Drumbeat: September 23, 2010

Declining production will continue to hit Pdvsa

Venezuela's executive office submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the 2009 annual report in which the government recognized that state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) will continue being affected by declining production.

The report, which was prepared by the Ministry of Planning and Finance, includes Pdvsa's consolidated results, characterized by falling revenues, lower earnings, and a growing debt. The report conceded that the oil industry was hit by lower production and a decline in oil prices.

China Denies Japan Rare-Earth Ban Amid Diplomatic Row

(Bloomberg) -- China denied reports it banned the export of rare earths to Japan in retaliation for the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain, threatening supplies of a raw material vital to hybrid cars, laptops and iPhones.

"China does not have a trade embargo on rare earth exports to Japan," Ministry of Commerce spokesman Chen Rongkai said in a telephone interview today. Industrial Minerals Co. of Australia, an industry publication and consultancy, first reported the ban yesterday, citing an unidentified "leading Japanese rare earth buyer."

Last Harvest for Ethanol Looming as Republicans Target Subsidy

Jim Sensenbrenner pays extra to cruise his pontoon boat across Pine Lake in southern Wisconsin. He's willing to hand over 30¢ more per gallon for gasoline free of ethanol, which he calls "a lousy fuel" that corrodes his two-stroke outboard engine.

One boater's opinion might not matter, except that Sensenbrenner happens to be the top Republican on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. His ethanol aversion is a sign that the darling of alternative fuels is hitting a political wall. "People are worried about deficits, debt, and special-interest handouts," Sensenbrenner says. "Ethanol is all three."

CERA: Tax hikes would hit already hamstrung US oil industry

WASHINGTON, DC -- White House proposals to increase oil and taxes would harm a US industry that is already having trouble competing globally, officials from the US Chamber of Commerce and IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates warned.

They cited a CERA study that concluded that US tax policies are not able to invest as effectively as their non-US competitors, including publicly traded multinationals as well as national oil companies. “In framing tax policies, the US is not a global sovereign. It exists with other sovereigns, and tax decisions need to be made in the context of a world that’s not only competitive but becoming increasingly competitive,” CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin told reporters in a teleconference hosted by the US Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

Ghana, China Sign $3B Deal for O&G Sector

Ghana and China have signed deals totaling $15 billion during a five-day state visit to Beijing by Ghana President John Atta Mills, signaling the west African country's rising prominence as an investment destination and future oil producer.

Study shows latest government spill estimate right

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After several missteps, the federal government finally got it right, accurately estimating how much oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, an independent scientific study found.

Nearly 185 million gallons of oil spilled from the broken BP well into the Gulf of Mexico this summer, according to a study by two Columbia University researchers who made their estimates based on video of the oil spewing from the well.

Kenya: Calls to Cut Fuel Costs Fall on Deaf Ears

Nairobi — Oil companies increased pump prices for the second week, taking advantage of disputes in the sector to make a killing.

They are now making as much as Sh12 profit a litre, as the Ministry of Energy impotently appeals to them to cut their prices by at least Sh5. The big oil companies are boycotting meetings called by the Energy ministry, saying that the determination of prices is a private matter.

Uganda: One woman’s tale of making ends meet amidst high petrol prices

As the fuel scarcity continues to bite, many motorists and other consumers are expressing fear of the increasing expenses as prices of food and other items continue to escalate.

Tell Malawians the truth on fuel scarcity

We agree with the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) on the need for the authorities to come out clear on the real cause of the fuel crisis Malawi is facing.

The silence by the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) on such an issue of national importance is not helping matters. Malawians, especially the business community, would like to know why it is becoming a tradition that each year, from September onwards, the economy should be experiencing such a problem.

MIT nuclear study stirs controversy

An MIT study finds no shortage of uranium for nuclear energy, but recommends against recycling spent nuclear fuel. Instead, scientists at the prestigious university call for a sustained R&D program worth nearly $700 million a year. That's some sandbox.

Meanwhile, David Jones, Vice President of Used Fuel Management at Areva, argues that recycling spent nuclear fuel is a proven solution that is cost competitive and reduces proliferation concerns.

John Michael Greer: Animals III: The Unwanted

In the sort of imaginary world where candy canes grow on trees and financial crises caused by too much debt can be solved by adding even more debt, the only animals a backyard gardener would ever have to deal with would either be small livestock who keep the refrigerator full, or helpful critters from the surrounding ecology who come fluttering or slithering in on cue to pollinate plants, turn plant matter into compost, and generally make themselves useful to the garden and the gardener. Alas, we don’t live in such a world, and if you have a backyard garden, you’ll be dealing with plenty of other animals whose goal in life is to eat the food you grow before you can get to it.

Long-term demand from emerging markets will shape world oil markets in 2010, say experts

Solid demand growth in China, India and emerging Asian economies, including the Middle East, are the key factors that will shape world oil markets and prices in 2010, experts said today at the Oil & Petrochemicals Market Briefing. The event was organised jointly by Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Platts and Thomson Reuters, and held at the Almas Tower in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) free zone.

“Growing confidence in a global economic recovery had inspired hopes of rising oil demand in early 2010, but the Eurozone crisis and a strengthening dollar have encouraged continuing volatility in oil prices,” said Malcolm Wall Morris, CEO, DMCC. “We anticipate that long-term demand growth in China, India, emerging Asian economies and the Middle East region will be the key factors determining the shape of oil markets and prices through this year.”

Iran's offshore oil stash still high

Opec-member Iran has reduced the amount of crude stored at sea in the past three months but still has as much as 20 million barrels anchored offshore according to reports.

Putin dismisses possibility of armed clash over Arctic resources

Russia's outspoken prime minister, Vladimir Putin, dismissed forecasts Thursday that Arctic nations would soon clash over resources in the polar region believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas.

Russia's Putin urges Arctic resources deal

(Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged Arctic nations on Thursday to cut a deal on how to explore the region's rich mineral resources, and dismissed dire warnings of looming battles over its oil and gas wealth.

Russia approves lower Caspian Sea oil export fee

(Reuters) - The Russian government approved a lower export duty for oil shipped from northern part of the Caspian Sea where the country's second-largest crude producer, LUKOIL, operates, Interfax said on Thursday.

How BP Learned to Dance with the Russian Bear

In July 2008, Robert W. Dudley, then chief executive officer of TNK-BP, a joint venture between Britain's BP and a group of Russian billionaires, hastily left Russia after complaining of "sustained harassment" from his local partners. Dudley had been driven to flee the country by a barrage of lawsuits, tax probes, difficulties obtaining work permits, and other legal pressures that became a hallmark of the acrimonious partnership's battles over management control and investment direction. One Russian court even barred Dudley from performing his job for two years for allegedly violating local labor laws.

The real BP lesson: Oil is killing us

This is a national wake-up call, the Three-Mile-Island of the deepwater drilling industry. I believe it's taught us three things. First, we can't allow this industry to police itself in the way it's done until now. We need stronger safeguards to protect precious waters and habitat from the dangers of offshore drilling. This is difficult, dangerous and inherently risky work. We need to reduce those dangers and manage those risks to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

Second, the Gulf is a national treasure, and we need to start treating it that way. We need to restore the region, not only from the oil spill damage, but from the ravages of a century of poor management and pollution that is destroying the rich delta that nourishes the Gulf. The country needs a healthy Gulf. We need a healthy delta. And we need to put policies in place to restore that health.

And finally, we need, as a country, to break our addiction to oil and begin moving toward cleaner, safer more sustainable sources of power and fuel.

U.S., Canadian refiners await Enbridge restart

CALGARY - Royal Dutch Shell Plc said on Thursday it welcomed the approval of plans to to restart an oil pipeline that supplies its refinery in Sarnia, Ontario, but will keep its contingency plans in place until the line starts up.

Shell is among several refiners that had to arrange alternative oil supplies in the more than eight weeks since Enbridge Inc’s Line 6B ruptured in Michigan and was shut down.

European nations to review deep oil drill rules

OSLO (Reuters) - Fifteen European nations are set to promise to review rules for oil permits in extreme environments after BP Plc's Gulf of Mexico spill, stopping short of a moratorium urged by environmentalists.

Countries in the OSPAR group, which oversees the North East Atlantic, were to consider a draft recommendation on "a review of existing regulatory frameworks, including the permitting of drilling activities in extreme conditions."

Mexico's PRI May Widen Deficit, Raise Oil Price to Cut Tax, Videgaray Says

Mexico’s largest party in the lower house of congress may propose a wider deficit and increased oil price estimate for next year’s budget as it aims to cut the sales tax, the head of the budget committee said.

Kazakhstan president put forward for Nobel Peace Prize

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, is being put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize next year by the World Assembly of Turkic Peoples. The name of Mr Nazarbayev, who has ruled the oil-rich Central Asian nation since the last days of the Soviet Union, emerged at a meeting of the assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital.

Breaking Out of a Wind Ghetto

Saturated with too much energy from wind and water, the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency based in the Pacific Northwest, has been forced to look for outside help. For the moment its problems represent an extreme, but experts predict that other systems will find themselves in the same pickle as utilities build more wind machines in an effort to reach state-mandated quotas for renewable energy.

Amid Tension, China Blocks Vital Exports to Japan

HONG KONG — Sharply raising the stakes in a dispute over Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing trawler captain, the Chinese government has blocked exports to Japan of a crucial category of minerals used in products like hybrid cars, wind turbines and guided missiles.

Chinese customs officials are halting shipments to Japan of so-called rare earth elements, preventing them from being loaded aboard ships this week at Chinese ports, three industry officials said Thursday.

IEA says higher oil prices hurt the world’s poorest the most

High oil prices have made it more difficult for the world to close a persistent energy supply gap that has left more than 1.4 billion people without access to electricity and double that number dependent on burning wood and waste to cook food, an official report warns.

Governments and international aid organisations would need to invest US$36 billion (Dh132.23bn) a year over the next 20 years to give everyone on the planet regular access to electricity and modern cookers, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said yesterday.

Relatively high prices for oil and gas would preclude poorer countries from relying on fossil fuels, creating incentives for the development of renewable energy sources including so-called “off-grid” sources such as gas from landfills, the IEA said.

China follows British footsteps to African wealth

Chinese investment in Angola is bringing back to life one of the greatest rail routes in Africa, the Benguela Railway. In return, China gets oil - but how fair are accusations that China is engaged in a colonial-style scramble for resources?

Oil Trades Below $75 After Falling on Unexpected Increase in U.S. Supplies

Oil fell in New York as the dollar recovered from its weakest level against the euro since April, while an increase in U.S. crude supplies reinforced concern that the recovery is not fast enough to whittle down excess supplies.

Futures declined as much as 1.1 percent after the Energy Department said yesterday stockpiles rose 970,000 barrels to 358.3 million last week. They were forecast to drop 1.75 million barrels, according to the median analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Gasoline supplies also rose and are now 15 percent higher than their five-year average and distillate stockpiles are now 23.3 percent above the five-year mean.

