ASPO-USA Conference, Last Day

One of the helpful aspects of the ASPO-USA organization is that they post the videos and presentations that were given at their conferences. Obviously these need to be tweaked after being recorded, and so do not go up immediately but, for example, they have just posted the video of the Jeff Rubin talk on their site. I am going to conclude my summary of the conference itself with this report. I was not able to stay for the final afternoon, and so Gail has kindly furnished a summary that I will add to cover that section of the Conference. As usual I will then give a short summary of what I felt were the highlights, but which is more opinion that content – the goal of these initial posts.

Turning therefore to the Saturday morning meetings, these began with a slight change, since Terry Backer the scheduled speaker was, unfortunately, ill. Paul, one of his advisors, spoke on his behalf, noting that Connecticut – where they are from – has no indigenous coal, oil or natural gas. They had a plan for moving forward that had received support for a significant effort to insulate houses, but unfortunately even though it would have provided a number of jobs, it fell victim to the recession. They are now looking to see the potential for micro-hydro in the state.

The first session was chaired by Ted Patzek and was focused on the Gulf oil spill and the likely consequences.

I led off with a chronological review of the events that occurred through the course of the spill until the time that the well was declared dead. This covered the initial completion of the well, the kick and explosion on the rig, and the sinking of the well. I then went through the stages of the capture of oil, and the capping of the well. This also covered the assumptions that led to the location of the relief well and what was found when it hit the well. Very largely it was a summary of the posts that were written at the time, with the aid of some photos that others had posted.

After my talk, Art Berman spoke of some of the errors that culminated in the failure of the well and the consequent disaster. He began by pointing out that the energy resource of the Gulf is much larger than that of shale gas, and in the deep water is likely the last great hope of American production. From that point of view the shut down (which has nominally now been lifted. He described the number of wells in the gulf and pointed out that the Macondo well was not an exception.

In reviewing the causes of the disaster he started with the problems that arose when the initial float collar, used in the injection of the cement to hold the production casing in place, did not properly function. To get to work the crew used a pulse of high pressure down the well, and then only cemented part of the lowest section, rather than injecting sufficient cement to fill the annulus up to the level of the previous casing. Because there was a considerable washout of the reservoir, the crew then chose to use a foam cement. Tests have shown that this takes some 24 – 48 hours for this cement to set, and yet they began displacing the mud holding the oil and gas within the reservoir after only 16 hours.

Because the well was drilled with an oil-based mud (rather than the more conventional water-based) natural gas will not come out of suspension at the same depth, but rather remained in suspension in the oil until very close to the surface. At that point it would expand, so that one cu ft of gas at depth would occupy some 800 cu ft and so the onset of disaster came very suddenly.

A problem that continues to face drilling and production companies has to do with experience. There is not a large cadre of well-qualified managers, since the highly cyclic nature of the industry means that many of those who would occupy such ranks were let go in the bad years, and are now otherwise employed. Thus the onus of management is falling to people that do not have the necessary experience and knowledge.

Rick Munroe brought the debate into the larger picture of the Peak fuel debate. Ho pointed out the considerable difference between the military view of the coming crisis, in contrast with the more complacent civilian government point of view. The Energy Bulletin lists over 40 papers from military groups that have highlighted the coming problems of fuel availability. In contrast it was only in 2008 that the IEA began to express similar concerns. Yet, as a paper in 2009 from the war college noted, while these strategic shocks are predictable, they are either not prepared for, or inadequately addressed. The plans that do exist are over 30 years old, dating from the last time we had such a event.

On July 25th the Energy Bulletin carried a review of the Peak Oil situation by the German military. The response to the crisis, because of this lack of preparation, will not be stable, but chaotic. This instability will increase with time as economies shrink. The result will be unprecedented in its severity.

He pointed out that, by and large, these reviews are not individual opinions, but rather the consensus of qualified analysts and it defines a comprehensive domestic external threat to the point that peak oil can be seen as a weapon of mass destruction. In earlier exercises it was projected that if 4% of the world supply was removed from the market then prices would triple.

Yet with all this information available he was unable to find any significant interest in the topic either in Canada or the United States. There is no planning for the impact of oil shortage on the agricultural production of either country, and the GAO noted that planning on the topic ceased about 20 years ago. It is only, apparently, in the UK that plans for a Liquid Fuel Emergency exist. And yet a fuel crisis will, in very short time, transform into also being a food crisis. The problem is, in part, that while the response of many in government is to ration by price, but to give farmers priority, most operate on the margin and a trebling of fuel prices would put them out of business. It is a complex problem, and thus no-one wishes to address it.

In introducing the second session of the morning Ron Swenson said that one of the goals of ASPO-USA was to bring people together in such a way as to leave a world worth inheriting. The session was on the Laws of Energy, Technology and Scale.

Tad Paczek talked of scale, and that the critical metric is the rate of production. He sees peak oil in 2 – 3 years; peak coal soon and peak NG in 20 – 30 years. But while there is still lots of fuel underground it is the rate of production, and the scale of production that are constrained and that drive us into these peaks. If, for example, oil lies in a piggy bank, and we can’t break down the walls, then the rate at which we get money back out depends on the size of the slot in the top. But we should also remember that, on average, we leave 2/3 of the oil in the ground and only recover 1/3.

We use 100 times the amount of energy we have to eat to survive. The world eats roughly 1 Exajoule (EXJ) and we turn fuels into 39 ExJ of energy. One of the more promising techniques for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is to inject CO2 into the field. This is already in use in the United States and might be able to increase production by 10%, but this comes at the end of field life. In total it might be possible to get up to 2.5 mbd of EOR oil (remember that Ghawar is producing in the 4-5 mbd range), but to get to that level will require lots of money and engineering expertise – and he is not sure we have enough of the latter. He anticipates that Canada may be able to grow tar sand production to 3 mbd by 2020.

In discussing future energy projections he said that many companies will list the prospects that they are considering drilling into – but for budget and other reasons will only actually work a fraction of those lists. Thus those who rely on the projections paint an unrealistic view of what the future will bring. We are, therefore, not in as good shape as most predict.

Ken Zweibel spoke about the Solar Grand Plan. Current development of solar has not developed under any of the pressures that will come when supply as seen as an “emergency need.” Yet overall production gas reached 10 GW and so he is optimistic of the future. Because the liquid fuels supply problem is so tied to transportation the we need to see how the use of solar energy can feed that market. This will require evolution of the Smart Grid, and means for solar forecasting and balancing of power. Unfortunately solar distribution varies – the Southwest gets 30% more photons that the DC area, for example. But, on the other hand, wind is like the measles.

We have gone from $30 a watt to $1.50 a watt, but this only covers the module cost. That is not all the costs since installation and maintenance must also be included and these will likely double the module costs. However while one can pay back the cost of the module in 1.5 years, it might take 15 years in energy savings to cover the whole cost of the installation.

He covered the current costs of some of the major systems that we will likely see grow to dominate the market. The costs have dropped 40% of the last four years, but to go lower they need (and deserve) the lowest interest rate for loans. And he moved on from there to discuss payback on the different systems, though he noted that many costs are based on out-dated methodologies. Cadmium telluride is a promising new candidate, and is not that polluting. And he noted that, in contrast to most conventional systems solar does not use significant water (except a little for cleaning). He pointed out that of the 17 Quads used in transportation only 3.4 Quads (quadrillion Btu’s) do the effective work of moving the object. Electric powered vehicles are thus a more viable alternative.

He said that only 15% of the Canadian tar sands could be recovered by surface mining, and hat the energy costs are 15 – 50% of the recovered and useful energy. For the remainder it might be possible to get 80% of it out, but at a 40% energy cost.

On the other hand vehicles will not, in significant numbers, switch from liquid fuel to solar powered in the near future. There is also not enough lithium for batteries, so realistically the answer hans to be in electrified trains. He seen the end of fossil fuels marking the beginning of a slow-down in economic growth. So the meeting slowed down for lunch.

Lunch began with a tribute to Matt Simmons. Chairman of the ASPO-USA Advisory Board and featured speaker at many of he events. A check to support the Ocean Energy Institute was presented to his daughter Abbie, on behalf of ASPO.

The noon speaker was Ralph Nader who took his quota of time, and more, to discuss Energy and Policy. He proclaimed (just having written a novel on the subject) that “only the super-rich can save us.” The main form of censorship is self-censorship. Why do we do it? It encourages a stagnant society. It builds the blocking of technological advance through the creation of mind sets. Secretary Chu advocates nuclear power and refuses to meet with opposition groups on the topic.

Mr Nader does not see a correlation between energy and economic growth. We have passed the diagnostic phase of energy future analysis, but there has been little prescription for future action and the path forward is obscure. We must mandate changes to buildings, vehicles and connect them to jobs programs. And we must make the jobs local so that they cannot be exported to China. He sees innovation as dramatically higher than it was 10 years ago. , and expects that stimulus funds will lead to innovation. But he gave the example of Evergreen Solar which had intended to stay in the US, having 800 employees here, but found that all its competition is moving to China, so they are too. Then he quoted the example of the “largest tile carpet manufacturer” in the US who has chosen to stay, and through innovation keep costs down low enough that he can remain in business.

Unfortunately as this talk drew to a close I had to leave. Gail Tverberg remained and was kind enough to supply me with her notes, which follow.

Anthony Perl, author of "Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil" and fellow of the Post Carbon Institute talked about ways to reduce oil used in transport. In his view, we have lots of technology, but not much time. Emphasis needs to be on proven, robust technologies.

One thing he talked about was electric motors to replace internal combustion engines, particularly for trains. Also expansion of the use of trains. One issue, though, is the fact that most rail track is privately owned. Perhaps some approach can be used that would allow double tracking with government somehow paying for/receiving ownership of the additional track.

