such grouping seem to internalize the math of exponentials, though.

can science be divorced from humanity? isn't science a specific human behavior?
also, is there such a thing as a dangerous question?

scratch that last one, Socrates got his ass killed for asking dangerous questions.

Too late. You already asked it.

The thing with Science for me is that while it is willing to peek into everything, try to count or quantify and sometimes qualify what's out there.. it still isn't our 'Everything', while it gets treated sometimes like it should be. There are parts of our decision-making process that are not going to come from research. We actually have to make MORAL decisions. Does this hurt people? Does this hurt our World?

To drop in a bit of Crichton again..

"Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways- air, and water, and land- because of ungovernable science." -Jurassic Park

Ron, this post is very interesting to me and affords me the opportunity to express my appreciation for your honesty and critical thinking here on TOD. I have valued your opinions since I first began following discussions on this site.

Most recently, I began very carefully reading William Catton’s Overshoot on the strength of your strong recommendation. I’d known about the book for years, but somehow never got around to reading it. Needless to say, it is a truly remarkable book: cogently argued and written in the most pleasing, spare prose.

But I’m not commenting here simply to thank you for recommending Catton’s book. Rather, I was struck by the human honesty underlying your remarks above. The problem of ultimate meaning you point to is one which has become especially pressing for us modern humans. This is not to say, of course, that there were not pessimists (doomers), atheists, agnostics, as well as relativists of all stripes (cultural and individual) in ancient societies (Greek and Chinese, to take two seemingly different but ultimately, in many respects, surprisingly similar cultures).

What is different about the modern world is that these pessimistic or critical (critical thinking is, of course, an ambiguous phenomenon) perspectives have become truly widespread and threaten traditional or received mainstream ideas and values. The history of this particular revolution in human thinking was, until I retired recently, what I have spent a good part of my working (teaching) adult life concerned with.

One account of this transformation in human thought was given by a philosopher and historian of ideas named W.T. Stace in a book entitled Religion and the Modern Mind (1952). Therein Stace discusses what he takes to be the enormous impact on the modern psyche of the early modern revolution in natural science. To put his thesis in a nutshell: Copernicus made the heavens part of nature (the earth turned out not to be at the center of the physical universe); Darwin made life itself part of nature; Marx made human society part of nature; and Freud made even the human mind part of nature. Stace makes clear that none of these developments logically precludes belief in God, although many moderns understandably regard God as more remote or less relevant to everyday life as a result of them.

A much more penetrating and nuanced account of the effects of the Scientific Revolution has been offered recently by the French historian of ideas Pierre Hadot in his book The Veil of Isis (2006). In a long discussion of what he calls the Promethean attitude (of natural science and technology) compared with the Orphic attitude (of religion and art), Hadot points to how the modern revolution in science and technology has vastly increased our sense of knowing and controlling nature.

As ecology is teaching us, of course, this sense of knowledge and control is largely delusional. This is where books like Catton’s Overshoot come in. For example, anyone who has understood the first thing about organic evolution realizes the Darwinian version of Malthus’s principle: “The cumulative biotic potential of any species exceeds the carrying capacity of its habitat.” (Catton, 127) This is what accounts for competition among members of any species.

The poignancy of your comments above, Ron, for me at least, is their sense of homelessness, if you will. Homelessness in the sense of Friedrich Nietzsche’s remark in The Will to Power: “The end of the moral interpretation of the world, which no longer has any sanction after it has tried to escape into some beyond, leads to nihilism. ‘Everything lacks meaning.’…Since Copernicus man has been rolling from the center toward ‘x.’ “ (Walter Kaufmann’s translation)

I may be reading too much into your comments, Ron. If so, I apologize. Nonetheless, I do sympathize with your conclusion: “I am just a damn doomer.” I am a doomer too, I suppose. Certainly I’m an atheist. But, in the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I have practiced Zen Buddhism for 22 years now.

As you may know, though, unlike the major Western religions (Judais, Christianity, Islam), Buddhism is not exactly a religion, in that it is not an invitation to believe anything much at all, but rather an invitation to experience something (what the human being called the Buddha experienced) and to act in certain ways (as the Buddha acted). Of course, practicing Buddhism involves a certain amount of provisional “faith”: namely, that the Buddha was not lying or mistaken in describing his experience. But then, if you have that experience for yourself, then you know it for yourself.

This is not a plug for Buddhism, let me say immediately. Buddhist practice is almost not doable, even if you feel inclined to it. If you don’t, there is little point in anyone’s trying to “convert” you. Besides, Buddhism is not exactly a consolation in the face of overshoot and collapse. There is no “other,” better world, for Buddhists. This earth where we stand is the real world.

Enough—too much!—said. My comments are meant to be appreciative and supportive, Ron. Thank you for being an inspiration (at least to me) here on TOD. Sorry for going on and on.

Beingtime, thanks for the kind words.

My posts on TOD are really quite coarse. I cannot write like I could in my youth, or just ten years ago. And where I used to go through one non-fiction book about every one or two weeks, it now takes me a couple of months at least and even with that I find it tedious and hard to concentrate. It all comes with age.

About being an atheist, my atheism is a response to the biblical idea of God, the God who dishes out infinite torture for finite transgressions, a God created in the image of man. Such a God does not exist. But I would not be so bold as to declare that no higher intelligence exist. I simply have no idea. But being a determinist I believe that it simply does not matter. You seem to know philosophy therefore you know what a determinist is. It is simply a person who believes our actions are determined by either our genes or our environment, something we were born with or some experience in our past. (There is nothing else of course so that has to be the case.)

You mentioned Walter Kaufmann. Two of my favorite books were written by him: "Faith of a Heretic" and "Critique of Religion and Philosophy". From the latter, speaking of "gerrymandering" he wrote:

Theologians do not just do this incidentally: (gerrymander) this is theology. Doing theology is like doing a jigsaw puzzle in which the verses of Scripture are the pieces: the finished picture is prescribed by each denomination, with a certain latitude allowed. What makes the game so pointless is that you do not have to use all the pieces, and that pieces which do not fit may be reshaped after pronouncing the words "this means."

Walter Kaufmann: Critique of Religion and Philosophy.

I rolled in the floor with laughter when I read that last sentence.

Thanks again for the kind words.

Ron P.

That last line really made sense to me. It also reminded me of a funny phrase I saw today which was posted on a twitter account here. It says:

To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll to the bottom and click "I agree."