Rising European Heating Fuel Demand Draws South Korean, Japanese Supplies

Rising heating oil demand in Europe amid seasonal refinery maintenance has attracted supplies from as far as Japan and South Korea and pushed the benchmark London futures market into so-called backwardation.

Peak Oil Consumption - How much oil is left?

Will we have enough oil for future generations?

Total, Petroplus French Refineries Output Reduced by Strike, Union Says

Output at French refineries owned by Total SA and Petroplus Holdings AG is lower due to a strike, a union representative said.

South Africa Mulls Shale Gas to Reduce Nation's Dependence on Oil Imports

South Africa’s petroleum regulator said Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. and Bundu Gas and Oil Exploration Ltd. have applied for shale gas exploration permits as the nation looks to reduce its dependence on petroleum imports.

“We’re certainly going to have significant exploration in the next three years or so,” said Mthozami Xiphu, chief executive officer of Petroleum Agency SA, by phone from Cape Town yesterday. “In the next five, six years, we do expect the beginnings of significant production.”

Iran says nuclear talks can succeed only if fair

(Reuters) - Iran is ready to enter 'fair' negotiations with major powers over its nuclear activities, state radio quoted Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as saying.

Major powers said on Wednesday they hoped for an early negotiated solution to the stand-off over Iran's nuclear program, which the United States and its allies suspect is aimed at developing bombs, as well as fresh talks on a potential atomic fuel swap plan.

Southern Sudan Independence Referendum Delay Might Reignite War, Kiir Says

Delaying the referendum on independence in Southern Sudan would risk resumption of civil war, the head of the region’s government said, even as the U.S. suggested it will be hard to organize a credible vote on Jan. 9.

Petrobras `Reverse Privatization' Looms as Brazil Backs $78 Billion Offer

Brazil is reclaiming part of the Petroleo Brasileiro SA stake it sold to investors a decade ago in a record $78 billion share sale today.

The government will boost its stake in Petrobras, Latin America’s largest company by market value, to as much as 55 percent from 39 percent now, Adriano Pires, head of the Brazilian Center for Infrastructure, a research group based in Rio de Janeiro, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Official says Canadian detained in Libya can leave

CAIRO – An official says a Canadian man reportedly detained in Libya on suspicion of spying on a planned BP offshore drilling project can now leave the country.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Department spokeswoman Catherine Loubier said Wednesday that restrictions preventing Douglas O'Reilly from leaving Libya had been lifted. She did not provide further details. Libyan officials have refused to comment on the case.

Petrobras share sale easily oversubscribed: sources

(Reuters) - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA) has received more than enough investor interest to sell all the shares in a massive offer worth up to $79 billion, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

Nigerian Rebels Say They're Seeking Custody of Kidnapped French Nationals

Nigeria’s main rebel group in the oil-rich Niger River delta region said it’s trying to gain custody of three French nationals seized in the West African nation’s coastal waters.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it’s working to transfer the three crew members employed by Bourbon SA, a French company that provides supply vessels for the oil industry, from their kidnappers.

Enbridge allowed to restart pipeline two months after Michigan spill

CALGARY — Enbridge Inc. has received approval from U.S. regulators to restart its Line 6B oil pipeline after more almost two months of outage following a significant spill in Michigan waters.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said Wednesday the oil line, which supplies refiners in the U.S. Midwest and Ontario, will resume operations slowly and under tight control by the United States regulator.

Kevin Costner pitches emergency oil spill plan to Congress

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Kevin Costner told US lawmakers Wednesday that clean-up operations during the BP oil disaster were a "tangled mess," as the Hollywood star urged Congress to adopt his 895-million-dollar emergency response plan.

Costner -- the on-screen hero of "Waterworld" who has a real life passion for developing oil clean-up technology -- said that 32 of his company's centrifugal oil-water separators leased by BP sat idle while the British energy giant figured out what to do with them.

Defending the oil sands

For more than two years, Canada's oil sands have been attacked by environmentalists and left-leaning think-tanks. In particular, these critics accuse the project of producing more carbon emissions than any other energy-extraction effort on the face of the Earth, and of "ravaging" the northern Alberta landscape. In Copenhagen last December, at the largest climate change conference ever convened by the United Nations, Canada was branded as a "climate criminal." In 2009, no less revered a journalistic outlet than National Geographic magazine published an attack on the oil sands.

The lesson from all this is that Alberta politicians and oil sands officials must do a better job defending the project -- its worth to the national economy, its fine record of land reclamation and the manner by which it makes Canada self-sufficient. The benefits even extend to foreign relations: The oil sands have become the largest source of foreign oil to the United States because their supply is stable and reliable -- a fact that both Ottawa and the United States factor into negotiations when disputes arise in unrelated areas of trade. The fact is, the oil sands provide Canada with a major bargaining chip in a world that is increasingly worried about supplying future oil needs.

Greenpeace plan month-long stay on North Sea drill ship

LONDON (AFP) – Greenpeace campaigners who boarded an oil drilling ship near the Shetland Isles in protest at exploration in the North Sea have enough food and drink to stay for a month, the group said.

Two activists from the environmental lobby group spent Tuesday night in a tent suspended by ropes from the anchor chain of the Stena Carron drill ship, which is owned by US oil giant Chevron.

Woodward Book Says Afghanistan Divided White House

WASHINGTON — Some of the critical players in President Obama’s national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf, according to a new book.

The book, “Obama’s Wars,” by the journalist Bob Woodward, depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work.

Murkowski keeps Energy post

Senate Republicans decided not to strip Sen. Lisa Murkowski of her position as the top Republican on the Energy committee, after she mounted a write-in bid for her Senate seat.

"The conference decided not to make any changes," said Sen. Richard Burr. The Conventional Wisdom going into the GOP caucus meeting was the Burr would be selected to replace Murkowski.

Spending Too Carefully?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in February 2009, allocated $3.1 billion for distribution by state energy offices to improve energy efficiency and spur the use of renewable energy. But by July 9 of this year, only about 7.2 percent had been spent, the audit indicates.

Report: NY’s electric grid reliable through 2020

The New York Independent System Operator’s latest review of the state’s power system finds there are no major problems facing reliability in the next decade.

NYISO’s board’s 2010 Reliability Needs Assessment found generation, transmission and demand-side programs will meet the state’s electricity needs through 2020. However, a stronger than expected economic recovery could increase reliability risks in 2019.

Major EU Renewable Energy Forum In October

The future direction of renewable energy deployment and funding in Europe will be discussed by government ministers and energy industry heavyweights during a three-day alternative energy forum to be held in London next month.

The debate-style forum begins on October 19 and will be chaired by CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick. The conference will serve a primary role of informing public opinion and will include presentations on issues such as peak oil, wind farming, the future of solar PV, concentrated solar power, and wave and tidal energy generation.

Global Wind Power Capacity May Rival Nuclear Within Four Years, GWEC Says

Installed power capacity from wind turbines around the world will probably rival the potential generation of electricity from nuclear plants within four years, the Global Wind Energy Council said.

Installed wind capacity by 2014 will probably reach 400 gigawatts, Steve Sawyer, secretary-general of the council, said in an e-mailed statement. Current nuclear power capacity is about 376 gigawatts, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Largest offshore wind farm opens off Thanet in Kent

The world's biggest offshore wind farm off the Kent coast has been officially opened.

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall said the 100 turbines are expected to generate enough electricity to power 240,000 homes.

Palm Oil Body RSPO Rebukes Indonesia's Smart On Sustainability Claims

KUALA LUMPUR -(Dow Jones)- The Roundtable On Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry organization that groups palm producers, environmental groups and food companies, said Thursday that Indonesia-based Sinar Mas Agro Resources & Technology has breached its policies and that the firm's membership in the group is at risk.

“The Moneyless Man” Talks to The Green Prophet About The Middle East

Mark Boyle, otherwise known as the “moneyless man,” says that the Middle East’s emphasis on caring and sharing should make adopting a “freeconomic” lifestyle easier than in the West.

Symposium offers hope for us and our troubled planet

“Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” offers hope and ideas. Created by the Pachamama Alliance, an international partnership of first-world and indigenous people, the symposium is conducted by trained volunteers who clearly present the problems we and our Earth face today and send us on our way fortified to make changes.

Spiking Summer Fruit in Order to Preserve It

AT the end of every summer, as the heaps of fresh fruit start to dwindle at the farmers’ markets, the urge to preserve it all pulls strong.

Usually, I suppress it.

As much as I love the idea of a pantry full of homemade jams, jellies, pickles and syrups, I rarely have the patience for serious canning, with its macerating, simmering and sterilization of jars.

But there is another, easier way: boozy fruit. There are many incarnations but the basic premise is the same — simply mix fruit and sugar with enough hard spirit to keep the fruit well soused, and let it sit. You can sip the liquid as a cordial and eat the sweet, spiked fruit over ice cream or cake. Apart from freezing, it is about the simplest preserving method there is.

Paris Offers Water With Bubbles, but No Bottles

PARIS — In the latest in a series of unusual efforts to make Paris green, the city is now offering residents free sparkling water to try to wean Parisians not from red wine, but from overconsumption of plastic bottles.

10 given Heinz Awards for environmental work

PITTSBURGH — A photographer who took more than 500,000 photographs documenting global warming worldwide is among 10 people who were named Heinz Award winners Tuesday.

This year's awards recognized environmental challenges. The awards each come with a $100,000 prize.

Bjørn Lomborg: Use technology to fight climate change

First off, let's get something straight. Exactly how sceptical are you about climate change?

Man-made global warming exists. My problem is with the single-minded focus on drastic carbon emission reductions that have been promised in the 18 years since the Earth Summit in Rio, and have gotten virtually nowhere.

Pegasus Helping Design `Green Bank' to Fund Carbon Projects, Tamminen Says

Pegasus Capital Advisors LP, the U.S. private equity firm that manages almost $2 billion in assets, is helping set up a bank to fund carbon reduction, a former adviser to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says.

Pegasus is “volunteering some time to help with the design and structuring of the green bank,” Terry Tamminen, 58, said in a telephone interview in Melbourne. He is an adviser to the firm, founded in 1995, according to its website.

Chris Huhne fights Treasury to save his climate department

Climate change secretary Chris Huhne is fighting to defend his department's funding and independence, fending off a suggestion that his civil servants should be moved to the Treasury to cut costs.

Sea level plan 'will ruin our farmland'

A scheme designed to deal with predicted rising sea levels in a low lying area of East Devon could create malarial swamps, regularly flood a busy road, erode prime agricultural land, wreck buildings, ruin livelihoods and see water meadows disappear forever under acres of mud.

Professor’s book models future of the Arctic

Staring at the devastated shores and towns of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Laurence Smith had one thing on his mind: melting glaciers.

To this geography professor who studies melting ice sheets in the Arctic, the vast damage of the hurricane was a testament to global warming, rising sea levels and more violent storms throughout the world.