Another possibility is "sky sails", which can reduce fuel use by ships by 50% to 80%. Water transport is already the most efficient mode of transport, and sails would improve it further.

He believes it will cost $1 trillion for passenger rail and $1 trillion for freights train needed changes / improvements. He also pointed out that GM used to build trains and busses, and asked why they couldn't again.

Dr. Charles Schlumberger, Principal Air Transport Specialist, Transport Division of the World Bank, pointed out that from the airline's point of view, it was the recession, and not the price of oil that was the problem. He felt this way, because he felt the airlines had pretty well hedged the price of oil. Its problem was a lack of passengers and cargo, because of the recession.

He pointed out that air transport is the catalyst for modern globalization. For example, he pointed out that without access by air, there is little chance of foreign direct investment in a country.

He also pointed out that at $80 a barrel, fuel cost exceeds personnel costs. He believes that above $80 a barrel, airlines cannot be profitable.

Regarding fuel efficiency, there have been improvements, but these are becoming smaller as the low-hanging fruit have already been found. Some additional changes may be difficult. For example, if changes are made that cause the size of engines to be bigger, these might necessitate completely redesigning the aircraft. One possibility is to use "Air Ships" or dirigibles for moving freight long distances.

Biofuels are being investigated, but progress is slow--perhaps 1% replacement of fuel by 2015. One issue is the huge land area that would be required. According to his calculations, algae would require the least land area, but even so algae would require an area the size of Ireland to replace existing airline fuel.

At this point, it looks like there is a possibility that airline use will need to be significantly scaled back, but if this happens, there will likely be big social and political impacts.

Next, Sharon Astyk, ASPO-USA board member and writer, talked about the world food situation. In 2008, there were 1 billion people who were seriously malnourished. The number is perhaps a bit lower in 2009, but not a lot. While oil prices have backed off a lot from their highs, some food prices are still not too far from their 2008 highs. She pointed out that high prices are a real issue for many, since almost half of the world's population spends 50% or more of its income on food.

Now China is buying land around the world, so as to be able to feed its people. This is likely to present problems for people who live in the area, and need the farmland themselves. Sharon also talked about there likely being an "Export Land" land for food, with countries cutting back on food exports, either as their own population grows, or if crops fail.

She talked about food insecurity being a problem even in the US. One in seven people is on food stamps; one in four children receives food stamps. Children who are hungry are likely not to do well in school.

There is a close tie between food and energy, so reduced food supply in the future is a concern. There are other related issues, like phosphorous supplies, which are already getting short. Lesser energy availability is likely to make the situation worse. There is also the issue of biofuels competition with food for land and water.

The last speaker was Brian Czeck, President of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. He talked about the need for governments to scale back their expectations from everlasting growth to a steady state economy.

All interesting follow up re: the Shale Gas plays discussed earlier in this thread:

From Mr. SG himself, the CEO of Chesapeake: "McClendon pledged that Chesapeake, which he co-founded and took public in 1993, would shift its focus from natural gas to become a major oil producer. Natural gas prices have been in a prolonged slump due in part to the glut of supply created by the shale frenzy." He stated that all the SG plays have been evaluated and investors shouldn't be waiting to see any new US SG plays that will improve the future NG supplies for the country. Essentially he sees little value in playing the SG plays until prices significantly improve. Until then we can color CHK gone from the play. And this from the man that most SG advocates defer to.

Thank goodness that all you have to do is decide to look for oil to be able to find it. Now if more US companies make that decision we can finally become independent of imported oil. Talk is always cheap but I don't recall it ever being discounted as much as it is today.

An economist from Chesapeake was at the ASPO-USA convention. She said that under terms of the leases, shale producers had to "use it or lose it," and this was contributing to the glut.

Art Burman said at his talk the previous day that it was really the sweet spots that are close to economic, and it isn't easy to tell in advance which parts those are. And those sweet spots can be as little as 10% of the total acreage. It is not clear that even in the sweet spots, money can be made at the current price.

So all of this seems to be fitting together. Art is saying the price is too low to make the shale gas profitable, and McClendon agrees.

Art has said he would write up a post on his talk for Oil Drum readers.

Gail - really something of a triple wammy for CHK et at. Yes...many leases taken 3 + years ago are terminating automaticly if they haven't been drilled yet. Even the leases they chose to hang on to commonly require a big annual rental payment. As the former CEO of Devon pointed out last week, even if NG prices were to suddenly rebound next year (something almost no one anticipates) wells drilled 3+ years ago (that garnered the headlines with their high flow rates) now have flow rates 40% or less then they had initially. So even with higher prces most of the reserves have been produced at the low prices with future revenue declining daily.

Even though we don't have to worry about cash flow or stock valuation, my company is reconsidering our commitment to drilling deep high pressure NG wildcats. Even with a good success rate NG at $3.80/mcf doesn't produce very attractive returns. Just my WAG but with what looks like a continued economic lull I'll be surprised if NG averages above $5/mcf in the next 3 years.

Gail -- You seem to be saying that Art Burman and Aubrey McClendon have similar views, but this is clearly not the case. The reason the price of gas is so low is that companies like Chesapeake have found truly game-changing amounts of it in the new U.S. shale gas fields over the last decade. (Enough, in fact, that the huge investments that many big companies made to bring LNG to the U.S. from the Middle East have been made obsolete.) This abundance is precisely the point that Art disputes. Art keeps emphasizing that these fields hold only a fraction of the reserves that Aubrey and other CEOs say they do. If Art is right, then gas prices should be expected to be moving much higher very soon as the thousands of shale gas wells drilled in recent years rapidly deplete (at up to 85% annual depletion rates.) Aubrey, on the other hand, understands that the resource is huge and is betting that gas prices will stay low for many years. Hence he has been selling long-dated calls on natural gas out the the year 2020 and is shifting his army of leasing agents and fleet of drilling rigs (both the largest in the country) to liquids-rich plays in the Eagle Ford, the Niobara and the Granite Wash, where pricing is largely set by the world market, not by a localized glut in the U.S.

There are almost no points of agreement between Aubrey McClendon and Art Burman except that at $3.50/mcf gas is too cheap to be profitable. But the only reason we have $3.50 natural gas today, or will have it in the future, is if Art Burman is way off base about the amount of shale gas available.

From Mr. SG himself, the CEO of Chesapeake: "McClendon pledged that Chesapeake, which he co-founded and took public in 1993, would shift its focus from natural gas to become a major oil producer. Natural gas prices have been in a prolonged slump due in part to the glut of supply created by the shale frenzy." He stated that all the SG plays have been evaluated and investors shouldn't be waiting to see any new US SG plays that will improve the future NG supplies for the country. Essentially he sees little value in playing the SG plays until prices significantly improve.

Sounds like the demand has not grown fast enough, if you look at if from the other angle ?.

Given that there are many Oil-use low hanging fruit that can move to Gas, it looks like an ideal time to raise incentives on the move to Gas.

Might not be as 'sexy' as the hottest new Nuclear Idea, but it is locally available energy (for the USA), and it can help reduce the Tail of Finite Oil.

jg - Demand for NG had dropped let alone not grown. For the companies not just a bad combination of increased supplies with a drop in consumption. Fuel switcing is always an option. But there's also a history of folks spending considerable capex to achieve the switch but then getting burned down the road when NG jumped again. IMHO this is why predicting a shinning future for NG powered autos is tricky. NG looks good now at these low prices. But where do those prices go when, lets say, 30% of all US vehicles are powered by NG? My guess would be somewhere very far north of $3.80/mcf.

jg - Demand for NG had dropped let alone not grown. For the companies not just a bad combination of increased supplies with a drop in consumption. Fuel switching is always an option.

This is the key point! As fuel prices rise, they cause a constriction in the very economy that must grow to absorb the increase in fuel supply. This is why EROI is so important. Higher drilling cost means more materials consumed (and lost) to the economy as a whole. That loss constricts the economy.

NG powered cars would start as a bonanza, since gasoline trades at like $20+ per Mcf equivalent, but end as a disaster as every homeowner went bankrupt in the winter. Goodbye banks. Goodbye utility companies. Goodbye retailers. And then Goodbye NG industry 1 year later. The downside of the peak is going to be a really bumpy ride of spikes and dips as the cost of drilling and energy production grows to consume most of the discretionary economy.

Here is a great (2 year old now) paper that outlines what we can expect over the next 40 years as the cost of drilling rises (EROI of energy production falls).

As far as shale growing the US gas supply, that is true. The question is how much is really there? Right now E&P are able to grow production by drilling the sweet spots. This is much like the discovery of Prudhoe Bay. It did reverse the US oil production decline. For a few years. The US lower 48 just kept sliding and eventually overwhelmed the new additions. If the proved and probable for shale is closer to the 140 Tcf number than the 600 Tcf resources number, then at 20 Tcf per year of consumption, that new shale gas won't delay the decline for long.

Demand for NG had dropped let alone not grown. For the companies not just a bad combination of increased supplies with a drop in consumption. Fuel switcing is always an option. But there's also a history of folks spending considerable capex to achieve the switch but then getting burned down the road when NG jumped again.

Strange that demand for a cheap energy source should drop ?

Could this be a case of too much lag in the system, where larger users spend capital to shift away, and as that change is built, the very thing they flee, becomes cheaper.

If the fall in use is simply better efficiency (and some exported?), then that is good news from an energy tail perspective.

When prices swing faster than capital approval/completion times, it becomes guess work.