Hi Ron,

I am an atheist, an a-theist, a non-theist. That is to say, like you, I have trouble believing in a personal God created in the image of man.

And, perhaps like you, I believe that, in my present state, Who created the universe really does not matter. Someone once asked the Buddha Who or what created the universe, and the Buddha responded that such questions don't matter when our hair is on fire (i.e., when we are suffering). We need to focus on putting out the fire.

Finally, like you, I believe in the law of causality. Effects have causes. In Buddhism, of course, this is referred to as the law of karma. However, I don't believe that our actions are thereby strictly determined, that there is no sense in which our actions can meaningfully be said to be free, that we cannot choose this or that. But that is another very large discussion, which I am not averse to having--only not just now. It's my night to cook. I am not only constrained to fulfill my obligation, I choose to fulfill it! :o)

With chaos, is indeterministic causation almost as good as freedom?

However, I don't believe that our actions are thereby strictly determined,...

Neither do I, or more correctly I do not believe anything is predetermined. That would require a predeterminer, or a god of some kind. What I do believe is that human wishes, therefore human actions, are determined by their genes, or their nature, and every thing that ever happened to them in their past. We were constructed, brick by brick, by both nature and nurture. It cannot possibly be otherwise because there is nothing else.

Of course, you can argue with the proposition that all we are is knobs and turnings, genes and environment. You can insist that there’s something... something MORE. But if you try to visualize the form this something would take, or articulate it clearly, you’ll find the task impossible, for any force that is not in the genes or the environment is outside of physical reality as we perceive it. It’s beyond scientific discourse.

Robert Wright, "The Moral Animal"

Ron P.

Hi beingtime,

I'm glad you wrote.

re: "However, I don't believe that our actions are thereby strictly determined, that there is no sense in which our actions can meaningfully be said to be free, that we cannot choose this or that."

A little bit different version of what I was trying to say above.

This is on the level of logic.

I'm grateful for the conversation here - a reference, a sense of home.

Ron, for your consideration....respectfully.



Jon, thanks for the link. Of course the essay is all about whether a god created the universe or whether it just happened by chance. That is something we do not know and I doubt that it will ever be known. Trying to imagine the universe just popping into existence, whether via a big bang or otherwise, boggles the mind. Just as mind boggling is imaging some kind of god who could create such a universe.

I occasionally think about these things, but not for very lone. Pure wonderment is not something I think one should spend a lot of time doing.

Ron P.

YouTube - 'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009


Physics, irreverent and informative.

Just as mind boggling is imaging some kind of god who could create such a universe.

I remeber having this conversation when I was nine or ten, I asked "who created the universe?", "god" my mom answered. "I don't belive you, who created god?". I think my parents were happier that I'd figured it out, then sad that I had made the leap to atheism.

Hi Ron,

"It is simply a person who believes our actions are determined by either our genes or our environment, something we were born with or some experience in our past. (There is nothing else of course so that has to be the case.)"

Well, maybe...once in a very great while...there's just a little slip of a chance, an opening...for something new to come into existence, in terms of the range of choices - (or fiction of choice, nevertheless, I mean range of options, strictly speaking) - for action, on the part of the individual...Of course, that "chance" may also be a result of our genes or our environment...or, not.


Just as the human mind cannot be neatly divided into an exclusively rational part and an exclusively otherwise part, the whole notion of compartmentalizing the nature/nurture/environment complex is a ridiculous enterprise.

Each of us is a unique experiment in the nature/nurture/environment matrix.

Even identical twins experience nurture and environment in different ways. That's because no two people can be in the same place at the same time. Basic physics.

And yes, if identical twins visit Las Vegas and roll the dice, we do not expect them to each roll the same snake eyes time and again. Chance, noise, quantum physics; call it what you want. It rears its ugly head nonetheless.

Well put, Being time.

re; Science and the Myth of Control..

"The great intellectual justification of science has vanished. Ever since Newton and Descartes, science has explicitly offered us the vision of total control. Science has claimed the power to eventually control everything, through its understanding of natural laws. But in the Twentieth Century, that claim has been shattered beyond repair. First, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle set limits on what we could know about the subatomic world. Oh well, we say. None of us lives in a subatomic world. It doesn't make any practical difference as we go through our lives. Then, Goedel's theorem set similar limits to mathematics, the formal language of science. Mathematics used to think that their language had some special inherent trueness that derived from the laws of logic. Now we know that what we call 'reason' is just an arbitrary game. It's not special, in the way we thought it was."

Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park p.313

Today's quotes of Crichton's early writings is beginning to make clear to me his later, quite dishonest, attack on the science of climate change which included personal attacks on the scientists themselves as I recall.

Did he somehow come to be antagonistic of everything scientific?

It's a good question.

I confess I haven't had the time to put into reading 'State of Fear' so that my opinions can be fairly formed about it.. but what I heard in Jurassic seemed to be pretty measured.. I mean, he had Malcolm lay it down pretty hard on science's shortcomings, where it had been either subsumed by business-based 'ethics', or had through blind pride inadvertently created these wretched outcomes.. but within that, he didn't say it was worthless and purely wrong.. just that it was no more omnipotent than religion had been, and was too-often falling on it's own sword..

I don't know how that turned into whatever he was up to with State of Fear..

But I think he nails it in Jurassic with this sort of Fascism that evolved between Research and Irresponsible Multinationals and BioMed Companies, in this case.


Did he somehow come to be antagonistic of everything scientific?

It's a good question.

I think he had already been that way for a long time. I remember Andromeda Strain from when I was a kid. It was basically a case of "arrogant scientists go into space and bring back superbug which threatens to wipeout all life... then mother nature jumps in and saves the day". So I think he had always had science as the potential inadvertant supervillian. And of course his superbug was physically impossible. Like a lot of scifi alien lifeforms, that are improbably dangerous and indestructable.

I would have prefered Jurasic park if it had been about a succesful experiment. Recreate dinos, and researchers get to study them and film incredible documentaries for general consumption. Plenty of neat stuff to see experiencing an alien world, no need for scary monsters.. That would have been really fascinating, and an incredible fantasy. Having them run amok, just made it into another monster movie.

A running theme of my blog involves the reduction of seemingly complex behaviors into simple mathematical formulations. I really get into dissing over-complicated science. It remains a bit of a mystery to me why in many situations that no one has either (a) done this work on their own or (b) uncovered the work of someone else who has done the simplifying analysis years ago.