Rising Sea Levels, Disappearing Countries and Floating Houses

While floating houses and urban centers may seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, for nations like the Republic of the Maldives that are in serious danger of losing their land and economy, nothing is too bizarre or ridiculous.

Canada's glaciers have shrunk significantly in past 50 years: data

Glaciers in Canada's High Arctic and in the mountains of Western Canada have shrunk significantly over the past 50 years, new data released by Natural Resources Canada yesterday show. This, experts say, could have consequences for municipalities that depend on the run-off for drinking water, irrigation and power generation.

Ocean cooling 'contributed to global warming hiatus during mid-20th century'

A new study has indicated that the ocean cooling in North Atlantic around 1970 contributed to the hiatus of global warming in the Northern Hemisphere during the mid-20th century, and not tropospheric pollution.

David W. J. Thompson at Colorado State University, John M. Wallace at the University of Washington,John J. Kennedy at the Met Office and Phil D. Jones of the University of East Anglia discovered an unexpectedly abrupt cooling event that occurred between roughly 1968 and 1972 in Northern Hemisphere ocean temperatures.

Vulnerable Arab world lags on climate change action

(Reuters) - The Arab world will be one of the regions worst hit by climate change but still lacks any coordinated response to its potentially devastating effects, experts said at a conference this week.

With hotter, drier and less predictable climates, the amount of water running into the region's streams and rivers is set to fall 20 to 30 percent by 2050, worsening desertification and food insecurity, the United Nations Development Programme says.

Arab states, many rich in petroleum and grappling with fast-growing populations, lack the political will to act, experts said at the UNDP regional meeting that ended on Tuesday.

re: Peak Oil Consumption - How much oil is left?

With information that blatantly and fundamentally wrong, I wonder if this is really a reflection of shoddy journalism by the totally ignorant, or a deliberate attempt to muddy the waters.

The infographic of labelled 'world oil production' actually shows world oil consumption.

The quoted figure of world consumption is out by a factor of ten.

What I found interesting about it is it's apparently hosted by a car rental company.

What I found more interesting is that it's apparently a British outfit of some sort but the breakdowns in the charts are US-centric.

I think the graphic was created by a US peak oil group. I'm pretty sure I've seen it before.

Hey, read the little strips beside the hourglasses. A couple of them give some very important opinions that differ from the data supplied. And the data was supplied by BP.

One says:Research by the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at Oxford University suggest that demand has started to outstrip supply. It recommends that the current oil reserve estimate should be downgraded from 1150-1350 billion barrels to between 850-900 billion barrels.

And another says: ITPOES (Industrial Taskforce on Peak Oil & Energy Security) predicts Peak Oil will occur within the next decade, potentially by 2015.

Then to the side of that they print: "The supply will never peak" according to BP.

Is there a subtle message in that last line. Like: "We are supplying this data provided by BP but we really know BP if full of it.

Ron P.

Isn't saying "the supply will never peak" kind of like saying "the mass of the moon will never peak"? Because on any kind of timescale that we truly care about the supply of oil and the mass of the moon are fixed.

"The infographic of labelled 'world oil production' actually shows world oil consumption"

So they are following the methods used by the EIA and IEA ????

Disfunctional capital markets are the achille's heel for the enery transition mitigation strategies. Even CERA understands this now.

Janet Tavakoli explains a major hurdle for fixing our capital markets:

I am in complete agreement with William K. Black that thorough investigations are long overdue.

The crimes aren't in doubt, but one has to go through the arduous task of collecting evidence even though delays have made the trail cold.

That was deliberate.

(my emphasis)

The Pig People of finance are still very busy burying their poop and skimming the markets to make up their losses.

This has gone on for two-and-one-half presidential terms.

"Don't look Back" was a catchy song but is not a good policy for a president who inherits a system laced with fraud.

Thanks Aardvark, a few minutes with Google and I managed to locate your source. It is from Mish's blog: Janet Tavakoli on the "Myth of the Amoral Debtor"; An email from a Charlie Munger student; "Business as Usual"

I found this interesting:

I was on CNBC a few months ago and Kudlow, Santelli, and others shouted me down when I brought up predatory lending. Columbia Journalism Review and others took CNBC to task. Widespread predatory lending is well documented. This isn't a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact.

Don't you find it extremely irritating when people get shouted down by the regulars on that program? Sometimes I just want to throw a rock at them.

Ron P.

Edit: I see you have now installed the link. Thanks.

The other day Zero-hedge had a great embed from a similar interview where the talking head&boobs cut off the guest - he was talking over her head, she did not understand and took offense...

I want to do much more than just throw rocks at them ;)

Did you read the rest of that Mish column (thanks for posting the link anyway)?

I love that angry Birkshire shareholder's email explaining his dumping of Gluttons INC. stock after Pigman Munger flipped the little people the bird.

I wonder if Charlie might not be fitted with a orange jump suit and a "private room" (for safety purposes) some day?

Stoneleigh’s little sister Gwen passed away Tuesday night in Ottawa.

My condolences to Stoneleigh and her family. I lost my older sister (Gwen, actually) last year. The loss of a sibling can be tough.

Ilargi was in good form yesterday. I enjoyed this line especially:

It’s all more cynicism, power horny middle aged men dropping their pants to moon the American people, leaning out of the windows of their limos, humming along to MC Hammer’s “Can’t touch this".


Those close to me surely consider me a cynic. I can't help it and try as I may, it's very hard to be optimistic about much when one is an accomplished generalist who seeks to understand the big picture.

At least I'm not power horney. I can live with that.

Stoneleigh plans to honor her speaking engagements according to Ilargi. Good on her!

Very sad.

There's an obituary here. They're asking for donations to the Ottawa Hospital Foundation in lieu of flowers.

It amazes me what you can find Leanan.

It is indeed very sad. She was still so young, and with young children too. Cancer is cruel. We are all very sad that she was taken from us so soon. She was a pillar of her community - very involved in bring people together and making their lives better in practical ways.

I kept my scheduled commitments in Michigan and Wisconsin, albeit some of them via skype instead of in person. The remainder of this US tour will be rescheduled for the month following ASPO, after that I will be touring in Europe until Christmas.

While working on updating our net exports presentation for the ASPO conference in Washington, D.C. next month, I had a “Holy Cow Batman!” moment.

On the supply side, it appears that projecting the ratio of consumption (C) to production (P) in oil exporting countries can give us a plausible estimate, at least in some cases*, e.g. Indonesia, for when an oil exporting country approaches zero net oil exports (when C/P = 100%). C/P for total global net exports increased from 26.1% in 2005 to 29.1% in 2009. This suggests that global net oil exporters will collectively approach zero net oil exports around 2055. However, a good rule of thumb for net export declines is that the post-peak 50% depletion mark is about one-third of the way into the net export decline, which suggests that the post-2005 global supply of net oil exports (post-2005 cumulative net oil exports) will be about 50% depleted around 2021, eleven years from now.

Following is what BP shows for the C/P ratio for all net exporters with 2005 net exports of at least 100,000 bpd. Of course, the "P" component in 2009 was influenced by some voluntary reductions in production in 2009, but there is "voluntary" and there is "voluntary." With a good deal of production from older fields consisting of what Matt Simmons called "Oil stained brine," in a lot of cases producers needed to reduce the production from their older fields.

Global Net Export C/P ratios (BP):

2005: 26.1%
2006: 26.5%
2007: 27.4%
2008: 28.0%
2009: 29.1%

In simplest terms, I am projecting that the global post-2005 net export fuel gauge will be half empty around 2021.

On the demand side, I looked at the rate of increase in Chindia’s (China + India) net oil imports. BP shows total global net oil exports of 45.8 mbpd in 2005, falling to 42.7 mbpd in 2009. Over the same time frame, BP shows Chindia’s combined net oil imports increasing from 5.18 mbpd (11.3% of total) to 7.28 mbpd (17% of total). At this 2005 to 2009 rate of increase, Chindia’s combined net oil imports would account for 100% of total annual volume of global net oil exports in 2026, sixteen years from now.

*The key to this ultra simple method working appears to be that we need a steady progression in C/P, i.e., domestic consumption taking an ever greater share of production in oil exporting countries. Of course, as we all know our long term projections are probably wrong, at least to some degree; it's just a question of how wrong. However, IMO the only real questions are: (1) The slope of the long term decline in global net oil exports and (2) Who wins (and who loses) the bidding war for declining net exports.

"the global post-2005 net export fuel gauge will be half empty around 2021. "


Now WT, what about the net-kick-their-ass-until-they-hand-over-their-oil guage?

Do you think we will wait until exporters stop exporting and then invade them to bring them "freedom and democracy."

Or do you think we pull a False-Flag operation years before crunch-time?

I actually have a contrarian view of the war for oil scenario, because except for Canada, the US has to import seized oil via tankers, which are easy targets for everything from submarines to commando operations. Of course, I suppose that doesn't mean that it won't be tried; I just don't think that it will work.

I think that we need to move forward in the 21st Century by firmly embracing 19th Century electrified rail technology, i.e., IMO Alan Drake is the Man With the Plan. I think that it is inevitable that we are going to see selective abandonment of outlying suburban infrastructure.

That's what I get for asking a rational, intelligent adult that question ;)

I think there are many covert ways we can disable a country and pretend we are aiding them etc., so as to avoid overt confrontations. But I think desperation could easily escalate the situation into more of an all-out obvious oil/resource grab. Who knows. As Samsam B. said, "all bets are off as we enter Phase 2 of The Transition" (rough paraphrase).

I agree about Alan being one of the Men with a plan. But I think people like Alan and their plans will be shoved aside during the chaos.

Our leaders ignored the sober and thoughtful Alans of our world when we might still have actually had the time and capital to try alternatives. I doubt TPTB will be able to pull it off now, even if we could miraculously get credible and competent leaders in office tomorrow (forget about waiting until 2012).

Just my cynical opinion ;)

Just like the US, nations are run by small numbers of sociopaths who are only too happy to sell their fellow countrymen up the river for great personal gain. The usual method is to buy them off with large amounts of money and weapons to maintain their regimes while they provide us their resources for much less than they are worth. And prop them up militarily when needed. I doubt this game will end anytime soon, nor revert to the previous direct military conquest for resources, but there is more competition now. Those we wish to buy off will have more choices to make, and that is probably where the conflicts will begin.

Note that China is apparently deciding it's time for power-plays closer to home. What leverage does Japan have, other than a superb market for Chinese goods, in a "negotiation" for resources? It's only the first volley of posturing, and China is jerking Japan up short on rare-earth metals.

Do you think the goal is jerk Japan up short, or to send a message to the US and perhaps Taiwan?

Reminds me of the Russia/Ukraine gas feuds, which seem clearly designed to "educate" Europe while providing control value close to home.

And don't forget Russia cutting off wheat exports. Whether exporters want to send a message, or conserve resources for domestic consumption, the net impact for importers is the same. If you are run over by a speeding 18 wheeler does it really matter to you whether the driver intended to run you down?

It would be great if you and Alan re-read some of the outstanding articles at The Oil Drum, westexas.