Even with that guess work, shouldn't a domestic supply, trump an imported one ?

jg - The time lag has always been a big problem for the oil patch. Decades ago the cycle seemed to swing every 10 years or so. Now it seems to run every 2 or 3 years. NG goes to $10+/mcf and folks drill the shale gas like crazy. A few years later NG goes to under $4/mcf and the big SG players are crippled to the point of folding.

Thank you HO for this series of updates.

I love Tad Paczek analogy of Peak Oil and extracting money from a piggy bank.

A similar analogy would be having a million dollars in your bank account, but because the government fears a run on the banks you are limited to withdrawls of only $2/day - even though you need $200 a day to live (e.g. Argentina, 2002).

And Thank You Rick Munroe for your review of the bigger picture - namely pointing out:

"the considerable difference between the military view of the coming crisis, in contrast with the more complacent civilian government point of view."

...It is only, apparently, in the UK that plans for a Liquid Fuel Emergency exist. And yet a fuel crisis will, in very short time, transform into also being a food crisis...

Thank god for the military. The only sober edifice in the industrial pigstye.

Hi, Aardvark

Glad you liked my support of military analysts.
I do think that they have a special credibility: a longer view than politicians, less self-interested than industry, less concerned than bureaucrats in pretending that all future problems have been addressed proactively.

The tendency for fuel emergencies (whether caused by unaffordability or physical supply or both) to quickly be compounded by food supply problems is well documented but quite under-appreciated by North American emergency planners.
The UK and Australia have done excellent (and recent) work on these issues... we need to do the same here in North America.

The reference to food shortages caught my attention particularly, especially in reference the developed world. As I've said here before, I think very few people have any idea of the true "cost composition" of the supplies of food they eat. At today's market price of approx. $5.00 / bu. wheat, the raw farm content of that

half pound pasta dinner

1/4 pound bowl of cereal

1/4 pound of baked goods

TOTAL 1 pound wheat per person day

for which food you can expect to pay "in the range of" $5.00, costs only

$5.00 per bushel x 1/(50 lb per bushel) = $0.10

delivered by the farmer to the rail terminal. Add another $0.02 for rail and sea shipment to your city's bakeries etc. means that


So, IF the farmer's fuel costs quadrupled, and fuel made up 50% of his total exspenses (way too high) and he were able to recover all his increases on the market, THEN you might anticipate your daily food budget increasing from present $5.00 to

($5.00 + ($0.12 x 4 x 1/2)) = $5.24 per day

Not exactly a disaster or likely to induce widespread starvation, in fact more likely than anything might be a beneficial reduction or waist size by a small amount.

These figures are VERY worst case.

Find some other angle to promote disaster on.

I think you might have oversimplified your model Len.

Len's model is ok if you run it for only a very brief period;food prices at retail do rise only very slowly in relation to my on farm costs for example, and for short time frames, everybody just passes along energy cost growth by addding a little to the price.

But in longer time frames, everybody's costs all thru the processing and distribution system rise a bit, and when the total of everybody's passed on added cost is added to a final consumer's food bill, the result is generally pretty dismal.

We are getting wholesale prices most of the time-not this year-that are double the prices we got a few years back but we are still not making any money these days as everything we use has gone up-fertilizer, diesel fuel, cardboard boxes,even the telephone, not to mention property taxes and farm wages.

Income taxes at least are no problem;we aren't generating enough to matter.Of course we don't raise corn, either.

Len's model was okay as long as you ignored reality.

Thank you OFM, for fleshing out a few of the overly simplified details Len neglected to consider (ran out of room on his napkin maybe).

Speaking of ignoring reality.......

We are getting closer to talking about the "mother" of human-induced global challenges.

It appears that people are beginning to get used to discussing the overpopulation of Earth, despite the formidable and conspicuous resistance of such discussions. For a moment imagine that human overpopulation of the living Earth is like a live human organism having lung cancer. Please note that although it is exceedingly difficult to talk about "the big C", it is much more demanding to speak out about the cause of the lung cancer: smoking tobacco products. Similarly, despite the challenges we have to speaking out loudly and clearly about the skyrocketing increase of absolute global human population numbers during my lifetime, it is much more difficult say anything about what might be causing global human population growth. Of course that brings us to human population dynamics. This is the last of the last taboos, I believe. The denial of the science of human population dynamics appears to me as one of the most colossal failures of nerve in human history. The abandonment of intellectual honesty and moral courage is unconscionable.

One day human population dynamics will become a topic of open discussion, that is certain. When that time comes, I trust it is not too late to make a difference in the lives of our children, who are probably going to be unimaginably victimized not only by our outrageous selfishness but also by our abject cowardice.

I trust it is not too late to make a difference in the lives of our children, who are probably going to be unimaginably victimized not only by our outrageous selfishness but also by our abject cowardice.

In reply to this outburst of scorn and dismay at human behavior I can only quote Reg Morrison who wrote in "The Spirit in the Gene": "As for pointing to our mental failures with scorn or dismay, we might as well profess disappointment with the mechanics of gravity or the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, the degree of disillusionment we feel in response to any particular human behavior is the precise measure of our ignorance of its evolutionary and genetic origins."

The population problem was simply something that was bound to happen once we found a huge source of very cheap energy, which we used to produce vast amounts of food, and the technology with which to produce even more food. Population explosions happen, in any species, when boundless amounts of food is available. Humans are no different in that respect from any other species.

The population explosion has already happened, there is no going back. There is now no way to mitigate the population problem. Nature will handle it in her own way in her own good time. And her own good time will likely be much sooner than most people realize.

Ron P.

Darwinian has a way of facing squarely up to the facts which cause nearly everybody else to flinch and turn tail and run.

Any world view that does not adequately take into accont what is definitely stttled and well known science, such as basic evolutionary biology and more specifically evolutionary psychology, is certain to cause it's holder to draw false and exceedingly dangerous conclusions.

Unfortunately while this science enables us to understand our predicament very well indeed, it does not offer any palatable solutions.

The way down off the population peak is going to be hard indeed.

Personally I believe that it could be in theory managed without widescale starvation, but in actual practice, the possibility of the necessary mitigation measures being enacted world wide is essentially zero.

We can count ourselves lucky indeed if those of us who live in the more prosperous and better endowed parts of the world escape being dragged into resource wars which might really finish us off.

I agree with most of that, OFM. Not the bit on evolutionary psychology, however. I don't know that such a thing exists, and if it does we certainly are guessing about it. Like any branch of psychology, I guess. And, it is certainly far from being a science.

Otherwise, spot on.


The question is, when it's finished, are you going to be one of the 2 out of 7 left (optimistic I know).

My wild ass guess is 1 out of 7 but no, I will not be among the survivors. I am 72 and hope to be safely dead when TSHTF.

Ron P.

I with you Ron, I'm 53, taking to many meds and already survived the big "C" (cancer). So I'll probably be pushing up daisies by the roots with you. :-)

Madam, – As I was urged to do so, this month I “modified my behaviour” and saved enough from my disability allowance to pay the mandated prescription charges on the drugs that I need. Hopefully, I will be able to do the same for the months of November and December.

However, when January comes along I may not be able to do so. This will be because of the December budget. Most likely I will have to choose between paying for what my doctor considers that I need, and putting food on my table. It is probable that at that stage my money will be reduced even more because the Minister for Social Protection has already indicated that social welfare payments will again be reduced; probably so that the bankers’ dole can be maintained at the appropriate level.

taking too many meds and already survived the big "C"

ditto here goodmaj

you are not alone if that is consolation

I think our severely polluted (chemically polluted) environment is doing us the Baby Boom generation in.

Our parents did not live in such a toxic soup. The kumbaya of Woodstock cannot save us from Dustin Hoffman's one word future: "plastics"

I always appreciate your "down to the basics" approach to human nature. I agree with everything you say. In this case though, I think stevenearlsalmony had a different point. He is not trying to deny the human nature or the inevitability of the population growth. He just wants to point out that understanding the science and talking about it might help our children. For example, your description of human behavior in terms of evolution helped me go past the anger stage.

Thanks for the kind words TD but I do not believe outrageous selfishness or abject cowardice has anything to do with our not teaching the science of population, or the science of anything else to our children. People are teaching their children what they truly believe is true, both in the schools and in their churches.

Not one person in one hundred, if that, realizes the magnitude of the population problem. How do you expect them to teach their children about the problem when they haven’s a clue about the problem themselves? Calling them cowards and selfish presumes that they are aware of the problem. They are not!

Ron P.

Exactly. It's the same thing I was saying the other day about Nick and denial. Denial is only possible if the brain has — however briefly — apprehended the situation and then recoils.

Most people are not in denial, despite repeated proclamations that they are by some folks. Most people just have no clue. That's not wrong or right, it just is.

Whoa - I heard my name.

It's also worth saying that sometimes the people you disagree with actually know something that you would find useful...

Population is a prime example: we'd all be a lot better off if population was a lot lower, but trying to change the current rate of population growth in the large majority of the world (where fertility rates are declining quickly, and are mostly at or below replacement rate) is hardly our biggest problem.

Dear Ron P,

Please note that human beings do not consume oil, at least not directly. The primary relationship to which our attention needs to be riveted is not between human population numbers and oil, but human numbers and food. No food equals no people. Before oil was available to be converted into food for human consumption there were people living well on the surface of Earth.

What would you think about helping me raise awareness of the magnitude of the global predicament posed by global human population growth and then figuring out what might be done?

The "one in one hundred" to whom you refer, have abjectly failed in fulfilling their responsibilities to science and in performing their duties to humanity. Of that there can be no doubt.