The majority of scientists practicing mainstream research have furthered the cause by following the lead of others who go down blind alleys and over-complicate the analysis. I suspect that a few complicate matters intentionally, as it demonstrates to other scientists their intellectual prowess. In certain cases, creating a private world of intricate analysis acts as a kind of moat around which they can fortify their specialty discipline.

Of course, this doesn't happen universally. Certainly we run across many scientific and engineering subdisciplines that have gone through years of scrubbing. In these cases, the most salient and simple analyses have emerged and stood the test of time. They often share the same traits of elegance and crystalline transparency so that we can use their patterns to understand the world without a lot of extra effort. To me, that seems a reasonable goal to strive for.

So plenty of real science to go after without resorting to beating on Crichton. :)

more here:

I am a doomer and i don't think that we should "immediately implement strict population and economic contraction policies", that would only make a bad problem worse since such policies could never be implemented effectively worldwide.

It would require uniformization, total control over every individual and their actions. If possible (not a chance with 6867200000 persons on the planet), it would only add misery and opression to our bad predictament.

No mather what, sometime in the future, we are going down, we don´t need help from bureaucrats, dictators, illuminated technocrats, social engineers and their great ilusions to do that. Unfortunately, i bet they will try hard...

The introduction of germ warfare agent(s) could reset the system without significant damage to the infrastructure. It would be fair if it were a pandemic, except that those unable to afford good N95 or similar masks would be at a bit more of a disadvantage. Each country could be ravaged and cleansed of its human infection and a new world government could be instituted with what remains. I think this is a much more likely scenario than nuclear warfare or a gradual transition back to the nineteenth century. The conflict will not be China versus USA but rather elites versus their unsupportable slave populations. Eventually this may be seen as a means to put as many people out of their misery as quickly as possible. Many of those not taken by the virus would likely starve to death because of the interruption in food and energy distribution. It could even happen naturally without the assistance of gene-splicing sociopaths.

"Deutsches Requiem" is the title of a short story (from The Aleph) by noted Argentine author, Jorge Luis Borges. It is the story of Otto Dietrich zur Linde, who is awaiting his death sentence for crimes committed as subdirector of a Nazi concentration camp. He reflects back on his own sins and those of his native Germany during World War II, and he tries to justify the actions of both.

As Otto waits for the shooting party to carry out the death sentence he reflects that the destruction of Germany was necessary so that Nazism would stamp its indelible mark on human conscience, and win.

Deutsches Requiem, in Spanish.

I have some faith on human beings and I think we can find some way out of this predicament, not an easy technical way but something social and political not Nazism.



It is useless and counterproductive to worry about anything that you can't do anything about, or that you aren't going to do anything about.

God is good, and all people are good. People are a representation of God on earth. Since all people are one, the specific number of people on the earth is not relevant. Science brings about change, and the pendulam will swing back at some point. Science has brought more comfort to the world. Too bad more people cannot benefit from it. People in the U.S. are highly spoiled and ungrateful for what they have. When people become ungrateful for something, they lose it. Faith and being grateful are required to sustain human life on earth.

"This is the best of all possible worlds"

Dr. Pangloss

An optimist says "This is the best of all possible worlds".
The pessimist fears this is true.
A cynic is one who understands that a pessimist and a realist are the same thing.

A cynic is merely one who pins a 'Hi, my name is Realist' badge onto his shirt.

Science brought us modern medicine which enabled many more humans to survive and live longer lives. Science brought us the industrial revolution which enabled the exploding masses to find gainful employment. And science brought us the green revolution which enabled the world population to more than double in half a century.

I do not think it is science's fault that a large fraction of humanity has the _belief_ that having many kids beyond sustainability is "the right thing to do" (TM).

It is my opinion that if there was a world wide belief that having only 2 kids was the "right thing to do" (TM), then science's ability to keep people with longer lives would not be the factor with exploding population growth.

Well discussed here on TOD, but still globally the taboo topic: unlike ppm of CO2 or the date of Peak Oil is
...what should the global population ideally be? And what, if any, belief systems advocate a global population target?

Lastly, even with cognition as a species, humans are an animal. It may be that we are unable to self-regulate to a set population internally, just as most animals are externally regulated in their population due to resources, disease, predators, etc.

Mr. Flash, describing how things came about is not the same thing as assigning blame or fault. Science brought us the industrial revolution, the medical revolution and the green revolution. That is indisputable. No one is blaming anyone for any wrongdoing, that is just how things came about.

Too many people want to point the crooked finger of blame for things that turn out less than desirable. Things like science or technology are inanimate and cannot be blamed for anything. Scientists however... well... they cannot be blamed either. Scientists, just like you and I are just trying to get through this life as best we can doing what we think is best.

Often we are wrong.

Ron P.

Ron, perhaps my use of the word 'fault' was a poor choice.

I was trying to communicate that people's belief systems of the goodness of having large sets of offspring, and not science, may be the underlying issue.

Science brought us the industrial revolution, the medical revolution and the green revolution.

Those things all have a lot of dead reconing and trial and error in them. I suspect without our formal scientific method it would have taken a lot longer, and some things maybe we wouldn't have figured out. Nature created her marvelous inventions by pure chance and selction pressure. Ancient humans made huge changes to food crops without applying anything we would recognize as science.

I'm a very well read doomer. A friend, worried about my peak oil blues, recommended I read "The Rational Optimist" by Matt Ridley. I just finished it. The book is worth a lengthy discussion on TOD. I highly recommend it. I don't agree with everything he said, but he is intelligent, did a lot of research, presents some new ideas, and covers sweeping important topics. Plus it is refreshingly optimistic.

A story on a 3 GW electricity link between Saudi Arabia and Egypt had the following quote:

Demand for power in top oil exporter Saudi Arabia grew last year by more than 8 per cent and is expected exceed 60,000 megawatts by 2020.

Saudi Arabia is investing $80 billion to boost installed power generation capacity to around 67,000 megawatts by 2020, up from 46,000 megawatts now.


Much of that electricity will be oil fired.

Saudi Arabia also plans to raise the use of feedstock for power generation to 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent (BoE) on a daily average by 2020, from 1.5 million BoE last year, he said.

The feedstocks include crude oil, oil products and gas, he said on the sideline of a regional power conference. Industry sources said last year the kingdom was burning more crude in domestic power plants to keep new wells pumping and produce cleaner electricity, and likely eliminating demand for imported fuel during the peak summer period.