44% of Swiss energy is oil and 80% is imported.
19th century electric trams are 'back to the future' silliness.

I assume Alan will comment in more detail, but Switzerland is a prime example historically--and currently--of what can be done to reduce the transportation related use of oil.

Regarding "Back to the Future," instead of waiting on a "Mr. Fusion" device, Alan asks a simple question, to-wit, "How did we provide for mass transportation in prior decades, with the minimal use of oil?"

Incidentally, from the concluding paragraph of the article that you linked to:

Yet, this does not mean that we cannot prepare ourselves and thereby soften the impact of these events on the Swiss population. In fact, we should have started preparing much earlier, as we have known about these problems for more than 30 years already. The longer we wait, the more difficult and costly it will be to avert the worst. If we do nothing, we'll experience the full brunt of peak oil and its consequences, unmitigated and merciless.

44% of Swiss energy is oil and 80% is imported.

In 2007 (year from memory), 3% of the energy used by transportation in Switzerland was used by SBB (their inter-city railroad). For that 3%, SBB transports 1/6th of the total passenger-km and 1/3rd of the freight tonne-km.

So "total energy use" means little if one sector provides so much "product" for so little input.

Add to this the transportation by the city trams (again little energy, but lots of transportation).

And Swiss voters approved (1998 from memory) a two decade (till @ 2020) 31 billion Swiss franc investment in SBB. This is equivalent to over $1 trillion for the USA. The modal share by electrified rail will increase with this investment. Another investment under construction is 1.5 billion Chf to expand rail capacity in Zurich (1,000 trains/day, all electrified).

Most of the oil use in Switzerland is optional. The Swiss are rich and many will drive to work instead of taking an extra 11 minutes to get there by tram. But the highly energy efficient, oil-free option is there if needed.

SBB uses 16.7 Hz electricity, 90% from their own hydroelectric plants. The remaining 10% comes from the 50 Hz grid (converted to 16.7 Hz). The Swiss grid is basically half hydro and half Swiss nukes. Switzerland produces about as much electricity as they consume.

But the Swiss have found a deal with France. Late at night they buy almost free French nuke electricity and hold back their hydro and pump up 12 GW of pumped storage. At peak they let their hydro run and pumped storage down (some cycle losses) and sell it to the highest bidder (Germany, back to France, Italy, etc.) at roughly 5 times what they paid the French. Pumped storage consumes energy (70% to 80% cycle efficiency) but makes money. An "energy import" on the books.

So your statistics do not present an accurate picture of the Swiss situation.


PS: What is the link to your flow chart ? I would like to download it.

If you love hydro so much, why don't you relocate to someplace like Brazil which gets ~90% of its electricity from hydro and is a net exporter of both oil and ethanol.


PS: What is the link to your flow chart ? I would like to download it.-ad

Dr. Piot, some boffin in the Swiss government.


net exporter of both oil and ethanol

You're right about ethanol but be careful about that oil graph at the EIA site. It's in the projection out past 2008 where production rises and eventually crosses the consumption line which their projections keep flat. The BP data, which is more up-to-date, show a different story:

Of course, no one at the EIA in charge of forecasting could possibly have imagined that Brazil -- a rapidly developing, rapidly growing nation -- would start using more oil. I mean, what are the chances of that happening? ;-)

Best Hopes for making reasonable predictions and factually correct statements.

And, while I'm at it, how about creating graphics that make a clear distinction between measured history and an imagined future.


Current affairs in Switzerland, from a 3 week stay about 15 miles NE 0f Zurich.

The Swiss are proud of their massive tunnel project [ ahead of schedule ] They are also approve of the govt decision 2 years ago to rebuild the road system between Zurich and Bern in anticipation of 'imminent' financial / economic restrictions. Mostly external.

They are less happy with the rail upgrade. The rail system is exquisite, but pricy. The cheapest pass system still costs about 60 cents a mile. The upgrade will cause price of tickets to rise. The high price of rail travel is causing traffic jams daily. This is with petrol costing $1.70 / liter. When rail ticket prics rise, traffic will increase.

As an outside observer, I sympathized with their short term complaints, but could only marvel at their quality of life. Every small town has its local industries. My locale had a factory making sheets and comforters. Also a company that makes custom trucks; all wheel drive, capable of driving side hill on 45 degree slopes to harvest forests. They also have fabulous water resources and most towns are built where old water driven mills once stood.

The home where I stayed had just been rebuilt after 350 years. Local companies prefabricated the house and rebuilt it in three days [ minus tile roof ] This is the norm. Oh , forgot the local dairy/ cheese, cattle/butchers, Produce/markets with supplies delivered by tractor. This small town boy felt like a hick.

Yup, everything we aspire to here. Resiliency, decent govt., sensible military, local resources. So, when do we get started in the USA?

These are the good old days

Yes SBB is expensive. Without the half-price subscription it is about 5x price what you get for the same distance in Minnesota, say. But then you go to the right spot in the mountains and you can get free bus or cog train service. You pay either through quality on-time service, or you pay through local community or canton taxes. And then you also pay more for local goods and services, and wonder why it costs so much, until you realize that everyone else needs a sufficient income as well so they can also buy the expensive goods and services. Once you get past that, then it all makes sense.

Who needs a false-flag when your tame media will report that your country is "45 minutes from attack" by weapons of mass destruction, based on an intelligence report that turned out to be the ramblings of an alcoholic taxi driver?


Exactly what I have been thinking Ralph.

Civilization is on extremely thin ice (pardon the pun fellow climate changers).

We are One Stupid Mistake away from disaster.

Hope those High Frequency Trading Robots don't catch a bad cold - lots of viruses floating around this time of year...

Hope some obscure ArchDuke (*cough*Munger) doesn't git his self shot by some ornery, disgruntled peasants ...

Hope some chinese trawler captain doesn't get detained by the japanese military... oh wait, that's in the article at the top of the drumbeat today...


I wonder if those ratios will hold up in the future as the price of oil goes much higher as I expect it will. Consider this, for countries that peaked in the past the penalty for foregoing exports in favor of domestic consumption was determined by global prices at that time. As global production decline really kicks in, and the price of oil rises substantially (as I expect), the penalty for not exporting becomes proportionately higher. I expect this could soften the rate at which exports decline and push back the date of zero exports. Your thoughts?

Of course the honest answer is I don't know, but in a rising price environment--which we have been in since 2005 (in the sense that annual oil prices have not fallen below the $57 level that we saw in 2005)--many oil exporters, at least in what I call the Phase One Decline, will see rising cash flow from export sales, even as the volume of their net exports declines, which would have the probable effect of stimulating domestic demand. But as noted above, I think that the long term direction of the net export slope is down; the question is the slope of that line (and who gets the oil).

wt, I would also be interested in your take on Russia where consumption crashed in 1991 and never recovered even as oil production increased tremendously. link At first, this appeared to me to be an exception to ELM, but on further reflection I'm not so sure. Because even if internal consumption stays static, exports will still decline faster than production (on a percentage basis) as production declines.

Even so, I'm still searching for an explanation for how Russia is getting by with so much less consumption. I'm surprised that we are not seeing consumption growing.

Prior to our 2007 presentation, the ASPO guys were quite skeptical of Sam's projections for Russian consumption, but so far it looks like Sam was right. Also, so far, Russian production has been toward the upper end of his projections, but on the other hand annual production has basically been flat since 2007. Given the advanced state of depletion in older Russian fields, the final decline, when it sets it, could be pretty sharp. However, the wild card remains the frontier basins, but IMO they are to Russia as Alaska is to the US, i.e., helpful, but no panacea.

2007 Russian projections:


Top Five Paper:


I wanted to add that karlof1 gave what appears to me to be a sensible, if frightening, account for the decline in consumption in Russia:

If you investigate the condition of the Russian people, you will see they have yet to recover to the standard of living prevailing prior to 1991. What happened there was truely horrifying, especially for elders. Millions died long before their time--Millions. Thus a lot of people that would use petroleum products disappeared as users--the ultimate in Demand Destruction--and those left have much fewer resources to spend. If you only look at Moscow, you are missing the whole picture. Further, as with the USA, The Soviet military, which morphed to CIS then just Russia, used the largest amounts of petrtoleum products, and really didn't start to recover until 2002, and I'm pretty certain current Russian military usage is well below that of the USSR 20 years ago. With Russia's population rising while becoming more affluent and its military exercising more, usage will climb and net exports will decline quicker. link

Millions of Russians died after the collapse-- possibly over 25 million, although the numbers seem to be hazy.

A loss of 85% of your GDP, and then a kleptocracy made survival challenging.
And they had free housing and most had gardens.
The US will not have these advantages.

"Millions of Russians died after the collapse-- possibly over 25 million, although the numbers seem to be hazy."


This is pretty much the answer, although I'd add that Russia has practically no manufacturing industries. The roads are in horrible shape and aren't being maintained. Both of those are large consumers of petroleum products that aren't consuming.

Have you ever visited Russia? I was in St. Petersburg in 2008 and the roads were freshly paved, new highways were under construction (major ring road projects, not just a few km's) and the streets were clogged with cars (nothing like the Soviet days). Moscow is no different. They are also building massive road bridges in the Vladivostok area so it's not just a few locations where there is development.

As for no manufacturing industries, that is just a plain nonsense assertion. Manufacturing accounted for 31.6% of the GDP in 2007 (http://www.gks.ru/bgd/regl/b08_48/IssWWW.exe/Stg/01-01.htm). Russia still has its own military industry that is second to only the US in the world and is going to get an additional infusion of over $600 billion in the next 10 years. Russia still has an automobile industry that is undergoing modernization, i.e. it will not disappear. In terms of trucks, Russian production is top notch. Russia has its own aerospace industry, makes its own brands of airliners and rockets and this industry is not going away. Even the severely underdeveloped microelectronics industry is getting to the stage where Russia will be able to produce its own 90 nm microchips (still behind but good enough for unique CPU designs like the Elbrus-S (http://www.mcst.ru/b_8-9.shtml). Just like housing construction was a primary driver of economic activity in the US it is important in Russia too, but unlike the US it is driven by real demand and not a speculative bubble. Building construction involves significant industrial activity and Russia has its own domestic production.

Since Russia hasn't joined the WTO free trade idiocy it has not de-industrialized like the US. Check where most of your consumer goods are made. Right now the economic evolution of the US and Russia is heading in opposite directions but not in the US's favour.

Thanks for chiming in, dissident. I would say that Russia is now starting to make up for lost time and is very busy modernizing. Within a few more years, the shock of the 1991-1997 years will have ebbed further, and the populace will use its rising affluence to increase consumption in all areas, energy included. By 2020, a whole generation will be coming of age that never experienced the "Yeltsin Depression" or knew life within the USSR. IMO, while it currently "looks" west, its long term synergies are located to the east and south, and Russia will finally become an Asian country. I think it interesting to observe what Russia will do to prepare for the time when the energy bonanza has run its course.