TD - Steve offers some hope but how does that fit our recent history? The current generations (say 20 yo to 60 yo) are more educated than our parents/grandparents. Presumably the next generation will be even smarter. But looking at our history human nature appears to readily trump smart. I would have to see some concrete proof to show this relationship has changed before I would embrace the possibility of altering our path significantly. IMHO it doesn't matter what the collective TOD family thinks: we don't call the shots. The "public" does. And their nature seems unchanged for millennia...if ever.

I think stevenearlsalmony had a different point. He is not trying to deny the human nature or the inevitability of the population growth. He just wants to point out that understanding the science and talking about it might help our children.

TD, I think you are close to getting Steve's point and though I don't pretend to speak for him, I think part of what he is saying is that it is the scientists who should know better and have both the tools and the empirical data at their fingertips who are actually the ones abdicating their responsibility in raising awareness of the those that still do not have a clue.

Though this, in my opinion, is where the point about cluelessness of the majority, which aangel, so eloquently makes, seems to lose it's teeth.

In other words it is likely the majority are indeed clueless and it doesn't make much sense to attempt to hold them accountable. They would probably enter a stage of denial if they knew the truth anyway and that response may have a lot to do with cultural norms and even innate survival mechanisms which are likely due to biological evolution as Ron argues.

However this doesn't let scientists off the hook, they should know better! So either the majority of scientist are in denial themselves or they don't see any purpose in rocking an already sinking boat. That is, they accept the truth but consider it too ugly to discuss and they don't think there is anything that can be done about the dilemma in which we currently find ourselves.



it might help our children

Nice thoughts.

However, the powers of evolution do not permit for "free will" in this category.

Those of us who have survived thus far through evolution's million years of "advances" have no choice but to (excuse the French) keep f***ing ourselves up.

Only a draconian and dictatorial government can try to put the squeeze on our naturally preselected propensities. "Education" is not going to do it.

Think of how well "Education" has worked for teenage pregnancies.

Think of how well "Education" has worked for teenage pregnancies.

Actualy, it's worked pretty well: the rate of teen pregnancy has fallen pretty reliably for the last 40 years, and is at an all-time low.

You're probably thinking of marriage rates, which have behaved differently.

If Education is what makes the difference, then the US has done an awful job - it has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialised world, it is triple the average!

Interesting how that map matches up with the oil consumption map

p.s. Thanks for link to that stats site

If Education is what makes the difference, then the US has done an awful job - it has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialised world, it is triple the average!

For that you can thank the 'Abstinence Only' crowd. Want to guess who is teaching that?

There's education and then there's education... otherwise know as brainwashing.

That reminds me of the old saying:

"there are lies, damn lies, and statistics".

What did they mean? Among other things, that you have to pick the right stats.

Ok. First, the US has a younger population than most OECD countries, so that will raise the absolute number of teen pregnancies (perhaps by 20%). 2nd, it has a roughly 40% higher overall birthrate. So, those two factors explain perhaps half of the difference between the US and the rest of the OECD.

What explains the rest? I'm not sure - perhaps a difference in income inequality (GINI), perhaps the cultural fallout of slavery (after all these years!).

In any case, the important thing is that the US teen pregnancy rate has dropped sharply and pretty consistently since WWII. Whatever that factor is, it's something way back in our history.

Actually Nick, according to this report, it peaked in 1991 (, and has halved since.

They also break it down by state, and ethnicity.
The black and hispanic teenagers are double the average, and the white girls are 2/3 the average.
Not surprisingly the most "white" states have the lowest pregnancy rates, and the highest abortion rates.

Further evidence of a growing cultural divide in America?

That's interesting.

I'd be curious to find a longer dataseries: I think there was a decline from WWII to the 70's. Table 2.1's birthrate data is interesting: much flatter than the pregnancy rate.

I don't think the ethnic gaps are new. Ethnicity is associated with income, and there is also an enduring cultural legacy of slavery.

Please examine carefully all extant research on the relationship between the human population and its food supply. It appears to me that the experts have the relationship backward and have effectively reversed what is actually happening. This matter really places us at the crux of something that is vital in this discussion, I believe. The population/food supply relationship appears to be a most basic and significant matter. Please note that the unchallenged scientific evidence to which I draw attention indicates that human population numbers appear as a function of food supply; that human population dynamics is essentially common to the population dynamics of other species. If these hypotheses are correct, then the determination by experts to continuously increase the food supply to meet the needs of a growing human population will soon lead humanity to precipitate a colossal ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort....... the likes of which only Ozymandias has witnessed.

The many thoughtful and incisive comments presented here have set me to thinking about something I want to discuss now.

Human history is replete with examples of the human population increasing as the supply of food for human consumption increases. The case of China has shown us that political legislation and economic sanctions can help limit the otherwise unbridled growth of human numbers. Analysis of China's population growth while the "one child policy" has been in effect appears to have resulted in an estimated 500 million fewer births. But please note that the Chinese population has continued to grow during that period.... only not as fast as it would without the imposition of limits on human reproduction.

Demographic Transition Theory(DTT) appears to offer us a limited, descriptive presentation of the growth of the human population through time. Please note that DTT is not a predictive theoretical framework. The theory of the demographic transition also denies ecological forces of human population dynamics, as those dynamics apply to evolving living beings.

In Stage One of the DTT, birth rates and population size are both high. Supposedly environmental, sanitation and medical problems emerge to increase the death rate. My question is this: how can the birth rates be high and the size of the human population be large without an increasing food supply to fuel such growth? If not an increasing food supply, what is the mechanism by which the human population is so fully grown in Stage One? There must be a stage or multiple stages before Stage One of the DTT.

As health care and sanitation improve, the human population begins Stage Two. Birth rates remain elevated and death rates decline. The population grows.

With a better quality of life average resource consumption of each individual improves and the population enters Stage Three. As the population approaches the carrying capacity limitations of a finite, biophysical world, birth rates decline and, as Hopfenberg has noted elsewhere, there is a fertility/resource consumption trade-off.

In Stage Four of the DTT birth rates and death rates are low rather than high as in Stage One.

Now what? What happens next? It seems to me that we need to revise and expand the demographic transition theory by adding a stage(s) before Stage One and also include a stage(s) after Stage Four.

What I am proposing is an expanded, more comprehensive model for the Demographic Transition Theory that more realistically begins at the beginning and ends at the end. The beginning cannot have occurred with the size of the human population and its birth rate already high, as Stage One indicates. Nor can Stage Four be the end. We need a new theory that takes account of 1) the actual relationship between the human population and its food supply as well as 2) the cultural bias pervading science which is making it so difficult for human beings to perceive this vital relationship in a more realistic way.

Please consider what could happen if the fully expected growth of absolute global human population numbers were to lead the human community into Stage Four of the demographic transition in the middle of Century XXI, as DTT prescribes. It would take several planets with the size, make-up and ecology of Earth to support that population with a quality of life measured by the lifestyles of people in the USA now. Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that a finite planet like Earth cannot indefinitely support a population of 9+/- billion people consuming its abundant harvests and plundering its limited resources as the most foolhardy andgreedy among us are doing in our time? In such circumstances, how is the human community to protect itself and other creatures great and small from itself?

It is impossible for me to believe that a species so gifted as Homo sapiens will not find a way to go forward rather than put at risk life as we know it and the children's future, as we appear to be doing now. Somehow the miracle of life, with all its mystery, beauty and biodiversity, has to be preserved. At least we have to try, I suppose, whatever the odds.

Many too many leaders of my not-so-great generation of elders appear to be irresponsibly directing the children down a "primrose path" to confront a world that is resource depleted, environmentally degraded and denuded of much of what is alive and well on the surface of the Earth in 2010. Rather than acknowledge and begin to address looming global threats to human wellbeing and environmental health, these leaders are willfully choosing lifestyles of effortless ease and greed. It is easy to see that these so-called leaders have abdicated their duties to overcome problems of their own making and, furthermore, decided to avoid any hardships at all cost..... come what may for the children. This situation is deplorable, but I expect we will behave better by doing what is somehow right for the children; by assuring that our planetary home remains a wondrous place which is fit for human habitation.

Can any of you three above point out a specific example of an error in my calculations? If you try to claim I was not generous enough in suggesting that fuel constitutes "only" 50% of farm inputs, I'll need to see proof which includes interest on land, taxes, non-fuel inputs to hired labour, non-fuel inputs to all other farm inputs, etc.

I personally think I under-describe reality. FAR more of the prices the average american pays for food goes to packaging, advertising, market-level waste, processor costs, in-chain profits, etc. etc. etc. A 400% rise in fuel costs SHOULDN'T show up on shelves as more than a 5% rise in prices for cereal-based foodstuff.

Dispute with facts or concede.

Lengould, I never disputed your figures in your original post but I must in this one. You are overlooking the fuel input in what you call non-fuel inputs. Almost everything, with the possible exception of taxes, has a fuel input.

And you are underestimating the fuel cost of almost everything else. Corn, for instance, must be dried with natural gas. That is fuel. Processing uses fuel, packaging uses fuel, transportation and refrigeration uses fuel, lots of fuel. Fertilizer has a fuel input, or an oil input if you will, so does pesticides.

I have heard estimates that 10 calories of energy goes into every 1 calorie of food produced. You might dispute that but I would not try. Anyway if the cost of those 10 calories of energy increases by 400% I sure as hell would expect more than a 5% rise in the price of the food on the market.

Ron P.

"I have heard estimates that 10 calories of energy goes into every 1 calorie of food produced."

I believe the figures you refer to comes from the article "Eating Fossil Fuels" by Dale Allen Pfeiffer:

Another good article is "Agriculture Industry's Oil Addiction Threatens Food Security"
by Lester R. Brown:

"I have heard estimates that 10 calories of energy goes into every 1 calorie of food produced."