"It depends on national policy, but that's our intention to increase the use of crude oil,"


Estimates on how much crude it is burning differ, but the kingdom's own data show it has risen in recent years, and it could be as high as 470,000 bpd of crude this year, up 62 per cent from 2008, consultancy FACTS Global Energy says.

Not Much Hope for Increased Saudi oil exports,


ELM 1.0 hard at work, manifesting clearly before our eyes.

Yes, but well considered ELM.

Rationale 1: It's time to cut the locals in... before it is obviously scarce.
Otherwise when you hit crunch time, they wonder why you sold their resources to the infidel.

Rationale 2: They figured out (belatedly) that using oil for industrial purposes at home represents more value than trading for dollars.

Back in the early 1970's, the US electric consumption was growing at a rate of around 7% a year. At that rate, were it to continue, the US demand would have doubled over 10 years. Those steep rates of demand growth led to projections that the US would need 1000 new nuclear power plants by the year 2000. That those nukes did not appear shows the fallacy of simple linear trend projection.

If the Saudi rate of increase of 8% continues, the compounded result would be a doubling in demand at the end of 9 years. To meet such a steep demand growth, the Saudis would need to build new production and distribution capacity within 9 years equal to the total of which they have already built. Gotta love exponential growth...

E. Swanson

Based upon this report released today, the demand for number of housing units will be growing at a 13% rate in KSA from 2011 to 2013 - although housing supply may not be able to keep up with demand.

Government Development Plan to Support booming Saudi Housing Demand

A recent US$ 385 Billion construction development plan will somewhat satisfy Kingdom’s housing demand which is poised to grow at 13% CAGR by 2013, says RNCOS.


But if so, the 8% growth rate may end up being a the low side of the expected increase in power demands.

Of course, more power than is available can not be supplied, but the Saudis are also working on a regional electricity grid (including Egypt) to smooth out seasonal demand problems.

In at least some cases, you can simply extrapolate the rate of change in the ratio of consumption to production (C/P) to estimate when an oil exporter approaches zero net oil exports. Saudi Arabia went from a C/P of 17.7% in 2005 to 22% in 2008. If we extrapolate this rate of increase (7%/year), they would approach 100%, and thus zero net oil exports, around 2030, which is consistent with Sam's mathematical model.

Thanks, Alan.

Current electrical production 46,000 megawatts which consume @ 1.5 MBoePD. 2020 projection is 67,000 megawatts using 2.5 MBoePD. So about 20,000 megawatts will use about 1 MBoePD, which for some reason isn't nearly as efficient as the current use rate, or perhaps it's as simple as differences in feedstocks being used. And presuming KSA will remain prosperous and no drastic family planning is introduced, then there will need to be an additional construction program to generate yet more electricity using yet more petroleum feedstocks as fuel. Then there's the need to power the additional desalination plants to provide water to the teeming population that I get the feeling isn't included in the current KSA thinking about future power needs. Or perhaps their accounting for such use is different from my thinking--that feedstocks used to generate the power for desalination plants isn't included in the electricity generation budget and is instead allocated to water production. If I were a Saudi, I would be seriously thinking about using nuclear power to drive my desalination plants.

Will KSA's population double during the next 12 years? This article says KSA's current pop. growth rate is 2.34% annually, which is much higher than the 1.85% given by this item based on the CIA Factbook.

That number (470 kb/d) is precisely what I get increasing my figure for 2006 oil burning consumption (415 kb/d) by 13%, which is how much BP shows electrical generation building from 2006 to 2009. This would be a 13.75 kb/d per year increase in burning oil for power generation, so another 130 kb/d burnt up in boilers by 2020.

US by contrast averaged 114 kb/d YOY gain in resid 1964-1977, but then shed consumption of resid at the equally blistering rate of -142 kb/d per year 1978-1991.

Best hopes for Saudis pursuing diversification of power sources. Luckily fuel switching is a pretty straightforward operation, and they are the Saudi Arabia of solar power, at least in theory.

but then shed consumption of resid at the equally blistering rate of -142 kb/d per year 1978-1991.

the us had a fully developed ng distribution system in 1978.

that may allow a further opportunity for shooting ourselves in the foot i.e. the pickens plan.

this was the state of saudi arabia'a gas distribution system ca 1982:

Although economic utilization of gas had long been an objective of Saudi Arabia, a lot of gas still had to be flared until, in the mid-1970s, the rapid climb in world energy costs, coupled with the Saudi government's decision to launch a massive industrialization program, finally justified the huge investments necessary for gathering and processing gas on a large scale. Even so -when the Saudi government announced in 1975 its decision to build a greatly expanded and integrated gas system -skeptics predicted that the project would prove unprofitable because of depressed international gas prices.


and some important, seemingly overlooked, background information......

SAUDI ARABIA - The Master Gas System.



The default UK retirement age is to be scrapped
Nearly three quarters of people believe retirement as we currently understand it will not be possible in the future, a BBC Newsnight poll has suggested.
Some 70% of the 1,000 asked thought it would not be feasible for people to stop work then live on a pension for up to 30 years, the ComRes survey found

Finally, the UK masses are becoming aware that pensions are unaffordable - I suddenly realised this 5 years ago after thinking about how it works, so I retired early on slightly reduced terms while I still could to ensure I was actually able to do so.

One of the main problems is the very expensive health service allowing people to live much longer than nature intended - the hospitals are full of retired people. I suspect the current expenditure on health for the elderly will become unaffordable if we are unable to find adequate alternatives to fossil fuels to keep our economy growing.

Whatever the situation is for the world, the UK production peaked for oil in 1999, natural gas in 2002 and coal in 1913 - we have been living beyond our means for a long time judging by the levels of debt ... it looks like we, in the UK at least, may be close to our borrowing limit.

Limiting healthcare to children and people actually generating wealth would solve a lot of problems and might actually improve quality of life for all - no other species keeps the infirm going at huge cost to the fit and able, it is hubris to think we know better than nature, survival of the fittest definitely works sustainably, retirement and healthcare are new largely untried human ideas which probably don't! Don't confuse long life and standard of living with quality of life - it's the quality that matters.

As usual, the problem is previous solutions!


"As usual, the problem is previous solutions!"

Not sure the origin, but..
I'd only suggest making it plural:
[The problems are previous solutions]

Seems to pretty much sum up in fewest words the "Doomer" posture.