With Russia's population rising while becoming more affluent and its military exercising more, usage will climb and net exports will decline quicker.

Err ... Russian population has declined 5% since 2000 see Jonathan's excellent browser: http://mazamascience.com/Population/IDB/

I was writing about the future, not what has already passed.

The population of Russia is 141,927,297 as of 1 January 2010.[2][3] The population hit a historic peak at 148,689,000 in 1991, just before the breakup of the Soviet Union, but then began a decade-long decline, falling at a rate of about 0.5% per year due to declining birth rates and rising death rates. However the decline began to slow considerably in recent years, and in 2009 Russia recorded annual population growth for the first time in 15 years, with growth of 23.3 thousand.


Here is what BP shows for Russian production (C+C+NGL's):

2007; 10.0 mbpd
2008: 9.9
2009: 10.0

I would guess that lower population plays a role. http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:...


I think we are just seeing the opposit. E.g. in germany oil imports YOY for the first half of 2010 are down by 11%. So there is no investment opportunity left for manufacturing oil consuming machines. All investments are pressed to parts of the world, where oil is still available. All german truck maker are building up capacities in the BRIC region.

In regard of cars and China the development is turning mad.
Volkswagen was happy to announce that they will hit their 2018 - production targets already in 2012. That was at the beginning of the year.
In summer 2010 they projected that they will double their chinese sales by 2013.

I see a shift comming: Education and skills are on the loosing side. Posessing ressources is everything. This regions will develop by attracting capital and consuming their ressources.

I see a shift coming: Education and skills are on the loosing side. Possessing resources is everything. This regions will develop by attracting capital and consuming their resources.

This already happens now, but China is showing signs of wanting BOTH sides of this coin.

To add-value to resources, you need Education and skills, and the odd road-block helps too.

Seen in their moves to restrict exports of raw rare earth minerals, and buying supply-chains around the world.

Only a 3rd world country allows someone else control of the biggest profit flows.

Education, skills, and resources are the keys to prosperity in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the US is zero for three in this contest.

And, as a result, the US is on the verge of achieving third-world status. See the Macleans Magazine article:
Third world America: Collapsing bridges, street lights turned off, cuts to basic services: the decline of a superpower

Despite its position as the world’s unrivalled superpower, international comparisons show the U.S. slipping on a number of fronts. On education, the United States has been falling behind, in everything from science and engineering to basic literacy. The U.S. once had the world’s highest proportion of young adults with post-secondary degrees; now it ranks 12th, according to the College Board, an association of education institutions. (Canada is now number one.)

The US now imports 2/3 of its oil, and many of its other resources. So, if you don't have education, and you don't have the skills, and you don't have resources, what can you export to pay for that energy you need to import to keep your A/C running and your SUV on the road? A: nothing.

Now, from the Canadian perspective (which is where I am looking at it from), this is not that good either, because if you have the the resources, and you have the education and skills to produce them, but your main trading partner can't afford to pay for them, where do you sell them? A: probably China.

Now, many Americans are stuck in the 20th century, and think their educational system and industrial infrastructure is still the best in the world. No it's not. They have no idea how good the best is these days.

what can you export

What does the US have that is "unique" to export? Software/chip design and even hollywood all have others who can do similar work. I belive Bollywood ships more units than Hollywood.

I am assuming that your figures are based upon BP figures. I also assume that these BP figures for the OPEC countries are based upon the current numbers given out by OPEC countries which may be as much as twice the actual figures for reserves.
Have you run any numbers on what the effect might be, if in fact OPEC reserve numbers are inflated by a factor of 2, on the projected future OPEC production and how that will affect the OPEC exports?
ie, if Saudi Arabia goes into decline much sooner than expected due to lower real reserves than those quoted by OPEC what will be the results in projected production and exports.

Actually, I am using "Cowboy Integration." A net export decline curve approximates a triangle. The 2005 global net export rate was about 46 mbpd (BP). If we have about 50 years of global net oil exports, the area under the curve would be roughly 1/2 X 16.8 Gb/year X 50 years = 420 Gb in projected post-2005 global cumulative net exports. Note that this puts all 2005 net exporters into one basket. As time goes on more and more net exporters in this group will become net importers.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, despite higher prices their post-2005 net export rates have been consistently well below their 2005 rate of 9.1 mbpd, so IMO they are well into their net export decline, and probably past their final production peak.

From this, it looks to me like:

1. We have already reached the peak in oil available imports – supply is decreasing, at least linearly.

2. There is no peak foreseeable for demand – demand will grow and continue to grow exponentially. Demand seems to grow with population and standard of living (urbanization?)

We seem to have a Malthusian situation – maybe even worse. At least in his analysis of food and population, food production was given a positive linear growth. Here it looks like we might have a negative (linear?) growth of supply of available imports and a positive, exponential growth in demand.

Am I seeing things too darkly?

Nope. IMO, the US is well on its way to becoming "free" of our dependence on foreign sources of oil, as we are gradually forced to make do with a declining share of a falling volume of global net oil exports. As noted above, I think that selective abandonment of outlying suburban areas is inevitable.


From my August, 2006 “Net Oil Exports Revisted” Essay:

A Proposed Triage Plan

I believe that vast expanses of American Suburbia are going to become virtually abandoned in the years ahead. Alan Drake has noted that a good deal of suburbia was so poorly constructed that a lot of it is biodegradable. Alan has outlined how we can go back to what we used to have: electric trolley cars connected to electric light rail lines.

CBS Sunday Morning, on 8/20/06, had a segment on "tiny houses." They profiled a home designer and builder who specialized in building very small functional homes of about 100 square feet. You can find more information on his website.

What this builder has realized, and what millions of Americans are just beginning to also realize, is that anything over 100 square feet or so per person is not a necessity; it is optional consumption, a want, instead of a need.*

The US is not Switzerland, but Alan Drake has described how Swiss per capita oil consumption in the Second World War was about 0.25% of current US per capita oil consumption. They did it primarily by electrifying their transportation system.

I propose a sort of triage operation: "tiny" homes and multifamily housing along electric mass transit lines. In my opinion, it is the only way that we can preserve some semblance of a civilized society. The suburbs are, by and large, a lost cause.

*This concept seems, with some exceptions (e.g., Bill Gates, as Leanan has pointed out), more popular with the male of the species than with females.

Demand is not an independent variable. If supply falls, then the price will rise until demand falls to match supply.

Re: Ocean cooling 'contributed to global warming hiatus during mid-20th century'

Andrew Revkin has a good discussion of this paper on his blog, DotEarth. I think this paper may turn out to be rather important in the "debate" regarding future climate change. I hope Andy will post my comment...

E. Swanson

North Dakota lake swallows land and buildings:

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. – It's been called a slow-growing monster: a huge lake that has steadily expanded over the last 20 years, swallowing up thousands of acres, hundreds of buildings and at least two towns in its rising waters.

Devils Lake keeps getting larger because it has no natural river or stream to carry away excess rain and snowmelt. Now it has climbed within 6 feet of overflowing, raising fears that some downstream communities could be washed away if the water level isn't reduced.

And those worries are compounded by another problem: Scientists believe the pattern of heavy rain and snow that filled the basin is likely to continue for at least another decade.


I was quick to blame this on AGW, but farther down the page:

Climate studies based on tree rings and lake sediment indicate that similar wet periods occurred in the Devils Lake Basin many times during the past 2,000 years, the agency said. The last time the lake overflowed was sometime prior to statehood in 1889.

Best hopes for more, better climate data.

that similar wet periods occurred in the Devils Lake Basin many times during the past 2,000 years

That only makes sense. If the lake had no outflow it would gradually accumulated dissolved salts and become a salt lake. The fact that it isn't salty, must mean it has periods of outflow.

Aside from the AGW irrelevance of this piece, why is nobody trying to build a canal or series of canals and give the lake a regulated outflow. It's not like the lake is trapped in a mountain valley. Can't state or federal governments in the US afford to do something about this before there is some cataclysm?

I used to live in ND....9 years in total over a span of 20 years.

If I recall correctly, there was a plan mooted to provide drainage to Devil's Lake, but the drainage would flow North into Canada, and the Canadians raised objections due to the possibility of pollutants in the Devil's Lake outflow coming into their country.

Squatters moving into upscale neighborhoods

Luxury homes that are for sale or foreclosed are often unoccupied and under the care of asset managers who typically may be responsible for a lengthy list of idle properties. Many mansions are isolated, walled, cloaked by trees or otherwise hard for passersby to see.

“Squatters realize these places may not get showing for months at a time,” said Nelson. “That’s what makes these properties more of a target.”

have no sympathy for the banks, but if I were a manager, I would try to find a way to rent the properties on a month to month basis to people who would at least pay the basic utility bills and keep the places secure against vandalism, arson, and thieves-not to mention squatters.

I'm sure there are still lots of highly reputable teachers, cops, and small business people around who could afford to live in such places for say five hundred or a thousand per month plus the water and sewer bills and post a bond ensuring that there would be no damages to the property.The five hundred or aa thousand wouldn't matter much, but a wild party thrown by a bunch of drunk teenagers could cost megabucks in terms of repairs and legal entanglements.

I don't think it will be too much longer before the problem gets to be of such a magnitude that something along these lines will become necessary.

Nobody will post a bond, though. Modest deposit, maybe. But if you get even decent renters, that's good enough.

Renting does cause issues with valuation, though. If you rent it cheap, you will end up selling it cheaper.

Yep. My experience with rentals is that the more you charge the better they take care of the property. So the banks will need to rent those places just below market. And teachers, nurses, visiting scholars and the like are pretty good candidates.

In another twist, this house is very close to our location. Went on the market at $500,000 then dropped to $350,000.. now foreclosed and up for auction.


The twist is that the bank is clearing cutting every stick of timber off the land, hauling and cutting ,day and night to clear it prior to the auction.

Don in Maine

I haven't looked into why, not having any ntimber to sell, but some species such as yellow poplar, which is actually rather plentiful, have been fetching atractive prices recently-I wonder where the wood is going?

The sale and manufacture of furniture and biulding materials appears to still be way off from previous levels.

We might be closer to a wood supply crunch than most would suspect.

Are you sure its the bank and not a "squatter"? We've had some issues here (northern calif) where wood thieves just pull up to a tree along side the road, whip out their chainsaws and start cutting. On my street they didn't look up, dropped the tree on a power line, saw the sparks and lit out. The property owner and PG&E had to finish the job.

It's the bank, full scale operation, 2 skidders and 6 or 8 flat bed loads of tree length spruce and fir leaving daily. Most likely destination is the Verso pulp mill.

Don in Maine

A SWAG on the value of the lumber ?

The auction value of a grand home surrounded by tree stumps and drag marks cannot be very high.

An odd decision.


1) Some people hate trees
2) Depending on the mortgage - the foreclosed on may be on the hook for the difference between the note and the auction price.


Wack the trees, drive down the price and sell very cheap at auction. Collect the note - auction difference from the prev. owner, insurance firm or perhaps any Government backstop.