I believe the figures you refer to comes from the article "Eating Fossil Fuels" by Dale Allen Pfeiffer:

On average with big differences depending of course on where and how you live. Put in another way: If the whole world would have the living standard of the 1 billion Indians, the world could carry 15 billions. The U.S. way of life is only possible for 1,5 billions and then the rest must die. Too bad the Chinese and the Indians want the same living standard as the Americans.

Even teh taxes have a fuel component. They are spent on fuel for government services from the military to paying all those public servants who drive cars to work each day and get there paper, computers, furnituer etc all delviered by truck. Money is an entitlement to draw down energy in whatever form you desire.

Yair...doesn't work like that lengould. When TCHF in 2008 our price for fertilizer tripled, fuel went from about .75 to 1.80 litre and chemicals likewise doubled or trippled...and our trucking company which carts our produce 700 kilometers to auction demanded an extra 3.75 fuel subsidy per carton.

We got the same prices at auction and prices doubled in the shops.

and prices doubled in the shops

Which was probably blamed on the rise in farm prices due to rising costs :(


This is a complete misunderstanding of the supply chain. The farmers direct fuel input may only amount to $0.10 but every other part of the supply chain also has a transport component added. Every other input to the farmer also goes up.

The flour mill employ workers who typically drive to work and get paid for doing so. The flour gets freighted to the cereal or pasta factory.

The packaging arrives at the same factory having been assembled from paper and palstics that were transported on other trucks to their various manufacturing plants. Workers again had transport costs to get to those factories not to mention every other input and waste that doesn't become part of the finished product.

The food product must be sent to distribution centres and agglomerated into despatches to supermarkets. Again transport in, transport out as well as the workers and inputs to that process.

At the supermarket, again the workers and other inputs such as the guys that drive armoured trucks to handle the cash.

All of these transport inputs into the final price of $5.00 for manufactured food are going to go up. It is not an arithmetical addition at one end, it is an exponential function across the whole price range which will push food prices up way beyond the apparent headline increase in the oil price.

You only neeed one part of this supply chain to fail for the whole system to crash. It may well be the farmer.

I would recommend these two studies on the issue of energy & our food supply chain:

First, this study by Dr. Helen Peck at Defence Academy, a research branch of the UK military.
Her 2006 study was done for the UK ag department:

Second, this recent USDA study:

Please note that the recent USDA study says nothing about PO, not even in its section on Future Energy Use (p. 24).
Not only have USDA and AgCanada not done any research on PO, neither has done any research on the more general issue of the potential effects to the agri-food sector of "the end of cheap fossil fuel."
This is not reassuring....


He also pointed out that at $80 a barrel, fuel cost exceeds personnel costs. He believes that above $80 a barrel, airlines cannot be profitable.

I'm not sure what he means by "believes". If you read the 2009 American Airlines annual report, it only costs the airlines 12 cents per available seat mile. According to the report, during 2008 costs were only 11% higher when Jet fuel was $3 per gallon in 2008 instead of $2 (2009).

Since driving is still more than triple the cost of flying (assuming a solo driver), I think airfares will rise with higher fuel prices but I don't think airlines will go under unless we have much higher unemployment.

BTW: According to the US National Transit database, light rail is more than $1 per pax mile (not including capital costs). Can someone point me to a rail system (including capital costs) that is cheaper than driving?

I don't like fossil fuels, but we are stuck with a highly optimized airline system. Too bad we can't make offshore algae viable.

Or perhaps we're stuck with an under-optimized rail system? That seems to be something that could be rectified, at least.

Your train set is here - Why not buy one as an Xmas present for your city?

Calgary's system is the highest utilised rail transit system in N. America. The average operating cost per passenger is $0.27, per passenger mile would be about 5c.

The capital cost is $2400 per daily passenger - cheaper than any new car, especially when you consider that includes the "road"

This report tells you how they did it - not a cadillac system, practical, no frills, 80% of the results for 20% of the costs;

Any city just needs to read this and do what they did. The gold plated systems we see getting built will never pay for themselves, and preclude more systems being built.

And it is powered, exclusively, by wind electricity!

Calgary's system is the highest utilised rail transit system in N. America.

And yet, it still handles less than 5% of pax-miles. And, if it were extended to handle a larger % of travel, costs per pax-mile would rise sharply.

Rail is a really good thing, but it's benefits shouldn't be overpromised. Rail, and mass transit in general, simply can't be considered a primary solution to our transportation fuel problems.

Nick - I have no idea how you came up with that 5% number.

Here is an updated presentation (2009) about the system

Calgary is just over 1.1m people. The C-Train now has 270,000 boardings per day, or 135,000 people, that is 12% of the entire city, each day. More importantly, 45% of trips to downtown are made by transit, most of those, on the C-Train.
Because of this, Calgary devotes less space downtown to parking, and more to actual buildings - it allows for more efficient and denser use of the downtown. This dense core in itself makes transit more feasible - you are never more than five blocks from C-Train station.

Its share of passenger miles is not the key - its share of passenger trips is more important. Passenger miles will appear below overage, because it does not serve the most far flung areas - the trips it displaces are the shorter-medium ones, and that is by design.

It has facilitated transit oriented development (and still is). The system has actually influenced growth to create more people living near the lines, who have shorter commutes than the average car commuter. All high rise condo projects built in Calgary are either in the city core or within 1km of a C-train station. Without the train, they would likely have not been built.

Calgary has only one freeway, running north-south - it does not need an LA style network. If the 135,000 people on the train were all on the roads, even in EV's, a massive investment in roads would have been needed, plus acres of parking downtown.

It also makes the city more affordable for lower income people, as there are many places where you can live, and get to work, without having the expense of owning a car.

It does mean that you have to take the train, but for those that want to leave the car at home, or not even drive one, the C-train makes it possible. I know of many families there that are just one car families for this reason. It is generally agreed to have been the best civic investment Calgary ever made.

Because so many people can have fewer or no cars, they are not spending money on cars and fuel that leaves the city's economy. Most of the transit fare stays in town, and the riders have more money in their pocket to spend/save as they see fit. the same cannot be said for spending on cars, be they electric or otherwise.

how you came up with that 5% number.

Well, the average Canadian drives something well above 10,000 miles per year - if Calgary has 1.1M people, that's a minimum of 11B miles per year. If the C-train has 270K boardings per day, for 7 miles, 5.5 days per week, that's 540M pax-miles per year, or 4.9% of all vehicle miles.

Passenger miles will appear below overage, because it does not serve the most far flung areas

And that's why expanding it would raise average costs.

Calgary has only one freeway, running north-south

That brings us to the question of how Calgary can achieve costs lower rail costs. A wild guess: does the topography of Calgary lend itself to a very high-density channeling of transit demand?

Because so many people can have fewer or no cars

Have you seen any stats? The 5% market share discussed above makes that seem likely to not be a big phenomenon. It sounds like Calgary has a great system, but 1) you have to include the overall cost of the system, including the feeder buses, and 2) as you note, it's not trying to meet all or even most transportation needs. That's sensible.

Again, let me note that I like rail - I use it, and I've always encouraged it's use and expansion: it's just a much nicer way to live. Still, it doesn't appear to me to be generally cheaper than personal transportation (in part due to the much higher cost of urban living), or something that will provide a way to dramatically reduce fuel consumption any time soon: that will be done by EREV/EVs.

Nick, you are mixing your statistics here.

You are comparing a commuter rail to total annual pax miles it is not intended to displace long distance travel, etc. Also, you are comparing it to the national average. Given that all the other cities have much less transit utilisation, of course it seems low. Find the pax miles for urban Calgary, and compare that.

The intention of the system is not to displace pax miles per se, it is to displace traffic - the city estimates 16 lanes of vehicle traffic (surface streets, not freeways) to handle the train volume. That figure is not dependent on pax miles.

The market share that counts is not pax miles - Albertans drive all over the place, especially to the mountains (if you have never been there, you must go to Banff at least once in your life and you will see why people go there)
The market share that matters is urban trips, and with 40% of downtown commuter trips by transit, that is a major market share, and that was the goal. It was not to prevent people driving elsewhere

does the topography of Calgary lend itself to a very high-density channeling of transit demand?

Well, if you think a fairly flat to undulating area, with two rivers that meet in the middle, and no other features is conducive, then yes. And this would apply to probably the majority of cities in north America.

The interesting things about Calgary's system is that Calgary IS a suburban sprawl, but it has a dense employment core, and densifying development along the C-train corridors, which are also the major road corridors (with the exception of the freeway).

So a very suburban city, they have achieved very high ridership - I think that is the definition of a successful train system. The outer ends of the lines are no longer the outer ends of the city, people are driving/bussing to those outer stations (and have been for some time) and it has reached the point where it is worthwhile extending those lines, and the corridors already exist, so it is not a great expense. Calgary has been at this game of when to replace bus with train for 30 yrs now, and their ridership shows they have got it worked out.

They are moving to longer trains (stations were already built for that) and increasing frequency, as the ridership increases. The ridership has been growing faster than population growth, so they are being successful in getting more people to use transit instead of drive.

Comparing it to cost of personal transportation is a bit like how long is a piece of string? You can always find favourable (40% of downtown trips) and unfavourable ones (5%of pax miles). Having lived there, and knowing many people who use it, they would say the biggest benefit is not having to drive (and park) The city is quite clear - the benefits for them are the avoided costs of more roads, allowing higher density development downtown, (they estimate over a hundred acres of parking space avoided) and creating satellite centres on the three spokes.

And, it does allow people, especially students, low income earners, and (increasingly) seniors to live carfree. (With Calgary;s climate doing that just with a bike is only for the most hard core)

The cost of building the train line was $2400 per weekday rider - I doubt you could do the sixteen lanes of road for that.