Having a few years even on Ron I can confirm the slowing CNS synapses.
Fortunately, somewhat compensated by having longer fired.


A problem seldom considered by the people who say the retirement age must be raised is, "Where are all those old people going to work?" The article makes the interesting comment "...which means employers would not be allowed to dismiss staff because they had reached the age of 65." It seems likely to me that employers will find some other reason to let older workers go. And hiring managers for the most part want nothing to do with bringing a 60- or 65-year-old worker on board.

The problem will no doubt be worse in the US than it is in the UK. In the US, with its heavy dependence on employer-provided group health insurance, hiring older workers can have significant impacts on insurance premiums, particularly for small firms. In addition, older workers in the US are a "protected" group under anti-discrimination laws. The entire problem of whether you get yourself in trouble when you lay off older workers is avoided by not hiring them in the first place.

I have been saying for years that in the US, the first public policy crisis the Boomers will precipitate will not be in Social Security or Medicare, it will be in the job market. There's going to be an enormous stink when we find that there are millions of Boomers who can't afford to retire, and can't find jobs either.

Except for those few percent who deal with resource-driven production (mining, agriculture, smelting, etc.) it's all shell-game of busy work anyway. As resource availability drops, there may be no better use for such people (unemployed or retired - is there a difference?) than puttering in their gardens and sweeping up their neighborhoods.

You can either have inefficient work (make work) for many, or efficient work for the few with unemployment for many, or small allotments of efficient work shared by many people (job sharing).

The latter is perhaps the most stable, but if I stay employed I'd rather work long hours and have lots of toys while complaining about the bums on the public dole....at least if I'm Joe Average I would.

If only those pesky billions would get busy with that starving thing, the rest of us would be ever so much better off. Repeat after me, "If they're not in our tribe, they're not really human."

If only those pesky billions would get busy with that starving thing, the rest of us would be ever so much better off. Repeat after me, "If they're not in our tribe, they're not really human."

I know I'll regret asking this, but... here's a possibly true statement: "Half of the billion people living in Africa today will die of disease and starvation in the next 25 years no matter what the rest of the world does." Do we try to save them, even if we know the effort will fail? Should the developed world impoverish itself in the attempt? Or should the developed world look after itself, expending its resources to try to reach its own sustainable state?

I'm not trying to be narrow-minded or unfeeling here. Overshoot is not uniformly distributed across the planet. Does that matter?

The misplaced fear is that we'd impoverish ourselves trying to help our Neighbors.. when we're really impoverishing ourselves battling for Oilfields.. but the distinction so often get cloudy.

Sorry if it sounds all 'Old testament', but it really appears that when we're driven by jealousy and greed, we leave a scorched earth. (Including 'Big Ag' Hunger Programs that are thinly disguised Terminator Seed-exchanges and land-grabs..) When we work to help people and cultures, but not to dominate them, the results can be enriching.

I don't doubt the 'Green Revolution' had some great motives woven into it, but it was also a business venture, and an industrial excavation project. Let's learn from it.

The 7 billion people around this planet are not my "neighbors."

I suspect that the coming years will be met with disaster fatigue.

And my personal opinion is that it's perfectly fine for people to politely say thanks, but no thanks, especially when they don't have a job and can barely provide for their own family.

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed America is broke.

Sure hope people do not exemplify the movie "Logan's Run" [ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074812/ ], and just change 30yrs old to the desired current retirement age :/

"There is no Sanctuary" -- indeed.

London's Capital Markets Can Spur Green Investment, Climate Minister Says

Well duh, they make at least 30% on the deal.


30 percent – Investment banks often buy up carbon offsets before a project is up and running, and they take an average 30 percent of the total in profits and operations.
15 percent – Shareholders of the companies putting the offset project together tend to take 15 percent in profits.
15 percent – Taxes, bank interest and fees.

Carbon reduction - how can the bankers get in your wallet?

Now here's an irrational reason to not like Global Warming,


Charles Manson, the man who masterminded the brutal murders of nine people in the summer of 1969 in an effort to spark a race war in America, has adopted a new cause from his prison cell in California – he is a prophet for the global warming movement – sharing common ground with top academics, environmentalists and even the White House science czar in calling for large numbers of human beings to be exterminated in the name of saving the Earth


With friends like these...


Then again, he's serving his time.. we're safe from what he did. If he were to figure out a way to get this message out compellingly to the world, I'd be willing to thank him for it.

"Careful now, each of these boys has a mutha!" -Riddler (?) The Batman Movie

In December 2008, a gigantic storage pond belonging to the Tennessee Valley Authority near Kingston, Tenn., effectively burst at the seams, spilling a billion gallons of mainly toxic coal ash from a T.V.A. power plant into surrounding lands and rivers.

The word toxic is becoming devalued by overuse. The "toxic" material in coal ash consists mainly of heavy metals which were present in the coal before it was burned, and which are present in many other rocks in similar concentrations. It seems to me that the real problem is somewhere to put the ash, rather than its toxicity, and the instability of storage ponds. If I had a billion gallons of sludge flowing towards my house, whether or not it had a few parts per million of arsenic in it would be the least of my worries.

Certainly there are valid concerns about contaminants in fly ash, but they are not a problem everywhere. The data source for the NY Times article identified 39 problem sites associated with 1368 coal-fired power stations examined. They may or may not be wholly or partially included in the 63 "disposal sites in which coal ash was a proven or potential danger to human health or the environment". So somewhere between 4.6% and 7.5% of coal-fired power stations have associated ash disposal sites which have a proven or potential danger to human health or the environment.

Almost any human activity presents a potential danger to human health or the environment. I don't think throwing more money at a national problem demanding a national response where the quoted data show that over 90% of the locations to be regulated are not a problem is a responsible action.

And under "business as usual" I find this statement in bold:


A fight, no matter how short, fills the void of routine -- of standing at guard, staring at rocks, eating bad food, using port-a-potties and having no Internet. The sounds of incoming explosions, the whizzing of bullets going by and the release of the trigger pull fills a purpose for being deployed.

Really? Having no Internet?


When Stanford climate scientist Christopher Field looks at visual feeds from a satellite monitoring deforestation in the Amazon basin, he sees images streaked with white lines devoid of data.

The satellite, Lansat 7, is broken. And it's emblematic of the nation's battered satellite environmental monitoring program. The bad news: It's only going to get worse, unless the federal agencies criticized for their poor management of the satellite systems over the past decade stage a fast turnaround. Many, however, view that prospect as a long shot.