That's why a lot of banks are letting people stay in houses for free. If they can't sell them or rent them for a profit, why not let the "owners" stay? They may not pay anything, but they'll at least discourage vandals and squatters.

I would try to find a way to rent the properties on a month to month basis to people who would at least pay the basic utility bills and keep the places secure against vandalism, arson, and thieves-not to mention squatters.

I was surprised that the house across the street from mine has squatters. It had been a rental house that was forclosed, I don't think they are paying rent, but no-one (I presume that means the bank) seems to be in a hurry to do anything about it. The squatters are keeping a low profile.

I have a proposed plan for my own city to take vacant properties by eminent domain, transfer them to our housing authority, contract the management to any of our many career landlords, and then rent to the would-be-squatters.

Amid Tension, China Blocks Vital Exports

I posted the other day that the conflict between China and Japan deserves more attention. Now China has pulled a very ominous trigger by halting exports of rare earth elements (China controls 90% of the world's supply) to Japan. These elements are crucial to new technologies and cutting it off is a very serious move -- to me it is scarier than a military threat. China's willingness to use this trade weapon against Japan raises the obvious question of when they would use it against the U.S.

In a sense they have already used it against us by recently announcing restrictions on exports. Many expect a total ban on exports in the future. The China will hold a near monopoly on the production of advanced electronic devices suach as cell phones, high-tech batteries, wind turbines and much more.

What will Japan do now?

Punt ???

( I think I hear the ice cracking under our feet ...)

Japan is in a very difficult position. After WW II it lost its possessions of Korea, Manchuria, Formosa and numerous Pacific islands. So it is stuck with 127,078,679 people in a country of 364,485 sq km of land which is mostly mountainous and largely devoid of mineral resources and only 11.64% of the land is arable.

So Japan has to import raw materials and basic goods for both its own consumption and to produce high-value goods and services for export in order to pay for imports.

After WW II, US policy was to support Japan as a workshop supplying the US markets in order to bolster its value as our "aircraft carrier" adjacent to the Soviet Union and Red China. In the '80s, responding to a perceived competitive threat and the dissolution of communism, we shifted our policy to withdraw support from Japan and instead support the "Asian Tiger" economies which would be more dependent on the US and not so uppity.

Possibly we will shift back to supporting Japan, but we are probably lacking the economic resources to do so effectively. Therefore, it can be expected that we will support Japan with a lot of saber rattling.


Saying Japan lost it's "possessions" is gilding the lilly. Japan lost the territories it invaded and brutally subjected to its will. What makes Japan's current situation so precarious is not only it's lack of resources, but the lack of goodwill towards Japan that extends throughout much of the pacific rim. There are not a few countries there who would like nothing more than to see Japan founder.

Also, I'm totally unfamiliar with any withdrawel of U.S. support for Japan in favor of Asian Tigers. But the Asian Tigers are an interesting situation. The tigers include Hong Kong (part of China), Taiwan (ethnically and culturally Chinese), Singapore (pretty much run by ethnic or ex-pat Chinese), and South Korea (culturally independent). In other words, Japan stands culturally alone and has few friends in it's neck of the woods. They certainly have reason to feel uncomfortable.

Prior to 1854 Japan existed as a low-energy, rice farming culture on the home islands. The population was more or less in balance with the home island resources.

This situation was ended by the "opening" of Japan by Commodore Perry of the US Navy in 1854.

As the Japanese awoke to the global situation, they cast about for the most successful model nations to copy. In particular, they copied Great Britian, which was also an island nation with limited resources which had set itself up as a manufacturing powerhouse that relied upon trade with its imperial possessions for the import of raw materials and the export of finished goods.

The Japanese emulated Great Britain by shifting to a high-energy, trading and manufacturing economy. With limited resources in the home islands they had to acquire colonies. Korea and Taiwan increased their agricultural and mineral resouces and they embarked on industrialization to match. They had established a foothold in Manchuria after the Russo-Japanese War and the coal and mineral wealth of Manchuria was vital to continued Japanese industrial expansion. Lastly, partly due to the "open door" policy of the United States, China was open to be picked over by every imperial power, and it was protected by none. Japan took advantage of the situation. Thus they supported the increase in Japanese population from 35 million in 1873 to 70 million in 1935.

As for the current situation, you are right that Japan has few friends in the area. But it is also true that Japan has few friends outside the area either. The US companies still see Japanese companies as potent competitors in information technology, autos, steel, shipbuilding, etc. The European companies see the Japanese companies in much the same light.

However, Korea is becoming much like Japan in that it is also culturally isolated and being seen as a potent competitor economically.

How the relationship between Japan, Korea, and China develops will be one of the most important issues in the future.

Merrill, nice synopsis. You are right that South Korea is culturally distinct from China, just as Japan is, but South Korea doesn't have the WW II baggage that Japan has. They will get along just fine with China. Also, South Korea still has significant mineral and agricultural resources compared to Japan.

Here's something you might find indicative of Japan's continuing cultural myopia -- my wife works in a Japanese firm. Since she is Taiwanese, she reads Chinese characters which still constitute a large portion of Japanese writing. Her Japanese managers are frequently surprised that she can read "Japanese" characters.

North Korea has more mineral resources, as well. If the North and South reunite, they would be in a pretty good position -- which is something that none of their neighbors would favor.

Taiwan is of interest with respect to the evolution of Chinese influence as well. I've been told that the Taiwanese population consists of three groups with differing interests: native non-Chinese Taiwanese, Chinese pre-Japanese rule immigrants, and post WW II mainland refugee Chinese. The latter group dominated politically for many decades. The Parlement remained essentially fixed in its composition because elections could not be held in the mainland districts that the MPs represented.

That's true, Taiwan has three main groups -- the south is populated by people that resemble Phillipinos more than Chinese. Then you have the "native" Taiwanese Chinese, many of whom still speak the Taiwanese dialect. Finally, you have the Kuomandang "nationalist" Chinese who came over after the communists took over. The nationalists not only dominated politically, they also dominated culturally suppressing the Taiwanese dialect. You never hear about the Taiwanese resistance to the nationalists -- about 50,000 died, from what I have learned. For decades, intermarriage was not acceptable to either group.

Now things have calmed down. Nobody cares much about the difference.

Here's another measure of Japanese isolation:
An old boss of mine had a son who was a language prodigy besides being an engineering manager for HP. He was sent to Japan to meet a Japanese business person of some sort. Before the meeting he called the man and arranged the meeting. Of course he spoke perfect Japanese. When he met the guy he simply could not convice him that it was he on the telephone. "That was a native Japanese" the guy said. I think in person he was able to convice himself that the man's Japanese was flawed, but when he couldn't see him he accepted his language as natural.
True story.

This situation was ended by the "opening" of Japan by Commodore Perry of the US Navy in 1854.


On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China. Its mission was "to proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas" and unite the whole world in Confucian harmony.

When it returned in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in China's long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. Also concealed was how the Chinese colonized America before the Europeans and transplanted in America and other countries the principal economic crops that have fed and clothed the world.

Unveiling incontrovertible evidence of these astonishing voyages, 1421 rewrites our understanding of history. Our knowledge of world exploration as it has been commonly accepted for centuries must now be reconceived due to this landmark work of historical investigation.

And it would seem China had more going on long before.....

You are, I suppose, referring to Rowan Gavin Paton Menzies book 1421: The Year China Discovered the World. It is apparently not a hypothesis that is given much credence among historians.


I have not read this particular book but I found the subject interesting and pursued it some years ago;there is some evidence in support of a Chinese exploratory expedition to the interior parts of North America but it is far from conclusive.

I am willing to belive that the explorers made it here , but the colonization is questionable indeed.

The evidence I found most intrigueing is -if it is real- an old manuscript detailing some geopraphical/ethnographic details recorded by the supposed exploratory expedition.

This was pre net days and I have long since forgotten the relevant titles and authors names.

I do find the evidence for a widely dispersed stone age but eventually unsuccessful colonization of certain parts of New England to be very convincing;the supposed storage huts built out of large stones-really large stones-by early American settlers have proven to be aligned in such a way in many cases as to indicate they were used for ceremonial purposes and keeping track of the seasons -calenders in short.Having some first hand acquaintance with people who were semisubsistence , I can say without any doubt that nobody who just wanted aplace to store thier stuff would have put in the the extraordinary labor needed to build these sturctures entirely by hand.Nor are they situated in places that make sense in relation to the best farmable nearby ground.

Further more the inscriptions on many stones found in the area have been deciphered;they are memorial stones in nearly every case.

In a sense they have already used it against us by recently announcing restrictions on exports. Many expect a total ban on exports in the future. The China will hold a near monopoly on the production of advanced electronic devices suach as cell phones, high-tech batteries, wind turbines and much more.

What will Japan do now?

Not just Japan, but much of the world. But, China's not that stupid. They need mass imports of raw materials to make their economy run. China is also not ignorant of the fact that it can't feed itself. If China cuts off Japan, Japan starts shutting a lot of its manufacturing plants in China, putting millions out of work. Precisely what China doesn't need.

If it starts affecting the rest of the world, freighters of grain/coal/iron ore/whathaveyou won't set sail to China.

Once they're done playing tough, they'll work this out.

Indeed, they will work it out. But to China's advantage, I can say confidently. Of course China still needs raw materials, but base materials like iron and aluminum can be sourced from various places. China's unique position is having a near monopoly on the rarest and most essential elements for modern technology. They aren't stupid, they will play their hand well, but the fact that they are playing it at all at this point tells you just how confident they have become.

But it is transitory. The "rare earth" elements are not that rare. China drove out almost all competing mines by forcing prices down below the cost of their production (who knows the Chinese costs).

A major new find in Greenland, among other possibilities.

I suspect that some major Japanese firms would be willing to provide capital for new start-up rare earth mines.

When the USA embargoed soybean exports under Nixon (to keep domestic prices from soaring), Brazil found easy capital to expand their soybean production.


Presuming they can find said capital. I heard there was an economic downturn recently. Who knew?

In any case, the lead times to bring the US back up to producing, say, neodymium at the rate China has been doing will be the flaw in the plan. While the deposits may exist, as with British collieries, I doubt they'll be turning out sizeable loads of the stuff any time soon, making China's grandstanding that much more potent.

Rare earths are indeed rare for two main reasons: economic and geological. Yes, China can produce rare earths at below cost, environmental concerns be damn. All rare earths are concentrated in only a few economically feasible ores in the world. Yes, we have more gold in the ocean than we have in all of the world's mines, but we don't mine gold in the ocean do we?

And of course the third problem is the scalability of wind (neodynium etc.) and PV solar (indium etc.). We are talking about 100 to 1000 times here. Even if we get rid of all environmental laws, we won't have enough to scale alternatives to anything meaningful. Going forward, I expect for strategic reason the US will have to allow for the mining of these critical rare earths. And I suspect, alternative energy will not be its first and most important use.

but we don't mine gold in the ocean do we?