In my opinion, in most cities, the transit is not cost effective. In Calgary I think it is (and so does the city, and the majority of the population) - they have achieved this by keeping their costs under control - they have built the least system to get the most riders. Many cities do the reverse, in which case, yes, cars are cheaper - but Calgary shows it does not have to be so.

Here endeth the lesson.


I agree that Calgary's system is a very good idea.

You are comparing a commuter rail to total annual pax miles it is not intended to displace long distance travel, etc.

And that's my point: this isn't a primary replacement for the region's drivers: it wouldn't be cost effective for that (nor is it intended primarily to reduce transportation costs - it's intended to improve quality of life). This conversation started with "Realist" making that argument.

"And, if it were extended to handle a larger % of travel, costs per pax-mile would rise sharply."

That doesn't make sense to me, usually you get a hugh saving from scale of economy. Normally the more a system is used, the less it cost per unit, even if there is growth involved to accomodate the increased usage. Unless there is gross mismanagement of the growth.

And the system IS being extended. The cost per pax-mile will probably decrease slightly, as the really expensive parts of the system, the river crossings, tunnels etc are spread out over more passengers.
In any case, the cost per pax, or pax mile, is impressively low. It could quadruple and still be cheap.

In most mass transit systems the labor cost per pax-mile is about $.75, and that will rise if the system expands to cover less dense areas.

Have you seen good stats on the cost of capital depreciation?

Nick, you seem to think that the suburban dwelling myth will continue. I foresee an increasing concentration of population as fuel and auto costs soar. EV is nice, though it ignores the limitations inherent in battery production and replacement costs over time. There are a lot of vehicles out there, and EVs will be a part of but not the whole solution.

Until we all face the reality that the automobile is an unsustainable means for mass transportation, we are simply trying to fool ourselves.

"... labor cost per pax-mile is about $.75, and that will rise if the system expands to cover less dense areas." That may be true, but that also implies that if density increases, costs will decrease. Increased density as urban population draws to the core will be a necessity; suburban living will become impossible over time as fuel costs increase and avaibility decreases. When the choice is have a McMansion or have food on the table, most will choose the food.


EV is nice, though it ignores the limitations inherent in battery production and replacement costs over time.

There are no basic limits to battery production. We have plenty of lithium. If we didn't, we could use lead, or zinc, or others. Battery costs will continue to fall.

EVs are already cheap enough:

Lithium is already in short supply. Lead and zinc are commonly found in the same locations, and lead to environmental nightmares in extraction and refining both. Though there may be an ample supply, a look at the Galena, Kanasas experience would be enlightening.

Consider: there are about 600,000,000 cars(or more) in the world today, and about 50,000,000 produced in 2009. It would take 12 years to replace all of those gas vehicles with electric, if every single vehicle produced were to be an EV. And, with China being the major supplier of lithium, the chemical of choice for light weight high energy density batteries, how would that impact our economy, do you suppose?

Again... the metals are not that common, and individual vehicles are not feasible as a long term transportation model.

I wish there was an easy way out, and I could say, yeah! We can just transform to Teslas. It won't work, though. Even ignoring the need for electrical generation to charge up our electric cars, it isn't going to happen. Not in the real world. We have to stop dreaming and get real!



Lithium is already in short supply.

Only in the short term - there are very large resources out there.

Lead and zinc are commonly found in the same locations, and lead to environmental nightmares in extraction and refining both. Though there may be an ample supply

Is there any reason to think that environmental problems will stop mining?

China being the major supplier of lithium

China is just one of many suppliers, both for the metal, and for the batteries. For instance:

For suburban communities, where light rail would probably be unworkable, they could use buses powered by electricity as San Francisco does. This would combine the best of both worlds: the efficiency of electrical power with the maneuverability of a regular bus. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing option, but it is an option.

Light rail can be done, if the community is prepared to give up a little road space. The beauty of a separated system like Calgary is that your ride is independent of, and faster than, the traffic. In-road streetcars are not much faster than buses, though more pleasant to ride on.

For electric buses, I like this new system, which can do away with the over head wires - it has an overhead charger at each bus stop, so then the bus only needs to take on enough energy to get to the next stop, typically less than a mile away. The amount of energy needed for that is about 3kWh for a one mile trip, so the bus does not need a massive battery bank. In fact, it could be powered by a flywheel battery or ultracapacitors, with batteries only for backup.

Given that buses stop at the same stops all the time, this system makes a lot of sense, and would be far cheaper to install than overhead wires, and without ruining the view.

The Parry People Mover train, which has a flywheel energy recovery system, (and a 2L diesel engine) can also be powered by the flywheel being charged up at stops - would take 30s and get the train 800m. For longer, add a 2nd flywheel!

Calgary transit calculated the buses are six times the cost, per passenger, compared to trains, but the road is "free", and you can go anywhere. That is why they have both, and they do work very well together.

The Opbrid system is interesting. I noticed on their website they don't mention any actual real-life deployment so this must be very new indeed. It will be interesting to see how well the Opbrid system works in a commercial operation.

if it only costs 5 cents per mile to ride transit why are they raising taxes to pay for transit? The consultant's report should be read very careful to understand the true cost of public transit in Calgary.

During peak times, passenger boardings range between 720 and
780 per operating hour. For 2005, the average hourly
operating cost of LRT is approximately $163.00 ($139.40 USD).

LRT is great at rush hour and you could achieve 27 cents per boarding. But I notice that they are running trains all night at 15 min headways. How many passengers are boarding at 3am? The true cost is cannot be calculated using the rush hour loads. I'm not sure I can take this study's numbers at face value. They also do not talk about how many trains are running.

Over 50 percent of LRT customers travel to and
from the CTrain by bus. In comparison, the average cost
for bus passenger boardings is approximately $1.50 ($1.28 USD) or almost 6 times the cost of LRT.

If you need buses to feed LRT, then you need to consider the total cost of a trip. 27 cents is not a realistic estimate of costs.

Realist, those numbers are per train, per hour, so $163/780 = 21c.

But agreed, you should not just use the peak, and they aren't. The system is actually well used, day and night, and that number of 27c has been around for a while, though it was 25c in 2002.

I think it;s reasonable to split the costs for buses and trains. With trains, of course, the variable operating costs are lower, so the more pax you have, the lower than number gets.

What we would like to see, is their total annual passengers divided by their total annual budget, but I don;t have that. But given the train costs per pax are 1/5 of other cities, I will take a guess and say the total per pax is likely much better too.

Portland, Ore has a 52 mile system and does 117,000 weekday boardings. Calgary is 29mi and 250,000 weekday boardings - half the line distance +2x passengers = 4x more pax per mile of line.

Things are different form city to city, of course. But overall, Calgary's system has been the best value for money of any city LRT system built in the last 40 yrs. I am not saying that everyone else can achieve this high level- Calgary has planned for it from decades back.
What I am saying is that the pragmatic approach has worked. They kept their system simple, did not try to be all things to all people (or all politicians) and built a good system for an affordable cost.
if more cities adopted this approach, instead of building gold plated systems, there would be more systems. It has not stopped urban sprawl, and Calgary makes no pretense to that, but it has made the city, and its transportation system, in all modes, work much better.

When almost half the people working downtown are taking transit, the commute is also easier for the half that are driving. And the ratio of riders to drivers is increasing each year, so I'd say they are doing something right.

If you read the city's annual budget, you will get the real numbers.

4.1 Calgary Transit boarding passengers per revenue hour 2007 actual = 74 2008 estimate = 70.

The consultant's report quote 600 boardings per revenue hour and got 27 cents per trip. If you use 70 boardings per hours (the actual number not peak usage). Then it comes out closer to $2.70 per trip.


Realist, that 70 pp/hr is per operating hour for all trains *and* buses, the hundreds of buses drag that number down by - an order of magnitude!

Of course there is no LRT that runs without tax dollars, but some use much less than others.

Now show me a road system that runs without them either - i.e. that is fully funded by registration and fuel taxes (hint: think Europe or Japan)

Of course, if there was no LRT, you would have tax dollars being spent on a lot more roads, more vaulabe downtown land for parking, more money keaving the city economy for fuel and cars, etc.

Not sure where you got 30% ridership from, or what that means? 30% of people, of trips, of miles? What's your point?

Air travel can only be cheaper than driving if the trip is two hundred or more miles, considering the time and expense of getting to and from the airport and so forth, and the fact that the car in the hypothetical situation is almost certainly a sunk cost.

And the plane has to be full for the per mile fuel cost to be low, not to mention all the other costs.

Maybe the profitability projections you object to are based on expectations of a lack of passengers due to the poor economy going forward.

There are some niches situations where air is a bit more favourable, where the road has to traverse mountains/bodies of water, etc.

From where I live I can catch a float plane to Vancouver airport (a good old Canadian Beaver!) in 30 minutes for $70. To drive is a 3hr exercise involving a ferry ride ($25)and driving right through the city centre, plus then paying the cost of car parking at the airport. Great thing about the float plane is you turn up 10 minutes before the flight!

For short distances, unless there is a revival of interurban passenger rail, we will see a move to more specialised short haul operators, with turboprop planes, and if possible, operating not out of the major airports.

Those situations aside, I think air travel will shrink, it already has, as only the really necessary trips are done. The airlines capacity factors are as high as they have ever been, so they are managing their traffic quite well.

The car/air equation is really determined by the value of your time. For many people now, they have not much money and more time, so the car it will be. But as with flying, not many roads trips unless there is a really good reason.

For most mid-range trips, the car wins on time. Once you add in the hour before flight, and the half hour to get your bags and a rental car, plus drive to and from an airport (which are often way outside town), you have a couple of hours which could have been spent driving.