"I would say our ability to observe the Earth from space is at grave risk of dying from neglect," said Field, director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University.

I don't think the government wants "us" to know what is happening on planet Earth?

You have company in that belief. Its not the best company, some of 'em think its because of twin dark stars, others due to a notion of eugenics, last week under EMP I posted a 97 page 'hey look - a magnetic cloud....wonder what that'll do' link.

What if everyone 'knew' - what then? Would things progress in an orderly fashion? Would things become worse or better?

I think the issue is more that with increasing complexity, we have to devote more and more resources to maintaining all of the infrastructure to keep everything going - roads, satellites, bridges, pipelines, train tracks, sewer systems, electric transmission lines.

With our total energy supply pretty much flat, this means that if we do an adequate job of maintenance, we have less and less left over for other things, including new investment. So maintenance gets shortchanged. I think if you looked at other systems, they would be almost in equally bad shape.

if we do an adequate job of maintenance, we have less and less left over for other things, including new investment.

This would be one way to make the transition to a steadystate economy. Once it takes all your effort to maintain whats you've already done growth stops.

Our problem might easily go beyond that however, limits of growth likely mean that the ceiling keeps lowering all the time.

There was news recently in Sonoma county (CA) that an "experiment" was in process to grind up a paved road and return it to gravel with the expectation that in the future it could be treated with something to help aggregate the surface and resurface it at a later date.

How many states are starting to grind up paved roads?

Quite a few, but I wouldn't worry about it. The US has lots more paved roads than it did 50 years ago.

Plus, one politically connected contractor will get the job to grind up the surface.

After a decent interval, another politically connected contractor will get the repaving job.

Check this about North Dakota paved roads to gravel. Mentioned in TOD couple months ago.


This is a specious example since the construction of I-94 made ND-10 obsolete as a through highway. It is just reverting back to a local road.

After Interstate 94 was built alongside the road in the 1950s, it became Old Highway 10. Traffic volumes gradually dropped until Old 10 became a lazy backcountry road dotted with abandoned farmsteads. In the 1960s the state gave Old 10 to the counties it ran through, leaving them to pay for upkeep. North Dakota's Stutsman County got a 30-mile stretch.

Merril et al - Might make the tax payers happy in the short term but we'll see how happy they are with all the car repairs and sore kidneys. I drive many gravel roads in the oil field it most would be amazed how quickly they turn to crap. Granted, it easy to run out and fill the holes and smooth the road down. But with a good bit of traffic that needs to be done almost continuosly...especially in the rainy season. In fact I've dealt with gravel roads where I had to have a dozer there 24/7 during rainy times. But it might be a boost to the makers of 4wd vehicles.

Gravel roads have to be properly constructed, crowned and with ditches for drainage and a thick layer of gravel. They also have to be periodically graded to move the gravel back to the center of the crown.

So it is a question of capital and maintenance dollars. An old, deteriorated asphalt road also requires frequent patching, particularly if there is much heavy truck traffic on it. Otherwise, there are major capital expenses to resurface the road.

Rural counties in places like the Dakotas are losing population as farms and ranches get bigger and small towns wither away. The miles of hard surface and gravel roads probably have to decrease.

I don't think the government wants "us" to know what is happening on planet Earth?

Landsat 7 was launched in 1999 with a design life of five years. It has now been functioning for over eleven years.

It was launched at a time of balanced U.S. budget, booming economy, and (more or less) peace, with oil (a major input in launching satellites) below $20 a barrel. By the time a replacement was due (2004) there were two wars, a major budget deficit, and oil had doubled in price. Since then, the budget deficit hasn't improved, the war situation is not much better, the economy is in the tank, and the price of oil has roughly doubled again.

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence (widely attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte).

This is not the "government" not letting us know what is happening on planet Earth (after all, this is the same government that can't keep a President's extramarital affairs secret): this is a harbinger of the failure of the modern space infrastructure, satellite by satellite, over the coming decades. Landsat 7, GPS satellites, communications satellites, weather satellites, they all have limited lives. The low orbit ones like Landsat 7 and polar orbiting weather satellites can be expected to fail first, followed by the GPS ones. The geostationary satellites (some weather satellites and most communications satellites) will probably stay in orbit longest. Whether they keep working depends on how well they were built.

A five ton communications satellite uses something like 100 tons of fuel to put it into orbit, and the embodied energy of the $100+ million launch process is far higher. There's not much room for this kind of thing in an energy-constrained future.

The Complete 2010 Launch Forecast

It is not clear whether the rate of launches is lower this year than previously. Note that a single launch of a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur will orbit 6 communications satellites in September.

By the time a replacement was due (2004) there were two wars, a major budget deficit, and oil had doubled in price. Since then, the budget deficit hasn't improved, the war situation is not much better, the economy is in the tank, and the price of oil has roughly doubled again.

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence

But, also by this time the government had been largely turned over to people who resented the fact that scientists would use any data collected to demonstrate that global warming was real. They had every incentive to punish and suppress the science.

Re: Japanese help ease LNG fears

The strong Japanese data come several weeks after Korea Gas, South Korea’s state-run gas importer, reported that July imports had increased 32 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Maybe it's just me but I would have titled this article "Japanese help increase long-term LNG fears".

I will be making the case at the ASPO conference that LNG markets which currently seem oversupplied are less than a decade away from being undersupplied. As always, I 'll be using historical data and visualizations to make this case:

1) Last year's downturn in natural gas imports by Japan was a blip on an ever-increasing trajectory:

2) The picture for the East Asia region as a whole is similar:

3) China's per capita consumption of natural gas was just over 6 cubic feet per person per day in 1999. Although most gas was locally sourced, China recently began importing natural gas. China's per capita consumption is well below that of its developed neighbors: Japan (~60 cfpppd), South Korea (~60) and Taiwan (~50). One can only assume that China will dramatically increase imports as development continues.

Given that the Gulf region will be consuming more and more natural gas to produce electricity, one wonders where LNG export capacity is going to come from.

The LNG market may be seriously under supplied by the end of the decade.

(charts from the Gas Trends databrowser)

Happy Exploring!


China may be less dependent on LNG for imports than the other countries, given the aggressive pipeline construction, both existing and planned. They're now connected as far as the Caspian Sea area, and are working out plans to transport Russian gas from both eastern and western Siberia. If it all gets built, it's a damned big pipeline network, connecting them to an enormous amount of NG resource.