Glomar Explorer did go after the gold-class K129........

To me the most fascinating part of this NY Times article is the evidence of a huge cultural/historical shift that is buried on the second page:

The Chinese export halt is likely to prompt particular alarm in Japan, which has few natural resources and has long worried about its dependence on imports. The United States was the main supplier of oil to Japan in the 1930s, and the imposition of an American oil embargo on Japan in 1941, in an effort to curb Japanese military expansionism, has been cited by some historians as one of the reasons for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

When I was a kid in the 1970's, the attack on Pearl Harbor was generally believed to be "unprovked and dastardly" as Roosevelt put it in his Day of Infamy speech.

I first became aware that "unprovoked" might not be completely true about 15 years ago as I was looking at maps of monthly Sea Surface Temperature observations and saw that regular ship tracks between LA and Tokyo all of a sudden disappeared after August 1941.

Searching for an explanation I found a few fringe pieces on the web describing the Oil and Steel embargoes that the US, British and Dutch put on the Japanese in 1941. Later, this information started appearing in the ultimate reference -- a Wikipedia article.

And now it's there in the Gray Lady with all the appropriate ambiguation so as not to offend:

"... has been cited by a few histories as one of the reasons ..."

Good Lord! Just say it:

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was in response to the Oil, Steel and Iron embargoes placed on them by the US, British and Dutch.

Why is this important?

First off, I think that more and more educated people are willing to think about history in terms of access to resources. This is hugely important! If the historians and journalists are thinking this way then perhaps the policy makers and economists are only a few decades behind. ;-)

I also believe that an accurate understanding of history and the examples it provieds is critically important for us technological types if we are going to make predictions about a future of resource constraints. My read of history says: political actions are more important than geological factors in the short term.

For instance, how many people know about the Potash Embargo of 1914 and the (dramatic) effect it had on prices?

(chart from the US Minerals databrowser)

Hmmm? A specialty mineral that was only mined in one country. And that country decided, for whatever reason, to place an embargo on that mineral. ... Naaah! That could never happen again.

The world is so much more fascinating when you have a little curiosity about historical data and the history that explains it.

Happy Exploring!


Jon, thanks for that great link. And your point is not missed. I can only wonder what troubles lay before us as competition for the remaining scraps grows intense.

It may not be as bad as all that. WWI & WWII weren't wars over scraps....they were fighting for control of the massive world economy they knew would emerge (and the resources to run it). There is a horrible sense in which it was rational. (Whose language & culture dominates this vast technoextravaganza? The winner's)

Yes, there will be plenty of fights over scraps. But nations will pull their punches, afraid of damage to themselves that is not easy to repair.

The middle east is another matter altogether. What remains are far more than scraps. And they are arming to guard & fight over it. From a couple of days ago:

Gulf states in $123bn US arms spree

The Arab states of the Gulf have embarked on one of the largest re-armament exercises in peacetime history, ordering US weapons worth some $123bn as they seek to counter Iran’s military power.

A package of US arms worth more than $67bn for Saudi Arabia accounts for the largest single component of this military build-up, providing a huge boost to the American defence industry.

And as I remember there are posters here on TOD who discount the 'over resources' version and insist the event was a sneak attack, unknown to the US government. Perhaps they will step forward and re-assert that claim?

Of course it was a sneak attack, but yes it was provoked. The Japanese was at war with China and had been since 1937. There was a US embargo on Japan in a vain attempt to assist the Chinese in their unprovoked war with Japan. Japan quite naturally took offence.

The attack should have been anticipated, but due to the usual incompetence of the military and the defense department, it was not. But the embargo was not calculated to cause an attack. That is just conspiracy theory bullcrap by people who see a conspiracy in every action by the government, or anyone else for that matter..

Ron P.

But the embargo was not calculated to cause an attack.

And your historical documents to support this are where? Cuz I'm showing what I've got below. Lets see your hand on this matter, hmmm?

That is just conspiracy theory bullcrap

Conspiracy Theorists like Ex-President Herbert Hoover also saw the manipulations leading to war and he warned the United States in August, 1941: "The American people should insistently demand that Congress put a stop to step-by-step projection of the United States into undeclared war"?

Institute for Historical Review (nice sounding name eh?)
A Time For War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Path to Pearl Harbor, by Robert Smith Thompson. New York: Pren- tice Hall, 1991. xiii+449 pages.

Commenting on Roosevelt's policy of "deterring" Japan through economic pressure, Thompson writes (p. 401):

Here was no mere deterrence; here was deterrence that amounted to provocation. Was the provocation deliberate? Three times, twice to Lord Halifax and once to British premier Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt intimated that he was trying to force "an incident" that would bring America more deeply into the fray. He may have hated war, but he presided over policies that came to be indistinguishable from incitements to war.

So for Ron's long standing position on 'conspiracy theory bullcrap' to be correct:
The three communications would have to not exist.
The communications would not "intimated that he was trying to force "an incident""

Now I have not found the 3 communications in question - but I've not looked all that hard. Perhaps someone better steeped in history has a source for the three letters? Then "we" can get on with deciding if the language is clear or not.

There is (alleged as I can't find) an Army Board from 1944 that said

everything that the Japanese were planning to do was known to the United States

ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/Liberal-Arts/History/pha/pearl.harbor/misc/army... used to be a source.

Another book Charles Beard PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT AND THE COMING OF WAR 1941, p 424

11 February 1941 - FDR proposed sacrificing 6 cruisers and 2 carriers at Manila to get into war. Navy Chief Stark objected: "I have previously opposed this and you have concurred as to its unwisdom. Particularly do I recall your remark in a previous conference when Mr. Hull suggested (more forces to Manila) and the question arose as to getting them out and your 100% reply, from my standpoint, was that you might not mind losing one or two cruisers, but that you did not want to take a chance on losing 5 or 6."

(does not support the embargo position directly but does show a desire for deeper involvement PER the embargo charge)

Other pro-war charges:
# 14 August - At the Atlantic Conference, Churchill noted the "astonishing depth of Roosevelt's intense desire for war." Churchill cabled his cabinet "(FDR) obviously was very determined that they should come in."
# 18 October - diary entry by Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes: "For a long time I have believed that our best entrance into the war would be by way of Japan."

Oh, and there is this gem
"Compare this statement with what FDR said at the Atlantic Conference 4 months before Pearl: "Everything was to be done to force an 'incident' to justify hostilities." Given that a Japanese attack was the only possible incident, then FDR had said he would do it. "
(anyone have a link to the transcript? Best I can find is the book reference
The Embargo started July 25th, 1941 and it included a freeze on all bank transfers. (Well ahead of the Atlantic Conference 4 months before Pearl)

Another claim I've not spotted a link for:
7 Oct 1940 - Navy IQ analyst McCollum wrote an 8 point memo on how to force Japan into war with US. Beginning the next day FDR began to put them into effect and all 8 were eventually accomplished.

I've made a case here - lets see what data Ron has to support his position.

You do realize that the Institute for Historical Review is mainly devoted to publishing articles claiming the Holocaust never happened?

Either the 3 communications (2 to Lord Halifax the other to Churchill) exist or they do not. Same with the Navy IQ analyst McCollum 8 point memo. Same with the statements about what was said at the Atlantic Conference 4 months before Pearl Harbor.

Here is a copy of the McCollum memo.

Rather damning. Section H and point 10.

It is nice to see the tradition of 'The message doesn't agree with what I want so I'll attack the messenger.' continues. IHR was reporting what was written by Robert Smith Thompson. I note that Ron has not admitted he was wrong nor has he published any data supporting his position.

As for "the Holocaust" never happened - I believe that is still the position of Turkey about the Armenians.

Certainly the attack should have been anticipated. Battle of Port Arthur

The formal declaration of war between Japan and Russia was issued on 10 February 1904, a day after the battle. The attack, conducted against a largely unassuming and unprepared enemy in peacetime, has been widely compared to the Battle of Pearl Harbor.

Of course, the Japanese probably modeled their attack on Port Arthur the night of February 8-9 on Dewey's attack on the Spanish at Manila Bay beginning in the very early hours of May 1, 1898. In the case of Manila Bay, the Spanish had already declared war on the US, and the US had declared war on Spain April 25, predating the declaration to April 21.

In war, surprise is to be expected.

The attack was certainly provoked, and it certainly was expected;but unfortunately the American forces were still caught with thier pants down as to the precise where and when.

Back when I was seriously reading military history, I read four or five thick volumes by various authors pro and con, conspiracy or none;both sides make convincing cases, so long as you don't read the other side.

War with both Japan and Germany was seen as inevitable by many astute observers, among them many in uniform;but of course they were mostly ignored by the people at the top , political and military.

Speaking as an amatuer with the admitted benefit of hindsight,it seems to me that our getting embroiled in the war with both countries was as inevitable as tomorrow.

It seems inevitable to me that the world will again find itself embroiled in wide spread and long term fighting for the remaining oil, coal, natural gas, farm land , and other basic resources.The opening battles have been underway since "way back when already".

I expect that if I live to a ripe old age, I will see the smoldering wars currently underway flare up into real McCoys.

The only new wild card in the historical game is the fact that several countries likely to be on opposing sides now possess nuclear weapons.

Yes, the inevitablility of WWII is fairly obivous in hindsight.

I feel a bit compelled to say something on this. Japan was at fault in it's sphere for WWII, was guilty of agressive war and war crimes, and there is nothing that can cover this up. However, the WHY of how Japan became an imperial power is often little considered.

Japan was a country in many ways perfectly suited to resist the West. It was a country that had been run its military for literally hundrends of years. When the West forced Japan open, Japan immediately recognized the military threat and quickly acted to secure its defense against very likely colonization (of course, it was very rough, and Japan had a civil war of its own leading to the so-called Imperial Restoration and inagurating the Meiji period). Their template was to become a world power like the British or Americans, which required resources and colonies, and naturally they followed it into the ultimately disastrous modern Imperial period of Japanese history. Oh, they also fully colonized and absorbed what was still mostly an Ainu northern island now called Hokkaido in this period.

In hindsight, forcing open a military dictatorship was going to lead to disaster. It also was inevitable.

both sides make convincing cases, so long as you don't read the other side.

Except now with FOIA "we" can "See" what was written so that one make an informed judgment.

If you have convincing case evidence to counteract the printed word of the NAvy Intelligence officer - do post it.

And the information doesn't support the position of "But the embargo was not calculated to cause an attack. That is just conspiracy theory bullcrap" You have contemporaneous statements along with a multi point plan that was implemented with the stated goal to cause an attack.

Hi Ron, just wondering, do you think there is any conspiracy going on now among government officials to try and not allow peak oil to become a major topic of concern for the U.S. public.
You seem to me to think peak oil will most likely have dire consequences to the U.S.economy and its citizens (I tend to agree with your PO outlook).

Do you think you know more about peak oil than the U.S government? If the U.S. government has considered peak oil (Hirsch Report for example)and understands the gravity of the situation (they most likely do) but is not actively passing that information to U.S. citizens, could that not be considered a conspiracy of some sort?