If the flight requires a connection, which all flights from nowhere to nowhere require, then you add another random 1 to 3 hours on average.

Then add the discomfort of airplane seating, inconvenience of no phone service, and invasive security checks, you can argue that even at parity or longer, driving is better.

If you drive, you leave when you want, stop when you want, and chat on the way. There are no non-refundable tickets to argue about when an emergency arises, and if the kid's game runs late there is no plane to miss - you stay till the end.

In my view, trains could address most of this IF they were flexible dispatched as a "car load" instead of "twice per day" basis, and avoided the stupid security checks. But they have a long way to go before they catch the flexibility and timeliness of air travel, let alone of cars.

Another advantage for driving is compensation -- buy a high-mileage disposable car and you pocket the mileage rate. Buy a plane ticket and the airline gets the company's money. Assuming you've already got car insurance and a need for a car, the delta for business miles is pretty attractive.

Something to remember in your calculations in comparing air to driving is all the cost of the vehicle. Wear and tear, maintenance, cost of your time (it takes much longer - what's your time worth). And, then there is the intangibles to take into consideration. Irritations associated with either choice. I decided for myself, if alone and it more than a 8 hour drive away, then I fly. As I add family members, then the distance I drive becomes more and more the economical choice. The friends and family ride free discount of the motor vehicle can't be beat usually... :-)

Your links didn't come through.

Can someone point me to a rail system (including capital costs) that is cheaper than driving?

Do you include externalities like the cost of roads (which are heavily subsidized) and insurance in your model? Or parking at destination? Or the added expense of owning or renting a property with parking or a driveway? My neighborhood in the East End of Toronto was built in the 1920's, and about half the properties have no driveway (we do still have a streetcar that stops 50 feet from my door, however.) Houses with driveways and parking cost more.

There is a huge debate going on now in Toronto about traffic congestion (it seems we have some of the longest commute times on the continent.) One of the current mayoral candidates has gone so far as to suggest we get rid of our streetcars to improve car traffic flow (it should be pointed out here that I think he's an idiot.) The real question is what would happen if the 1.5 million daily trips made on Toronto Transit (the TTC) were made by car instead. (There are 2.5 million people in Toronto.)

Transit can be a civic benefit and an infrastructure investment equal in value to that in streets and bridges. It can be a civic amenity that politicians tamper with at their peril. It can increase property values (here, prices go up the closer you are to the subway.) But it is an all or nothing proposition. If it doesn't go everywhere, it goes nowhere: the TTC's mandate is to have all residents a maximum of a 15 minute walk from a route. The subway runs until 1:30 am; the streetcar in front of my house runs 24 hours a day.

A community that has large-scale transit is essentially a different animal than one that does not. The value of transit in Toronto in the past 50 years has been to allow the economic benefits of a concentrated, yet still liveable, urban form. Subsidies are required, but the benefits outweigh the costs. The value of transit is not in being a low-cost provider: the true value is in it's ability to affect the form of a community.


On the other hand vehicles will not, in significant numbers, switch from liquid fuel to solar powered in the near future. There is also not enough lithium for batteries, so realistically the answer hans to be in electrified trains.

I don't believe this is true. There is plenty of Lithium out there for many millions of electric cars.

There are some people who push a 'lithium shortage' scare, but it just doesn't hold water. In fact sea water itself is filled with Lithium. There is lots of Lithium available. And even though we call them Lithium-Ion batteries, the amount of lithium in a typical lithium ion battery is pretty small. It is just a small % of the overall battery materials. So even if lithium prices doubled, that would only raise the battery prices a little bit.

There just hasn't been much of a demand for lithium . . . if the demand increases then investments will be made to make the supply available. Lithium is just not a very geological constrained resource like oil.

There might be plenty of lithium but there isn't plenty of money.

Electric cars are internally subsidized by the sale of large, gas guzzling SUVs and giant pickup trucks. Adding to the electric fleet requires adding even more to the guzzler fleet.

Also, electrics need more lane miles, more bridges, overpasses, tunnels, culverts, streetlights, parking lots, etc, which need maintenance and replacement. All are energy sinks are have been unaffordable on a cash basis for DECADES.

The added costs have been ricocheting though the economy for that long, bankrupting from the bottom. Plenty of lithium not enough cash ...

If there is unlimited energy, we don't need to worry about running short of any mineral--extract it from sea water, or import it from outer space.

But if there are limits, that is when it is hard to tell when we run short, because we get to be just a little short everywhere. We keep trying to use more and more substitutes. Eventually, there is not enough energy to go around for all the extraction.

I suggest reading aelderic's post The Networking of Resource Production: Do the Networks Give us Warnings when They are About to Fail?

Excerpts from the article:
Lithium Batteries: Nothing But Illusion
by: Jack Lifton April 19, 2009

It has recently become a hot topic of discussion among investors in speculative junior mining that there may not be enough lithium resources and reserves to meet the speculated demand in the future for lithium from which to make the rechargeable storage batteries. There are more than 700 million vehicles in operation globally today, and more than 2/3 of them are in North America, Western Europe, and Japan.

In August 2007 I attended a meeting at General Motors (GM) between the GM battery development operations group and SQ.
At that meeting the technical managers of both companies agreed that a figure of 1 kilogram of lithium, calculated, as I recall, as metallic weight equivalent of lithium, per kilowatt hour of battery storage capacity was correct, in general and on average, for the production of RSBs for the electrification of vehicles. Therefore it is obvious that the battery pack for the Chevrolet Volt, extended range, plug-in hybrid, which has been announced to utilize a 16 kWh lithium-ion technology RSB will require 16 kg of lithium to build.

The United States Geological Survey, USGS, most recent edition of its Mineral Commodity Summary for Lithium, (.pdf) dated January 31, 2009, states that in 2008 27,400 metric tons of lithium, calculated as lithium metal, was produced globally. Of that total the USGS says 25% was demanded by battery producers.

Lithium production numbers are typically reported not as metallic lithium but as lithium carbonate, Li 2CO 3, which is only 1/6 lithium. For example, SQM reported that by 2008 it would have a capacity of 42,000 metric tons a year of lithium carbonate; this means that SQM’s capacity would be 7,000 metric tons a year calculated as metallic lithium. Thus it is reasonable to assume that in 2008 SQM produced more than 25% of the total world production of lithium.

Now let’s look at possible limitations on the production of lithium-ion battery packs for cars: Assuming that lithium production for 2009 is going to be the same as for 2008, or some 27,000 metric tons, and that, as the USGS says, 25% of that went to battery production, and that all of the lithium that went into battery production was for personal electronics, laptop computers, and power tools, which uses are increasing ,and increasing, in the case of power tools, dramatically, again according to the USGS, then we must also note that since the other 75% of the lithium produced went to existing uses such as the production of glass, ceramics, plastics and pharmaceuticals, and that since these areas of lithium demand are also increasing, then batteries for cars will require new production of lithium.

For the sake of debate let’s assume that the global production of lithium can be quadrupled in the next 10 years. There is no evidence that this is underway or planned, but let’s assume anyway that it is going to happen. Let’s now assume further that every bit of the increase will go to produce lithium-ion batteries for cars. This will give us 75,000 metric tons of lithium, calculated as lithium metal, to be used annually to make car batteries by 2020. 75,000 metric tons is 75,000,000 kg.

This means that in 2020 the global car industry will have the resources of lithium to build 75,000,000/15 = 5,000,000 extended range plug-in hybrids of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid type with a range of 40 miles on a charge and a top speed certainly of less than 70 miles per hour-Note well that this means the car can run at speed for a round trip before recharging of 36 minutes!

A larger car with a higher speed and longer range will require a proportionately larger battery and thus the construction of such vehicles will decrease sharply the total number of lithium-ion battery using electrified cars of all types, hybrids, extended range plug-in hybrids, and true battery powered cars, which can be constructed in 2020. By the time that the battery is recycled, in 10 years, the recycled lithium will be able to add only another 5,000,000 vehicles a year to the global build.

One can draw graphs and do calculations, but the bottom line is that to the assumptions above we must add that the consensus of forecasters of personal vehicle production is that the global production of such vehicles will reach 100 million per year by 2015 and could reach 150 million per year by 2020 with China and India accounting for between 20 and 30 million per year, 20% of that total.

The numbers show that the production of lithium-ion battery packs for vehicle propulsion is and will always be limited by the rate of production for lithium, because even if all of the mineable lithium deposits were exhausted only enough lithium would be produced to build 450,000,000 vehicles per year at equilibrium between mining and recycling at a 100% recovery rate. Today’s fleet of cars is already at 750,000,000 globally with nearly half in North America and 90% or more in North America, Europe, and Japan.

I have written elsewhere about the fact that the maximum production of rare earths required to get lanthanum and neodymium to build nickel metal hydride batteries and electric motors and permanent magnet generators is limited, and at this time, is confined almost entirely within China.

It cannot be overlooked that the electric motors in many electrified vehicles intended to utilize permanent magnet type electric drive motors depend for their maximum efficiency on neodymium-iron-boron magnets, so that even electrified vehicles using lithium-ion batteries will have their total production limited by the availability of rare earths.

The numbers show that for the next generation, at least twenty five years, the total annual possible production of electrified personal vehicles will be limited by the rate of natural resource production, particularly of the rare earths and lithium. The peak possible production will probably be well under 10 million Chevrolet Volt equivalent powered vehicles per year well into the 2030s.After that it may well turn out that we finally exhaust our accessible minable resources of critical metals for the electrification of cars so that recycling or limited availability both become mandatory.