And all out of range of the US Navy.


What Recession?
China to have 200 million vehicles by 2020

The number of vehicles on China's roads will more than double to at least 200 million by 2020, a top official was quoted Monday as saying, further straining the nation's environment and energy supply.

China must make it a top priority to develop fuel-efficient and alternative energy cars, the China Securities Journal said, citing Wang Fuchang, vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China's auto sales hit 13.64 million units last year, overtaking the United States as the world's top car market, while sales this year are forecast to hit 15 million units.

Meanwhile, in Europe.
France, London hit by 24-hour strikes

... commuters in London dealt with rush-hour chaos after London Underground workers walked off the job in a one-day strike, closing much of the city's busy subway system. Many rush-hour trains were cancelled in the Paris region and people with medium- or short-haul flights faced long delays and cancellations because of disruptions to air-traffic control services. Schools and hospitals will also be affected by the strike, union leaders say.

Future fossils of Australia
20 years left: mammals plunge into extinction

Along with many species of quolls, bandicoots, possums and marsupial rats, the bettongs had thrived for millions of years in northern Australia, surviving ice ages, surging sea levels and human hunters.
But many of these natives are unlikely to survive another decade or two, according to a new report which reveals an abrupt, stunning plunge towards mass extinction in the past few years.

A dimmer view of Earth

When Stanford climate scientist Christopher Field looks at visual feeds from a satellite monitoring deforestation in the Amazon basin, he sees images streaked with white lines devoid of data.
The satellite, Landsat 7, is broken. And it's emblematic of the nation's battered satellite environmental monitoring program. The bad news: It's only going to get worse, unless the federal agencies criticized for their poor management of the satellite systems over the past decade stage a fast turnaround. Many, however, view that prospect as a long shot.

Somehow I don't think this will improve post-crash.
Study examines association between urban living and psychotic disorders

The association between psychotic disorders and living in urban areas appears to be a reflection of increased social fragmentation present within cities, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

...Characteristics of neighborhoods that have been associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis include population and ethnic density, deprivation and social fragmentation or reduced social capital and cohesion.

...Characteristics of neighborhoods that have been associated with an increased risk of developing psychosis include population and ethnic density, deprivation and social fragmentation or reduced social capital and cohesion.

You mean the way people are not interacting is unnatural? If a living situation is not moving consciousness forward, then isn't it reasonable to expect aberrant behavior? And if so, then wouldn't that way of living come to an end at some point, i.e. collapse? But, isn't collapse what Kunstler views (due to post peak oil) as the catalyst for small self sufficient communities, that would bring greater social interaction? And wouldn't those closer ties reduce incidents of psychosis, and mean we were forced into a new paradigm that advances consciousness? Hmm, collapse doesn't sound so bad when one thinks of it that way.

There's a theory that schizophrenia is caused by infections (in people who are genetically vulnerable). If your identical twin is schizophrenic, you have only a 50% of also developing the disorder, so it's not all genetic. And people born in winter or spring (in the northern hemisphere) are more likely to suffer schizophrenia than those born in other times of the year, again suggesting a virus link.

I wonder if that urban living thing is simply measuring increased exposure to infectious agents.

See "toxoplasmosis" and "Crazy Cat Lady" for more...



And people born in winter or spring (in the northern hemisphere) are more likely to suffer schizophrenia than those born in other times of the year, again suggesting a virus link.

Or a link to sub-optimal levels of vitamin D (in either or both the mother and the infant). Since "discovering" the health benefits of the sunshine vitamin, I have started to suspect sub-optimal levels of vitamin D as a factor in anything that manifests during winter and spring, when vitamin D levels in the general population, at higher latitudes, are at their lowest. Closer to the tropics, low vitamin D levels would probably coincide with rainy seasons.

I wonder if that urban living thing is simply measuring increased exposure to infectious agents.

One other thought that has occurred to me recently is that, sub-optimal levels of vitamin D could be experienced especially by some urban tropical natives in the middle of summer. It might sound crazy but, when it's 30+°C in the shade and humid, you really want to avoid direct sunlight and would probably appreciate some air conditioning as well. The reports of high Middle East electricity demand in the summer time, due mostly to A/C, bear me out on that point.

I'm afraid this will never be proven one way or another as the Medical Industrial Complex will not benefit in the form of increased profits if something as simple as sunshine (or vitamin d supplements) is proven to reduce risk factors for some of the things being claimed. We all know what happens when the profits of major industrial complexes are threatened. Hint, Peak Oil or Climate Change.

Alan from the islands

Another study (post WWII Europe - 1946-48) found a strong association between schizophrenia and malnutrition during the mother's 3rd trimester. (This is the period when the higher brain architecture is built)There was a significantly higher incidence of neurological problems in this cohort due to near-starvation conditions after the war.

I think malnutrition and viral causes would account for the majority (>90%) of cases.

There was a fascinating argument that ensued on CNBC today, in which Erin was moderating two guys with opposite views on the national debt. One was saying as long as the dollar stays strong on days the markets tank, we're fine. The other was saying the debt cannot be paid back no matter what, and he got too carried away. One of those people that thinks talking over and interrupting means winning, got Erin's ire up and she admonished him for being rude. In any case it was an interesting discussion.

Here's a link to the debt which is now over 13.5 trillion.


We would appear to have two principal choices--default or devalue.

The dollar floats and therefore cannot be devalued. Unless, that is, you mean devalued by inflation. That is a very real possibility. Default is not a possibility at all. Therefore which is left?

Ron P.

Hi Ron,

Please elaborate a bit on your statement that "default is not a possibility at all".

US borrowing is in dollars. If a US treasury bond comes due, the US government can wire a number of dollars to the bondholder's bank. Why would the US government run out of numbers?

The more interesting question is, what do we do when other countries will spin our debt only into new debt in other currencies?

In such a case, default becomes a subsequent option.

Please elaborate a bit on your statement that "default is not a possibility at all".

For the US to default on its debt would mean the total collapse of the US financial system, the US dollar, and the entire US economy. That is just not going to happen especially when the US can just as easy issue new debt to replace the old one.

Here is a good video explaining what will really happen. You may have watched it before because I have posted this link before. But if not, then you must watch it because it explains what must happen.

Bailout Big Lies & Your Savings

Ron P.

For the US to default on its debt would mean the total collapse of the US financial system, the US dollar, and the entire US economy.