FYI- I always keep a look out for your posts because your thoughts seem so logical to me. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my questions....maybe lol.

Not really too big of a deal, most of the manufacturing of stated devices occurs in China now, anyway.

I expect greater cooperation between Japan and the rest of Asia going forward. They won't go to war anymore than the European countries will.

The danger continues to lie in the M.E., which is why the U.S. has decided to permanently occupy two nations there.

I am a doomer myself but what is interesting is how Americans see imminent war and Mad Max with every news story.

I too think the Japan/China conflict is extremely important and more than a little bizarre. I'd like to add that I am a sort of Japan watcher, and majored in Japanese (though that degree was linguistics, language, and literature, rather than focused on history). In the course of my studies I met and hung out with a number of people majoring in Asian studies and Korean.

This conflict baffles me, frankly, as it seems to show a new Japanese government (Japan's politics are very interesting right now, for the first time the dominance of the LDP has been broken) that is very agressive in foreign affairs and puts looking tough to gain support from the nationalistic right wing above practical concerns about agreements reached with China over cooperative exploitation of resources in the East China Sea. Considering these prior agreements and China's rising power, it seems strange that Japan would create an international dispute over a fishing boat captain. I have not figured out at all what is going on here, so the best I can do is list possibilites. One or many of these may be true. These are:

1) Japan's government is whipping up the base - basically, they are incompetent
2) China's military or government sent in the "fishing boat captain", who is anything but - basically, Japan is putting up a tough front against Chinese actions that are testing Japan's resolve to maintain control over these islands.
3) Japan's government is seeing whether and how far the US government will support Japan in a conflict with China.
4) Japan's government no longer is interested in the agreements of the earlier LDP led government, and intends to assert full control over disputed territories.
5) Japan's government is testing the possibility of becoming more active militarily and getting away from the peace constitution.

I would like to point out a couple of things that I mentioned yesterday. Japan and China both have a lot to lose here, and a return to militarism in the area is very dangerous. I need to back up a bit to explain.

One of the people I met while I was studying was a very strange but brilliant National Guardsman who focused on Korean studies. He was a military nerd of sorts and nearly as interested in Japan as in Korea. I got into some conversations with him regarding Japan and the SDF, and he had some very interesting views. He pointed out that the SDF was very well armed for a country under a peach constitution. He went on to talk about Japanese naval helicopter carriers, and how they could be refitted to carry more or even carry aircraft. Not to mention Japan's air force being well fitted out with US designs and Japanese manufacture.

Basically, he opened my eyes. With basic research it's plain to see that Japan has a very sophisticated military. Military expenditures are 6th in the world, behind Russia and ahead of Germany. Another interesting aspect is that Japan has an extremely sophisticated civilian nuclear program, and in a crisis could probably build a bomb very quickly. Add to this calls to revise article 9 (which limits the military), and you have a very strange situation. China does outgun Japan, but that is not the end of the story.

His position was that there were many possibilites for conflict in East Asia, with oil and other resources in dispute and a group of players with a history of mutual enmity. While Japan is seen as basically alone, South Korea and Japan actually share many interests, one of which is to avoid Chinese domination. South Korea has a very powerful military as well. Of course, the US backs both South Korea and Japan. You have the ultimate spoiler in North Korea, a state of questionable stability that actually is as dangerous in the event of collapse as it is as a military threat. Oh, and there is the still not totally resolved China-Taiwan issue, as well as China's moves to secure other island areas, such as the spat earlier this year with Vietnam.

We really are living in intersting times. I sure hope this settles down quickly, and believe it will, but I do worry about what this means for the future.

Obama tells UN leaders world has dodged depression

Obama pulls a Hoover

I wonder if our leaders have considered trying duct tape to fix the cracks in the ice below our feet...

Wow, I love these two posts from the National Post, one defending the tar sands, and the other reporting on Canadian glacial retreat.

I can haz cognitive dissonance?

Wow, I love these two posts from the National Post, one defending the tar sands, and the other reporting on Canadian glacial retreat.

Yes, on the one hand there may be as much as 1/4 of the remaining oil and gas deposits in the Arctic, yet we must also be vigilant not to exceed two degrees C from pre-industrial temps, lest we might cause runaway global warming, or should I say runaway climate change disruption. But if the left hand can be purposefully tricked into not knowing what the right hand is doing, then I suppose we can defend tar sands and also be concerned about glacial retreat simultaneously. A kind of dyslexic intellectual teaberry shuffle of the greediest kind.

Just ask yourself which path can be most easily paved with money and political influence...

As TOD members have supported the ideas of better building codes and all that jazz I present:

(or - pushback on your 'freedoms'!)

Beginning 1 year after enactment of the Cap and Trade Act, you won't be able to sell your home unless you retrofit it to comply with the energy and water efficiency standards of this Act. H.R. 2454, the "Cap & Trade" bill passed by the House of Representatives, if also passed by the Senate, will be the largest tax increase any of us has ever experienced.

(b) Establishment- The Administrator shall develop and implement, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, standards for a national energy and environmental building retrofit policy for single-family and multifamily residences. The Administrator shall develop and implement, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy and the Director of Commercial High-Performance Green Buildings, standards for a national energy and environmental building retrofit policy for nonresidential buildings. The programs to implement the residential and nonresidential policies based on the standards developed under this section shall together be known as the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program.

The policy isn't stated as being mandatory or voluntary. But that's the "neat" thing about "laws" - the letter is different than the regulations written based on the letter.

My reason for posting was to show the pushback on what most TODers would consider a reasonable position.

maybe we could call this the HR2454 Death Panel law.

While apparently untrue, it would not be unprecedented. Here in Boulder County, one must put in an approved septic system prior to the sale of a home or arrange for the buyer to install the system within one year of the sale. This is true notwithstanding one may have an existing system that was installed prior to the time when such system required approval. Whether or not an existing system functions properly is irrelevant. It is presumed not to be adequate since it is based on old technology and/or methods.

This can be quite expensive and obviously causes a hardship for many, especially given the downturn in prices.

On the other hand, it is for the purpose of improving the water quality of those streams that flow from this area which are, in fact, polluted because of the absence of adequate systems.

Arguably, all requirements imposed on individuals or companies for the purpose of improving air or water quality are violations of freedom in the sense that one is not generally permitted to do what one pleases with one's property, especially if it has a damaging impact on others. When said requirements are combined with public assistance, it becomes less onerous.

It is all a matter of balance and efficacy. To just simply state that such requirements are a violation of freedom is a good recipe for environmental destruction, resource depletion, and global warming. To use the defense of freedom for every intrusion is a dangerous and socially irresponsible concept.

BUT, while the politicians are hammering the rural residents with $10,000 - $20,000 septic tank upgrades they continue to let cities large and small dump 100% of their sewage effluent into lakes and rivers causing considerable pollution.
I'll believe it's "equal treatment under the law" when they require every city to spend $10,000 - $20,000 per household (equivalent - a lot of business and industrial waste effluent is in the city waste disposal) in the city to put in proper drain fields to dispose of their sewage effluent. And that city money has to be real city derived money, not largess from state or federal coffers so the money is not coming from the rural residents taxes. If rural residents are required to spend their own money to put in the upgrades, then the city residents should have to pony up to pay for their drain field upgrades as well.
I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting. Too many more people vote in the city than in the rural areas!

Many rural residents are just Exurbanites. Live in the middle of the country with a few acres and drive to work in the city every day.

The cities have been sucked dry subsidizing Suburbs and "rural communities".


With all due respect, Alan, the very definition of a city is an entity that sucks in its resources from far and wide. Many is the rural community that has been sucked dry by The City, and kicked to the curb.

I sort of understand your point, I think, but you might want to think up a more reasoned sound-bite. Rural communities (without scare-quotes, please) make cities possible.

We can just eat our paperwork ! No need for farms.


You're OK Alan ;-)

Cities are resource parasites, and centers for elite control.

"Rural communities (without scare-quotes, please) make cities possible."

....But can rural communities exist without cities? Methinks they can.

This is Alabama. You know how many lawyer and doctors farmers we have around here. I have done both. What makes the choice? The better situation, it matters not to me.

Global Wind Power Capacity May Rival Nuclear Within Four Years, GWEC Says

They need to be a little careful here.

There are multiple milestones, and the first one is the somewhat academic one of 'name plate parity', the next output milestone is the more important area under the curve GWh parity. Even that, is more psychological, than technical.

Installed wind capacity by 2014 will probably reach 400 gigawatts, Steve Sawyer, secretary-general of the council, said in an e-mailed statement. Current nuclear power capacity is about 376 gigawatts, according to the World Nuclear Association.
This year wind capacity will reach close to 200 gigawatts with 40 gigawatts of new capacity added. By 2020, there may be as much as 1,000 gigawatts of wind power installed around the globe

Thus, Wind/Nuclear GWh parity is likely somewhere around 2020-2025 ?
{both are moving targets, so the intersect is not easy to call}


This will result in more stories like the one about the Bonneville Power Administration above. Too much wind may not work with our grid.

This is an old hydro story, not a wind story.

After heavy rains and full reservoirs BPA has had to, for many decades, spill water and export every kWh they could.

In past years, before wind, the Trojan nuke was put on "low" to save uranium.

Another HV DC line to California, Las Vegas and Phoenix and this would not be needed.


The more unusual part of the BPA problems, mention trying to avoid usual Spill, due to nitrogen bubbles, apparently not the same issue in turbine-path water.

If they are unable to find partners to manage capacity with, then surely a smarter spill design is all that's needed ?

The problems of grid partners are less technical, and more political.

Lead time for installing new transmission lines, versus lead time for modifying their spillways.I bet the former is faster.

A wave of nuclear plant retirements will start globally around 2018 and continue to 2025. Unless there is a massive push for new nukes, wind will likely pass them in GWh production by 2018.

TD#15 Becomes Tropical Storm Matthew
By late next week, the trough of low pressure over the Eastern U.S. may lift out, allowing a ridge of high pressure to build in and force TD 15 westwards across the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche.


Hurricane Karl's moisture causing flooding in Minnesota, Wisconsin
A plume of very moist air associated with what was Hurricane Karl last week has surged northwards over the Central U.S. over the past two days. This moisture is now being lifted over a warm front draped over Minnesota and Wisconsin, and has generated flooding rains in excess of six inches in southern Minnesota this afternoon. Flood warnings and flood watches are posted for a wide swath of the upper Midwest today, including most of southern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. These types of rain events are called Predecessor Rain Events (PREs), because they typically precede the actual arrival of the rain shield of a tropical storm.

For what it's worth.....

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Gold soared to a record high early Friday, breaching the key $1,300-an-ounce level, amid persistent worries about the recovery.

After reaching a peak of $1,301.30 an ounce, Gold for December deliver -- the most active contract -- eased to $1,299.80 an ounce. Gold's last intraday record high was reached on Sept. 22, when the metal hit $1,298 an ounce.