I have not taken into account the effect of the potential increase in price of the rare earths and lithium over the next generation as relatively high grade deposits are worked out and costs increase due to the cost of working lower grades. This is important, because as sales figures for the Toyota Prius and Honda (HMC) Insight hybrids have just shown, in times of economic stress price is the most important factor not novelty or green-ness.

I’d like to end this article on a positive note. The USGS Commodity Mineral Survey for Lead for 2008 (.pdf) shows that the US, Canada, and Australia together have 50% of the world’s known reserve base of lead and that more than 90% of American lead use today comes already from recycling automotive and traction batteries! Even if, therefore, we include the (useless) Bolivian lithium reserves in the calculation the US, Canada, and Australia alone have 6 times as much lead as the world has lithium. This means that the electrification of personal vehicles can proceed much faster if we use lead-carbon batteries such as those devised by Axion, Ltd. to make electrified cars of all types. By giving up some high performance characteristic and some range while still getting far more of each than a Chevrolet Volt and by utilizing our existing recycling and battery manufacturing facilities and enlarging them as needed we can be building an electrified American fleet immediately. The fact that we will need to replace and recycle the batteries every 3-4 year rather than the mythical 10 attributed to lithium-ion batteries that have never achieved anything remotely close to that number is surely an easy trade to make for much cheaper, much more reliable, and safer lead-carbon batteries that have also no critical material shortages.

The ideal future for the electrified car is one of lead-carbon batteries for short range city cars, nickel metal hydride batteries for long range moderate performance, and lithium-ion batteries for high performance long range. Price will both differentiate this cars and determine their market segments, but best of all, we probably have enough accessible, mineable resources to do this.

yada yada yada. Jack Lifton is a doomer. But that doesn't mean he is right.

I think this is the key sentence:

This means that the electrification of personal vehicles can proceed much faster if we use lead-carbon batteries such as those devised by Axion, Ltd. to make electrified cars of all types.

He is disciple in the John Peterson Swiss boiler-room operation trying to pump up an investment in Axion and their lithium-carbon batteries. As far as I can tell, Lifton is a crank or shill.

Here . . . go into a battle of the experts and read the other side of the argument when another expert takes apart Lifton's doom-saying in that article:

A more recent article by Zuleta:

Look at the bigger picture . . . would GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Tesla, etc. all be moving forward with electric vehicles if they thought they would soon run out of Lithium? Has the price of Lithium grown out of control as the entire planet has filled up with cellphones & laptops all powered by lithium batteries?

No, the Lithium supply is more than adequate.

Rick Munroe's remarks were very sobering on all levels. I would say the food situation is dire, even moreso than transportation issues - which also effect food.

Sharon Astyk did not make as strong a presentation as Munroe but the takeaway was more or less similar. Industrial ag has painted itself into a corner, crowded out other non- industrial approaches, fails on its own terms (to alleviate hunger), and has parabolically diminishing utility under fuel constraints.

Additionally, the FACT of military documentation without any clear public policy SUGGESTS that contingency planning lies with military organs rather than with the political infrastructure. While I am not concluding a food- military readiness conflict the possibility is not to be excluded until relevant civilian authorities make concrete a 'chain of command' and a set of priorities. None of this exists now so the reasonable conclusion is that the government outside the Pentagon has no clue. This is not a good place to be ...

Events following hurricane Katrina and the failure of defense/readiness/security structures to do more than harass desperate citizens while other structures were working to effect rescues indicates a fractured approach may be the outcome of a combined fuel/food emergency.

The effect of such an emergency on a wide scope would be uncertain; preparedness would have to be the conclusion of Munroe and Astyk's presentations.

Buy some food and water and keep it at hand, enough for a few weeks at least. Have this along with batteries, flashlights, first aid kit and other emergency items such as a portable radio.

Thanks for your interest in this aspect, Steve.
Military analysts are doing progressive work on PO, and so far there is very little to show from the civilian sector.
But I would respectfully disagree that contingency planning lies with military organizations.
They are busy enough these days without taking on major assignments which properly belong with civilian authorities (DHS/FEMA and DoE in the USA, and Public Safety and Natural Resources Canada in my country).

But you are correct in suggesting that a fuel supply crisis could land in the laps of the military: should the civilian fuel emergency plans prove ineffective (and I see a great deal of evidence that they would) then a fuel emergency could quickly become a food supply emergency and eventually a massive effort in maintaining civil order at the gas stations, supermarkets and in the streets of North America.

Canada and the USA should take note of the recent work (ie. since 2004) in Australia and the UK: we need to review and update both our legislation and our plans for liquid fuel emergencies, as they have done.
The results are not perfect, but at least they have put some serious thought into what is and is not achievable, and how one might plan for and administer a major liquid fuel emergency.

The situation re liquid fuel emergencies seems to be this: federal authorities (DHS/FEMA and Public Safety Canada) have done no work, the lead energy agencies (DoE and NRCan) have plans which are decades old and have major deficiencies, plans at the state & provincial level are newer but are often minimal, and there is no capacity whatsoever to address liquid fuel emergencies at the local/municipal level (which the Brits correctly argue is where we need to start).

The military necessarily studies transportation. An army has to be able to take the battle to the enemy through movement, and an army must be able to supply itself while in the field.

Baggage trains have been a feature of armies for the last couple thousand years. The Romans didn't build roads just for the convenience of travelers.

Probably civilian authorities don't bother to plan because martial law would be declared in a real emergency and the military would have to deal with the situation. Isn't that how it is in the Post 911 World?

Lynn Harding.

I thought Rick Monroe's comments on the lack of planning for food shortages and for fuel availability were interesting (and worrying). The standard belief is that price will determine the proper allocation. But if there is a serious shortfall, this is not going to work well, and there is a chance of serious disruption.

Leanan has talked about "Food Deserts." Here is an article, with some interesting maps:

WT - Interesting but maybe a little misleading until you read the details. Folks in New England may have easy access to grocery stores but if the shelves are empty or stocked sufficiently to only feed half the folks in the area, such a "non-desert" area doesn't look too inviting. OTOH, I might be 100 miles from the closest grocery story in S Texas but I'll never go hungry as long there are deer, rabbits, doves and an occasional trespassing cow. With neighbors to share and barter with I think I would rather weather such dire times in Duval County than Manhatten. Goliad County has a population less than 5,000. I suspect there are that many folks in just a few square blocks of some of the larger cities. Then maybe the important question seems to be how many folks you're competing with than how far you need to walk to the store.

Rural areas are mostly filled with old, low-income people? Now that's a surprise.

Big grocery stores don't locate every 10 miles in sparsely populated areas? Another surprise.

Not that availability of stores isn't likely to be an issue that worsens going forward...the irrationality is to expect Walmarts on a less-than-20-mile grid.

One would think that pro-urbanists would see this as a good thing.....

Note also that lack of stores is also a socio-economic symptom for another reason: crime. Here the city had to put up the cash to open a grocery store in an "enterprise zone" because all the others had closed due to crime. In such areas the employees and thieves are intermixed -- guys are holding up the front for cash while employees cart out baskets of meat through the side door. And then the locals cry "discrimination" because the stores shut down.

People apparently lack the ability to preserve golden geese...or even regular egg-laying hens. Some people will willingly sacrifice the future for the present, and many will stand by while they do so. The strange thing about the tragedy of the commons is that so few stand up for the commons.

Hi, Gail
I would go even further and say (more than a chance) there is a near-certainty of an eventual & serious disruption of food supply and misallocation of fuel.

It is almost inconceivable that we could have physical shortages without a major price spike.
North Americans need to consider the degree to which a major oil price spike would disrupt many vital functions, including our food supply.
As Dr. Helen Peck in the UK correctly identified, there are vulnerabilities at every stage: from on-farm production to the processor to the plastic hygienic packaging to refrigeration, retail sales and home storage & cooking, with transport costs at every interface.

I would also point out that until Denver-09, the issue of emergency planning had not appeared on any ASPO conference agenda.
In both Denver and Washington, only 20 minutes (of 3-day conferences) were devoted to this issue, and in both cases there were no emergency planners in attendance.
My hope is that at some future conference this issue may be allocated more than 20 minutes and that a few of the people who most need to grapple with this issue (DHS/FEMA, Public Safety Canada, our energy departments, and local emergency planners) will be present to discuss how we might prepare for and administer a major liquid fuel emergency.

The best research that I am aware of has come from the GAO, Alan Smart in Australia, Kathy Leotta in Washington State, and Helen Peck with UK military.
All four are unanimous in stressing the need for proactive work (ie. being prepared long before the emergency hits).
It seems that we are a very long way from that here in North America.

At this point, it looks like there is a possibility that airline use will need to be significantly scaled back, but if this happens, there will likely be big social and political impacts.

What are the big social and political impacts?

Most airline travel is discretionary personal travel.

The business uses of airline travel can probably support significantly higher prices when travel is absolutely necessary. In the remaining business cases, communications has evolved to be an excellent substitute for travel. Video conferencing and computer collaboration tools have become very convenient and useful.

Flying Fewer Planes, Airlines Find Stability

they have just posted the video of the Jeff Rubin talk on their site

When I first followed the link earlier today I was able to watch the video, but now it's a 'private' video. It isn't clear how one gets 'permission' to watch the video.

Seems to be there now. ?

I hope they put up more videos. It seems some times they do and some times they don't.

I've been preparing my family for Peak Oil for 4 years now and I'm sharing some videos showing people what they can do if they want to insure themselves against the negative consequences of Peak Oil... I attached one of the video's here.


I've seen your videos, and I applaud your efforts, but considering where you live, I don't give you a week after the stores are finished being looted before they are on your doorstep wanting your 'stuff'. :-S.