Pick yourself up.
Dust yourself off.
Start all over again.

History has other failed states, failed money and failed economies. The US of A is not immune to history.

Given Ron's age and the machette moshpit mention at least weekly in the past on TOD I'll correct the text.

That is just not going to happen in my lifetime.

I guess we should say default or pay back with devalued dollars.

Default is not a possibility at all.

Right. Its Never EVER Happened in history.

No need to convince Ron.

The rest of you - the phrase "not worth a Continental" might be worth your time looking into.

Vaclav Smil is officially a Peak Oil denier who writes for the American Enterprise Institute think-tank.

TOD should create a list of PO deniers just as sourcewatch has for Climate Change deniers.

TOD should create a list of PO deniers just as sourcewatch has for Climate Change deniers.

I predict the correlation coefficient between membership in the two lists will be .95 or higher.

The hydrogeologist Steven Gorelick. I have a nasty habit of dissing on him http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2010/09/hydrogeology-for-dummies.html

Not sure if this has been posted but it seems the Floating Storage of Oil is quickly coming to an end. If these numbers are right, and I have attempted to verify from several sources, the World has been using some 18 million barrels of oil a month more than is being produced going back to June 2010. This has been masked by the over supply on tankers loaded during the last two years. If indeed those tankers have unloaded their cargos then we may see a serious drop in imports over the coming months. Obviously that would lead to a significant drop in inventories.

This appears quite serious, and yet none of the talking heads of MSM seem too concerned. Am I missing something? I've often thought to myself that the ramping DOWN of production is a fine art that seems almost impossible to time exactly right.


Based upon other reports I've seen, this is a fairly good round up of the current storage situation.

Note this in particular:

Much of the crude oil still in tanker storage is from Iran, which has had trouble selling crude due to recent international sanctions aimed at halting its uranium enrichment program.

As explained further elsewhere above, Iran is having a hard time selling its oil and products. For all practical discussion purposes here at TOD, floating oil supplies are now insignificant in the big picture. why the MSM is not discussing is probably the same reason they keeping harping about high oil supplies - they want to push the price down (or at least some influential people are giving media this message).

In addition, there was an article above about how hedge funds think there is too much oil inventory - and also gasoline inventory. They were stated to be short gasoline, that is betting on gasoline price declines.

That refinery explosion in Mexico may have been a surprise to those funds, but it's not supposed to be a major disruption, only another event in a series of events where Mexico refines less and less oil and imports more and more products. They are importing about 400,000 bpd in products now. What more proof do we need of the exportland model? Granted they hope to finally open a new refinery soon, but that won't disprupt the ongoing import/export changes reflected in the exportland model.

For reasons probably related to the continuing pipeline disruption in Michigan, oil inventories in the Midwest continue to build up - and despite what hedge funds may believe - gas traders reported that gasoline is starting to be in short supply in the upper Midwest.

In the past I have never observed as oil in transit as a big effect in running a simulation such as the Oil Shock Model. What is the time constant for a barrel of oil from when it is extracted to when it is consumed? If it is anything below a year it really doesn't have an effect once things get back into equilibrium. The big time constants such as extraction rate and discovery rate have a bigger impact on peak.

Yet I do see merit in playing around with the in-transit state.

That's damn serious.......
I've said this in the past but I believe the ramifications of peak oil will not be felt or grasped until oil can't be purchased at any price. Price can offset shortages while the economy contracts and substitutions are available but if supply falls below demand at any price...........

When a business needs fuel to run its fleet or transport goods, food and equipment, or airplanes are grounded while they wait on fuel deliveries, panic could be a danger as hoarding and stockpiling becomes a natural reaction. I see shortages and queues at first being only a small inconvenience but as it becomes chronic, "things" will begin to fall apart. Right or wrong, that all along has been my vision of peak oil. We experienced it during the oil embargoes and it's coming again, probably sooner now rather than later.

Watch the goats start getting scaped when the queues begin and gas stations close while waiting deliveries. Don't get me wrong, I'm not predicting anything to happen overnight, at first it will be dismissed as temporary, many things could offset the impacts but ultimately peak oil infers there won't be enough to go around.

Had a doc appointment today, and I thought I'd ask a "Professional" if they knew what "Peak Oil" was. Tomorrow I think I'll ask my Therapist. I'd like to see if "no" is a single point or a trend...

Had a doc appointment today, ... I'd like to see if "no" is a single point or a trend...

LOL (and with empathy)

A while back during a doc appointment, he mentioned that he is an avid reader of "The Economist" magazine

I asked the good doctor what he thought about the current Recession/Depression

I'm immune, he said, because I'm in medicine and people will always need doctors

But doc, I asked, where will the money come from to pay you?

His donut eyes glazed over.
That one did not compute.

Calling on Leanan. A while back you were commenting on stock market mutual fund investment being withdrawn. Well, here's an article on it:

'Flash crash' may be sparking stock fund withdrawals


NEW YORK — Retail investors have yanked money out of stock mutual funds for 17 straight weeks. And the still unexplained May 6 "flash crash" — when the Dow Jones industrials plunged more than 600 points in minutes before recovering — is increasingly being cited as a key reason the public has been selling.

It wouldn't surprise me. It's not just the huge drop that was scary. It's that they still don't know what caused it. I think there's a growing feeling that the market isn't fair to the little guy. It's not a level playing field.

The cause of the crash is known exactly: a self-referential system of trading algorithms.

What is more revealing is that the exact same technology used to manage transactions on the banks' account could be used to manage private transactions. But this technology is NOT employed when your money is at stake.

For example, if you put in a buy or sell order, the banks could cut your transaction up into small random sized trades issued in a random time sequence, rendering the order flow devoid of information and starving the trading algorithms of opportunity to take your nickels. (This is a simplification for dramatic purposes, but the point remains.)

In my opinion, the system is deliberately rigged to fleece anyone conducting legitimate transactions.

A more odious consequence of this activity is that all securities are becoming more highly correlated and there is no longer any such thing as diversified investment. Even the buy-and-hold investor is asking to get creamed.

I think people see the lack of diversification on a gut-level and are reacting accordingly.

HAVANA – Fidel Castro criticized Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for what he called his anti-Semitic attitudes and questioned his own actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 during interviews with an American journalist he summoned to Havana to discuss fears of global nuclear war.

Just when that old man couldn't surprise me any more. Who really said it though. Raul? The shadow government?